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The Coupon Lady: What's new in the coupon world

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As many of my readers know, I like to write about current events and trends in the coupon industry to help my readers be informed and savvy shoppers.

One of the biggest news stories last week was that daily deal site Living Social was hacked by unknown sources. The hackers had access to more than 50 million users’ account information, including names, e-mail addresses, birth dates and encrypted passwords.

Thankfully, the hackers did not have access to members’ payment methods or credit card numbers, but just to be safe, Living Social CEO Tim O’Shaughnessy is advising all members to change their login passwords as soon as possible. O’Shaughnessy also advises that if you use the same password for other Web sites, you should change those as well. Although Living Social won’t say how the attack occurred, it does say it is working with law enforcement to find those responsible.

For thousands of Kroger customers, finding deals just got a little harder. Mid Atlantic Region Kroger shoppers will not be able to take advantage of double coupons after May 13. After that, coupons will only be accepted at face value. Richmond, Va., television station WRIC reports that a Kroger representative claims that “only one percent of our customers take advantage of the double coupons, so what we’ve done is taken that expense and we’ve lowered prices throughout the store.”

Thankfully, the Kroger stores in this area are not affected and will continue to take double coupons for now, but my instincts tell me to keep an eye out for future announcements.

The Richmond station also reports that Kroger says that it has dropped prices on 15,000 items. However, food prices have been steadily rising. The USDA forecasts that food prices will rise by 2.5 to 3.5 percent over the course of 2013. So, in reality all stores have been increasing prices for months now to keep up with supply costs.

The new savvy coupon trend going on now is the development of several coupon apps for your smartphone. Even better, there is no clipping required! To redeem a coupon, simply scroll down a list and select your way to saving money. You can redeem deals instantly.

Here are a few noteworthy apps to try out:

• Entertainment.com has gone mobile. Yes, that chunky blue and white coupon book is a thing of the past. For a $30 yearly membership, you have access to all the coupons you would have in the booklet, and they are available instantly. Be aware that some companies do require a printed coupon. The Web site will allow you to print those off your computer. The Web site and app work together to save shoppers money on restaurants, oil changes, entertainment and local services.

• Ibotta is a free app available for both Android and iPhone operating systems. Choose the items you want to buy and do simple tasks to unlock the savings. Then, simply shop at one of 40 retailers. Upload a picture of the product and scan the barcode. Ibotta will deposit money into your Paypal account for every offer you redeem. You get actual cash rebates for the things you buy. Even better, you can use paper coupons in addition to the cash rebates.

• My personal favorite app is Grocery Pal. The biggest perk for me is that it helps me make my shopping list quickly and replaces my paper advertisement. What I appreciate most is that it divides the ad by section and allows you to select each item that you wish to purchase. Once you have made your selections, it will organize the list. I like this because it matches my coupon binder sections, so I won’t accidentally miss a deal and have to hunt it down at the end of my shopping trip.


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