The Sunday newspaper is the obvious place to score coupons to help keep the family budget under control.
But where else can you find coupons?
You'd be surprised.
You can find coupons in the strangest places. At work, at the gym, even at the doctor's office. You just have to know where to look.
Here are a dozen unusual sources for coupons:
*Gas stations: You won't find coupons on the pumps outside but venture inside the convenience stores attached to gas stations and you're likely to find all kinds of coupons. Look for them in the candy aisle and attached to the outside of the cooler doors. Coupons for soda, candy and snacks are the most common.
*Doctors' offices: While at the check-out desk, glance around for coupons and sample products. Pediatrician offices are especially good places to score coupons on baby-related items. I've found coupons for everything from healthy cereals to first-aid creams. But my biggest score was a $50 rebate on a prescription medicine that didn't have a generic equivalent. Don't be shy about asking.
*Dental offices: Does your dental hygienist hand you a bag with a complimentary toothbrush and tube of toothpaste inside at the end of a visit? Before you toss the bag, check to see if it has coupons printed on it or tucked inside.
*Thrift shops: After checking for bargains, don't forget to check for a free coupon exchange. At least one Wake County second-hand store, the Dorcas Shop in Cary, offers penny-pinching customers a basket filled with coupons, free for the taking. The basket is at the front of the store near the registers. Next time you shop, don't forget to return the kindness and replenish the box with your extra coupons.
*Libraries: Public libraries are often another source of coupon exchange boxes. If your branch doesn't offer one, ask your librarian for permission to start one. Another goldmine for coupons is the free magazine exchange that some local libraries offer. Look for recent issues of coupon-rich magazines such as Good Housekeeping, All You and Family Fun.
*Gyms: If your workout facility is like mine, it has advertising posters hung along the walls and in the locker rooms. And occasionally, the posters have coupons attached to them. In recent months, I've scored coupons for natural cleansers and lotions, milk and workout clothes from Target.
*Airports: If you're traveling by plane on a Sunday, be on the lookout for abandoned newspapers and magazines. Busy travelers often leave them behind when boarding.
*Hotels: Ask at the front desk at check-in if guests receive a free paper. During the week, hotels typically offer USA Today, but on Sundays, hotels often offer a local paper filled with coupons.
*Check your receipts: Supermarkets often have coupons for local merchants printed on the reverse side of their receipts. And other businesses are starting to add coupons to their receipts. For instance, you'll often find a coupon for $2 to $4 off your next haircut in the fine print of receipts from Great Clips.
*At work: Check with your human resources department to see if it has coupons on hand to nearby businesses and restaurants.
*Coffee shops and bagel places: Or anywhere else where folks go to read the newspaper on Sunday mornings. Many readers leave the paper -- and the coupons -- behind.
*Sporting events: Check the back of your tickets for discounts at fast-food restaurants, sporting goods stores and auto-repair shops.