Couponing 101: Your Know-All Guide to Finding Online Deals
Taking advantage of coupon codes is an easy way to save money. All you have to do is find an applicable code, enter it and voila, you’ve found an effortless way to reduce your total price. You aren’t just saving small amounts either. “Whenever you can use a coupon for a large-ticket item, the savings will really add up. For example, a 20% off coupon for a couch, mattress or high-end flat-screen TV could result in a few hundred dollars in savings,” consumer expert Andrea Woroch tells LearnVest.
The best part? Using coupon codes is simple. There are plenty of sites that offer these deals; it’s just a matter of knowing where to look. Ready to start saving? Here’s a breakdown of how to use coupon codes and where to find them.
How to use coupon codes
Coupon codes typically offer deals such as a percentage off your purchase, free shipping, or buy one, get one. You then enter that code when it’s time to check out, and just like that, the discount is applied. While there are plenty of sites that provide all the best steals and deals, sometimes all you have to do is use a search engine. ABC News recommends using simple search terms such as “Gap Coupon Code.” You can expect tons of results to pop up, saving you the time of scanning individual sites.
The best way to maximize your savings is by finding and comparing all of the available codes. There are also great sites that do the research for you. Rather-Be-Shopping.com breaks down individual retailers, and details what discounts are considered standard, as well as which ones are worth taking advantage of. For example, it found that Kohl’s offers coupon codes that can be applied to both its regular-priced and clearance-priced merchandise. Rather-Be-Shopping.com suggests holding out for Kohl’s coupons that are 20 percent off or better in order to see the most savings.
When and where to look
Coupon codes are everywhere. But how do you know you’re getting the best deals? According to Deal News, the best times to look for coupons include the first of the month, early in the week, around holidays and special occasions, and in August and October. You can use this information to start saving more. For example, if you need new cooking supplies, wait until the first of the month or even the beginning of the week to determine what retailers are offering the best deals. Rather than purchase new pots and pans for full price, there’s a good chance you’ll find a coupon offering up to 40 percent off.
Now that you know when to look, it’s important to know where to search. Here are four great places to look for coupon codes.
1. Coupon sites
Coupon sites offer a plethora of discounts. Many of these sites serve one sole purpose: providing you with coupon codes. And, Kiplinger writes that many sites specializing in coupon codes have partnered with retailers, meaning they can offer you exclusive codes you won’t find anywhere else. Check out CouponSherpa.com, DealNews.com, PromotionalCodes.com, RetailMeNot.com, Savings.com, and FreeShipping.org. In addition, there’s also TheCouponMom.com, CouponCabin.com, Ebates.com, and DealHunting.com, all of which dedicate sections to coupon codes.
2. Sign up for emails
For whatever reason, some retailers don’t have many coupon codes floating around on the Internet. But Deal News writes that some stores will send you coupons via email instead. There’s just one catch: You need to sign up to receive their emails. You’ll find that some of the coupons emailed to you are one-time codes, and some emails may just contain a link that leads you to the offer. These are deals that typically can’t be found on coupon code websites.
RetailMeNot.com has a section of its site dedicated to emailed coupons, breaking down each retailer and the coupons they send out once you subscribe. It’s a great way to figure out whether it’s worth signing up.
3. Check social media
You can often find a bunch of goodies just by following retailers’ social media pages. Many sites will use their blogs to discuss some of their ongoing sales; it’s one of the ways companies try to ensure you’re visiting their sites. Additionally, Mashable writes that many retailers will offer their Twitter and Facebook friends and followers special discounts.
Retailers occasionally offer one-day sales and giveaways on their social media sites as a way to thank their followers and try to lure more in. The bottom line here? Liking your favorite stores on Facebook is definitely a savvy way to start saving.
4. Check retailers’ sites
Sometimes finding a coupon code doesn’t even require any searching. Instead, retailers will promote the discounts at the top of their homepage. Kiplinger suggests writing down the code when you see it, because it may not pop up again once you arrive at the checkout page. Some of the retailers most likely to display the codes on their sites includes Victoria’s Secret, Bath and Body Works, Kohl’s, JCPenney, Macy’s, Sears, and Saks Fifth Avenue, per Kiplinger. It gets even better. Many of these retailers will also let you use more than one coupon code at a time. For example, Victoria’s Secret typically lets you enter up to three coupon codes when you’re checking out.