Written by Allen Brown.
As we’ve seen in the previous year – online shopping is not only the future but the only way to come by when a lockdown begins. Also, it offers an almost endless range of services and products to choose from, from exotic goods from far away to the local dairy that can bring you something fresh. But unlike the nearby market – it’s quite hard, almost impossible, to haggle your way to lower the price online.
Luckily there are ways around this – coupons and promotional codes! The tool used by companies to boost their sales or to get rid of outlet products is also a tool to get some fantastic price reductions for yourself. You can see coupons and codes being offered everywhere, from lamp posts on the streets to Facebook ads, but knowing which ones are actually worth your time and how to use them to their fullest – now that requires some careful consideration.
Pay Attention to Expiration Dates
On most coupons and discounts you will see a text in tiny letters with a small star – “valid until xxx or until supplies run out”. It’s easy to get coupons and hoard them for years on end, saving them as a reminder of what we would want to have – but there is really no point in actually holding them once they expire. So paying attention to how long are they valid is essential to using them correctly.
Today’s coupons usually last from three to six months, so depending on your situation you may have time to get some more money for a bigger purchase if it’s worth your while. Note that companies will often put out coupons right after they release a new product on the market so they can get quicker feedback – so if you see something new being announced keep your eyes open for the early discounts.
Time Your Shopping
The next big strategy for saving while shopping online is knowing when to use a certain code or coupon. This can mean several completely different things:
- When the discount is the largest
- When you need the coupon the most
Regarding the first thing on the list, as we’ve already said, coupons always have an expiration date, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they will give the same discount during the entire time. Often companies will have several dates during the year, such as Black Friday, Christmas, or the weeks following it. Using a coupon or code at that time will most likely give you the biggest possible price reduction.
But also consider this – do you really need that new item or are you just getting in because it was offered at a lowered price? Keeping it real here, money doesn’t grow on trees and it shouldn’t be spent on things we don’t need if there are other supplies that we actually require. If, for example, you have a coupon for clothing – better buy a new pair of shoes to replace your old ones instead of getting a sweater just because it looks cool.
Selecting Your Market
Moving on – if searching for coupons, it is better to find some that can be used in larger retail shops, than in very specialized or limited ones. When we’re thinking about the big ones, like Kohl vouchers, they usually also offer a cashback if using their cards or if you’re a member. If you are a regular customer at one of those chains, this can offer huge savings for you.
Although some people will spend days on end to find “that one perfect code”, for most of us that takes too much time and we’re better off sticking to what we can find immediately and using it at a place we’re already familiar with and where we already spend a lot of money every month.
Shopping for Kids
Going dedicated shopping for your children can be a hassle in itself, especially if they tag along but would rather play than try out outfits. Luckily, this is completely avoided when online shopping as it can be all done from home, where you can just show them pictures or measure them.
Because having kids is more expensive than you think, buying smart is more important than ever. Coupons and codes for toy stores are best saved until a holiday is near because the prices will naturally be a bit lower, as the shopkeepers are expecting a lot of traffic at that time. Clothing, school supplies, and other necessities are best bought when the store is almost out of stock – they always give the biggest discount or allow for coupons to be combined to empty their racks.
In the old days’ coupons used to come in the news, printed on paper alongside an advert, and you’d have to cut them out with scissors to show at the checkout to the grocer. Even though we can still find this in practice here and there, today we mostly rely on internet coupon databases.
The most popular apps that are designed for this are Ibotta, Checkout 51, SnipSnap, etc. They are regularly updated and easy to navigate, so using them is easy. For some people that don’t have the time to go shopping at the store – going online is the only remaining option, so why not open a separate tab at the same time and see what you can find to reduce your bill.
Diversify Their Purpose
The last tip to pay attention to is the purpose of any and all codes and coupons you are collecting. A good collection is an all-round one, where you will have available discounts for all sort of things, from food to leisure. This doesn’t necessarily mean saving every code you see, as most of them you won’t even have the time to use before they expire, but diversifying.
Obviously, you will often want to search for the categories you spend the most money on, such as household supplies or certain brands like Amazon or Home Depot, but great deals can be made when doing your annual shopping for new electronics or appliances, so keep a lookout for those too!
It’s not easy saving money while shopping, as times are hard and we are often reminded we need to cut corners to make due. But instead of limiting ourselves to less and less, it’s far better to act smart and to use every advantage to maintain our standard while spending less – and what better way to achieve this than via the very available and practical coupon.