How to Capitalize on Coupons & Bargains

You don't have to be a miser to capitalize on coupons and bargains. Thrifty shoppers everywhere can use these discounts to save money and reduce their yearly expenses.

Coupons and bargains can be easy to find -- you just need to know where to look. Here's a rundown of how you can capitalize on coupon and bargains every day:

1. Know where to search for the best savings.

You can access myriad coupons and bargains at your fingertips because the Internet makes it simple to find savings both online and in-store.

Many web-based coupons can be printed out and used in a big-box store or utilized for online purchases. These coupons may be available from vendors themselves or via many websites designed for bargain hunters.

According to Cheapism.com, some of the top websites to find coupons and bargains include:

  • Coupons.om -- Many affiliates use Coupons.com to provide shoppers with savings on groceries.
  • Retail Me Not -- Visit Retail Me Not to access coupon codes to help you save money on everyday purchases from Target, Starbucks and other globally recognized merchants.
  • Slickdeals -- Check out Slickdeals for coupons, deals and other bargains year-round.

Using your computer, smartphone or tablet to search for coupons and bargains is ideal. You can explore the web to find savings and take advantage of discounts that may change throughout the year.

2. Download mobile coupon apps.

Your mobile device enables you to access coupons and bargains on the go. Both Android and iOS device users can find many discount apps that can be downloaded for free and used to save money.

Mobile coupon and bargain apps that are simple to download and updated regularly include:

  • LivingSocial -- Access discount vouchers and browse many online offers simultaneously with LivingSocial
  • Amazon Price Check -- Use Amazon Price Check to shop for millions of items and get the best prices on these products.
  • ShopSavvy -- Get details about sales from every store, every day with ShopSavvy.

Coupon and bargain apps are powerful because they enable you to reduce your costs, regardless of your location. These apps can help you get organized before an upcoming shopping excursion and optimize your time and money.

3. Plan ahead for a shopping trip.

Making the most of your resources is essential for those who want to maximize their savings. Planning ahead for an upcoming shopping trip allows you to maintain your budget and take advantage of the best coupons and bargains.

Rachael Ray Magazine offers the following money-saving tips for bargain hunters:

  • Shop less frequently -- Buying in bulk provides you with a great way to stock up on many items, make fewer shopping trips and save money.
  • Study weekly ads -- Some items might be on sale during a particular week, and those who capitalize on discounted prices can reap the rewards of their efforts during a given week.
  • Monitor your receipts -- Review your receipts after your shopping trip to see how much you've saved and ensure it meets your original savings goal.

The early bird catches the worm, and those who shop early may be able to increase their savings. And keep in mind that many stores provide additional coupons and discounts on Black Friday, Cyber Monday and numerous holidays.

4. Find out if holiday discounts are available.

Stores might use Columbus Day, Veterans Day and other holidays as opportunities to offer new discounts to shoppers. But not all discounts are created equal, and it is important to learn the lay of the land before you make any holiday purchases.

Several retail experts offered tips to USA Today to help shoppers make the most of holiday sales:

  • Bring your smartphone -- "While most retailers tend to lure consumers in with insanely low prices on popular items, they bank on those same customers picking up far more than what they came in for, which can lead to adding items to your shopping cart for higher prices than you can find elsewhere," says bargain hunter Brian Feroldi. "For that reason, I always make sure I have my smartphone with me when I'm shopping so I can easily compare in-store prices with those found online to make sure I'm getting the best deal."
  • Use cash instead of credit cards -- "A great way to save money during the holiday season is to just spend less -- by paying with cash. Sure, credit cards are wonderfully convenient, letting you charge just about anything you'd like at any time without having to go to the bank, but there's a big downside to them, too: You're likely to spend more when you use them," money-saving expert Selena Maranjian notes.
  • Focus on your budget -- "Without a spending game plan, it's more than likely that you'll find plenty of extra this and that's ending up in your shopping cart by the time you reach the checkout lane," says experienced shopper Todd Campbell.

Sales come and go, but those who want to make substantial purchases should target discounts that are available around holidays. Make it a priority to examine holiday sales, and you could reap the benefits of significant coupons and bargains.

5. Don't be afraid to ask questions.

You can't capitalize on coupons and bargains if you don't know about them. But many retail associates are happy to answer any questions you may have and could provide you with insights into upcoming sales.

Be prepared to ask questions any time you visit a big-box store. You may be able to find out about coupons or discounts that are available in-store, and call a shop before you visit to find out if sale items are in-stock.

Many shops offer rewards programs that allow you to earn points based on what you buy. These programs provide you with money-saving incentives and may allow you to obtain coupons based on your everyday purchases.

Online vendors may provide you with discounts if you're willing to ask. Shopping on auction websites like eBay could provide you with the opportunity to negotiate with a seller. And you could save money by purchasing used items and open-box products, as long as these offerings still meet your needs.

Anyone can become a bargain hunter, and those who are well-prepared can capitalize on a range of coupons and bargains regularly. Become the money-saver you've always wanted to be, and you reduce your costs for years to come.