Extreme couponing might save you a ton of money at the register, but it can also be a huge pain. You need to collect a sizable number of coupon inserts, go through them all to find the paper coupons you need, clip them, sort them, then hold up the line at the register while you present them. It is not worth the effort for many folks.
The situation is different with regard to internet coupon codes. Simply enter the name of the store you’re shopping at and coupon codes into a search engine, and presto!
From discount websites like RetailMeNot, Coupons.com, and Slickdeals, you may obtain a long list of codes that can reduce the cost of your item by as much as 50%. Enter your preferred code, and your discounts will instantly appear in your shopping cart.
Though it seems impossible, you can save a significant amount of money by carrying out a seemingly easy task. A 2019 analysis by CouponFollow found that using mobile and online discount codes can help the typical American household save up to $1,465 annually, or $122.
And CouponFollow did more than just spit out arbitrary cash values; they also did some math. When you shop, you can actually save that much money.
What the Data Mean
Data from CouponFollow’s browser extension Gently was evaluated to reveal the average amount of money saved by online shoppers using promotional codes. It analyzed over 435,000 purchases to see how frequently promotional codes were used and how much money they saved customers.
About 40% of all online purchases were confirmed to be eligible for a valid coupon code by CouponFollow. On average, consumers who used these discounts saved $30 for each purchase or 17.2% of their total.
The 2017 Consumer Expenditure Survey from the Bureau of Labor Statistics was used to compare these figures to annual savings estimates by CouponFollow. In this study, we track annual consumer spending on things like groceries, home decor, clothing, and leisure activities.
With CouponFollow’s help, we were able to see how much money shoppers were able to save in each of these departments. The researchers looked at the total amount spent and compared it to the total amount saved to get the average annual savings for each category.
On the basis of this analysis, CouponFollow concluded that the average American family could save $1,465 per year by using discount codes, or 6.4% of their annual spending. However, in order to save this much money, family members would have to make all of their purchases online and utilize discount codes at checkout.
To shop that way is impractical for most families. Some products, like perishable foods, don’t make sense to order online. A 2018 NPR/Marist poll found that the vast majority of Americans have never done any sort of internet shopping for necessities like food or cleaning supplies. A large majority of consumers, including frequent internet buyers, still prefer to shop in physical stores.
That being the case, it’s evident that Amazon and co. won’t be replacing brick-and-mortar stores anytime soon for American consumers. However, the results of the CouponFollow poll show that, while shopping online, using a coupon code might be a great way to save money.
Savings from Coupon Codes by Category
Using a promo coupon won’t always save you the same amount. Discounts vary by category and depend on a number of things.
- Opportunities to Defer Waste. You shouldn’t assume that a found discount code is still valid just because you find it. The number of coupons for a given category may also be more than that of other categories. The better your odds of saving are, the more discount codes there are to choose from in a specific grouping.
- The Cost Reduction Per Item. Discounts from coupons can range in both absolute dollars and percentages off your total purchase price. Some discount coupons provide a few dollars off, while others might save you up to $40. The percentage value of some discount codes for low-dollar items is higher than that of others. A coupon offering a $0.50 discount on a $5 item would result in a 10% savings while offering a $5 discount on a $100 item would result in a 5% savings.
- Cost Avoidance Throughout the Course of a Year. Savings in each category over a year are proportional to the total amount spent on that category. If food costs more than hair care does for you, you probably have more room in your budget to cut back on groceries every year rather than on hair care products.
It’s not always the case that the sections of an online store where you have the greatest possibility of discovering a redeemable coupon code are the same sections where you can expect to receive the greatest savings on every transaction.
However, annual savings may not always correspond to the categories with the largest one-time savings. To choose the best places to use promo codes, you need to think about all three.
Top Opportunity to Save
Cigarettes and smoking accessories are ranked first by CouponFollow as the category most likely to feature redeemable discount codes. Over 50% of online cigarette buyers were able to apply a discount code, saving them an average of 14% on their orders. If you can stop buying cigarettes altogether, you can save even more cash.
Alcopop and groceries are two other areas where you can save some serious cash. More than 45 percent of buyers in each group were able to apply discount codes, saving an average of 18 percent and 16 percent, respectively.
Largest Discounts Per Purchase
If you’re looking to save the most money possible, look for discount codes for vacation packages. In general, shoppers who used them saved $41.05. On the other hand, valid promo codes for this category are the toughest to come by.
However, just 30% of customers were able to redeem the offer for a vacation. Because of how pricey vacations often are, even a $41 save is only 8.2 percent of the total. Not a small sum, but a cheaper vacation could end up saving you more money in the long run.
Household goods (averaging $38.84) and alcoholic beverages (averaging $37.40) are two other categories where you can save a significant amount of money. Since alcohol is usually not a major expense for most households, the annual savings would be very minimal at about $47.
Highest Saved Percentage
Coupon codes for restaurants offer the greatest discounts when calculated as a percentage of the total rather than as a flat dollar value. Nearly 40% of customers saved money by using coupons while ordering food online, with an average discount of $7.49 (or 20%).
Coupons can save you a lot of money on toiletries, cosmetics, and other items related to personal care and beauty. 45% of these customers were able to redeem their coupons at checkout.
On average, they were able to shave $17.98 off of each transaction, or 19.4 percent of their total expenditures. Online shoppers who purchased apparel saved an average of $31.89, or 18.8%, by making use of promotional coupons.
Largest Annual Savings
You can still save a lot of money in the long run even if you don’t get a huge discount on each individual transaction. Coupon codes for groceries, for instance, provide only mediocre savings of 15.8%.
Furthermore, just 46% of grocery transactions use a coupon code, so overall, buyers may only expect to cut 7% off their shopping budget using this method. This may not seem like a lot of money, but considering that food is an annual expense for most households, it may quickly mount up.
According to CouponFollow’s estimates, using discount codes to purchase groceries for home cooking can save the typical family $316 per year. That’s a higher annual sum than any other kind of spending. Using a cash-back app like Ibotta or Fetch Rewards can increase those savings even more.
Savings of $272 per year on domestic items and $264 per year on dining out are two further examples of high-value annual-savings buckets. These expenditures represent a considerable chunk of the normal family’s budget, making the use of discount codes all the more worthwhile.
How to Use Coupon Codes to Save the Most
You probably can’t switch all your purchases to online ones only to make use of discounts. If you run out of milk, you generally shouldn’t order more milk online because it will take too long to arrive.
On top of that, the cost of delivery would likely exceed the savings from the coupon if you made such a modest purchase.
However, it makes sense to squeeze as many savings as possible out of coupon coupons for the goods you currently buy online. In order to get the most out of discount codes, you should focus on where you can apply them.
1. Plan Your Buying
According to the CouponFollow research, there are some months when stores are more inclined to distribute discount coupons. For online coupons, the best month to use is October.
This month, over 41.5% of shoppers who looked for discount codes found one that they could use. Success rates of above 41% are also seen in April and May. Online coupon codes were less successful in January, March, August, and September for shoppers than in any other month.
Comparing the sizes of the reductions offered by the various coupon codes highlights the discrepancies even more clearly. Discount codes helped November shoppers save an average of 19%, and this does not include the savings from Black Friday sales that were available exclusively online.
With savings of 18.1% and 17.5%, respectively, December and October are also excellent months to put money aside. On average, reductions with promo codes are at their lowest in the months of February and May, at 16.5%.
Wait until October or November to make a major online buy. Your chances of finding a coupon and receiving a nice discount while using it while shopping at this time are increased. If you can’t bear to wait that long, at least try to avoid going shopping in August, when both coupon availability and discount strength are at their lowest.
2. Consistently Check Specific Categories
Tobacco products, alcoholic beverages, and grocery items typically have the most redeemable coupons, so look for those codes before making any purchases. And in terms of spending, you may save the most money on eating out, buying toiletries, and buying clothes.
In comparison, the potential savings from a coupon code when purchasing books is minimal. However, only 36.6% of consumers are successful in locating a valid coupon, and the average discount for those that do is $6.40.
If you’re looking to save a little money buying books online, it’s still worth your time to run a fast search for promo codes. It may not be worthwhile to keep looking for a discount if you don’t find one right away.
3. Using Coupon Apps
Online couponing is beneficial because it saves time and is easy to use. It is even less of a chore if you use a search app or a browser add-on to perform the digging for you.
Apps and browser extensions eliminate the steps of opening a new tab, conducting a search and identifying relevant discount codes. You may easily make purchases by utilizing the app or browser extension.
When you make an online purchase, you are presented with a selection of valid discount codes; from there, you may choose the one that works best for you. This facilitates the hunt for bargains in areas like books and travel, where promotional codes are harder to come by.
Naturally, even with a browser extension, you’ll still need to search through your list of discount codes and compare the deals. When looking for a discount, it’s tempting to go for the biggest one.
However, there are occasions when a different type of bargain, like one for a set cash amount or free shipping, will net you greater overall savings. A number of browser add-ons, such as Capital One Shopping and Honey by PayPal, handle the legwork of finding the greatest price and discount for you.
4. Make Stacks of Savings
When it comes to saving money when doing your online shopping, promo codes aren’t your only option. Online retailers occasionally host site-wide deals, during which all of their wares are marked down in price.
Sometimes they have sales that don’t require a coupon code but only apply to certain items. In order to save money when shopping online, it is wise to look for deals such as these rather than depending just on a coupon app.
Try “stacking,” or combining your discounts, to maximize your financial benefits. In general, you can only use one discount code per transaction on most websites. However, this doesn’t imply you can’t use online coupon codes with other sales.
Consider a knitwear store as an example:
- Discover a Deal. You visit multiple sites to check out the competition’s pricing. You find the desired sweater on sale for $20, despite its regular price of $30.
- Get a Discount With a Promotional Code. The next step is to look for discounts or have a browser add-on do it for you. You discover one that offers a further 10% off a single item. The new low cost is $18.
- Get a Gift Card. You buy it with a discount gift card you bought from a website like Raise.com for 10% off the retail price. The sweater costs $18 on credit yet you only spent $16.20 for it.
- Consider the Use of Incentives. You make a purchase using a rewards service like Rakuten (previously Ebates), which provides you $3 back on an $18 transaction. With the refund in place, your net cost will be less than $16.
On the other hand, deal stacking isn’t always effective. Some websites, for instance, feature a single field for entering any sort of discount code, including gift card numbers. So, you can’t combine a gift card with a discount code.
When faced with this choice, it is best to weigh the discounts offered by each type of contract and go with the one that provides the greatest overall value.
5. Avoid Adding More Money to a Discount
There are discount codes that only work if you spend over a particular amount on the website. It’s possible that if you spend more than $50, the shipping will be free with a certain coupon.
You can benefit from this if you intend to spend at least $50 on merchandise. But if you aren’t, you’ll have to decide if it’s worth it to spend more money than necessary to redeem the discount.
If you’re on the cusp of the limit, then maybe. For instance, if you add a $2 item to your cart and save $10 on shipping, even if it’s something you don’t need, you’re still $8 ahead.
A $10 savings is not worth buying an additional $30 worth of items if what you need to buy costs only $20. Justify your spending if the item is something you absolutely needed and the whole price, including delivery, is comparable to what you would pay at a local store. Spending to save isn’t saving if you have to spend money.
Every time you shop online, you should use a discount code to get a better deal. Not always will a discount coupon be available. In any case, finding one is a quick process that can be accomplished in a matter of seconds or even fewer with the help of a mobile app or browser add-on. And the cost reductions can be rather noticeable, especially in areas like booze, clothes, and toiletries.
You probably won’t save $1,465 a year with coupons. Why not preserve even ten percent of it if you can do so with minimal effort?