cheapism

10 overlooked discounts you don't want to miss

June 4, 2014 at 5:10 PM ET

April Englebert shows a handful of coupons, including manufacturers' coupons she'd gotten by e-mail and ones she'd bought on eBay and printed out, outside a grocery store in Portland, Ore., in this July 14, 2009, photo.
Rick Bowmer / AP
April Englebert shows a handful of coupons, including manufacturers' coupons she'd gotten by e-mail and ones she'd bought on eBay and printed out, outside a grocery store in Portland, Ore., in this July 14, 2009, photo.

Who doesn’t love a good bargain? But who isn’t lazy about collecting on them? Well, many of the discounts on this list are often overlooked but found right in front of you. Others take a bit of digging. If you’re in a fog about where and how to uncover savings, Cheapism.com reveals 10 places to start.

1. Receipt coupons. Many store receipts bear coupons on the back — especially those that come from supermarket registers. In fact, I recently picked up a free watch battery by using the coupon on the back of a receipt. Other discounts I’ve noticed on receipts include $3 off a pizza.

2. Customer surveys. Think about all the times you’ve paid for something and seen a request at the bottom of the receipt to participate in a survey to be eligible for a free or discounted product or service. Now count how many times you’ve gone home and taken action on this often overlooked discount. Taco Bell, Chick-fil-A and Subway are just three companies that entice you to take a survey with the promise of a reward. Taco Bell enters you into a $500 sweepstakes drawing (three to five winners a month); taking the Subway survey rewards you with a free cookie; and Chick-fil-A offers something free on your next visit, like a sandwich. Many retail outlets and restaurants want the feedback and are willing to pay for it. Don’t pass up the opportunity.   

3. Ticket stubs. Sporting events and concerts are notorious for teaming up with restaurant and fast-food sponsors. Next time you attend one, check the back of the ticket stub for a coupon. Sometimes event sponsors give away freebies if the home team wins or scores. Local examples include a free chili at Wendy’s when the Columbus Blue Jackets score three (hockey) goals, and two free toppings at Donatos Pizza for each (soccer) goal scored by the Columbus Crew.

4. Work discounts. Perks and employee satisfaction often go hand-in-hand. Before signing on with a cell phone plan, for example, check to see whether your employer or your spouse’s qualifies you and family members for a discount (usually up to 10 percent). If you have a plan and subsequently learn through the carrier about this overlooked discount, it can probably be activated starting with the next billing cycle. The same goes for fitness clubs, although this deal is generally available through the employer’s health insurance provider.

5. Home insurance discounts. According to My Realty Times, there are several ways to qualify for discounts on home insurance. Deadbolts on every entry/exit door as well as up-to-code smoke detectors can easily net a 5 percent rate cut. Install a smoke detector system that alerts the authorities and you may qualify for even more money off. Check with your insurance company for these and other overlooked discounts.

6. Car insurance discounts. Do you have an excellent driving record? Then you may be eligible for a discount on your car insurance. The same goes for student drivers who earn good grades. For car and home insurance you must actively seek out these discounts, as they’re often not well advertised. Calling and speaking directly to a representative is a good way to start.

7. Coupon mailers. Valpak, Paper Mint, Town Money Saver and the like — you’re no doubt familiar with these coupon packets as they show up in your mail on a regular basis. Do you sort through or just toss them in the recycle bin? If you look closely, you’ll find coupons for big-ticket items you don’t need often, but there are also everyday coupons that can yield savings. For example, I just used a Paper Mint coupon that saved me $5 on $40 worth of plants for our yard, and a few months ago we bought three rooms of carpet cleaning for the price of one room. The mailers also include coupons for local dining that are definitely worth clipping.  

8. Cash coupons. Retailers like Kohl’s and Old Navy regularly run cash promotions. By spending a certain amount, you’ll receive “Kohl’s” cash or “Old Navy” cash that can be used on a subsequent shopping trip (the dates usually are specified). Each retailer offers its own variation on the theme, but I’m partial to the Kohl’s Cash program. For each $50 you spend, you get a coupon for $10 that is just like cash in the store. There is no minimum purchase — walk in with $10 Kohl’s Cash and whatever you buy is yours for $10 less. I currently have $20 in Kohl’s Cash to spend starting next week and I’ll use it to buy my nephew’s birthday present.

9. Instant rebate/coupon on the packaging. Sometimes there’s a coupon right on the package; batteries, gadgets, and even foodstuffs come to mind. Look carefully the next time you shop and peel off this easy-to-overlook discount as you reach the check-out lane.   

10. Online coupons. Before heading out to shop, I do a quick search online for coupons. Some require printing at home, and others can be pulled up on a smartphone and redeemed at the register. I recently saved 40 percent on an item at Michael’s by finding a coupon on my smartphone and flashing it at the register. Joanne Fabrics and Hobby Lobby also post similar coupons on their websites.

More from Cheapism:

Kmart vs. Target vs. Walmart: a discount stores showdown 

Best air conditioners under $300 

11 essential rules for negotiating a discount 

What's the cheapest grocery store: Walmart, Kroger, or Aldi?

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