30 Things You Should Never Buy Without a Coupon
If you like cutting costs but have shied away from using coupons because it seems too time-consuming to track them down, you might be missing out on major savings.
“No matter what you buy, you can likely get it for cheaper by using a coupon,” said Linsay Thomas, a guest finance expert with deal and coupon website DealsPlus. “By using just a couple [of] coupons a week, you can save a few hundred dollars a year.” Couponing isn’t nearly as complicated or time-consuming as you might think. You can easily find promotional codes and printable coupons online or on mobile apps while you’re shopping, and you should be using them to save on these items.
Last updated: Oct. 31, 2019
Whether you’re shopping for women’s, men’s or children’s apparel, you can almost always find a coupon for a discount on clothes, said Howard Schaffer, the former general manager of Offers.com. The average discount ranges from 15% to 25%, but you can find coupons for 50% off or more during major shopping holidays, such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday, he said.
Retailers most likely to offer coupons for clothing include JCPenney, Kohl’s, Macy’s and Sears. “You can generally save more money when you shop online at these stores, as many of them have better deals or coupons for online shoppers,” said Schaffer.
In general, you can find coupons and coupon codes by visiting clothing retailers’ websites, signing up for retailers’ emails, visiting coupon sites — such as DealsPlus, Offers.com and Rather-Be-Shopping — and using mobile apps like Coupon Sherpa.
By using coupons, you can avoid paying full price for shoes. For example, Finish Line and Kohl’s both offer coupons for brand discounts and certain percentages off entire purchases, said Schaffer.
Some shoe retailers offer special coupons for members of their loyalty programs. For example, DSW has a tier rewards program that lets members earn points that can be redeemed as cash toward future purchases and products. Plus, it offers members special deals and coupons.
“DSW already boasts discount prices on designer shoes, but I only shop there after I receive their coupon for $20 off $49 or more,” said Kendal Perez, a former savings expert with Coupon Sherpa. “Rewards members receive these coupons in the mail about twice per year.”
“Never buy jewelry without a coupon,” said Josh Elledge, founder of SavingsAngel. “Jewelry is already marked up quite a bit, so not only should you use a coupon, you should time your purchases to match amazing sales and clearance offers.”
You’ll find jewelry marked down during holiday sales events. Then, using a coupon, you can easily get more than 60% off the regular retail price, he said.
To find coupons for jewelry stores and retailers that sell jewelry, Elledge recommends visiting RetailMeNot. If you shop online, you might even be able to earn cash back by making purchases with select retailers through Swagbucks, he said.
4. Restaurant Meals
Whether you dine out regularly or occasionally, you can keep costs down with coupons. Check your mail for offers from local restaurants, said Perez. Or, visit Valpak for local coupons and daily deal sites, such as Groupon, for restaurant discounts. You can also find coupons for chain restaurants on sites such as Coupon Sherpa.
For example, Perez said she takes advantage of a Coupon Sherpa coupon for $1 off a sandwich or salad at Quiznos on days when she doesn’t pack her lunch for work.
“You should never pay full price for pizza,” said Thomas. “Pizza chains such as Round Table, Papa John’s, Domino’s and Pizza Hut always offer coupon deals.” Even local pizza places offer coupons, she said.
You can find pizza coupons throughout the year on sites such as DealsPlus, but you’ll find even more offers around holidays and the Super Bowl, said Thomas. Offers range from 15% off orders to free pizzas.
6. Car Washes
You can often find coupons for local services such as car washes in monthly mailers, Valpak mailers or through Coupon Sherpa’s app, which pulls in local coupons from various sources, said Perez. Groupon is another good source of coupons for local services.
Perez said that she uses Groupon to buy a six-pack of car washes to a local car wash place as a gift for her dad, who likes to use the service during the winter months.
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7. Dry Cleaning
Because there aren’t many national or even regional dry-cleaning chains, there’s a lot of competition from local cleaners to attract customers, said Mike Catania, founder of PromotionCode.org. If you download the Yelp app, you can use the filter option to search for dry cleaners offering deals. Doing this will return lots of coupons for buy one, get one free or $1 per garment deals for first-time customers, he said.
“The real bounty, though, is after you pick up your first order,” Catania said. “The paper on the wire hanger will typically have printed coupons that rival or even exceed the first-time coupons to keep you coming back.”
Also, check the dry cleaners’ websites for coupons, said Perez. For example, she saved 25% at a local dry cleaner by showing a coupon from its website.
8. Oil Changes
“Never get an oil change without a coupon,” said Kyle James, founder of Rather-Be-Shopping. “Not a huge savings, but it’ll add up over the life of your vehicle.”
This is especially true if you get your oil changed at Jiffy Lube, which regularly offers a $5 off coupon.
9. Rental Cars
Many car rental agencies and travel booking sites offer promotional codes on their own sites or on sites such as RetailMeNot or Groupon. Currently, RetailMeNot has a coupon for up to 35% off Budget and Avis rentals.
10. Ride-Sharing Services
It’s no secret that Uber fares tend to be cheaper than the average taxi, but the service can be even more economical if you use a coupon. If you haven’t used Uber, you can score $15 off your first ride with a coupon from Offers.com. The site also offers a Lyft coupon good for $15 off your first trip with the company.
11. Arts and Crafts Items
If you’re not shopping with a coupon at a craft store, you’re overspending, said James. Stores such as Hobby Lobby, Joann Fabric & Craft Stores and Michaels always have coupons for a minimum of 40% off any one regularly priced item, he said.
To find coupons, search online by the store’s name or ask an employee for a coupon because the stores typically have some available, said James. You can also download the stores’ apps to find their coupons and show them at checkout for discounts.
Rather than pay full price for cookware, dinnerware, small kitchen appliances and home accents, look for coupons from home goods and department stores.
For example, Bed Bath & Beyond offers a 20% off deal if you sign up to receive the retailer’s emails, said Brent Shelton of BFAds.net.
Sending flowers to a loved one is a nice gesture, but it’s also pricey. Before picking a florist, check sites such as DealsPlus, Offers.com and RetailMeNot to see which one is offering the best coupon deal. For example, DealsPlus recently had a coupon code for 25% off sitewide on Teleflora orders.
Coupons are often available for diapers, said James, adding that an online search can yield printable coupons for savings of $2 to $5 per package for most popular brands.
“The coupon savings will typically get you under, or very near, the price of the store-brand diapers at Costco and Sam’s Club,” he said.
15. Baby Wipes
Coupons are also available for baby wipes. You can expect to save 50 cents to 75 cents if you check manufacturer and coupon websites, said Thomas.
He also recommends signing up for the rewards programs offered by companies such as Huggies and Pampers to earn discounts and freebies. You can sign up on the companies’ sites.
16. Baby Formula
Buying formula to feed your infant can be pricey, said Thomas. But you can cut the cost of baby formula by using coupons.
“There are always coupons for these products,” said Thomas. “So, if you have little ones, be sure to check online before every shopping trip.”
Always look for cereal coupons in Sunday newspaper inserts or on manufacturer websites, such as Kellogg’s and General Mills, said James.
“They’ll save you right around $1 a box, which will add up quickly if you have a house full of kids who eat it every morning,” he said.
18. Salad Dressing
Manufacturer coupons for salad dressing are regularly available in Sunday newspaper inserts and online at sites such as Coupons.com, said James. Savings can be as high as $1 for salad dressing for brands including Olive Garden and Panera at Home.
You can typically find the best discounts in January and the spring months, said Thomas. So, stock up then and save.
Coupons for barbecue sauce, mayonnaise, ketchup and mustard are common in the summer, when many people have picnics and parties, said Thomas.
“You can get items for up to $1 off,” she said. “Use [coupons] to stock up for the rest of the year.”
20. Frozen Foods
If you opt to buy frozen foods for quick meals rather than pick up pricey carry-out, keep costs down even more by using coupons. For example, Weight Watchers, El Monterey, Tai Pei and Totino’s often offer $1 off coupons, Thomas said. However, note that you might need to buy multiple items to get the discount.
You can find coupons for frozen food on sites such as Coupons.com and your grocer’s website.
If you want to avoid paying retail prices for cosmetics, look for coupons before you shop. For example, RetailMeNot currently has an offer for 20% off at Ulta.com.
You can frequently find coupons for cosmetic retailers at RetailMeNot. Also check the websites of drugstores, such as Walgreens, for digital coupons that can be loaded directly to your rewards card if you’re a member of the store’s loyalty program.
22. Toothpaste and Toothbrushes
Manufacturer coupons for toothpaste and toothbrushes are always available either from the newspaper or online, said James.
“The savings will get you between 75 cents and $1 off a tube of toothpaste and 50 cents to 75 cents off a new toothbrush,” he said. “Never pay full price for that healthy smile.”
Do read the fine print, though, because multipacks and travel sizes are often ineligible for coupons, Thomas said.
“No matter what your hair care budget is, there are coupons to fit your needs,” said Thomas.
Brands such as Garnier, Infusium, Pantene, Suave and TRESemmé have coupons available once or twice a month, and savings range from 50 cents to $3, she said. Check the coupon carefully, though, because you sometimes have to purchase two items for the discount to apply.
Deodorant isn’t a pricey item, but there’s no need to pay the full cost when you can easily find a coupon on a grocery, drugstore or coupon site. Gillette, Mitchum, Old Spice and Secret all tend to offer frequent coupons, Thomas said. The typical discount is 50 cents to $1.
25. Laundry Detergent
“Whether you’re a fan of Tide, Arm & Hammer, Clorox or Purell, coupons are always readily available,” said Thomas. “Grab them when you see them — which is usually weekly or at least twice a month — and save $2 to $3 per item.”
You can find coupons for detergent on sites such as Coupons.com and grocery store sites.
26. Cleaning Products
If you want to save on cleaning products, start clipping.
“There are always coupons for Mr. Clean, Clorox, Scrubbing Bubbles, Febreze, Swiffer, Pledge, Windex and other popular household cleaning products,” said Thomas. “You might find even more during spring, a popular time to do a deep clean.”
Coupons typically offer savings of 50 cents to $2 or more.
“Sometimes you might need to buy multiple products in order for the coupon to be valid, so check your coupons carefully,” Thomas said.
27. Toilet Paper
Toilet paper is something you have to have on hand at all times. To minimize the cost of this essential item, look for a coupon before you buy it.
Supermarkets such as Kroger have free mobile apps that you can use to download coupons. Check to see what offers are available before adding toilet paper to your shopping cart.
Thomas said that you can save on multiple name brands, including Charmin, Cottonelle and Angel Soft, and savings typically range from 25 cents off to $1 off per pack.
“Toilet paper coupons typically have size restrictions, so make sure you’re grabbing the right package before you check out,” she said.
Coupons can help you keep down the cost of batteries, so look for discounts on brands such as Duracell and Energizer. For example, RetailMeNot recently featured a 20% off deal on Duracell batteries.
“Battery purchases tend to increase around Christmas, so look for even more savings around this time,” said Thomas.
29. Cold and Flu Medication
“Whether it’s you or your child who’s feeling under the weather, you can avoid paying full price for medications,” said Thomas. “You can save $1 or $2 on cold and flu products, such as Triaminic, NyQuil, DayQuil, Mucinex, Vicks and Delsym.”
She adds that you might be able to save $3 or more when you buy multiple items. And coupons for cold and flu products are more common during the fall and winter months when you’re more likely to get sick.
30. Antacids and Heartburn Relief
Avoid overpaying for antacids and heartburn relief products, such as Alka-Seltzer, Pepto-Bismol and Prilosec, by using coupons.
“You can often save $1 or $2 on a single product, so check online before you make a shopping trip,” Thomas said. “You can typically find these coupons any time of the year.”
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Gabrielle Olya contributed to the reporting for this article.