THERE FOR THE TAKING
Who doesn't love a good bargain? Well, many of the discounts on this list are right in front of consumers but often overlooked. Others take a bit of digging. If you think you've uncovered every last source of savings, read on to make sure.
Many store receipts bear coupons on the back -- especially those from supermarket registers. 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.
Think about all the times there's a request at the bottom of a receipt to participate in a survey. Now think about the number of times you've taken action to be eligible for a freebie or discount. Taco Bell enters participants into a $500 sweepstakes drawing (three to five winners a month); taking a Subway survey brings a free cookie; and Chick-fil-A offers something free on the next visit, such as a sandwich. Many retail outlets and other restaurants want feedback and are willing to pay for it. Don't pass up the opportunity.
Sporting events and concerts are well known for teaming up with restaurant and fast-food sponsors. Next time, check the back of the ticket stub for a coupon. Sometimes event sponsors give away freebies if the home team wins or scores. Fans in Ohio have been offered free chili at Wendy's when the Columbus Blue Jackets hockey team scores three goals and two free toppings at Donatos Pizza for each goal by the Columbus Crew soccer team.
Before signing on with a cellphone provider, for example, check to see whether your employer (or your spouse's employer) qualifies you and family members for a discount (usually up to 10 percent). If you already have a plan, the discounted rate 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.
HOME INSURANCE DISCOUNTS
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. Installing a smoke detector system that alerts the authorities may qualify for even more money off. Check with your insurance company for these and other overlooked discounts on homeowners insurance.
CAR INSURANCE DISCOUNTS
Excellent driving record? That could justify a discount on car insurance. The same goes for student drivers who earn good grades, but these discounts are often not well advertised. Calling and speaking directly to a representative is a good way to start.
Coupon packets from the likes of Valpak probably show up in the mail on a regular basis. Look closely instead of just tossing them in the recycling bin; there may be unneeded coupons for big-ticket items, but often there are also everyday coupons that can yield savings. For example, I've used a coupon from Paper Mint (now Local Flavor) to save $5 on $40 worth of plants for the yard and bought three rooms of carpet cleaning for the price of one. The mailers also include coupons for local dining that are worth clipping.
Retailers such as Kohl's and Old Navy run cash promotions regularly. Customers who spend a certain amount get "Kohl's Cash" or "Old Navy Super Cash" that can be used on a subsequent shopping trip (the dates usually are specified). For every $50 spent at Kohl's, for example, the retailer offers a coupon for $10 that can be used just like cash in the store, with no minimum purchase.
ON THE PACKAGING
Sometimes there's a coupon right on a package; batteries, electronic gadgets, and even foodstuffs come to mind. Look carefully while shopping and peel off this easy-to-overlook discount upon reaching the checkout lane.
Before heading out to shop, do a quick search online for coupons. Some require printing at home, and others can be pulled up on a smartphone. Customers at Michaels, for example, can often find 40 percent-off coupons and use them just by flashing a smartphone at the register. Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores and Hobby Lobby post similar coupons on their websites.
SOCIAL MEDIA DEALS
Deal sites such as Groupon and LivingSocial offer rewards for referring people through social media. For example, consumers who refer a friend can earn $10 in Groupon Bucks if the friend buys a Groupon using the referral link. LivingSocial has a similar program and also gives members the deal they want for free if they refer three friends who buy the deal.
Shoppers can earn freebies and discounts just for walking into a store and checking in via Facebook or another social networking site. (Not all stores offer deals this way, but it's worth checking.) Smartphone apps such as ShopKick let customers earn points or credit just for walking into retailers on their list. Users who accumulate enough "kicks" can cash them in for gift cards.