It goes in the face of a common perception: that only those who need to pinch pennies are watching the Sunday circulars. But a recent shows that online shoppers with higher incomes and college educations are more likely to use promotional codes than those with lower incomes, and high school diplomas or less.
The study, conducted by Harris Interactive for PromotionalCodes.com, found that 74 percent of online adult shoppers in the U.S. with a household income of $75,000 or greater, use promotional codes when shopping online. That percentage declines with income levels; 65 percent of households with income in the $35,000 to $49,999 range use codes, and shrinks to 59 percent in households making less than $35,000 a year.
"It's commonly believed that the practice of bargain hunting is reserved for those with less money, but this survey clearly shows that those with higher incomes are savvier online shoppers," said Regina Novickis, consumer savings expert with PromotionalCodes.com. "Likewise, college graduates are putting their educations to use when it comes to shopping smarter by using online discount codes."
For those who still shop in person, an app like RetailMeNot strolls with you. Using geo-targeting within enclosed areas (for example, shopping malls) the app alerts users to deals that are available nearby, allows customers to request coupons for their favorite stores, and can provide recommendations for shops worth checking out. The website is free to use, as are the companion apps for iPhone and Android.
Perhaps the most convenient app for online bargain hunting is the FatWallet Black Friday Deal Finder app, which not only lets users search and compare bargains, but buy in just two clicks, directly, without having to go through the retailer's site.
Finally, don't overlook apps offered by individual retailers, many of which provide users with mobile coupons that can be scanned just like any other coupon.
With enough time and research, there's a deal to be had for just about anything. But Denise Winston, a former banker who now runs Money Start Here, warns that you shouldn't sink too much time into saving a few bucks at the registers.
"You have to think, how much is an hour of your time worth?" she says. "When you know how much you make per hour, it'll help you decide if it's worth an hour or more of your time to save $10 in coupons and online deals."