how to shop online, part 2: coupon codes

last week we discussed why i shop online and how reading reviews can make for smarter purchases. this week we’re talking about how to save money with very little effort using coupon codes.

lesson no. 2: use coupons! after i read the reviews of an item i want to purchase and have found the best price for that item online, i’ll search for a coupon code to make sure i’m getting the best deal possible. if you take just a minute or two to google, for example, “urban outfitters coupon codes,” you’ll be amazed at what you can find.

search for coupons i first heard about this concept a few years ago on the today show. they interviewed the founder of, a site that finds and shares active deals (such as free shipping or $20 off when you spend $60), coupon codes (things like “TAKE10”) and in-store printable coupons (for you non-online shoppers). is similar and is my favorite of the coupon-ing sites. on this site users can also share their own coupons, shopping tips or knowledge of sales cycles.people will even offer their birthday coupon codes if they won’t be using them. another great feature is that you can rate the coupons and whether or not it worked for you (or if it was expired or could only be used once), saving other people time.

make coupons come to you another way to get coupon codes—and sales and free-shipping notifications—is to sign up for your favorite stores’ e-newsletters. that way you know immediately when your favorite store is offering 30% off everything or 20% off when you enter SPRING11 at the checkout. you can also get on the e-mail lists for and and be notified when there are active coupons for your favorite stores.

sometimes stores will send you a coupon code as soon as you join the mail list! i recently signed up for ann taylor loft’s e-mails and got a WELCOME9 coupon code for 25% off any full-price item, good through the end of the month. you’re welcome to use it!

do you use coupon codes? have you ever gotten a really great deal using them? what websites do you use?