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Frugal Friday: Best Places to Find Deals

iStock_000019103884SmallToday we’re going to let you behind the scenes and share some of our insider secrets — namely, where we do our digging to uncover the deals we post for you in this series each Friday. There’s a laundry list of tips and tricks, so pull up a chair:

Deal-focused websites. There are some great general ones out there, many of which you already know: dealnews.com, Brad’s Deals, and RetailMeNot (where, full disclosure, Jean is a contributor) are three favorites. But there are also narrow sites that are helpful if you’re looking for one specific thing — a break on dinner, for example, can be found at Eat Drink Deals, which let me know that you can get $1 off a Quiznos sub through September 23. And TechBargains has a good round up of notable price cuts on electronics.

Facebook and Twitter. Facebook in particular has become a great source of sale information — if you become a fan of your favorite brands and stores, you’ll automatically be updated in your feed when they are running a promotion. On Wednesday, for instance, Olive Garden shared a link to a coupon for a buy one, get one half off entree deal. Earlier in the week, Jiffy Lube shared this coupon for $5 off an oil change. Bottom line: It pays to fan companies you visit anyway on Facebook and follow them on Twitter. If you find their updates annoying, you can get rid of them with the click of a few buttons.

Good old-fashioned Google. This seems like the oldest trick in the book — in the Internet era, at least. But it often turns up the best results: If you Google the name of the store where you are shopping and the phrase “discount code” or “coupon code,” you’ll very often uncover at least a few deals. Free shipping, in my experience, is the most common. It’s an exercise that is always worth doing before exiting your cart or heading to the store.

Retailer websites. Yes, they’ll advertise any major promotions on the main page. But many retailers also have an entire page dedicated to coupons or their weekly ad. Michaels, for instance, is famous for this, and I never head there for a frame without checking out this page — you can nearly always get 40 to 50% off a regular-price item. Deals available will vary, but other retailers that post their weekly ads include Home Depot, Best Buy, and Kohls. Google the name of any large retailer and the words “Sunday circular” or “weekly ad” and see what pops up. And one final note here: Daily Finance recently posted a list of six retailers where you should never pay full price, which is a good read.

Email. I’ve long had an email address solely dedicated to promotional emails and spam, and when I’m searching for a deal — either for myself or the blog — I generally check there first. Gmail recently overhauled its email system, putting all of these promotional emails under a separate tab (which has some retailers upset), so it’s even easier to sort through the messages if you’re a Gmail user — even if you don’t have a separate promotion inbox.

Credit cards. No, you shouldn’t let a purchase ride on your credit card without paying it off — in full — each month. But credit cards do have perks, and one of them is that many partner with retailers, travel companies, and restaurants to bring you savings. American Express, for instance, has a deal center that is currently promoting cardholder offers from Shoes.com, Dockers, and other retailers.

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