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The Bottom Line: Coupon Codes

Updated: Tuesday, August 12 2014, 12:56 AM EDT
NISKAYUNA -- If you're an online shopper, you probably know all about coupon codes.

But you may not know there's a strategy to using those codes, to get the best savings.

Mark LoCastro and his team at have tracked the trends of coupon codes for two years.

"A lot of people think these coupons are released at random, and sometimes they are," LoCastro tells CBS 6's Dori Marlin. "But if you research them closely, like we did, patterns do emerge."

The Bottom Line on those patterns?

Days you get the most coupons are Sunday and Monday, at the start of the week - or, at the start of the month.

But the days you get the strongest coupons - the best discounts, and the highest percentages off - are Friday or Saturday, at the end of the week, or at the end of the month.

That means the best time to buy comes down to a game of "Press Your Luck."

"It depends how bad you need a certain item, because if you're getting maybe 10% off and free shipping, and you really need the item, go ahead and make the purchase," LoCastro advises. "But if it's something you don't need, it's not urgent, play the waiting game and kind of wait out that retailer."

As for the best months to find those coupon codes, one of them is right now - the month of August - and as you might guess, that's because of back to school sales.

The other one, though, is a little more surprising: the month of October.  LoCastro says that's because stores are pushing Halloween sales, and perhaps not as surprising, pumping up their holiday sales.

And when it comes to whether you should make that purchase online, or buy the same exact item in the store, here's something else you should consider.

"Say you do go to a store and you see a product that you like, and then you go on your smartphone or your tablet and you search for a coupon code," LoCastro says, "it can't hurt to ask the sales associate if they can apply that discount to the purchase in store."

LoCastro's got plenty of other ways to become shopping savvy.  He tells Dori:

Wait for holidays to buy if you can, since the savings are stronger.  Labor Day coming up should have some very strong discounts.

If you buy using a coupon code, but then a code with a better discount comes along just days later, try going back to the retailer and asking them to honor that better code.

Try "shopping cart abandonment" - start the checkout process, but leave the items in your cart, and sometimes the store will e-mail you a special coupon.

And finally, don't ever check out without searching for a coupon code online.

The Bottom Line: Coupon Codes

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