Developing habits that benefit your wallet are essential to keeping finances in check. Today I wanted to share one small habit that has saved me a lot of cash over the last few years and is now something I do on auto-pilot.

These days most of us have the internet close at hand almost all of the time, it’s easy to keep this tip up.

Before I buy anything I always consult Google and Bing to see if I can find any special offers or coupons. I don’t obsess over the search or start digging super deep, just a quick look.

I’ll give you a recent example…

Last week my partner and I took her nephews out bowling. We were taking them to Spare Time bowling in Colchester, Vermont. We picked a Tuesday night because we had been told that kids were able to eat free in the restaurant area, a great deal!

About an hour before heading out the door I decided to do my usual online discount check. I almost didn’t do it because it was already a discount night and being an independent local alley I didn’t think they would have online promotions, well I was wrong.

Their website was offering a 2 games for the price of 1 for up to 4 people. All they needed was my name and email address for their mailing list, no problem!

So I printed off the coupon and we got the extra games and the free meals. The kids had buckets of fun, of course my astonishingly brilliant 106 scoring game was a lot of fun too.

So how do you search for these discounts?

I don’t do too much, it’s a good financial sense habit but not one I want to take over my life or become an obsession. Here is an example of how I found the coupons for the bowling alley broken down.

1) First I always go to Google or Bing and type the place-name followed by the words coupon or discount. In this case if I type “Spare Time Bowling Colchester Vermont Coupons” here are the results.

In this case nothing sticks out as having a coupon that is useful so I go to the next step.

2) Next up I usually either see the establishment / business / product website in the search results (in this case the 4th result in Google) or I do an additional search and go to their official page. So going to SpareTimeColchester.com you can see that right in their navigation they have two tabs of interest. Often an official site will have a special offers section.

Selecting the “Free Game Coupons” option requires only that you sign up to receive the 2 for 1 games coupon as a PDF that can be printed and presented at the time of payment.

3) If I still fail to find a coupon through Google / Bing search or on the official website then I may go to a forum such as FatWallet.com and SlickDeals.com and see if I can find anything there. At this point anymore than 10 minutes or so in, I usually will give up the search and go enjoy myself with no discounts!

I’ve saved on train tickets, meals at local restaurants, theme park entry, vehicle hire and more just by using this habit.

So just do it, whatever you are doing, you never know and it doesn’t harm to try.

What great discounts have you managed to find by doing a quick online search?

Thanks for reading. Forest can be found writing almost daily over at his lifestyle blog where he covers topics such as The Cheapest Places To Live and How To Simplify Your Life.