Need coupons? Look for them early in the week.

There are patterns for when retailers release coupons. For example, many retailers release coupons on the first day of every month, or near holidays. 

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    Monica Knight, a dental hygienist and mother of two, shows her coupon binder at her home in Boise, Idaho, June 28, 2011. Many retailers release coupons on the first day of every month, or near holidays.
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Online coupons may appear to be released at random. But, if you look closely, patterns emerge. Knowing when stores are more likely to release new offers allows you to strategize for savings — and perhaps save some time looking for discounts in the process.

We've talked about stores with the most coupon codes before — those that you are most likely to find a discount for if you search before purchasing. But, besides sheer volume, there are also particular times that are generally better for finding coupons at any store.

In addition, there are specific stores that engage in rather habitual behavior when it comes to releasing coupons, which means there are certain times you can check to find their latest offers.

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To help you map out a more systematic approach for finding discounts online, we've taken a close look at the timing of when coupons are released using information from our coupon database and experience. We've already singled out the specific trends for our readers' seven favorite retailers for coupons, but now we're back to lay out the general best times to go searching for coupons using data from the past two years.

First of the month

Retailers always release a lot of coupons on the first day of every month, so it's a great time to check for new offers. Some of the coupons released at this time will be valid for the entire month, which gives plenty of leeway for making a purchasing decision.

However, coupons that last that long might not be the store's best offer. Larger discounts are usually released for shorter durations, such as a week or a couple of days. Even so, it's good to be aware of monthly discounts a store is offering if you need them in a pinch and can't wait for a better coupon.

If you aren't in a hurry, keep an eye out for offers that come out for shorter periods of time for potentially bigger savings. Mid-month or later can be a good time to check. At this point, retailers may release more enticing offers to spur more sales before the month ends.

Early in the week

We see a higher volume of new coupons at the first of each week. As you may have gathered from the retailers mentioned above, there are various stores that rotate offers on a weekly basis. The most common day for these offers to come out is on Sunday and they will usually last until the following Saturday.

Check early each week, like Mondays, to find new discounts aplenty. If you aren't finding anything too compelling for a store you want to purchase from, you can also try checking at the end of the week on Thursday or Friday when weekend discounts start coming in.

Around holidays and special occasions

You will always find an increase in coupon codes released around holidays, particularly the major ones. The times these coupons start being released varies based on the holiday and what people typically purchase for it.

Those that involve gift giving or purchases like new dress wear intended for use on the holiday, like Mother's Day and Easter, will usually have coupon codes released well in advance of the day, up to six weeks ahead of time. However, there are fewer coupons released this early and the bulk of the offers start ramping up around two weeks prior.

As the holiday gets even closer and standard shipping deadlines pass, you are more likely to see special expedited shipping offers to get your purchase delivered in time. These can be great options for last-minute shoppers who want to avoid hefty shipping charges for quick delivery.

But they may be offered in lieu of the percentage or dollar-off discounts you'll see earlier on, which might also include free standard shipping in time for the holiday.

Holidays that aren't associated with gift giving, like Memorial Day, actually have the bulk of coupon offers right at the holiday itself. For Memorial Day this year, we saw offers start trickling in during the second week of May, around three weeks prior to the holiday. But, the vast majority of the offers came in on Thursday and Friday right before the holiday weekend and went through Monday.

Besides official holidays, there are also other special occasions throughout the year that will experience similar increases in offers. Most notably, Cyber Monday is one of the very best days to find big coupon discounts and these offers will typically be for that day only. Other occasions include Super Bowl Sunday, graduation, and back-to-school.

In August and October

When looking at which months out of the year are best for finding coupons, our data shows this can vary quite a bit from year to year. However, for the past two years, our total number of active coupons reached their highest levels at the end of August and the end of October.

At the end of August, the higher numbers are likely due to a mix of back-to-school and final summer clearance offers. At the end of October, we're right at a point where we have both Halloween and holiday shopping season offers affecting coupon volume.

Apply timing to your savings approach

They say timing is everything. When you have a good idea of when coupons are being released and some of the general patterns stores tend to follow, you can coordinate savings for your own purchases accordingly. It can help give you that bit of extra edge in your own savings game.

Sarah Jones is the coupon editor for DealNews, where this article first appeared:

The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of the best personal finance bloggers out there. Our guest bloggers are not employed or directed by the Monitor and the views expressed are the bloggers' own, as is responsibility for the content of their blogs. To contact us about a blogger, click here. To add or view a comment on a guest blog, please go to the blogger's own site by clicking on the link in the blog description box above.

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