It's no secret that I love $1 sales at the grocery store. They're one of the easiest ways to get items for free - and who doesn't like getting something for free?
For example, when a bag of frozen vegetables is on sale for $1 and I use a $1 coupon, the coupon's value essentially "pays" for the vegetables - they're free.
But what if the frozen vegetable happens to be on sale for 75 cents and you use a $1 coupon? This is an example of what couponers call overage - and it's one of my favorite aspects of couponing. Overage occurs when the value of your coupon exceeds the cost of the item you're buying.
If I use a $1 coupon on the 75-cent vegetables, what happens to that extra 25 cents? At checkout, most stores will apply the extra quarter to the rest of the items I purchase that day. So, if during the same shopping trip I also buy some bakery rolls for $1.25, the extra quarter of coupon overage is automatically applied to the rest of my total. In this example, after giving the cashier my $1 vegetables coupon I would owe just $1 in cash for the rolls.
Overage can play a big role in reducing your total grocery bill. If I have many items in the same transaction, each with a coupon that exceeds the value of what I'm buying, I can gain several dollars of overage. That overage can be used to buy anything: fruit, vegetables, dairy or whatever I'd like. With a family of five, I can always find plenty of other items that my household needs.
However, it's important to remember that no store is going to give a shopper cash back for overage. I can't walk into my local grocery store with that $1 coupon, buy the 75-cent vegetables and then ask for a quarter in change. It just doesn't work that way. But because I'm also buying other items during the same trip, coupon overage helps save money on everything else I take home.