Coupons can rev up instant-savings offers

Any time a store offers an instant-savings deal I get excited. Sales that offer instant savings of a specified dollar amount when shoppers buy certain items are great opportunities for us to stock up at sale prices and to actually get the store to "pay us" to shop.

Recently, my store had a "Buy 10, Save $3" sale. The store's weekly advertisement showed a group of assorted products. Buying any products on the page in combinations of ten would yield an instant savings of $3 at the bottom of my receipt. This particular ad was divided into sections: one section with items priced at $1, the next group with items priced at $2.50 and so on.

When I see a sale like this, I immediately start crunching numbers. In this type of sale the least expensive items tend to be the best deal. For example, if I buy ten items from the dollar group of products, I'll reach $10 in cost - but I'll receive instant savings of $3 for buying ten items. So, I'll ultimately pay $7 for my 10 items - 70 cents each.

So far so good. But what happens if I use coupons on these items? Things start to get fun! Remember that coupons will apply to prices of items before the instant savings is applied at the register, so shoppers can often enjoy coupon overage during these sales. Overage refers to the phenomenon of receiving more coupon value for an item than it cost in the first place. And, as a coupon shopper, I love working overage into my shopping trips to bring my entire grocery bill down.

To make the most of the instant savings promotion, I focus on the items for which I know I have coupons. During this sale, a few of the items in the dollar group caught my eye: boxed rice mixes, packages of latex gloves, bottled teas and sandwich bags, all priced at $1. I had the following coupons: two 75-cent coupons for rice mixes, three $1 coupons for latex gloves, one Buy One, Get One Free bottled tea coupon, and three 50-cent coupons for sandwich bags.

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