Coupons can rev up instant-savings offers

Now, if I purchased these ten items at $1 each, I'd qualify for the $3 in instant savings promotion. But of course, we want to use our coupons, too. Here's what my shopping trip looks like so far:

2 boxed rice mixes ($2 cost) - two 75-cent coupons = 50 cents

3 packages of gloves ($3 cost) - three $1 coupons = free

2 bottled teas ($2 cost) - BOGO coupon = $1

3 packages of sandwich bags ($3 cost) - three 50-cent coupons = $1.50

After applying all my coupons, my register total comes to just $3 - but that's not what I pay. Remember, buying these ten items during this sale qualifies me for $3 in instant savings. And when that instant savings is automatically applied at the register, how much did I really pay for these items?

Zero. That's right, I paid nothing (but sales tax) for these ten items.

How did this happen? I received overage from the coupons I used for several of these items, which in turn was applied to the price of the other items in the list. So let's break it down.

The rice mixes, priced at $1, actually cost 70 cents each when purchased in a group of ten items during the instant savings sale. The 75-cent coupon I used on this item scanned automatically, applied to the $1 price of the rice before the instant savings. But since the end cost of my rice was just 70 cents a box, the extra 5 cents per coupon was applied to the other items I bought in the same trip.

The same thing happened with the latex gloves and one bottle of the tea. They were priced at a dollar but my coupons made them totally free; and since the actual price of each package was reduced to just 70 cents for the instant savings sale, I gained 30 cents in overage for each of the coupon I used. (I didn't even want the gloves! But I often work things like this into these kinds of deals in order to help bring the price down on the other items I do want. My unwanted items go to friends, family and the local food pantry.)

Take a close look at the next instant savings sale at your local store. I'll bet you'll never look at them quite the same way again.

(c) CTW Features

Jill Cataldo, a coupon workshop instructor, writer and mother of three, never passes up a good deal. Learn more about couponing at her Web site, www.super-couponing.com. E-mail your own couponing victories and questions to jill@ctwfeatures.com.

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