23 March 2011

couponing tip: when three is less than two is less than one

The other day, the cashier at Ralph's told me that "couponing is all the rage now." Ha. I love that. Of course, real life tells me that couponing is hardly hip. Actually, it's more like actual dirty looks from people who don't like to be held up for the extra 30 seconds that coupons take. As if the Walgreen's cashier was going to make their checkout as speedy as possible anyway! Nice thought, though.

Here's a tip I've found along the way in my adventures in couponing. (You can read about my initial explorations here and here, and using couponing as a way to give loads of stuff to charity here.) Best of all, with this tip you get to defy the laws of mathematics. Take that, Mrs. Stennis from the third grade! Three does equal less than two!

So let's say that you're in the market for some Biore facial cleanser, for example. It normally runs eight bucks or so, at least in my area. And then you get a coupon in the Sunday paper that gives you a free box of those fun Biore pore strips that pull the yuckiness out of your nose pores when you buy a bottle of said cleanser. Sweet, right? Now you're getting two items for $8. But, Rite Aid then says in their sales flyer that you can get Biore items for $6 each (which they unhelpfully call "two for $12"). (Note: this offer is not current. So don't get your hopes up!) :-)

With the free coupon for the pore strips, that means you can get both for $6 combined. But now ready to break the rules of mathematics, and score something extra to add to your charity stash?


See that yellow bar at the top of the ad? Spend $15, and get $5 back. That is key. (Note as always that this is ONLY a good deal if you plan to shop at this store again in the near future. Otherwise future store credit doesn't do you any good and is just a waste. But keep reading for a solution to that, too.)

The other item included in the "spend $15" promotion is Curel lotion, going for $5 each.

Now, I don't need any Curel, and so ask myself why I would buy something I don't need. Here's why: with the $1 off Curel coupon that ran in that Sunday's paper, I can actually get that Curel for $4, not $5. So by spending a total of $10 ($6 for the Biore cleanser, $0 for the pore strips and $4 for the Curel... all of which the store computer considers to meet the threshold for the $15 spend since the pre-coupon total was $17), I now get $5 back in store credit. Subtract the store credit from what I spent, and my net is $5, meaning that I am spending a dollar LESS to get one item MORE.

For $6 I would have gotten just...

But instead for $5 I got...

And since I don't need that third item, which saved me $$, off to charity it goes...

Going back to where we started, with needing that facial cleanser, I would have spent $8 to get just that one thing, and instead spent $5 to get three things. (And for those of you needing a little adventure in your relationships, let me tell you that sitting on the couch with pore strips on your noses and a nice glass of wine is a terribly romantic way to spend an evening!)

Couponing may not be hip, but it definitely has its fun moments.

So what to do if you don't plan to shop at that store in the next two weeks or so, the general shelf life of the store credit or rewards that you get back? Simply break your purchase into separate transactions. Buy the three items and get your store credit, and then use that $5 credit on a new transaction for whatever else you're picking up, which is now suddenly $5 cheaper. Easy.

Any great money-saving tips you've come across lately?

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    Keep these coming! You're teaching me some awesome tricks <3

    Jenn @ Peas & Crayons

  2. Yes! I love the coupon tricks! I've been meaning to do a coupon post on my blog, but just haven't gotten to it yet. I keep telling everyone since I'm staying at home with the baby, and not making an income anymore, that my "job" is to see how much I can save on our groceries and things. I enjoy it!

  3. damn your good at this. keep up the good work. i really like your couponing posts!


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