I've talked a lot about all the different ways to score a great deal. The potential is as endless as people are creative (and honest ;) But one of the best ways to save the most amount of "actual cash" output--is to "layer the deal". I don't know if that's a real "couponer" term...but I have my own definition about what it entails. I'll illustrate with a few scenarios coming up in actual store ads.
For example, a multitude of stores have Cover Girl make-up products on sale right now. You can buy them at the grocery store for 25% off. But grocery stores usually charge higher prices to begin with, so maybe, not the best place to stock up, if you know what I mean. Then the drug/combo stores--like Target, Fred Meyer, Shopko...they'll put them on-sale for 25-40% off. A lot of the traditional drug stores, like Walgreen's, Rite-Aid, CVS...get a bit more creative with the numbers and make you think about the percentage off with "Buy one, Get one 50% off"...which can generally mean 25% off both items--but requires a purchase of a minimum of two items. Wal-Mart likes to boast that they don't do weekly sales because they are already beating everyone else's prices...but not necessarily TrUe, if you shop the sales, like I do.
So which sale do you use the coupons on? Depends. The principle of using the coupon never changes. The key is to place the coupon on the lowest priced item. Wal-Mart boasts their prices are the lowest. But it's a numbers game. Sure they might have an exact item at Target for $3.99, and it's $3.97 at Wal-Mart. There is no lie in their claim because it is a whole 2 cents cheaper. But say our hypothetical item is Cover Girl Blush for $3.99--the same price at Walgreen's. But at Walgreen's it's included in the "Buy one, Get one 50% off" deal. The verbiage indicates that I must buy two to get the deal; thus making the price of one item $3.99 and the second $1.98, for a total of $5.97. So the decision on which store is really the best place to buy the items becomes contingent on the coupon itself. Is it for one item or two?
If the coupon's usability is determined by a purchase of multiple items--the items at the traditional drug store are then the lowest price. For example, a coupon that is for "Save $1 on 1 item" makes every store the same price, within pennies. You only have to buy one item to use the coupon. [But also--if you buy 2 items and use the coupons anyway--you are still paying more then if you had used the coupons on the exact same products at Walgreens'.] If the coupon states that it is for two items, you still want to hold true to the principle of placing the coupon on the lowest prices--making the drug store the better deal in the end.
So, ultimately--it's your call. But!!! Many of the drug stores, and sometimes the grocery chains, offer additional savings on top of weekly ad reductions, that will sweeten the deal and increase the savings substantially. My case in point is that next week Rite Aid has Cover Girl products on sale for "Buy one, Get one 50% off"--just like this week, but they also have an Up Reward that will generate for $10 with a $30 purchase of the products. Now the $10 is like saving another 33% off the already reduced sales' prices...before coupons are taken at the register.
So while Cover Girl is on sale at Walgreens' and Rite Aid this week for the exact same prices...the deal becomes a no-brainer next week with the additional $10 back for the same prices. There is a limit of 1 $10 per household (or Wellness card users), but the $10 Up Reward can be used on any items in the store. I like to use the register rewards to purchase items that will generate additional rewards, so that I ensure that the savings cycle continues. I call this "layering the deal"--because not only am I taking advantage of a traditional "sale", I'm capitalizing on the store's savings programs for increased savings, and then I'm using coupons in conjunction with the lowest prices for the ultimate savings! That's a total of three discounts on each item, for a "layered" savings.
I think that I already highlighted the coupons that came in last week's ad pack for Cover Girl's face products--Save $8 on 2 items. SteLLaR CoUpOn!! But combine that with the BOGO deals--and even it's greater. And combine it with an additional $10 to spend on anything--and it's StuPeNdOuS!!!!
So when you are looking through your weekly deals, make sure to peruse the store ads to compare the sales to each other. Comparing and contrasting highlight the savings you can have if you are patient. There are mega deals to be had. (HELP!! The epinephrine is starting to flow and the sale doesn't even start till next week!!)
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