Not long ago, my father was interested in purchasing a $100 item at an auto parts store. Of course, he asked his coupon-enthusiast daughter if there were any discounts available for this retailer!
I began searching online for any available coupons. I spotted an interesting promotion on the store’s website that week: “Make any online purchase and receive a 20% coupon code for your next purchase.”
Because I think like a couponer, I immediately told my father to buy a sponge. That’s right – a sponge.
The auto parts store sells car wash sponges for $2.49 each. After purchasing the sponge, he would receive a coupon for 20% off his next purchase, which he could then use to buy the larger item.
He selected in-store pick-up for the sponge so that he would not have to pay an additional shipping charge, and for $2.49, he gained a coupon that would subsequently take $20 off the price of the $100 item he actually wanted.
People are also reading…
In this scenario, the car was sponge functioned as a “filler item” – something he did not necessarily need to buy, but its purchase lowered the price of the larger item that he actually wanted.
It’s a tactic that I often use when putting deals together, as there are times when buying one small item makes the rest of the deal much better from a financial standpoint.
On the surface, it may seem counter-intuitive to buy an item one doesn’t need to save on something else, but I’ve encountered many sales and situations over the years where it makes sense (and cents!) to add an extra item to sweeten the deal.
Here’s another example of a recent shopping trip that I did where an unnecessary bottle of dish detergent made a stock-up sale on laundry detergent possible.
A pharmacy chain was having a “Buy $30, Save $10” sale on various items. 100-ounce bottles of laundry detergent were on sale for $11.94. I had one $3 coupon for this brand. 40-ounce bottles of another detergent brand were on sale for $5.99, and I had three $2 coupons for that brand.
Putting these four bottles of detergent brought my total to $29.91 – just nine cents shy of my $30 goal. I looked around the store to see what other inexpensive items I could add to reach the $30 mark, and I saw small bottles of dish detergent for 99 cents.
Adding the dish detergent brought my total to $30.90. I used my $9 worth of coupons and paid $21.90. I then received a coupon for $10 off my next shopping trip.
This worked out to $11.90 for four bottles of laundry detergent – one large, three smaller – and a bonus bottle of dish detergent too!
Note that any time you receive a coupon that functions as cash, like the one I received in this detergent deal, it’s a good idea to keep that coupon in the front of your coupon wallet – or even your real wallet!
Don’t let a high-value offer like this become lost in a pocket somewhere. Take note of the expiration date as well. Coupons like these can typically be rolled into future deals.
If I’d had an existing $10 coupon like this to work into my detergent deal, I would have paid $11.90 and still gotten another $10 coupon for a future trip!
When I am teaching others to put similar deals together on their own, I like to advise others to look at deals “through a couponer’s eyes.”
Think about the best way to put a deal together. If it makes sense to purchase an item you might otherwise not have considered to maximize your savings, do so!
Ultimately, if that “filler” item is a product that you won’t use, you can always donate it or give it to someone who will find it handy.
In my dad’s case, he’s now able to pick up a more expensive item at the auto parts store – and he’s got a new sponge to wash his car with too!
Watch now: shopping and social distancing at the Napa Premium Outlets
Jill Cataldo would love to hear your thoughts on how this experience may have changed the way you shop and prepare for the unexpected. Feel free to email her about your experiences at email@example.com.
In this Series
Advice from Jill Cataldo the Coupon Queen
Coupon Queen: subscription savings programs: worth it?
Coupon Queen: Coupons at the self-checkout: how do they work?
Coupon Queen: Marketers use “big data” to target you: What are they learning about us?
- 122 updates