by Mike Allen
Here’s a coupon, shopping tip that might help you enjoy bigger savings online. For this example, let’s say you are looking for a comforter set and your budget is $120.
You might start by browsing and find online stores with coupon codes and free shipping specials. When you think you have found a comforter that might fit your needs, you dig deeper by looking at all of that store’s coupons and bargains.
After viewing all of that store’s coupons and bargains, you can start your plan of attack. You might notice that they are having a seasonal sale or they have an online outlet or clearance section. That’s good news for bargains. You might be able to "double dip" by combining this sale or some clearance items with a coupon code (some stores only apply coupon code discounts to regularly-priced items, but many do not). That’s the first step.
So let’s say in this example we have a 20% off coupon code for $100+ orders. Let’s say this store also automatically gives you free shipping on orders over $100 (no coupon code needed but you pay $5.95 shipping for orders under $100). Let’s start shopping and see how you can maximize your savings.
In our example, let’s assume that you found the perfect comforter set that’s regularly $149.99 but has been marked down by 20% for the spring sale. For the next week, it is only $119.99. That’s a pretty good deal right there, but you can do better and save more.
Assuming this store allows coupon codes to be applied to sale items, let’s use our 20% off coupon code since this order exceeds the $100 minimum price requirement for that coupon code. Your coupon code discount will be $25, which brings your order total to $95.99. If you pay $5.95 for shipping your total becomes $101.94. Not too shabby. But you’re still paying for shipping. Since you’re right under the free shipping threshold, you can do even better.
Here’s how. Do something creative to get your order size over $100 without raising your overall cost over $101.94. Add something that costs at least $4.01 so your order cost becomes at least $100. Why pay for shipping if you don’t have to, right? And if you can add to your order an item that costs less than shipping but it will bump you into the free shipping level, then that’s even better — it’s like getting that product for free!
You search around for items under $5, and in this example, let’s assume you find a $4.99 item that you’ll save to use as a stocking stuffer next Christmas. That brings your order total to $100.98 and you now get free shipping!
You got a great deal, stayed $19.02 under budget, and even got a bonus item essentially free.
$149.99 regular price
- 20% Sale Discount
$119.99 sale price
- 20% coupon code
$95.99 new price + $5.95 shipping = $101.94
+ $4.99 item to achieve $100 minimum for free shipping
$100.98 order total (you get free shipping)
Overall you saved $55 off the original product price and the bonus item purchased actually cost you $.96 less than shipping would have cost you!
This is sometimes called "stacking" since you combine a sale + a coupon + free shipping. You can often stack a shipping special and a coupon or a clearance sale and a coupon, but rarely can you stack actual coupon codes. The bottom line is that stackable offers can bring you a lot more items at a lot less cost. And that doesn’t even begin to count the time, gas and sales tax savings you may receive as well.
Mike Allen is President and "Chief Executive Shopper" at Shopping-Bargains.com - a site dedicated to coupons, coupon codes and free shipping deals.