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Couponing's Best-Kept Secrets
- Maximize the match: BOGO plus two

Last week I introduced you to some of the fun ways shoppers can make "Buy one, get one free" (BOGO) sales even more rewarding. Anytime we can buy one item and get another free, we're essentially buying two at half price each. So how do we make a half-off sale even better? With coupons, of course! Here's the third "best-kept secret" of couponing:

Secret #3: Use two coupons during a BOGO sale.

At most stores, you can use one coupon per purchase. Even though you're buying one item and getting another "free," it's not truly free. You still have to go through the act of "purchasing" it at the register (the store won't allow you to just pick up the "free" jar and take it home, will they?) If you live in an area that collects sales tax on groceries, you must still pay sales tax on the "free" item.

So, it's best to think of BOGO sales as buying two for the price of one. As long as you're buying two items, even if one is full-price and one is free, you can use a coupon on each item you're buying. You're buying two items, so you can use two coupons.

Here's an example illustrating why this is a great idea. My grocery store has organic pasta sauces on sale for $3, "Buy one, get one free." And even though the register rings them up as $3 for the first jar and $0 for the second, it is still possible for me to present a coupon on each jar for additional savings.

For this sale, I have two $1 coupons for the pasta sauce. Using one coupon for each jar I purchase brings my cost down to just $1 for two jars, or 50 cents each! That's a great price for any pasta sauce, especially organic.

Now, many grocery stores handle BOGO sales differently. With a sale like the one I outlined above, most stores' registers will ring the sale as one $3 jar and one $0 jar. Other grocery stores may approach the same BOGO sale by ringing up each item at $1.50 each. Either way, you can still use a coupon on each item and get each jar of pasta sauce for 50 cents.

Are you ready for a bonus tip? If your store "splits" BOGO prices into half for each item, you only have to buy one of the items to get it for that price! So, if you only had one pasta sauce coupon, you could buy just one jar, get it for the $1.50 price, use a $1 coupon on it, and still take it home for 50 cents.

To determine which way your store handles BOGO sales, look at your receipt the next time you buy items promoted in a BOGO sale. If the register rings one at full price and one at zero, you must buy two to receive the price. If it rings each one at half of full price, you will be able to buy just one of the items involved in the sale and receive it for half the price without buying the second item.

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 couponing coups and questions to jill@ctwfeatures.com.