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Why some days are worth more than others

In a past column, I touched on one of the most interesting tips for saving at the grocery store: You can save even more money by shopping certain days of the week! Sound surprising? It's true. The day of the week we shop can make a big difference in how much money we can save.

Many supermarkets, especially large chains, run dual sets of sales each week. A typical week-long cycle may begin on Thursday and run for seven days. Then, when Sunday comes around, a second sales flyer hits the newspapers. This supplemental set of sales typically runs for four days, Sunday through Wednesday.

If your store runs dual sales cycles, the best days to shop are the days that both sets of flyers overlap –– typically, Sunday through Wednesday. These are better shopping days, because two different sets of sales run in the store simultaneously.

Sometimes, those two sales actually overlap, offering different types of promotions on the same products. If this happens, simply shopping the days that the two sales overlap lets us enjoy bigger benefits.

Here's an example: During a recent sale, a brand of crackers was on sale for $2.19, Buy One, Get One Free in the weekly, 7-day flyer. On Sunday, the store's second 4-day sales flyer came out, and the same brand of crackers was on sale "Buy Two, Get Two Free." During the same week, both of these sales overlapped for four days.

My shopping radar always goes up when I see something like this, because I know this sale's going to be fun! When an item is BOGO on one sales cycle and simultaneously Buy Two, Get Two Free on the second sales cycle, how many are we buying, and how many are we actually paying for?

In this case, we'll buy one … and get three more free.

Let me explain. Anytime you're dealing with BOGO sales, it's important to remember that the free item still counts as a "purchase." And that purchase qualifies as something you've "bought" toward the second sale.

So, let's break this down. I buy one package of crackers, and I get the second package free. The BOGO sale is done. But the second sale on the same brand of crackers is Buy Two, Get Two Free. The first two packages that are scanned qualify as "buying" two (even though the second package is technically free) and the next two packages of crackers will also ring up free as part of the second sale. If it seems a little confusing, don't worry –– the register automatically handles both sales automatically.

After everything was scanned, I paid $2.19 for all four packages of crackers. And I didn't even use a single coupon! I simply shopped on a day where two sales on the same product overlapped.

When stores run dual sales flyers, they're also trying to drive more traffic to the store on days when the store isn't as busy, which are typically earlier in the week. And, that second sales flyer usually has more deeply discounted items and prices than the week-long flyer. In addition to enjoying two sets of sales, shopping the lesser-trafficked days does give us other advantages: shorter checkout lines! On the rare instances that I go to the store later in the week, I'm always amazed at how much more crowded the store is if I shop on a Friday or a Saturday versus a Monday or a Tuesday.

Want one final tip? Because of the higher traffic the store enjoys at the end of the week, items like meats and produce will be reduced to clear once those busier shopping days pass. These items are still of fine quality, but the store is going to have new stock to place out as the end of the week approaches again, so they will reduce the previous week's stock to make room for what's coming in.

I never tire of going to the store and seeing the same hamburger patties that were $4 per pound reduced to $2 per pound as soon as the weekend has passed!