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According to the following story, someone paid $132.73 for $1,760 worth of goods and also received $245 in gift cards.

Cashier: “All right, so from $1,760, you’re down to $132.73, and you’ve earned $245 in gift cards. Thank you for shopping at [Store]!”

http://notalwaysright.com/will-pay-for-that-later/40754

Are situations like this really possible?

  • Why do you believe this is anything but a joke? (Not challenging, just curious why people will accept this kind of story, other than wishful thinking.) – keshlam Dec 10 '14 at 4:44
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    Based on my observations where I live in Australia this kind of thing wouldn't be possible. For a start, almost every coupon here has "not valid with any other offer" written on it. But I have heard about "extreme couponing" in countries such as the United States and wondered if something like this was possible over there. – Stoz Dec 10 '14 at 4:56
  • FWIW I was able to get stuff for free using rebates and coupons, but not at that scale. I guess if you accumulate enough coupons/rebates and use them all at once on various unrelated purchases you can pull such a trick off once in a while. – littleadv Dec 10 '14 at 7:28
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It can be done, but it takes a very special set of circumstances:

  • You must be willing to buy only items that you can get for free or nearly free.
  • You must be willing to buy as many items as the store will allow you to in a single visit
  • The store must offer programs like double or triple manufacturers coupons.
  • You must be willing to do everything you can to get as many coupons as you can.
  • You must take advantage of the store loyalty programs.
  • You must have many hours free to plan these types of events, and to gather all the required coupons. Plus the time to get that many items off the shelves and into the carts.

And the most important item - There must be some extraordinary deal at that store that day or that week that allows them to essentially give you free money.

If you want to buy only the products you like, in quantities that you need, at the closest store to your house you can't reach those levels.

When you read about these types of shoppers keep in mind they are not going to this extreme to do their regular grocery shopping.

  • All good points, but the last one deserves extra emphasis. I'm sure there's another round of 'regular' shopping that covers the many things that these deals don't. (The double/triple coupon is really what's making much of this possible, agree 100% there) – JoeTaxpayer Dec 10 '14 at 13:39
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mhoran_psprep is spot on.

By doing a strict debit/credit analysis, this seems like a golden opportunity. Spend ~$133 for $245 in gift cards. Presumably you could sell those gift cards at a 20% discount, or use them on the next trip. You received $1760 worth of merchandise for a positive income.

Some of that merchandise could be sold. Sealed health and beauty supplies, and other items that do not spoil, could be sold on Amazon, Ebay, or a flea market. If you received the item for less than free, you could sell it at half the cost of the store. You would have plenty of happy customers.

It is telling that none of these have cropped up.

I have seen some people donate a lot of the items and received a tax break. This is one "sure fire" way to extract value out of the merchandise, but at a deep discount (dependent upon the tax bracket).

Often times the merchandise is useless. Do you really want 20 2 liter bottles of Hi-C? I would feel guilty for donating it.

All that being said, my wife used to do coupon-ing and we are still using items that she purchased four years ago. Right now, she earns enough at work to make spending the time on coupon-ing unprofitable as loss of opportunity cost.

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    Turning that stuff to cash seems a whole higher level of effort. I like the idea of taking the things you can't readily use and just donating. – JoeTaxpayer Dec 10 '14 at 15:05
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    +1 for the "loss of opportunity cost" that people often forget – Degustaf Dec 10 '14 at 16:23
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No: or at least not anywhere I've ever heard of.

Typically when cashing in vouchers, you do not accrue any benefits: eg gift cards or "loyalty points" etc on the portion paid in vouchers.

You can save a lot of money, but you can't walk away with a profit.

Note that this doesn't apply when spending gift cards, as someone has already paid cash for those and they are basically treated as cash.

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