Understanding Final Prices | Questions From Readers

questions from readers
Welcome to Readers Want to Know! These are your questions answered from the emails that I receive and responses to surveys that I periodically post. For more answers, make sure you check out my Coupon 101 posts which will also include other “Readers Want To Know” posts! Still have questions? Use this form to ask them!

The following question comes from Joanalim :

This is probably a “Dumb” question lol but I am so confuse so help me please
Ok so I have PG $2 off when you buy one head and shoulders shampoo or conditioner. Then I went to (website redacted) and did a price match which shows Target when you buy 3 you get $5 gift card then the sale price is $4.99 then her final price came out $1.32 I am just blown away lol! I don’t get why she got $1.32 for the final prize please help!

Ok – first, as I have have often said – there are really no dumb questions!  None of us were born knowing how to use coupons or understanding coupon matchups, so please don’t feel embarrassed asking this question!

So on to your question….

The other site was correct.  Your final price for this particular deal was $1.32

Here’s how:

Head & Shoulders, $4.99 (buy 3)
Use 3 $2/1 Head & Shoulders coupons
Pay $8.97 out of your wallet, after coupons
Get a $5 Target Gift Card
Final cost, after gift card savings: $3.97 for 3 ($1.32 each)

Now – before you say that you are still paying $8.97 ($2.99 each), you need to look at the “big picture”. Chances are that you didn’t just go in to Target to score that deal. Even if you did, chances are that won’t be the last time you ever set foot in Target. The Target gift card that you got is basically cash to be spent at Target later.

So let’s say that you went in to Target to grab the Head & Shoulders deal and needed NOTHING else. You walk out of the store paying $8.97 and with a $5 Target Gift card. Next week, there is a similarly good deal at Target. You use your coupons to reduce your price and also use the gift card that you got this week to further reduce your out-of-pocket price the following week. That Target Gift Card is basically cash that you do’t have to pull out of your wallet for future deals!

Almost every deal blog that I know will count that Target Gift card as a “cash savings” (even if it is a future savings). This is how we all get to that final price!

I hope that answers your question. If any of my readers have a better way to explain it, feel free to do so in the comments!

Have a question about using coupons? Head to my Coupon Questions page to ask them!


  1. Dianne says

    I use the terms “effectual price” to determine if it is a stockup price considering the reward I will get versus the “actual price” that I will pay OOP. The reward is future buying power to me.
    It has helped me personally, my husband who continually saw the actual price on the credit card being charged and whom I couldn’t get on board for the first two years I was couponing because of this.
    When I go into a store to purchase an item that has an effectual price in my stockup range, I still stay within my actual OOP price using my rewards as my purchasing power as if they are the only money I have then my actual OOP is after I use those rewards. This process allows me to keep within a $25/week $100/month budget and I donate oodles of things every year. HTH.

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