Saturday, January 31, 2009

Using Coupons #3

After you have your shopping list and you know what coupons you are going to use, I recommend you do the following:

1. Make sure you organize everything before you go. Don't think you can run to the store and remember where those coupons are in your folder. Get out all the coupons you are planning to use on that particular trip and clip them to your list. Know where they are! It will go much quicker at checkout. I do mine this way:

  • As I am making my list, I put a star next to the name of the item. That is my 'code' to remind myself I have a coupon for that item.

  • I count all the coupons I am using for that shopping trip. For example, if I have 10 coupons I am using, I double check before I get to the counter: the starred items on my list and the amount of coupons I have match up. Check! Just make sure you don't forget anything. It's really easy to do that, especially if the kids are with you.

2. The second part is to understand the deals you are getting. If something rings up wrong at the register, you need to know about the deal you are trying to get so you can explain it to the cashier. Speak up! If the item rings up at a different price, speak up. If the coupon doesn't ring up correctly, speak up.

It is important to know and understand the store's individual coupon policy. Know whether or not they accept printable coupons, competitor coupons, and such. I will tell you right now that you CAN combine manufacturer coupons (the ones from the newspaper and online...they say "manufacturer coupons" at the top) and store coupons together for double the savings. Store coupons are put out by the store, and are not reimbursed by manufacturers. Some cashiers just don't know you can do this. Don't be afraid to talk to a manager about it if the cashier gives you grief. You are doing nothing wrong!

3. Always take all your coupons with you to the store. I cannot emphasize this one enough. You will always run into unexpected clearance items and bargains. And it will kill you if you see shampoo on clearance for $1.25 and you know you have a $1/1 coupon at home. Ahhh! Always take your coupons with you! It has happened to me and I haven't made that mistake again! I keep my coupons in a large accordion folder that fits neatly into my large purse. I take it everywhere I go. I clip the coupons that I:

  • know I will use
  • think I might use (if an item is on sale or clearance)
  • will only use if the item is on sale or clearance
  • would like to have for stock up items if I get for a great price

I basically clip about 90% of the coupon inserts. Also, save, save, save EVERY coupon you get in the mail! You never know when a sale will come up and you can use it. Diaper coupons, shampoo coupons, all those mailers you throw away! Save those coupons. I can't even tell you how many of those coupons I have used on sales to get things free or nearly free. It pays to take 10 seconds to clip and file away.

The more you watch the sales and coupon, you will notice a pattern. Certain things always go on sale and clearance at particular stores. Some stores even have a schedule. I won't pay for some things at full price at Walmart (like my hubby's favorite deodorant) because I know every few months they go on sale at Walgreens and when I use a coupon with it I can get it much cheaper. Noticing these things also will be helpful knowing which coupons you want to clip.

Some people don't like to clip the coupons, they like to keep them in their inserts. Do what is best for you! I have found this other way is much more beneficial to me.

4. There are many other small tips. One good tip I have heard is to print off the store's coupon policy and take it with you in your purse in case you have problems. They can usually be found on their websites. Another good tip that I practice all the time is making sure you go at a good time of day. If you are shopping with a lot of coupons go at a time of day that is not as busy. Other shoppers will thank you!

As you coupon more and more, you will find what works for you the best. You might even find a favorite checker to help you! At the Albertson's store I shop at for deals, there is one particular checker I LOVE. I will wait in a long line just to have her check me out....sound crazy, but I know she loves helping me and she loves seeing me get a good deal!

5. There will always be another sale. Items always go on clearance, stores always have sales. If you miss a sale, can't get to a sale, or forget your coupons, don't fret. There will always be another sale! I can't make it to every sale or get every deal. I have a lot of family, church, and other responsibilities that I have to do. I do make an effort, but you just can't get to every one. So that's okay!

Here are some general coupon rules you need to know. And many more questions can be answered by reading this coupon 101 at Pinching Your Pennies.

If you have any more questions, please ask!


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