After studying many couponing blogs and articles, you’ve gathered your coupons and shopping list to head to the store. You walk in the entrance and a little feeling of self-doubt creeps in. Suddenly you’re remembering that scenario you read about the woman who “did it all wrong” or you’re afraid the other shoppers are staring at you. Here is everything you need to know to sail through the checkout with a grin on your face.
This article is part four in a series on Couponing 101. If you’re just surfing in, you’ll want to start with the following:
Part 1: Setting a budget
Part 2: Gathering & organizing coupons
Part 3: Making a shopping list
First and foremost, never feel bad about shopping with coupons. If someone on an aisle gives you a weird look for carrying your coupon binder or a cashier rolls her eyes when you hand him or her your coupons, remember that you’re doing nothing wrong. For the most part, others around you are going to be polite and may even ask how you do it. However, you will inevitably come across that one person who thinks you are doing something bad and wants to let you know.
To be sure you are doing it correctly, ask yourself the following:
- Does the item you’re purchasing meet the variety, size, and quantity listed on the coupon?
If the coupon says “only 16oz” or “24 ct. or larger” make sure that is what you pick up.
- Are you using only one coupon per item (or two if the store has coupons that you can stack)?
In Ft. Worth, only Target, CVS, and Walgreens allow this.
- Did you follow the rules for a specific sale or promotion?
If you are participating in a “buy 10, save $5” sale, make sure that you bought all ten items.
- Are any of your coupons expired?
You cannot use expired coupons. However, they can be donated to military overseas.
- Does your store double or triple coupons?
In Ft. Worth, only Albertsons, Kroger, and Tom Thumb allow this.
Check items off your list as you add them to the cart. If you estimated the price, check the real price and adjust your list accordingly. If you were off by enough that it will put you over your budget, you may need to substitute another product. If an item was out of stock, you can get a rain check from the cashier. This will guarantee that you can purchase the product when it comes in at the sale price, even if it is no longer on sale.
At the check out, be sure to give the cashier your shopper card to scan. If you forget, this will greatly affect your total cost because you will not get the sale prices. Also, do not forget to give the cashier your coupons! This may sound obvious, but if the checkout is going quickly, you might forget. If you kept a good list and totaled it beforehand, you will know right away if something did not come up correctly.
Once you get home, it is a good idea to look over your receipt to make sure everything rang up correctly. If something appears to be off, try to determine if it was your error or theirs. If you expected a coupon to double and it did not, make a mental note for next time. If something rang up more expensively than the shelf price, you can go back to customer service and they will correct it for you. Whether this is worth your time is up to you.
Now that you have a good idea of how to shop with coupons you can hone your skills. Like anything else, the more experience you gather, the better you will become at it. This article is part 4 in an ongoing series. Part 5: Building a stockpile will be coming up next. Subscribe to free email updates and don’t miss a single article.