Monday, January 16, 2012

Couponing Basics Part 6: Shopping With Coupons

You've got your coupons clipped and organized and a grocery list ready to go. Let's get shopping!

Really, the hard work of couponing is already done. Locating coupons, clipping them, and finding deal match ups takes more effort than the actual shopping, but I do have a tip or two to help make your trips to the grocery store more smooth.
  • Preview Coupon Policies
    • Store coupon policies will tell you information like whether or not the store doubles coupons, which types of coupons are accepted, how many coupons a customer may use, etc. You will find links to the coupon policies of some Durham area grocery stores below.
                   Kroger - check with your local store, policies vary
                   Harris Teeter
                   Food Lion
  • Get a Store Loyalty Card
    • Before you head to the grocery store aisles, be sure you have a store card in hand. If you don't already have a card for the store you plan to shop, stop at the service desk when you arrive and ask for one. A store card will allow you to access sale prices. At some stores, you will also earn rewards (gas points, money back, etc.) for purchases, which are tracked using your card.
  • Match Products to Coupons
    • When picking an item off the shelf, look carefully at the size and variety of the item. Locate the item's coupon and make sure the item and coupon match. On occasion, a coupon might be very specific, for example, stating something like $0.75 off a certain type of Cheerios. You'll only be able to use the coupon at check out if the coupon matches the product you're buying.
  • Keep Track of Items with Coupons
    • I like to keep items with coupons on one side of the cart. When I place the item in the cart, I locate its coupon in my coupon envelope and keep it in my hand. Before checking out, I scan the cart and match the coupons in my hand to my shopping list and cart items. This helps me make sure I've picked up the items I wanted and that I'm handing the correct coupons to the cashier. It can be easy to accidentally hand the cashier extra coupons or to forget to hand over a coupon you meant to use. Find a strategy that works for you that will help prevent this from happening.
  • Keep Your Cool at Check Out
    • Occasionally, you'll hear a beep when the cashier tries to scan one of your coupons. This could mean a number of things - the coupon doesn't match the item, the internet printable is too fuzzy to read, the system doesn't recognize the coupon...who knows. When it happens, though, you have some options. Ask the cashier to try again. Ask them to try using the hand scanner. Ask them if it's possible to enter the coupon in manually. Ask them to void the item from your order (if you don't want it without the coupon savings). Whatever happens, keep your cool. Couponers get a bad name from coupon users who let cashiers have it when things don't go as planned.
Reader Response: Have you tried using your coupons? How did it go? Any successes to share or questions to ask?

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