Tuesday, January 5, 2010

How to Use Those Found Coupons

So, now you know some great ways to find coupons.  Now, how can 25 cents here and there really make a difference?  Here are a few pointers to get you started.  In a typical grocery shopping trip, I spend $40 and save $20.  If you are just joining in today, you can read my recent posts regarding where to find coupons here and here.

Coupon Savings Tips:
  • Make a plan.  Decide what meals will be eaten this week.  Decide what paper goods you will need.  Use store circulars to find what items are on sale and plan meals around those sales.  
  • Make a list.  List what items you need to purchase.  I find it helpful to sift through my coupons as I make this list.  I make a note or a mark by each item that I have a coupon for.    Print lists of coupons that are loaded on your shopper card and notate those on the list as well.  Remember, you can pair paper coupons with electronic coupons.
  • Get coupons ready. I have an envelope for each store I will visit in a given day.  I put the coupons I plan to use in those envelopes.  I do carry all my coupons with me because I am notorious for forgetting something important.
  • Stick to the list.  Those impulse items can really add up!
  • Have an idea what your post-coupon total should be.  I carry a small calculator with me.  As I shop, I simply add the cost of items as I add them to my cart.  Before checkout, I organize my coupons and subtract the coupon amounts from my order total.  It isn't an exact science (doesn't figure in tax) but it helps prevent scanning errors or alert me to them so they can be corrected.  
  • Double check the receipt.  On one Kroger trip, I had a coupon for a free item.  The cashier was too lazy to look up the amount so he simply entered $.20 as the amount.  I was tending to Little Man and didn't notice at the time, but looked at my receipt quickly as we left.  Well, my Kroger would have doubled it, so I definitely looked at the receipt more closely.  I took the receipt to customer service and they told me to keep that $.20 and handed me the total amount of the free item in cash.
  • Don't be afraid of customer service.  They are usually more than happy to help.  When you use a coupon, the store gets reimbursed for the full amount of the coupon plus a little bit extra to cover processing.  
  • Consider buying toiletries at places other than the grocery store.  By shopping at Rite Aid and CVS, I have gotten many bottles of shampoo, shave gel, and tubes of toothpaste for free by using their reward systems.
To help with finding what items match up best with sales and coupons, look into using special forums.  One of my favorites is A Full Cup.  Click the picture below to check out this great forum.

I also enjoy using Hot Coupon World, Slick Deals,  and Coupon Mom.

Time to get organized and get shopping!  Happy deal hunting!


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