Couponing in Unknown Territory!

My family and I just moved to a new area that offers different grocery stores than our old city.  I have spent the first few days at our new grocery store trying to learn their policies and procedures.  So, while this experience is fresh, I thought I’d share some tips for you!  Maybe you moved?  Maybe you want to try shopping at a store in your area that you haven’t visited yet?  Enjoy the tips, share yours and remember to have fun!

1) Have your coupons organized!

I found that the best way to organize coupons is to sort them by category in a binder.  Use baseball card pages so you can quickly reference the brand, savings amount and expiration date.  Pull any expired coupons.  I am often asked if I clip all coupons.  No.  Right now I am focused on food.  I have acquired enough cleaning supplies from my last year of couponing to last five lifetimes!

I clip food coupons, pet food, dish soap and laundry soap.  I file the clipped coupons in my binder.  The binder travels with me into the store.   I KEEP the unclipped coupons in my hanging file box.  The hanging file box stays at home.

I liken organizing coupons to preparing a quilt for assembly.  You must first choose what fabric you want and like, then carefully cut out the shapes.  You cannot make a successful quilt if your pieces are scattered or missing!

2) Sign Up for a Store Reward Card!

A store reward card or shopper card will save you even more money!  Many stores offer ecoupons.  These ecoupons can be loaded from their website, directly to your shopper card.  Many stores allow you to combine the ecoupons with the coupons from your binder.  This is called “stacking” and will double your discounts!

Stop in the store and sign up for the store savings card.  Don’t shop!  Just sign up and go home!  Okay, pick up the store map and coupon policy while you are there.  But, no shopping!!  Go home with your shiny new store card and register your card on the store’s website.  Sometimes you will receive a coupon printable offer just for registering your card online!

If you sign up for your store card online, rather than in the store, you may have to wait for your reward card to come to you in the mail.  This could take days or weeks!  How will you take advantage of the current sales without  a card?!

3) ASK QUESTIONS!

Learning new store policies and procedures can seem overwhelming.  Just take it slow and be sure to ask questions of the customer service associates.  They are there to help you!  And remember no matter what you are told from one person, it may be totally different coming from someone else!  Example: I asked the clerk at the service desk if they accept internet printed coupons.  She said “NO!  We have had too many problems with them.”  I smiled and said “Thank you.”  When I was going through the checkout lane I asked the same question of the cashier.  She said “Yes” and pointed to the internet coupon policy hanging at her register.  A perfect example of YMMV (your mileage/market may vary).  The mileage you get with coupons can change from one cashier to another, and one store to another….all within the same chain! 

4) Learn the layout of the store

Pick up a store map.  Don’t see one?  Ask at the service desk.  Use the store map to create the flow of categories in your binder.  Whichever store you shop at the most, your binder should follow the same order as the aislesThis may seem a little over the top BUT it pays off!  As you walk through the store, you flip through and follow in your binder.  Many times you will find unadvertised sales and be able to quickly match your coupon to the item.

5) HAVE FUN!

The most important thing to remember is if you aren’t having fun, then you shouldn’t be couponing!  And when you experience good customer service, be sure to take a moment to tell management about it!

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