Tips When Using Coupons
Ok, so now you’ve found coupons and your organizer is bursting with coupons that are ready for use!
Here comes the fun part, using them!
To maximize savings it’s helpful to use coupons in combination with buying items on sale if possible.
When using coupons it’s also helpful to make a grocery list, match up coupons with your grocery list, and be organized at the checkout counter.
Making a Grocery List
CONSIDER WEEKLY SALES
If possible, when writing out a grocery list (electronically or on paper), also check out what’s on sale at each store you shop at.
This can be done by going online and viewing the store’s ads on their website, or looking at the store’s paper ad flyers (with advertised specials) that come in the regular mail.
INCLUDE NEEDED ITEMS PLUS THOSE ON SALE AT A GREAT PRICE
In addition to including items on your grocery list that are needed, an option is to also add the items on sale that you have coupons for. This is a great way to save money now on items needed in the future.
However, in this context it takes money to save money.
If you’re on a tight budget there may not be extra money to spend on items that you don’t need yet. So buying more items than are needed may not be an option.
The good news is that you can still save money when using coupons on the items you need now.
CONSIDER COUPONS THAT ARE ABOUT TO EXPIRE
When making a grocery list, an option is to also include items with coupons that are about to expire.
Keep in mind that some items tend to regularly have coupons.
So, unless the coupon value is a relatively high dollar amount, you may want to pass on using it because another coupon may be available in the near future.
A rule of thumb in this area is to take advantage of coupons that are about to expire if they are a higher dollar amount than usual.
If not, and you really don’t need that item currently, you may want to pass on buying that item until a later date.
Match Up Coupons with your Grocery List
Once you have your grocery list, go to the grocery store’s app and load all of the electronic coupons needed for your shopping trip.
And for any paper coupons you may have, an option is to paper clip them together and keep them with your list so they’re readily available when checking out at the checkstand.
Make sure to set aside for use not only the manufacturers’ coupons that you have, but also the store coupons (paper and electronic) for the same items.
Check with the cashier first to see if the store accepts both the store and manufacturer’s coupons for the same product.
CONSIDERATIONS WHEN SHOPPING
When shopping it’s a good idea to:
a) Make sure the item you choose is the same item that’s on the coupon; and
b) Check the product pull date (best-by or expiration date). If the pull date is close to the current date, check the shelf for an item with the longest (furthest out) pull date, best-by date or expiration date.
When shopping, you may decide not to buy certain items on your list for various reasons.
Maybe the price is just too high even when using a coupon, or another brand is cheaper. Or maybe the pull date is just too close to the current date.
If this happens, a tip is to make sure and do the math.
Sometimes even if you have a coupon for an item, it may still be cheaper to buy the same item under a different brand name if it’s on sale.
Be Organized at the Checkout
AT THE CHECKOUT
When at the checkout counter things seem to go fast and it’s easy to feel unorganized.
Just make sure before you get in line that you have your coupons in order rather than trying to do it while the checker is ringing up your groceries.
You’ll need to be proactive and make sure the checker does the following:
a) Scans in your rewards card
b) Scans in all of your coupons and the proper amount of the coupon is deducted
c) Scans the proper price for coupons that say “free” (the checker may need to manually look up the price for this product and give you credit)
d) Gives you credit for the number of bags you brought in (some stores provide reward points or fuel credits when customers bring in their own bags)
AFTER THE CHECKOUT
After checking out your groceries if you have time, take a look at your receipt to make sure you received all of the credits noted in items (a) through (d) above.
If not, it’s a good time to stop by the customer service desk to get the proper credit that’s owed to you.
Also, if you happen to forget to use a coupon, the customer service representative should be able to provide you with a credit for the amount of the coupon.
Make sure to check the back of your receipt for additional coupons!
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