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Welcome to the Couponing 101 for beginners series. Check out what you may have missed HERE.
Now you need to be prepared to shop. Know your deals and have your coupons. You can’t just walk in the store and expect to save tons of money. So here I want to help you get organized to shop!
Whether this is your first shopping trip or you have a stockpile to put ME to shame you need to know what you have. If it’s on sale at rock bottom then buy it but don’t buy Ketchup full price to come home and realize you still have 4 free bottles on your shelf!
Make a Menu!
I plan a menu for a 2 week stretch (since the military gets paid every 2 weeks). You can do it weekly or even monthly. Plan your menu based on what you have in the house first then with what is on sale 2ND. Now that i have a stockpile build up i can make my menus completely based on what i have in my house and only buy what is on sale now.
Make sure you are organized before you leave the house!
Make your list and match your coupons. If you need to order coupons for a sale do this the first day of the sale or sooner so you will have them in time.
Now when i write my lists i always write down my coupons and any special offers. An item on my list may look like this:
Green Giant Frz Box veggie $1.00 $0.50 pc(printable coupons) = FREE
I will also write down if I’m supposed to be getting any Catalinas/UP/ECB/RR back as well. I tend to break down my drug store purchases to get a better deal and write down to the penny what I’m spending but i will get into that in my drug store post.
Now if I am buying something that is part of a Catalina transaction at the grocery store, i will do those first at checkout and i will plan how many i am getting remember you get only 1 of each Cat in a transaction so if you want the deal multiple times you need to do multiple transactions.
Example on a deal a got a while ago:
Cottonelle Toilet paper 12pk $4.99
Buy 2 and get a $4 Catalina
Used a $2 manufactures coupon
Since i only got 1 Catalina per transaction i did this transaction 3 times and got 6 packs of toilet paper! Then used the Catalinas on my grocery purchase and got an extra $12 off! Some people will roll the Catalinas from transaction to transaction. So the first time they pay $2.99 then the next 2 times they paid the $0.99 and then had a $4 Catalina for their next purchase.
How ever you want to do it is up to you, but make sure you plan these transaction out ahead of time.
Pick the time of day
When you go into the store you don’t want to take up a check out lane with your stack of coupons during their ‘Dinner Rush’ No one will leave happy.
You want to go to the store when they aren’t busy. This will mean mornings, early afternoon or late at night. Skip the dinner rush, between 4-7pm. The dinner rush is people who drop in to buy what they are making for dinner that day, you know the people that spend the most on their groceries because there is NO planning ahead!
For the Moms
If you are taking your kids to the store plan on going first thing in the morning when they are well rested and fed or after a nap when they are at the lest cranky. Some stores such as Giant Eagle will offer a play area with supervision for kids so you don’t have to track them threw the store with you. This is normally free so take advantage of it!
Keep in mind your first few check outs using massive amounts of coupons will be long and drawn out so if you can get someone to watch your kids or even trade of baby sitting for grocery shopping you should do so. Or even bring in someone to help you with the kids if you can.
Make sure you bring some small toys even a snack and water. Most Bakery’s will offer cookies for kids so take advantage of it and other samples threw out the store.
Your Check out Process
Do you cashier profile? If you watched TLCs Extreme Couponing you saw Joanie mention she Cashier profiles and so do I! Take her advice and go for the younger guys they are more easy going when it comes to your cash out time and won’t act like your coupons are a big deal.
Once you find the perfect victim, i mean cashier, you want to talk to them before your transaction starts let them know you will have a lot of coupons and ask them if they want them now or after they ring everything. Every cashier has a system they use. If you have any items with a coupon that needs the price written in i suggest you give the coupons with the item so the cashier can write in the price as they scan to save time on price hunting after the ringing is done. Also let your cashier know if you are doing more then one transactions.
Always carry a copy of your store coupon policy in your binder. Why? Because cashiers don’t always know the full policy like you will. They don’t get a class on coupon policy at all. If they are saying no to something don’t be afraid to ask a manager to clarify and you can always whip out your coupon policy.
Certain store slike Wal-mart will not honor their online coupons policy for what ever reason their in store policy changes not by store but by manager on duty. This can be very frustrating but once you know what it is you can always call corporate or get a letter from the store manager as a last word and show it when you shop.
Now as you start to take on couponing i suggest you start with one store at a time get shopping at the store down before adding another one. Start with your grocery store and then branch out to drugstores and so on.
My next several posts will cover all the ins and outs of Grocery stores, Drug stores and bog box stores ( Wal-mart, Target and Kmart).
Homework: Ok peel the band-aid off FAST! Pick your main grocery store and get your list together and dive on it. Go ahead and get your first Extreme Couponing trip out of the way. The more you do it the more confidante you will be in using coupons! And ya-know, well everyone is doing it! LOL Don’t forget HAVE FUN!