Thursday, March 31, 2011

Savings 101, Part 5 :: Let's Go Shopping!

This is a continuation of the Savings 101 series.  Since you’ve already learned why you should coupon, what to do to get started, where to find your coupons, organized your box & learned the language, you’re ready to GO SHOPPING!! J
First thing you need to do is find a grocery store.  I highly recommend finding a store that doubles coupons to get you started.  In my area I shop at Homeland, Apple Market and Nichols often.  All three of these stores double up to $1.  This makes finding great deals very easy! 
Once you’ve decided on a store, then you just need to make a list.  This is not as hard as it sounds.  If you follow coupon blogs, like this one, you just need to look at the weekly matchups list.  Compare the list of sale prices after coupons to the coupons you have in your box.  If needed, print some of the printables from the matchups and add to your list.  The hard work is already done for you since you simply just decide which good deals you want to snag at the store!
After you’ve chosen the store and made your list then you’re ready to head to the store.  Here are a few tips to maximize your savings:
1.        ONLY buy items on sale that you have a coupon for!  Do not buy anything without a coupon or that’s not on sale.  (If you really need an item for a recipe then I recommend buying that item from a store with cheaper non-sale prices such as Walmart or Aldi). 
2.      Leave your kids at home!  Have someone (husband, friend, grandparents, anyone) agree to watch your children while you head out to do your couponing.  The least amount of distractions the better.  You will be able to think much more clearly without your children throwing items in the basket, whining, or raising your blood pressure!
3.      Shop once a week.  Every week the sale ads reset.  You need to go to the store at least once a week to pick up the best deals.  This is how you build a stockpile.  You don’t just buy things that you’re out of or that you need.  Instead, you stock up on an item when it’s at its lowest price.  And again, I stress, only buy the things on sale with coupon. 
4.      Understand the coupon policies, know the prices of the items, and WATCH the cashier as he/she is ringing up your items.  Make sure each item scans correctly and that each coupon goes through.  You’ll want to watch and make sure if it’s supposed to double that it does.  Don’t be afraid to speak up if you think something’s wrong.  Just do it with a smile! J
5.      Don’t be intimidated.  Don’t worry about the line of people behind you.  You’re a customer just like they are and you deserve good customer service also.  Don’t be embarrassed to tote your coupons around.  Just think of how much money you are saving!  Don’t worry if you make a mistake, it happens.  If you realize you paid too much for an item (whether it was your fault or theirs) don’t be afraid to go back in and ask for a refund.  Just be friendly and kind and apologize for any inconvenience.  Most managers and cashiers will be more than happy to satisfy their customers!
Stay tuned for the next part of the Savings 101 series, “What do I do when my coupons expire?”

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