The following is a guest post from Debt Free Spending:
So let's be honest, I've been couponing for some time now and every once in a while I still experience check out lane anxiety. It's that constant questioning in the back of your mind that just gets to you. "Will my coupons beep?" "Did I calculate everything correctly?" "Will this cashier be in a good mood or will they be difficult with my coupons?" I have found that there are a few small steps I can take to ease my anxiety and make my check out experience much happier and far less stressful!
- Before I ever leave for a shopping trip I make sure I have all my coupons in one place and organized in my expandable folder. I separate them by store and each store has it's very own list.
HAVE A LIST
- My husband used to laugh at this one, but not for the reasons you might think. The first time he saw one of my lists he about had a heart attack because it looked VERY long! What he didn't realize was that I not only wrote down the items I was purchasing, but also what coupons I am using. Makes my life MUCH easier when I'm standing at the store trying to remember EXACTLY what quantities and sizes my coupon is good for. Plus, I keep a running total so I don't get any surprises at check out. Knowing the coupons and amounts let's me factor that in before hand so I know what I will be spending.
PICK A "GOOD" TIME TO SHOP
- Many of you know that my husband is in the Army I REFUSE to go to the store on Army pay day because the place is a MAD HOUSE! I also avoid rush hour for us that's after kids are getting out of school and between the hours of 5:00-6:00 PM.
IF YOU HAVE KIDS PROVIDE AN OCCUPIER
- I have two children (you've seen them in pictures before) and they are 3 1/2 and 1 1/2 years old. Trips to the store always involve planning for what will keep them occupied. I always have snacks for them and we bring some good toys. Our oldest has a leap pad and he will sit still in the buggy and play it or he'll play Angry Birds on one of our cell phones. Our daughter is still young but we've downloaded some toddler friendly games and equipped my husband's cell phone with an Otterbox so she can play as well.
IF YOU DON'T LIKE TO SHOP ALONE, TAKE SOMEONE ALONG
- For the most part I don't shop alone because with the kids it can be quite a daunting task, especially if I have more than one store to stop at that day. Plus, I enjoy the company. So I joke and tell my husband that he has two jobs (1) help me with the kids and (2) he's my coupon body guard. To this day I have NEVER had anyone make a smart comment to me with him around. When he's not available I take a friend or family member along. In fact, that's how many of my friends got started couponing.
ALWAYS BE POLITE AND FRIENDLY TO STORE STAFF AND OTHER PEOPLE WHO ARE SHOPPING
- Honestly, we all know that couponers have gotten a bad reputation lately, but the fact is that being nice to people still goes a long way in this world. Simple things like excuse me, and smiling at others can help rid people of that "Oh, you're one of THOSE people" mentality! Plus, with store staff you'll find that they are much more eager to help you find what you're looking for and they may even give you tips about upcoming sales!
TALK TO YOUR CASHIER AND LET THEM KNOW YOU HAVE COUPONS
- This is something that will take you only a matter of seconds. It doesn't even necessarily have to be "Hey, I'm going to be using coupons" sometimes I simply lay mine down on the counter as they are ringing up my merchandise and we talk about if they're having a good day. The fact is checking out with coupons does take a little bit more time (especially if they have to key them in because the scanner isn't working or your coupons beep). Letting them know ahead of time gives them a second to mentally prepare for that little bit of extra that will be at the end of your check out process and you'll find the entire situation goes much more smoothly because of it.
KNOW YOUR STORE COUPON POLICY
- You will inevitably eventually come across a cashier who is clueless about their store's policy. Knowing the policy at the stores you shop at is important and many people even carry copies of the store policy with them just in case. Years ago my husband worked at a grocery store and he told me flat out that no one ever spoke to them at length about coupon policies. If you know your policy you'll be surprised how much farther that takes you. I've had to educate more then one cashier along the way.
DON'T BE AFRAID TO ASK FOR MANAGEMENT
- If you know for a fact that you are in the right and your cashier is just being difficult or is uneducated don't be afraid to ask for management. That's what they exist for, to help when the general associate can't. I have more than once explained to a cashier that I'm sorry she's having difficulty with whatever coupon it may be, but if she would like to just call management over or I can just run right to the customer service desk we'll be able to get this easily straightened out.
Following these simple steps will make your couponing trips MUCH less stressful and eventually they will all become second nature. If you're new to this sometimes trips can be daunting, especially BIG trips. The best suggestion I have for you is START SMALL. Do a few little trips to build your confidence. Also, maybe start out with learning one store policy at a time. If you try to learn every store policy at once you'll overwhelm yourself. Pick your favorite store, the one you frequent the most and start there. Eventually everything will just click and before you know it you'll be checking out and not even breaking a sweat!