Friday, September 30, 2011

Coupons Gone Crazy (Guest Post)

We’ve all seen those shows on TV.  Those shows where a crazy coupon lady is shown clipping and snipping away at her newspaper, mulling in her basement over a stockpile of merchandise that looks nothing short of preparation for a nuclear war, and then leaving the grocery store with 18 shopping carts along with a bill comprised of $1,000 worth of items all for $7.32. 
After watching these somewhat insane cases of couponing, not only are the savings incurred shocking, but so is the time and dedication it takes to reach such deals.  If you’re someone who is playing a juggling act with church, school, home, jobs, etc.,  it might be hard to find the time (not to mention the space!), but also know that a bit of clipping and planning can benefit your family and your wallet.
With these tips used by the most experienced coupon-ers out there, you don’t have to become a crazy coupon lady…just a savvier shopper who is on a pursuit of unbelievable savings upwards of 90%!

Find the Coupons 

·        Newspapers.  The best place to find your coupons is the newspaper.  So after church on Sunday grab a cup of coffee, a pair of scissors, and start clipping away!  With Sunday papers costing around $1.00--$1.50, they are a good investment being that they can sometimes hold hundreds of dollars’ worth of savings.  And don’t just settle for one.  Get aggressive and subscribe to several—that is if they have quality ads and aren’t too expensive.

·        Online.  Many websites offer coupons or codes that you can print off and use in stores.  Sign up online to receive emails with coupons and other money-saving deals.

·        Direct from the manufacturers.  You can call up your favorite stores and ask them to send you coupons.  Simply tell them that you are a customer who loves their products and they should be happy to mail some coupons your way! 

·        Ask around.  Ask friends or coworkers for any extra papers with coupons in them that they aren’t using.  Also, check with local businesses to see if they have any left-over Sunday newspapers that they are throwing away—no savvy coupon-er would ever let a Sunday paper chalk-full of sweet deals go to waste!
Get Organized 
So you just spent an entire afternoon clipping hundreds of coupons and fell victim to 3 excruciatingly painful paper cuts…now what do you do?  Well, get yourself organized of course!  A good way to do this is to fill a binder with sheet protectors or baseball card holders and use page dividers to separate coupons either by category or expiration date. 

Know the Store Policies
You are ready to set out on your shopping trip, and with the promise of saving some major cash, you are more excited to hit the aisles than ever before.  But wait!  Before you go, have you looked over the store’s coupon policy?  Most stores post their policies online, so be sure to get a hard copy to take with you in case there should be a disagreement regarding the company’s rules on coupon use.

Know the Checkout Etiquette
It’s 6:00 on Monday night, it’s been a long day at work, and you’ve dropped by your neighborhood grocer to pick up a few things to throw together for dinner before your family gets home.  It seems as though everyone else in town had the same idea as you and each checkout line is stretched halfway down the store’s aisles.   Just when you think you’re almost to the finish line, the woman with 2 baskets filled to the brim in front of you hands the cashier a stack of coupons, making your “quick” trip to the grocery store that much longer.  Let the lady in front of you be an example of what not do to.  If you have a massive shopping trip planned that will require tricky transactions with, then remember the following checkout etiquette:
·        Don’t plan your coupon adventure during peak shopping hours. 
·        Find cashiers that don’t mind the drill and try to check out with them each time you shop.  If you truly have some confusing coupon combinations, it can frazzle the store employee so it is important to remain as polite, friendly and respectful as possible. 
·        Be courteous and let other customers who may get in line behind you know that you have a big check-out and they may want to switch lines.

Amy Young is an author who writes about issues covering consumer topics and is the owner of the site First Credit Card Resource


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