I recently joined the couponing craze, and guess what? Living in Southern California doesn't warrant the supersonic deals that are depicted on cable's Extreme Couponers! Initially I was a bit disappointed, but I have learned that saving 30 to 40% (with hopes for future increases as I become more familiar with the system) really helps our family budget.

I used to abhor grocery shopping. Not because of the money spent, but simply because it was boring and felt like such a waste of time. But now I'm anxious for that weekly trip. I chomp at the bit waiting for the Sunday paper to highlight circular finds. I organize lists and coupon matches. I can’t wait to get inside Walmart to set my savings plan in motion!

My competitiveness and compulsion to search and organize has found the perfect outlet, and the adrenaline rush when a super-match is discovered is better than eating an entire bag of chocolate in one sitting (Oh, come on…you've done it too!)

After some trial and error I've discovered that Walmart is my anchor store. I like that I can price match AND use competitor coupons AND stack with manufacturer coupons.  I'm getting the deals from other stores without driving all over town (the exception is when one of the drugstores offers additional membership rewards). When I walk out of the store, look at my receipt and see how much I have saved, I feel like a rock star.

Here’s what I've learned about couponing at Walmart:

  1. Have the coupon policy on hand. Confirming KCL's advice, I have learned that carrying Walmart's coupon policy is mandatory. The location near my home is one of their new grocery-only models, and many of the employees are new and unfamiliar with corporate policies.
  2. Heads up: I’m a KCL! When it’s my turn in the checkout line, I immediately tell the cashier that I have numerous coupons and adjustments, and I ask if they would like me to separate the ad-matching items. They consistently appreciate the gesture and usually ask if I'll put them on the conveyer last.
  3. Price-match proof. Although the policy states that it is not necessary to bring in a competitor's ad in order to match the price, I have found that cashiers and managers are far more receptive if I have the ad with me (with the match circled) for quick reference. As a result, I've encountered more pleasant and speedy responses from cashiers.
  4. Organized coupons. I prefer to organize coupons from smaller to larger, making it easier for the cashier to leaf through as she scans. I've been thanked several times for having them in this order.
  5. Smart scan. I am mindful of shelf prices, and I watch as products are scanned. Walmart's policy (in effect until November 2013) is that if an item scans incorrectly from the shelf price (UPC must be accurate) the item is free up to $3.00. By watching carefully, in just the past two weeks I've received adjustment credits on two Glade PlugIns Lasting Impressions diffuser kits (shelf price marked as $3.98, scanned at $7.98), and a Secret Deodorant (shelf priced at $1.74, scanned at $2.40). Because I had planned to use coupons, both ended up being moneymakers at $2.02, $2.02, and $2.74 respectively. I consider $6.78 a pretty good perk for just paying attention.

The freedom to use competitor coupons at Walmart, along with their generous price matching policy, makes for very productive one-stop shopping. Coupon-friendly policies make bargain shopping in an expensive and double-coupon-resistant state a successful venture that I'm eager to share with others.

This is a guest post by Manya from California
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