My non-couponing friends are forever in awe of my "sixth couponing sense" of sniffing out deals and discounts. They treat me like a couponing goddess!
But when I'm among fellow krazy couponers, I feel like I still have a lot to learn.
Even though I know the ins and outs of getting deals at my favorite grocery stores and drugstores, there's sometimes that panic point when the total rings up, and I realize I did something wrong!
Here are some of the blunders I've made and learned from, and how to prevent them from happening to you:
Don't forget to scan your rewards card
I'm often carrying a lot of things when I'm shopping: my coupons, the weekly circular, and my list. At checkout, sometimes I'm so concerned with making sure I have my coupons ready to hand over to the cashier in the right order that I forget my rewards card in my wallet. Although the cashier usually remembers to ask for my card at the beginning of the transaction, forgetting could mean losing a great deal of savings.
Solution: When organizing your shopping trip, take your card out of your wallet and add it to your stack of coupons.
Don't toss an almost expired coupon because you missed a sale
I've sometimes missed deals on even my favorite items because I got caught up with other work and life commitments. Frustrated, I've thrown out coupons nearing expiration because I figured I missed my chance to get a great deal. Even if a coupon is valid for just a few more days, I've learned to hold on to it. You never know when a flash sale might pop up, and it could be an even steeper discount than the first sale.
Solution: If you miss a sale, it's not the end of the world. Return the coupons to your binder and hope for the best. If another deal doesn't come along, send the coupons to military overseas through the Krazy Coupon Lady program. Military members can use expired coupons up to six months past their expiration date.
Do have one dedicated place for all coupons
How many times have I lost these valuable little slips of paper or entire inserts in stacks of magazines or junk mail? Too many times to count! I have learned that even my wallet is a dangerous place for coupons. They have a mysterious way of disappearing between receipts, then reappearing months later when it's too late. A successful couponer is an organized one.
Solution: No matter how you organize your coupons, make sure any and all coupons go in one place as soon as you get your hands on them. As soon as you clip coupons or pull the inserts from the paper, immediately file them in your coupon binder, envelope, or a dedicated pile with all the others.
Don't expect every deal to work out perfectly
I can have a deal worked out perfectly on paper, but when I get to the store, things just don't work out for some reason. Maybe the store where I am shopping does not carry the particular item in the right size, or maybe the deal is so popular that the shelves have already been cleared out and there's not a single one left in back. The life of a krazy couponer is often filled with moments like these. It's easy to get frustrated, but you can't expect the universe to always work in your favor.
Solution: The closest location of the store offering the deal may not be the most convenient. It might be a better idea to shop at the largest location with more shelf space and a wider variety of products. And to avoid cleared-out shelves, shop as early as possible in the sales cycle to beat the rush.
Don't try to accomplish too much in one trip
As a new couponer reading about all the deals available in a given week, visions of dollar signs started dancing in my head. Could I save 50% to 90% on my entire household's groceries and toiletries just like that? Not entirely. There are many keys to successful couponing, and a lot of it just takes practice and experience. I have definitely tried to finagle too many deals at once, then forgotten an important money-saving step because I was too overwhelmed. Couponing should be rewarding, not discouraging.
Solution: Start small. Focus on one store, and begin with just a few deals at a time. Once you gain confidence and expertise, you can gradually start branching out to more stores and begin bringing home bigger hauls.
This is a guest post by Betsy from Chicago, IL
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