I only started actively couponing a couple of years ago and can honestly say that it took me nearly a year to feel confident about my couponing skills. One important thing I’ve learned is how crucial organization is. When you’re an organized couponer, you save time and get less frustrated. Here are some tricks that I’ve learned through experience—I hope they help you too!

1. Seek out extra coupons

Get the word out! Everyone in my family knows that I am an avid couponer. My brother-in-law saw the paper man changing out the paper box and he got all of the papers left over from Sunday that were going to be thrown away. I trade coupons with my mother, co-worker and daughter frequently.

2. Call your paper

Ask if they can give you the papers with coupons if they have any extra! I did this and my paper lady brings me the extra Sunday papers on Monday. I rewarded her with a bag of shelled pecans from our pecan harvest.

3. Set aside one night

Use that night so you can cut coupons, comparison shop, and organize! I usually choose Sunday night when I clip coupons, review sales papers and make my shopping list for the week. It’s also a great time to check the expiration dates of your current coupons.

4 .Check your favorite sites

I look for coupon deals in the morning and evening. Many times I check KCL before I leave work to see if any deals have been added. Also, read the comments section; there are a lot of deals discussed that will help you!

5. Pick your top three stores

Choose your stores based on their best sales, location, and how friendly the staff is. I have a CVS, Walgreens and Rite Aide five minutes from my job, and they are all on the same intersection. This saves time, gas and keeps me organized. Even if I need to go every day, my drive time is decreased, and I know the location of everything in the store–plus, my shopping trips are much quicker.

6. Keep coupons with you

My coupons go with me everywhere. I’ve missed several sales because I left my coupons at home only to discover a great deal on KCL! Even if you don’t plan to go to a store when you’re out, leave your coupons in your car just in case!

7. Stick to a script

Stick to the same phrases at every store. My favorites include, “Thank you for helping me with my coupons.” Starting with a compliment puts the clerk in a better mood. Also, as you develop a relationship, they are more likely to help you with your questions. Or try, “I’m not sure if this is the way this deal works, could you help me with it?” The clerks should be familiar with the policies of their store. I have very little problems when I set the mood for the transaction. Also, I’m willing to let other customers check out in front of me so I’ll have extra time.

8. Ask questions

  • “Can you help me find this item?”
  • “This item appears to be out; could you check the stockroom?”
  • “Can I use this coupon?”
  • “Will you help me figure this out?”

9. Set a time frame

Decide on how much time you can allot to couponing. It might only be 15 minutes in each store. Allowing yourself only so much time keeps you energetic, focused, and organized.

10. Write out deals

Do this before you go into the store. It helps prevent forgetting an item or missing a sale. Don’t waste time if you don’t really need the item.

A final thought

I went into CVS the other day to get a deal on Charmin and Tide. The Tide rang up incorrectly, and the clerk needed the manager. She paged him… and paged him… and he never responded. She looked for him all over the store and the stockroom. Finally, 20 minutes later, he showed up. He never heard the page. He, of course, apologized for the wait. As he did my correction, I told him that I was a good customer (which he verified as he sees me often) and that I thought I deserved a couple of extra ECBs for the wait. Guess what? I got four ECBs because I asked for them, was a good customer, and had a good attitude!

This is a guest post by Tammy from St. Pauls, NC.
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