Hearing the cash register beep is not one of my favorite sounds because it usually means I’ve done something wrong. Remember, computers never make mistakes, right? But we humans are known for our faults. I have had more than one occasion where I’ve made the register beep and it was totally human error, most notably mine. And what makes it even worse is when the people in line behind you roll their eyes! Add a cranky sales clerk to the mix, and I’m just about ready to leave! But as a KCL, I’ll keep at it until I get it right. That being said, there are some fail-safe habits we can form as KCLs that will help make couponing an easier process for us and the store. And believe me, with couponing, practice does make perfect! The more familiar you are with how to conduct transactions, the easier each one will become—I promise!

Here are a few things we can do to make our day and the store clerk’s day much easier when using coupons!

1. Make sure the date is current on your coupon

This means that if you know a coupon is expired, don’t try to pass it off. Some stores may take an expired coupon, but these stores are rare. Sometimes mistakes happen, though. I myself have presented a coupon not knowing that it was expired. When this occurs, I always apologize and accept responsibility for presenting an expired coupon. Also, the date should be visible on the coupon—be careful with those paper cutters!

2. Make sure your printer has enough ink before you print coupons

I know we all like to stretch our ink as far as it will go, but when the bar code is too faded to scan, chances are your coupon will not be accepted. It’s not the cashier’s fault that the coupon isn’t dark enough to scan; it’s the customer’s fault. So, if you’re printing five pages of coupons and see that each page is starting to look lighter, either give your printer a break and print one sheet at a time at intervals or add new ink!

3. Make sure the item you’re purchasing matches the coupon

This sounds easy, but it’s harder than you think! The coupon may have a pretty picture on it, but it actually lists several different items. Case in point: The Colgate Total coupon I recently printed was for Colgate Total and Colgate Total Advanced, but you could also choose Colgate Max Fresh in the twin box size. The picture on the coupon shows two boxes, but the fine print has the number one to signify how many are needed for the first two choices. Confusing? Yes! Worth my time to get the right item? Absolutely, because coupled with the store deal and the occasion when my coupon doubles, I can get this toothpaste for free. However, if the coupon is scanned and I haven’t applied it correctly, all of my hard work goes down the drain!

4. Make sure the competitor coupon is accepted at the store

Each store has its own policy, and some stores will accept competitors’ coupons. For instance, A.C. Moore and Michaels craft stores will accept competitors’ coupons, but Hobby Lobby will not. Knowing which stores accept competitors’ coupons  will save you time and money as you’re figuring out the deal you want. I have two local Harris Teeter stores in my community—one has a pharmacy and one doesn’t. The Harris Teeter with the pharmacy will accept Walgreens, CVS and Rite Aid rewards, but the one without the pharmacy will not. Also, remember that many stores decide their own individual policy about which coupons they’ll accept.

5. Make sure you stay within the guidelines for the number of coupons allowed

If your store only accepts three identical coupons, then don’t try to submit four. If the store allows up to 10 coupons for doubling, don’t do 11 with the intent to double 11. It’s as simple as following the rules. Knowing your store’s coupon policy is as important as matching the coupon to the item. My Walgreens transactions sometime require filler items because I have more coupons than products. I know that going in, so I’m prepared to get fillers that I need rather than grab an item in a hurry so I can use coupons. Target allows four identical coupons per day, so if you try to slip the fifth one in there, chances are, you’ll hear the crazy beeping sound or get the evil eye from a cashier!
Plan each transaction you make with precision just as you would arrange your daily schedule or pay your bills. It’s that easy, and when you develop a routine of doing things the right way, success will follow!