Back when I was a coupon newbie, I always shied away from separating transactions at the register. It just seemed too complicated. Now I understand that they’re often necessary to get the biggest savings. Sometimes I separate transactions to roll rewards at Walgreens; other times I go to Target and use the $5 rewards gift card I receive during one transaction to pay for my next. Whatever your reason to have more than one transaction at the same store is, here are some tips to make them go smoothly and efficiently—even when people are lining up behind you.

1. Warn your cashier about having multiple transactions

If you fail to inform your cashier at the start of the transaction, he or she may zip through scanning your items and may eventually need to correct your total. Been there, done that! It doesn’t go over too well. Remember, the cashier is just doing her job and is trying to keep the line from backing up. Preventing mistakes by communicating keeps everyone happy.

2. Organize your shopping cart

If I’m doing separate transactions, I also separate the products in my cart and put the required coupon near each transaction’s items. I’ll sometimes use my coat, recyclable totes and even my purse to separate products! When I get to checkout, I’m organized and can then focus on the products being rung up.

3. Limit the number of items per transaction

I would rather visit a store multiple times a week in order to get all the deals I want than try to do an overwhelming shopping trip and make mistakes. If you haven’t pared down your shopping, try it.
Say you’re going to Rite Aid (a store with multiple savings opportunities). Make a list of what you intend to purchase, the amount it should cost, the specific coupon and its amount, any +Up Rewards you’re to receive, and any +Up Rewards you intend to use. If you organize your transaction beforehand, then you should be in and out of the store in 10 minutes.
From personal experience, disorganization means getting overwhelmed. When I get overwhelmed, I lose focus. When I lose focus, I lose money! Keep the items per transaction to a small amount. The more transactions, the more likely you’ll be disorganized!

4. Be ready to make a quick decision

When I coupon, I’m on a mission and I don’t like to be interrupted. I won’t even answer my cell phone until all of my transactions are complete. Be ready to make a quick decision if an item doesn’t ring up at the correct price! Do you want it at the current price or not? Quickly decide in order to keep your transactions moving. I’ve found that if I’m confused, it’s best to leave the item. I don’t want to spend 10 minutes discussing it, only to find out that it’s the wrong item to match the coupon. I just say, “I think I’ll wait on this item,” and we’re on to the next one!

If the shelf is empty and you’ve decided you want a rain check, let the cashier know immediately. This will prevent delays. Also, if you know an item isn’t ringing up at the price you’re willing to pay for it, move it away from any other transactions in your shopping cart! Lastly, remember to remove the coupon of the item you aren’t purchasing—it will ding loudly if you haven’t purchased the corresponding item!

5. Don’t lose your rewards card

Multiple transactions require your rewards card to be swiped several times. The cashier may forget to give it back to you, or it may get lost in the shuffle of your merchandise. I typically put the card back in my hand once it’s swiped until all of my transactions are done. Don’t lay the card on the conveyor belt, and don’t let the cashier lay your rewards card on her register or anywhere that it could get knocked off. Believe me, I’ve had some crazy things happen when I check out, and I’m not always laughing!