If you’ve ever lost your coupon binder, then you know how devastating it is. All those hours of hard work—cutting, clipping, organizing, storing and purging are gone in an instant. I’ve experienced this loss myself. I once left my bag (containing my coupon notebook, scissors and shopping lists) in a cart at Harris Teeter. I didn’t realize it until I arrived at Target and couldn’t find my coupon bag. I was hysterical. Not only were all my coupons missing, my shopping list was also left behind! I frantically called Harris Teeter and spoke to customer service. Thankfully, someone had turned my binder in. I immediately returned to the store and claimed my coupons. I consider my coupons as money in my pocket, so losing them is not an option! Avoid a couponer’s nightmare and follow these tips:
1. Carry a bright-colored bag and a distinct binder
My tote bag is black with neon green trim. My coupon binder is also green, and because I need a new one, it has psychedelic duct tape on the binding to keep it from falling apart! I always choose something with color in case I do lose or forget my notebook. I’ll be able to describe my belongings in great detail because they’re unique. Keeping bright colors will also grab your attention as you’re leaving the store.
2. Write your name and address on the front of your coupon binder
When I lost my bag and went back to Harris Teeter to claim it, I was asked to identify the bag and its contents. Unfortunately, my name was nowhere to be found! Instead of struggling to describe what’s in your bag, simply write your name and address on the front of your binder.
3. Mark your bag with a luggage tag
If you’re not comfortable with putting your address on the tag, just put your cell number on it. The goal is to increase the number of ways you can recover your bag or notebook. If you leave your bag in the grocery cart while you’re loading your groceries and kids in the car, you have a 50/50 chance it will make it back in the store.
4. Place your coupon bag and binder next to your purse while shopping
I always place my purse and coupon bag next to each other in the front of my cart, then lay my binder on top. This allows me to shop effectively. When I’m ready to check out, I place my binder back in its tote bag and grab it, along with my purse, before grabbing anything else. Establishing the same routine each shopping trip decreases the chances that you’ll lose your property.
5. Ask what the policy is for lost items
Most of us KCLs have developed a certain shopping routine. I have my favorite stores, and I’ve learned how they operate including how their lost and found works. My local Harris Teeter returns items to the service desk, and lost items are placed in a safe until claimed. When I lost my tote bag, I was so fortunate to be able to claim my coupons easily, and I haven’t misplaced them since!
6. If possible, avoid distractions
I was very distracted when I lost my coupons. I’d only been couponing for several months and hadn’t established a routine yet. At the time, I was busy getting my coupons ready, making sure I got everything on my list, and chatting with the store clerk. Minutes later I was in a panic because I’d misplaced my coupons. I finally realized that I’d left my bag lying on the counter where I placed it while my groceries were being rung up. Now I have everything together when I enter the checkout line, and I haven’t lost my coupons since! I’ve also limited my chit-chat when checking out.
7. Have a backup plan in case you can’t recover your coupons
I can hardly bear to think about losing all my coupons. Give yourself 48 hours to recover them. First, determine the last time you saw your coupon bag or binder. Then start from there and backtrack to every place you visited. Leave a message with the managers at each store that you stopped by in case your coupons surface. If you still can’t find your coupons after 48 hours, implement your backup plan. Network with friends and family to see if they have extra coupons, or obtain coupons from a coupon service to replenish your supply. Refer to KCL for prints of current coupons. And above all, identify how you lost your coupons and what you can do differently next time.
This is a guest post by Tammy from Saint Pauls, NC