I don’t know about you, but every once in a while I find myself in a rut. It might be just fixing the same dinner over and over, wearing the same clothes, or doing the same coupon routine every Sunday. Life just gets too comfortable, but now I’m ready to jazz things up!

Now that we’ve officially entered 2015 I’m on the lookout for new ways to make my couponing methods faster, easier and more organized.  Here are five tips to redefine your couponing routines to make them conducive to your schedule, your allotted time, and your overall success for saving money.

1. Choose the best location for service

I’m lucky enough to have three CVS locations relatively close to my house. This allows me to choose the store that best fits my needs. One of these stores always gives me a problem with my coupons. I can match a deal perfectly from KCL, enter the store, and the deal doesn’t work. Plus—the manager at this store doesn’t believe in overrides! I solve that problem by going to one of the other CVS stores (even if that means driving a little out of the way) where the manager and the staff both have excellent customer service skills. By finding a store with great customer service, you’ll be able to get in and out of the store faster since you’ll have an easier time getting what you need and using your coupons.

2. Assess stock supply and shelf replenishment

Nothing is a bigger waste of time for me than to write my list, match my coupons, carve out time in my schedule to shop, and then enter the store to find empty shelves. To speed up your routine (in the event of empty shelves) make sure to be aware of the following things where you shop:

  • Rain checks: For example, my local Target is typically out of the advertised deals by the time I get there. However, they have rain checks conveniently located right next to the item. This makes up for being out of stock in my book!
  • Restocking: I don’t mind making an extra trip if the item is present, but I’m not too happy with a repeat trip and no product. Instead of making multiple trips, ask when the delivery truck will arrive and when shelves are restocked. It will save you time and money!
  • Substitutions: Find out if your store does substitutions on out-of-stock items. My local Harris Teeter made a substitution for me the other day on Domino’s sugar. This may interfere with your coupon, but sometimes purchasing the item at sale price is a great deal.

3. Check coupon policy knowledge

As a veteran couponer, I find myself (on occasion) a bit cocky about how well I know a store’s couponing policy (even better than some employees). However, it’s equally as important that you find a store, or a specific employee at your store, that’s friendly towards couponers and knows their coupon policy as well as you do. At my local Fred Meyer, there’s a cashier who’s also a fellow couponer. I trust that she knows her stuff (just as I do) and she’s patient to scan my coupons. If something doesn’t work, she’s knows why and how to fix it. Finding a cashier or a specific store that’s truly knowledgeable about their coupon policy is incredibly important to speeding up your couponing experience (and making it easier on your patience too).

4. Determine the store with the best rewards

Which store has the “best rewards” all depends on what kind of shopper you are and how often you go. For example, Rite Aid +Up rewards expire within 2 weeks, whereas ExtraBucks at CVS take about one month to expire. I’ve missed expiration dates for Rite Aid rewards a lot just because I don’t go there very often. Ultimately, I’m not saving money when my rewards expire. If you’re like me then you might consider another drugstore with a longer reward expiration date like CVS. However, if there’s a Rite Aid next to your house then you might be able to go more often—which means that their two week expiration period will work out for you. It’s important to be honest with yourself about what store has rewards that will work out best for you so that you can maximize your savings.

5. Find a store that’s flexible

Find a store that’s flexible enough that they’ll go to any length to make sure you get the products you came in for—even if that means calling another store to see if an item is available or overriding a coupon so that you get the price you expected. This recently happened at my local CVS. I went to get Purex Crystals, but the shelf was empty. The cashier offered to call another CVS and he ended up finding two bottles of Purex Crystals at another store. The cashier got the manager to put the items aside for me (and he explained my coupons so that it was all taken care of when I got there!). Store flexibility is a great perk, and it goes to show that if you’re friendly with the staff, you’ll have a better chance of getting what you need (and hopefully they’ll be more willing to override your coupons too!).

5 Tips to Streamline Your Couponing Routine