If you’ve couponed for any length of time, you know that it isn’t always a smooth process. Here are the complaints we hear the most along with a few solutions so you can keep on saving!
1. Cleared shelves.
We’ve all run into this issue. You grab your list, coupons, and head to the store only to find the shelves cleared of the product you wanted to purchase! Thankfully there are things you can do to prevent disappointment from striking again:
Ask for a rain check. Many stores (especially drugstores) offer rain checks for out-of-stock items. Just ask a store employee. Often, the product will be restocked before a coupon expires and you’ll still get the sale price.
Put a product on hold. If you know a deal is coming up but you can’t get to the store early, call ahead and ask if they’ll hold a product for you. Most stores will hold items up to 24 hours.
Check a store’s inventory on Brick Seek. Brick Seek keeps track of the inventory at stores like Target, Walmart, Home Depot, Staples, Office Depot, and CVS. Before leaving your house, see if your store has any product left.
2. Coupon rejection at checkout.
No one likes when coupons beep and then are rejected at the register. Even after multiple attempts, a coupon may not go through. Here are a few reasons why:
PDF coupons don’t have unique barcodes, and this trips up the register. Before using, double check that the coupon is valid from the manufacturer, then explain to the cashier that it’s a PDF coupon and that’s why it’s not unique. Most of the time, stores will push the coupon through, but some stores won’t, so asking ahead will save you some stress at checkout.
Poor print quality on a coupon will almost always signal an error at the register. The barcode on a coupon should be dark enough for the scanner to read. If not, change your ink! See all ink deals now.
A coupon’s fine print must match the product you’re purchasing. Always double check quantity, size, expiration, and product type before heading to checkout.
3. Unfriendly cashiers.
Unfriendly cashiers can ruin a shopping trip — especially if you’re a new couponer. Being prepared and patient is key. You may also want to try these strategies:
Be friendly. Seriously, a smile and positive attitude goes a long way. If you’re about to use a lot of coupons, let the cashier know so he or she won’t feel overwhelmed.
Use a cashier you know. Develop a relationship with your favorite stores’ cashiers; this way you can go to that person each time you check out.
Ask for help from a manager. If a cashier refuses a coupon you know is valid, politely ask to speak to a manager. Some cashiers aren’t as familiar with their store’s coupon policy as you are and oftentimes just need more direction from their supervisors.
4. Coupon-printing issues.
With constant browser updates and app upgrades, printing coupons can sometimes be an issue. Here are some solutions:
Delete the software and download it again. It’s possible the version you have may be corrupted.
Try another browser. If your coupon isn’t printing in Chrome, try using Safari, Firefox, or Internet Explorer.
Turn off your firewall when printing coupons from Coupons.com, RedPlum.com, and Smartsource.com. Only do this for sites you trust. After you print the coupons you need, don’t forget to turn your firewall back on!
5. Coupon cost.
Newspaper subscription costs, printer ink, a new printer…these expenses worry a lot of people just starting to coupon. Fear not — there are ways to save.
Use digital store and manufacturer coupons. Digital coupons are free and can be found on store websites and through retailer apps. Best part? No clipping needed.
Get free (or super cheap) newspaper coupon inserts. You don’t need a full-blown newspaper subscription to coupon. Check KCL’s coupon insert preview each Saturday to help you decide whether it’s worth buying a newspaper that week. Then head to the dollar store where Sunday newspapers are only a buck. You may also want to check out 11 Ways to Get Free Sunday Newspaper Coupons.
Print coupons in black and white. Only print coupons you’ll use! When printing from sites like Coupons.com, don’t hit “print” until you have 3 coupons in your queue so they all fit on one page.
6. The amount of time it takes to coupon.
Couponing doesn’t need to be a full-time job; devote as little or as much time as you’d like to it.
File whole inserts instead of clipping individual coupons. When a deal comes up, KCL will tell you the date the coupon insert was released; that way you don’t have to clip every. single. coupon. from the Sunday paper.
Shop during off-peak hours. Weeknight evenings after dinner is generally the best time to shop, but find out when your local store restocks their shelves or marks down products. Oftentimes, it’s in the morning mid-week.
7. Not enough coupons for healthy food.
Anyone who says there are never coupons for healthy items doesn’t know how to coupon like a krazy coupon lady.
Use rebate apps for healthy product offers. Ibotta, Checkout 51, MobiSave, and SavingStar don’t require you to clip a single coupon in order to save. Just buy the product listed in each offer, upload your receipt, and get cash back. You’ll find fresh produce offers every week!
Use store and manufacturer coupons at health food stores. Whole Foods, Sprouts, Trader Joe’s, and Earth Fare all accept coupons, and you’ll find healthy offers each week right on their site.
Go directly to the manufacturer for coupons. If you don’t see your favorite health-food brand coupons on KCL, try MamboSprouts.com and CommonKindness.com — both have a variety of organic and health-food brand offers. You can also go straight to your favorite brands’ manufacturers for coupons.
8. Problems at the register.
Being prepared when you get to the checkout line will make your transaction go smoothly for everyone.
Know the store policies. Keep the policy bookmarked on your phone, or print it out. If you encounter a problem at checkout, show the policy to the cashier.
Be upfront about issues. If you’re uncertain a coupon will work or about a store’s policy, head to customer service before checking out and ask. That way, if an issue does arise, you can let the cashier you spoke with at customer service know.
Double check that items match coupons. Again, make sure size, quantity, and the product match the coupon’s fine print.
9. Having to shop multiple stores for good deals.
No need to shop at 5 different stores to get great deals. Everything goes on sale at each retailer at different times. Even though there’s a great deal at Walgreens this week doesn’t mean that CVS won’t have that same deal next week!
Pick 2 or 3 stores to coupon at and stick to those stores. Choose stores based on sales, location, and convenience. Look around your workplace, home, or kids’ schools for stores you can quickly shop without going out of your way.
Know when everything goes on sale. By knowing the best time to buy everything by month of year, you can plan ahead and stock up instead of rushing just to catch every good deal.
10. Coupon burnout.
Coupon burnout is real, folks. Saving money is addicting, but try not to overdo it by chasing every deal that comes along.
Set savings goals. Is there something particular your family is saving for? Or are you just trying to save money on groceries every week? How much money? Whatever your reason, figure out what your goal is and focus on that.
Cut back on how much time you spend couponing. Remember you don’t have to get every single deal at the store — doing this will only lead to exhaustion.
Budget for a splurge every now and then. Even if it’s a small splurge like that candy bar you’ve been eyeing at checkout — remember when you’re already saving between 50-90%, then a small splurge won’t hurt!