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Couponing 101: At the Store

saving money with coupons

This is Part 5 of our Couponing 101 blog series. Check out Part 1 or continue on to Part 6.

We’re about to hit the store, but I would suggest organizing your coupons before you go. I try to keep mine in an order that makes sense for the layout of the store so that I’m not running back and forth trying to find everything. This is easier if it’s a store you frequent so you know the basic layout, but you can still do it even if you’re shopping at a new store.

First, categorize your coupons. I put them in stacks for pharmacy items/toiletry items, grocery (anything not produce, frozen, or refrigerated), refrigerated items, and frozen items. If you’re familiar with the store, you may want to further organize – put the grocery section items located near each other together in the stack. Then figure out what order you want to shop. I usually do pharmacy/toiletries first, then groceries, then refrigerated food, then frozen food, but do whatever works for you. I stack my coupons so that the first ones I’ll use are on top, and I carry them in an envelope. (No fancy coupon organizer for me, but Christmas is coming soon, right Mom?!)

Now let’s head to the store. Let’s say we’re going to a grocery store that doesn’t double coupons – Food Lion. So let’s imagine your first coupon is for Dove Body Wash, on sale this week for $3.99. You have a $2 off coupon. Grab the body wash for $1.99, start a stack of used coupons in your cart, and cross that off your list.

Eventually we come to Hamburger Helper meals, which are on sale buy-one-get-one free for $1.49. Food Lion’s coupon policy means that each box would ring up at half price. You don’t have to buy two to get the half price deal. I buy one for 75 cents. I also have a 50 cents off Hamburger Helper coupon, so that makes it 25 cents. Suppose I have another 50 cents off coupon, so I pick up another box for 25 cents. That’s two boxes of Hamburger Helper for 50 cents, when the regular price of two boxes would have been $2.98!

We pick up some other items, then hit the frozen foods section. We want to buy Jimmy Dean breakfast biscuits. We have a coupon for $1.50 off and they should be on sale for $3.99, so we should get them for $2.49. But when we look at the price in-store, they’re not on sale. They’re at regular price, $4.99. This does happen sometimes, especially when the matchup blogger lives in a different region where occasionally a sale doesn’t match up. It can be disappointing to find out you won’t get the great deal you were expecting, but it happens from time to time. At this point, it’s up to you to decide if $3.49 is too much to pay for the biscuits. Did you specifically need breakfast food? If so, pick something else as a cheaper alternative. If you normally buy Jimmy Dean biscuits for $4.99 anyway, then $3.49 is still a great deal. It’s up to you to decide whether it’s worth it in the event the price doesn’t match up.

Now we’re ready to check out. Give the cashier your store loyalty card first, ring up the items, then hand over the coupons and watch your total drop! If you notice any problems, ask questions and don’t forget that you should have a copy of the coupon policy on hand. Now it’s time to enjoy those groceries and especially enjoy the savings!

In our next post, we’ll visit a store with double coupons.

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