Friday, February 26, 2010

The Highs and Lows of using coupons...

By Cindy of  Living Rich with Coupons

You have planned out your shopping trip.  Your coupons are all in order.  You have figured out exactly how much you will be saving.  Your cart is filled with your great finds.  Proudly you pile your deals at the checkout so excited to watch those coupons deduct one by one from the total.  Or to receive that $10 catalina spit out of that little machine by the register.  The cashier takes your coupons and begins what you think will be a simple, well thought out transaction.  And then your whole plan turns upside down.  Nothing goes as planned.  Your hands get sweaty and your heart starts to pound.  Sound familiar?
Well, you are not alone.  These are the highs and lows of using coupons.  We plan everything right down to the penny.  Check to make sure we are getting the right product to match the coupon.  We make sure that the coupons are not expired and so on.  Then, the coupon police (that cashier that seems to think that we are taking money out of their pocket) takes our coupons and one by one picks them apart.
This coupon will not double, this coupon is for more then the price of the product, this coupon is not a real coupon it must of been copied, this coupon is a PDF coupon and we don’t take those and the list goes on. Why does this happen and how do we avoid it.
One reason is simply some stores and store managers simply do not know their own corporate coupon policies.  Take for instance recent comments from readers who went to Target trying to buy the 8oz body wash.  They have said they were not allowed to use the $4/2 coupon on two $1.99 products because it was more then the item.  Well, Target’s policy, as are most stores policy, is to adjust the coupon down.  Or, another reader got, this is a trial size product and you can’t us it on a trial size item.  Hello, when was the last time an 8 oz product was trial size. Will they allow that size on an airplane? I think not.
Or how about when you complete the transaction and everything goes as planned and no catalina prints out.  Then you have to go to customer service, spend 5 minutes there (husband and kids in tow) discussing why you should have gotten a $10 catalina only to find that they didn’t even know there was such a deal going on in their own store.  Enough to make you wonder why you are doing this in the first place.  Is it worth it?
For the amount of money you can save, I say yes.  Because every single time is not going to be that way.  Every single time will not require you to hold your breath, hoping and wishing that the coupon police do not show up at the register.  “Sorry lady, you have just committed a coupon violation and you need to come with us while we take a 1/2 hour of your time to tell you why you can’t use that coupon”.
That won’t always happen.  And don’t think it will never happen because it will.  Most likely before the month is over you will be talking to that coupon police explaining your case.  And what do you do?  Well here are ways to help you out.  Ways that I have found extremely helpful.
::Bring coupon policies for your stores (I will be posting policies for you to print out shortly).  This way the cashiers and managers can see that they have no choice but to except your coupon over the amount of the item or any other excuse they give you.
::Know the store’s policy yourself.  If you plan on shopping at that store often to take advantage of their coupons or rewards program, then understand their policies.  Read up on it.  Educate yourself so you know what you can and can not do.  What works and what doesn’t work.
::Prepare to walk away from a deal.  If they give you a hard time that you can’t quickly resolve by pulling out your coupon policy or explaining it, then walk away from it.  Sometimes it’s not worth the hassle.  There are so many deals to be found that having to walk away from one is no worry.  You’ll find another.
The more you use coupons and become completely comfortable with them the easier it gets to explain your case.  It really will.  When you first start out using “coupons on steroids”, as one reader put it, you are not completely sure of yourself.  Did I do this right?  Is this the right product?  Do I need to buy 2 or 3 for this to work?  It sometimes can be a bit confusing.  So to plead your case to the coupon police sometimes can get a little nerve wracking especially if you’re not 100% sure you even did it right in the first place.  Well, that does get easier I promise.  And the more you do it the more you can plead your case and sound like you know what you are talking about.  Since most of the time, they (the coupon police) don’t even really know what’s going on, sounding like you know gets them to accept it.  And I am by no means telling you to try to get away with sometime that is not on the up and up.  I mean real deals that completely follow within the rules of the coupon and of the store’s policy.  I NEVER advocate trying to “one up” a store.  NEVER!
So listen, nothing in life that is worthwhile is free.  Things take time.  Ask yourself this,  if someone came to you and offered you $200 a week (you honestly can save that much money) for a few hours of work, work that you already do some of (and that you have to do anyway) and told you that hours were completely flexible and if you didn’t feel like doing it one week here or there that would be fine.  Would you take the job?  Only you can answer that question.  My answer is absolutely.  I’ll spend a few hours a week sorting through coupons, writing lists and going through the occasional sweaty hand, heart pounding, your deal just feel apart episode.  Sign me up!!  I’ll take 200 bucks a week!!



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