Since September is National Coupon Month it's the perfect time to discuss coupon etiquette, especially since more and more people are using coupons to save money on their grocery bill. Before you roll your eyes expecting another lecture on being mannerly, read on. It's really not that difficult to mind your Ps and Qs at the grocery store.
Know the store's coupon policy
Know your store's coupon policy before you start shopping. Do the double coupons? Will they allow you to stack coupons on sale items? Couponers already get a bad rap from jealous Nellies who only wish they could spend $50 and walk out with a cart full of groceries. Don't make it worse by being one of those couponers that holds up the line arguing over whether or not your coupon is acceptable.
Read the fine print
Read your coupon and know exactly what it offers. Keep in mind that the picture on the coupon doesn't always match the item on the shelf. Watch for product sizes and any limitations such as DND (Do not double) or ETS (excludes trial size).
Separate coupons as you shop
Don't wait until you get to the checkout to sort your coupons. As you're shopping, put the coupons you're going to redeem in the front of your binder or file so you can quickly hand them to the cashier. Don't make other wait while you sift.
Avoid peak traffic hours
Shop during the early morning, mid-morning or late in the evening, and if you can help it, leave the kids at home. With less traffic in the store you'll feel less pressured and distracted. You'll be able to compare prices more efficiently and the sales staff will be more willing to answer questions. Plus, you won't be tying up a huge line of customers while the cashier rings up all your coupons. That makes the other customers and the cashiers happy.
Leave some for the next guy
OK, so you have 50 coupons for Cheerios. Stockpiling your groceries is not the same thing as hoarding. When you stockpile you buy only enough to get you through until the next time the product goes on sale. Wiping out the shelf is poor etiquette. Leave some for everybody else.
Let the little guy go first
Be aware of the other shoppers around you when you step up to check out. If there's someone who only has five or six items, don't make him wait. Let him go in front of you. You're only talking about another three minutes and you can use that time to turn your coupons so all the barcodes face the same direction.
Get to know the associates
When's the last time you carried on an actual conversation with one of the stockers or cashiers? Never? They're people, too, and most of them take great pride in their work. Unfortunately, they often feel invisible and unappreciated. Get to know the associates in your store. You'll brighten their day and you'll learn more about your store.
Donna Anderson is a frugal grandmother. She and her frugal daughter, Jessica Crowe, spend just a few hours to save hundreds of dollars off their grocery bill each week. Visit them at TheHappyCouponer.com for weekly coupon match-ups and coupon alerts.
- Never use a coupon unless your product is on sale
- Why it pays to collect multiple coupons
- Don't buy something just because you have a coupon
- Know your store's coupon policy
- What to do when your store stops doubling coupons
- 7 tips to save money before you even start clipping coupons
- Can you really save money with a coupon clipping service?
- The low-down on double and triple coupons
- National Coupon Month: Fun facts and actual statistics