24/7 MOMS

Thursday, May 19, 2011

“Reducing Coupon-Shopper Anxiety”

 Amy Hannold, 
247Moms Frugal Living Editor

Those new to coupons and/or those who are years into their couponing use have shared with me that they feel “anxious” at times.  The details required and possible obstacles encountered with coupons can create nerve-wracking, palm-sweating experiences.  If couponing doesn’t make you nervous, perhaps you’ve encountered unanticipated issues.  Here are ideas to boost your confidence and money-saving success. 

1.  Educate Yourself:  Be aware of current store policies, coupon-acceptance guidelines and sale promotions.  Shoppers may opt to carry a copy of the store’s coupon acceptance policy (for polite verification, not clerk-abuse).

2.  Make Friends and Allies:  Build personable relationships with store employees and your fellow shoppers.   Check in with the Customer Service desk often. Share your coupons with those you meet during your shopping trips.  Be “Politely Persistent” when an issue arises.  Don’t fight to be right; instead work to resolve the situation.  Your future couponing experiences (and those of other couponers) will be easier.
3.  Create – and Know Your Shopping Plan:  Specifically write down what you intend to buy.  This includes:  Item (with variety/size), Sale Price, Coupon Discount, Promotion Discount, and Bottom Line Price.  If you’re going to implement more than one transaction at a particular store, designate those separately.  When anxiety or distraction occurs, you’ll be able to rely on your written plan.  Carry a copy of the store ad with you as you shop.

4.  Prepare Your Coupons:  As you write your shopping plan, collate coupons for each transaction into separate paperclips or divide it with index cards in your coupon holder.  Be sure you’ve scanned for expiration dates, valid sizes/varieties, and the discount amount (is it off one or two items?)

5.  Have a Plan B (and C, Perhaps D):  Know your shopping plan well enough that you can choose alternate items, if a desired product is out of stock.  Place your “Plan B” coupons separate from your planned transaction coupons. 

6. Timing:  Couponing is more fun and sociable when the store is less busy.  If you have “coupon-use anxiety”, you’ll feel more relaxed and clear-minded to implement your shopping plan during slower shopping periods. 

When the store is less crowded, the reception you’ll receive from store employees should be more positive.  Our own perceptions that we’re holding up the line (whether we are or not) and the negative stares from seemingly inconvenienced folks around you – all of that is worse during the busiest shopping periods – plan accordingly.   

7.  Shop with a Friend:  Enlist the “buddy system” when shopping to help you through your list, or to shop along side you. It’s more fun with a friend!

8.  Leave the Distractions at Home:  As 24/7 Moms, this can be tough.  When possible, do leave the kids (and the spouse?) at home.  You’ll save time, temper and money when you shop without counter-productive hands, mouths, and motives. 

9. Going with the Kids? Be at Your Best!:  Shopping with the kids takes an extra measure of patience and energy.  Choose to shop when your team is at their best – not tired, hungry, sick or otherwise inconsolable. Avoid bribing, but do expect and discuss appropriate shopping behavior.   

10.  Arm Yourself with Activities: Bring activities for your children.  As the kids are learning their numbers and letters, have them complete a scavenger hunt or “I-Spy” game.  When they’re old enough – involve them in the process.  Ask them to help you with completing the list, comparison shopping, etc. 

Extra Tip:  I once saw a great idea a mom had for her toddlers.  She had small notebooks or clipboards, just for shopping trips.  Internet-printed activity pages, coloring books, or a “My Shopping List” for kids kept them happier in the cart.      

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Anonymous Kim said...

I only use a small amount of coupons at a time (around 10-15 coupons) and I still sometimes feel like I'm holding up the line if I go during busy store hours. It's much more relaxing if I can go early in the morning or late at night.

May 19, 2011 at 9:54 AM  

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