How is it in the modern landscape of self-confidence and pride that there is still one hold out many find embarrassing?
I’m talking about COUPONING.
About a year ago a friend who had dabbled with coupons in the past came to me for advise on how to take her couponing game to the next level. I was thrilled that someone so close to me valued my opinion and I was so excited to go shopping with her and show her everything couponing could do. I sat down with my coupons and computer, and made an elaborate shopping plan involving 50 coupons on 50 products which, if executed correctly, could result in an almost entirely free shopping trip to the local Dollar Tree.
I presented my plan of attack to my new student with pride, expecting her to be as pumped as I was. Instead, I was surprised when she replied, “Can we go to the Dollar Tree two towns over instead?”
“Why?” I asked,
“Well… I have to live in this town!” came her reply.
It should be noted that by the end of the day any misgivings about our shopping excursion were shattered by the sheer awesomeness of our savings. One year later, she has even gone so far as to surpass me in her clipping and couponing abilities, and the student has definitely become the master.
That said, her initial misgivings gave me pause and made me wonder just how many out there are missing out on much needed savings due to embarrassment at the register and the desire to “keep up appearances”.
A 2009 survey found that 1 in 5 consumers are flat out embarrassed to use coupons. And a whopping 57% said that they were self-conscious while attempting to redeem coupons in the previous 6 months.
Consumers are afraid to hold up lines, scared of grouchy cashiers and afraid to appear “cheap”. More than anything, customers are afraid to draw too much attention to themselves.
Combat couponing embarrassment with these seven simple strategies…
Nobody can win against someone who has done their homework and knows what they’re doing. Familiarizing yourself with a stores’ coupon policy is key and printing out a copy to show the clerk if there are any issues is always helpful (they can’t argue with their own company policy!).
Related: A Beginner’s Guide to Couponing
Follow the rules- both the rules of the coupons and the stores policies. It may feel like stealing, but it’s not truly a victory unless it’s entirely legal and above board. Don’t photocopy coupons or try to sneak in expired coupons. There’s no need to be embarrassed when you’re not doing anything wrong to begin with!
Sort which coupons you plan on using before you get to the register. I personally like to pull my cart to the side and make sure everything’s set to go before I even head to the checkout line. Fishing for coupons in your wallet or bag while a line grows behind you is a sure fire way to attract grumbles.
Let those behind you know that you have some coupons, but that it shouldn’t take too long. They may choose to pick another checkout lane or stick around. If any issues arise during checkout, at least they’ve been warned. Also, tell the cashier before they finish ringing you up that you have some coupons for them, they’re far more likely to respond well to something they know is coming.
Smile and be polite. I will admit that I have capitalized on my single young blonde female status at times to get on the good side of grouchy old lady cashier. Thank them profusely for their time and apologize if there are any issues. You definitely catch more savings with honey!
Should the worst happen – a coupon won’t scan, a cashier just won’t be won over – stand your ground. Never raise your voice or get upset, just produce your printed coupon policy, ask for a manager or ask that the cashier manually enter coupons if the scanner isn’t your friend. You have done your homework and you know you did everything right so stand by your work! You deserve these savings!
Finally, if pulling a piece of paper out of your pocket is just too scary, go electronic! Many stores offer e-coupons that can be clipped right from your computer to your loyalty card. Store specific apps like Cartwheel by Target allow you to search for discounts while in the store- just select the coupons you’d like to use and present your phone to the cashier to scan!
Rebate apps like Ibotta and Checkout 51 do the work for you after you finish shopping, giving you money back for buying the things you were going to buy anyway. Nobody can look cheap while saving money from their flashy smart phone!
Related: How to Maximize Your Dollar with the Best Shopping Apps
A well-organized, polite, killer savings checkout is far from embarrassing. In fact, it can be down right exhilarating. A year ago in the Dollar Tree two towns over the cashier finished ringing me up with a “Jeez! Good job!” and I left knowing that I owned that checkout experience. Be brave and join me at the checkout line!
Sarah Cooney is a New York City based Actor/Singer/Stilt Walker/Avid Couponer.