Check Out Survival Tips

Well folks, we survived the move…barely.  Did I mention that there isn’t much I hate more than moving?  The up side is we moved into a home that I am absolutely in love with, and on our 2nd day in the house there was already a neighborhood kid that stopped by to introduce herself to the kids.  I just got internet hooked up in the house today, so I thought I’d follow up on my last post and give you the ins and outs of register check out with coupons.  Here is the much anticipated post…

When I get ready to check out at the register with my envelope of coupons in hand, it is super stressful.  I know it sounds strange that using coupons would make someone sweat, but when you plan out every purchase, cost of each item, clipping and sorting coupons to use for each item and total savings, that’s alot of time & energy to have invested in one thing.  Then to have all that control freak (did I just admit that?)  like energy handed over to a complete stranger and all that energy just creates a knot in your stomach as you await the grand total.   I think it’s the lack of control that causes the most stress for me when I check out at the store.  The register will give you more or less savings depending on the order to present items, coupons, and your loyalty card, sometimes it beeps for no reason, locks up, or requires manager approval, all very stressful things for someone who has planned out how each item will impact the overall purchase.

The cashier is another huge source of stress for me.  Choosing the wrong cashier can have a huge impact on your savings, and how you choose can also impact your stress level.  There are a bunch of reasons why you may run into a cashier that is less than pleasant with you when you come to their register with a stack of coupons.  A few of them could be:

  •  They are just having a bad day.  Yes, cashiers have bad days too
  • They are afraid of losing their jobs over a couponer scamming them
  • They take your savings personally on behalf of the company, feeling as if you are stealing from them.  Most do not know that the manufacturer reimburses the store the value of the coupon plus 8 cents.
  • people don’t tend to accept what they don’t understand
  • fear that you know the coupon policy better than they do
  • misconceptions about couponers
  • Bad couponers giving the rest of us a bad name

There’s a few things that I’ve learned through good and bad experiences that will help to make your transactions go (hopefully) more smoothly, & will make both you and the cashier happy.

  1. Come to the register prepared.  Did you bring your OCD?  Well if you didn’t, then you aren’t prepared. lol!  Have your coupons in order, have your transactions organized, know which purchases qualify for register rewards or other incentives.  After I make my list,  will get all my coupons together, separate them by paper clipped transaction and put them in an envelope labeled with the store name. While shopping, if you grab any items that aren’t on your list and you have a coupon in your binder for it, make sure you figure out which transaction it’ll be in, and add that coupon to your envelope in the right stack.  More on this in an upcoming post.
  2. Have a good attitude Coming to the register prepared also means coming with a good attitude.  People can sense frustration and when you’re stressed out.  They can also see it on your face if you’re anticipating a problem.  No one wants to deal with a grump, so don’t be one yourself.  The best way for me to do this is to leave the kids at home, if I can.  They just cause me so much stress when I’m in the store and I’m trying to calculate any last minute savings in my head, or if I’ve added unplanned items to my list.  Oh…and my kids never shut up. I don’t mean quality, what did you do at school type talking…no, I mean completely random, talking just to hear their own voices, unending quantity type talking. I want to duct tape their mouths closed when I have to shop with them.  I wonder if they have coupons for duct tape?
  3. Make a Friend Being helpful, sociable, chatty…these are all techniques (in couponing, yes, these are techniques) that I use to get the cashier on my side BEFORE I hand over the coupons.  If, during conversation, you have something in common, refer to that thing the next time you get them as a cashier.  Read the cashiers name tag, and call them by name…several times.  This lets them know that you took the time to recognize them as an individual and an actual person,  it gives them a personal connection to you, and it also burns their name into your memory if you have trouble with them.  If there’s a coupon or deal that they comment on that you have extras of, share.  They will never forget you, and it will pay off.
  4. Profile your Cashiers Ok, I know this sounds really bad, but it will make a huge difference in your ability to get through the check out drama free.  Most couponers will suggest going to a check out line with a young guy cashier because they don’t care about your coupons, or you, or anything but their date on Friday night.  This has actually been the opposite for me.  I’ve had more trouble going this route, so I have my own plan of attack.  I will walk by the open registers and quickly give a look to see if there is a cashier that I’ve successfully used coupons with before.  I will also be looking at how the other cashiers are interacting with their current customer.  If I’m out of luck finding a cashier I am familiar with, I will choose the cashier that I judge to be the friendliest.  I will also go to a man first, over a woman.  I don’t know what it is, but I think women are just so catty, and  I get alot of attitude from women cashiers.  It’s almost as if they are mad that I am saving so much money, why?  Because they have nothing else to be mad about at the moment.  Not that I’ve ever been in one of those moods.  Also, go with younger over older, just my experience. Anyway, after a really short amount of time, you’ll have your favorites and most likely one of them will be working at any given time.
  5. Be Nice, but Don’t be a Push Over You have to channel the inner mama lion when you head to the check out, but she doesn’t have to come out right at the get go.  You are using coupons for a reason, right?  I haven’t heard of one couponer who uses coupons only because they are available.  Everyone I’ve heard of who is a serious couponer has started or continued because of financial hardship, and having more mouths to feed than dollars to spend.  So, remember why you’re there.  Yes, you’re there to buy cereal, but you’re also there to feed your family.  There’s something primal about a mother using coupons to provide for her family.  That primal mama in me has come out on more than one occasion at the registers, leaving my kids embarrassed and hiding behind my cart but here’s the thing… you remember that old saying “You catch more flies with honey”?  Well, here’s my version, “You can use more coupons with a smile”.  Ok, that was stupid…but you get the point.  You have to know when to walk away…know when to hold em, know when to fold em.  AHHHH ok enough with the stupid cliches!  Can you tell it’s 1:30am?

So, folks the moral of the story is, don’t blog at 1:30 in the morning.  No, no, no…the moral is, learn from your experiences.  If you have a bad experience at the grocery store today, ask yourself what went wrong.  What could YOU change to make it go smoother next time.  Many times that will mean that you were either unprepared, or you just picked a bad egg for a cashier.  It’s all a learning experience.  Just remember, if a cashier won’t accept a coupon, you don’t have to buy the product…have them remove it from your bill.  If you know that coupon and the deal is legit but you just can’t make it work, just come back another time and choose someone else.

A super important side note:  I am a HUGE believer in letting management know when a cashier or other employee has been coupon friendly, or otherwise really good at their job.  I’m famous for asking employees where to find sale items, because I find that alot of the time they are put in a special promotional area, but that area isn’t usually consistent.  I find it easier and quicker to just ask instead of wandering the store for one missing item.  The employee that shows me to the item can make all the difference in my shopping experience vs the employee to doesn’t make eye contact and points in the general direction of about 100 other things.  The grocery store closest to me, Winn Dixie, always has a huge amount of floor staff, and more importantly, I’ve never met ONE that has hesitated to show me to an item that I couldn’t find.  Even if there were a store closer, I would still drive the extra distance to go to this particular store, it’s that good, and management should hear that a loyal couponer appreciates that about their store.  And even though it can be a bit of a pain, I will go online and answer every survey link that is given to me on my receipts.  Not only do most offer the opportunity to win money, but this is an opportunity to go above the manager and let the corporate know that cashiers that are educated about coupon policies, and make the check out experience a pleasant one can make or break your loyalty.  I always name the cashier that checked me out, and I will point out why I thought they were great, or what it was that made check out difficult.  Most managers genuinely appreciate feedback, and those who don’t well…that’s what the online survey part is for.

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About jenboys

I'm a wife, mom of three and a full time student. I love shopping. Even grocery shopping, but I have a habit of spending too much, so I found a way that I can buy alot and not get the evil eye when I come home...coupons!
This entry was posted in How to's, Tips and Tricks and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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