Every so often, I’ll receive a coupon in the mail for $5/$45 or another dollar amount for Kroger and Ingles. Many times these come with similar coupons for different weeks of a month. One week will be $5/$45 another will be $6/$60, etc. There are a few tricks of the trade that I use to get the most bang for my buck when using these coupons.
- Read the fine print. These coupons have some restrictions that may apply. For example, some cannot be used on cigarettes, alcohol or pharmacy purchases.
- Bring a calculator and total what you have in your cart before coupons. Add each item to the total as you add it into your cart.
- If it is a really fantastic coupon day, make sure that your total after the coupons are deducted will be at least the amount of your loyalty coupon. For example, if my coupon is for $5/$45, I need to make sure that my grand total after tax is more than $5 once all of my coupons are deducted. Kroger won’t give you money out of the register for buying their products. I know, I’ve actually had a sale from a tax exempt purchase ring up –27 cents. Nope, they wouldn’t even give a church the 27cts. ;)
- Some Kroger stores give customers a bag credit (some of the stores in Memphis do this, for instance). If this applies to you, make sure you factor this into your calculations for deductions.
- Prioritize your purchases.
- What do you really need that week?
- For what do you have a coupon? Those items that are going to be free or almost free with your coupon are ones to make note of on your list.
- Consider the expiration date of a coupon or whether or not the product is included in the Mega Event when prioritizing it. For example, I have a coupon for a free bottle of Advil that doesn’t expire until 2011. I’ll use it as a filler item when I need to put our total close to that required dollar amount. If I don’t use it now, I know I can use it at another time. However, if the item is free only with a Mega Event and coupon matchup for one week only, I might make sure to buy it instead of waiting.
- Add a few extra items that you can use just in case you calculate incorrectly and put them in a different part of the cart. These will be your filler items and only used if necessary.
- When the cashier is ringing up your items, keep an eye on the register. When you reach the dollar amount required ($45, $60, etc) before taxes, stop there. If you have a few more items that you need for the week by all means add them. Your filler items, though, will not be needed. These can be saved for another week. If I only need to purchase $45 this week to use my $5 off coupon, I’ll save some of those filler items for next week when I have a coupon for $6/$60. The Advil I mentioned above would fit into this category.
- Give the cashier the loyalty coupon first. By giving him/her the $5/$45 first, you ensure that you can use that coupon. If you wait until the other coupons are deducted, your total might be too low for the register to allow it to deduct.
- Be pleasant, prepared, and polite.
- If you know that your purchase might take a little longer due to the coupons, let the customer behind you with only a gallon of milk and a loaf of bread go first.
- I almost always make a point to thank the customer behind me in line for his/her patience with my using coupons. I know I don’t have to, but you would not believe how much nicer of a shopping experience it is when I do.
- Tell your cashier that you plan on using coupons so that he/she will be prepared.
- If there are any coupons that require the cashier to fill in a dollar amount, put those items together to make it easier to look up the price.
- Don’t hand your cashier a wad of coupons. Make sure that they are orderly so that it makes the entire process go much smoother.
- If you have a problem with your ticket or if the cashier refuses to ring up a coupon for some reason, politely ask to speak with the manager or move to the customer service desk. Having a copy of the store coupon policy can come in very handy.
Share the wealth. If I have a loyalty coupon that I can’t for our family, I don’t let them end up in the recycling bend. I’ll use it for the church food pantry or buying for the children’s program there. I’ll pass it to a friend or relative.
The most fun, though, comes when passing it to a complete stranger in the grocery aisle. Once I was behind a lady at Kroger, and it happened. She didn’t have enough money for her purchase. If you’ve never experienced it before, odds are you will before you die. It is the worst feeling. It is humiliating no matter what the situation. I could tell that the cashier was impatient and that the customer was flustered and embarrassed. She put back a few items, and when I took note of her total and the amount she was holding up in cash, I realized that she only needed another $5 to be able to make her purchase. It was one of those God moments because I all of the sudden realized I had one of those $5/$45 loyalty coupons in my binder. I whipped it out smiling and passed it on to her. She was so appreciative and almost in tears as she left. I can’t tell you how good it felt to help her, and I knew that it was Divine intervention that I was behind her in line with that coupon. God speaks through us in many ways—He can even use something as simple as a coupon to do it.