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In their comedic yet spot-on book, Pick Another Checkout Lane, Honey: Save Big Money & Make the Grocery Aisle your Catwalk!, the Authors Joanie Demer and Heather Wheeler, take on couponing the way one should take it on: boldly – without even the slightest bit of hesitation. The concept of Pick Another Checkout Lane Honey is simple: combine low store “on sale” prices with corresponding manufacturers coupons, stacking the two together, and then buy in mass quantities; the end result is stocking the pantry at prices that are 70-80 percent off.
As a male, I’m generally not comfortable pimping a book entitled Pick Another Checkout Lane Honey, but I’ve got to admit, even though the reader audience was geared toward the female half of the population – the book was pretty good, even for me. These women demonstrate unabashed fervor to save every last dollar, but in a way that is smart, not embarrassing or cheap (neither negotiate a lower price at the register). I have incorporated some of their wisdom with my own in the Top 10 Couponing Must Dos below.
- It must be easy. Join a service such as SavingsAngel.com or GroceryGame.com to tell you when the sale on your selected items are occurring. You don’t need to comb the newspaper for ads on a Sunday morning.
- You must only buy when your targeted items are on “extreme sale” – unless you have no other choice. There are some items (mainly perishable) such as fresh milk that just need to be bought when they need to be bought – still use a coupon though.
- Buy in volume, three to four months at least. “Big” sale prices come around about every quarter.
- Think big, don’t use one coupon for one item, use 4, 5 or 6 of the same coupon for 4, 5 or 6 of the same item. Check your store’s definition of “one coupon per purchase.” Many stores will interpret that as one coupon per item purchased, not one coupon on the one sale item in question, per trip to the check out. Stock pile as much as you can.
- Source 4, 5 or 6 coupons of each item any way you can. Many subscribe to 4-6 copies of the local newspaper on the day of the week that coupons are inserted. Others horse trade coupons for product with friends and family
- Consolidate your efforts on 2-3 grocery stores (pick big chains that run sales), and 2-3 drug stores (likewise). Get to know their coupon policies well and carry a printed copy with you in case of disagreement at the register when you have twenty packages of Bounty and can’t turn back.
- Never throw away coupons until they expire – sometimes you’ll see an item that ends up being free (or close to it) that you can donate to others. Think inner city food pantries.
- Keep your coupons organized. Pick Another Checkout Lane Honey explains two very good systems (Chapter 6). Both SavingsAngel.com and GroceryGame.com also offer great tips on the same.
- Don’t feel like a second class citizen for using coupons – stores actually make more money if you use coupons than if you pay cash. There is an 8 cent handling fee on each coupon. It becomes real money for a grocery store chain that might handle several million coupons a year. Also, the people behind you will watch in amazement as you shellac them at the check-out counter.
- Make it fun – keep a tally on how much you have saved. The store will generally tell you at the end.
In this day and age with people out of work couponing is not just a hobby, it is a necessity. Those that approach it timidly will see some results, but those that approach it with vim and vigor, will save a lot of money. Read a copy of Pick Another Checkout Lane Honey, subscribe for the trial at SavingsAngel.com or GroceryGame.com and jump in the game!