“Reducing Coupon-Shopper Anxiety”

 Amy Hannold, 
247Moms Frugal Living Editor
Those new to coupons and/or those who are years into theircouponing use have shared with me that they feel “anxious” at times.  The details required and possibleobstacles encountered with coupons can create nerve-wracking, palm-sweatingexperiences.  If couponing doesn’tmake you nervous, perhaps you’ve encountered unanticipated issues.  Here are ideas to boost your confidenceand money-saving success. 
1.  EducateYourself:  Be aware of current storepolicies, coupon-acceptance guidelines and sale promotions.  Shoppers may opt to carry a copy of thestore’s coupon acceptance policy (for polite verification, not clerk-abuse).
2.  Make Friendsand Allies:  Build personablerelationships with store employees and your fellow shoppers.   Check in with the CustomerService desk often. Share your coupons with those you meet during your shoppingtrips.  Be “Politely Persistent”when an issue arises.  Don’t fightto be right; instead work to resolve the situation.  Your future couponing experiences (and those of othercouponers) will be easier.
 
3.  Create – andKnow 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 thanone 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 YourCoupons:  As you write yourshopping plan, collate coupons for each transaction into separate paperclips ordivide it with index cards in your coupon holder.  Be sure you’ve scanned for expiration dates, validsizes/varieties, and the discount amount (is it off one or two items?)
5.  Have a PlanB (and C, Perhaps D):  Know yourshopping plan well enough that you can choose alternate items, if a desiredproduct is out of stock.  Placeyour “Plan B” coupons separate from your planned transaction coupons. 
6. Timing:  Couponingis more fun and sociable when the store is less busy.  If you have “coupon-use anxiety”, you’ll feel more relaxedand clear-minded to implement your shopping plan during slower shopping periods. 
When the store is less crowded, the reception you’ll receivefrom store employees should be more positive.  Our own perceptions that we’re holding up the line (whetherwe are or not) and the negative stares from seemingly inconvenienced folksaround you – all of that is worse during the busiest shopping periods – planaccordingly.   
7.  Shop with aFriend:  Enlist the “buddy system”when shopping to help you through your list, or to shop along side you. It’smore fun with a friend!
8.  Leave theDistractions at Home:  As 24/7Moms, this can be tough.  Whenpossible, do leave the kids (and the spouse?) at home.  You’ll save time, temper and money whenyou shop without counter-productive hands, mouths, and motives. 
9. Going with the Kids? Be at Your Best!:  Shopping with the kids takes an extrameasure of patience and energy.  Chooseto shop when your team is at their best – not tired, hungry, sick or otherwiseinconsolable. Avoid bribing, but do expect and discuss appropriate shoppingbehavior.   
10.  ArmYourself with Activities: Bring activities for your children.  As the kids are learning their numbersand letters, have them complete a scavenger hunt or “I-Spy” game.  When they’re old enough – involve themin the process.  Ask them to helpyou with completing the list, comparison shopping, etc. 
Extra Tip:  Ionce saw a great idea a mom had for her toddlers.  She had small notebooks or clipboards, just for shoppingtrips.  Internet-printed activitypages, coloring books, or a “My Shopping List” for kids kept them happier inthe cart.      

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