Getting Lost in the Checkout Line

 Getting Lost in the Checkout Line

Photograph Credit: Microsoft Images

With rain checks, loyalty cards, sale prices, paper coupons, e-coupons, bag credits, and children, it is no wonder one gets lost in the checkout line.

Though I can navigate the coupon process at checkout, I apparently cannot remember my children.

Yes, you read that correctly. You see, we were shopping at Publix this week.

Miss 3 had been happily sitting inside the grocery cart until we reached the checkout lane. At that time, she wanted to help load the groceries onto the conveyor belt and asked to get out of the cart.

Getting Lost in the Checkout Process

In unpacking the cart, I reached in, picked her up, and let her out of the cart. At which time, she began to roam.

I was in-tune with our cashier as I dealt with the rain check, loyalty cards, paper coupons, and e-coupons. As we checked out, the employee started pushing our cart out the door. I check for Mr. 8 and Miss 6, and we went to the van.

Upon getting the van open and transferring the bags from the cart to our trunk, I realized that Miss 3 was no longer in the cart. Panic set in as I realized that I left her inside the store.

Recovering from the Checkout Process

Sending Mr. 8 to rescue her, I waited to see them both exit the store. When they emerged, a lady was with them. The customer was so nice as Miss 3 found her when she realized we were no longer at checkout.

Miss 3 went up to this customer and told her she was lost. The customer waited with her for a minute or two before Mr. 8 arrived to get her. To make sure Miss 3 got to me, the customer followed my children out of the store.

I thanked the customer and apologized as I had forgotten Miss 3 was out of the cart. The customer was glad to help, and I was so proud of Miss 3 for being brave when we got separated. I apologized to Miss 3 for leaving her and told her how proud I was that she found help immediately.

Thankfully, this is the first, and hopefully, the last time, I will exit the store without all three of my children when they are with me. Getting lost in the checkout line happens to adults as well as to children.

Had I paid more attention, I would have discovered Miss 3 was out of the cart. However, I was dealing with coupons, receipts, and rain checks, and the cart was pushed in front of me to the van.

As you save your family money and watch the savings at the register, remember your children without getting lost in the checkout line. Keep paying attention!

Question: Have you ever accidentally left a child somewhere?

Coupon-ology: Gather Coupons – Part 3d of 5

Coupon-ology: Gather Coupons

Photograph Credit: Microsoft Images

Really thought I would have made some progress on my coupon organization since last week, but no progress.

We have enjoyed the outdoors and kept the house clean, so progress is made – just not with the newspaper inserts and coupon filing. When I get to my coupons – hopefully early this week, I will file the coupons I have gathered, and there are a lot.

In our Coupon-ology series, we are compiling ways to gather our coupons in Part 3. Having looked at newspapers in part 3a, magazines in part 3b, and printable coupon databases in part 3c, I turn to manufacturers in part 3d.

Part 3d: Manufacturers

Marketing departments across the world are vying for your hard earned dollars. They spend hours developing advertisements and strategies to make their products seem necessary to your family’s existence. They want you to need their products, so they create promotions and coupons to make their products luring and easy for you to purchase.

If you use an abundance of product from a manufacturer, then you will want additional coupons from what you find in the newspaper inserts. For example, I have used Huggies diapers exclusively for more than 8 years with 2 children in diapers/pull-ups for multiple years. Exhausting the coupons received in the newspaper, I turn to these strategies for finding more manufacturer coupons:

1. Manufacturer Website

Visiting the manufacturer’s website and locating the coupon or promotional page provides information on where to find additional coupon savings.

2. Manufacturer Newsletters

In addition to informing e-mail subscribers to news and product information, manufacturers include coupons and additional promotions for their valued customers. Using my junk e-mail account provides room for lots of savings without cluttering my personal inbox with coupons, news, samples, and promotions.

3. Manufacturer Social Media Accounts

Keeping a junk Facebook and Twitter account, I can “like” and “follow” my favorite manufacturers and gain special discounts and coupons as a fan.

4. Contact Manufacturers

Sending an e-mail via their website’s contact page or placing a call to request coupons, thank them, or offer a suggestion for improvement usually nets you one or more high-value coupons.  If you report a problem with a product, you will usually get those coupons as well.

5. Check Product Packaging

Some manufacturers (e.g., Dannon yogurt) add coupons inside their packaging. So, before you toss that cardboard covering, take a peek inside to check for coupons.

With manufacturers generously providing coupons and promotions to save you money, they desire to keep you as a paying customer. What they don’t know is how smart you are, and how you will combine their coupons with sales and promotions to get their products for more than 50% off. But we still want those coupons. 🙂

In gathering coupons, the manufacturer needs you to purchase their products, so take advantage of their generosity in providing coupons. Keep gathering and organizing to save your family’s resources while providing nourishment. Happy gathering!

Question: Where do you find additional manufacturer coupons?

Start Saving from Scratch – Part 6 of 6

Start Saving from Scratch

Photograph Credit: Microsoft Images

The end of the series has arrived. 😉

Though not as thorough as my food cycle series, covering my menu planning to grocery shopping to evaluating the savings, this Start Saving from Scratch series condensed that information with links back to the original posts.

As a review, the breakdown of the series is as follows:

Start Saving from Scratch

Part 1: Organizing my food supply

Part 2: Creating a menu

Part 3: Compiling a grocery list

Part 4: Gathering my savings

Part 5: Giving groceries a home

Part 6: Taking a Step Back and Repeat

Part 6: Taking a Step Back and Repeat

To learn from my mistakes and improve saving my family money, I take the time to evaluate my shopping trips. I review my grocery lists, store envelopes, and receipts.

Reviewing grocery lists

As I scan my grocery list, I like to review the shopping trip. If I did not pick up an item, then I take a closer look to see if I missed it or made the right decision. In using time wisely to think through my shopping trip, I have learned to check the price per unit to determine the best deal as well as focusing on the buy one, get one free deals over sale prices when stockpiling.

Reviewing store envelopes

At the end of my shopping trip, my store envelopes get stuffed with receipts, lists, coupons, rain checks, coupon policies, and my notes. Upon reviewing my grocery list, I remove, sort, organize, and insert any needed items back into my envelopes.

Reviewing receipts

Though I review my receipt before leaving the store, I review it again at home to take surveys, document my savings, and then file it away. By taking Bi-Lo surveys, I have received coupons for free hand sanitizer, fruit snacks, tissues, cold medicine, and orange juice. In using time wisely to take surveys, I have reduced our grocery spending with these free items.

By documenting my savings, I can track my savings and my spending. Realizing that I am saving 80% on one purchase and 50% on another purchase, I can evaluate the depth of my savings. The best part of keeping track is looking back at the conclusion of the year to see the total amount saved.

Since I use my credit card for grocery purchases, I file the receipts to reconcile my statement once a month.

In completing this series, reviewing my grocery lists, store envelopes, and receipts helps me learn how to increase my savings. This process works for me. As I continue to follow these steps, I can even send someone else to the store with instructions and get the same result.

I was so proud of Paul as I was busy with the kids and needed to get to the store. Paul asked if he could go to help me out. Of course, I gave him what he needed. He returned bragging about purchasing $70 in retail for under $5 after loyalty card, sales, and coupons discounts.

As you continue using time wisely to save your family money while feeding them, find a routine that works for you. As you practice, you will get more efficient. Happy saving!

Question: How do you evaluate your shopping trips?

Start Saving from Scratch – Part 4 of 6

Start Saving from Scratch

Photograph Credit: Microsoft Images

My menu plan is back to running smoothly. The last two months fell into the category of spontaneous rather than planned. Thankfully, it was a short season – a break, but I’m back now.

Having stocked up on some great deals this past week, I am back in my swing. To start saving from scratch, I pushed the reset button.

This series is at the halfway point. Starting at the beginning, Part 1 focused on organizing the food supply, then Part 2 dealt with creating a menu, and Part 3 pulled it together compiling a grocery list. With the planning done, it’s time to hit the stores.

Part 4: Gathering your Savings

Entering the Store

If you shop with small children, check your store’s bakery for free cookies. After checking the entry ways and customer service for coupons, we head to the bakery. Obtaining a sugar cookie with sprinkles keeps my girls occupied during our shopping trip. I usually make Publix our last stop because my kids like their cookies the best. 😉

Shopping the Store

In using time wisely to gathering my savings, I follow these seven steps:

Paying the Store

When choosing my cashier, I look for my favorites. As you shop each week, you will find the better cashiers, who are coupon-friendly. To make checkout run smoothly, I place the groceries on the conveyor belt in this order. This order helps me prepare for any quirky situations (e.g., rain checks).

Once our transaction begins, I assist the cashier throughout the process. My having the items in order, I get our loyalty card scanned, present reusable bags, ask for bag credits, present rain checks, and provide coupons. Staying organized makes checkout smooth, uncomplicated, and efficient.

Before leaving the store, I check the receipt and request any rain checks. When I find discrepancies, I address them with customer service before leaving the store.

As I gather my savings, I get quicker and more efficient the more I shop. I am faster this year than I was last year. Experience is your friend, so keep practicing. Once you get into the rhythm, the process goes smoothly.

Try to relax. I understand the fear of having a coupon rejected or getting out of order. It’s OK. Customer service can correct any issues. Do your best, and keep practicing while gathering your savings.

Question: How do you make your shopping trips successful?

Start Saving from Scratch – Part 3 of 6

Start Saving from Scratch

Photograph Credit: Microsoft Images

Hopefully, you are gaining momentum in the kitchen. In start saving from scratch, I feel like I can make an informed decision because I know what I have in my house and what I need to feed my family.

In the process of saving money while feeding my family, I have organized my food supply and created a menu. Rather than guessing, I know what is in my food supply and on the menu. Now, I continue saving by compiling a grocery list.

Part 3: Compiling a Grocery List

Preparing the Grocery List

My grocery list comes together from two sources: products needed and products on sale.

Identify Products Needed

To identify the products needed, I consult the pad of paper on the side of my refrigerator. Throughout the week as we open the last jar of ketchup or notice we are running low on flour, we add that item to the list. Also, any items needed to complete a meal are added to this list.

With a quick look over the pantry, freezer, and refrigerator, I can add any items that are low in supply. Usually milk and bread make it on the list from browsing my supply.

Identify Products on Sale

To see the deep savings, I shop the buy one, get one free and sale items at the grocery store. To save time, I consult blogs that specialize in food savings. My favorite grocery store match-ups are found at Southern Savers where I just click the box next to my selected item. At the end of that store’s sales, I can create my grocery list with those items selected.

Composing the Grocery List

With the products identified, I can then print the coupons from the links provided and collect the remaining coupons from my binders. Knowing how many items I can purchase and need, I add those numbers to my grocery list.

With the grocery list complete, I place it with the coupons into that store’s envelope. I then repeat this process with each store.

Any item remaining on the pad that was not on sale for the week at either Publix or Bi-lo, I will purchase at Aldi. In my area, Aldi is the least expensive solution for feeding my family.

At the conclusion of this process, I end up with a maximum of 3 grocery lists: Publix, Bi-Lo, and Aldi. Some weeks, I bypass a store if there are no deals I need. By shopping the sales, I am restocking my supply at home with products at a low cost. As I make my menu in the weeks to come, I will use the products on sale this week to feed my family for less.

In using time wisely, I have adjusted this process to work for me. As you work through the steps, make adjustments as needed to find a system that works for you. Happy savings!

Question: Where do you find the best coupon match-ups for your area?