If I attempted to count the number of times I’ve made a mistake while couponing, we might be here all year, and then all my digital coupons would expire before I had the chance to use them (which would just be another mistake…you see how this vicious cycle continues?! 😭🤣)
Yes, even someone who is seasoned and “knows the coupon game” makes mistakes while in the store. It’s common when you’re first starting to feel like you’re never going to get it right, but as someone who has been couponing for over 13 years, I’m here to tell you that I still make mistakes…frequently! And all you can do is learn from them and hope to not make the same mistake next time.
But, in the interest of helping you try to avoid as many mistakes as possible, I’ve compiled the top 5 mistakes I’m POSITIVE every couponer has made (and will continue to make 😅) while couponing! So, let me show you what I got…so maybe you might be able to avoid the same ones while you’re out snagging your next deal.
1. Forgetting to clip your coupon in the app OR hand your paper coupon to your cashier
If I had a dollar for every time I did this, I’d have more than enough money to make up for the money I’ve lost by forgetting to clip my coupons! 🤣 This is especially true at places like CVS, where even if you scan the item and see the coupon, the app does not automatically clip the coupon and add it to your account! (Whereas places like Target automatically add the available coupons to your account once you scan the item—we see you Target, and we love it!!)
Best way to avoid this is to get into habit of re-scanning every item in your cart before you checkout–I always step to the side of an aisle before I head to the checkout, count my items, scan them, check my coupons, and redo my math before I fully commit to a register! This way, I’m making sure I save the most money and my deals work out. But, if you forget, don’t worry! Most stores will credit you the value of the forgotten coupon if you let them know about it, so don’t be afraid to kindly ask the cashier for an adjustment if you do forget.
2. Letting rewards expire
Nothing, and I mean NOTHING, hurts as bad to a couponer than picking up a Register Reward or Extra Bucks and realizing that they expired–since couponing requires us to treat those rewards as equivalent to cash, seeing that your “money” is expired and no longer of any value is absolutely gut wrenching. But, it happens…a lot!
Register Rewards can expire within 3 days to up to 2 weeks (depending on the reward) and Extra Bucks expire after 30 days.
The way that I’ve found works for me to make sure my rewards don’t expire is to put a reminder in my phone set for 3 days before my rewards expire–this is especially helpful during super busy times in my life, like summer break or November/December holidays.
I’ve also heard of other couponers not allowing ANY rewards to sit unused–meaning that they spend the rewards the moment they earn them, that way they don’t leave any of that “money” in their wallet with the possibility of expiration. Personally, since I roll my rewards from one shopping trip to the next, I prefer the phone reminder method, but try a few things and do what works best for you! Just don’t beat yourself up too much when a reward expires–it honestly happens to all of us!
3. Not comparing your coupon prices to other store’s prices before checking out
I was guilty of this in the beginning–CVS is offering an item for 50% off? Sweet! Nevermind that Target normally offers that item for 30% less and has the same coupons, making the final cost at Target cheaper than CVS…but it’s a coupon deal! It must be the best! 🥴 It’s always a good idea to directly compare cost per unit on the items you’re couponing to other stores before you buy that item. It can be as simple as scanning the item in store on other store apps to verify that the final cost with coupons at “Store A” is in fact the cheapest possible price out there right now. When I’m comparing an item’s final cost, I find the “cost per unit”–which is the cost per ounce, gram, individual item within the package, etc–and then directly compare the two.
For example: let’s say there’s a 6 pack of Charmin toilet paper at CVS and a 10 pack of Charmin toilet paper at Dollar General. The 6 pack costs $3.75 after coupons at CVS and it costs $6 for the 10 pack at DG–the rolls are the same size, same square footage per roll, same brand,etc. In this case, the “unit” would be 1 roll for direct comparison; the $3.75 6 pack at CVS would be 62 cents per roll and the $6 10 pack would be 60 cents per roll; so, if you were looking for the best possible deal, while it might be less out of pocket to grab the 6 pack at CVS, if you were to snag the 10 pack at Dollar General the cost per unit would be cheaper, giving you the most savings.
This skill takes time to master, so don’t get discouraged if you don’t grab the ultimate cheapest price every time. Just try to get in the habit of cross-checking your post coupon prices before you commit to a receipt, your wallet will thank you later!
4. Missing out on rebates by not scanning your receipts
Or worse…having a rebate expire before you’ve submitted your receipt! 😭 Yes, I know rebate apps can be super annoying, and sometimes that extra step of submitting a receipt is a lot to remember, but missing that step is equivalent to missing out on money! The easiest way I’ve found to not forget or to not let a rebate expire before you’ve had a chance to get your cash back is to get in the habit of submitting your receipt BEFORE you leave the store–I literally stand off to the side next to the exit and take the extra few seconds to submit my receipt. That way, I make sure to get it done, and I’m not giving myself the chance to forget…because let’s be real, I forget far more than I remember once I leave the store 😅
5. Forgetting to have FUN!
Even though couponing is meant to help your budget and, ultimately, save you and your family money, at its core, I firmly believe couponing should be fun! Figuring out how to outsmart the stores, stack the coupons, and snag items for rock bottom prices is just like playing a video game, except this video game *really* pays to play! Reminding yourself to have fun, enjoy the deal hunting, and not stress too much when a deal doesn’t go your way or you make a mistake (because, as you can see, everyone does at one point or another 😅). When I say “Happy Couponing” it’s both a wish to you and a reminder to myself to continually be in the conscious act of finding the joy in couponing.
In the end, no matter how frustrating couponing can be, I hope you find a little solace in the fact that literally EVERY couponer has made every single one of these mistakes! But, we learn from them and move forward, right on to the next free toothpaste deal! 🤪