Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Coupon organizing pt2

There comes in every couponers life, when a serious decision must be made. Last night I realized that I have too many coupons. there are everywhere - in two binders, in my purse, laying in my empty dishes, on my desk.
Sorting them takes a while, and they spill out. I forget the good ones in the "wrong" purse when I go shopping. I think I let some good ones at the store by mistake. And it makes me sad.

I think I am going to start what other couponers are doing:
- get a filing folder/bucket (the one with the large accordion folder slots)
- Just stick the Sunday insert booklets there, dating them accordingly
- Just cut out coupons as/when I need them

While this eliminates the simple pleasure of cutting them out, it also saves my brain from coupon insanity. Also time, of course.

I'll let you know how it goes.

But overall, the couponing has been great to me so far. I have enough laundry detergent for the next year or so (purchased for 1.50/bottle, instead of 4.99/bottle), shampoo for the next couple of years, razors for a few months (and really expensive ones, not the cheapie 1$ ones). Random hair products that I don't even use (the pretty bottle hair curler mousse made me look like a hobo last time). Toothpase - for a year.
Cereal for the next week or so. Sides - for weeks. Drink mixes for the next several months.
My little "Shelf" is sort of like my dragon's treasure. Sometimes I go to look at it just for the fun of having these things on hand.

Don't want to fall into materialism, but to be honest, its just calming to have stuff that you need, and not worry about running out. Even if its just for a little while.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

I heart Publix pt 2

One thing I mentioned about Publix is the other awesome services that they provide. Fist of all - the Baby Club. About once a couple of months after singing up, they will start sending coupons on baby items.
You can combine store coupons with manufacturer coupons.
I have bought  boxes of diapers with 5$ off of them with my coupons. My favorite is the BOGO on wipes, because any mom knows - wipes don't go bad.

So, even if you don't have a baby, but perhaps know someone - its a good idea to sing up for that.

And that's just one of the savings clubs that they offer. There is preschool, paws, and Upromise, which allows you, your friends and family contribute to your kid's college fund while shopping (by buying certain products).
Season's Pick will alerts you to fresh produce that's on sale throughout the year - based on seasonally grown fruits and vegetables.
Wine Guide will not only give you coupons, but also teach you about the wines and how to read wine labels. I haven't signed up for that, because we really don't enjoy wine all that much, but I am sure that I have been doing "wine" wrong all my life.

So, while this is obvious that every business wants to be your buddy, but I feel that Publix rose above the rest by miles, and offers some amazing stuff, while also offering some great savings. I recall buying pre-made Thanksgiving meal from them ( at that point I just did not want or could not cook, I don't recall) - and everything we got was delicious.

Oh, also, Publix offers cooking classes. So, click on Aprons on publix.com, and see if here are classes available in your area! I always wanted to take one.

This is just the tip of the iceberg of cool stuff that  Publix offers, and I know many of us never even heard of. Hopefully you will find something awesome for you and your family there as well!


I heart Publix

While every couponer is free to choose their own favorite grocery store, Publix is one of mine, as well as that of many other couponers. The funny thing is, I always considered it to be one of the more expensive stores, and for years I would spend an unnecessarily large amount of money there.

That is, until I discovered their weekly BOGO (buy on, get one) deals, coupons, and sales. I know, its strange how sometimes we don't notice the obvious, but here I am. Better late than never, and I can now say  truthfully, that with Publix deals + coupons, I have saved hundreds of dollars on groceries in the past 3 months.

How do I do it? Well, for starters, I patiently wait for my little christmas (or for the rest of the world - Thursday).  Every Thursday Publix puts out their new BOGO deals, which you can check on their website: www.publix.com.

You can search the ad by your location, to make sure that you are looking for the correct ones. Once you joyfully find awesome stuff on BOGO sale, and realize - hey I have coupons for lots of these items, that's where the fun begins.

If Publix is the store of your choice,  please make sure to check your local stores coupon policy. Generally speaking, Publix will double the value of coupons that are 50 c and less. Which means, that every 50 c coupon is actually worth a whole dollar at Publix. A 45 c coupon at Publix is more valuable than a 65 c coupon there. Because you will be saving 90 c on that coupon.

My next step is to check my KCL ladies - they provide the awesome service of matching the coupons to the deal. They will not only tell you from where the coupons come (and provide links to websites that carry them), but also estimate the prices after the coupon.

Two of the most common arguments against this practice I heard, is:
1) These are not the brands I usually buy.
And they won't be. 80% of the time the sales are on stuff I never even tried before. And that's one of the core principles of couponing - you will need to set aside brand loyalty and dive into the wild world of gustatory and culinary adventure. Personally, I am thankful I tried. I've actually tried so many products I would never consider buying before, and many of them are now some of my favorite stuff.
2) Its all junk food, never fresh produce.
While its true, coupons and discounts on fresh produce and meat are hard to come buy, many of the items on the list are not junk food. You certainly don't have to buy discounted soda, or candies, or crackers. I frankly don't, because I just don't want that stuff in my house. Unless I REALLY like the candy (oh, Skinny cow, what have you done....). But a lot of them are things that I would use as sides or lazy meals: Canned products, bread, sides, cereal, condiments  etc. Things that would make up the bulk of my grocery cart and the bill. After buying things that I would need to go with the "real food", I would end up with a ginormous bill.
But it doesn't have to be like that. Try the sides you never bought before - if they are discounted 75%, what's the harm? You can put your savings into buying your fresh produce and meat guilt free!

One other thing that I absolutely love about Publix is that you can use the coupons on the free item. You buy one, get one, and use two coupons. And this is completely allowed by their coupon policy. In fact, lately, Publix started to make radio commercials geared towards couponing shoppers. So, while some stores take a while to catch on, and try to make it more difficult to use coupons, Publix realized the goldmine and is probably raking the dollars in like crazy.

Oh, and http://www.iheartpublix.com/ is actually a cool site, that caters specifically to their shoppers. Coupon matching, deal seeking, and everything you might need to know about how to save most there - is there.

Wow, I sound like I should be paid by Publix for endorsement  but in all honesty, thanks for the savings I'm making there and the awesome staff at the local Publix  - I feel like I have been in a way.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Internet coupons

Ever since the rise of couponing, more and more sites are popping up that offer the manufacturers coupons. I was comprehensive at first about having to install their coupon printer, but actually its easy and safe.

My favorite site is Coupons.com, and I would like to share a couple of tips regarding that.

If you are using sites like KCL, who will link directly to the coupon (under Find my Store, and the listing of the sales) - avoid doing that. Reason being is that you will end up printing a single coupon per single sheet of paper. That's wasteful.

Instead, note the coupons you will need from the site, and go there later, picking out the ones you need. You can print 3 coupons on a single sheet of paper. Unfortuantely, in order to print more than one coupon, you have to do it twice (use the "clip" option twice). Basically, as far as I found, you cannot tell it to print the same coupon twice, probably due to the nessesity of tracking the coupons (each one has their own number.)

As far as I can tell, the jury on whether you can use B&W coupons is out. I prefer to print them in color, it just makes them look a bit more official. I have had some cashiers doubt the validity of the coupons printed on regular paper. But it hurts me, so if anyone knows for sure - let me know. I'd rather not waste more color ink than I have to.

In addition to product coupons they also have a section on various coupons, ranging from restaurants to dentists. It's a good way to find extra sweet savings!


The Trust points.

I don't know about you, but I find that the most valuable things in life are other people. Social equity is priceless and irreplaceable. Building it takes time, but can take a split second to get ruined.

Building a relationship with another person is something that we work on all our lives. Cashiers and store managers are a valuable social equity. Building trust points is essentially to your successful couponing.
I hope you all forgive me if I sound somewhat patronizing - I honestly don't mean to. But this is something I am very passionate about. People, of all colors, ages, sizes and shapes are so priceless. Like them or hate them - they are a part of our lives, and you simply cannot know how someone can impact your life at any time.

So, "Trust points". If you are shopping at the same store every week, it only makes sense that the cashiers will remember you. Would you rather they whisper under breath "Oh no, not her/him again", or greet you with a smile as a friend?

The answer is obvious. But, being nice and personable as a couponer is only half of it. You must build Trust points, and that means - using your coupons responsibly. That means not trying to get something for nothing (unless there is a coupon for it haha), cheat the store, and generally make cashier's life miserable. After a few times of meticulously using the coupons correctly, the cashiers will give you trust points.
I found it in my own experience, if the store knows that I always get the correct item for my coupons, they scrutinize my coupons less. THIS SHALL NOT BE ABUSED. EVER. Once you loose your trust points, you will not gain them back.

In conclusion, the person who scans your purchases is a part of your experience as a human being. Most likely you will remember them long after you move from that neighborhood. You might even remember something about their personal life, or about their kids. They might remember you and something about you.

And maybe, just maybe, that 16-year old girl, working part-time at Wallgreens is a child of God, who has the Father's ear. Maybe, just maybe one day she will say a prayer on your behalf, all because you took the time and effort to make her a part of your human social circle.

So, forget the coupons. People first, coupons last. People last, deals come and go.

Rules of the game.

Every game has it's rules, and the Couponing game is no different. If you take anything away from me, I hope it's that for everyone to be able to benefit from couponing, we must all follow the rules.

I won't go into a long tirade about personal honesty, as most of us had the value of honesty taught to us as kids. I just want to say that, as in other aspects of life, trying to cheat the rules hurts everyone, yourself included.

If we don't follow the rules, or attempt to cheat the system, it causes stores to change their policies in order to protect themselves. That gives us less deals, less coupons, less ways to use them, and overall - screwed us all. So an extra buck is not worth it.

So, to go over it briefly:

1). Be familiar with your store's coupon policy.
KCL has the policies on their website, but you can also request a copy from your local store's manager. Read it, learn it. A cashier is no infallible, and sometimes they might simply not know the policy. Don't get angry, be informed. Don't be afraid to point out the policy to the cashier or the manager, but do it in the nice way.

2) Pay attention to your coupons.
Misusing your coupons, knowingly or un-knowlingly takes off your "trust points".  Don't be THAT guy/girl, who makes the cashier scrutinize each item you get. Know what you are buying and what your coupon limitations are. After all, understanding your coupons and getting the best deal despite of the limitation is the biggest part of the game. You are not gaming the system - you are being a smart shopper.

3) Don't be an ass to other couponers/shoppers.
I know, the TLC's "Extreme Couponing" attempted to make the purchase of 300 bottles of ketchup seem cool and savvy. I'm sorry if it offends anyone, but that's an asshole move. Even if you have 100 of coupons for an item, you are not the only one in town that would like to get on that deal. Don't be lazy - call the store and order extra pallet of that stuff. Don't be the shelf-emptyer. That's just greedy.

If you see a fellow couponer, smile. Strike a conversation. Offer a coupon that you weren't gonna use that day, even if they ARE emptying the shelf in front of your eyes - move on. Such is life, and life ain't fair. Not everyone wants to play nice int he sandbox, but it don't mean that you cannot kill them with kindness. Perhaps next time they will pass it on to someone else.

4) Don't duplicate coupons. It's illegal. Enough said. You will get caught, and you will feel like crap. And your mother will be ashamed of you.

5) Let the guy with a single loaf of bread go first.
We are all busy, we are all in a rush. It's not very fair to make your fellow shoppers wait on your 20 separate transactions. Whoever is first, shall be last, whoever is last - shall be first.

6) Don't hoard the knowledge.
A good friend took time out from her busy life and taught me and my friends about couponing. I have saved several hundred dollars on food alone so far. Pass on the knowledge, don't hide it like some super-secret club. Tell the lady in the isle about it, if she is curious about your ridiculous binder. If you found an awesome sale - tell your friends. If you found a cool way to do something, let them know.
Couponing is for everyone - everyone wins. Stores make money, manufacturers make money. You save money, your friends and family save money. Couponing is great for economy!



Delving into details pt.2

One of the things that I find was the most challenging in the beginning, is organizing your coupons. Depending on your level of dedication (or your "crazy level"), organizing them could be as simple as a multi-pocket accordion organizer, to as complicated as an elaborate filing system.

I started out with just a 5-pocket accordion thing I got at the dollar store. I separated the coupons into five basic groups - Food, Personal items (medicine and personal care), Household stuff, Pets, Baby, and Misc. (for store coupons and oddball things).

After a couple of weeks, I had trouble sorting and finding the coupons I need, so I opted for the most popular method - coupon binder. The inserts for baseball cards provide a perfect little pocket for your coupon friends. You can also buy Couponing-specific inserts from places like Hobby Lobby, which have plastic pockets of various sizes. I really like them, but they are pricier than the baseball card inserts. So it's just a matter of what works best for you.

Places like KCL have whole sections devoted on their tips for coupon organizing, and which categories you will need. I haven't really read through them, as what I have now works for me. After a while, you will start remembering what coupons you have where, so looking for the right one will get easy.


Clipping coupons:
If you are like me, and buy more than one Sunday paper - individually clipping each insert booklet takes a lot of time. Overtime I have learned to sort my inserts by stacking the same pages together, and cutting the coupons from more than one page at the time. You gotta be careful though, so you are not over-cutting, and accidentally cutting off the scan bars or the expiration date.

I am actually planning to buy an actual paper-cutter, one of those guillotine-style things that just slices the paper with one slice - neat and precise. I actually got some Office Max coupons to cash-in for that.

If you are just starting out, then good old scissors and a cup of tea will do the trick. Coupons in the inserts are arranged in a way so that cutting out one, does not ruin the coupon on the other side. So that's a good thing.

Shopping with your coupons, the mechanics of.

That is something that actually comes with time. In my first few trips, I found the experience confusing, bulky, awkward,  and LONG. I brought my whole binder with me, and realized very quickly that it takes a long time to look for deals while at the store. Carrying a heavy binder AND my purse just doesn't work for me.

What I do, is basically research for the sales before going shopping, prep my coupons, binding them all with a paperclip, along with the print-out of the shopping list. I don't take my binder with me anymore - if I miss the sale, I miss the sale. That's not as bad as loosing your binder at the store, or worse, get it stolen. Yeah, I know it sounds crazy, but I have that fear.

I make sure that I have an easily accessible pocket on my purse (I use over the shoulder messenger-bags, so that i have free hands), and this way I can ditch the coupons I don't need, or don't have the chance to use - into the pocket. Once home, I unload my unused coupons back into the binder.


Binder maintenance.

Coupons expire, and that makes me sad. Especially when they are really good ones. What I make sure to do every few days, or at least once a week, is to go through my binder. I look for the coupons that are nearing their expiration date and see if there are any specific deals I can cash them in for before they are no good. Of course, that does not mean that you have to go out and get crap stuff you don't want or need.
On the contrary - if I find that I can use more dish washing liquid, and the Palmolive coupon has only a week left on it - I am not waiting for the "GREAT SALE". I will use it on my next trip before expiration.

It is better, in my opinion, to miss out on the deal of the life time, than to miss a chance on saving on something you would buy anyway two weeks later.

Another thing, you will find yourself running out of space quickly. That's why its important to make sure that the expired coupons are not taking up the space for fresh ones. What to do with the expired precious coupons?

You can actually donate them to the US  military overseas, as they can used them for 6 months after the coupon expiration. KCL ladies have a whole system set up for that, and will tell you exactly how to sort and donate them.


Delving into details pt 1

I have to admit, I am not always detail oriented. I tend to miss obvious things, not read the small print, and generally be absent-minded. I think couponing is helping me to get better at actually noticing details.

Lets get down to Coupons 101. You can find this information, and much much more on numerous blogs and websites devoted to this subject. But if you are already here, I will be glad to share waht I've learned. Again, please remember - I am pretty new to this myself, so you might find incorrect information, mistakes, or lack of knowledge on my part about some things. Feel free to correct me (in a nice way please). I am here to learn, just like you.

1) Where do coupons come from?
When a daddy coupon and a mommy coupon really love each other.....But actually, it seems from everywhere. Maybe I am just more sensitive to coupons, but it seems that no matter where I look - there is a coupon on something.

My main source of coupons is the Sunday paper. If you never bought one - it's sold on Sunday in most stores, like grocery store, convenience stores, gas stations, and even on the side of the street. It is a bit cheaper to get it from the side of the street, but please make sure to tip the people selling it.

Yes, you can also subscription to the paper (very frequently you find actually coupons on the paper inside the paper itself). You can subscription to the Sunday edition (or a few) for a small discount, and have it delivered to your home. I don't know if home delivery costs more, to be honest. You may need to research it on your own.

- Another good place to get coupons from is from the store you shop at. Most stores will have what we call in the biz "Blinkies". Those are the coupons dispensed near the products themselves, usually from a small dispenser that has a blinking light. Hence - blinkies.

- There are also the "peelies" - which are the peel-able coupons that live on top of the product itself.

- There are store coupons that come from the Magic Coupon Machine, like in CVS. You will need to swipe your CVS card to get them.

- Catalinas - those are coupons that are printed out at the regiuster, after making the purchase. I have never used them myself, but there are volumes devoted to the use and gathering of the catalinas themselves.

- And of course there are manufacturer coupons from various coupons sites, like Coupons.com.

2) Using coupons.
Basically, it's all in the details. Coupons must be used on things they are indicated on. At first, it might be a bit confusing, but after a while you will find that reading the coupon is pretty easy.

- Coupon for "ANY (#) item - even if it has a picture of a specific type for that brand, the 'any' tells you that you can use on any type. Usually the coupon will try to suggest you buy the most expensive item, but look instead for the smaller allowed size, for smallest amount.

- Coupon for a specific type must be used on that particular type. If it states "Tyson Breaded Chicken cutlet" - then that's what it must be used on. If it states "any 1 Tyson Frozen food, then any frozen food is eligible. Again, if you are not sure, you can always try it out and see if cashier/manager agrees.

- You can use only 1 manufacturer's coupon per item. But, you can also use a store coupon on that item as well - that's the whole idea of getting the most savings.

- A lot of coupons will state "1 coupon per purchase". That is singular the most confusing things for shoppers and cashier alike. We think that we can only use only 1 coupon of that type for our shopping trip. That is actually incorrect. "Purchase" means one item. You purchase multiple items - you can use an individual coupon for each one of those items.

- If a coupon states "1 per transaction" then it means just that - you can use just one coupon per shopping trip/transaction. You can, however, in most cases simply make several transactions. A transaction is an act of getting item, paying for it, and receiving a receipt. That constitutes a transaction.

- Manufacturer coupons.
As coupons most of the time state - duplicating them is illegal. Photocopying a coupon can land you in some hot water. With coupons printed online, you can generally print 2 coupons per computer on a given item. You can look at the coupon and see if it has a different number on it.
While most couponing sites, like coupons.com will have that coded into their software and will not allow you to print more coupons than you should, some sites don't seem to work properly with that.
It is up to you to make sure that you are not using identical# coupon on two different items. Again - that is illegal. Just print your coupons from more than one PC, and you are good to go.

- You can use the coupon on the date of it's expiration. I have not had any issues with that, but you can alwyas double check with the cashier before starting your purchase.

- As suggested by another couponing site, I ask the cashier if they would like the coupons before they start scanning my items. This is helpful, because the cashier can kind of see what you are buying, instead of trying to figure out whether you got the correct item and their quantity, after they are already in their bags. It saves time for you, cashier, other shoppers, and also eliminates the stress for everyone. 






To clip or not to clip.

Welcome to All my Coupons, a personal blog, detailing the couponing adventures of a regular mom, full-time worker, and the knowledge that was shared with me by my friends. Now I want to pass this on to the rest of my friends.

I would like to start this blog with some basics about coupons in general, and what I learned in the short 3 months of playing the "coupon game". DISCLAIMER: I am not a pro, I am not an "extreme couponer", I am  a green newbie. However, I feel that things that I have learned so far might help others, who have toyed with the idea in the past, but weren't sure how to start.

So let's go over a few basic things. One of the main things that I had to overcome, when it comes to starting to coupon, is my personal feelings and perception on the act of couponing and who the people behind it are.

1) When you use coupons you are not robbing the store or the item manufacturer of money.
When I first started, I felt like I was cheating in some way. That I was getting away with paying less for something that I should be. Take that thought and throw it out the window. Right now - take it and toss!
Companies pay oodles of money into researching shopping patterns, creating demographic statistics, paying to have their coupons in various places (like the Sunday paper). If they are willing to pay millions, perhaps ..they WANT you to use the coupons they offer?
And it makes sense. Any rational person, who wants to make money on their product will say "I would rather someone pay a dollar or two less for my product, that not buy it all." And that's what it comes down to - you are not cheating. You are taking the company up on the offer to try their product. To buy Joe's bread buns, rather than Mike's brad buns. Mike should have put himself out there, if he is sad now.

Also, the stores are compensated for their trouble - each coupon is actually reimbursed to the store with a little something-something on top. So, the store actually makes money on coupons. I am not even talking about people coming out to shop, to spend money in general.

2) I will end up buying stuff I don't need, spending money I did not intend!
That is the #1 objections I have heard from my friends, whom I told about couponing. I have said those exact words myself. Trust me. Well, in this case, lets do a bit of soul-searching. In my case, I found that it's not that I was such a strong-willed person, impervious to marketing suggestions that I would never buy stuff I don't need. In fact, I found that I did not buy a lot of the things simply because I was not willing to spend the money on them. Or on myself.
It's been about a decade if not longer since I shaved my legs with anything other than the cheap brand-X razor, and without shaving cream. I know, not a big deal. But I was not willing to spend that kind of money on myself. I would have never in the millions years buy a 12$ lipstick, because that kind of money would buy a lot of things for my family/kids. I would NEVER consider buying 10 bottles of shampoo, because I am not crazy.
That quickly changed, when I realized that I can and I should reward working hard all week with things like shampoo, and shaving cream, and even "GASP" good tampons, and not the cheapest thing I can find. But the best thing, is to get it guilt-free to the same price I would have gotten the other cheap crap. Only now, my shelves have things like Pantene, L'Oreal, "Gillette on them.
Another thing, just because you don't need it now, doesn't mean that you might never need it. If you are to loose your job, and have no income, are you going to be THAT picky about the type of shampoo you are using, or the type of cereal you are feeding to your kids? But what is those things could be purchased for a fraction of their cost, or even free? I am not too proud to buy something for a quarter.
Also, keep in mind, that whatever you don't need - you can give away. Give it away to a charity  homeless shelter, your church, half-way house for abused women. We have the means to help those are less fortunate, or who are having hard times in their life. It's not being greedy, or cheap - I look at it as another of God's gifts. I am blessed to have a job, home, savings account. you bet your butt that I will buy a bottle of shampoo for a quarter even if I don't need it myself. Because someone else might be desperately trying to scrape some cash for shampoo next week.

3) But I need to buy the newspaper! And that costs money.
Girlfriend, please. You gotta spend money to make money. and the cost of newspaper (or two, three, four, etc) is a fraction of what you essentially making, by using the coupons inside. Honestly. After a while, the newspaper buying will become second nature - you don't even think about the money spent on it.

Also, there are ways to minimize the spending on paper (and you will find many of them in the various couponing sites). If your state has "boys" that sell the newspaper on the side of the road - use them. They sell them for 1.50$, where as you will spend about 2.50$ in a store like Publix. Honestly, I feel awkward buying from the boys on the street, so I buy the "doubles" (which is 2 newspapers in one bundle for 4$.)

4) I don't have the time for this crap.
Girlfriend, please. Where there is a will, there is a way. I guarantee that after a month or so of bumbling with the cutting out of coupons and spending an hour to figure out the sales, you will find yourself devising ingenious ways to make the process fast and amazingly satisfying. My first newspaper cutting took hours. I spent forever individually cutting out each coupon. Sorting them. Putting them in their little pockets in my binder. Looking through the KCL (thekrazycouponlady.com) site for sales, the painstakingly matching my coupons. It took me over an hour to prepare for a single grocery trip.

Now I can cut up 4 newspapers  and sort the coupon under an hour. While watching TV. I can prep for a shopping trip in under 30 minutes, and be on my way. I come back saving 50$ or more each trip. So, lets say I spend 1.5 hours on preparation. But made 50$. I will NEVER have a job that pays me this much.So, its worth the time, in my opinion. I find that I used to (and still do) waste way more time on things that don't even make money for me. So why not?

5) I feel bad holding up the line at the store.
Me too. I don't get angry with people who do, frankly, because I come from Russia. Long lines at the stores were as natural to me growing-up as breathing. Or the grocery store not having bread. But that's another story.
But you don't have to subject your fellow shoppers to your couponing. There are ways around it, and the main one being: PREPARATION.
Have your coupons ready. Have your list ready. Have your coupons ready when you get tot he register. Make sure you are not missing any, and not having any extras. Read the coupon - make sure you have the right kind of coupon for the right kind of product. That, by the way will go a LONG way towards what I call "Trust Points". I'll talk about that in my later installment.
Also, we all know that stores are busy during some hours of the day and not the others. Unless there is absolutely no other way (I've been there, trust me), try to shop during off hours. I am positive that most of us are aware of what those might be. I myself prefer the early morning, right after the store opening. Things are fresh, the store is full of helpful employees, not jaded by the day's work, and the other couponers haven't gotten there yet. :)
And another thing, a simple "I am sorry for holding up the line" goes a LONG way. 99% of the people will smile back and said it's OK. We've all been there. We are all human, and we are all trying to do what's best for us and our family. But a simple smile+sorry helps a tonn.

So, this is basically some of the common questions and objections that I have come across (and myself held) against couponing. Or not even objections, but concerns about the whole process. The funny thing is - companies and stores want us to buy. We want to buy cheap/free. But only a small fraction of people actually use coupons. That's why people like me, who tried it and liked it, are educating our friends and family on the value of saving. Even if I ever become rich (unlikely), I will still be using the coupons, because frankly - its a lot of fun.