Coupon Pep Talk: Surviving the check out line!

Generous Savings How to survive the checkout line

So, you have cut your coupons, organized them, made your list, checked it twice and ventured to the store.  You have spent a little more time in the store than you used to, but that is ok, because you are going to save wayyy more than you used to and you are going to celebrate your savings when you are all done.  But for now, you have to get through the dreaded checkout line.  Your hands begin to sweat, your heart beats a bit faster….”Will they take my coupons? Will any of them beep? Will my cashier be nice?  Will these deals even work?  Will my Catalinas or ECBs or +UPs print?”  All of this and more could be running through your head.  If you have kids with you, it can be even more nervewracking.  So here is my advice and encouragement on what you should do when heading for the checkout line in 10 easy steps.

Step 1-Give your child a lollipop or some other distraction:

If you have children,  make sure you have saved some kind of treat for them until the end of the trip.  I have been known to grab several toys off the store shelf for my little one to explore while I shop or checkout.  I apologize to the cashier as I give them back,  “I am sorry I am not purchasing this, it is the only way I can get through the store with a little one”.  My other tried and true method is lollipops. I am pretty strict when it comes to snacks and junk food, but when I food shop with a 2 year old, lollipops are my best friend.  Unfortunately, even with all my tricks, I still have trips with a cranky 2 year old.  And that is when I really rejoice over my savings and I give Keith a sob story and tell him he better love me for doing all this.  (He is a wonderful encourager and supporter and very appreciative.)

Step 2- Make sure your coupons are ready:

Ok, so now your kid has a lollipop and you are approaching checkout.  What do you do first?  Well, hopefully, you have moved all of your coupons, catalinas, etc, that you plan on using to the front pocket of your accordian file or binder.  I talk about this in my coupon organization post.  Make sure you have everything ready, before you get on line.

Step 3- Pray:

Next, say a prayer.  Seriously,  I highly recommend praying.  First of all, I believe in the power of prayer and second of all I believe that God cares even about the little things in our lives like grocery shopping.  If you are not sure what to pray you can try something like this ” Dear Lord,  I am almost done grocery shopping,  I just have to get through the checkout line.  Please, let me get a sweet cashier and please help me to be sweet back.  Please let all my coupons work and let things go smoothly and quickly.  Thank you, In Jesus name, Amen”.  Now,  I am not promising miracles, but I do notice things usually go a lot better when I pray.  If you are not the praying type, it is never too late to start, so give it a try, or skip to the next step.

Step 4-Scope out and “profile” the available cashiers:
(Can you tell I watch too much Criminal Minds?)

Ok, so your coupons are ready, kid has a lollipop, and you have said a prayer (or not).  Now what I usually do is walk past all the checkout lanes and look for my favorite cashier or a young guy.  Seriously.  I usually avoid at all costs, anyone who looks new or nervous or anyone who looks like they could be my mom.  No offense, but seriously  I have had some crazy experiences.  I have 2 wonderful women, (who could be my mom) who are my most favorite cashiers that I have built a little relationship with.  (more about building a relationship in the next step).  If these women are not around, I find a young guy.  If there are no young guys, I find a young girl.  Or I just go with my gut.

Step 5- Warn the people behind you:

So now I get in line,  if people get behind me, I sweetly say, “Oh honey, I have a ton of coupons today.  I am not sure you want to get behind me.”  Some people say thanks and move on, some people like to watch the show.  I also look in the person’s cart behind me and if I have a coupon for something they have I offer it to them.  (If their jaw drops after they see how much I saved, I give them my card or tell them to checkout Generous )

Step 6-Be sweet to your cashier:

When it is my turn, I say hello to my cashier and ask them how their day is going.  I also say something in a very sweet tone like ” I just want to tell you that I have a lot of coupons today, and I hope you can be patient with me.”  I try to make small talk, who knows if these cashiers get anyone talking nicely to them all day?  You could end up being their bright spot.


Let me tell you about my favorite cashier, Cheryl.  The first time I checked out with Cheryl, I had a zillion coupons, and I know I made her nervous and drove her nuts.  But I was very sweet and patient and thanked her PROFUSELY when it was all over with.  It could have ended up being a really bad experience, but I was patient and so was she and I was ultra appreciative at the end.  I always say hi to her when I see her in the store too!  I now look for Cheryl and hope I can get her as my cashier.  She is used to me and my coupons by now, and things usually go smoothly.  She is in awe at how much I can save and I hope she checks out Generous Savings, so that she can save too.

Instead of being remembered as the crazy coupon lady, try to be extra nice, so you are remembered as the lady who actually cares and is appreciative of the cashier.

Step 7-What to do first, last and in between:

If you have any cloth bags, give them to your cashier first or put them on the belt first.  Swipe your price plus card or insert your phone number if you forgot your card.  Then if you have any rainchecks do those items FIRST.  Now, if you have any coupons that are buy one get one free or for a free item save those items til last and give them the coupon as they ring the item.  They have to write the purchase price of the item on the coupon and this makes things easier for them and you.  Do any other items in between rain checks and bogo/free items.  So just to review-rain checks first-items you are using a bogo or free coupon with last-and everything else is inbetween.

Step 8-Coupon time-watch the register!!!

Hand over your coupons.  If possible, hand your coupons over one at a time.  Watch the register.  Seriously, so many problems can be avoided in advance by watching the register.  Make sure your coupons don’t stick together, and they don’t beep and they all go through.  I could do a whole post on coupon issues at the register,  that will be for next time.  Remember though, if something doesn’t work, you can always ask for your coupon back and say that you don’t want to purchase the item.  (In a very sweet voice of course).

Step 9-Stay calm and give yourself a mental pep talk:

Stay calm, remember to breath.  Remember that we at Generous Savings are in your corner!!!  We believe in you and know you can do it!!!!! And we are here if you need to vent or need help or support!

Step 10- Go over your receipt before leaving the store!!

Seriously, do it!  It can be hard sometimes, and last time, I had a bunch of mistakes, some I caught in store and some I caught at home.  For the mistakes I caught in store, I went to customer service and explained what the problem was.  They were happy to fix it.  I was very sweet and very grateful.  Then I went home and noticed more mistakes, I called and spoke with the same woman at customer service and she made a note so it will be fixed the next time I am in the store.

Hopefully these 10 steps will be enough, but if not….

Step 11-If you have a horrible experience…

If for some reason you are treated badly or have a ridiculously difficult experience, call the store and speak with a manager, or speak with a manager there or call corporate.  Unfortunately, because there are many people out there who commit coupon fraud, there have been times when I have been treated like I am a horrible person for using coupons.  I don’t put up with being made to feel like I am doing something wrong, when I am not doing anything wrong.  Now, if I have actually done something wrong, I apologize profusely.

It feels so good to have a great checkout experience, where everything went smoothly and I saved a ton of money.  The more I coupon, the easier things get and the more confident I get.  Things are not always easy, but most of the time they are worth it.  Remember to be sweet to your cashier and to the people behind you in line, a little sugar goes a long way.  And remember these 3 things if things don’t go as planned:  if mistakes were made with your coupons/catalinas etc- go to customer service, if something went terribly wrong and you got horrible service -call the store manager or corporate, and if you had a rough check-out time this week, next week will be better! (or at least it should be better).

Read more of my coupon pep talks here.

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This post is part of the Frugal Friday Hop hosted by Frugal Experiments


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9 Responses to Coupon Pep Talk: Surviving the check out line!

  1. Ava Gacser says:

    Absolutely, Steph! A couple months back I was supposed to get $$ deducted automatically from my order when I bought several boxes of Shake & Bake. Well, it didn’t work, so I went to customer service (Stop & Shop in Franklin Park) and they just gave me the cash instead! Fortunately I haven’t had any negative experiences with supermarket employees treating me badly because of coupons. Heck, one time I was actually wrong but the store (this time Stop & Shop in Somerset) gave me cash back anyway as if I’d purchased the right amount of product in the first place!

  2. Lisa B says:

    Thanks for the tips! My ShopRite has also been checking all internet coupons in their book. I now separate my coupons so it’s easier for them to just take that pile to the manager’s desk. When I shopped yesterday I had the most coupons I’ve ever had. I told the cashier I had a lot of coupons and she said, “and you picked ME?” She was very nice but there are some others that have done fine too. 🙂 I’ve learned to be very patient at the checkout for sure!

  3. Staci says:

    YES, PLEASE have your coupons ready. I always end up behind people who are so busy talking on their cell phone, they have to dig out their coupons AFTER everything has been put through and the kid is waiting for payment. It’s supremely upsetting. Like they forgot they were shopping. LOL.
    Thanks for linking up over the Frugal Friday Blog Hop I host at November Sunflower!

  4. I found you on the Frugal Friday blog hop and subscribed via your email feed. Hope you can stop by and subscribe at my site. Thanks!

  5. Great tips! Especially the prayer and finding a young guy. my sister (extreme couponer extraordinaire) always tells me to do that last one!

  6. mary alice says:

    Step 8 – Make sure coupons don’t stick:
    When I print out coupons from the internet, after I cut them out, I crumple them in my hand and then smooth them out. Now it will not lie completely flat -just mostly flat. This prevents coupons from sticking together which can be a big problem if you have a nice stack of printed coupons.

    • Steph says:

      Yes Mary Alice, that is why I am neurotic and like to hand my coupons over one by one. but sometimes the cashiers don’t like that!

  7. andi says:

    Pray BEFORE and DURING your shopping!! and then pray and thank God AFTERWARDS that there were no yelling fits on line…… 😀

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