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Grocery Cart Confessionals: I’m Sorry, I Didn’t Realize I Was Annoying

A few weeks ago a reader asked if I would tackle the subject of how to not be the “annoying coupon person.” When she asked it, my mind went immediately to a situation that happened a couple of months ago.

A  Southern-Lilly-Pulitzer-Clad Women (who also has a blog) posted a situation she had in Target and titled it “Coupon Hell.”

She told the story of being behind a women with a coupon binder who was buying a ton of stuff and then used multiple coupons to pay for the items. The problem – tons of the coupons beeped and the checker wouldn’t accept them (similar to my Target situation) and the lady kept having to put back stuff for each coupon that beeped. Well, as you can imagine, the story was less-than-flattering for coupon users and included a picture of the women and her binder.

As a couponer and shopper, I can relate with the southern belle and the coupon-binder savvy shopper (cause I’ve been both). I’m pretty sure they were both uncomfortable. One just wanted to pay for her stuff and get out of there and one just wanted the deal to go like she had read about it online.

So how do we as couponistas guard ourselves from being written about with the title of “Coupon Hell.”

Here’s my thoughts.

Shop When it is Slow.

If you know you are going to use a ton of coupons on a shopping trip, try to pick an off time to go. Late evenings, early mornings, or after lunch are all good times to go. Right around noon, five o’clock or on Saturday/Sunday morning are a store’s busiest times and you can probably expect a couple of looks from people who just wanted to buy a gallon of milk and go home.

Be Organized.

I’ve talked about organizing your trips before, but I never step foot into a store without writing out  my shopping list and pulling out/clipping all my coupons. Each store gets its own list and corresponding coupons which I paper-clip together complete with my estimated cost per store. (So I don’t go over budget.)

Extra envelope.

If the item I put in my cart has a coupon, I put the coupon in the special envelope. This way if I find an unadvertised deal, if they are out of stock of the item I want or the deal wasn’t as good as I thought – I don’t have to sift through all my coupons. The coupons I will use at checkout are all in the same place.


At the end of your shopping trip, take a moment and regroup in either the paper or feminine products aisle. (I pick these aisles because they don’t have any traffic.)

Double check your list, the coupons you are using, and get them in order. I usually separate the store coupons from the manufacturer and the FREE coupons from the dollar off coupon. Also, I know the number of coupons I’m using – it makes it easier to track if the checker used every coupon or not.

Checkout Etiquette.

While you are in line, allow someone with only one or two items to go ahead of you. Let the checker and/or people behind you know if you are going to be using coupons and have them out and ready to go.

Believe me, no one (including myself) wants to be behind anyone who is searching her purse for several minutes for the last $.30/3 Pillsbury Crescent Roll coupon.

Stand Your Ground.

If you are using the coupon correctly and the register beeps, stand your ground. Explain the coupon to the cashier. More times than not, they will push it through. If there is an issue, decide if the item is worth taking the time to go to customer service, if not, politely ask them to take it off your purchase.

Thank them.

If the transaction went smooth (or even if it didn’t), thank the checker for their diligent work. If the transaction took a long time, thank the people behind you for being patient. Smile – Smile – Smile.

Some people are just mad.

Sometimes you just can’t change people’s attitudes. You may have done all the things I’ve talked about and you still get grouchy looks from the checkers or rolling of the eyes from the people behind you.

Shrug it off. Until they pay for your groceries, they don’t have a right to determine how you spend your money.

And once you get in your car and get home and stock your pantry – you really don’t care anymore.

What do you do to not make it on the Coupon Hell front page? How do you deal with the eye rolling? Let me know. Leave a comment.