Last week we promised you a full review on how to save money grocery shopping, including the Grocery Game, eversave.com, Sisters of Savings, and shortcuts.com. We will share what we learned this week about clipping coupons, learning how to use them, and playing a game to save money on groceries.
For those of you who are not familiar with the Grocery Game, here is a brief overview.
“The Grocery Game was first established by Teri Gault for members in Southern California. It has since expanded to stores in 48 states. It professes to help people save on groceries (including products, and products, paper products, store items, and other toiletries) by using a database to track prices and coupons and by giving a weekly list of which sales at your local grocery or store are truly ‘rock bottom’ prices.” (Courtesy of a wonderful article found here.)
The Grocery Game offers a 4-week trial and for just $1 you can receive access to Teri’s list for 28 days. For these 4 weeks you will receive “a weekly list of the lowest-priced products at your supermarket matched with manufacturers’ coupons and specials — advertised and unadvertised. Teri does all the hard work and research, and presents it to you in a straightforward format.” After the 4 week trial period, you will be enrolled in a full membership which costs $10/8 weeks for a single store’s list. To add lists to additional stores, you will be charged $5/8 weeks.
Paying this regular fee only makes economical sense if the savings will off-set the cost. Most people we spoke with say that they save about 25%-40% off their total monthly grocery bills playing the Grocery Game. However, the key to the Grocery Game is stockpiling, or purchasing things you will eventually use when they are on sale and not buying anything unless it is at an extremely reduced cost. Naturally, this takes time to do, so the longer you play, the more money you can save.
Different areas have different store options and it is not safe to assume that your neighborhood grocery store will have a list, even if someone else uses the same grocery store in a different city. Most of the North Dallas suburbs have lists to the following stores: Kroger, Tom Thumb, Albertsons, CVS, WalMart and Walgreens.
This is how you GET the list, but having the list is not the battle. Next you have to know what to DO with the list. To determine if this program is helpful for you, Wendy says the game works if you are willing to follow these simple rules:
- You have coupons or are willing to get them.
- You’re willing to organize and use your coupons.
- You have room to stockpile the you buy.
- You’re willing to spend time getting ready to shop each week
- You don’t know the rock bottom price for or you don’t want to or have the time to keep track of them.
- You know rock bottom prices, but you don’t have time to pour through the store sales flyers to identify the best deals of the week.
- You can control yourself when a good sale is in your line of vision.
Ultimately, from what we heard this week, the Grocery Game is wonderful and saves you considerable money if you are willing to follow the outlined program without straying. However, there are a few watch-outs that other Moms have mentioned:
- Watch Out #1 – A common pit-fall that many coupon-clippers experience is the lure to purchase items you’d otherwise never think about simply because they are on deal. Grocery-gamer Erin says, “Though we tried to be careful to mostly buy only foods we probably would have bought anyways, we did find ourselves getting sucked in a few times to buying stuff we didn’t usually use just because it was so cheap. Many of the dirt-cheap sales centered around convenience food items that we could really do without.” (However, this could be considered a problem with all list and coupon centered shopping. Having a coupon for a product does not necessarily mean that you NEED the product, it just makes it more cost effective if you do!
- Watch Out #2 – Sticking to the game might not be worth it for some moms who already find joy in coupon cutting and bargain hunting. LJ prefers her own method of cutting coupons and looking for the best deal. “For me, my weekly couponing and list making is fun. I enjoy it, I really do. It is like a little hobby that happens to save me money, so using this program sort of takes that hobby away. Also, I find that a lot of the things on the list are not items I would purchase and they do not include all my local stores on the list, so I could be missing out on great deals if this was the only service I used.” LJ continues to say that the grocery game would be great for moms who need a little incentive, organization, and encouragement to save money while grocery shopping.
- Watch Out #3 – Furthermore, the Grocery Game centers around name-brand items rather than the often considerably less expensive store brands. If you are brand-loyal like Erin, the Grocery Game might not be for you. “I also started to get frustrated with switching around to so many different brands I don’t usually purchase just because of the list said to buy them. That’s just me…I like my routines I guess! But I had to wonder if I was really doing better on these name brand canned goods on sale, for example, than the store brands at WalMart.”
So, if you don’t think the Grocery Game is for you, what are your other options to save money on groceries?
If You’re Willing to Spend the Time but Want More “Creativity” or “Control” Over Your Purchase Decisions:
The Sisters of Savings provide workshops to teach families how to save up to 90% on their grocery bill. Workshops occur for two hours on a Saturday in Richardson and cost $45. These women are passionate about giving back to their community and making a difference in the world.
If You’re Willing to Spend a Little Time:
If you are just looking for coupons to help save money, eversave.com and shortcuts.com are great places to look. Specific brand manufacturers also offer coupons on their website. Most websites allow you to sign up to receive coupons and savings information via regular e-mails. Grocery store websites like Kroger and Albertson’s also allow you to view the weekly circular online before heading out to the store. This is helpful for meal planning and list making.
If You Don’t Have the Time or Inclination to Clip Coupons:
Re-read our blog: The Shopping Challenge: Costco/Target/Kroger, Where’s Your Best Buy? In a nutshell? Costco is pretty much always cheaper – 28% over Kroger and 20% over Target. (Of course, this didn’t include any possible coupon savings.) The only thing to be careful of are over-buying produce / perishable purchases at Costco, and a few items that you may want to comparison shop for (when we went, it was milk and toilet tissue). But if coupon clipping is realistically NOT something you’re going to do, save yourself the hassle and get that Costco membership.
Overall, from what we read and heard, the Grocery Game seems like a great option for many (but not all!) moms. The $1 trial is a great way to check out the lists for all the stores in your area and see if you think the Grocery Game is a worthwhile investment for your family. Sisters of Savings has also gotten great reviews, but you’ll have to fork over some cash up front in order to learn how save considerable money. If you just need some new places to try for money saving coupons, eversave.com and shortcuts.com are good options. And don’t forget Costco for big purchases.
Good luck and happy shopping!