Thursday, January 03, 2008

Thrifty Fun

A few months ago I learned about The Grocery Game from fellow blogger Jenna. I'm always on the look-out for ways to pinch a penny, but this web site has brought it to a whole new level. My grocery bill will never be the same.

The basic gist:
Pricing on grocery store items goes up and down in relatively predictable patterns. When laundry detergent is on sale, chances are that cereal or whatever else is not. Plus, all sales are not created equal. Sometimes an item may be marked down by only a matter cents, but if you wait a few weeks, the price will drop much more.

Clipping coupons always helps, and in years past, I could save a bit with my weekly coupon stash.

But what if you could take the rock-bottom prices when they arrived and combine them with coupons to get screaming deals?

Holy cow, that's what.

The Grocery Game does just that. It does the tracking for you. Your job is to clip the coupons from your weekly Sunday paper (doesn't hurt to find some on-line too) and then check out the weekly list they provide for your local grocery stores to see when to spend which coupons to get the best deals.

The service is subscription-based. You get one store's list for the regular (low) subscription rate, plus any additional stores for a small additional fee. I get the lists for two stores, because they often have very different items at rock bottom prices. It's worth the extra effort to visit two stores when I'm saving so much money, and I don't mind paying for the fee when I'm saving a boatload more than I'm paying for the list.

Every week they have color-coded items based on basic sale prices : black (it's on sale, but it's not rock-bottom, so buy the item only if you really need the thing), blue (a great deal--stock up!), and green (FREE!). The goal, of course, is to eventually buy only blue and green products.

You stock-up on the low-prices items even if you don't need them now so that when the price goes back up, you won't be paying the higher amount, and you'll already have enough on hand to wait until the next time the price is blue.

This is affecting my family in dramatic ways. For starters, we're eating a bigger variety of foods. If I find a great deal on certain products, I'm more likely to dig up recipes to go with them. If I get produce at a great price, I want to be sure I use it before it goes bad. A lot of things on the list are pre-packaged goods (think Hamburger Helper and the like), but I've found a ton of of healthy things as well (frozen vegetables, great deals on lean meats, and much more).

It's also been helpful to stock up on household items that we all use, like laundry detergent (I got an 8-month supply of a good brand--for our family of 6--for about twenty bucks), toilet paper (gotten a ton of it for FREE), toothpaste (GOOD brands for about a buck a piece) toothbrushes (found a good brand toothbrush recently for TWENTY-FIVE CENTS), deodorant, make-up, hair products . . . the list goes on.

I've also stocked up on basics like vitamins, cooking oil, sugar, and flour for general food storage.

The freezer is bulging. Our storage room shelves have had to be reorganized three times to accomodate all the new food. Another bonus: we eat out less now, since there's always something I can whip up for dinner in the house, so it's less tempting to grab take-out.

Every week I leave the grocery store feeling like I'm getting away with something sneaky. And if I don't save at least 50% off the bill, I feel let down. Yeah, it's that effective!

If you're interested in trying it out, you can get a 4-week trial for a buck. And since I'm all into FREE stuff, I have to mention that I can get free weeks on the The Grocery Game if you put in my e-mail address as the one that referred you: annette [at] lyfe [dot] com

Try it out and see for yourself how much you can save!


Kimberly Vanderhorst said...

Why are all the coolest things not available in Canada, hmm? Not that I'm pouting or anything...

Kate said...

*also NOT pouting with Kimberly*

Luisa Perkins said...

I am so ticked that they don't have this in my area. But it's great for you! How cool.

Josi said...

I LOVE the grocery game and like you have felt like a theif. I scored big time on some christmas stuff ($20 rebate on a camera, SD cards for half price, a DVD player for $20) and am now to the point of only buying laundry detergent if it's less than $2 and cereal if it's less than $1.50/box. My pantry is in good shape and my kids are getting into it with me now too. I go to the store once a week (two stores) and maybe one other time, and that's it. Before I was going at least 5 times a week. And. . .oh wait, this is your blog, huh :-) Anyway, in summary I agree!

Unknown said...

you lucky duck :)

Autumn Ables said...

I have a friend who is doing something very similar. She loves it and my hubby is on the verge of begging me to do it. He even said he'd help by clipping the coupons and organize them for me. I'd be a fool not to take his offer and run...but how long will his enthusiasm last? This is the key question. hehe

Great for you for doing something that is helping your family for the better!

Annette Lyon said...

And this is news, to you, Rob?

Jenna said...

I TOLD you it was mad fun! So addicting, isn't it? I'm super glad you're having fun and spreading the word!


Amazon's famous Prime Day events are huge for so many reasons, and for bookworms, it's even better: books aren't high-ticket ite...