Wednesday, January 16, 2008

"The Grocery Game" Update

A little while ago I wrote about a new thing I was trying, "The Grocery Game". Please click here if you missed my posts and would like to read about it. I thought I would give a little update on it, because I think more families could benefit from this if they gave it a try.

First off, let me say that up until starting this, I never used coupons. Sometimes I would get ambitious and clip coupons for things I knew I would buy, but I would either forget to use them, or forget to bring them to the store. Now I use them every week.

This is different in that I go to the store with a list of items that are on sale, as well as all my coupons ready in a pile. By combining coupons from previous weeks (and even months) with this week's sales, on average the final price comes out to be 60-65% cheaper than full price. The Grocery Game does all the work for me, I just print a list of items I want to buy and get the corresponding coupons.

The savings build up more and more each week as my stockpiles grow and I find myself having to buy less and less items at regular price. This includes groceries and many household items such as toiletries, cleaning supplies, paper towels, over-the-counter medicines etc.

Our family has had a budget for about five years now, and although I always stayed "in the ballpark" on spending my categories, I don't think I have ever not gone over any of the set amounts by the end of the month. This month, January, may be the first month that I will not go over at all. This is largely due to the significant savings from The Grocery Game. Another factor is that I pulled out half of my monthly allowance in cash on the 1st of January, and the other half on the 15th. I have found that staying on track is so much easier when I can see how much money I have left in each category, rather than thinking "Well, I need this, so I'll just buy it and worry about fitting it into the budget later." Not that I was a horrible spender, but by month's end I probably went over the budget by about 10%-20% or so. Besides, I was spending about 2 hours a week entering all my ATM card transactions into the checkbook, as well as into a computer-based banking software, which I have now eliminated almost completely since I only have to enter two cash withdrawals and the online bill payments. My husband doesn't use his ATM card because he hardly ever buys anything. He has a company card for his expenses while working and traveling. On the 14th, I still had almost $50 left over in cash, so I am on track to meeting my budget this month. All that while my cupboards are all full to the brim with stockpiled food, while I am wondering where else I could store it.

It certainly takes some time and effort to cut and categorize the coupons. A lady at our church gives me her coupons, as well as those of other ladies at her work, so I get about 5 sets of coupons each week. For example, the Sunday paper a week and a half ago had 6 coupon booklets in it. To clip and categorize all the coupons would probably have taken 30 minutes. But I had 5 sets (5x6=30), so it took me several hours to clip and file them all. Every Tuesday afternoon I sit down on the sofa with the baby napping in my arms while the other kids are also napping or playing quietly, and clip all the coupons, categorize them, and go over my list. The shopping itself probably takes another hour. Of course, if you have older kids, you could have them do all the clipping and maybe even the categorizing.

This is us at the store. I pick my store based on how many
kids can fit in the cart at the same time. This one holds 4,
two in the bottom and two in the top, but Solomon prefers
to ride on the roof. Try pushing this around for an hour! :)

This week, using the coupons saved me an additional $59.08. If I spent a total of four hours, that's $15/hour that I earned by saving. Remember, "A penny saved is a penny earned". Actually, a penny saved is a lot more than a penny earned, because I don't have to tithe or pay taxes on it, and there are none of the usual expenses that come with a job (transportation, wardrobe, child care, etc.). I think a lot more Moms would be able to live without that second income and instead stay home with their children if they realized how little of their pay they are actually taking home.

The bottom of my receipt lists the total savings, $ 172.89.
Of that, $59.08 was from coupons, the rest was from store
sales. Overall, I saved 62%

Regular price: $284.08
I paid: $111.19

We needed two carts by the time we were done shopping.

Each week, there are also items that I am getting for free because the sale price is less than the value of my coupon (which is usually doubled, sometimes tripled). This week, I got 3 bags of dog treats and 6 bottles of Purell hand sanitizer for free. Other free items in the past have been toothpaste, shampoo, cleaner, Nestle choc. chips, yeast packets, rice-a-roni, and various Betty Crocker items, just to name a few.

The subscription for this service is pretty cheap, $10 for 8 weeks. A 4 week trial is only $1. You can have lists for more than one store at $5 extra for each additional store, but I find that one store is plenty. If you do decide to give this a try, I would very much appreciate if you could put down my e-mail address in the referral line. I think I get an extra week (or is it month?) for every person that I refer to this service. You can find my e-mail address under "Contact" on my profile to the right.

In addition to saving me tons of money, this is really FUN! Seriously! I love seeing the cashier's reaction when she realizes how much I saved. I love paying $.10 for an $2.89 item. I love having tons of food and household items on hand, and not having to run to the store for that one item I need to finish dinner (and come back with tons of other stuff I didn't mean to buy). I love calling my husband on the way home from the store and gloating about how much I saved. It's almost addictive!

Give it a try!


On to a different subject: This is what John put on when I told him to get ready for bed. You may not know this, but in Arizona we actually sleep in igloos...

I just love that look on his face. It's so typical for him. He is my little heart-throb, and women and girls of all ages fall for his sweet, little face. His name "Johnny" only adds to the charm. I have never taken him anywhere without just having strangers gushing over him. Of course, he just eats it up... :)


  1. Blogger Christine said...

    Thank you for the update. It's great to see that you are saving so much and it's working out so well for you.

    I clip coupons and each week I look at the market flyer to save money. I only buy what is on sale and/or have a coupon for.

    I'm sure with your large family it really pays off.

  2. Blogger Jasmine's Journey said...

    That is great you are doing so well! Is SOlomon pushing the other cart?

    January 20, 2008 6:58 PM

  3. Blogger Jessica Baker (Bakershalfdozen) said...

    Hi, I use the Grocery Game too. Just a tip for all those multiple coupon inserts... if you stack all the inserts that are the same and then staple the coupon, you only have to cut that coupon once. For instance, I pulled all the Procter and Gamble inserts, sorted the pages so that all the Tide coupon pages were stacked, all the Ragu pages were stacked, etc., put a staple through the Tide coupon stack and then cut the stack. I am able to cut out multiples that way without taking so much time.

    January 20, 2008 9:09 PM

  4. Blogger ZSUZSANNA said...

    Thanks for all the feedback! Solomon does not push the big cart yet. I usually cram everything into the one cart I am using, and get a second cart at the checkout and have one of the people there help me out to the van.

    Jessica, thank you for that great tip. I have thought about doing that before but never did because I was wondering if it would save me any time. I will do that this week!

    January 21, 2008 12:11 AM


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