After a couple recommendations from friends, I signed up for a trial of Grocery Game for $1. I realized quickly, after just four weeks, that I could easily do this myself. The time I spend clipping coupons and browsing on-line grocery ads and circulars is well worth the money we save at the grocery store. Let me share a few tips & my experience from today:
1. The Sunday paper is available for *free* at TCU every week. We stop by campus on the way home from church or Brad brings one home on Monday so we don't spend the $2.00 it would cost each week.
2. Making sure I'm not hungry, I pull out the advertisement section of the paper along with coupons and discard the extra paper to feel more organized & calm. Find a large table or desk. Start by setting aside each coupon page you think you'll use (not cutting with scissors yet) and go through all coupons, relatively quickly.
3. After discarding unnecessary coupons, I tackle the coupon pile once more, cutting out each one with scissors AND doing two things:
- Re-evaluate its usefulness. HINT: Just because it's a good coupon, does not mean it's a good deal. Are you already planning on buying this product? Maybe hot dogs are already on your list so a coupon for Ballpark Franks is perfect!
- Read the fine print. For example, today, I found myself re-reading a 75¢ coupon for brownie mix. Great, right? Here's the catch: you have to buy two (like a lot of coupons) but you also had to buy two boxes of Supreme brownie mix. We don't like the Supreme styles so this would have actually wasted a few dollars, rather than save us money!!
4. Organize coupons by categories like: frozen, meats, sauces/condiments, home (paper towel, toilet paper, cleaning supplies, etc), health & beauty, etc. This will help you in step number 5.
5. Go through each weekly ad/grocery story ad. These include: Kroger, Albertsons, Tom Thumb, CVS, Walgreens, Wal-Mart, and Target. HINT: Make sure the ad is current. Also, visit each website where the most current weekly ad is available. I would highly suggest reading the text and not looking at the pictures, as you will specifically identify what you need, and not what you WANT. Advertisers score when you make a decision based on packaging & presentation, not actual necessity.
6. Make a list, by grocery stores, of items to purchase. I like to type it in an email to myself so it prints off easily. I also like to include the advertised price and if I have coupons. It also helps me remember in case I'm at one store and see a good deal but want to compare to another location. Here's what my list looked like this morning:
Tom Thumb - you can see the list above of the three items I needed. First of all, Ballpark Franks are normally $3.99 per package but were on sale for 99¢ each. That's a great deal alone BUT there was a coupon for $1.00 off two packages. So I saved a total of $7.00 on two packages of hot dogs and spent just $0.99!!! Then, 75 feet of Reynolds aluminum foil was on special for $3.00, marked down from $4.49. With a $1.00 off coupon, I saved another $2.49. With two other items (tea bags & hot dog buns), my grand total, including tax was $6.93. I saved $10.79 in just ONE trip to a store to buy just five items!! That's a savings of 61%.
And, finally, we took a trip to Wal-Mart, where prices are lowest but coupons don't double or triple so I save all my coupons that are more than 50¢. I used eight coupons to save a grand total of $10.46. Check the prices of other stores on your list while you're in Wal-Mart because they're often lower than sale prices. Like today, I had cereal & ice cream on my CVS list, but at Wal-Mart each item was actually cheaper - I could compare because I had the prices written down - so it saved me a trip to another store with two kids in tow!!
Grand Savings: $21.25 in just two hours, two stores!! Wooohooo!!