I've had several people email me and ask me about the Grocery Game after I mentioned it a while back, so this week's "Workshop Wednesday" will be a little introduction to that.
Before I continue, I do want to mention that my Workshop Wednesdays are probably going to be kind of random.... I just figured I probably don't have enough expertise in one area to keep an on-going tutorial happening every week, but I do know a lot about random things, so you will get a little peek into the inner workings of my brain through these weekly sessions with me. Hehe
Upcoming topics: SHE (Sidetracked Home Executive- the system and how I make it work for me), creating your own hand-drawn titles, step by step project tutorials for scrapbooking, card-making, and altered items, and a step by step tutorial for altering a t-shirt to make it more fashionable...
if you have a suggestion for Workshop Wednesdays, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave it in the comments here! :)
Okay, on to today's Workshop....
The Grocery Game is something I had seen mentioned on message boards many times, but never was super interested. For one- I don't really like to cook, so I figured wherever there was a group of women chatting about groceries, they were also probably talking about cooking and I wouldn't really fit in to that conversation.
My aunt became really interested in the concept earlier this year and quickly became addicted to this shopping technique... so all of the info that I have learned about it I have to attribute to her teaching me about it. :) I should've just asked her to do a guest spot here and explain it to you! She has ministered to me tremendously by offering to double up her shopping and pick up the same things she gets, for me. I'm hoping one of these days I can pick it up myself, but for the time being, juggling the three littles is pretty time consuming. ;)
In a nutshell, the Grocery Game is basically a way to save you money in grocery shopping- and it has expanded to a lot of other items and stores. The official website and its many spin-off sites have created lists and scenarios for you, matching up advertised and unadvertised sales and low-priced items with coupons available online or in your Sunday paper... basically, when it all comes out in the wash, you never buy anything for full price and you often end up with items for free.
The official website, The Grocery Game, offers a wide array of information... for a very small monthly fee. I even think that if you are just starting off, it wouldn't hurt to go ahead and get a month's subscription. Here is the pricing from their site:
For only a dollar, you can try Teri’s List for 28 days. Most report saving hundreds of dollars during this period. To continue receiving Teri’s List, you don’t have to do anything; you’ll automatically become a full member. If you don’t want your membership activated, simply cancel before the 28th day. Once your full membership is activated, you will be billed $10 every eight weeks for a single store List. That’s only about $5 a month. For each additional List add $5 every eight weeks.
In a minute, I'll explain about the lists, but I wanted to first go ahead and explain what other options you might have as far as free internet resources.
Hot Coupon World is a fantastic site that is free and full of a lot of information (I'm also aware that their name is kind of funny... or maybe that's just me). It's a message board primarily, divided up into sections so that you can easily and quickly go to the areas that you need. (There's a "Newbie" section for those of you first starting out, and individual sections for drug stores, grocery stores, national chain stores, deals for family needs, and much more.)
Another similar website is A Full Cup. Just like Hot Coupon World, it offers links to online printable coupons, and a coupon generator and database.
Back to the Grocery Game Lists, I believe (as I haven't signed up for this one personally), you pay for a personalized list sent to you weekly, with your grocery store, the deals available, and the coupons you will need. You can pay additionally for each other store you want to add (like, you could do Walmart, Publix, and Target). However, as I mentioned before- there are a lot of other websites out there doing these types of services for free, so it's really up to you- do a teensy amount of internet browsing, or just pay a buck or two for something emailed to you.
I have to say, it personally overwhelmed me at first, and I haven't fully delved into the world of "BoGoing," as Ginge and I call it. (BoGo stands for -buy one, get one free, and it's become our silly term for going out and doing the different shopping deals.) But- to me- it seems like you just need to pick and choose which areas you want to focus on first, master those, and then continue to expand.
Ginge is a master at it, and I've seen from watching her that yes, it does take a lot of hard work, but it also definitely pays off in the end. Basically, you have to trade a little of your time for a lot of money and free stuff. I think it's something we can all benefit from, especially with the economy being so wacky these days.
I have been trying to find a picture that I had on my harddrive of some of the stuff I've gotten, but I can't find it. It's kind of driving me crazy, actually. But for example, I got $250 worth of stuff for $38 by using these systems. Stuff that I need and use, like wipes, formula, shampoo, razors, vitamins, etc.
I haven't tried it in the grocery stores yet, but we have done it in the drugstores. I used to never shop in Walgreen's or CVS, because I thought they were a tad bit overpriced. Now, they are still overpriced, but when you are getting stuff for FREE or pennies, well then, it doesn't really matter, does it?
Trust me, I know some of you are sitting there with your arms crossed, thinking, "Yeah right" but I promise- it's worth it.
The best one, in my opinion, is CVS. The reason why, is although it is confusing to begin with, you get the best deals for your work there.
Here's a really good summary for how CVS works.
Here's a really good summary for how Walgreen's works.
Here's an article about CVS Q&As.
Organizing your coupons (pretty vital to this whole thing).
Currently, and I am not exaggerating, I am stocked up for at least a year, probably more, on: makeup, shampoo & conditioner (yeah, for like, several years, no joke), body wash, and razors.
I have also not had to buy diapers or wipes for nearly 4 months.
I also have several nice little gift stashes, candles, tons of cleaning products.... all for free or literally pennies.
The cool thing about this, is if you are brand loyal or particular about a certain item (but find it a little pricey), this frees you up from having to spend the money on those other things and you will have the cash to splurge on that favorite shampoo.
The way I follow the deals each week is by following a few blogs. I don't really have enough time to peruse the message boards at Hot Coupon World every day, not with all the time I need for perusing scrapping blogs and MBs ;), so I subscribed to several blogs on my google reader. That way, once they update, I don't even have to go searching for the info... I can read it, email it to myself, or make a note of what it is I want to try (or to get Ginge to try out for me).
These blogs post a weekly preview for the next week of the deals available, scenarios to try, and the out of pocket cost and coupons you would need. Pretty neato and a great service.
Be Thrifty Like Us
Money Saving Mom
There are tons and tons of these types of blogs out there- I suggest you look at the blogrolls/links those particular blogs have in their sidebar, and check out some other ones. It helps to find someone who is hosting a blog that has similar needs to you... they tend to post deals that are more suited to what you need (like I like to watch the ones with small kids).
One question that I've seen come up before is- why do I do all this work for something free that I don't need? Most of the time, you are going to be able to use the deals. To me, free is free. If I get something for free that I don't personally need, there is always someone else out there that can use it, whether it be in my immediate circle of friends, my family, my church, or even the local shelters, nursing homes, and charities. And hey- I can get a little warm fuzzy feeling. ;)
Please feel free to ask questions and hopefully I can point you in the right direction. I hope this info helps you out!
ETA: Elizabeth posted something in the comments I thought was really helpful: check out her blog entry about this same subject here! >> Elizabeth's shopping secrets