Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Grocery Game

Okay girls (sorry if you're a guy but I assume it's mostly girls here), many people have asked me about how I "play" the grocery game. And since my memory card is kaput, and I can't upload any pictures to my computer (yes, I'm in mourning) I thought now would be a good time to share my strategies.

First off "The Grocery Game" is something that Virginia blogged about sometime in the Fall, and I thought I'd try it out. She does this with pharmacies and drug stores instead of grocery stores. There are lots of blogs and websites dedicated to the game. Some that I know of are A Full Cup, The Grocery Gathering @, Southern Savers. Basically the gist to the whole thing is that you use coupons that are compatible with the weekly grocery/pharmacy specials in order to get the biggest bang for your buck. Here's how I have adapted it to work for me.

1. Cut coupons. We make a weekly trip after church to buy a Sunday paper. The inserts that I'm interested in are Red Plum, Smart Source, and sometimes there's one from Proctor and Gamble or other manufacturers. I cut almost all the coupons out, not just the ones I KNOW I'm going to use, because you never know what's going to be on sale. It's also important that you have a good coupon base, because sometimes a coupon may have been released 2 or 3 months prior to the sale. So if you're the least bit interested in playing along, start clipping now! Oh, and to save time, we both clip coupons while we watch our Sunday night shows. ;)

2. Check the blogs. Honestly this used to take me FOR-EVER, but now I've narrowed it done to one maybe two blogs that cover the stores I'm interested in. For me, that's the Southern Savers blog by Jenni who recaps all the grocery stores and drug stores that are abundant in the south (duh, that's why the blog's named that). Each week Jenni does a run down of what each store has on sale and the specials or buy one get one free (BOGO) each is running. She also listed the coupons according to the date and which flyer that were printed in. And almost as important, Jenni links to online coupon sources!

3. Print off online coupons. I do this weekly, based on what's on sale. I don't print out ALL the coupons from a site like I just print off what's on sale and what I KNOW I'm going to use. This takes me about an hour. By the time I surf the site(s), decide what deals I'm going to buy, print the cooresponding coupons, and clip them out I've taken about that long. BUT it's one hour for an entire week's worth of grocery shopping. And after you see the savings, you'll see that it's worth the effort. At least it is for me anyway.

4.Stack! This is where a lot of the "game" comes in! In many cases a mfr. will provide a coupon, the store may also offer a coupon in one of their flyers, a competitor may offer a coupon, and then there may be a special that week. I try to hit a LOT of the BOGO sales and other weekly deals, and then "stack" my coupon(s) on top of that special. This gives you the most savings, and sometimes you can score an item for FREE or for cents on the dollar!

5. Shop. Make a list, organize your coupons, and go for it! Each store has their own "rules" as far as how much they'll double the coupon, or if you have to buy both items when it's a BOGO special, etc. If you use Southern Savers, Jenni explains each store's "rules" at the top of each blog post. I also try to go without my kids, because there's still a lot of decisions to be made like to buy 1 BOGO item or both, or more even. In a lot of cases I have several coupons for one item. I have to decide which one will give me the most savings. Soooo, I try not to take the kids.

Here's an example of what I'm talking about:

Jenni posted this last week on the weekly Publix entry under the BOGO specials:

General Mills Cheerios, Frosted Cheerios or Banana Nut, save up to $3.99
-.75/1 Various Cheerios printable (makes it $1.25 ea)
-.55/1 off any Cheerios cereal printable or printable
-.50/1 Banana Nut Cheerios SS 2/22
-$1 off general Mills Banana Nut Cheerios printable (Food Lion) (use competitor with Manufacturer coupon)

(The words 'printable' are links on her site to the places where that online coupon is available.)

Okay so to interpret Cheerios, Frosted Cheerios or Banana nut Cheerios were on sale BOGO last week, which means that TOGETHER they were $3.99, or $2 ea. Already a good deal. THEN there were 4 coupons available, some online and one in paper. If I printed off the -.75/1 coupon (reads 75 cents off/ 1 item) then they'd be $1.25 each. I'd print off TWO of these coupons, because I'm buy 2 boxes and the coupon is good for one box each.

I could print that off OR further down she tells me -.50/1 Banana Nut SS 2/22 which means that I could use the (50 cents off 1 one box) paper coupon that was printed in Smart Source (SS) on Feb. 22 (2/22). If I had TWO of those coupons I could use them both because they're for one box each as well. This would be ideal, because in this case Publix doubles coupons .50 and less, which would mean the coupon would be a $1 off each box thus making them $1 each. I hope I'm making sense...

Lastly, Publix happens to match competitor coupons, and Food Lion posted an online printable coupon for $1 off Banana Nut Cheerios. Sooo, here's how the scenario could break down:

Buy 2 Banana Nut boxes @ $3.99
Use (2) -.50/1 coupons from SS 2/22 (Smart Source = paper coupon)
Publix doubles those 2 coupons because of their amt.
Stack the Food Lion $1 off competitor coupon (print 2)
and the Cheerios are FREE!!!

I wish this scenario had actually worked out for me. 1. I didn't have 2 SS coupons. We only buy one Sunday paper. 2. Publix was out of Banana Nut by the time I got there. I could have asked for a rain check, which they're obligated to give me, but I'm a sucker for the Frosted anyway. and 3. I forgot to print 2 of the Food Lion coupons anyway because I was in a hurry. But I'm sure it worked out for someone. hehe! It was still a good example to give since it has printables, paper coupons, is a BOGO deal, and you can use a competitor coupon too.

That about sums up how I play. I does take some time, especially at first, but I think it's worth it. If you try it, I'd love to know how it goes for you! Feel free to share or ask any questions too. ;)

Happy shopping!


Elizabeth Bailey said...

I ended up with 4 boxes of free Bananna Nut cheerios last week. Don't you love it!

Travis and Amber said...

I'm just getting the hang of this...I hit the jack pot at CVS this week, I was so excited. Who knew being frugal could be so much fun! Thanks for sharing the new sites, I haven't visited any of them before!

Brandi said...

With my half functioning brain all that made my head spin! LOL!

I am going to try using more coupons so I'm going to check out the sites you listed! Coupons will really help out with diapers, formula, etc that we're going to be buying lots of soon!

AbbieTorroll said...

wow, I really need to get better at this and this is seriously AWESOME motivation and info!! Thanks so much! and I TOTALLY forgot you were in TN too!! Are you anywhere close to Knoxville?

Anonymous said...

neat :) I live in a small rural town and our grocery stores are: Save-A-Lot and a locally owned place that is super over couponing for me, but it's fun to hear about other people doing it.

Lisa Smith said...

I am so excited to learn about Southern Savers! I absolutely love coupons and how much they can save. I like that they put together the ads to know what is best to buy. I actually keep my coupons in a notebook sorted in baseball card sleeves. It has helped me find coupons before going to the store for what I need. Thanks for the link again, it's great!