Friday, January 23, 2009

Have you ever heard of the Grocery Game? Started a few years ago by Teri Gault in California it is becoming a more and more popular way to save money on your grocery bill. But how do you play and is it worth it? Playing is easy, you have to decide if it is worth it.

Basically, the Grocery Game matches up the coupons in each Sunday's paper with the sales going on at the grocery store of your choice. The Grocery Game does all the work for you finding the best sales of the week. Not all sales are advertised in the weekly paper, and the grocery game does a great job of hunting down the extra bargains out there.

Did you know that all grocery store sales go in cycles? Some food items cycle on sale each month, some every 6 weeks and some every 12 weeks. As a consumer, it is hard to keep track of how often something goes on sale. Purchasing items when they are at their lowest sale is the best way to save money on your grocery bill. But don't just buy enough for that week. Stockpile food items when they are at their lowest prices, so that you have enough to get your through until the next sale comes. This way you will never have to pay full price for things.

So how do you know when something is at its lowest price? The Grocery Game will tell you. The list that comes out each week will tell you which items are at a good sale price (black) and which items are at their lowest price (blue) - which means now would be a good time to stock up. The list also frequently has free items on it and these are in green. If you have a store that doubles coupons, which I highly recommend if you are going to do the Grocery Game, it is pretty easy to get free items each week.

So is the Grocery Game worth the money? It costs $10 for an 8 week period for one store. Many people will participate in the Grocery Game at more than one store and additional stores are $5 per 8 week period. I participated in the Grocery Game in Colorado and loved it. It worked wonderfully and I always got great deals. It made my life so much easier not having to pour over my coupons and sale ads each week.

When I moved to Ohio I immediately joined the Grocery Game here too. I did not have as much success here though. I found that items listed in the sales ads were not listed on the Grocery Game list, that items listed on the Grocery Game list were not actually on sale at my list store, and also that some of the coupons the Grocery Game said I should have that week were not actually in my paper. I tried the Grocery Game here for about six months, but it was frustrating and didn't work very well for me here. So while I quit using it, I long for the days in CO when it worked so well.

The Grocery Game offers a 4 week trial membership for $1, which I highly recommend. Just based on my experience you never know if this is going to work out for you. Before ordering the trial membership though, I have some tips to help you make the most of it. Save your coupons for a few weeks before joining the Grocery Game. They use any coupon that has not expired on their lists each week. So they might have a coupon that is two months old on their list. Remember that the point of the game is to match up coupons to the lowest sale prices, so the coupons in this weeks paper are not all going to be used this week on the list.

So save your coupon inserts for a few weeks to give you the most benefit when you try out the game.
Another tip is to not be brand specific. Don't just clip the few coupons that you think you might use. Save the whole insert and be willing to try different brands. If you can get an item for free why not try it? Also, if your regular brand is full price this week, but you can get another brand for $.20, it is definitely worth trying. Also consider purchasing extra Sunday papers in order to get more coupons. I don't always purchase an extra paper, but if it has really good inserts I will stop and pick up a couple of extra papers.

Then when an item I use on a regular basis is at its lowest sale price and I have coupons, I can get several of the item instead of just one.

I think the Grocery Game makes shopping the sales a lot easier and can very much be worth the money. I did notice some glitches, but they aren't there for everyone. Join for the trial membership and see how it works for you. It is super easy to cancel at any time and even if you do cancel, you will still learn a lot about how the grocery sales work and ideas on getting the best deals. These things alone are worth the $1 trial membership fee.