I’m always looking for new ways to save so I picked up Teri Gault’s book Shop Smart, Save More: Learn The Grocery Game and Save Hundreds of Dollars a Month. Who doesn’t want to save more on their groceries, right? The book opens with Teri’s own story and then goes into some very basic information about her website The Grocery Game. My biggest pet peeve when reading a financial book is when the author holds out information in an effort to try to sell you something. Teri Gault’s book completely hit that nerve with me. While she gives you a lot of valuable information about planning parties and recipes, she really doesn’t teach you how to play the grocery game. She gives you a few ways to organize your coupons, stockpile groceries, and some tips on more effective shopping (like leaving the husband and kids at home), but in order to actually learn the game, you need to sign up for a four week trial for $1.
So, in the interest of saving money and enlightening all of you, I signed up for the $1 trial. When you sign up, you put in your zip code and a list of stores in your area pops up. The list includes grocery and drug stores. You select which stores you want Teri’s list for. After the trial period, the first store is $10 every eight weeks and each additional store you choose is $5 every eight weeks. In the frequently asked questions, she shows a receipt where she saved 90% on her shopping trip. When you click on the link for a store, the list is color coded: black are okay sales, blue are good sales and green are free items. She tells you if there are coupons available and when the coupons were published. You get your coupons, check off the items you want to buy and the site prints a custom shopping list for you. The cool thing is that she publishes the advertised and unadvertised specials. Each week, a grocery store could have hundreds of items on sale that are not in the circular in the paper. It’s very helpful to have all the specials in one place.
I had one major issue with the site. There are four grocery stores in the town I live in: Super Stop & Shop, Big Y, Price Chopper and Geisslers. Big Y has over 50 stores in New England and Price Chopper has over 110. Geisslers is a little chain with only seven or eight stores so I didn’t expect it to be on the site. I was kinda shocked when I learned that Super Stop and Shop was the only one with a list. Stop and Shop consistently has the worst sales. I generally shop at Big Y or Price Chopper, but there was no list for either of those stores. Each week, I checked the list of Stop and Shop and then the flyers for Big Y and Price Chopper. I could always do better, on my own, at Big Y or Price Chopper. I wish there were lists for Big Y and Price Chopper. I would actually pay to try the site again if those lists were available.
The other major issue I had with the site was timing. The Stop and Shop flyer came out in Thursday’s paper, with the sale starting Friday. The Grocery Game didn’t update their site until Saturday evening. Even if they did have a list for Big Y, their sale starts Thursday, which means the list would only be valid for four shopping days.
The lists may be much better in other areas of the country and I encourage you to try it. It’s a good site if you are just learning how to put coupons and sales together. It’s a good site if your favorite store is available and you don’t have time to work out the deals yourself.
Over the next few weeks, we’ll talk a lot about groceries and coupons. If you have specific questions about meal planning, grocery shopping or coupons, post them to this thread. Let the discussion begin!