Thriftie shortcut #1: The Grocery Game

If you're a Thriftie wanna-be, the first thing to do is to check out The Grocery Game -- an online system designed to maximize savings while drastically reducing "research time" for the savvy shopper. Each week the site posts lists for most major grocery stores and pharmacies, compiling all of the sale items advertised and indicating if/where coupons can be found for each item. By tracking price trends over time, the site indicates when prices are "rock bottom" and when the "deal" isn't so great after all, and has a handy function to print a customized shopping list to take along with you.

How to score high by using The Grocery Game: This site can be great when used correctly, but can borderline on information-overload and end up wasting your time if you're not careful. So here's how to cut down on the complicated and still leave more money in your pocket where it belongs. When you join the site, you have a $1 trial month that gives you access to as many store lists as you like. This part is *definitely* overload (at least if you're in an urban area with a lot of store options, like I am), so I'd still suggest sticking to the store or two that you already use most, and not try to shop from all the lists at once. When you log in, immediately choose the "print list" option for the store you're investigating, and as you look over it go ahead and start "graying out" the items you definitely don't want. Once you've finished your overview, go ahead and print the list. You *don't* want to have to go back to the website later and look over the list item by item right before you leave for shopping -- it's much easier to have the products you're likely interested in already consolidated on paper. However if you do want to check for a single item on the website (say, to see whether soup is on sale or something), use the Ctrl+F function on your web browser to find it more easily. The formatting and organization of the lists are a little jumbled, and not set up very well for skimming, so you don't want to waste any time trying that.

Then, once your lists are printed, take a few minutes hunt down the coupons it mentions for the products you want. At this point you may need to print the index section off of their website as well, as all their little abbreviations and asterisks that tell you where to find the coupons aren't exactly intuitive. Once you've gotten your shopping list narrowed down and your coupons together, then shop away! And watch your savings increase exponentially. :)

Details: Subscription costs are $1 for a trial month of access to all of the lists -- after that (if you decide to continue) its $1.25/week for your first list, and .63 for each additional list (though you do have to pay for two months at a time... ie, two lists = $15 for two months). Be sure to put me as your referral source -- use the email address: misseliza123 at gmail dot com. And let me know how it goes!

Call for experienced Thrifties! Does The Grocery Game work for you, or have you found other research-saving methods more effective? Advice and stories please! If you have solid tips on how to maximize The Grocery Game, or a shock-and-awe anecdote about how it's worked for you in the past, or a better alternative altogether, I'd love to hear about it! There's rarely a one-size-fits-all when it comes to organizing these techniques and integrating them into daily life, so the more perspective the better...

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