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Are coupons a good way to save money on Groceries???

I say yes and no. There are a few big problems with using coupons:

  • It takes time to clip, sort, and decide which coupons to use, and sometimes it takes a LOT of time.
  • Coupons are usually for name brand items that are more expensive to begin with. In that case, you may not actually save money over buying a similar item in a store brand, or in bulk at a warehouse club like Costco.
  • Coupons require a lot of self-discipline. Many of them are for items you wouldn’t normally use. If you buy a lot of extra junk with coupons, you are not saving money. If you buy food your family doesn’t like with coupons, you are not saving money. If you get your kids hooked on a new snack that you will have to pay full price for next week, you are not saving money.

Despite these drawbacks, I do currently use coupons, and I recommend them to others as well. What has worked to help me overcome some of the problems associated with coupons is a very nifty service called www.thegrocerygame.com. (Note that I’m not being paid to refer them – I just think they offer a very useful service that saves you much more than it costs.)

What is The Grocery Game? Well, it is a service that catalogs all the coupons you receive in your local newspaper. It also tracks all the sales for the grocery store that you select. Each week, you receive a list of products that are available for a good price. In most cases, these will be items that are both on sale and with a coupon. This means that you can save 50% or more on the majority of the list’s items. Because stores tend to rotate their sales over a three month period, you can stock up on sale items each time they come up, and they can hold you over until the next time they go on sale! With The Grocery Game, you don’t have to try to decide on your own when to use what coupons. They tell you when you can get the best deals by combining sale prices and coupons. If you buy from their list, you’ll always get great prices, and yes, you’ll even get some items for free.

If you’re not sure whether this is something that would be worthwhile for you, they offer a four week trial for only $1. If you use just one coupon, the trial will have paid for itself! After the trial is up, it only costs $10 every 8 weeks. I usually save between $15 and $30 every week in coupons (not even counting the store sales), so this is very cost effective.

In practice, the process works like this:

  1. Remove your coupon inserts from the Sunday newspaper.
  2. You have a couple of choices about how to file the coupons. You can just stick each week’s intact inserts into a separate file folder, or you can go ahead and cut the coupons out, sorting them by item type.
  3. Log on to your account and print out this weeks’ list of good buys.
  4. Decide which items you want from the list, and pull any relevant coupons from the file.
  5. Go shopping.

Even the first week that you start collecting coupons, you will probably find enough to get some good deals, and each week you’ll collect more and more. Within 12 weeks, you’ll have virtually all of the coupons used on the list.

This service helps cut down the amount of time you spend trying to decide which coupons to use each week. And, because you use most of the coupons when the products are also on sale, you receive deeper discounts. This means many of the deals are much better than buying store brands or shopping at warehouse clubs. I still shop at Costco for some things, but I’m getting most things at the supermarket, now.

As great as this service is, though, the third problem with coupons that I listed above is still an issue. You must practice self-discipline, because even if you save 50% or more on something, if it is something your family doesn’t need you are still not saving money!

Stay tuned for extra hints and tips I’ve learned for using The Grocery Game to save money on your grocery bill . . .

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One Comment, Comment or Ping

  1. More Tips for Coupons - Jul 11th, 2007
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