Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Grocery Game and Other Ways I'm Saving Money

I have received a couple questions about The Grocer Game since I posted my intentions to organize coupons on Sunday.

Please do not be intimidated by seeing 55,000 coupons on my dining room table. Grocery Game is much easier than I am making it look!

The basic idea behind GG is that you begin stocking your pantry by purchasing items that are on sale and using a coupon. (We're looking for the good sales, not just trick sales for 10 cents off). On Sunday you go to The Grocery Game website, and they generate a list for you. It will not show everything on sale, but it shows you the items with "rock bottom" prices and exactly which coupons you need to use with them. The cool thing about the list is, when you are looking at it on the computer, you click on the items you don't want, and they will disappear from the list. So when you are done, you have your shopping list to print without all the other junk.

At first you might feel like you are buying too much of what you don't need. But after a while, you become stocked up on things and each week you go shopping you are buying less of things that you have run out of. As time goes on, your grocery bill will get smaller and smaller. Some of the stories of how much people spend are absolutely amazing!!

I hope this is making sense. It it is not, here is a link to GG's explanation of it all.

**Now, you don't need to cut all the coupons!** This is very important. The easiest way to organize it, especially for beginners, is with file folders. You take the coupons for that week and put them in a folder labeled with that date. When you print your GG list, the list will tell you exactly what date the coupon came out, and also tells you which packet it is in (eg, smart source, etc.). So you can just get out the folder for that specific day, open up the coupon packet, and find that one coupon to cut out. No need for cutting, filing, etc. of all coupons. I have to complicate everything, so I am filing them all by coupon (I do this because I like to be able to find coupons even when I'm not using the GG list - I recommend that you do not do this if you are not that into coupons because it can be a little overwhelming and will burn you out on coupons for good.)

You can try it out for $1.00 for 4 weeks, which is a pretty good deal. One coupon will pretty much pay for that. If you like it, you sign up to pay $10 for every 8 weeks. Again, this is a good deal considering how much time they are saving you. That is only $1.25 per week, recovered when you use one coupon. If you sign up, and want to give me referral credit, give them my e-mail address when you register (heatherntj@comcast.net). I would be very grateful.

I would say the only challenge I have had with GG is that my newspaper has coupons that are slightly different than those used for GG. I still save money, but I do have to double-check things a little. My friend Penny says that if you look in the game rules (you get to this after you sign up) on their website, they will tell you the best paper to use for your area. The game rules will also explain the coupon policy for your grocery store, so this is important to read.

So this week I have been working on trying to save as much money as possible here at the Jones household. In addition to coupon mania, some other things I have been doing are:

1. Refinancing. I am a refinancing queen. Back in the good ole' days when housing prices were skyrocketing and interest rates going down (we bought our first house for about 8 1/2%), I had an amazing mortgage broker who always got me refinance loans for no points. When the rates went down enough, time for a new loan. Well, I caught wind that rates had dropped down to about 5% for a few hours last month, so I hunted down a new mortgage broker and started another refinance yesterday. This is very important to me: I do not shop for loans. I find the best mortgage broker there is, and then I use that person forever (or at least until I move out of state). I strongly believe in finding people who are the best at what they do, and then hiring them to do my work. And with mortgage brokers, the lender pays the broker's fee, not you! Be careful though, and make sure you don't hire someone who is not trustworthy.

2. On that subject, I am currently searching for a good financial adviser. I have never hired one before, but I've finally decided that it might just be worth the money if I have to pay a fee. Because I really want to get the most out of the money I save.

3. I do have college savings plans for my kids, but I'm signing up for our state 529 plans also. The plans they have in my state actually lock in the current college rates so even if rates go up, we will pay today's rates when my kiddos finally make it to college. Considering they are in elementary/middle school, THIS IS HUGE! That's like getting free money put into your savings plan.

4. I watched Oprah's going green show, and I'm replacing all the light bulbs in the house to low-energy bulbs. Here's what you should do, that I didn't know before: My power company actually has a program where you can buy bulbs at The Home Depot and the power company pays for part of the bulb. So we got a huge savings on the bulbs, and I expect a pretty good savings coming up on my bill (I'll let you know exactly what that is after a full month of using them). So check with your power company and see if they have any deals.

5. I signed up for an ING Direct savings account. This is an on-line bank that links up with your bank accounts, and you can transfer money into your savings. If you initially deposit $250 into your account, you get a $25.00 bonus. It also has a great interest rate to add to your savings. I am having it take $25.00 automatically every paycheck. Not a lot, but it will add up. Here is a link to another blog that has a better explanation of ING.

6. Transfer debt to low interest accounts. I have a credit card balance ... I shouldn't ... I'm paying it off as fast as I can. That having been said, I will pay it off much faster if I'm not racking up interest charges on it. I would be perfectly content never to look closely at my credit card bills again because they make me want to cry. But really, it's good to examine them closely. Are you getting charged $90 a month for interest? Take one of those offers in the mail for 0% interest, and transfer your balance. That's $90 a month you'll be saving. Be careful with this one, though. If you don't stop using the cards, you'll just end up with more credit cards.

So yes, this is a very boring post ... I know. I'm sorry. But I do like to squeeze as much out of my money as I can, and I hope this helps you do the same.

16 comments:

Kathleen Grace said...

Hi Heather! I just found out about the grocery game two weeks ago when a friend explained it to me. She showed me her kroger reciept where she purchased $600 worth of groceries for about $200 total and I was hooked! I cant wait to get started. Thanks for posting on this, I think a lot of people would love to know how to really save tons of money on their grocery bill:>)

The Feathered Nest said...

I don't think this post was boring at all, Heather!! What great tips to pass along, I appreciate good advice any time ~ xxoo, Dawn

Lisa said...

You know, Mrs J,
It gets me excited to read this post, I am definately with you on the saving money part, but, HELLO!!! theres so much more, here. I have been thinking about the refi myself. I remember, waaay back in the day,(18 years) when BobVilla and I bought our first house, we were paying 11% interest. Bought that home for 35k--fixer, definately.. But now, I think I will check into getting some numbers. Good Idea, thanks for the little push..
The grocery game, now, this makes me a bit nervous, but I am going to dive into it anyway. I will put your email in so you can get the credit. Cross your fingers for me. Sometimes all that filing and organizing, well, I am artsy fartsy not an organized bone in the old bod.
thanks for the great post!
Lisa

Michelle said...

Thanks for the motivation! I know what I should be doing to save money, but it's good to have a financial pep rally every once in awhile.

I'm going to check out the grocery game and see if it could work for us. Our biggest money-saving strategy right now (until we pay off credit cards and some school loans) is that we don't have a car. I know we spend more money on groceries because we shop at the closest stores, not necessarily the cheapest. It definitely cuts back on impulse purchases because we have to walk home with whatever we buy!

Carrie said...

I love the grocery game. I have been using it for several months now.

If you need any help planning meals with the food you buy from the grocery game check out my website. www.CarriesCooking.com

Heather said...

You know, I do the Grocery Game on and off. I think I must be way to ADHD to keep up with it. My coupons sit unclipped for weeks and then I'd make all kinds of side trips to the store and get all messed up. If I would buckle down and follow the rules, it would save me a ton of money.

Now you've inspired me to pull on my big girl panties and just do it.

Mimi said...

Awesome!

Jennifer P. said...

Fabulous ideas! The only thing I can't bring myself to do yet is to switch over to the compact flourescent bulbs. The light just isn't all that flattering, and I'm still frightened of all the mercury exposure if they break. I'll get there, I'm sure....:)

Thank you soooo much for giving me some tips on the Deceptively Delicious thing. It sounds like something I could probably manange now!

Julie said...

I have been away covering a horse show and now am playing catch up on my favorite blogs! Happy Valentine's Day!

This is not a boring post! Have you ever read the book The Millionaire Next Door? If not - you would love it!

emily said...

Oh yay! I fellow gamer. I've been doing the Grocery Game for about 18 months now. Some months are better than others, but it is such a habit now, I can't imagine not using coupons.

I really like your blog, btw. Love the header!

restyled home said...

Thanks for the tip...any way a person can save money on groceries is always a good thing!!

Is your hubby used to your hair yet??

Linda
xoxo

Sarah said...

Great post. I am going to look into the GG. My bills are only going to get bigger as my kids grow, I should learn it NOW :)

Classic Charm said...

Thanks for the great tips!
Rose

Day by Day said...

I have done the grocery game and enjoyed it. I wanted to point out a site I found that is like the grocery game but free. It is:
couponmom.com Check it out

Trish said...

Thanks for all the GREAT info! I am going to do the ING thing -- I was shopping around for something like that, and I think you just gave me the perfect solution. Thanks!

Desiree' said...

I do the grocery game. I used to really do it when I had more options in my big city and then we moved. We have Kroger here. With just having Kroger I just use a three hole punch and put my in a binded until the grocery game calls for them.

We also use Ing Direct and I love it! It is awesome!

Money saving posts are never boring! :)

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