budget icon.jpgBack in February, I started using a website called The Grocery Game. I didn’t blog about it then, because I wanted to try it out before I endorsed it. It’s been thirteen weeks (that’s a quarter of the year, for you accountant-types) and I have to say that I’m favorably impressed. Let me tell you about it.

Grocery stores run specials every week. What I had never realized is that the specials run in a cycle every twelve weeks or so. Manufacturer’s coupons also run in a cycle, which is also about twelve weeks in duration. The problem is, the cycles don’t correspond. In fact, they have nothing to do with each other.

Enter Teri Gault. Teri has made a business out of tracking these two cycles, and putting together a list each week that tells her and her subscribers when to use coupons in concert with grocery store specials to get the best deal. She’s been at this since 2000, and now has lists compiled for stores all over the country. In my neck of the woods, she does lists for Food Lion and Winn-Dixie/Thrifty Maid.

Since I started using Teri’s List, I’ve saved an average of 37% on my grocery bill each week. One week, I saved 56%!

There is a small time investment required. You will need to get the Sunday paper each week and clip coupons. I spend about 30 minutes each week clipping coupons and compiling my grocery list.

Also, for me, there was some shuffling of my weekly routine required, because the list comes out on Sunday morning for the current week, and is only good for Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. On Wednesday, the stores cycle into a new week, and the current list becomes outdated. So I’ve moved my grocery shopping from Saturday to Sunday (really only a minor shift).

There is also a small financial investment. For new subscribers, the first FOUR weeks is only $1. After that, it’s $10 every EIGHT weeks. That’s $1.25 a week, folks; you’ll save that much with one purchase each week.

The list is color-coded (black, blue and green). The items listed in black type are on sale, and may or may not have a coupon; the catch is that if you wait, they will probably be on sale for less within the current 12-week cycle. Only buy them this week if you need them this week.

The items listed in blue type are at their probable lowest price this cycle. If you use these items, you should buy them this week even if you don’t need them right now. This is called “stockpiling”, and is an essential part of the program.

Items listed in green type are free. FREE! Usually, there are only one or two items on the list that work out to be free when the sale and the coupon are combined. But hey, free is my favorite price!

Teri also lists coupons that are about to expire, and shows the date and source of each coupon on the list (There are three major sources in the Sunday paper). When an item on the list is from the current week’s coupon crop, the item is listed in ALL CAPS.

As a bonus, there’s also a list each week for Walgreen’s and CVS drugstores, who run some pretty kickin’ specials each week, too. And the drugstore lists are free, even for non-subscribers.