I think most people have heard of The Grocery Game by now, but in case you haven't, it's a wonderful site that helps save you money on groceries. In a nutshell, the site tracks the stores sales (advertised and unadvertised), the Sunday coupons (as well as internet coupons), and tells you when and where to use those coupons to get the best deal. For example, this week Fry's had Danimals Smoothies (6 pack) on sale for $1.88. This Sunday's paper had a coupon for $1 off. Combine the coupon with the sale and I got a 6 pack of smoothie drinks, normally priced $3.29 for 88 cents. Wow! Even better, Daninos Yogurt was also on sale for $1.88, but my coupon was only for 55 cents off. Still an okay deal, but Fry's doubles all coupons up to $1 (so does Safeway), so my 55 cents savings just became $1. A 6 pack of Daninos Yogurt regularly priced $2.49, cost 88 cents again!
I did this several years ago, but ended up stopping, partially because we didn't have the money to stockpile (buy things you don't need now, but the price is great so you get them for later), and largely because I got lazy when we moved. But I just started again this week.
As weeks go by, I will have accumulated more coupons, but this week I could only shop with this Sunday's coupons. Too bad because I missed a lot of good deals!
The Grocery Game color codes items: Green is for items that are actually FREE! You'll find that you get a good supply of toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo, etc. all for free. Blue is for STOCKPILING items. These are items that are such a good deal with coupons (think rock bottom prices) that you should purchase as much as you can. I did this this week with cereal (name brands were cheaper than generic), yogurt, and soup. Remember, I don't have a lot of coupons yet, and I missed a lot! Finally, black items are things that are on sale, but they're not at their best, so you should only buy them IF YOU NEED THEM.
Okay, now the cost...you have the cost of the Sunday paper. The Grocery Game uses the Arizona Republic (for AZ, of course) which costs $2. If you can afford it, buy more than one paper to get more coupons, remembering that stockpiling is the way to save. If you live in Tucson like me, you can get the Daily Star, but it will be missing coupons. I learned this the hard way when I did this a few years ago. I'd get all excited to find a free item, only to discover that I didn't get that coupon. Grrr...
The Grocery Game charges $10 every 8 weeks for one store list, and $5 extra for every store after that. That's $1.25 a week. I promise you will save more than $3.25 a week to offset these costs (plus there's a FREE four week trial offer)! For example, I went to Safeway and purchased items that totaled to $114.74 at regular store price. Using only my Safeway Club Card, the total was $71.28. I had $24 in coupon savings, so I paid only $48.60 after tax. I should state that I did buy quite a few things that were on sale because I needed them, but I did not have a coupon. At Fry's my total was $134.83, and using my Fry's VIP Card brought the total down to $87.67. After coupons, I paid $62.66. At Fry's I bought a LOT that was on sale without a coupon.
Now, here's the skinny. www.couponmom.com does this for free, however I found it to not be as thorough and a bit harder to follow. Still, it's free. www.couponsense.com costs $14 a month (ouch), but it is the mecca of coupon sites! It gives you every store, every coupon, tracks your savings, washes your dishes, and gasses up the car for you...almost. It also runs deals with the newspaper that gets you waaaay discounted prices. I believe for the Republic, after you pay for the first copy, each additional copy is only 50 cents.
So if you're interested in starting couponing, weigh your options first. Decide what's worth it to you. I prefer The Grocery Game as a happy, reasonable (for me) compromise.