With her three girls in tow, Jill York sets off in King Soopers playing the Grocery Game.
She's armed with a list of 17 items.... everything from fresh fruit and vegetables to cereal and sour cream.
Also in her arsenal... her handy dandy coupon organizer.
This Colorado Springs mother says it takes her about an hour a week to clip coupons, weed out the old ones, and then set up her organizer. It's coordinated with the layout of the store.
I'm shopping for the same items as Jill... only I don't have any coupons. I'm just using my King Soopers loyalty card.
I'm hoping it'll be enough to keep costs down... taking advantage of those buy one/get one free deals.
At check-out we learn the score. Jill's manufacturers coupons are doubled...allowing her to buy eight more items than me.
But the real moment of truth was laid out on her kitchen table.
While I purchased 19 items, Jill picked up 27. While I spent $52.33, Jill spent less than half that much, just $23.67.
Jill and her Grocery Game spanked me. I spent twice as much, yet she walked away with more items... even getting some for free. Her total savings... 69 percent off. My Sooper card saved me just 19 percent.
Jill adds, "The Grocery Game is amazing. I think that it's not just about the coupons. That it really is a whole philosophy of shopping."
That philosophy has been around for eight years. Founder Teri Gault learned most stores have 12 week sales cycles. She tracks items, knowing when they're at their very lowest... and that's when her data base tells her users to buy.
Gault says, "A lot of people think if they have a coupon and the item's on sale... now's the time to use it. About two-thirds of the time that's not the right time."
The Grocery Game counts on its users to stockpile. That means folks like Jill have fully-loaded pantries. That's because they've purchased lots of the same product at one time... when prices are rock bottom.
For example, her cereal and pasta pantry is filled with cartons of three-to-four dollar cereal... only she paid just a dollar for each one.
The four boxes of crackers she just purchased cost the average shopper $15.56. Her total price was four dollars... just a dollar per box.
Jill says she no longer runs to the store every other day. She goes once a week. Most importantly, she doesn't buy what she needs. She only buys what the Grocery Game tells her and has seen her food bill cut in half.
Jill says, "I spend less gas going to the grocer and my pantry is much better stocked spending $400 a month than it ever was spending $800."
Jill and other gamers treat their kitchens like stores. They check expiration dates, freezing and storing items, but never running out.
We learned buying the biggest package isn't always best. Often a smaller box on sale with a coupon costs far less than a larger one... ounce for ounce.
And, only buy fruits and veggies when they're in season. Sales circulars can help you there. Buying out of season can send your bill through the roof.
Finally, 50 percent of all sales are not advertised. They're not in supermarket circulars. They're based on trends and cycles. So once you get in the loop, and use coupons correctly, you definitely can save some big bucks.
The cost of the Grocery Game... Just a dollar-twenty-five a week.
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