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Lessons From the Grocery Guru

 Post by Sarah

The other night I attended a presentation by the Grocery Guru.  I've heard about him over the years and seen him on TV proclaiming how much you can save on your groceries.  I was excited to learn first hand from him.  In fact, I plan to go shopping with him.  He takes groups of people out to a store in their neighborhood and gives them a grocery list that includes enough items for a week's worth of meals (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) to feed a family of four, along with the necessary coupons, and they wind up spending on average only $35.  Granted, the list is based off of what is on sale at that store, so it's not a perfect fit for everyone, but the point is made loud and clear that you CAN save money by using coupons.

I took copious notes, for my own sake, as well as for all my friends that couldn't be there.  I figured the readers of Tight Wad might also enjoy learning what I did.  The most important point, that I hadn't properly comprehended before, is that using coupons DOES save time. I've always been under the impression that it takes a lot of time to go through the store comparing costs with or without the coupons.  Even looking online before going to the store, to see what is on sale and has a coupon to use, seemed a bit too time consuming for me, not to mention all the different stores you would have to go to in order to make the most of all the coupons.  Well, last night I learned I was wrong. 
  1. The average shopper goes to the store 2 and a half times a week and winds up spending about an hour each time.  He called them shop from the hip people.  Commit now to be different!
  2. Pick your favorite store and just go there - don't shop around from store to store.
  3. Look at the weekly ad and plan your menu - all meals, snacks, etc.
  4. Create a shopping list.
  5. Go through your coupons and cut out the ones you will need only when you are going shopping.
  6. When your coupons come in the newspaper just slide them in a pocket folder in a 3 ring binder - nothing more complicated or time consuming.
  7. Go to the store and stick to your list - in and out in 30 minutes.
  8. Always buy the smallest size and always buy on sale.
  9. Case lot sales always happen around conference.  This is a good time to buy extras for your food storage.
  10. No matter the size of your family you only need 2 newspaper subscriptions.  (Single people only need one.)  He's not a fan of hoarding items you can't use and there are plenty of coupons in two papers to get what you need.
  11. Never buy groceries at a big box store unless you are hosting a large party, otherwise you are paying 50% more than you need to.  Even if you think you can go in and out just for a bottle of milk you are wasting time and gas by making a special trip for one item.
  12. If you want meat cut special, take the large package to the butcher and have him divide it up.  It doesn't cost extra and is cheaper than just going straight to him and buying the meat that is not pre-packaged.
  13. Sales usually account for 40% savings, with an additional coupon you wind up saving 70% on groceries.
  14. His family eats half organic.  By shopping at Sunflower Market on Wednesdays they get double the sales.
  15. Same principles apply to clothing shopping - use the ad and the coupon.  He told us how he bought $1,000 worth of clothes for his family for only $300 the day after Thanksgiving.  The newspaper ads always include $10 off coupons to JCPenney, Kohl's, and Macy's.
  16. Dining out works the same way - lots of coupons to restaurants are found in the newspaper.
  17. When you get a newspaper subscription do it for the entire week.  A lot of the $10 coupons for department stores come out during the week.
  18. He saved on gas money by buying a gas guzzler when it was 45% off and then converting it to natural gas.  He said that option is only good for someone who drives a lot like he does.
  19. Did you know you can get rebate checks from beer companies by buying pizza?  I'm not totally clear on how that works, but he said he'd show us if we go shopping with him.
I came away with a renewed desire to subscribe to the paper.  As he kept saying, it's the only subscription that PAYS YOU.  For $2.25 a week it doesn't take much to make money off of it.  And he added that you don't have to read the paper if you don't want to.  I guess people feel guilty getting the paper only for the coupons!
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