Just imagine $482 extra in your monthly budget. That's the average grocery savings (for a family of four) with ''Teri's List.'' Available on the Internet, ''Teri's List'' is part of The Grocery Game, a weekly shopping list of savings. It's a fee-based service that provides specials in your zip code.
Launched in early 2000 by Teri Gault, a stay-at-home mom, the Grocery Game has developed a national following. Recently featured on the CBS Early Show, Gault is also frequently quoted in many national magazines. During a recent conversation, Gault shared her insights about shopping and savings.
Available at Grocery Game, the service works like this: Registered site members log on for a weekly list of savings in their neighborhood. For instance, using my home zip code, I tapped into promotions at Publix, Winn-Dixie, CVS and Walgreens. Armed with regionalized lists of the best discounts, shoppers can save time and money. What's more, by combining savings with coupons, your potential savings are even greater.
''We do the math for members,'' Gault said.
For $1, The Grocery Game offers a four-week trial service and during that month, some members have saved enough to buy a freezer, she said. After the introductory offer, Gault charges $10 for eight weeks.
Through word-of-mouth, her service has grown from 800 members the first year to 100,000. Gault uses a proprietary system for tracking weekly specials and politely declined to discuss her ''customized software'' when I sought details about her computations. She did, however, offer a few tips for cutting the family food budget:
• Stockpile. ''Build your own store. Buy more than you need at rock-bottom prices,'' Gault said.
• Think small. When combined with coupons, a weekly special in a small package may yield larger savings (relative to a jumbo package) on a per-unit basis.
• Don't ignore convenience dinners. Most people opt for take-out food or restaurant meals because of time constraints and the hurried pace of modern life. For those no-time-to-cook meals, Gault recommends frozen dinners.
Consider the math: As a weekly special, frozen dinners ($1.50 to $2 each) cost less than $10 for four. Comparable restaurant meals would cost $40 to $50. So stock up and save the frozen dinners as a restaurant alternative. And, Gault, said, ``Even single people should be clipping coupons.''
Urban singles are more likely to eat out. Therefore, a stockpile of discounted frozen meals will dramatically reduce expenses.