It's unlikely to replace Battleship, Clue or Monopoly on anyone's Christmas list, but a newer game that blends strategy, detective work and financial savvy has developed an enthusiastic following.
It's unlikely to replace Battleship, Clue or Monopoly on anyone's Christmas list, but a newer game that blends strategy, detective work and financial savvy has developed an enthusiastic following. It's called the Grocery Game, and those who play stand to win something worth more than bragging rights among friends: namely, lower food bills.
The Grocery Game grew out of its founder's penchant for clipping newspaper coupons. Teri Gault, now the company's chief executive, got so good at finding bargains several years ago that she was able to feed her family, including two teenage boys, for less than $40 a week--in pricey southern California, no less.
When her husband's work as a movie stuntman began to dry up, Gault's hobby became a way not only to save money, but to make money. She began offering "Teri's List" to subscribers in southern California. Over time, with the help of franchisees, her business evolved into the Grocery Game, which operates in all 50 states via a membership-based website: TheGroceryGame.com. The site monitors the price of thousands of grocery store items, determines what's on sale and matches those goods with any available coupons.
More than 100,000 members, or "players," as they're called, pay $1.25 a week for weekly lists of the best deals at their favorite stores. Four-week trials are available for $1. "It was easy to use, it made sense and it was quick," said Cori Zuppo, a 41-year-old Dublin resident who started playing more than a year ago. Getting started, Zuppo said, is as simple as checking your pantry to see what you need. Of course, to maximize your savings, she said, you also have to stockpile deeply discounted items, even if you don't need them right away.
The color-coded breakdowns supplied by the Grocery Game are intended to take the guesswork out of the process. "The black items are the items you buy if you absolutely need them," Zuppo said, pointing to a grid on her computer screen. "The blue items are your stock-up items. In other words, do it as they say to do it, and buy the quantity they say; otherwise, the numbers change. "Then, the green items are the ones that are free. Those, of course, are the best."
After finalizing a shopping list, Zuppo tracks down the applicable coupons, again with the help of the Grocery Game. "It tells you which section of the (newspaper) the coupon is actually in, with the date, allowing you to go directly to the coupon you need, so you can cut it out," she said.
Armed with her shopping list and the coupons, Zuppo hits the stores. At that point, she said, the key is to stick to the list, even if she sees what appears to be an incredible deal on, say, toilet paper, hot-dog buns or frozen pizzas. Her best performance to date: In one case, she said, a $154 shopping bill was whittled to $6. "To me, that represents the ability to save money for tuition or to save money for a family trip. It's just really about spending my money a little better."