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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Grocery Prices, Rising or Not?

I know prices have been rising--and it is only expected if gas is higher and with various other recent factors--HOWEVER---

When I actually looked at my grocery pricebook spreadsheet I found that my 'target buying prices' haven't really changed.

My 'Target Buying Price' is the price at which I will stock up when shopping. For instance at $2 a pound I will stock up frozen boneless skinless chicken breast. That is usually the best price most of the stores will offer in my area. Aldi was a little bit lower for a while--but has now raised their price a bit--although my purchase there rang up lower than was posted in the store--so perhaps they have not fully raised the price. Yesterday I found the chicken at that price on sale at Harris Teeter. I was a little surprised as I thought their 'lowest sale price' might be higher now, but it wasn't. I bought just a little more than I usually do--cuz I was thinking, maybe it will go up soon?

Harris Teeter is generally considered the 'highest priced' store in my area--and yet--when I plan my trips and use my Grocery Game List I almost always find I get better deals at Harris Teeter than just about anyplace. NOT always though. That's where the Price Book Spreadsheet comes in. If I simply type the information from my grocery receipt into my spreadsheet whenever I shop, the spreadsheet organizes it for me and does a little math to tell me what the unit price is on each item. I can then sort my list and find out how that price compares to other stores. I know for instance that bottled water at Sam's Club beats the sale price at Harris Teeter and the daily price at Aldi. When I go to Sam's I stock up on bottled water. However--Sam's club carries lots of bottled water--I look for the $3.88 for 30 1.5 liter deal.

In any case, what I found looking at prices from back in February and comparing them to now--July-- I am not paying more for most groceries--IF I plan and buy things on sale and use my coupons and other money saving strategies--such as the price list. If however I go out to a grocery store 'un-armed' there is a good chance I will be throwing away an awful lot of money. It does pay to plan to be careful and to know what you should pay for things. Had I purchased the same bags of chicken for instance at Stock n Save a few days ago-- a supposedly lower priced store-- I would have been paying more than twice as much for the same amount. MORE than twice! That matters!

About Couponing--I have an organizer for my coupons that I've written about here, but I am also experimenting with a little different method. With all I've been doing in the garden and vacations and the sidetracking I endured having my health investigated the past several months, I got behind on coupon clipping.

I have a stack of coupon inserts from the local Sunday paper that I have NOT cut the coupons from. Since I use Grocery Game --I can just page through the correct insert and cut the coupon when I need it.

This method doesn't involve much work --but it is only useful if I am using my GG list. It is not helpful if I happen to be at a different store and see a deal because I will not be able to look up the coupons by category and pull them out on the spot. I know there are folks who use this method with Grocery Game all the time, I seem to only use it when I have been very busy and 'remiss' with coupon cutting and filing, but I must admit it works and it is easier, I'm pretty tempted to make that a permanent switch.

One tip I have for this method of coupon collecting--the coupon inserts have the circulation date printed on them in tiny teeny letters on the binding edge. I take a marker or pen and write it more boldly right on the front so I can see it quickly. I also shuffle my inserts by date and thus they are easier to go through. They fit in a little accordian file very well.

About Grocery Game itself-- if you read any of my old posts you will see that I have been 'on and off' in using Grocery Game. Sometimes I would use it, sometimes I'd change my mind and quit. Right now I am using it, but I have scaled back my use. I only use two GG lists. I could get 5 or 6 in the big city we live in. I find that it works best for me if I only use Harris Teeter and Rite Aid. It is much too much work to try to get the best deals at several stores-- I'm not wanting to shop that much.

I use Harris Teeter because if all things were equal--it would be my hands down, no contest, favorite grocery store. It is the nicest shopping experience bar none in Charlotte. Its also a little pricey--BUT HT has great sales and they double and sometimes triple coupons--so using GG I can get some really good deals at HT. I use Rite Aid because it is a small less crowded drug store and it is right next to my HT store saving me time and gas. Rite Aid takes manufacturers coupons and they have RAMC's which are Rite Aid coupons in thier weekly flyers.I get my RX's at Rite Aid now and I get whatever I need at a drug store there.

They also do a monthly SCR (single check rebate) program-- its pretty easy to use. Each month you simply log on to their website and enter in all your receipt numbers for the month and they send you a rebate check to be used at their store.

Grocery Game tells me which deals are best at both these stores. I just go through my GG list and choose which deals I want to buy and print out my shopping list and pull the appropriate coupons. I then jot down any 'other items' I may need from those stores--or I buy them at Aldi or Sams or wherever I think will have a good deal. With my GG list and coupons I do save money. Yesterday my bill at Harris Teeter was about 60% less than if I had paid HT prices without using my GG list. I also get nicer stuff shopping this way. That's a good thing. For instance, I can use 'Olay Ribbons Body Wash' (ooooohhh) for about the same price as plain soap.

2 comments:

  1. Another Harris-Teeter lover here!

    Like you, I get just as good prices with their sales as any other discount store, and the experience is so much more pleasant.

    I'm sad, though, that it's not one of the 3 groceries at my nearest intersection (.5 miles away). The gas prices & pregnancy exhaustion have made me start shopping those instead.

    For now, anyway!

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  2. I don't mind driving to HT but I did email and ask them if they had plans to build closer, sadly they don't right now.-- I think in Charlotte you can tell if your neighborhood is improving when you get your Harris Teeter store--its sort of a merit badge. ;)

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