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Groceries: Shopping and saving

Local entrepreneur uses recently published book to help others survive bad economy

Posted: February 9, 2009 12:54 a.m.
Updated: February 9, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Local entrepreneur Teri Gault is making big bucks by publishing "Shop Smart Save More" a book on coupon savings.

 

In this economy, everyone is looking to save and Canyon Country entrepreneur Teri Gault helps grocery shoppers around the country do so through her online shopping game and new book.

"We have printable coupons on our Web site, those quadrupled this year and our membership has almost doubled," she said. "Our traffic has almost doubled too. With the book it might be better than that."

Gault's book "Shop Smart, Save More" was published in late December.

"I just always wanted to share my savings lifestyle on food," she said. "The book is about my lifestyle, about storing, preparing and making a life of ease with savings."

Gault's savings lifestyle reaches back to a jar of peanut butter many years ago.

"When I was 12, I'd walk to the store and get groceries with my baby brother on my hip," Gault said. "I had to make 20 dollars or 10 dollars stretch for the whole family."

On one store trip, Gault spotted a peanut butter sale that launched her into a mental conundrum.

"I was there to buy things we needed but that's a vicious cycle because you continue to pay full price for the things you need," she said. "But I thought, ‘It's on sale, it's half the regular price and if I don't buy it now, then I'm going to have to pay full price when we need it.'"

The opportunity could not be avoided.

"It was like the clouds parted, the angels were singing and the sun was shining on the peanut butter," Gault said and explains in her book. "It was the first time I did what I now call ‘stock piling.'"

In 2000, Gault took her talent for saving money on groceries with her strong system of putting together a weekly grocery list and launched TheGroceryGame.com.

Within months, word spread to shoppers all over the country, Gault said. In 2003, Gault sold franchises and her game has reached all 50 states and some countries abroad, she said.

Players pay $10 every two months to access a weekly list, titled Teri's List, of the lowest-priced products at their local supermarket matched with manufacturers' coupons and weekly specials, according to the Web site. Gault and her researchers do all the work to create color-coded lists where black means good prices and buy the item only if needed, blue items are for stocking up while they're prices are at "rock-bottom" and green items are free, the Web site says.

Gault and her researchers basically track over 10,000 items in each marketing division, displaying over 160 lists for shoppers who subscribe, she said.

"We take all the pain and suffering out of it and when it becomes easy and you save a lot of money the easy way, it's a fun thing to do," Gault said.

Most gamers save about 67 percent each week or about $300 to $400 savings off their monthly grocery bill, Gault says on her Web site.

Carmen Quevedo of Valencia never met Gault but she's been a grocery gamer for three years.

"I had a neighbor who brought me some free brand name baby food that she had gotten because of (Teri's List) and she explained it to me and I was hooked," Quevedo said. "It saves money and time.

Once you get started you find that there are very few things that you need besides what's already printed on the list for you."

Quevedo benefits most by stock-piling, she said.

"I save so much money just by purchasing the item when it is the cheapest," she said. "I stock pile for what I need so I know I never run out of my husband's deodorant and I never run out of the staples we need and I don't buy unnecessary stuff just because it's cheap."

Grocery gaming created a lifestyle for Quevedo.

"It's the silliest thing in the world to be excited about grocery shopping but I can tell you three years later I still get excited about going grocery shopping," Quevedo said. "I look at (the list) and I think I'm going to go spend $40 not $120 and that means every week I win, and who gets to win in life every week?"

Gault said her new book partially tries to advocate a mindset of saving.

"It's learning the whole lifestyle of how to save on groceries," she said. "There's so many things that are backwards that we are doing, especially in this economy."

The second biggest expense of any household is food, she said.

"We educate ourselves on saving on utilities or getting a good mortgage price, but when it comes to food we kind of just go to get it and don't really know what we're doing," she said. "It's not like you have to grind your own flour and bake your bread to save money."

It can be simple.

"My lifestyle of saving is easy preparation, recipes, easy storage, creating a grocery list that is fast and easy, freezing (food) and rotating stock."

The Grocery Game Web site is www.thegrocerygame.com.

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