Frustrated with Grocery Coupons. HELP!

Updated on January 05, 2009
A.M. asks from Lewisville, TX
8 answers

I signed up at the Grocery Game website and did everything it told me to do. I shop at Tom Thumb. I printed out the list and bought most items that were blue or green. I did buy just a few things that I needed that were not on the list at all. I bought the Sunday paper for $2, cut out all the coupons to correspond with the list items, even things I didn't need so I could "stockpile",then went shopping. After scanning my reward card, I saved about $30. Then I gave the clerk my coupons and after all that work, only saved $3!!! What in the WORLD did I do wrong? After buying the paper for $2, my total overall savings was $1. ONE DOLLAR??
I bought as many items of one thing as the list told me to: one was a 12 ounce pack of propel or Pepsi for 1.99 but I had to buy 3. I think I had to buy 3 b/c it said $10 min purchase. So is it $10 min of the store sale price w/out coupon or original price? Or does it mean that if the sale with coupon is 1.99, I have to buy 5 so that my total is $10? I'm so confused!
My Quaker Capt Crunch cereal was supposed to be 1.50. I don't understand the "buy 5 participating products" to save $5 instantly at checkout. How do I know which products are participating?
I'm very discouraged and ready to give up on this whoe coupon thing but I know that there is money to be saved. I'm just not sure I'm using the coupons right? HELP!!!

3 moms found this helpful

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answers from Dallas on

Sounds like a gimmick to me. I don't coupon shop but I do shop smart. I stock up on the items that are on special for the week that I routinely use.....water, sugar, sodas, snacks for school lunches, buy one get one deals, etc.

I shop mainly at Market Street and Tom Thumb and go to Costco about once every 8 weeks for a big stock up.

My time is more valuable that clipping, sorting and driving all over the place. TIME = MONEY

Good luck if you stick with it. I lot of people swear by these online games that you have to pay to sign up.

Happy New Year

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answers from Dallas on

I haven't used the grocery game though I know a lot of people love it. (I just didn't want to pay for it, to tell the truth, since I can't see how it works firsthand BEFORE paying)...that's just me.
As for the Tom Thumb coupons, I do think you misread it. As a previous poster said, usually with TT coupons, it will say "limit 1 with a an additional $10 purchase". What that means is that you'd buy just one of what the coupon says for that price, but you can't just walk in and get that one thing and walk out. They want you to spend at least $10 in the store (could be anything that you'd be buying anyway). The $10 is just $10, not off any specific price. The "participating items" will usually be the things all lumped together in the sales paper under that heading, or if it's "10 for 10" or whatever, you could mix/match--10 of that 1 thing, or 1 of 10 things with that sign. If it says "2 for 5", you have to read closer: sometimes that means 2 of the same thing for $5 worded something like "when you buy 2", and sometimes it just means the price is $2.50 so you just have to pay some attention. It's really not as confusing as it sounds, you just have to read it.
I'm quite busy too, but still have the time to do some basics to save money. I keep a running "inventory" in my kitchen of basics that are always there. I have a little magnetic notepad I got from Michaels for $1 on my fridge and everyone knows that when something is running very low, write it down for me on that pad, so I'll never run out of the basics. On Thursday we get the sales papers in the mail and I'll take the papers and list what I find from each store that I would want, that would be a good deal (I keep up with prices, so I know when a "sale price" at one store is cheaper everyday at another, etc). Then I decide according to what that week's menu is (and who's got the better deal) which store I'll be shopping at that week. We get the Sunday paper for the coupons and it takes all of 10-15 minutes to go through all the coupons, clip what we would use, and put them in my little coupon file. I think that 10-15 minutes is well worth the savings. I make a weekly menu based on what I have in the house, what's on sale, and the coupons I have.
YESTERDAY I went to Albertsons armed with a plan (from reading the sales papers) and THREE coupons, and bought 8 boneless petite sirloin steaks seasoned in the California garlic medley that we love (advertised buy 1 pack of 4, get 1 pack free), 10 pounds of chicken quarters (advertised 39 cents/pound), a large olive oil with a coupon, a bag of salad with a coupon, a dozen eggs (advertised 99 cents), and a bag of hot dog buns with a coupon, all for $30! The steaks: can be grilled or broiled, we'll have steak and baked potatoes with a veg one day, we can make fajitas with the others in a pack, and the 2nd pack went to the freezer for a future day. The chicken: there's A LOT of it. It can be grilled with my grandpa's special sauce/marinade and served with baked beans and potato salad one day, and I can cook some with lemon pepper in the oven another day. There is plenty to put in a pressure cooker which makes deboning and removing skin ridiculously easy, and even helping me shred it up for casseroles or tortilla soup. A bag of salad isn't the cheapest way to buy produce, but I wanted something fast and easy because I was serving fried fish and shrimp with a little creole rice and needed a quick veg. The hotdog buns can be for hotdogs one day, and buttered with a smidge of garlic powder another day and served as warm garlic bread for a future fettucini dinner. I already have fish in the freezer (that big box of 4lbs of tilapia for LESS than $15 at Walmart equals out to be about $3.72/lb) and we eat a fish meal (or 2) every week. I always have the other stuff in my kitchen anyway, potatoes in the pantry, veggies are in the freezer, pastas, a couple canned beans, and rice a roni are never out of stock, etc. I go to Walmart for the milk, cheese, and stuff to stock my pantry, using coupons and price matching to assist. We eat very well (no hamburger helper, lol) and save a lot of money just eating good food (cut out the sodas and twinky type foods and replace with better options like on-sale pudding cups ($2 at Walmart right now) and celery sticks with Laughing Cow or peanut butter, fruit, stuff like that, and spend an AVERAGE of about $90-110/week (including cleaning supplies and toiletries, though this is less one week and more another week) for a family of 3 with a 2 guests for at least 1 meal/week, sometimes more.I buy meat when on sale, put in the freezer for times it's NOT on sale, and we also eat the leftovers. I may do a rotisserie chicken with potatoes and green beans one day, and another I'll take the leftover chicken, shred it, and make a king ranch casserole that would feed 4-5 people. We could save more money, but I like to have a variety of good food (steak in some form, fish, and chicken every week and ground beef or porkchops once every week or two). It's totally doable, just takes some conscious decision making and some practice. Good luck.
I know this is REALLY long but just wanted to help because my mom didn't know to teach me, and I had to learn from trial and error and tips from mamasource too.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Hi Alexandra! I've been couponing for about 6 months now and it can be frustrating and overwhelming at first. My first piece of advice is to stop paying for the grocery game and check out and (I am on both sites and my userid is "T." on both, feel free to look me up.) Both are free and have a wealth of information and friendly people willing to help you out. Also, comparing stores that double and triple coupons (Tom Thumb, Kroger and Albertsons) I've found that Tom Thumb is usually the most expensive of the three. If you are interested in really learning how to save a ton using coupons it can be SO worth while. I'd be happy to help you with anything you need or getting started. I have a 3 year old DD and I am a SAHM so I'm home all day with her even if you want to go shopping together. Feel free to ask away and I'll do my best to get you going. :) On average at the grocery store I ususaly save 50% + and at Walgreens and CVS I walk out paying little to nothing out of pocket. You CAN do it!

All the best,

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

-$10 minimum purchase means you have to spend $10 worth of OTHER items in the store. So I think you made this one. Tom Thumb does this all the time, especially with their in-store coupons. Did you use the in-store coupon? And usually at TT it is limit one.
-"buy 5 products to get $5 off" can be frustrating. Some stores are better at flagging the items than others. Usually there will be large tag on the shelf signifying the item is participating. At Kroger they are usually yellow. Tom Thumb off-white typically. Make sure you get the exact item, size and everything. You can check the ad, but it doesn't always list everything. Check the store website, sometimes they have a list. And the "final selling price" won't show up on your receipt as "Captain Crunch- $1.50", it will come off as a $5 discount near the end, so this may have been done right.
There is SO much help out there, that I don't think you need to do the Grocery Game. I can't imagine paying for a service, especially one that doesn't explain everything fully to a novice. IMO, don't waste your money.
GO TO It's free. It is THOROUGH. Read the whole site, download the ebooks. I am a "pro" and it helps me a lot. They have a "new to couponing" section for people like you. Make sure you sign up with a free account to use all of the tools available. You can also print out coupons from the site, but I have mixed luck using those so I don't usually bother.
Be patient, it will take a while, you'll have to collect coupons for a while (and buy more than one of each paper!) to really start cashing in. In my area, you can buy a 2-pack of Sunday papers & get a dollar off. Or get an early edition on Saturday for a buck at Dollar Tree. Also, keep in mind that these websites, help show you how to use coupons and sales TOGETHER, so the $30 you saved with your card does count for something! :)
Anyway last but not least, join the DFWCOUPONCUTIES Yahoo group. Just go to and look for "groups". I'm a member, and we post stuff about local deals and there are links to other sites.
Good luck!

***ETA: Oh, and BTW, just because the coupons only saved you $3 at Tom Thumb this week, there are great deals to be had at other stores, not to mention in the coming weeks. It all adds up. This week alone, Walgreens is a goldmine if you do it right. :) Just be patient, it is worth the time.
Also, I used to "clip & sort", but now, doing it the way, that saves a TON of time, you just plan a little before leaving the house. And buy another copy of the paper. Rarely are there 5 inserts like this week, so take advantage!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Try, I too tried The Grocery Game, I also tried Groceries Dirt Cheap...They all use the same concept..But for me it didn't click until I signed up for the Coupon Moms website...It is free btw!! She has a couple of Ebooks that you can download, again for free. After reading them, I got it. I haven't perfected this whole coupon thing, but I am getting there. I am saving more money around 30-50 bucks a week at this point. You add that up over a year that is alot of money!! I don't know if I will ever get to the point to where I can get 200 bucks of groceries for $ steps!! Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I get the ads in the mail, and clip coupons in the paper. On a sheet of paper I write down the names of all of the stores with the items that I need/want and how much they are selling them for. I then go to Wal-Mart and have them price match the items for me. They will not do the buy one get one free thing, BUT they will for everything else as long as it is the same item. I use coupons that I have cut for those items that I buy from the ads (generally there are mutliple things in the ads that also have coupons for them in the paper). I have found that soups, cheeses, bread, cleaning supplies, and condiments are cheaper at Wal-mart. I will not get my produce, meat, or milk from there, but watch the ads and go to the store with the best prices on those. I watch for meats to go on sale and buy them in bulk and put them in the deep freezer. Generally I have to go to Wal-mart and one other store for my shopping, BUT I have found that I save a great deal of money when I price match and use coupons.
Hope that helps!



answers from Dallas on

Hi Alexandra,

I've been using the Grocery Game since last is overwhelming at first, but so worth it! It took a few weeks for me to get the hang of it & learn the ins & outs of the stores, so my savings were smaller at the beginning. (that's why they have the 4 week trial for $1! will know by the end of 4 weeks if it's something you can or can't do) I now routinely save anywhere from 45-70%. My savings at Albertsons alone yesturday more than paid for my 2 month subscription to the Grocery Game (spent $10, saved $29).

My suggestion to you: If you haven't discovered this already, start visiting the Grocery Game Message Board (you'll find the link under the sign in tab on the home page). You'll find a wealth of info on this board daily. Also, that's really the best place to post your question about Tom Thumb....and get answers from those who grocery game at Tom Thumb. I use Kroger & Albertsons, and my stores do not have a limit on the number of coupons they will double and triple. I believe Tom Thumb does, so that could be once source of your problem.

BTW, usually the $10 minimum that a store says you have to spend to get the sale price is just have to spend at least $10 in their store, not on each type of product. They do that so that you can't walk in with a handful of coupons and walk out spending $1.50 on $100 worth of stuff. Is that a little clearer?

Good luck & read, read, read (the GG message Board)!!!!

:-) H.



answers from Dallas on

Hi, Alex!

My personal feeling about the Grocery Game is that it is great for some people but not for all. I didn't find it helpful for me, because I just don't use the kinds of things "required" to buy. And because of limited storage in my pantry, fridge, and freezer, I don't stock up on the level it requires. I also think it is one of those things that you either get passionate about or it isn't fun or useful. I love saving money, but I found I do that better (for my family) by only buying things I need, using coupons whenever applicable, and being wise about my shopping/planning. I think it's great that you've tried it - but I think it's okay if you decide it's not for you! ;)

Have a great day!

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