Emily Graves, 29, is a mom of two who manages to save her community millions of dollars a year with just her weekly grocery list. She says anyone can do it.
By day she’s a typical working mom living in Ottawa, Kansas. But it’s her hobby, creating a shopping list that compares sale ads, that’s turned her into a retail rock star.
“The comp list is a spreadsheet of all the deals from local grocery stores. I look up ads from 25 different stores and find the best deals for the groceries,” Graves explains.
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Her price comparison spreadsheet allows her to buy everything she needs at one store that price matches. The comp list includes dozens of everyday items, such as cheese, cereal, toothpaste and laundry detergent.
Graves began compiling the weekly list two years ago for herself when she was a stay-at-home mom. “We needed to save money, and we couldn’t really think of any different way to save on our budgets. So cutting groceries was going to be the best option for us,” she says.
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At first, she sent the list to her mother for fun. Soon, friends were asking for it. It continued to spread through word-of-mouth, and now Graves has 20,000 weekly readers through her blog, Twitter, Facebook and an email blast. The list itself has grown, too, and it takes her 20 hours to complete it.
“I’ve always found coupons to be very time consuming,” she says. “They’ll expire, or I’ll forget about ‘em.”
This month Graves is featured in All You magazine. Readers and a panel of judges, including myself, voted her "America’s Smartest Shopper" for the incredible savings generated by the list.
Graves surveyed her readers last year and learned the average savings is $80 a month. Even if only half her readers save that much, that’s nearly a million dollars a month and $9.6 million over a year. On a recent shopping trip, she spent $125 and saved $53 herself.
Also see: Are Super Foods Worth the Price?
“I do make the comp list for my local area, for the stores around here, but definitely anybody could make a list of their own.
Graves recommends contacting local stores about their price-matching rules before making a list for your own family. Some retailers will need to see the ads, while others may accept a list. It only takes a few minutes to get price matches approved.
“My favorite thing about doing the list is when I get an email back from somebody saying how much they’ve saved…That’s what I enjoy most,” she says.
Connect with me on Twitter @Farnoosh and use the hashtag #FinFit.