May 14, 2009


I went to a class last night about saving money on groceries. I had actually been to this class before a couple of years ago but went again to support the group.

The woman who taught it feeds her family of 7 for between $300 and $550 a month. That includes all their toiletries like toilet paper, shampoo, deodorant, etc. She really knows how to save money.

But, last time, she endorsed The Grocery Game (which I use) as a way to get started and learn how to save. This time she spent the whole class discouraging anyone from using it. She said, "You just need to learn what a 'rock bottom price' is and go for that with your coupons." She also said that she is not happy with anything less than 75% off retail.

Her system is so time consuming and complicated that several (including a mother of preschool aged triplets) left the class saying, "This is a nice idea, but I don't have time to do it." Privately, as we left the class, I told a few of them to start with The Grocery Game. I regularly save between 40 and 50% off my grocery bill just using that. It's a place to start. I use it but rarely use the coupons that it suggests as I just don't have time or desire to clip and file coupons.

If you get into the whole mindset of coupons and saving huge amounts on your grocery bill, you can take it a step farther and really start using those coupons. But, The Grocery Game was a starting place that everyone could succeed at.

On the way home, I couldn't help but compare this to the scrapbook industry. The Zealots sort of took over early on. We immediately started discouraging people who would LIKE to start scrapbooking. We made them feel bad about simplicity. We said, "don't use small stickers and snapshots. You have to have a die-cut machine and an expensive DSLR if you REALLY want to scrapbook!" I wonder how many picked up a magazine or walked into a scrapbook store or class only to come away as the women did last night thinking, "I don't have time or talent for this." I would have been the one behind them saying, "Get a three ring binder, some sheet protectors and a pack of colored paper from the office supply store. It's okay to start small and simple!"

It's great to be excited about and truly love something like this woman loved her grocery savings. However, you can't forget how it was when you started. You weren't at the same level. Zealots sort of expect everyone to instantly rise to their level rather than helping them start down the path.

Our industry is generally guilty of that. We needed a "starter" magazine that had staying power and was an evangelist for the industry. Paperkuts magazine did a good job filling that spot as long as it was in business. They kept it "real" more than other magazines. But when we lost them, the other magazines might have showcased simple scrapbooking styles, but they certainly weren't always easy scrapbooking styles. It took a lot of work and techniques to look that simple at times.

It's really too bad that we left so many people behind. I believe that it is one of the major problems we are experiencing right now. We don't have a large stream of new scrappers coming in because they see it as something unattainable like the extreme couponing that the woman teaching the class was doing. It was good info, but felt unachieveable to most who attended and she discouraged any other method but her own complicated and advanced one. I can appreciate her zeal, but most of us may never get to that point despite having the desire.

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