Grocery store prices are on the rise – in April, George Weston Ltd., owner of grocery giant Loblaw, increased prices by five percent. Whether you’re a student living on residence, a senior on a fixed income, or a young couple with two children, food prices affect everyone’s budget. If you can save even just $5 a week on groceries, it will add up to savings of $260 a year.
Having worked in the grocery industry for over seven years, starting as a grocery clerk working myself all the way up to a department manager, I’ve learned a thing or two about groceries. Let’s take a look at a few simple ways to cut your grocery budget.
Who doesn’t like one stop shopping? Instead of driving around to five different stores – and spending a bundle on gas – discount grocery chains like No Frills (“Won’t Be Beat”) and FreshCo (“Cheaper Guaranteed”) have introduced price matching programs.
The process is simple – show the cashier the flyer of a major competitor with a better deal and they will match or beat the price. Some restrictions apply – you won’t get a price match if it’s a different brand or package size. Here’s a word of advice – instead of fumbling through flyers at the cashier, use posted flags to mark the pages of the various flyers.
Stop Paying for Brand Names
If you’re in the habit of buying brand names then listen up – name brands can cost between 10 to 50 percent more than generic store brands. When you’re buying a name brand you’re paying for the product’s marketing budget. The savings from buying store brands can really add up; if you save $10 a week by buying store brands, you’re saving $520 a year – that’s like 5 to 6 weeks of groceries for free a year!
Discount Chains Can Save you a Bundle
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve flipped through the so-called high-end grocery store flyers for Loblaw and Metro and laughed at how ridiculously high the prices are. Most of the time the sale prices at the high-end stores are the same or even higher than the regular everyday prices of the discount stores likes No Frills and Food Basics.
Having worked for a discount grocery store, I know that the discount stores and the high-end stores use the same warehouse, so essentially you’re paying $1 more for every item at the high-end store. If that adds up to $20 a week in extra spending, that’s $1,040 a year you could be saving by simply shopping at a discount chain.
Who said the best things in life aren’t free? PC Points is one of the best rewards programs out there. Whether you pay with PC Mastercard or a PC Financial debit card, every time you make a purchase you earn PC Points. Once you earn 20,000 PC Points you can redeem the points for $20 off your next grocery bill. Bring cloth grocery bags next time you shop – you earn PC Points for that too! PC Points add up quickly – you can easily get $20 of free grocery every month.
Watch that receipt!
Next time you’re in the grocery store be sure to review your receipt – price scanning errors happen more often than you think. Most major supermarkets are members of the Retail Council of Canada; they will honour the Scanner Price Accuracy Vountary Code: if an item for $10 or less scans incorrect, you will get it for free or it’s the price is over $10 you will get $10 off the regular price.
Some stores I’ve worked for try to “encourage” customers to pay the correct price; be persistent and politely assert that you would like the item for free as per the Retail Council of Canada and the store will be more likely to comply.
Reduce impulse purchases
Spending 5 to 10 minutes preparing a grocery list every week can save you time and money; you won’t be tempted to buy items you don’t need. Also, don’t go shopping on an empty stomach. Lastly, if you can, leave the kids at home; you’ll end buying sweets you don’t really need.
Do you have any tips to saving money on groceries? Share it with us.
About the Author: Sean Cooper is a single, 20-something year old, first time home buyer located in Toronto. He has experience in the financial sector as a Pension Analyst, RESP administrator and Income Tax Preparer. He holds a Bachelor of Commerce in business management from Ryerson University.