Do you track money-back from points cards as part of your budget?: The Grocery Game Challenge #2 Dec 8-14,2014

points cards grocery storeIT’S YOUR MONEY TO SPEND!


Almost everyone I know has points cards of some description especially cards that offers points to be redeemed for groceries.

I was reading a post by my friend Alicia at Financial Diffraction where she discussed “Tallying the other money” ie: rewards points redeemed, PC Points, Shoppers Optimum points, Swagbucks, Coupon apps and so on.

What I found interesting is that she considers the money as “found money” or “other money” where I call it “extra income” which means I didn’t spend as much in our budget. My wife and I are both on the fence with this topic as we aren’t sure how we will tackle it moving forward with our budget.

I have a section in our budget where we can add in money earned from points, rebates, cheques (ie: coupon app rewards) etc. so it’s put back into the monthly budget as income. I look at it as money I would have spent from the budget but since I was able to redeem points I didn’t have to so I put that money back into the budget as income but it comes back out when I input budget data.

I find it will help to keep a very tight budget but on the other hand you could just forget about the money and pretend that you found it and what you purchased really didn’t happen. We’re just not sure what way we will go with this so I thought I ask how all of you track money or rewards from points cards in your budget.

I don’t think there is a wrong and right answer here only an answer that will give you a more accurate number over the other. Essentially if we didn’t have the points cards then we would get nothing back. It’s really a bonus but it’s also money back. See what I mean about on the fence?


Motivate and Celebrate


Earlier this year we started using the coupon apps and began tracking the amount of money we were saving with them. I don’t tally up every points card I have but I should be if I am using money-back to pay for expenses.

If I redeem points to pay for my gas in the budget I put the regular price minus the points card redemption which gives me the price paid. We could track that as coupons or cash-back in the form of a gift-card which is essentially a form of cash.

Without the points you would have had to use money from your grocery budget to purchase grocery items you buy thus making the money redeemed from points cards money earned. It’s like the store is paying you for shopping there like EBates does so it’s income back in your pocket. You earned it at one point, spent it but then got it back again. Does that make sense? In my crazy budgeting mind it does!

I remember I had asked CBB fan Jen who is a killer shopper especially when it comes to using coupons and getting the most money back from coupon apps if she could track her savings in the Grocery Game Challenge. She’s been posting her shops for the past three years and now each week that she posts we’re able to see just how much money she has redeemed to date.

The part I enjoyed reading was how happy Jen was when she was able to use her points cards rewards towards her groceries. I found that by tallying her numbers on an ongoing basis it was motivating for her and for us. She motivated us to apply for the coupon apps to start saving and we just redeemed for our first cheque from Snap Groupon for $23.xx. Once that cheque gets here it will go back in the bank as returned income as if we never spent it.

We are late starters with our points rewards so starting in 2015 we will be tracking all the coupon apps and points cards ie: PC Plus that give us money-back to use towards products or in the form of a cheque. At the end of the year we should be able to see just how much of our income we spent at some point which was returned to us.

Do you track points redeemed from points cards? How?



December grocery game challenge posts


If you missed any grocery game posts for the month I will post the line-up for the month each week here in this section for you. Join in the Grocery Game Challenge fun and post your grocery shop in the comment section of each blog post… here are the GGC rules!


Grocery Saving Tips


Click, Save and Print. It’s that easy!

NEW: Sign up today! >>> Homescan Canada! Join the Neilson Homescan consumer panel. If chosen you will receive rewards by scanning the barcode on your grocery purchases and completing fun surveys with the scanner provided to you from Homescan Canada.

One registration per household. Once you sign up using the link above you will be put on a reserve waiting list and randomly selected households will be chosen. Sign up now…. it’s worth it!!

Free Money Saving Downloads are awesome lists that were created to get us on track to work towards reaching our budgeting goals and now we are sharing them with you.

I hope you take the time to get back on track and start the savings process in your grocery budget today.

Get organized with a FREE freezer inventory, meal plan, shopping list, price comparison list and much more all for FREE. CLICK HERE to download all the free lists and even our family budget spreadsheet for FREE.

NEW!! You can now download the FREE Canadian Budget Binder Budget Spreadsheet in Excel…Grab it while you can… It’s FREE! We use it to budget and in large part a reason we could pay our mortgage off in 5 years, check it out!


Ultimate Grocery Shopping Guide


Everything you want to know about grocery shopping in Canada is below with new information added monthly. If you are new here and haven’t had a chance to read past posts grab yourself a beverage, sit down, relax and enjoy some educational reading material on ways to save money in your grocery budget.

If you missed a Grocery Game Challenge post some of the most popular posts are listed below or you can now find the posts listed on their own page called The Ultimate Grocery Shopping Guide.

If you know a topic that should be discussed send me an email.


Grocery shop results



If you are a foodie like I am you will enjoy going through my Free Recipe Index where recipes from CBB foodie Nicola and myself are shared every Sunday on the blog. Check it out! Try a recipe and leave a review for other fans!

Shoppers Drug Mart

  • 1 x 4L Milk $3.97
  • Dozen Eggs $1.99

Total out-of-pocket $ 5.96


 Check Out Our Grocery Budget


Yearly grocery budget for two: $2820

(The above total does not include the stockpile budget of $240 per year or $20 per month.)

  • Total Grocery Budget for the Month: $235.00 or $78.33 week with potentially one no-shop week per month or $58.75 for 4 weeks per month. (During the months with 5 weeks we just make it work)
  • Total Budget for November $235.00 This months grocery shop leaves us $265.78 over budget!! Our November and December grocery budget total will be as follows $470-$265.78=$204.22 or $102.11 to spend each month to keep us on track for 2014.
  • Total Coupons Used this Week : $0
  • Total Coupons Used to date: $74.19
  • Total Discounts this Week: $0
  • Total Discounts Used to date: $74.23
  • Total Gift Cards Used to date: $33.18
  • Total Rewards Points Used: $0
  • Total Rewards Points Used to date: $40.00
  • Stockpile Budget ($20.00): $20.64
  • Stockpile Budget Used to Date: $20.00+$19.08+$17.94+ $2.06+$20.00+$15.10 + $20.00 (June)+ $22.44 (July) + (August) $8.00+ (September) $0 + October $19.92+November $0+Dec $20.64
  • Snap Groupon to date: $2.00 (cashed out $23.xx this week) :)
  • Zweet to date: $4.00
  • Cart Smart to date: $0
  • Checkout51 to date: $12.75
  • Scanning Code of Practice (SCOP) $2.99
  • Total Spent This Week: $5.96
  • Total Spent So Far December $73.73+$5.96=$79.69  (we have $89.72 to spend for the month)
  • Total Over/Under spend this shop: $ n/a
  • Total Over/Under spend for the month: over $0
  • Total Left to Spend for the Month: $15.99-$5.96=$10.03
  • Total to Carry Over Next Month: $ n/a
  • Total Spent To Date This Year: (does not include stockpile budget) Jan $242.66+ Feb $191.74+ March $255.82+April $235.07+May $223.62+June $275.37+ July $203.36+ August $228.26+ Sept $272.80+ Oct $451.48+Nov $114.50+ Dec $

Weekly Overview: Well we know we weren’t going to spend much this week as we are heading home shortly. We needed to pick up a few bits but we have more than enough food in the house to keep us going. I think we may make it until the end of the year with this grocery budget. Fingers crossed!


 Coupon Sleuth


Did you find any coupons? If so share the details in the comment section of this post where you found it and what the coupon is for with expiry.

Since we only made a trip to Shoppers for milk this week we have no coupons to report.


Frequently Asked Questions


  • Grocery Game Challenge RULES: Read the rules first and if you have any questions email me or comment on this post with your question and someone will answer you as soon as possible.
  • Do I have to be Canadian to post my Grocery Shop?: No, you don’t have to be Canadian to post your shops only to win a monthly prize. We have fans who post their grocery shop who live all over the world.
  • When does the Grocery Game close each month?: The Grocery Game Challenge closes at midnight of the last Sunday of the last post for the month. You can post your shops all month-long.
  • Does your Grocery Budget include health and beauty and laundry products?: Yes our Grocery Budget includes such items as shampoo, conditioner, laundry soap, fabric softener, dish soap etc. We don’t mind stockpiling items that won’t be affected by expiry dates or have long expiry dates but not so much food any more. It’s just one way to help cut your budget to save money.
  • What is an FPC?: An FPC is a free product coupon which means you can get a free product as described on the coupon.
  • How Do I Grocery Shop?: I can tell you about grocery shopping and what we do in terms of shopping to save money and how it works for us. There are no wrong or right answers, just smart choices.

Over time you will gradually learn where you should and shouldn’t go in the grocery store or at least how to say no, I’m on a budget I need to buy this or that. You may also substitute items in order to stick to your grocery budget to make it work. Nobody is perfect, heck we struggle with this part of our budget like many people do.

This is why the grocery game challenge was created to not only show you that we are like everyone else but to bring us all together to work as a team to get our budgets on track. If you have just joined The Grocery Game Challenge 2014 get ready to dive deep into your grocery budget and learn just where you are spending, how much you are spending and what you are saving.

Feel free to read all the above posts that I linked to above which I feel are relevant to learning about the grocery budget and grocery shopping in general. You’ve made a wise decision to take control of your grocery budget now show me your shops and let’s get saving!

Welcome to The Grocery Game Challenge Canada 2014!


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  1. I’ve just started using some of the cash back apps and this post has been on my mind since I read it. The cash back fits what I consider “found money” but how would I spend it? Two options I came up with is to use the cash back as a reward by having take out with it or using it for those smaller wants like say new mats for in front of the doors. I’m kind of leaning towards the take out though.

    I don’t know how closely I would track points because most of the stores that offer points are the more expensive options, so I rarely accumulate any.

  2. I normally do not track my points in my cards. When I just feel that I have accumulated much, that’s the only time I use. Once in a while, I have it checked. That being said, I am planning to start tracking it in a normal basis.

  3. I don’t include rewards as income or in my budget. I do keep track of what I redeem though to see how much I saved over the year. I don’t think I’ll be changing that for this year, I can’t speak for future years though. My budget is always changing as I think of better ways to keep track of where it’s going.

  4. December 6 to 12th GGC…..

    Name Your Store: Superstore
    Total Coupons Used: $1.00
    Total Out Of Pocket: $2.30 ($2.30 Human)

    5 Buddig Luncheon Meats – $0.66 (WUB5 $1.00 Coupon) (PM Frescho) = 2.30

    Name Your Store: Superstore
    Total Coupons Used: $1.00
    Total Out Of Pocket: $55.13 ($9.58 Pet; $45.55 Human)

    5 Buddig Luncheon Meats – $0.66 (WUB5 $1.00 Coupon) (PM Frescho) = 2.30
    Pillsbury Crescent Rolls – 2/$3.00 = $1.50
    Pillsbury Weiner wrap – 2/$3.00 = 1.50
    2 Primo Spaghetti Sauce – $0.88 (PM FB) = $1.76
    NN 18Kg Cat Litter = $8.48
    2-14 count Tassimo Teas – $4.94 = $9.88
    Ice Cream Cookies = $2.48
    2 Pot of Gold – $3.98 (PM Walmart) = $7.96
    Honey Bunches of Oats – (PM Frescho) = $2.00
    4L Skim Milk = $3.97

    Weekly Grocery Game Challenge Results
    Total Grocery Budget for the Month: $50.00/week ($40.00 Human & $10.00 Pet)
    Total Coupons Used this Week : $2.00
    Total Coupons Used This Month: $2.00
    Total Discounts/SCOP this Week: $0.00
    Total Checkout 51 rebates this Week: $2.00
    Total Checkout 51 rebates this Month: $2.00
    Total Gift Cards Given Used this Week: $0.00
    Total PC Points Received this week:
    Total Rewards Points Used:
    Stockpile Budget: $0.00
    Total Over/Under spend this shop: $7.85 over (Human); $0.42 under (Pet)
    Total Spent This Week: $47.85 (Human); 9.58 (Pet)
    Total Spent So Far for December: $57.43
    Total Over/Under spend for the month of December: $N/A
    Total Left to Spend for the Month: 112.15 Human; 30.42 Pet
    Total to Carry Over Next Month: $N/A
    Total Spent To Date This Year: $3,279.96
    Weekly Overview: This week I have been going over next year’s budget and thinking of better ways to inputting the values onto the spreadsheet and different categories that I think I might use over the year, along with the pivot table and chart for a visual aid. Since this is the last month of extra pay (due to no payment of CPP and EI), I am looking at different things and thinking of the best way to spend the $.

    1. Hi Dee,
      That’s great news that you will be reviewing your budget for 2015 and the categories etc. I can’t wait to see what you come up with. Ah yes you’ve reached your limits on CPP and EI which leaves some money for you to spend. It’s amazing how it gets eaten up with those two categories. You get ballot 4. Keep up the great work.. I’m proud to see that you jumped in late this year but stuck with it!! That’s awesome and the only way to save is by the effort you put into saving. Well done.

  5. We don’t really track it, but I think we’ll start to record it as income in the new year. I’m planning on only recorded it though when it’s actaully used.

  6. We consider our rewards cash as income on our budget, partially because “found money” has a tendency to be wasted. Also, our main rewards card automatically pays down the principle on our mortgage, so we mark that on the income and expense sides of our budget. While I don’t think there’s one right answer for everyone, we like to see our rewards paying down our mortgage or increasing our savings, because we could take it as cash and use it for something else, but we don’t.

  7. I have the rebate apps and I have some points cards. I have had Air Miles for a number of years and used the points there for gift cards to stretch my Christmas shopping funds. Then there was the year the grandson turned 2 years old, I used my Air Miles to get an admission to African Lion Safari and my daughter did the same and we took him there for his birthday. He had so much fun there and it cost us under $20.00 each… At least until we got to the gift shop!! Lately they have cut back on the gift cards…Boo!!!!
    I have points cards for Shoppers, Guardian Drugs, Sobey’s and No Frills. I also just got the new Canadian Tire one. My idea here is to use the points for Christmas shopping as much as I can. I have the rebate apps on my iPad as well. All these points and rebates are saved so I can use them for my Christmas shopping as much as I can, given that our budget is very tight and this helps me out. You saw how I did with the Guardian points earlier!! Jen has me beat for this but I’m working on it and trying to get the maximum bang for the buck as much as possible…. I don’t have assess to some of the stores most do but I do the best I can!!

  8. We don’t actually have a budget. We spend what we need to. I do however keep track of how much groceries cost, and how much we spend on food, not made at home. I count these card rewards, as coupons….they are free food.

  9. DECEMBER – Week #2 of 5- Dec 8-14, 2014


    •Total Grocery Budgeted For Year: $142.50 x 12 = $1,710.00 for 2 adults
    •Total Stockpile Budgeted For Year: $47.50 x 12 = $570.00 for 2 adults
    •Combined Grocery Budget for 2013: $190.00 x 12 = $2,280.00



    We only needed enough groceries to get us from Monday-Thursday this week since we are heading off on vacation again and using “vacation funds” for our groceries/meals. As a result, our shop this week is pretty unimpressive. Hubby is out of his English muffins so we sprang for a 4L milk so he can have cereal for his breakfast material.

    I am going to make the decision to forego the following rain check since we really don’t NEED it even though it’s a nice little WANT:


    4 lbs Ground Pork @ $2.99/lb (Good until December 22nd)

    Did you notice that I haven’t used my 2014 Costco Rebate cheque for $13.45 yet? Once we get back, I may use it to get a package of imitation crab for hubby’s lunches and some wraps to accompany a homemade soup for New Years Day.

    I love December! I have an email coupon for $15.00 on my dinner at Hilltop Restaurant before December 31st. So, I am saving that for our dinner on Dec. 28th – we’ll only have to pay for hubby’s meal.

    I also have a coupon for a free burger from Red Robin and I plan to use that one Dec 29th for my supper. Nothing like turning your birthday into a 3-day event! I will get more freebies for Palm Desert restaurants because it’s my birthday month. It all helps reduce the actual vacation spending.



    Target – Maple Ridge –

    1 x 4L skim milk $4.59

    •Total OOP: $4.59

    • Grocery Budget OOP: $4.59
    • Stockpile Budget OOP: $0.00
    • Cash Hiding Spot: $0.00



    NO USA SHOPS UNTIL Dec 28th!



    •Total Loyalty Card Price Reductions This Year:

    Jan $81.89+Feb $48.32+Mar $0.00+April $22.88+May $44.18+June $39.58+July $4.10+Aug $0.00+Sept $19.68+Oct $7.75+Nov $0.00+ Dec $0.00= $257.47

    •Total Coupons/Rain Checks Used This Year:

    Jan $2.58+Feb $7.18+Mar $0.00+April $9.20+May $20.19+June $1.00 + July $15.50+Aug $12.98+Sept $5.19+Oct $33.28+Nov $0.00+Dec $0.00 = 109.97

    •Total Price Match Savings Used This Year:

    Jan $0.00+Feb $0.00+Mar $0.00+April $0.00+May $5.31+June $0.00 + July $0.00+Aug $0.00+Sept $0.00+Oct $0.00+Nov $0.00+Dec $0.00= $5.31

    •Total More Points Earned This Year:

    Jan 0+Feb 0+Mar 11 +April 0+May 5+June 0+July 52+Aug 0+
    Sept 32+Oct 31+Nov 103= 236 Points

    •Total Air Miles Earned This Year:

    Jan 456+Feb 584+Mar 0+April 4+May 125+June 3+July 210+Aug 88 + Sept 157+Oct 2+Nov 0+Dec 0= 1,631 Air Miles

    •Total Thrifty’s Points Earned This Year:

    Jan 25+Feb 15+Mar 0+April 0+May 39+June 11+July 145+Aug 0+ Sept 24 = 259 Points
    Program Discontinued on Sept 12th – We received $20.00 + 14 Air Miles

    •Total PC PLUS Points Earned This Year:

    Jan 0+Feb 0+Mar 650+April 0+May 5,400+June 2400+July 3,300+Aug 0 + Sept 1,450+Oct 0+Nov 0+Dec 0= 13,200 Points

    •Total Optimum Points Earned This Year:

    Jan 0+Feb 0+Mar 0+April 0+May 30+June 0+July 100+Aug 0+Sept 0+ Oct 10+Nov 40+Dec 0= 180 Points



    •Total OOP Year-To-Date:
    Jan $167.06+Feb $155.74+Mar $105.76+April $145.56+
    May $228.38+June $186.11+July $110.63+Aug $130.76+Sept $185.68+ Oct $96.45+Nov$158.81+ Dec($12.50 trf to borscht+$20.00 to Summer$67.50 trf to US Reserve=$4.59 = $104.59)= $1,775.53

    •Total Year-To-Date Grocery Budget:
    Jan $142.50+Feb $142.50+Mar $142.50+April $142.50+May $232.50 +June $142.50+July $142.50+Aug $142.50+Sept $142.50+Oct $142.50+Nov $142.50+Dec $142.50 = $1,800.00

    •Total Over/Under on Year-To-Date Grocery Budget: $24.47 AVAILABLE



    •Total Stockpile OOP Year-To-Date:
    Jan $47.50+Feb $47.50+Mar $47.50+April $47.50+May $47.50+June $47.50+July $47.50+Aug $47.50+Sept $47.50+Oct$47.50+Nov $47.50+Dec($17.50 trf to re-stocking + $30 trf to US Reserve = $47.50) = $660.00

    •Total Year-To-Date Stockpile Budget:
    Jan $47.50+Feb $47.50+Mar $47.50+April $47.50+May $47.50+June $47.50+July $47.50+Aug $47.50+Sept $47.50+Oct $47.50+Nov$47.50+Dec $47.50 = $660.00

    •Total Over/Under Year-To-Date Stockpile Budget: $0.00 AVAILABLE



    •Total 2014 Re-Stocking Budget:
    2013 Fwd $125.00+Jan $17.50+Feb $17.50+Mar $17.50+April $17.50 +May $17.50+June $0.00+July $17.50+Aug $17.50+Sept $17.50+Oct $7.50+Nov$35.00+Dec$17.50= $325.00 AVAILABLE



    •Total 2014 Borscht Stockpile Budget:
    2013 Fwd $275.00+Jan $12.50+Feb $12.50+Mar $12.50+April $12.50 +May $12.50+June $0.00+July $12.50+Aug $12.50+Sept $12.50+Oct $12.50+Nov$12.50+Dec $12.50= $412.50 AVAILABLE



    •Total 2014 Holiday Season Reserve:
    2013 Fwd $0.00+Jan $20.00+Feb $20.00+Mar $20.00+April $20.00 +May $20.00+June $0.00+July $10.00+Aug $0.00+Sept $0.00 +Oct $0.00= $110.00 AVAILABLE



    •Total 2014 Summer Season Reserve:
    2013 Fwd $0.00+Jan $0.00+Feb $0.00+Mar $0.00+April $0.00+May $0.00+June $0.00+July $0.00+Aug $20.00+Sept $20.00+Oct $10.00+Nov $20.00+Dec $20.00= $90.00 AVAILABLE


    • TOTAL SPENT Year-To-Date:

    $1,775.53 Grocery Budget
    $104.04 Hiding Spot Cash
    $20.00 Thrifty’s Points Redemption
    $20.00 PC.Plus Points Redemption
    $20.00 Safeway Cash Card
    $565.00 Stockpile Budget
    $80.00 Cash Repayment from neighbor
    $24.27 2013 Costco Rebate Cheque
    $0.00 2014 Costco Rebate Cheque – $13.45
    $250.00 Safeway Gift Card =


    $2,280.00 may have been budgeted for JAN to DECEMBER ‘2014 but we have these funds already accounted for and not yet spent:

    $325.00 Freezer Re-Stocking Fund
    $412.50 Borscht Fund
    $110.00 Holiday Season Fund
    $ 90.00 Summer Season Fund

    TOTAL UNUSED RESERVES $937.50 … that is a $400.00 carry-forward from 2013 and $537.50 in NEW 2014 savings.

    So, if you look at the $2,854.25 calculation that we have spent in 2014 and subtract the $537.50 we have actually saved in our “reserves” and the $240.80 ($146.80+94.00) we have recorded as spent but is actually set aside for future USA grocery shopping… we have actually spent $2,080.54!! That is $199.46 UNDER the $2,280.00 we budgeted for January through December.

    BUT if you also take out the cash that was either a gift, some non-budgeted earning method or a loan repayment: ($104.04 Hiding Spot Cash from bottles etc + FREE $20 Safeway Gift Card + $80.00 Cash Repayment from a neighbor + $24.27 from a 2013 Costco Rebate Cheque + $0.00 used out of a 2014 Costco Rebate Cheque for $13.45 + a Christmas present of a $250.00 Safeway Gift Card+ $20.00 Thrifty’s Points Redeemed and $20.00 PC.Plus Points Redeemed+ $1.00 gift from hubby’s spending money) = $519.31 then we actually only used $1,561.23 of the budgeted $2,280.00 have a Budgeted Grocery Balance SURPLUS of $718.77 still sitting in our bank account.

    IF you pay any attention to how we paid for the groceries, then we seemingly have $718.77 AVAILABLE. If you count all grocery purchases regardless where the funds came from, we have actually have $199.46 still available this year but most of it is buried in our reserves.

    We still have 2 weeks of vacation coming this month that will help us finish the year pretty darned close to on budget.



    CANADIAN $’s

    Groceries: $24.47 << So far so good…still in the black! 🙂
    Stockpile: $0.00
    Cash Hiding Spot: $0.02
    Safeway Cash Card $0.00
    Safeway Savings Reward $0.00

    US $’s

    Our Reserve: $146.80
    US Cash Hiding Spot: $94.00


    The valid rain checks I hold are as follows:

    NONE! << I feel naked with nothing in the envelope!!!! Brrrr! 🙁


    1. Hi Mary,
      It sounds like your grocery shops are like ours.. down to the wire with the holidays around the corner. We are only picking up bits and bobs but nothing major since we won’t be here. I didn’t notice that Costco rebate that you mentioned but you better hurry and use it up. It’s amazing the amount of deals that come out in November and December every year. We actually have a $5 coupon for Icecream we need to use up. Every time we go shopping we forget to pick up ice-cream by Chapmans. You get ballot 3. Mr.CBB

  10. Thanks for the inclusion, Mr. CBB. I think it’s really a semantics issue between what I call it versus what you call it. I do track it monthly, and it does supplement my regular budget (which is intentionally tight because I know the rewards will stretch it a bit). The fact that it frees up actual income assumes your budget is comfortable where it is at – mine just gets fed back into the spending categories because mine isn’t comfortable in debt-repayment mode. So if I redeem $100 at SDM for paper products, food staples, etc, that just helps in the long run, but it doesn’t make my food and household spending category decrease necessarily.

    When I’m not paying down debt, those sort of categories will be accounted for in a slightly different manner 🙂

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