The Grocery Game | Ultimate Grocery Shopping Guide

When Your Food Budget Is Out of Control You Should Do This! : The Grocery Game Challenge #2 Sept 14-20,2015

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when your food budget is out of control you should do this(1)FINANCIAL TRUTHS OFTEN HURT


Most people struggle with an out of control food budget and maybe why you might want to read this post today.

I’m here to tell you that there is only one thing you can do to fix your out of control food budget. Don’t worry, I’ll get to it below but I want you to read something first.

Unfortunately, not everyone is ready for the truth when it comes to debt and their money until they need to do something about it.

Self-control is easy for anyone to forget until we have to consider it in our lives.

For some people it’s easier just to live free and go with the flow which only works on certain aspects of our lives.

Our worst enemy was using coupons because we spent more than we should have just to save money.

It turned out we bought too much food, went over budget and wasted quite a bit in the end. We kept telling ourselves that it would save us money in the future. To an extent it did BUT it got to the point we had no interest in the tonnes of food we were stockpiling.

We no longer stockpile food the way we used to and we’ve managed to do pretty good sticking to our $235 a month food budget for 2 with a $25 stockpile budget.

The only foods we will stockpile are foods we know we will eat with-in a month or 2.

Examples of this might be:

  • Cheese Blocks
  • Cans of tuna
  • Meat
  • Milk
  • Extra-virgin olive oil

No more cans of baked beans, boxes upon boxes of cereal and all sorts of other crap we bought because we had a coupon and thought we would eat. A good deal or not if you aren’t planning to use food in a reasonable time don’t buy so much of it.

Today I’m sharing an email I received from a new CBB fan who is not necessarily looking to play the grocery game challenge (although I strongly encourage this) but she is looking for our help getting her out of control food budget back on track.


Our out of control food budget


Hi Mr. CBB,

We recently found your grocery game challenge while surfing the web because our food budget is out of control. I keep telling everyone that we can’t afford to buy pop, chips and other snack items because they are too pricey and taking up valuable money that I could be using towards actual meal items.

No one seems to care except for me. The problem is that we are a family of 4 and I started tracking our food budget this past month and we spent near $1200. Typically, I sit down and read the flyers to make a shopping list. When we get to the store that’s where the chaos begins.

The family all splits up and one by one keep piling things in the shopping cart. Every time I say no they have an excuse about why they need me to buy it. My husband is no better as he is always buying chips and pop. I told him we all need to start eating better but good luck with that.

I was outraged at how much money we spent last month but haven’t said anything to my husband for fear he won’t care so there’s no point. I guess seeing that number kicked me in the butt to start reading about ways to reduce our food budget costs every month.

The problem is that we are living pay cheque to pay cheque and our bills are never paid on time. I’m always calling one bill collector or another each month to try and get extra time to pay or come up with some excuse so they don’t shut our utilities off.

My family is not on the same page with me because they don’t have to worry about balancing the money in the bank account, I do. My kids are 15 and 18 and soon enough our older son will be on his own and I’m scared to think of what will happen with him and money.

What should I do?

Thanks so much,

Crazy Canadian Food Shopper


Food Shopping is not a mystery


To everyone reading this today who feels they can relate to Crazy Canadian Food Shopper I’m going to give it to you straight. The only thing you can do to correct an out of control food budget is to regroup and start over.

You are clearly missing lots of the important points about spending less at the grocery store so I’m going to give you a few ways you can kick-start your food budget back to a reasonable expense your monthly budget can handle.

If you have family members who are not willing to participate you need to speak up and tell them like it is. They will continue to take advantage of the fact that you are giving in all the time but enough is enough. Stand up for your grocery budget!

There’s no mystery when it comes to food shopping, there is only you. You are the one that ultimately has the final say which means you either get it right or fall prey to all the marketing in the grocery store. Even if it’s not you causing the problem everyone needs to sit down and talk about realistic expectations with the food budget.


Re-start your Grocery Budget Engine


How much should your grocery budget be?


First of all if you are grocery shopping without a budget you NEED to find out what you can afford to spend on groceries every month. Your grocery budget is one of the highest expenses next to rent or a mortgage in a basic budget world. Finding out what you can afford is as easy as budgeting your money.

Once you fill out a monthly budget you should know exactly how much your grocery budget should be. It’s easier to shop with a number in mind than to shop freely and dealing with the huge grocery receipt in the end. Another tip is bring cash because if you only have $100 to spend you have more power when it comes time to say, NO.


Shop alone or Say No


If you are struggling with the family putting whatever they want into the shopping cart then shop alone. I know this may seem harsh especially if your family loves the grocery store but eventually something is going to explode and it might be you.

If you are taking care of the finances you likely feel the money stress so either learn to say no or tell them all you’ll see them in an hour or two you’re going alone. I bet this will save you thousands each year.


Stick to the grocery list


You already create a grocery list so do what you are supposed to do and stick to it. Why go to all that trouble if you aren’t going to use it for what it is intended for. If you bring your list with you it’s also easier to defend those people who are just shoving food in without your consent or making you feel badly about wanting it and needing it.




Finally, education is key here. I know you landed on my blog looking for grocery saving tips and I can bet by reading my Ultimate Grocery Shopping Guide that you will find some information you are looking for.

Everyone has been through different experiences at the grocery store but this is your chapter of the budget which means you get the final say. If you are earning the money you decide where it goes and how it gets spent. If your husband is part of the spend-all team he needs to get on board with the grocery budget.

If you want your son to know how to grocery shop and how to budget don’t waste any more time waiting. The longer you wait to educate your family about money the harder it may be for them to alter their way of thinking and how much they want to spend .

Don’t blast them with education either, ease into it each week with something new. Maybe you can create some money challenges for them, have them hold the grocery list and help find items while shopping and so on. No more splitting up unless it’s to find a product on the list.

Make it fun for the family if they insist on grocery shopping with you.

This may seem easy enough for anyone to do but there is this subtle reality when it comes to food that makes it hard for those who love too much and give in either to others or themselves.

Do the right thing and re-start your food budget and make sure everyone is involved and if that’s not going to happen then kick them all to the curb and do it yourself. If you have the motivation to save, you will do it.

I hope to get an email down the road from the Crazy Canadian Food Shopper telling me how food shopping has changed for her family.

What other tips can you add to this post for her?

– Mr.CBB


September Grocery Game Challenge posts


Join in the Grocery Game Challenge Fun and post your grocery shop in the comment section of each GGC blog post.  Here are the rules to get you started and if you have any questions feel free to email me.

If you missed any grocery game posts for the month I will post the line-up each week here for you so you don’t have to go looking for past GGC posts for the month. This just makes posting a bit easier although all you need to do is click on The Grocery Game Challenge on the homepage sidebar and you will see them all.



Free Tools to get you started with your grocery budget


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

2014 Free Money Saving ToolsFree 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


the ultimate grocery shopping guide cbbEverything 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.


2015 Grocery shop results


Yearly grocery budget for two 2015: $2820

(The above total does not include the stockpile budget of $235 per year or $25 per month.

Points Overview (add any other sections you need to show us your savings)

  • Total Grocery Budget for the Month: $235.00
  • Total Grocery Budget with any carry-overs $235.00
  • Total Gift Cards used to date: $32.40
  • Total Rewards Points redeemed this week: $120.00
  • Total Rewards Points used to date: $140.00
  • PC Points Plus Earned to date: 7975
  • Scanning Code of Practice (SCOP) to date $0

Coupon Apps (add any other apps you use to save money)

  • Snap Groupon to date: $15.00
  • Zweet to date: $14.50
  • Cart Smart to date: $0
  • Checkout51 to date: $6.00


Grocery Shop This Week


(add any other sections you need to show expenses and savings)


  • Robin Hood Flour PM No Frills $7.97
  • 2 x Ta Ta Tea Sale $4.99
  • 2 x Astro Yogurt Sale $1.99-1.00 coupons
  • Bananas $1.50
  • 2 x 2% Milk $3.97

Total Out-of-Pocket rounded $29.35

  • Total to spend this month $235
  • Stockpile budget 2015 ($25.00): (Jan/Feb) $50.00 +$0 (Mar)+$16.94+$25.00 (April)+$25.00+ May $25.00+ June $25.00+July $14.44+Aug $25.00+Sept$
  • Stockpile budget used this month: $0
  • Total coupons used this week: $2
  • Total coupons used to date: $34.50
  • Total in-store discounts this week: $0
  • Total in-store discounts to date: $564.59
  • Total spent this week: $29.35
  • Total spent so far this month: $32.91
  • Total over/Under spend this shop: over $under
  • Total over/Under spend for the month: $under
  • Total left to spend for the month: $202.11
  • Total Spent To Date 2015: (does not include stockpile budget) Jan $166.49+ Feb $261.51+ Mar $231.02 + April $258.44+May $218.12+ June $235.67+July $212.16+August $118.15+ September $

Weekly Overview (your final thoughts)

We didn’t need much after last weeks grocery shopping but we did stock up on a big bag of flour since ours is getting down to the bottom. The last thing we want to do is wait until winter and prices will sky-rocket for those who want to do lots of Christmas Baking and other foods.


Canadian Coupons Found


Here are some great places you can find Canadian Coupons!

We’re finding less and less coupons in the stores these days. What are your thoughts? Are coupon apps taking over the paper coupons?

I didn’t find any coupons yet this week although we may run into Zehrs after swimming lessons to see if there are any coupons and do our banking while we are there.


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 but you will still get a ballot when you post your shops even if they are late but I encourage you to stay on schedule. It’s a proven fact the minute we stop doing something that is scheduled that we end up forgetting to do it all together. Don’t let that be you! You can post your shops all month-long.
  • Does your Grocery Budget include health and beauty and laundry products?: Yes No, our Grocery Budget includes such items as shampoo, conditioner, laundry soap, fabric softener, dish soap etc. As of 2014-2015 we no longer include such items in our grocery budget so we can see actual food numbers at the end of the year so we can plan accordingly for our budget. 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.
  • Canadian Coupons: Where can I find Canadian Coupons?: Here are your latest  Checkout 51 offers that you can use to help you save money in the Grocery Game Challenge. There are many great Canadian Couponing websites online that share weekly coupon match-ups so you can plan your grocery list.
  • Best Coupon Apps: Coupons are slowly fading out but mobile coupon apps are the big rave these days. Just recently the popular coupon site that mailed coupons to households have gotten involved with their new mobile app joining forces with the many apps that are already out there.
  • What is an FPC?: An FPC is a free product coupon which means you can get a free product as described on the coupon.
  • What is GGC?– The Grocery Game Challenge of course!
  • 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 2015 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.

If you are brave and want to learn everything I know about grocery shopping in Canada check out my Ultimate Grocery Shopping Guide! It’s FREE!

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 2015!

Join in and become money savers and take control of your grocery budget.


Are You New To Canadian Budget Binder?

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  • If you like FREE then click this link for my FREE Excel Budget Spreadsheet and all my Free Money Saving Lists.

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  1. Hey Mr.CBB
    I think I will be looking at some no shops weeks come next year so we can use up things in our pantry and freezers!!

    1. We need to do this as well because the more we stock the more we need to eat. This is where food waste can happen so it’s nice to cut back the shopping and shop the pantry. It’s amazing what we find and create with food we already have.

  2. Our weekly budget is $125 a week making this month $500
    $1.88×4-$1Cx4 degree deo – for my older girl
    .96×3 cake mix
    $6.80 total oop
    $4 total coupons
    $2.88×2-$1Cx2 710ml kraft salad dressing
    $5.32 4L homo milk
    $9.10 total oop
    $2 total coupons

    $15.90 total weekly oop
    $5 total weekly coupons – should have been 6 but all my totals are already done
    $357.19 total monthly oop
    $98.44 total monthly coupons
    $4642.33 total yearly oop
    $1434.10 total yearly coupons

    We didn’t need much and didn’t have anytime to shop this week.

    1. Hi Juanita,
      It’s amazing how we can find a way to make meals happen with what we have in the house when time is short. I bet if we thought like that once a month we could easily pull off a no-shop week and save money. We’d also come up with new recipes I bet. Well done. You get ballot 20. Mr.CBB

  3. Yearly grocery budget for 4 adults and 2 cats- $7800.00

    (The above total does not include the stockpile budget of $235 per year or $25 per month.

    Points Overview (add any other sections you need to show us your savings)

    Total Grocery Budget for the Month: $650.00
    Total Grocery Budget with any carry-overs $611.54
    Total Gift Cards used to date: $0
    Total Rewards Points redeemed this week: $0
    Total Rewards Points used to date: $0
    PC Points Plus Earned to date: 11250
    Scanning Code of Practice (SCOP) to date $0

    Coupon Apps (add any other apps you use to save money)

    Snap Groupon to date: $3.00
    Zweet to date: $25.25
    Cart Smart to date: $0
    Checkout51 to date: $0

    Grocery Shop This Week
    Foodland #1
    2 Folgers coffee @6.99, $3.00 coupon WUB2 coupon
    1 jug water -5.49
    2 Cheerios @ 3.99
    1 yogurt -3.00
    1 jar pickles -1.79
    1 4l milk -4.88
    1 block cheese -4.47
    1 doz large eggs -2.99
    1 pack frozen fries -1.99
    1 10 lb bag potatoes -3.99
    2 W/W bread @ 2.50
    Total OOP -$52.56
    Foodland #2
    1 jug water -5.49
    1 Cheerios -3.99
    1 yogurt -3.00
    1 pack Temptations cat treats -1.79
    1 can pineapple pieces -1.59
    2 cans pasta sauce @1.49
    2 4l milk @4.88
    bananas -1.54
    1 pack lean ground beef -5.25
    1 pack beef liver -2.94
    1 bagels -3.99
    2 raisin bread @3.49
    Tax -.23
    Total OOP -$54.00
    Foodland #3
    1 baking powder -4.99
    1 yogurt -2.99
    1 bag rice -1.99
    2 4l milk @4.88
    1 block cheese -4.00
    1 pack frozen fish -5.99
    green grapes -4.17
    1 10lb bag carrots -2.99
    bananas -.60
    2 packs sausage @2.99
    2 bagels @2.99
    1 W/W bread -2.50
    Total OOP -$53.94
    Jackson’s Pharmacy
    2 Sensodyne toothpaste @ 3.99
    2 Olay body wash @2.99
    Total OOP -$15.78

    Total to spend this month $611.54
    Stockpile budget 2015 ($25.00): Jan $22.20+ Feb $24.50+ (Mar)+$22.18 (April)+$18.32+ May $40.95+ June $24.15+July $45.32+Aug $32.92+Sept$
    Stockpile budget used this month: $22.43
    Total coupons used this week: $3.00
    Total coupons used to date: $124.14
    Total in-store discounts this week: $0
    Total in-store discounts to date: $121.22
    Total spent this week: $174.46
    Total spent so far this month: $349.76
    Total over/Under spend this shop: over $over
    Total over/Under spend for the month: $under
    Total left to spend for the month: $261.78
    Total Spent To Date 2015: (does not include stockpile budget) Jan $640.13+ Feb $572.63+ Mar $786.52 + April $515.95 +May $621.33+ June $760.66+July $552.91+August $674.89+ September $

    Weekly Overview (your final thoughts) Another week over for the week but there is still room to get in under for the month. We are now in good shape for things like the older boys coffee for the mornings, toothpaste, body wash and such. That will help with the rest of the month as will the fact it is a four week month help!! I still have a fair size amount to get through the month. Meat is always something I keep an eye out for with sales.

    1. Hi Christine,
      Great deal on the Folgers with the coupon. Do you ever use instant coffee? We use both although we have lots of coffee in cans that we need to use up. We use more instant though. We find we don’t make the time for a pot of coffee. Overall you had a great shop this week. Do you ever find coupons for sensodyne? My wife uses this toothpaste and although we have tonnes of travel tubes to use up we always look for coupons or sales but hardly find any together. The best place to find great meat deals is at PC stores… 50% off stickers are golden! Great shopping.. keep at it Christine. Mr.CBB You get ballot 9.

      1. Haven’t seen coupons for Sensodyne in a few years, sadly… It’s the older boy that has coffee in the morning and he prefers the coffee maker. There is a jar of cheap instant in the fridge that is collecting dust in there. I would love to find more stickered meat as it is so expensive these days… :(.

        1. Yes it has been a few years for the Sensodyne coupons you are right. You should bake some cookies and cakes with that instant coffee. 🙂 It’s only going to get worse now that the winter is here. We try to stock up on cheap meat when we can for this reason.

  4. Week 3 – September 12 – 19

    • Grocery budget to work with in September: $300
    • Total coupons used this week: $3.00
    • Total coupons used to date: $112.65
    • Total RCSS gas coupons used this week: $0
    • Total RCSS gas coupons used to date: $15.24
    • Total value PC Plus points redeemed this week: $0
    • Total value PC Plus points redeemed to date: $320
    • Total gift cards/certificates/gifts used this week: $0
    • Total gift cards/certificates/gifts used to date: $63.76
    • Total student discounts this week: $7.44
    • Total student discounts to date: $178.61
    • Total tax savings RCSS this week: $0
    • Total tax savings RCSS to date: $11.98
    • Total spent this week: $109.95
    • Total spent so far this month: $202.75
    • Total left to spend for the month: $97.25
    • Carry over: $0
    • Total in carry over jar: $53.80
    • Total Spent To Date 2015: $2272.55

    RCSS: Life Cereal 2 x 1.98, Corn Bran cereal 1.98, Flour 10 kg 7.97 (PM), Cashmere toilet paper 2 x 4.44 (PM), Spongetowels 2 x 4.44 (PM), Scotties 6 pk 2 x 4.44 (PM), Crispers 2 x 1.00 (PM), Equal packets 1 x 4.54 less 30 % (1.36), Egs 2 x 2.49 (PM), Milk 3.97, Black Diamond cheese slices 4 x 1.97 less 3.00 coupons (PM), onions 10 lb 1.88, bananas 1.20, broccoli .88 (PM), celery .99 (PM), 12 pk hot dog buns clearance 2 x .99, less student discount 6.56, tax 3.35: Total 63.30 rounded up 2 cents

    RCSS: Scotties 6 pk 2 x 4.44 (PM), less student discount .88, tax 1.04: Total 9.05 rounded up 1 cent

    Food Basics Cashmere 4 x 4.44, tax 2.31: Total 20.05 rounded down 1 cent

    Walmart: 40 pack k cups 14.97, Excel gum 2.38, tax .31: Total 17.65 rounded down 1 cent

    This is week 3 of my September budget and we are still on track. It is stock up month on paper products annually. I was fortunate enough to get a glimpse of the Walmart Anniversary flyer before my Tuesday shop and I was disappointed. Toilet paper, tissues and paper towels were not a price I was happy with. Fortunately Food Basics had a decent sale and I price matched some at RCSS and then got the rest at Food Basics. I would rather have PMd more toilet paper, but they were the only two packages there. And, I went back for more Scotties since one package was practically gone when I doled it throughout the house to locations that had been waiting for me to purchase. We weren’t quire fully out, but we were close. I will wait a little longer to get a great stock up for those things when cold season starts and many places put them on sale. The paper towels stock should be good for another year. Sadly, I still have more work to do on the toilet paper. I am stocked with that purchase for about 6-8 months. I have a bit more to do, but I will wait in case I get a better sale, or re-evaluate in six months.

    This time around Walmart’s sale which started on Thursday only drew me to gum, which hubby was on his last pack, and K cups since they were the equivalent of .37 a k cup which is decent. It is nice to not have to fill the k cup filter over and over again. It is never coffee ground free, so that is an added benefit.

    Cereal was nice to be able to get a few boxes at 1.98, we had none on the shelf or in the cupboard. Onions we love the 10 lb for under $2 because we go through a lot of them. And, we had been substituting a lot this summer with green onions which are done in our garden. I’ve tried rooting them in the house to grow, but I find they smell too much in the water. I may plant some in some dirt inside and see how they grow throughout the year.

    At this point, I haven’t dipped into the carryover jar which I often do to stock up on paper products. This is a nice bonus. We really are hoping to have it leftover at the end of December when we start the carryover fresh each year. If we have any left, we plan to put it towards a new television. Ours bit the dust a few weeks ago, we’re lucky it didn’t catch on fire for the amount of burning wires we could smell. We had an older tv in the basement that we brought upstairs to put in its place, but the reason it was put in the basement in the first place is that is starts squealing after being on for an hour or so. The squeal is not as bad as it used to be, perhaps from lack of regular use, so we are getting by. It’s tough occasionally when we watch a movie. Leftover carryover money will go to the TV, leftover gas money allotted will do the same. The car money covers oil changes, tire changes summer to winter and vice versa as well as gas. We generally have something left. At some point we will have enough for the purchase. Until then, we will listen to the additional sound, lol! It’s an even better incentive to stay on budget for groceries, but better if we are under.

    1. Hi Angela,
      Do you use coupon apps? The had the sponge towels the past 2 weeks with either $1 or $1.50 off each pack no limits. I love gum too but it comes out of my allowance as it’s not part of our grocery budget. You got a great deal on the onions. We need to stock up soon as well but I think we have a few left. We were given so much this summer from friends and family who have gardens which helps keep our budget down a bit during harvest time.
      That would be great if you could score a great price on a Television after Christmas. That’s what we did. Great deals this week! You get ballot 6. Mr.CBB

  5. I agree with the suggestions being put forth by everyone. I am all for going alone. While it may seem like a daunting task to do on your own for the first while, it can often make things easier in the long run to retrain the idea the family has for a grocery budget. Once a pattern is set, then start bringing the rest of the family with you to assist. It will be easier and easier to say no if you aren’t in a habit of buying the things. And a good way to start the transition is to drop the junk food or unnecessary stuff by half. That way the backlash at home will not be too horrible, and everyone will get used to having less there. It can gradually be cut down each week. Yes, it may take longer than going cold turkey, but it brings the shock value down dramatically. Don’t go shopping hungry, tired or frustrated to the store. All of these things can affect what you put in the cart. This year I have started to make out an excel spreadsheet with the grocery list with anticipated costs and which flyer I price match to. If I axe something off of the list at the store, then it leaves a little wiggle room for something else, like a clearance item that would suit our family or an unadvertised sale. If you have space to stock up on a few items you use regularly, grabbing some on sale can save a bundle in the long run. I’m not suggesting to run out and buy 100 of something you don’t use, but it doesn’t hurt to have 5 jars of something on the shelf if you use it regularly. We buy pasta sauce, tuna, spaghetti, certain cereal and crackers this way. I want to be able to get the best price on them and not be stuck paying top dollar. I can’t imagine spending $3-4 on a jar of Ragu when it frequently goes on sale for $1. Involving the whole family in the budget making process can be a huge eye opener. The children are old enough to understand the concept and then will be able to implement the practice in their own lives, sooner than later for the 18-year-old. My 10-year-old has had an allowance since he was two. So many people have given me a hard time about this since we started it, but he has an understanding of the value of money that many kids his age just don’t. This way he does chores around the house and earns money to buy things he wants, and he saves for his future education at the same time, a set portion of his allowance always goes to this. It is like his bill payment he has to pay every week. He is involved in a small way in our budget so that early on he understands the concept. He doesn’t need to know the actual numbers at this stage, just the concept and the categories we allot money to. When we are in the stores, he doesn’t really ask for much, and if he does we always ask him what he’s got in his save for something special jar. When it’s his money, he doesn’t spend it randomly, he has to really want it to spend it. The things he buys he takes very good care of. And we are not talking about a simple toy, he has saved his money at various points of his life to purchase a Nintendo DS XL, tablet, games to go with these things, and so much more. We always told him that we won’t buy him the electronics, if he wants it, he saves for it. These things took him months or even two years to save for. We taught him to save the money first and then buy what you want. Money made available to children is a huge thing I find. Even if it’s $5 of the grocery budget to say I would like this thing just for me that week. So worth it. Good luck to the family, I hope they find the determination to make a change.

    1. Oh, and of course, you should always pay the bills that are necessities first, cut out what you can, and then use what is left. I couldn’t imagine the stress of having creditors hunting me down all the time. We are not perfect and have been known to overspend from time to time, but if I can’t pay for the roof over my head, it could be a big problem. For us our necessities are mortgage, electricity, natural gas medical care and food. Anything else is a want. And, October is coming and contracts are ending with some companies for the specials I have had, the axe is coming again! Now, the question is, do I get rid of the cable tv completely or just slash the amount available to us? I can live without it, but hubby and son will not be easy to live with. It will be a huge adjustment, but it’s coming… and I have not kept that secret from hubby or son. I don’t want to get OSAP to get through my last year of school. Taking on debt right now seems like a major enemy. I want to be able to do it without. They need to be on board.

      1. I think once a budget is put in place they will see what bills need to be paid and approx how much so they can budget for food. That way they won’t have to wait or worry as they should have the money budgeted and set aside. We slashed our cable from VIP to I forget now what it’s called… anyways it’s about $20 less and we don’t miss a thing!

    2. Thanks for all the amazing tips. When we were using coupons like mad I swear we got about 100 free cans of baked beans, boxes and boxes of cereal and jars of other foods for near free. It still cost us some money but the point was we hardly went through it like we thought we would. We are still going through the beans today. We have about 20 cans left.
      How did you start the allowance at 2 years old. I’d love to do this with our son. What do you suggest?

      1. We’ve been giving our son the equivalent of $1 for each year he is. So, at age 2 we started at 2.00. We also instituted the “That would be nice to have” statement at the grocery store. No “I want” allowed. And then we encouraged him to tell us what would be nice to have and we started a list with item and cost. Once he saved some money, we would look back on the list and then decide what he really wanted. Then, with the decision all his, he would pick out something that he wanted from the list or if something new was in the store that he chose over all other options. Many times he discovered some toys he was keen on went on sale the longer it was in the store. We would compare to the original list. As he got older, we did away with the list. The amount was bigger so he saved a great deal faster.

        His breakdown of the original amount was .50 to university/college, .50 random (spend whenever you like) and 1.00 save for something special. He learned quickly that if he saved his random with the save for something special category, he achieved goals quicker. So, initially he was more likely to spend the fun money faster, but he doesn’t now. Our only rules were that we had to approve major purchases, video game choices and no food purchases allowed. It has worked very well over the years. His first major purchase was the Nintendo DS XL which he saved for a year and a half for birthday money and Christmas money he added to the pot to achieve the goal faster, which was adding to his learning experience. Now that he is 10, he is at the $10 mark. This year he adds $3.00 to university, $2.50 random, and $4.50 save for something special. We increased each category each year. We wanted to stress with him that the importance of long term saving is key. We’ve given him life categories that he should be thinking about when allotting money like university, car purchase, home purchase, retirement. Long term saving never ends, if you don’t do it, you may not get things in life you need or want. And, if we as a family hadn’t been saving long term, we would be in a huge pickle with only one pay and me in school full-time. He is so good with the things he does and I am hoping since we started so early, it will be second nature for him and he just does it the rest of his life. Once he hits about 14 or 15, we will start giving him actual numbers to assist with the budgeting process. That way that will also be second nature by the time he leaves to liven his own. My parents did it differently while I was growing up and I learned the concept, but hubby’s family couldn’t succeed on their own, there was no way they could teach him anything. This is a combination of what I had growing up and what he wishes was available to him. This way we have created our own system. I guess in another 10 year we will see if our effort was on target.

        1. I should be more specific, at that time we were shopping at the Walmart Supercentre, therefore my reference to making the list at the grocery store. So, during our trips early on, it was to the toy section. Since he wasn’t allowed purchases on food, this was the way for him to see what he wanted. And, his attention span only allowed for one store at a time. At this point, we can shop several if the need arises.

        2. Tsk, Tsk, I wrote things down in the wrong order. At 2 it was .50 university, .50 save for something special and 1.00 random. Not following the 10% recommendation for saving, but putting away a small portion of the existing cash flow. At 10 it is 3.00 university, 2.50 save for something special and 4.50 random. That way it’s more of a reflection of real life. Once we get into numbered budgeting with him, he will see that the random money will be allotted to various life expenses, groceries, telephone, internet, etc.

  6. I’ve found that shopping alone is an important part of staying on budget. I also pay for groceries with cash so that I’m limited with what I have on hand and can’t overspend.

  7. SEPTEMBER – Week #2 of 4- Sept 14-20, 2015


    •Total Grocery Budgeted For Year: $190.00 x 12 = $2,280.00 for 2 adults



    We are shopping sales and doing a bit of a re-stock this week. In response to our new LOW SALT cooking, we picked up NO SALT broths on sale to mix 50-50 with the REDUCED SALT versions we have on hand. I hate to waste, so this will reduce the sodium per serving on our homemade soups.

    Since we haven’t been to the USA for shopping at all this year, we re-stocked our cheese supplies while Save On Foods had a sale.

    I decided to raid our Re-Stocking Reserve for $120.00 and add it to the available grocery funds so that I could take advantage of these sales.



    Thrifty Foods – Maple Ridge –

    8 x Campbell’s No Salt Vegetable Stock (2 for $5) = $20.00
    11 x Campbell’s No Salt Beef Stock (2 for $5) = $27.50
    13 x Campbell’s No Salt Chicken Stock (2 for $5) = $32.50
    1 Island Farms Cottage Cheese = $5.19
    1 Island Farms Cottage Cheese = $5.19

    Total OOP: $90.38

    ** Earned 99 Air Miles on this shop **
    ** SAVED $0.00 in Rain Check Coupons **
    ** SAVED $22.48 Loyalty Savings on this shop **
    ** Earned $0.06 per liter reduction on gasoline **

    Save On Foods – Maple Ridge –

    3 x English Cucumbers @0.99 ea = $2.97
    1 x WF Havarti Cheese $5.99
    1 x WF Marble Cheese $5.99
    1 x WF Medium Cheddar Cheese $5.99
    1 x WF Old Cheddar Cheese $5.99

    Total OOP: $26.93

    ** Earned 27 MORE Points on this shop **
    ** SAVED $0.00 in Rain Check Coupons **
    ** SAVED $26.40 Loyalty Savings on this shop **



    OUR NEXT USA SHOP WILL BE in 2016 when I am in better health.



    •Total Loyalty Card Price Reductions This Year:

    Jan $3.58+ Feb $0.00 + Mar $14.54 + Apr $15.76 + May $0.00 + June $5.68 + July $0.00 + Aug $35.63 + Sept $65.22 = $140.41

    •Total Coupons/Rain Checks Used This Year:

    Jan $0.00 + Feb $0.00 + Mar $0.00 + Apr $0.00 + May $0.00 + June $14.00 + July $0.00 + Aug $0.00 + Sept $36.75 = $50.75

    •Total Price Match Savings Used This Year:

    Jan $0.00 +Feb $0.00 + Mar $0.00 + Apr $0.00 + May $0.00 + June $0.00 + July $0.00 + Aug $0.00 + Sept $0.00 = $0.00

    •Total More Points Earned This Year:

    Jan 22 + Feb 45 + Mar 140 + Apr 12 + May 6 + June 12 + July 0 + Aug 160 + Sept 31= 428 Points

    •Total Air Miles Earned This Year:

    Jan 0 + Feb 0 + Mar 1 + Apr 1 + May 322 + June 0 + July 0 + Aug 4 + Sept 151= 479 Air Miles

    •Total PC PLUS Points Earned This Year:

    Jan 1200 + Feb 900 + Mar 900 + Apr 1,500 + May 0 + June 1800 + July 0 + Aug 900 + Sept 0= 7,200 Points

    •Total Optimum Points Earned This Year:

    Jan 30 + Feb 40 + Mar 0 + Apr 0 + May 0 + June 20 + July 0 + Aug 0 + Sept 0= 90 Points



    •Total OOP Year-To-Date:
    Jan $199.31+ Feb $180.69 + Mar $274.41 + Apr $105.59+ May $237.00 + June $171.34 + July $53.25 + Aug $319.00 + Sept (trf $10.00 Xmas Reserve+$9.85 to Summer + $17.50 trf to Re-Stocking Reserve + $12.50 trf to Borscht Reserve + $0.00 trf to US +$50.82+$16.13+$10.50+$3.69+$4.69-$120.00 FROM Re-Stocking Reserve+90.38+26.93= $132.99 )= $1,673.14

    •Total Year-To-Date Grocery Budget:
    Jan $190.00+Feb $190.00 + Mar $190.00 + Apr $190.00 + May $190.00 + June 190.00+July$190.00+Aug $190.00 + Sept 190.00 = $1,710.00

    •Total Over/Under on Year-To-Date Grocery Budget: $36.86 AVAILABLE



    2014 Fwd $0.00+Jan $0.00+Feb $3.83+ Mar $32.09 + Apr $4.99 + May $4.69 + June $9.38 + July $4.69 + Aug $0.00 + Sept $4.69= $64.36



    2014 Fwd $325.00+Jan $22.50+Feb $22.50 + Mar $17.50 + Apr $18.44 + May $17.50 + June $6.56 + July $20.00 + Aug $20.00 + Sept ($17.50-$120 = – $102.50) = $367.50



    2014 Fwd $412.50+Jan $12.50 + Feb $12.50 + Mar $12.50 + Apr $0.00 + May $20.00 + June $30.00+July $0.00 + Aug $12.50 + Sept $12.50 = $525.00



    2014 Fwd $110.00+Jan $10.00 +Feb $10.00+ Mar $10.00 + Apr $10.00 + May $25.00 + June $10.00 + July 15.00+ Aug 15.00 + Sept $10.00 = $225.00



    2014 Fwd $90.00+Jan $10.00 + Feb $10.00 + Mar $15.00 + Apr $15.00 + May $35.00 + June $36.44 + July $13.56+Aug $21.31 + Sept $9.85= $256.16



    $ 1,710.00 Grocery Budget JAN-SEPT
    $ 64.36 Redeemed Points to Purchase Groceries
    ($ 0.02) Hiding Spot Cash – SPENT
    ($ 13.45) 2014 Costco Rebate Chq – SPENT
    ($435.76) Trf to Misc Reserves (Re-Stocking, Borscht, Xmas, Summer)
    ($ 202.50) Trf to US Grocery Reserve
    ($ 64.36) Set in a reserve to offset Redeemed Points
    ($ 1,011.41) Actual CASH SPENT



    $ 4.98 Skim Milk- 3,100 MORE Pts – JAN
    $ 4.69 Skim Milk- 3,100 MORE Pts – FEB
    $ 4.69 Skim Milk- 3,100 MORE Pts – FEB
    $ 4.99 Whole Milk- 3,100 MORE Pts – MAR
    $ 4.99 Skim Milk- 3,100 MORE Pts – MAR
    $ 4.99 Skim Milk- 3,100 MORE Pts – MAR
    $ 1.60 Sprouts- 1,000 MORE Pts – MAR
    $ 4.99 Skim Milk- 3,100 MORE Pts – MAR
    $ 4.99 Skim Milk- 3,100 MORE Pts – APR
    $ 4.69 Skim Milk- 3,100 MORE Pts – MAY
    $ 4.69 Skim Milk- 3,100 MORE Pts – JUNE
    $ 4.69 Skim Milk- 3,100 MORE Pts – JUNE
    $ 4.69 Skim Milk- 3,100 MORE Pts – JULY
    $ 4.69 Skim Milk- 3,100 MORE Pts – JULY

    $ 64.36 Total $ Value of Points Redeemed

    So far $1,710.00 has been budgeted Y-T-D for 2015 and we have recorded these funds as “spent” and in fact they have been “saved”:

    $367.50 Freezer Re-Stocking Fund
    $525.00 Borscht Fund
    $225.00 Holiday Season Fund
    $256.16 Summer Season Fund

    OUR TOTAL UNUSED RESERVES ARE $1,373.66 … that is a $937.50 carry-forward from 2013 & 2014 and $436.16 in NEW 2015 savings.

    This also means that with $190.00 to start SEPTEMBER less $20.15 overage carried forward from AUGUST less $49.85 transferred to the various savings reserves less $0.00 transferred for Points Redeemed = $120.00 plus an additional $0.00 saved in our US grocery reserve, we opened the month of SEPTEMBER with $120.00 available to spend on the Canadian side of the border PLUS we have transferred $120.00 from the Re-Stocking Reserve back into the available grocery funds LESS we have spent $203.14 on our groceries (cash & points) so far this month and have $36.86 available for the month of SEPTEMBER.

    We have groceries that have been purchased using points redeemed, rather than the budgeted cash in the amount of $64.36. Available as an offset, we currently have $64.36 in our UNUSED CASH RESERVE. As at this moment, we need and additional $0.00 in the UNUSED CASH RESERVE. If our budget is truly sufficient, when we reach December 31st, the unused funds should still be equal to, if not greater than, the value of the points redeemed. It’ll be interesting to see if they actually are.

    Note: Another reserve of $315.57 IS AVAILABLE for our next US shop!

    Of the outstanding US Shopping Reserve $315.57:

    $113.07 is carried forward from 2014

    $202.50 is new 2015 Y-T-D savings

    Less $0.00 that we’ve actually spent in 2015

    = $315.57 US Reserve Available


    The valid rain checks I hold are as follows:



    1. Hi Mary,
      Well you might as well use up some of the cash if you need products and aren’t planning a trip over to the USA any time soon. You are not stocked up on stock that’s for sure. How are you both adjusting to the low-salt? I’m sure once you get used to it you don’t miss it as much. My father-in-law he’s had many heart issues and is on a no-salt diet and says he doesn’t miss it any longer. With the winter around the corner you will be making all sorts of soups with that broth! When do you reckon you will do a USA run. I bet you miss your favourite bread shop. 🙂 You get ballot 3.

      1. Hubby is going south in October to get the two $100 AT&T phone cards to top up our cell phone accounts for another year. I still have a very large open wound that gives me grief when we drive, after hitting potholes, so I don’t expect to grocery shop in the US until at least late spring of 2016 assuming the cardiac issues are stable & the wound is completely closed. The original estimated time frame to close the wound was 8 months so basically by April 2016 if I have no problems during the healing process. I also won’t be crossing the border until the heart has sufficiently healed to consider any travel. I have to make sure our Travel Insurance will cover my pre-existing condition, after a certain grace period of time, where I remain stable and without incident.

        Just because we are eating low salt doesn’t mean low flavor…I am just using other spices and herbs. So really, it’s all good. Hubby is making the transition more slowly, to use up things we had on hand that no longer work for me i.e. ham.

        As far as the bread goes, I have been finding good sales for hubby here at home and I am eating very little bread with my gluten free versions containing 120-150 mg of sodium in each slice. I am using other foods like fruits, veggies and greens to make my sandwiches. So really, nope – not missing the bread outlet. 🙂

        1. That happened to my father when travelling to Canada. He was admitted to hospital a few times because of his heart and the insurance wouldn’t cover him until he went for x amount of time without incident. The last thing you need is to be caught out of country without insurance. I don’t think many people give much thought to even crossing the border and something happens. That is still considered travelling is it not?

          My father-in-law grows tonnes of herbs now in the summer and like you said just because it’s low salt that doesn’t mean low flavour. IT took some time to get used to but now he really tastes salt if someone uses it in a dish.

          Lots of changes for you Mary but it sounds like you are adapting well. I hope that wound heals up well and fast for you so you can get out and about a bit more.

          Mr.CBB 🙂

  8. Wow…..That is one big grocery bill. When our kids were small I simply didn’t buy the chips and such so they didn’t think to ask. I watch for sales on the kind of stuff that is sending this woman’s bill into orbit. I do buy the pop and things like Gatorade but I try very hard to get it on sale. Would it work if she told the rest of the family they could get one treat for the week each?? Maybe two if the item is on sale?? That’s usually my trick. I would give in to buy something like sugary cereal when the kids were young but only if it was a sale price. And only one box of it….gone is gone guys….. They would check the flyers to see what treats were on sale!! Hubby can be worse than the kids…… He drools over things like expensive steaks and the like. He used to love his steak but even he realizes these days we are on a hamburger budget.
    Ideas like having the kids buy their own treats sounds good if they use their own money. Leaving them at home sounds good too if she can do that. My boys tend to come with me but they are older and will be helping carry stuff home as our main grocery store is close by.
    My stock ups tend to be things we will use fairly quickly here too. Dish soap, laundry stuff and health and beauty products mostly, pop/gatorade too. If I can get a really good price on meat I try to get a bigger pack I can break up into small packs and freeze.
    Worst case, if the rest of the family won’t go along with her is to try to lower the bill slowly and over time. Unless she can get the rest of them on her side to help cut the grocery bill she faces an uphill battle and I wish her luck as she will need it.

  9. If leaving the others at home is not an option. Maybe, as an interim, and as a way to teach your kids (and husband) how far money doesn’t stretch. Give them all 10$ cash for anything they see that they want that is not on the grocery list.That will easily cover pop and chips so they don’t feel left out. If they want something more expensive, they will have to save their ten dollars until next week. It might be a good way to teach the rule “You can have anything you want, but not everything you want.”

  10. It must be so stressful to juggle bills, so that utilities aren’t turned off. Maybe if you paid the bills first, and then went grocery shopping? That’s what I always did.
    If possible, leave the spouse and kids home. Ask each of of them to pick their “treat ‘ food, that is theirs alone, and add this to your shopping list. We did this with our kids, and when it was gone, they waited until the next grocery day.
    Be honest with the kids (and spouse). Tell them you are really stressing, and you just can’t handle living this way. If you don’t, you are eventually going to lose everything.
    Good luck 🙂

    1. I think they need to use a budget that way they know where the money NEEDS to go. They are spending TOO much on food and the rest of their life is suffering for it. Some great tips and being honest is the best bet. Thanks Kathryn.

  11. For the 18 yo it might help to make sure they have a way to earn money and let them know they need to contribute. When I lived with my parents after turning 18 I paid rent. Then I also paid for my phone bill, my car, insurance, and any food or toiletry items that were just for me. I had to do my own shopping for those things. I quickly learned that I had to make some adjustments to my expectations. I can’t buy the the $15 razors AND the salon quality $20 hair crap! No more $5 boxes of cereal.

    My kids are 7 & 6 but from a very early age they were sucked in to every thing they saw at the store. Doesn’t help that I do the bulk of my shopping at Walmart and they have so much fun stuff to see and want! SO they RARELY come to the store with me. Even when they do we either check their piggy banks first of when they ask for something I will respond with “do you have a job to pay for that?” That usually snaps them back to reality!
    As far as a spouse that is a bit tougher. I feel bad that she thinks he won’t care. However, maybe a sit down where there isn’t any “this is your fault”, but more “I no longer want to live behind like this. I want to enjoy our time together and not have so much stress in our lives”.
    Show them the numbers. Challenge them all to help find low cost meal options and you don’t have to cut out everything. Just moderate. (NOBODY can keep me from my Oreos!!!). Offer up a reward big we can cut our grocery bill to X, and get up to date on our bills we will celebrate by doing X”.
    It sounds like mom might have to take the lead on figuring out how to get to the goals, but offering a reward to everyone for working together to attain those goals will provide a better buy in. Challenge yhe kids to go out and earn money for the extras they want. Again, when it’s their money they won’t be so quick to part with it.

    1. My wife was the same way. When she got back from going to University she had to pay rent and she was still fairly young. Sometimes it’s best to leave family members at home until they are able to control their urge to “Want” everything. Some great ideas and tips here for her! Thanks for sharing.. love those Oreos! 🙂

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