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Strange Things People Do At The Grocery Store To Save Money: The Grocery Game Challenge 2016 #3 Apr 17-24

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I’ve blogged about grocery shopping for 5 years now and have learned so much about how Canadians grocery shop. I’ve learned the good and the ugly about how far people will go to save money on one of the biggest budget expenses apart from mortgage/rent and vehicle payments- food.

While at the supermarket I’m on full radar and see so many strange things people do to save money that it amazes me how they can be so easy-going about it. When cracks in the savings system are found some consumers cash in because they want more than a little, they want it all even if it’s a bit underhanded.

Financial times are tough in many households as grocery prices and living expenses are steadily increasing where the tightest grocery budget will feel the strain. You may think that only people who are struggling to buy food will conquer the grocery store using crooked ways just to save a few bucks but this is far from true. Even the richest of people are frugal and will do just about anything to keep money flowing through their bank account even if it is cheating the system.

The problem with some of these supermarket savings tactics below is that they all add up to increased prices due to financial loss. Imagine how much money you can save if you were to put away $100 a day every day for a year. Even the smallest of strange things that people do that costs the supermarket money will end up flowing back to the customers.


Strange things happen right beside you


I don’t always see strange things happening at the grocery store but I’m a chatty guy and the cashiers always have something to share with me. It doesn’t surprise me what they hear and see happen at the grocery store.

I’ve only seen the police at the grocery store once in Canada but I’m sure they show up for silly situations if even to educate a shopper on why it’s improper to be cheating the system. Although not everything below is illegal to be doing some of the strange things we’ve heard or seen are worthy of conversation here.

I’m sure many of you have other stories that you could share and I’d love to hear about them in the comments below. If you’re one of these people I am describing at the end of the day it’s your life, don’t get caught in the mud at the grocery store when you don’t need to.


Eat at the grocery store for free


I’ve personally witnessed someone eating food at the grocery store as if they missed out on lunch and the grocery store was paying for it.  Taste-testing happens all the time whether it be a handful of grapes, strawberries, nuts or anything that is easy to grab and eat without much notice. We notice though because we’re grocery shopping geeks.

If you bring your child to the grocery store most stores offer free fruit for the kids upon entering the store as an alternative to free cookies. I’ve seen parents grab a banana for themselves and one for their kid. They have no shame walking around and eating the free fruit that is meant for the little ones.

Another time our local grocery store had a free Pillars BBQ hot dog lunch sponsor outside the store. The limit was one sausage per customer. While enjoying our free lunch we continued to watch people go back and forth from their vehicles to get more free food. I’m sure no one would have said anything as it was offered for free but it’s amazing how many people will bend the rules for themselves.

Stealing is another huge problem at the grocery store and although not everyone gets caught just remember that there are always other options such as the food bank and community services if you need to stock your pantry.

Related: What would you do if you saw someone stealing at the grocery store?

Frugal? Maybe they were just really hungry. When you eat food that you don’t pay for that’s considered, stealing.


Re-use reduced stickers


This has been going on for ages at Loblaws in particular where the pink stickers were carefully removed and placed on products to get 50% off. I’m sure other grocery stores that offer reduced price stickers suffer the same issues especially if the sticker is simply placed on the product and not reduced in the computer system.

The supermarket quickly caught on and now they place a black mark through the sticker so it can’t be re-used. Some grocery stores now have a new black 50% off label that was introduced a few months back to replace the pink sticker. I’m not sure if they will stick around as they are very difficult to spot which means less opportunity for the store to get rid of the product fast.


Put the wrong labels on bulk items


Plenty of grocery stores have a bulk food section where you can buy as much or little of a product that you need. Some cheeky customers think they can save money by labelling the products with a similar item that costs less. It’s not like the cashier is going to open the bag and taste what’s inside.


Forget about the bottom of the shopping cart


No one really forgets what is at the bottom of their shopping cart. The mindset of many shoppers is if the cashier doesn’t notice then they can just play silly if they get stopped for not paying for it. These days grocery stores have mirrors down below at the cash register so the cashier can have a look at what is at the bottom of shopping carts however many cashiers don’t look.


Return items without a receipt


Most grocery stores are lenient when a customer brings back product that has gone off or they say they bought the wrong kind. If the customer doesn’t have the receipt the store will offer an in-store credit. I’ve heard of grocery shoppers who buy items cheap with coupons and return them to other stores that accept this way of returns to make extra money to grocery shop.


Return half eaten items to get a full product replacement


If you are one of those customers who like to return half-eaten products to get a full product replacement or reimbursement, stop unless it is legitimate. There are people who buy new products that come out and find out after they open and eat some of the product that they don’t like it so they return it. It doesn’t work that way I’m afraid. You buy it, eat it. If you hate it, then it’s your financial loss.


Ask for a deal every time


Supermarkets have their regulars that they get to know and many times because they pester the store to give them deals on just about anything they think they can get away with. This might be a tiny dent in a can or a rip in packaging that doesn’t affect the product or it’s hardly visible. If you notice management running in the other direction when they see you maybe your frugal ways need to bend the other way.


Use expired coupons


Trust me if shady people can get away with using expired coupons on products they will try. The easiest thing to do is play dumb if the cashier catches the error but if not the customer wins. Some customers like the challenge to see if they can out-smart the cashier and they are successful many times because not every cashier reads the expiry date on the coupon.

Cashier profiling happens for this reason because most younger cashiers don’t care to read the coupons especially if it’s not their plan to stick around at the job for long. Many are students just looking to fund living expenses while they are in school. The young guys are always targets for these types of customers who want to pull a fast one to save money.


Swap price tags


Why would you do this? With technology today it’s easy to find out if the product has the wrong price tag on it but people still do it. The excuse they give is that it came that way or they try to get the scanning code of practice applied. Nice try however if you cause a big enough stink the supermarket will likely just give in to your demands.


Take peelie coupon stickers from products


Please don’t do this because for paying customers who are supposed to get these savings they miss out and it’s not fair. Sometimes strange things people do make no sense because it’s not worth getting caught for. The savings are minimal compared to a fine or a police record but for hard-core frugal savers they will stop at nothing to get the deals they think they deserve. It may not be a crime to peel stickers off a product but the grocery store may not appreciate it if they catch you.

These days manufacturers have gotten smart to these sneaky ways and are now putting coupons inside the product however there are still some people who think nothing of opening packages to get what they want. For some reason coupons and savings turn some people mad like it’s an addiction, high or challenge to get the most for less. Don’t let this be you.


Load up on coupon pads


The strange things don’t end at just peelie stickers especially if there is an awesome coupon in the supermarket. When no one is looking they will swipe the entire coupon pad or just leave one coupon to be nice to the next customer who would really like to use one.

Everyone has seen many changes to the coupon industry and one of them is the reduction of coupon pads and use of online coupon apps such as Checkout51 where you can get instant rebates on products you buy in place of actual coupons.

Don’t be a coupon hoarder!


Add more product to pre-made containers or bags


You know you are cheap when you have to add extra fruit or vegetables to your pre-made bags and containers just to score more product for the same price. I’ve seen people shove extra strawberries in those 1lb containers to fill all the cracks. If you get a cashier who doesn’t question it then the customer gets away with it. You live with the consequences of your actions.


Dent or rip packaging to get a deal


Yes, there are those customers who pick the most expensive products they need that week and damage the product in hopes of scoring a deal from the store manager. Typically the cashier can’t reduce product prices so the manager comes out. Nine times out of 10 they manager will reduce the product because they know that they will have to sell it at a reduced cost anyways.


Complain about something they’ve made up


Then there are those customers who have to complain about everything in hopes of scoring a complimentary gift card from the store for inconvenience. Some cases are legit but if you are simply offering to help the store with an issue you see or have experienced you should never ‘expect’ to get anything from it. There is a reason that doing a good deed is supposed to make you feel good.

Some customers will get irate if they don’t get the result that they want too. Sometimes it’s easier to save the peace and just give in to the customer so they can be on their way even though they know the customer will likely do it again. The customer is always right just means that it’s easier to give in rather than go through torment on the odd occasions these strange things happen.


Go in and out to buy a product with a limit


We have seen people who will go in and out a few times to keep buying limited products with different cashiers. The purpose of a product limit is so there will be enough product to offer to as many customers as possible.

If you really want more product then bring extra people grocery shopping with you so they can each get limited product per person. Remember, worst case you can get a rain check if the store offers them if they run out of a sale item. The best part is you have an extended time to use the rain check and you can come back another day to see if they have more sale stock in the store. Win-win for the customer.


Strange things will always happen


Don’t get caught up in doing stuff that you shouldn’t be at the grocery store because if you do get caught it will never be worth what it would have cost you just to pay for an item in the first place.

What strange things have you seen or heard customers do at the supermarket just to save money?


April Grocery Game Challenge posts 2016


Join in the 2016 Grocery Game Challenge (GGC) fun and post your grocery shop in the comment section of each GGC blog post. Here are the rules to get you started and where you’ll also find a link for the updated 2016 GGC schedule. Please feel free to download, save and even print the schedule so it’s handy. Thanks to Mary for putting this together for us again this year. If you need any help please let me know.

New monthly prize: $10 President’s Choice Gift Card for Canadian residents only BUT If you want to play from outside of Canada and have PayPal and you win I will pay you $10 Canadian . I use a random online generator to pick the winning ballot every month.

If you missed any grocery game posts for the month I will post the line-up each week below for you so you don’t have to go looking for past GGC posts for the month. Alternatively, just click on the “Grocery Game Challenge” tab on the blog side-bar to see past posts.

April Grocery Game Posts


Free Money Saving Tools 2016


I know I blast you every which way I can on this blog about my free money saving tools and that’s because I want you to take advantage of them being FREE. So many people pay for budgets and tools on the internet to help them save money and honestly you don’t need to. Even a paper and pen will do the trick.

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

This is the budget that brought us to debt freedom back in 2013 and now I’m offering to all of you for FREE. We still use this budget every month as it helps us to see our overall financial picture.

2014 Free Money Saving ToolsDon’t pay someone for these services, I’ve done the work for you along with some help from other amazing bloggers.

You can 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!

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.

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. So many free resources at your fingertips.


Ultimate Grocery Shopping Guide 2016


the ultimate grocery shopping guide cbbEverything you want to know about grocery shopping in Canada is packed into this amazing FREE grocery shopping guide that has taken over 4 years to create.

The Ultimate Grocery Shopping guide is ongoing with new informative money-saving posts added every month.

Even if you don’t live in Canada there are some amazing budget saving tips that will help put you on the path to more savings at the supermarket.

Share this guide with your friends and tell them about Canadian Budget Binder especially if they are struggling with their grocery budget.

The time is NOW to get started saving money on groceries so please enjoy the  many money-saving posts in the The Ultimate Grocery Shopping Guide.


2016 Grocery Shop Results


Yearly grocery budget for two + 1 Toddler 2016: $2820

(The above total does not include the stockpile budget of $300/year or $25/month.

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

  • Total Grocery Budget for the Month:$235.00-$8.50=$226.50
  • Total Grocery Budget with any carry-overs $226.50
  • Total Gift Cards used to date: $50
  • Total Rewards Points redeemed this week: $0
  • Total Rewards Points used to date: $0
  • PC Points Plus Earned to date: 149,000
  • Scanning Code of Practice (SCOP)to date $0
  • Shoppers Optimum: Over 700,000 points (I will update this twice a year)

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

  • Snap Groupon to cash out : $6.50
  • Zweet to cash out : $18.25
  • Checkout51 to cash out : $7.00


Grocery Shop This Week


Food Basics

  • Strawberries $2.88
  • 2 x cucumbers $1.27 each
  • 2 x Lactancia 10% cream $1.99 each
  • 2 x 3.25% milk Sealtest $5.27 each
  • Bananas $1.95
  • Rye Bread $2.99
  • Whole Grains Bread $2.99
  • Romaine Lettuce $1.27
  • Carrots 3lbs $1.50
  • Mushrooms 2/$5.00
  • Naan Bread $1.49
  • Crumpets $1.50
  • 3 x Philadelphia Cream Cheese large containers $2.97 each
  • Seedless red grapes $2.88

Total Out-of-pocket $ 50.42

  • Total to spend this month $226.50
  • Stockpile budget 2016 ($25.00-$2.65 overage= $22.35)
  • Stockpile budget used this month: $21.60 $0.75 left
  • Total coupons used this week: $0
  • Total coupons used to date: $5.60
  • Total in-store discounts this week:$0
  • Total in-store discounts to date: $226.93
  • Total spent this week: $50.42
  • Total spent so far this month: $196.78
  • Total over/Under spend this shop:
  • Total over/Under spend for the month:
  • Total left to spend for the month: $29.72
  • Total Spent To Date 2016: (does not include stockpile budget) Jan $252.95+ Feb $249.46+March $211.11+April $

Weekly Overview (your final thoughts)

We don’t have much left for the month to spend however we do have over $100 in PC Plus Points if we find ourselves in a pinch for something. If anything it will likely be milk and possibly a few vegetables we will need.



Coupons and Coupon Apps 2016


Here are some great places you can find Canadian Coupons! These are your latest Checkout 51 offers which you can use to help save money. We’re finding less and less coupons in the stores these days. What are your thoughts? Are coupon apps taking over the paper coupons?

Sign up for the Nielsen Canada Home Scan Program and you can earn rewards points fast to redeem for awesome products or gift cards. I did this in the UK and loved it!!

Where can I find Canadian Coupons 2016?

Plus check out these other hidden areas online to get more coupons!!

  • Healthy Essentials Printable Coupons (Johnson and Johnson)
  • Clorox Coupons Sign up to print coupons in the Clorox family which include Greenworks, Glad etc.
  • Kraft Canada Sign up and receive recipes and coupons by email
  • Printable Smart Source Coupons
  • Walmart Canada Printable Coupons
  • Proctor and Gamble PandG Sign up for printable coupons
  • Hidden Coupon Portals You Should know about – I found this over at Save a Loonie and you’ll want to sign up for notifications and check out the site so you get notified every time a hidden coupon is available from, Brandsaver, Smart Source etc.


Grocery Game Challenge 2016 FAQ’s


  • 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. The rules have been updated for the 2016 challenge year.
  • Do I have to be Canadian to post my Grocery Shop?: No, you don’t have to be Canadian to post your shops. We have fans who post their grocery shop who live all over the world.
  • What is the monthly prize and who can claim it?- The monthly prize is a $10 PC Loblaws Gift Card and for our out of country friends it’s $10 CDN via Paypal if they win. As more people join I will add more money to the gift card or I will split it up and offer 2 prizes every month.
  • 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. If you choose to post monthly  or bi-weekly you will only get 1 ballot for that shop. It’s a proven fact the minute we stop doing something that is scheduled that we end up forgetting to do it altogether. 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?: 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 in order to plan accordingly our budget.
  • Do you stockpile food? 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 longer as we found we weren’t eating it fast enough. Stockpiling is still great and just one way to help cut your budget to save money if you do find items that you can buy in bulk at a sale price.
  • 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 with mobile coupon apps being the big rave these days. Just recently the popular coupon site that mailed coupons to households has gotten involved with the addition of a new mobile app joining forces with the many other coupon apps available. If you find an app that I don’t talk about please let me know as they are always being added and I’d like to review them.
  • What is the Best Flyer App- We use Flipp on our Iphone so if you wan to have all your flyers in one spot download Flipp from the Apple Store or get it on Google Play.
  • 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.

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 back in 2012 and is one of the most popular hang out spots for people who want to save money on groceries in Canada.

If you’ve just joined The Grocery Game Challenge 2016 get ready to look at your grocery budget by learning…

  • Where you are spending money
  • How much money you are spending
  • How much money you are saving every month

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

If you know a topic that should be discussed send me an email. If I use your topic I will put your name in a draw for a prize at the end of the year.

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 2016!

Please Note: Some of the links in the body of the blog post are affiliate links which means I may get paid if you buy something from Amazon. The items I’ve chosen are products we use at home or similar to.


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