WHAT WOULD YOU DO WITH AN EXTRA $500?
If you find it amazing what you can save money on when you’re not looking imagine the savings you’d find if you were. One question we often get asked is, “How do you eat so well on a tight budget of $265 a month?” to which I reply budgeting, flyer savings, coupon app savings and grocery store discounts.
Ask me that same question back in 2012 and I would have told you we were extreme couponers and deal seekers but times have changed. We went from using thousands of dollars in paper coupons every year to $15.35 in 2016. Today, our savings plan is far more balanced than it used to be. Now we take the grocery store discounts approach paired with eating less, using coupons, applying coupon app savings and rewards points etc.
Back then rewards point programs were ramping up outside of the credit card world which gave Air Miles a run for their program. It became clear that consumers wanted to be rewarded for being loyal customers. The start of war of the rewards programs began and quickly evolved into which company could rope in the most customers. No horse required.
Related: Where can I find coupons in Canada?
The lucrative coupon deals are still out there but far and few of them compared to what we used to get this is why we should never depend on one source of savings. I probably shouldn’t give all of our grocery secrets away but I want you to save money like we do so you can pay down debt and take some of the financial stress off your mind.
Saving money never ends
No matter what anyone thinks even when you become debt free there is always another bill to pay or save up for. It never ends it only becomes easier to deal with. I suppose that’s well-earned freedom even though it may take years for one person and very little time for another to reach their destination. We all lead different lifestyles, earn different amounts of money yet we still have to pay for shelter, food, utility bills, retirement etc.
Believe it or not many people spend far too much money at the grocery store every week because they either didn’t plan their shop or they don’t want to make sacrifices to lower their food budget. We were in debt too once, suffered set-backs (some of which you don’t know about) and survived the storm. You must make sacrifices when you’re dealing with money whether it be at the grocery store, utility usage, shopping trips and so on.
What saving money boils down to is, Are we doing everything we can for our money?
You work hard to earn your money and once you have it your money expects you to work even harder to grow it. Nobody likes to think of their income as, “In one door out the other” because that’s depressing and when we live pay to pay it becomes harder to stay focused on the end goal, financial freedom.
It can happen but without a grocery reduction plan you blindly end up spending more money than you should be. Each time we go grocery shopping with a friend they seem shocked how Mrs.CBB and I attack the grocery store with a toddler in tow.
I remember Mrs. CBB and I having a laugh after she got home from grocery shopping with her friend. Her friend kept repeating, “You need to teach me how to save like you do” when she started to see the grocery store discounts. The problem is that we are not conditioned to shop for reduced products or grocery store discounts. A grocery store is meant to get groceries that possibly are on sale and then cash out. We’re like the CBB food army on a mission to cut costs and eat healthy on a tight budget.
Can we afford to spend more on groceries? Of course we can however why change a good thing? Besides we are more than happy with what our food choices are and don’t need much more. It’s also hard to go back spending money on products you know you can typically find grocery store discounts on. This is our way to protect our family’s’ liquid assets so we can build wealth and leave those naysayers behind.
Learn and personalize your action plan
I do care about my blog readers (yes you reading this) and although I don’t know any of you personally I want you to save money but ultimately It’s not my grocery game. I just applaud and support you but what happens really is your decision. I don’t blog here for giggles, I do it because we all need someone to lean on especially if there is no support in our close circles.
One of the worst things consumers can do is try to mirror what other people do to save money. The idea is not to copy what they do but to learn how to adopt the same mindset. That’s like saying if person A lost 10 pounds eating cabbage soup all week that person B will lose the same amount. Likely not the case as we are all different and have different bodies and needs.
For example, I can’t tell you that because our weekly grocery budget is $65 where we live that you can save the same amount of money purchasing the same products where you live. It doesn’t always work that way. What you can do is ask, HOW. How can I learn to shop like you do? The premise behind this is to get out there and understand how the grocery system works and apply it to your personal or family needs. Our budget can’t be your budget.
Related: How to grocery shop
If you have debt you must wake up to the longer you wait to pay it off the longer you stay in debt. That reads a bit obvious but there are some of you out there who continue to make excuses and you know it’s not helping your debt situation. It might upset you to hear that but there really is an end or middle-ground if you believe and set guidelines for yourself. You’ll also feel a million times better when you have a solid plan to back up your debt repayment.
How to spot grocery store discounts
In 2016 our final food budget numbers included $511 of grocery store discounts. What are grocery store discounts? These are products that the grocery store reduces, marks down or offers a promotional code for because they want to move the product out fast. That means most often you may find lucrative deals in just about every department if you hit it at the right time with patience and eagle eyes.
That $511 might not seem like lots of money to you but saving almost $50 a month to eat some of the high-end foods that we do is amazing. Most of the products we purchase with grocery store discounts applied we would never pay full-price for or even sale price.
- The first thing we do when we enter a grocery store is semi-tune everyone out around us. We don’t listen to the music, watch people work and limit chatting to other people. (this just slows us down or sets us off track).
- Price scanning with our eyes is critical from the moment we walk through the grocery store doors as products are typically waiting in the grocery cart pick-up area. Keep focused on price tags, name tags, discount stickers, reduced products, clearance tags, expiry dates. You might even spot products that are coming due in a day or two and can ask for grocery store discounts to be applied.
- The only time we come up for air (I’m alive) is when we are standing in line to cash out or we need to talk to each other. This is the time where we people watch, employee watch and notice our surroundings outside of deal seeking. Then we regain focus when we are cashing out because this is where so many savings are lost due to scanning issues, wrong product identification, double scans etc.
- We don’t grocery shop for fun and prefer to get in and get out so the game plan is we split up but stay with-in ear shot so we can communicate about purchases if we find grocery store discounts. For example, I found a bucket of ricotta for 50% off plus it was already on sale. I know we love ricotta cheese and although it wasn’t on our weekly meal plan we decided to remove cottage cheese and replace it with ricotta. The cottage cheese was on sale buy cost more than the ricotta cheese. Knowing food substitutions you enjoy will get you far with your food budget.
- Avoiding the main aisles as much as possible helps us to focus on perimeter grocery store discounts. One supermarket we visited out of town had a room just for grocery store discounts. It was great but it wasn’t the only grocery store discounts available in the store. You really have to look and don’t always assume they will be in the same spot every week.
- Look up, Look down, Dig Around. I once found packs of bacon on sale for $2.99 and when I moved a few packs there were loads with 50% off stickers. Yep, we stocked up.
Top grocery store discounts of 2016
Last year we found lots of grocery store discounts although some were better than others. Below are the best places to look for grocery store discounts when shopping.
- Meat Department always has packages of meat with grocery store discounts applied. In 2016 a large chunk of our savings came from the meat department.
- Produce Department was another huge savings for us in 2016 where a large portion of our grocery store discounts fame from the reduced rack. Almost every store has one so go straight to it before you even attempt to shop the produce section.
- Dairy Department was littered with deals on 50% off free-range eggs, yogurt, cream cheese, milk and even ice-cream (we didn’t buy any) Any product that has a short expiry date is where you want to be. Dairy only lasts so long before it has to be marked down or thrown away. Catch these huge savings.
- Other departments- The rest of our grocery store discounts came from random grocery sections. We may have found cereal reduced, deli-cheese, deli-meats, salami, expensive hard cheese etc. There are always boxed items that we find but we limit what we purchase so we can spend more on the above.
The moral of our $511 yearly savings on grocery store discounts is that if you want to save money you have to be focused and looking for the deals. The same can be applied to your monthly budget. If you aren’t paying attention to each category like you should be you could easily have missed opportunities or mistakes happen.
Grocery shopping wasn’t designed to be a family day of fun as it’s a mere excursion to fill a shopping cart with food to satisfy your tummy and steal all your money. Honestly though now that we are parents going to the grocery store sort of fits into our family time and has become a learning ground for our son.
Fight the urge to spend money on products you don’t need and focus on foods that will help stretch your budget and encourage healthy eating habits. Oh and that extra $500 we saved well it’s growing nicely in our retirement savings funds.
Discussion Question: How do you decide whether to purchase products with grocery store discounts applied if you already have a meal plan set out?
February Grocery Game Challenge
Join in the 2017 Grocery Game Challenge (GGC) fun and post your grocery shop in the comment section of each GGC blog post. Here are The Grocery Game Challenge rules to get you started and where you’ll also find a link for the 2017 GGC schedule. Please feel free to download, save and even print the schedule.
New monthly prize: See the Grocery Game Rules
February 2017 Blog Posts:
- 25 Popular Hotel Food Ideas To Save You Money #4
- 7 Money Smart Shopping Trip Essentials You Need #1 February
- 6 Grocery Budget Sacrifices Of A Frugal Shopper #2 February
Free Money Saving Tools 2017
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.
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 2017
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.
2017 Grocery Shop Results
Yearly grocery budget for two + 1 Toddler 2017: $3120 or $260/mth
(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 this Month: $260
- Total Grocery Budget with any carry-overs $260
- 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: 431,000
- Scanning Code of Practice (SCOP) to date $0
- Shoppers Optimum: Just under 850,000 Optimum points (I will update this twice a year) $1500 worth of free stuff.
Coupon Apps (add any other apps you use to save money)
- Zweet to cash out : $18.25
- Checkout51 to cash out : $22.00
Our Grocery Shop This Week
- 2 x 4L 2% Milk Sealtest $4.27
- Old El Paso Salsa $2.99 large jar
- Splenda sweetener $1.99
- 1lb ground chicken sale $2.99
- 2 x regular bacon Selections Sale $2.97 each
- 2 seedless cucumbers $1.98 (ouch)
- Yellow onions 2 bags at $0.88 each
- Bananas $1.37
- 2 x Almonds 227g sale $2.88 each
- 2 x cauliflower sale $1.88 each
- Fuji Apples Sale $0.88lb $3.54
- 2 x 5pk Hass avocado sale $2.44 each
- Selection sour cream sale $1.49
- 2 x dozen omega 3 eggs sale $2.44 each
- Astro Yogurt coconut sale $2.49
Total Out-Of-Pocket $ 46.18
- Total to spend this month : $260
- Stockpile budget 2016 : $25.00
- Stockpile budget used this month: $23.95
- Total coupons used this week: $0
- Total coupons used to date: $0
- Total in-store discounts this week: $0
- Total in-store discounts to date: $49.66
- Total spent this week: $46.18
- Total spent so far this month: $184.55
- Total over/Under spend this shop: under
- Total over/Under spend for the month: under
- Total left to spend for the month: $75.45
- Total Spent To Date 2017: (does not include stockpile budget) Jan $231.06+Feb $
Weekly Overview (your final thoughts)
This wasn’t the best shop for us as we didn’t find many deals. The produce section had 3 carts of vegetables and fruits but nothing we needed. Typically we find the best meat and cheese deals at Zehrs and produce at Food Basics and Metro on occasion. Things are running along smoothly so far.
Coupons and Coupon Apps 2017
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?
If you notice I’m missing a valuable link please message me and I’ll get it added to the savings list below.
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!!
Plus check out these other hidden areas online to get more coupons!!
If any of these links are broken please report them to me.
- Healthy Essentials Printable Coupons (Johnson and Johnson)
- Danone Coupons Get up to $25 in coupons
- 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
- MySavings.com 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 Save.ca, Brandsaver, Smart Source etc.
Grocery Game Challenge 2017 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 to reflect changes for the 2017 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-$20-$50 PC Loblaws Gift Card and for our out of country friends it’s $CDN via PayPal. Please see GGC rules.
- 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 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 Save.ca that mailed coupons to households has gotten involved with the addition of a new mobile Save.ca 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 Know what stores accept coupons?: If you are not sure it’s always best to call the store and ask.
- 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 is one of the most popular hang out spots for people who want to save money on groceries.
If you’ve just joined The Grocery Game Challenge 2017 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 2017!
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