Statistics Canada released its inflation numbers for the 12 months to March 2011.  At that time the Consumer Price Index rose 3.3 per cent, the largest year-over-year increase since September 2008. If inflation continues to trend high and interest rates start to rise it will become even harder for people to make ends meet. The Bank of Canada has been advising Canadians to take control of their spending and start saving since the Fall of 2010.

One area Canadians need to take a more aggressive approach to reducing their spending is at the grocery store. Putting together a money-saving strategy for grocery shopping will have a positive impact on your finances and allow your savings to increase at a faster rate.

Focus on your household budget as if you owned a business and the bottom line is your savings. Every spending decision you make affects your household’s bottom line.

Try to implement these strategies to save money at the grocery store:

Menu planning: 

  • Save money by planning a weekly menu
  • Keep track of the staples in your larder; be careful not to over buy
  • Create a grocery list

Weekly Flyers

  • Review the flyers from the stores in your area
  • Match sale items to your grocery list
  • Look for key words – ‘save’, ‘2 for 1’, ‘price dropped’, ‘price match’
  • Use coupons on sale items to save even more money
  • Buy fruits and vegetables in season

Do it yourself

  • Bake your next birthday cake: a cake mix and tin of icing can save at least $10 over a store-bought cake-turn it into a family activity
  • Avoid unnecessary vegetable spoilage by:  Washing lettuce and peeling carrots as you need them – the pre-washed, bagged vegetables spoil quicker once the bag is open
  • When ground beef is on sale make your own hamburger patties and freeze them for future use

Be a Price Conscience Shopper

  • Prices vary between grocery stores; make sure you are buying the sale item at the lowest price
  • Buy store brands instead of national brands especially if they are the same
  • Check the non-traditional stores, such as drug stores, for price comparisons
  • Buy in bulk when it makes sense
  • Don’t use your credit card to pay if it means going further into debt
  • Don’t invest so much – it leaves you short for other purchases
  • Purchase non-perishable items, ie paper products

For more everyday money-saving strategies Consolidated Credit has free PDF versions of their booklets available at: http://www.consolidatedcredit.ca/personal-finances/money-management/smart-spending

Jeffrey Schwartz is the Executive Director of Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada and President of the Credit Association of Greater Toronto (CAGT).  Consolidated Credit is a national non-profit credit counseling organization that teaches consumers about personal finance through web-based budget and debt analysis tools, financial literacy community outreach programs and in-person or telephone counseling.  CAGT is a non-profit association with a mission to provide a dynamic forum in which members can share information and expertise. 

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