Monday, 23 September 2013

Popular Cost-Cutting Measures.

I can hardly believe that this is already my 26th post - half a year of blogging and still enjoying everything about it - the research, the learning, the writing and the sharing. It's all good. I thought I'd mark this half-year point by taking a second look at how I use some of the more popular cost-cutting measures from previous posts.

It doesn't require any great effort to achieve 20% savings in most areas and, as groceries are something we all need to buy, this seemed the best choice to focus on. Since the average Canadian family of four spends at least $600.00 a month on groceries - $7,200.00 a year - savings of 20% on that amount works out to a whopping $1,440.00 a year. That's a lot of money.

I am actually a bit more ambitious than 20% when it comes to saving on groceries. I aim for 40% or better but am willing to settle for no less than 30%. I now have a system in place that usually lets me reach that goal, but that means I can't let any saving opportunity slide by. It also requires the following:
  1. Advance Notice - The grocery sales forecast, emails from favourite stores about upcoming sales and promotions, and of course, the weekly flyers, are the tools I use to calculate what sales to look for and around which I can plan the shopping and menus. 
  2. A Well-Stocked Pantry - Having a good supply of products on hand makes it possible to choose when to restock and at what price. Its when you run out of things that you're forced to pay full price and that just isn't the frugal way.
  3. The "Will Need Soon" List - Keeping a list of items that will soon be needed is an easy cost-cutter. I keep a notebook on my counter and as soon as I notice or think of something I will soon be needing, I write it down. This can range from everyday products like eggs and milk to the occasional need like a new fridge light or batteries for the smoke detectors. Just whatever comes to mind gets written down. Then, using the tools mentioned above, I can quickly determine if the time is right to buy any of the "will need soon" items. The savings can be especially significant if there is enough time - like a couple of months - between when the item is first noted and when its needed.
  4. Coupons - Using coupons can make quite a difference to the bottom line. I don't spend a lot of time looking for them, but do check out the obvious places, like the Smartsource coupons on my site and of course, the e-coupons from Shoppers.
  5. The Flexible Grocery List - Having a flexible grocery list is another simple way to achieve big savings. Meat is normally one of the big costs and frankly, it doesn't matter to me what kind of meat I buy, as long as its a healthy product we like and its on sale. We are lucky as we have access to a New-Life Mills food outlet which sells frozen utility turkeys for 79 cents a pound. I shop there a lot and replace the chicken in recipes with the turkey. Coffee is another expensive item, but regularly used as a loss leader, and since it stores well, it should never be necessary to pay full price. Fruits and vegetables, same thing - the product on sale is what we buy.
One of my favourite stores to shop at is Shoppers Drug Mart. This surprises a lot of people since their prices often seem high, but through careful shopping and making the best use of the Optimum card, the savings can be huge. When I first received my Optimum card I also signed on to receive email notices of upcoming events and this has paid off big time. I receive advance notice of sales and special promotions which helps with planning and comparing prices plus I receive coupons for products and points.

Shown below are two Shoppers receipts from the same day last week -Thursday, the 19th - which show how I manage to get the most value for the dollar along with earning the most points.
Prior to going shopping, I used the flyers to compare products and prices. I never buy anything not on sale and never buy anything at Shoppers that costs less elsewhere.
At the checkout, before unloading the cart, I bought a gift card to receive extra points - in this case a $45.00 gift card for which I received 450 points.
I had an email coupon worth 8,000 points for spending $30.00 or more on food. Correct food total was $33.43.

I normally check my receipt before leaving the store, but on this day I neglected to do so which was a big mistake, one that I was actually aware of even when it was happening. I had kept a running total while I was shopping and knew the $45.00 gift card was more than enough to cover all costs, so when it came up short I should have checked right then, but by that time I no longer had the energy to deal with it. Once I got home I saw the problem and called the store who assured me it will be corrected, but still.....

The final dollar cost: The pre-sale total was $77.48 with savings of $29.08 or 37.5%, for a total cost of $48.80 which was paid for with the gift card.
The final points earned: 450 for gift card, 8,000 for e-coupon, 480 regular, for a total of 8,930 points, worth more than $10.00. Adding this amount to the $29.08 brought the day's savings to roughly $39.00 or 50% - great savings with no real effort required.

Saving on groceries doesn't need to be time-consuming. It just needs a plan.

  • A "collection agency" calls telling you that your bill with a business (vague about which business) is being sent for collection and in order to provide you with more information they need your bank account and social insurance numbers - its a scam.
  • This call my husband received - apparently we can't receive any more credit on our credit line, if we want more information, we just need to press 1 - another scam. 
If anyone has heard of other scams making the rounds, please share. It's only by sharing and reporting that we have a chance of making a dent in this activity. 

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I want this blog to be interesting, informative and current. Your comments let me know if I'm on track, so comments are greatly appreciated.
Thanks - Lenie