Jan 10 2015
One of the biggest weekly/monthly expenses is groceries. Groceries are not optional without food you will die, but the price you pay for food can be optional depending on your location (e.g.: in cities there are way more choices than in the rural countryside).
Back in 2007 we made the choice to shop for groceries at our local Safeway because they had a member discount program and because we collected AIR MILES. This decision was also compounded by the fact that we bought our gas at Shell which also was an AIR MILES retailer and on the way to Safeway. The AIR MILES really came in handy over the years as we cashed in miles for a new vacuum cleaner, a king sized duvet, a home phone set, a DVD player, a Blu-Ray player and more.
In 2013 however, Safeway was bought out by Sobey’s. So we thought Safeway would become a Thrifty’s but that was short lived as the Competition Bureau (http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/sobeys-to-sell-23-stores-in-safeway-deal-1.2159468) ordered Sobey’s to sell 23 stores in Western Canada before they could even buy Safeway. Which resulted in our local Safeway becoming a Save-On-Foods location. Not that it really mattered because at the time neither Thrifty’s or Save-on-Foods offered AIR MILES so we were needing to do some research on how we would proceed.
We were really looking around and asking our friends what they were doing for grocery shopping…which lead to a discussion about Wal-Mart. Inside I cringed…Wal-Mart?!? What will my friends think of me….but wait a minute…my friends aren’t paying the interest on my bad debt, are they? The conversation focused on the low prices and how much money they were saving. A few days later I decided to do a little research (remember…don’t do anything without DATA & INFORMATION!) and compared 20 typical items (e.g.: ketchup, cheese, taco kits, mayonnaise, orange juice, oatmeal, crackers, milk, cream etc.) and low and behold each item was between $1 to $2 less at Wal-Mart….HOLY CATFISH! We could save a significant amount of money by shopping for the vast majority of manufactured foods (what we call the “buy anywhere” items…food that is mass produced with a brand label on it) at Wal-Mart while still getting our fresh meat and produce at local stores since we don’t trust Wal-Mart’s quality control on those types of groceries.
By switching to Wal-Mart for many of the “buy anywhere” items we were able to reduce our grocery bill by between $25-$40 per week…or $300-$480 per year. Mr. Money Mustache (http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/) would be proud!
The point of this story is that you need to be informed before you can come up with the battle plan for saving money on groceries. You may simply go for lowest price, or you might aim for maximizing rewards. No matter what approach you choose you need to monitor it and be willing to modify the plan as things change.
Little reductions in cost can lead to really big savings when multiplied over the course of a year.