Category Archives: Savvy Shopping
“Saving” includes cutting down on time AND money on household chores for me. Our kids (6+8) are coming home blissfully filthy from the school playground each day and I’ve found myself spending more and more time in the laundry room sorting colours – time I’d much rather devote to being outside with the kids getting blissfully filthy, too! I’ve had my eye on these laundry sorters for a while now and have been waiting for a good promotion to go along with a sale price. The two storms collided today!
This Neat Freak quad sorter was on sale for $37.49 (reg.$49.99) and I had several dollars in Canadian Tire money to redeem. Being able to tack on a 3rd layer of savings sealed the deal for me today:
June 5, 2014 Canadian Tire Gift Card Promotion
- Spend $100 or more and get a $25 Canadian Tire Gift Card
- Gift Card valid June 6-July 5, 2014
- no minimum purchase required when redeeming gift card
- gift card cannot be combined with any other coupons. Do you suppose Canadian Tire money counts as coupons? hmmmm….
And while at the cashier, I picked up a coupon for $2 OFF our next BBQ propane tank exchange, and 12x Canadian Tire Money with my next gas fill-up over 15L.
I love these layers of savings! And now that I will have my laundry loads pre-sorted, it will be even easier to pop in a load during Off-Peak hydro hours and get outside to enjoy the day!
How do you save time and money on laundry? I’d love to hear your ideas – drop a line in the comments below!
The price of fresh fruit and vegetables can be shockingly high at times and this has given rise to the notion that feeding our families whole foods is more expensive than processed and prepared foods. There are coupons for fresh produce in Canada every now and then: I redeemed the last of my strawberry coupons this week, but they’re too few and far between to be relied upon for any consistent savings. And while growing vegetables from scraps has been a lot of fun for the kids to watch, we’d likely develop scurvy if we relied solely the meager crop yield from our frugal garden!
Trying to stay within budget while providing 2 servings of fresh fruit in each of our children’s lunchboxes plus a 3rd and often 4th serving after school and/or as dinnertime dessert is hands down the biggest challenge when it comes to grocery shopping for me. It takes a little extra time, but I try to take these 4 extra steps when grocery shopping to try to save at the grocery store.
4 Ways to Save on Fresh Produce
1. Price Match the lowest flyer price on fruits and vegetables. With the advent of so many Apps that Save You Time & Money at the Grocery Store, saving on your grocery bill has become so slick and effortless. By finding the lowest price for whichever fruits and vegetables are on sale on any given week, I use my mobile phone or iPad to “flash at the cash” and price-match all of my produce. Yes! We can price-match fruit and vegetables at the grocery store! My favourite flyer app has got to be Flipp – I can search by item, clip the best price to my shopping list, and flash the flyer on my phone to make sure I’m paying the lowest possible price on an item with just a few simple taps on my phone screen.
2. Claim Cash Back Rebates. Checkout51 and SnapSaves are offering more and more cash back rebate offers for fresh produce these days. Download the apps to your mobile device and/or your home computer and upload your grocery store receipts to earn money. The fresh produce offers seem to run out early so be to apply for the rebates as early as possible when they’re offered.
3. Buy early, mid and late in the sale week. We have a small kitchen and a small fridge. We don’t have room for 4 melons on the counter,for example, nor will we through it all before it over-ripens and/or we’re just plain sick of it! I try, therefore, to buy just enough for 1 or 2 servings of each fruit that is on sale (or that I’m price-matching) when the new flyer week starts (Thursday in Quebec, Friday in Ontario – I shop in both provinces). I’ll pop in again early in the week to buy a 2nd round of servings and then one last visit on the last day of the flyer sale. On that last trip, I sometimes get 2 servings of the fruit if I’m able to get some that are ready to eat now and some that will ripen in a few days’ time. It seems simple, but keeping to this rhythm really helps to space out our servings (avoiding strawberry overdose!) and keeps our waste to a minimum.
Tip: don’t hesitate to ask your produce manager which days certain fruits or vegetables are due to arrive at the store: it’s my experience that they”re usually able to share the details right off the top of their head and are more than happy to do so.
4. Buy in Season. Most fruit comes down in price at one time or another during the calendar year. We enjoyed our easy peel clementines all winter, for example, and will just have to wait until they come down in price again before we start buying them on a regular basis again. Watermelons are due to come down any week now (yay!) and it won’t be long before we’re into autumn blueberries and apples on sale. If there are not enough sale prices in any given week to provide a diversity in fruits, sure, I’ll splurge on something full price (eek!) … I’m not going to make my family eat strawberries, grapes and bananas every day of the week. More often than not though, there are at least 5 or 6 different fruits on sale and we are able to make it through without any overdoses!
Tip: picking your own, or buying directly from the fruit producer in season at farmers markets is usually the least expensive option. Flying to the tropics to buy fresh bananas, however, makes slightly less economic sense pointed out our 8 year old daughter. Smarty pants!
Some things that I do NOT rely on to save money on fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Clearance Rack. I’ve just not had luck when buying fruit or vegetables on the clearance rack (usually 50% OFF) which are marked down because they are “ready-to-eat” aka past their peak in terms of ripeness and shelf life. That being said, if I were going to be making a big batch of sauce or soup it would likely be just fine; I just never seem to find the right fruits/veggies for my needs on the rack. I supsect my friend Maranda of Propel Wellness is beating me to the good stuff … this town just ain’t big enough for two savvy shoppers! Check out Maranda’s tips in her blog post Never Throw Out a Banana Again.
- Overage. Some stores (e.g. Walmart) will credit your transaction with the left-over value of any coupons for which the price of the item was less than the coupon’s worth. There are often items which turn out to be “money makers” and couponers who have multiple copies of coupons are able to earn enough money to offset the cost items which rarely have coupons: namely their produce and meat. I’m on the fence about how I feel about this practice when it’s conducted on “extreme” scale and can’t personally justify the savings at the expense of other shoppers who find an empty shelf when they’re hoping to redeem a coupon on a sale item that week.
Even though there are not often Canadian coupons for fresh produce, by sticking to the 4 savings methods above, I consistently pay the lowest advertised price each week and keep our family eating a variety of fresh fruit and vegetables.
I rarely pay full price for anything at the grocery store and try to stack on as many layers of savings as possible! And while I’ve not yet encountered the “perfect storm” in terms of being able to combine all of these layers at the same time, I have had some pretty extreme savings by combining 5 or 6 of these discounts.
- Most grocery items go on sale at least once every few months. I use the Flipp app to check sale prices of every item on my shopping list and price-match it at Walmart or Real Canadian Superstore so that I’m not spending more time/money/energy hopping from store to store. Starting with a sale price is the foundation of all of the other layers – I don’t usually redeem a coupon or claim a cash back refund unless the item is on sale to begin with.
- I have a fairly complete collection of coupons ready to redeem when an item goes on sale. Again, I rarely redeem a coupon on a full-priced item – it will go on sale, eventually! There are lots of places to get coupons in Canada:
- mail order coupons (WebSaver, Save.ca, GoCoupons, P&G BrandSaver, brand facebook pages, etc.)
- tear pad coupons (on the coupon wall at the store entrance or in the aisles)
- printable coupons (SmartSource, WebSaver, Save.ca, HealthyEssentials, The Healthy Shopper)
- coupon swaps (many communities have a facebook group of members that meet locally. I belong to Rockland & Ottawa East Coupon Clippers – feel free to join us virtually and/or in person!)
- online coupon trading (Coupon Spare)
- specially marked packaging (coupons on cereal boxes are common – check out this Savings Train that ended up saving me over $40 with cereal box coupons)
Cash Back Rebate
- I check the cash back rebate apps regularly and will purchase featured items on my shopping list if they match my coupons and are on sale. I earned enough money with Checkout51 to pay for my iPad within a year of signing up! There are a number of cash back rebate programs available to Canadians – here’s my blog post over on CommonCentsMom with more details about how you can Get Cash Back on your Grocery Receipt.
- Retail stores often have their own coupons to pick up in the store, clip from their flyer, flash on your mobile device, or print online. Some stores (Walmart, for example) will accept a competitor’s store coupon for a specific product (not store-wide savings) so I’m always on the lookout for coupons to print/clip to match to sale prices. Some of my favourites are:
- Shoppers Drug Mart printable coupons with e-mail subscription e.g. $20 OFF when you spend $75 or more
- Target SmartSource printable coupons can be stacked with a manufacturer’s coupon
- Coupon Zone tear pad coupons can be stacked with a manufacture’s coupon at the Loblaws family of stores
- Rexall printable coupons with e-mail subscription e.g. 20% OFF entire purchase when you spend $25 or more
Other major chains that have their own printable coupons include Metro, Whole Foods, and the Overwaitea Food Group family of stores. Check the website and facebook page of your favourite stores to find out if they offer store coupons.
- Cleaning and household products in particular often have a mail-in rebate to try a new product for FREE. Dishwasher tab, air freshner, and handsoap companies are particularly fond of mail-in rebate products. Be sure to submit the rebate form with receipt immediately after purchasing the item so that you don’t miss the expiry date or limited supply offer. Check for specially marked packaging, tear pad rebate forms, or the product websites and facebook pages for printable rebate forms.
- Earning back loyalty points is an easy way to tack on another layer of savings at the grocery store. If you take the time to calculate how much your points are worth when you redeem them, you can roughly calculate whether or not it’s worth shopping at a particular store to earn the loyalty points, or save money on gas by price-matching with the rest of your grocery items. Some of my favourite loyalty points programs for groceries include:
Credit Card Reward
- Although the savings are minimal in comparison to sale prices, coupons, and rebates, earning 1-3% back in points/cash dividend is another simple way to add on another layer of savings at the grocery store. Bit by bit, a cash back dividend, travel rewards, or points towards a gift catalog or gift cards do add up. If you end up paying any interest on the credit card, however, you’ll be negating these savings, and beyond. Credit Card rewards are only applicable if you’re able to pay the entire statement balance by the due date each month.
- No tax, a free gift with purchase, scratch & save cards, bonus loyalty points, etc. are another way to save money at the grocery store and might be enough of a perk to make it worth driving to a particular store instead of price-matching in a one-stop shop. Be wary of some of the free gift card offers, however, which require a future minimum purchase with limited expiration dates – those aren’t necessarily a guaranteed layer of savings if you have no need, or are unable to make it back to the store within the specified dates.
When an item has multiple layers of savings … try to stock up
Keeping this kind of layered saving in mind, we should look past the sale price or the value of a coupon and calculate the out of pocket price (oop). When an item has multiple layers of savings and the oop price is as low as it’s going to get, try to stock up on the item. Within reason, of course! No basements full of bbq sauce and toothpaste, please – they both have expiry dates!
Do you have any additional layers of savings to help you cut costs at the grocery store? Drop a line in the comments below – I love hearing from other savvy shoppers!