by: Kaitlin Hartley
Groceries and housing have two things in common: we can’t live without them, and their prices are all skyrocketing. Inflation is now at 5.7% in Canada, the highest it has been in decades.
According to Statistics Canada’s Consumer Price Index, the cost of just living in a house is rising faster than it has in nearly three decades. Tensions with Russia have caused gas prices to rise over thirty percent compared to last February, and our grocery bills haven’t been this high since 2009.
While the cost of living has increased, so has the creativity of Canadians. Here are some of the ways Canadians have been able to save a few dollars:
Grocery shopping with coupons, a plan, and a budget.
Cutting out coupons from the back of flyers may not be what you imagined yourself doing on a Sunday morning before your weekly grocery shop, but it has its benefits. Looking for the best deal on foods and bulk buying them is a great way to save a few dollars.
Kim Spicer, who lives in Thunder Bay, says, “I buy any meat frozen and in bulk – that way it lasts longer and is much cheaper that way.”
Meal planning and prepping for the week ahead also allows you to walk in with a plan for what you need without worrying about going over budget. This will also help with food waste, as you should be buying exactly what you need for the week ahead rather than sporadically shopping and ending up with either too much or too few items.
Or, skip the grocery shopping (for some items) altogether. Maureen O’Connell from Innisfil has chosen gardening and canning rather than paying the higher prices for vegetables.
“I can my own pickles and some veggies. I put in a bigger garden and started many veggies from seeds so my canning will be bigger this year.”
But in Canada, you can’t grow your own produce year-round. Using apps like Flashfood can also help save money on grocery bills by finding deals in supermarkets nearby. The app works with grocery store chains such as Zehrs, No Frills and Loblaws, and allows the user to find whatever products there are looking for at the cheapest possible price. Then you can pay through the app, go to the store, and pick up your (discounted) items from the ‘Flashfood zone’.
Avoiding eating out.
While many don’t consider grabbing their morning coffee on the way to work ‘eating out’, avoiding it can help save in the long run.
The average large coffee from Tim Hortons costs just over two dollars. Two dollars every morning, Monday to Friday, costs up to $10 a week. That adds up to about $40 a month, and then up to $480 a year. Compared to the canister of coffee that can be bought at the store for around $10 and can last for one person 3-4 weeks (depending on how much coffee each individual drinks), bringing your own brew would save money.
Avoiding take-out and eating at restaurants can have huge savings, too. Restaurants on average markup their food by 300%, and at the end of the night with drinks and tips, it can cost much more than cooking at home.
Sarah Beades, who recently moved from the GTA to Vancouver, says that taking lunch whenever she goes out avoids having to stop for food on the road or sitting down to eat at a restaurant has helped to save her and her husband hundreds of dollars, and it’s been a healthier option for them.
Navigating higher gas prices.
There are a variety of points systems that help consumers save money; PC Optimum points allow you to collect points at Esso gas stations which, once you collect enough points, allows you to redeem and save money on purchases like groceries. If you are a CAA Member, you can save 3 cents per litre when you fill up at a Shell gas station. Costco members get more benefits than paying less for groceries; they all get the option to pay less for gas.
There are also apps to help consumers find the lowest prices in their area. Gasbuddy is a free app that shows you where the least expensive gas is in your area.
According to Canadadrives.ca, removing the heavy items from your car can help your car burn less gas, as the engine will work harder when there are heavy items weighing it down. Rolling down your windows rather than blasting the A/C can also help to conserve gas, and keep the warm-up time and idling short (as hard as that is in the colder months).
In the long-term, considering switching to hybrids or electric cars can be the ultimate way to save on the inflating gas prices.