Already a conscious shopper, Liz Nguyen will have to pay even closer attention to stickers and price tags in 2017 as food prices are expected to rise.
A study from Dalhousie University is predicting the average Canadian family will spend $420 more a year.
That’s almost a month’s worth of groceries for Nguyen.
Twice a month, the new mom takes out $250 in cash, exclusively for groceries.
“I noticed if I used cash or credit, I’d just buy whatever I was feeling like and not stick to a budget.”
It’s a strict budget and one that often means sacrifice. If Nguyen gets to the till and there are more goods than cash, something has to go. If there’s extra money left over at the end of the month, it rolls over to next month’s grocery budget.
With the price of food expected to rise in the coming year, it’ll likely mean more discipline – and more sacrifice, as Nguyen explained in a visit to a local grocery store as part of a series 980 CJME is doing over the next year looking at rising food prices.
“That is quite concerning,” she said. “It would be nice to stay within my budget because I wouldn’t want to increase that, especially with a young family. Four hundred dollars a year could be swimming lessons or skating lessons.”
Nguyen, an avid home cook with a budding food blog, said she plans most of her meals around protein – mainly meat, which could see the steepest increases next year of up to nine per cent.
“With prices going up, we’ll have to see how that $250 lasts for the two weeks and how that impacts my budget.”
Nguyen considers herself a shopper that is loyal to one particular grocery chain, but if food prices go up, it could mean switching chains or joining a store like Costco that sells in bulk.
Nguyen wasn’t always this disciplined.
“When I was not paying attention, using my debit card, using my credit card, not looking at flyers, we were spending $600 or $700 every month and that was just insane to me for a family of two adults.”
But when Nguyen discovered she and her husband were going to be parents, she doubled down on her budgeting efforts.
“It’s important to me right now because I am on mat leave so that’s one income that’s not coming into my family,” she said. “I started taking it more seriously when I realized I was pregnant and that we’d have some financial pressures coming up.”
Nguyen has a few tips for people looking to reduce their grocery spending. She said she plans her family’s meals, including what they’ll do with leftovers. She said she also studies weekly flyers and takes advantage of loyalty programs to maximize savings.
“Once I saw that just a little bit of time and effort could save me $100 or $200, it was worth the effort.”