Like anything else in life, saving money and learning how to do it can seem so overwhelming. There are so many questions like: where do I start? How does that work? Is that app good? Where do I find…? Lets work on getting started with some helpful hints.
Relax, we have your answers. In a step by step fashion, let us walk you through what you need to do. We recommend as you follow the steps, you collect coupons you see for products you use, as coupons have cycles and may not be there later.
For me the process starts with knowing what you have on hand and knowing what you regularly use. Having an understanding of what you use as a household and how much it costs helps a lot. I have made a couple of lists showing some examples.
I started with an inventory of my pantry, fridge, and freezer. Cleaning out anything we did not use or was no longer good. It’s pointless to have a full supply if it’s stuff you will never use. We needed to know what was on hand so I could know what we needed. This also helped me meal plan; something we will get into later on in the site. Next, I wrote out a list of what we currently had. This gave me an inventory list and a great start to the steps ahead.
What We Use In Our Home And Cost
This step is sort of an ongoing one, in regards to going through stages of using things and then not. For instance, a new mom is going to need diapers but not as many in 3 years. You may go through certain snacks a lot now but as your child grows, their needs change.
For this I looked at all the products I was buying regularly and made a list of them. Then it was time to go online and in store to see the cheapest regular price of these items in my area. This will help you to know what a good sale price is. Some stores make it seem like a great sale in their flyer, while it’s regularly cheaper at a different store. As you become more seasoned, you will notice what a rock bottom sale price is on each item you buy. This will also depend what area you live in and what stores you can price match.
I update this list as things are bought or used. This allows me to not over buy items I have or not have items I need.
Knowing Your Budget
This is an important step to anything financial. It makes no difference if an item is a rock bottom price if you don’t have the money for it. For this step, I took my last 6 months of grocery spending and assessed what I was using on groceries to see what my budget needed to be to feed my family. For more in depth budgeting, we will be posting some great articles to help with that later on. Once I knew my budget, I was better able to know what I could afford to buy. This was a great starting point to figuring out how to cut that budget as well. Each week, I set a side a certain amount of my budget for couponed items to help build a stockpile. In the first week I barely managed 20.00. This amount increased a little as the weeks went on.
So now you have a budget and a list of what you use. You know the lowest regular price of what you buy, so let’s talk price matching. I find this is the foundation of a lot of your savings.
The first thing I did was go and ask each store in my area who they price matched and what their limits were. I made sure to speak to a store manager so I could get the most accurate information. I wrote all of this information down. I included the manager’s name I spoke with, the date, who they price matched, and if there were any limits.
Every Wednesday morning I sit down with my phone, a blank piece of paper, a coffee, and I go through the flyer apps. You can absolutely use paper flyers if these are better for you. For me starting with meat sales as they are the most expensive item in my meals usually seems to work best. Based on the meat sales I get an idea of what meals I can make cheaper. We look at all the sales and determine what we need and make a list. In my list, I include the store name that I am price matching, so I don’t accidentally over pay. For more information on Price Matching, check out our post on Price Matching here.
As I started collecting more and more coupons, I was able to use these to add to my savings. Combined with a price match and a cash back offer, We have gotten plenty of items for free and many at a huge discount. Click for a list of where to find coupons in Canada.
Be sure to read your coupons carefully and understand what they are good on. Just because a cashier let it go does not make it ethical. We want coupons to be around for a long time and if we misuse them, manufacturers will start to lower the value, or they may remove them all together.
Apps That Save You Cash
The next thing I did was to download the two available Cash Back apps, Checkout 51 and Caddle, and money saving apps such as GasBuddy and Flashfoods.
Checkout 51 and Caddle have ‘offers’ for money back on certain items. These items update every Thursday morning, so make sure to submit your receipts before Wednesday at midnight, (we recommend doing it right away as some offers run out), and check the apps each Thursday morning, GasBuddy let’s you know the cheapest price for gas in the area. This is updated frequently so you receive the best deal on gas.
Flashfoods is an app that allows stores to sell expiring or discontinued items at 50% off. For this app, we recommend you know your prices and pay attention to the deal being offered. This is a great way for them to try and reduce food waste. This is updated frequently as items become available or unavailable.
I must admit, I played around with these apps a bit to get a feel for how to use them before I needed them.
I went and got points cards for stores and places I frequent most often. For me, that was PC Optimum Card, Scene points, Air miles and a Petro Card. Be sure to check regularly for offers on these cards, but I am cautious not to buy things I don’t need or spend more just to earn points. After all, my goal is to save money on my shopping and while points are nice, they don’t always equal savings.
Things to Think About
When I was finished doing things, I decided I wanted a 6 month stockpile of the things we use most often, and nothing more. We spent some time figuring out what that looked like for me. I found we would use 20 bags of toilet paper in that time, so that was my goal when I found a stock up price. I would buy no more than 6 months worth.
For some of you, you may not want a stockpile and that is ok too. These tips will help you save every week.
As I wanted a stockpile, the first week I started by taking 20.00 and using it to stock up on paper towel, as it was 0.35 cents after coupon, and I was able to take it off my list for the next 6 months. The following week there was 32.50 in my grocery budget for a stock up item, so I decided to get toothpaste and toothbrushes, as I only had to pay the tax. Slowly the money left in my grocery budget increased and my expense decreased.
Remember, this will not happen overnight. Like anything else you learn, it takes time. We have provided a lot of information on this site to help get you started. Don’t be afraid to come back and read it several times, and if you are interested, please feel free to follow us on Facebook, Instagram or join our Facebook group for a more interactive experience.