The food inflation rate in Canada has reached nearly 11 per cent, the highest it’s been since 1981.
With Canadians across the country feeling the pressure on their pocketbooks, many have picked up couponing as a way to save money at the till.
Toronto resident Sharon Anderson wasn’t much of a couponer or flyer collector before, but she says currently, “I kind of base my shopping list around what’s on sale and what I can do price match with.”
Grappling with unprecedented inflation rates for the last 13 months, many Canadians like Anderson are making changes to the way they shop in order to put food on the table for their family.
New research by Dalhousie University, which surveyed 5,000 Canadians earlier this month, found 33 per cent are using loyalty points to pay for their groceries. Thirty-two per cent said they were reading flyers much more often and nearly 24 per cent are using more coupons at the store.
“Canadians are much more strategic about grocery shopping right now. They are aware of their options,” said Sylvain Charlebois, director of the university’s Agri-Food Analytics Lab.
In addition to flyers, price-matching and coupons, Charlebois says many of those who were surveyed are visiting discount and dollar stores to purchase food. Some are even skipping meals altogether to save money.
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“About 24 per cent of Canadians have decided to actually reduce the amount of food they buy,” he said. “You can only imagine how many families are severely impacted, including children”
Extreme couponer Kathleen Cassidy, who owns the Instagram account ‘Living on a Loonie,’ has been posting tips and weekly deals to help people save money on everything from groceries to household items.
“At the end of the day you are able to save, whether that be through physical coupons, cashback apps, loyalty points programs. Everything adds up,” she told Global News.
Cassidy’s tips for those currently on a financial diet include checking out different locations to shop, as prices may vary. She adds that it’s important to plan ahead and make a meal plan so that you don’t spend over your budget.
“There is a deal out there for almost everything,” she said.
“It’s just about when and how you can get that deal. I really think as grocery prices continue to sky-rocket, there are definitely ways that you can save money with just a little time and effort.”
Cassidy says people can often find coupons at their local grocery store or by heading directly to a product manufacturer’s website. She says consumers can then download and print the coupons.
Personal finance expert Rubina Ahmed-Haq says while coupon clipping is a great way to cut down on spending cash, people can end up buying more than they need if they don’t plan diligently.
“Often we are incentivized to buy things we don’t actually need,” Ahmed-Haq says.
“Don’t buy something simply because you get a juicy coupon for it. You think, ‘five dollars is a lot of money to save.’ But it’s not a lot of money to save if you wouldn’t have bought that product to begin with.”
Ahmed-Haq also underlines planning ahead and making sure to check your fridge and pantries before you head off to the store to avoid purchasing products you already have at home.