Golden Girl Finance
Lina Zussino
Posts (4)

Ask the Expert

Q&A: Keeping track of the best prices on grocery items

April 12th, 2012 by

I have just started couponing and price matching and am addicted. I read about keeping track of the best prices on items, so you know which items are a great deal and which store has the best price at any given time. Do you know of websites where I could find this information? For example, what the best price on boneless, skinless chicken breast is, so I can stock up. I heard grocery stores have great sales (every 3 months or so) and I don't want to buy the food if I know it is not the best price.

Asked by Liliane, London, ON


A price book is the best way to keep track of when items hit their lowest price. It might seem complicated or overwhelming at first, however just keep it simple.

Here are a few things to consider regarding price books:

  • Capture only the important information. Price, store, size/weight of the item, date and the brand.

  • Use a traditional notebook or excel spreadsheet to allow you to make changes.

  • Keep your receipts and use them as a guide to input the information needed to create a history.

  • Only keep track of the items you purchase regularly. If you don't buy Worcestershire sauce or sour cream, then don't add these items to your price book.

Over time, you will learn the best price of the items you purchase regularly within your area and will not even need to use a price book. When starting out, it's best to know what is the best price of any particular item to maximize savings. For this, you can always check to view the best deals of the week at each grocery store across Canada.

Ask the Expert

Q&A: How to reduce your grocery bill

August 19th, 2011 by

I currently don't use coupons but would like to start. What's the best way for a beginner to make a meaningful impact on their grocery bill?

Asked by Anonymous, Winnipeg, MB


The best way to make a meaningful impact on your grocery bill is to know the typical prices for all the items that you purchase on a regular basis and then buy them when they are on special instead of when you need them. If you are starting out, it's best to keep a notebook so that you can compare prices until becoming familiar on typical price points at each store and thus recognizing what is a deal or is on special. Once you know your prices, you can then start to shop the sales. On the other hand, If you don't know the regular price of an item, you will not recognize a good sale - and could miss out on the savings altogether.

Use coupons to maximize the savings on those particular items that are on special. For example, I know that mustard generally sells for $2.99 for 400ml and mustard is on special this week at the local grocery store ($1 off). I also have a coupon for $1.00 off which is a savings of 67%, taking into account the special and the coupon. Now do that for half of your groceries and you will see a significant impact on your grocery bill.

It comes down to changing the way you shop and planning ahead so that you don't find yourself grabbing what you need, when you need it. Buying those non-perishable and freezer-friendly items when they are on special - and with coupons - will reduce your grocery bill dramatically.

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Q&A: Is a Costco membership worth the cost?

August 18th, 2011 by

Is it worth it to get a Costco membership for my husband and I?

Asked by Anonymous, Dundas, ON


This is a really good question since there are many savings to be found at membership-based stores such as Costco and similar vendors. On a personal level, I've compared pricing from various grocery stores and find that Costco does offer the best pricing, especially when purchased in bulk. However, something to keep in mind is that Costco doesn't take coupons - so forget about the $1.50 off your favourite yogurt.

Costco also encourages spending on impulse purchase such as shoes, back-to-school gear, spa pool accessories - or even worse, a spa pool! (What a great way to blow the budget!) These impulse purchases are all too easily done; indeed, Costco recognizes that consumers will fall into the trap of coming in for discounted groceries and walk out with a spa pool. Come membership renewal time, always consider what the average cost of your shopping trip to Costco typically is (are there a lot of impulse purchases in there?!) versus your local grocery store trip.

Also consider the size of your family. If you have a family of 5 or more, it may be beneficial to buy your milk or yogurt in bulk because you will go through it quickly. However, if it's for a smaller family of two or three, like in my case, it's likely not worth purchasing in bulk, especially for fresh foods that take up significant storage space and are only fresh for a limited time.

In short, if you can control impulse purchases and have a hungry family to feed, a Costco membership might be a good choice. If you have a small family, just a spouse, or are single - and/or you are a determined coupon user - it probably doesn't make sense to hold a Costco membership.

Ask the Expert

Q&A: Is there an easy way to search for coupons?

August 18th, 2011 by

I shop once per week and make a list before I go. Is there an easy way to search for coupons on products I regularly buy or that are on my list before I go?

Asked by J.B., Toronto, ON


This is called getting your coupons organized. No matter how much you plan ahead, if you don't organize your coupons, chances are the coupons will never get used.

As a starting point, collect coupons on a regular basis and clip them where ever you find them (coupons can pop up virtually anywhere - in magazines, newspapers, at some grocery stores more than others, etc).

Use a small coupon organizer which looks like an accordion file, allowing you to file your coupons by categories. An example is to file all 'canned' food coupons such as tomato paste and tuna fish together, and products such as yogurt and cheese under a 'dairy' section. Keeping your coupons handy and knowing where to find them when you create your shopping list (attach the coupons you plan to use right to the list!) will ensure direct access when you need them, so they don't inadvertently expire or get lost.

To further help save money on groceries, lists the weekly grocery specials of all the major grocery stores followed by the coupon link if there is one available. If they are online printable coupons, you can download them and print instantly. In some cases, you will need to order the coupon and have it delivered via Canada Post.

The good news is that grocery stores rotate their sales, which means what might be on sale this week at one grocery store will more than likely be on sale in the upcoming weeks at another grocery store in your neighbourhood.