Food Investment: Interview with A Local Farmer

foodinvestment-interviewwithalocalfarmer.jpgFood is a health investment. But is local food an affordable option?

Local food is affordable if it’s accessible” counters Dave Wolpin the 27 year old farmer and owner of Kredl's farmers market in Hampton, New Brunswick.

The key is to make local food widely accessible to the public, and Farmer Dave (as he calls himself) dreams that one day he can make that happen.

Better Grocery Store Model

Grocery stores that “represent its region’s produce” are what Farmer Dave hopes he’ll be part of in the next 5 to 10 years.

His vision is that the future grocery store model “exists as a host for the products of the region that inspires both agricultural excellence and cultivates culinary culture”.

But what is agricultural excellence?

It’s agriculture without the use of chemicals, which is also Farmer Dave’s long-standing philosophy. He’s boisterously proud that his farm produce is “no-spray” and quite indignant why anyone would ever spray chemicals on their produce.

For one thing, organic certification costs money which translates to added cost for the consumer. So Farmer Dave settles with a “no-spray local” label for his own farm produce.

Granted, we’ll have to take his word for that. However, even with an organic certification, mandatory laboratory testing to ensure that the produce has no pesticides is not part of the process. Essentially, we still end up having to trust that the “organic” label holds up - and then pay added cost anyway.

Local Produce Price-Comparison

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Sneaky Grocery Store Tricks (And How To Avoid Them)

sneakygrocerystoretricksandhowtoavoidthem.jpgGrocery stores are experts at marketing and consumer behaviour.

They get you in the door, keep you inside as long as possible, and subtly trick you into spend more money than you planned.

I don’t go grocery shopping often (we get groceries delivered weekly) but when I do I’m always taken aback by the subtle things grocery stores do to part shoppers from their money.

Whether it’s putting fresh produce near the front to make it appear everything is fresh or keeping staples like milk and cheese at the back so people will wander the store, there are plenty of things they do to increase their sales.

Here’s a few things grocery stores do to trick customers into spending more (and how to avoid them):

External Cues

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Which Grocery Store Has The Lowest Prices?

whichgrocerystorehasthe_lowest_prices.jpgWho doesn’t like to eat good food? Let’s face it: we all do!

Now, what I don’t like is spending a fortune on food.

If you keep a budget, you may notice that food is one of your biggest expenses. Whether you are a family of one or a family of twelve, rising food prices affects your finances.

So, with all the competition between grocery chains, which is the best one to shop at for the lowest prices?

The front pages of the weekly flyers have deals to entice you to visit the store, but what about the additional items that you need to complete your list?

Do you also need staples such as rice, flour, coffee that perhaps didn’t make the list of sales this week? Those may be priced higher, but until teleportation becomes common, we can’t get the lowest price all the time.

The consumer price index (CPI) is an indicator used to measure the change in the cost of a fixed basket of products. One of the product categories monitored is food. Below is a table of foods based on the market basket of foods listed on Statistics Canada’s website.

Related: The Ultimate Guide To Stacking Coupons And Deals On Groceries

Bonus: Use this Grocery Store Price Comparison Spreadsheet - and do your own calculations to get the lowest prices.

Grocery Store Price Comparison

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The Ultimate Guide To Stacking Coupons And Deals On Groceries

theultimateguidetostackingcouponsanddealsongroceries.jpgI’ve been couponing for years now, and have heard many like-minded people state that this cannot be done in Canada effectively.

In the United States, it seems like a fairly easy thing to accomplish. We’ve all seen the shows: lucky shoppers who manage to bring their checkout totals down so low that they are being paid to wheel all those goodies out the door! Those examples are more of a half truth. Only the best shopping trips are highlighted on the show, and in the States there are much fewer restrictions on the use of coupons.

Here in Canada, as usual, we are over regulated in terms and conditions and couponing is no exception. The only store I am aware of that allows customers to more than one paper coupon on a single item is London Drugs, which I explain fully in a section below. But don’t lose hope, there is a way for us crafty Canadians to come out on top!

What Type Of Offers Can Be Stacked

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My System For Stacking Grocery Deals & Coupons

mysystemforstackinggrocerydealscoupons2.jpgSo, you have an organized binder full of great coupons and maybe you have even signed up with one or more of the Canadian coupon apps and are ready to find yourself some good deals. There’s only one problem: digging through your coupon binder and trying to match them with sale prices can be very time consuming.

I’m here to tell you that there is an easier way, and the system to do it all for you is a program already installed on your computer! It will not only help you find great deals, but sometimes you’ll even score free items when you stack paper coupons with online offers and rewards programs. When going through the weekly flyers, it will help you prepare a detailed shopping list to take with you to the grocery store.

“Window Shopping”

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The Top 5 Cash Back Couponing Apps For Canadians

thetop5cashbackcouponingappsforcanadians.jpgMany brand manufacturers are opting to go paperless when offering coupons on their products. When you consider the printing, paper and postage costs they incur with paper coupons, it makes sense because they can still offer great savings to potential customers while controlling their costs.

Since there are often no restrictions except for size and quantity on these offers, some really great stacking opportunities can present themselves which is great news for couponers. All that is needed to access these apps is a compatible smartphone, and a data plan or wireless connection. Quite often the same product will be offered on more than one app, in addition to paper coupons, meaning you might get 3 or more discounts on the same product!

The Top 5 Apps In Detail

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Multiply Your Savings With A Coupon Book

multiplyyoursavingswithacouponbook.jpgLast year I managed to save a significant amount of money on groceries by using coupons I found in a coupon book.

Not only did I save money from the coupons I found, I also managed to multiply my savings so that I saved much more than originally planned.

Stumbling My Way To Big Savings

My strategy for multiplying my savings was something I stumbled upon in the process of using my coupons.

I bought a coupon book online for a fundraiser that raises money for local schools. The coupon book cost $20 but was huge – it had hundreds of coupons inside. I bought it for the grocery coupons as those were the ones that I knew I would use and would save me money. The book had about $60 in grocery coupons that I was sure to use, so I’d easily make my money back.

In the process of searching for the coupon book through online classifieds I noticed that there were others who were in the same position I was – they also bought the coupon book but would only use 5-10 coupons out of the hundreds that were available.

I noticed ads placed by others who wanted to trade the coupons they weren’t planning to use for the ones they would use.

Related: Couponing For Beginners

It was easy to find plenty of people to trade coupons with, as certain people were looking for certain coupons and almost everyone had coupons they weren’t planning to use.

I contacted a few of them and asked if they’d want to trade and I was in luck. I traded with numerous people via regular mail since it saved us the time and hassle of meeting to trade for relatively low-value coupons.

How Much Money I’ve Saved

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Organizing Your Coupon Binder Made Easy

organizingyourcouponbindermadeeasy2.jpgFor those who are just getting started with using coupons, you may find it a bit overwhelming to keep track of them. Perhaps you get frustrated trying to locate a specific coupon while in the grocery store, or get shot down at the cashier for not noticing that one has expired. There is a simple way to ensure your shopping trips go quickly and smoothly: organization!

Give Your Coupon Binder An Upgrade

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The Best Way To Use Your Save On More Rewards Points

thebestwaytouseyoursaveonmorerewardspoints.jpgEver wonder just what's the best way to redeem those More Rewards Points offered by Save on Foods, Pricesmart, Overwaitea Food Group, and Urban Fare? Or are you like most people who think they'll never add up to much anyway and just spend them when the cashier offers to redeem your points for a 'free' product? Admittedly, these aren't life changing amounts of money, but here are some tips on how to play "the game" more efficiently. After all, if one is allowing one's buying patterns to be used for data mining, why not get the most value for it?

Tips For EARNING Extra More Rewards Points

Let's say you are an avid collector - you just love buying the Big White passes each year for Christmas gifts and the feeling of getting a great deal! Or perhaps you love the idea of taking a 'free' flight. Here are a few tips on how to boost your points balances.

Earning In-Store

Besides collecting of the points themselves, value can also be found in using the card in store. It is becoming increasingly the case that you only get a discounted price on your grocery purchases if you scan your points card at the checkout. (The irony is that one of their major competitors, Safeway, has recently backed off of forcing their customers to bring in their membership to get discounted prices on groceries!)

Typically, "More Rewards" points are earned at a rate of 1 point per dollar spent when you shop at their grocery stores, including Urban Fare. It's a good idea to watch for double points days as well as bonus points that are offered quite regularly. Here are few in-store examples of how to earn points.

  • Bonus points on products - just keep an eye for the little blue shelf signs while shopping in store.
  • Multi-buy specials - A typical offer would be "Buy four boxes of Kelloggs cereal and receive 2000-3000 points." You usually don't need to clip the coupon from the flyer, just buy the product and the points show up on your receipt automatically. If you use the FLIPP app on your phone to find the product on sale cheaper locally elsewhere, you can save even more. (This app is fantastic, you can search for ANY advertised item and find out who has it on sale - click here to check it out.) Note: Some stores still won't accept price matching requests unless you have the paper flyer, so bring the flyer in when you shop if that's the case. Ask the cashier to price-match the items. You'll still get the points that are associated with those items, as they are automatically added by the system giving you more points per dollar spent.
  • Manager's specials - Each store is responsible for distributing their own points. Some Store managers offer a 1000 point incentive if you fill out one of their feedback surveys. Just bring in the confirmation sheet after filling out your survey, or fill it out online at the kiosk provided in select stores.
  • Share your account - Be sure everyone in your family has a card, they come on key-chain tags as well, so everyone can easily earn.
  • Use the kiosk - Most stores now offer a More Rewards kiosk close to the entrance where you can scan your card and receive bonus offers for spending set amounts. Typically one receives 375 points for a $35 spend, but the amounts are often MUCH larger if you spend more. Each card is allowed one scan per day. The highest value coupons are only offered to each cardholder occasionally, it seems.

Ways To Earn Outside Of The Grocery Store

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Canadian Price Match Policy Comparison

canadianpricematchpolicycomparison.jpgGetting competitors to match prices is a convenient way for consumers to save time and money. It saves time as several trips to different stores can be consolidated into a single visit. It also saves money through capitalizing on increased competition among retailers which can often amount to additional, sometimes significant, savings.

Knowing which stores have the best and most flexible policies is essential to saving the most money when price matching. To make the comparison easier, I've put together a big table comparing them to one another so you can quickly determine which stores to shop at.

The Price Matching Table

Store Policy Name Beat Or Match Price Protection Matches Prices Found Online Matches Prices Found
Does Price Matching Matches Competitors Nationwide
Best Buy Lowest Price Guarantee 10%1 30 days In-Store In-Store & Online
Black's Price Match Guarantee 30 days In-Store  
Canada Computers Price Match Policy 14 days In-Store & Online Online
Canadian Tire Price Match Guarantee 10%2   In-Store  
FreshCo Cheaper Guarantee $0.013 7 days   In-Store  
Future Shop Price Beat Promise 10%1 30 days In-Store In-Store & Online
Giant Tiger Ad Match Guarantee $0.013     In-Store  
Home Depot Low Price Guarantee 10%2 30 days   In-Store  
Home Hardware Price Match Promise     In-Store  
Kitchen Stuff Plus Price Match Policy 10%1 14 days   In-Store  
Leon's Integrity Pricing 60 days In-Store  
London Drugs Our Guarantee 30 days   In-Store  
Lowe's Everday Low Price Guarantee 10%1 90 days In-Store  
Memory Express Uber Price Beat Guarantee 25%1 7 days In-Store & Online Online
NCIX Advanced Store Price Match   In-Store & Online Online
No Frills Won't Be Beat® promise 7 days   In-Store  
Real Canadian Superstore Price Matching Program     In-Store  
Rona In-Store Price Guarantee 10%1     In-Store  
Sears Price Protection Plus 30 days In-Store & Online In-Store
Sleep Country Canada Unbeatable Price Guarantee 5%1     In-Store  
SportChek Price Matching 30 days   In-Store In-Store
Staples Price Match Guarantee 14 days In-Store In-Store
Target Price Match Guarantee   In-Store  
The Brick Price Guarantee 10%1 30 days In-Store In-Store
The Source Best Price Guarantee 30 days In-Store In-Store
Tiger Direct Best Price Promise 14/30 days In-Store & Online Online
Toys R Us Price Match Policy 14 days In-Store  
Walmart Ad-Match Guarantee     In-Store In-Store
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