Food

Eating Out At Restaurants: The Ultimate Guide To Spending Less

Eating out at restaurants: The ultimate guide to spending lessEating out is great isn’t it?

No cooking, no cleaning, no groceries, and no hassle -- what’s not to love?

There’s just one problem: eating out is expensive. Ok, two problems. Restaurant meals often aren’t as healthy as a home cooked meal either, but they sure taste good!

Fortunately, there are a lot of ways to make the bill that comes at the end of your meal a lot more palatable so you can eat out more often without feeling nearly as guilty, or just pocket the extra dough for something else you enjoy.

Want to save money when eating out? Grab this PDF download with 34 strategies – including a 1-page worksheet to list your top 5.

Here’s how you do it:

Related: Do You Splurge?

Combine As Many Discounts As You Can

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How Much Is Reasonable to Spend on Alcohol Every Month?

How much is reasonable to spend on alcohol every month?

With all of the articles you see about the fact that millennials are spending more on coffee than they’re saving for retirement…

I’ve been waiting for the follow up article:

Millennials are likely spending more on alcohol than they’re saving for retirement, too.

And I’ve been waiting for that article precisely because, even as a person who enjoys the occasional (or, if we’re being honest, not-so-occasional) latte, my monthly craft-beer-and-wine budget often tops my coffee budget.

And based on what I hear anecdotally from friends? I’m not alone on this.

So if beverages are ruining millennial’s retirement, and if we’ve already talked lattes to death…

Let’s switch gears for a second and ask a different question.

Less “Will a $5 latte sink my retirement?”, and more:

“Am I spending too much on beer, wine and alcoholic drinks? And uh… how do I know if I’ve hit that point?”

The answer will likely be highly personal. Because alcohol itself is highly personal.

From your favourite type of wine, to the reasons you don’t indulge.

But here’s a look at why we’re spending so much on alcohol, and how to get a handle on your booze budget.

How did alcohol become such a big budget line item?

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Pointers On Building Your Stockpile

Pointers on how to build your own stockpileThere’s many sizes of products in any brand lineup…

And it’s not surprising that it can get confusing sometimes as to when they should purchase short term or long term supply of many items.

I know I get confused. And so do other stockpilers.

I’m more at ease when I’m ahead by a month’s supply in many non-perishable items. But sometimes the savings are greater when we don’t supersize everything.

That being said, good stockpiles are built over a longer period of time, through strategic shopping using couponing techniques, loss leader shopping, clearance sales, etc.

If you’re purchasing items for your stockpile at full price, it defeats the purpose.

To get started, first things first...

How to Unit Price

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8 Apps For Spending Less On Groceries

8 apps for spending less on groceries

We can’t do much to lower some of our monthly expenses, as much as we’d like to chop that mortgage payment in half…

But groceries are one of the variables we can control.

Choosing generic products over name-brand products can sliver a bit off the grand total. And so can looking for sticker deals on items that are about to expire.

But one of the easiest – and most effective – ways to spend less at the grocery store is by using the apps designed for this very purpose.

Grab your phone, sit back, and I’ll share my favourite digital apps for saving money on groceries...

Plan ahead

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The War On Debt: Reining In The Food Budget

The war on debt: reining in the food budgetI must admit, I don’t even look at sales flyers.

The blue plastic bag is tossed on our driveway Thursday night. On Friday morning, I drop the whole thing straight into the recycle bin.

After talking with Katie Peterson, a registered dietitian, mother of five and meal planning expert, it looks like this is one more thing I need to change.

Katie’s blog is filled with tips on organization and time-savers, particularly for busy, young mothers. She also teaches how to eat on a budget (she calls it “Frugalicious” meal planning) via home parties and Facebook.

After speaking with her, I felt better about our $800 grocery bill in January, since she told me she aims for $780 per month for her family of seven.

“You have five adults,” she says. “Eight hundred is not too bad. I tried to cut back to $600 in January and found it quite challenging. But our grocery bill includes eating out, toiletries, laundry soap, coffee—everything.”

Of course, I didn’t admit that $800 was likely a cheap month. Sometimes we’ve spent upwards of $900. What usually blows it wide open is the purchase of convenience meals on a weeknight when we don’t feel like cooking, or eating out too often for the same reason.

This, Katie tells me, is the problem in most kitchens.

“If you want to stick to a budget, you need a plan. I’ve been doing it for 11 years, so now it only takes me about 30 to 40 minutes for the whole month.”

Frugalicious Meal Planning

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How to Set - and Stick to - Your FUN Budget

How to set and stick to your fun budgetWhen people hear the word budget, they don’t hear “fun.”

Instead, they tend to hear one of two things.

“Booooooring.”

Or the ever-popular,

“So I have to stop going to the pub so much, right?”

But here’s the great thing about budgeting:

It can actually help you spend guilt-free on the things you really love.

And I speak from personal experience on this.

My Budgeting Journey

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The $36.9 Billion Cost of Poor Health...and How to Get Real Food for Less

How to get real food for lessConsider the high cost of poor health...

Unhealthy lifestyle choices cost Canadians $36.9 billion per year according to this Canadian Men’s Health Foundation’s study.

You can bet we’re all affected because our tax dollars fund our healthcare programs...

Poor health also affects our ability to work. Of course, we just can’t do our best work when we’re sick...

I worked in Human Resources and consistent absence from work (“absenteeism”) is a classic management headache. Employees who are legitimately sick and truly need their employer’s support, unfortunately, get mixed up with those few bad apples who abuse the system.

If you’re a full-time employee, you’ve got a limited amount of sick leave and likely some long-term disability coverage (although even if you qualify, this only replaces a portion of your salary).

Related: Want to get a salary raise? Read this and learn from a trusted career coach...

But what if you’re a casual employee with no benefits and no guaranteed work hours?

What if you’re self-employed?

Your income could take a sharp nosedive when you need it most.

And then there’s also quality of life...

Sure, we’ve gained 20 to 22 years in life expectancy - but are we living better? Will we be healthy enough to travel at 65? Or play with our grandkids at 75?

When we invest in our health starting now - it can make a HUGE impact not only in the short-term...but also over the longer-term.

Here’s a thought...

We prepare for our financial well-being leading up to retirement. But at the end of the day, what’s the point of gaining a mountain of money if we’re not going to have the health and the zest to enjoy it with the people we love?

So why not invest in our health as well?

Investing in Food and Your Health

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Food Investment: Interview with A Local Farmer

Interview with a local farmer on food investmentFood 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)

How to avoid sneaky grocery store tricksGrocery 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?

The grocery store with the lowest priceWho 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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