Grocery Shopping Interview with FrugalTrader from MillionDollarJourney.com

We are excited to interview one of the top personal finance bloggers in Canada, FrugalTrader.

He runs one of the most popular personal finance websites in Canada – Million Dollar Journey. He has have built an equity portfolio that has been growing gradually over the years. His goal is to grow his net worth to at least $1 million by the time he is 35. He documents everything on his website, http://www.milliondollarjourney.com/. He posts great articles like: Smith Manoeuvre Mortgage Comparison, Newborn Baby Expenses, and Smith Manoeuvre – How it Works.

What I enjoy about the site is that he posts every month an update on his families net worth (http://www.milliondollarjourney.com/net-worth-update-january-2011-3-61.htm). It shows that he has zero mortgage (hopefully we will join that club next year), and uses the Smith Maneuverer as an investment account.

Here is the recap of the interview:

  1. How many people do you shop for in your household?
    We have 3 people in our household. Two adults, one toddler.
  2. Do you have a regular budget for groceries?
    Up until a couple years ago, we had a tight budget for all spending categories. However, over time, our frugal lifestyle just became habit. However, at the time, we budgeted $150/week in groceries.
  3. Do you have a Costco or Sams Club membership?
    Yes, we have a Costco membership. In fact, it’s one of our favorite stores.
  4. Do you shop name brand items (Unico, Kraft) or no-name store brands?
    We mix and match. For example, we stick with Heinz ketchup, but we like no-name (PC brand) tomato sauce. Some of the store brand stuff is actually really high quality.
  5. Which store do you spend the most of your grocery budget?
    We buy most of our groceries at Loblaws (called Dominion in Newfoundland) as it’s just down the road from us.
  6. Do you use coupons on a regular basis?
    We use coupons as they are available.
  7. Do you shop with a grocery list?
    If we’re shopping together, then my wife typically picks and chooses whatever we need. If I’m shopping by myself, my wife usually makes me a list. :)
  8. Do you shop at farmers markets on a regular basis?
    Unfortunately in NL, the farmers markets are very limited as the growing season is very short. However, when local veggies are available, we buy those even if they are a bit more expensive than the local grocery store.
  9. Do you make home preserves or freeze fruits/vegetables?
    If we buy fresh veggies in bulk (due to a sale etc), then we’ll typically freeze it so that we can use it later.
  10. Do you shop using grocery flyers (planning in advance with sales)?
    As we live very close to a large big box shopping centre, it’s common for us to go to a store specifically for the item on sale.
  11. Any tip to reduce your grocery bill?
    Never go to the grocery store on an empty stomach!
  12. Any grocery shopping advice (at the store, checkout, planning)?
    As we are fairly health conscious, we like to buy most of our stuff around the perimeter of the grocery store. As well, most large chains follow the scanning code of practice. If their check out system scans a higher price than what the shelf indicates, they will refund you the difference plus up to $10. A lot of times, the item turns out to be free.
  13. What is in your fridge at the moment? (If you could take a picture that would be great!)
    Since it’s after Christmas, our fridge is full of ham, turkey soup, veggies, milk, orange juice and mashed potatoes. I’d say we’ll need to head to the grocery store within the next couple days.

I would like to thank FrugalTrader for sharing his grocery shopping tips. It is great to get advice from a future millionaire!

It was interesting seeing his budget for groceries is almost $8,000 per year. He also has a Costco membership. Others we have interviewed have the membership but it is not their most popular store to shop at – the trend continues with this interview. I believe the membership fee for some families makes it worth it for them. For us it doesn’t add up.
I think he has seen the benefits of using no-name products at times. I think what works for some people won’t work for everyone.
As others have mentioned, staying to the perimeter of the store is important. Frugaltrader also brought up the scanning code of practice. This has paid off last year to over $50 of extra savings for us personally.
I found it common with myself that he shops with a list – my wife also makes me do this!

Steven Zussino

Steven Zussino is the co-founder of Grocery Alerts Canada. He loves to help Canadians save money on groceries. He also runs the blog, CanadianTravelHacking.com.

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