Interview with Young and Thrifty – Grocery Shopping Habits of Popular Finance Bloggers

We are starting a new segment on Grocery Alerts where we investigate the grocery shopping habits and tips of popular bloggers. Some bloggers are followed by thousands of people each day.

Bloggers are interesting people – some are anonymous and some keep very high profiles. Grocery shopping is done by everyone – young and old. I thought it would be interesting to compare different bloggers’ grocery shopping habits and tips across Canada and the US.

Each week we will bring another exciting interview.

young_and_thrirfty_blogOur first interview is with youngandthrifty – she blogs from http://youngandthrifty.ca/. She is also from British Columbia like my wife and I and understands the high cost of living here.

youngandthrifty is a 20-something personal finance blogger hailing from the same province who has been around the blogosphere for around a year now.  She talks about how to saving money and investing money.  She started blogging because she found that the average Generation Y’er didn’t know what an RRSP really was.

  1. How many people do you shop for in your household?

    Just me (for now).  Later on will be co-shopping with BF.

  2. Do you have a regular budget for groceries?

    No, I don’t, but I try and keep it to the essentials- I try to avoid junk food and other temptations in the grocery store.  Though I must admit, my weakness are Kettle Chips- especially the Honey Dijon flavour.

  3. Do you have a Costco or Sams Club membership?

    No, I don’t have a Costco membership.  I did have one about 2 years ago when they had that promotion code for a $15 gift card back (which effectively made the membership cost about $35).  My friend recently took me to Costco to shop for some essentials like cheese (love the Asiago cheese they have), almonds, and hummus.  I didn’t like how they only accepted AMEX or a debit card/ cash, but now that I have the SPG Amex, I can shop there (though now I don’t have the membership).  I plan to get the membership soon, I just am not so fond of the huge lines, and the huge expense of shopping there (each time I go, I drop at least $40+)… PLUS they have all these tasty samples they dole out and it tempts you to buy more and more non-essentials :)

  4. Do you shop name brand items (Unico, Kraft) or no-name store brands?

    I usually shop no-name store brands, especially if the price or taste difference is substantial.  If I have a coupon for the brand name brands, then I shop for those.

  5. Which store do you spend the most of your grocery budget?

    I do spend a lot of time at Choices (a grocery store containing natural and organic foods as well as the conventional stuff).  I also spend time at Superstore (but I hate their lines and their poor quality fruit and vegetables).  I also like Sunrise market too (they are also known for the tofu products) in Vancouver’s Chinatown- super super duper cheap groceries but you have to eat them right away because of the short shelf life (e.g. $1 for a box of grape tomatoes that would otherwise cost about $3.99 elsewhere).  They have some good (and cheap) organic products too, like $2 for two 1L boxes of organic enriched soy milk.

  6. Do you use coupons on a regular basis?

    I clip coupons I like in the paper or flyers, or I print them out online, but then I forget to use them and leave them lying around my home.  I should make a habit of clipping coupons and putting them in my wallet.

  7. Do you shop with a grocery list?

    I do try to shop with a grocery list, otherwise I get sidetracked and distracted easily.  My attention span and short term memory capacity is about the size of a walnut, so if I don’t write it down, I forget to buy it.  I find that shopping with a list helps a lot to refocus and saves me much more time in the end.  I like to get in and get out- no dilly dallying for me :)

  8. Do you shop at farmers markets on a regular basis?

    I should try and take advantage of farmers markets because we have so many here in Vancouver, but I haven’t been.  I’m more of a after work grocery shopper and farmers markets are usually open on the weekends.  I’m not a big fan of shopping on the weekends.  Also, I find that some of the prices for goods at farmers markets CAN be higher, but sometimes you can get a good deal on fresh salmon.

  9. Do you make home preserves or freeze fruits/vegetables?

    I would love to learn how to make home preserves without inadvertently poisoning myself with botulism.  My colleague often gives me picked beets, or blueberry jam from her garden, and they’re delicious.  It seems kind of time consuming, which is another barrier for me to actually get off my butt to start canning stuff.

  10. Do you shop using grocery flyers (planning in advance with sales)?

    I do shop with grocery flyers and try to buy everything on sale if I can (especially the non-perishable stuff).  I don’t understand people who have "please, no flyers" signs on their doors because I love flyers and I love circling flyers for things I need to buy.  I understand that refusing flyers is better for the environment, but my mentality is that they’re printed already, might as well read them and utilize them, I suppose.
    I tend to buy a lot of the non-perishable stuff (and hoard them) to combat inflation.  Growing up, I remember my family always bought lots of toilet paper and tissue paper boxes when they were on sale for cheap- to this date, I think my parents still have some tissue paper boxes in storage lying around from the 90’s.

  11. Any tip to reduce your grocery bill?

    Clip coupons and print out coupons online and keep them with you (you never know when you might do some impromptu grocery shopping).  Try and use these coupons when you see the item on sale in a flyer- you can then "double dip"- cheaper price from coupon on top of cheaper price from store sale.  I once saw a woman on TV who did this so extremely that she bought $250 worth of groceries and ONLY spent $3 after using all her coupons etc.  Impressive to say the least.

    Don’t be afraid (or embarrassed) to buy the grocery items that are "clearance"- you might find some fruits and vegetables that aren’t too spoiled (besides, you could always cut out the bad parts) and are at least 70% off what you would normally pay.

  12. Any grocery shopping advice (at the store, checkout, planning)?

    Stay away from the centre aisles of the store (because that’s where all the processed junky foods are) and stick to fresh foods.  Get your points card, method of payment, and reusable shopping bag ready to save time at check out.  Make a list ahead of time and check it twice, try not to get side tracked and buy things you don’t need.

  13. What is in your fridge at the moment? (If you could take a picture that would be great!)

    I’ve got box of organic romaine lettuce, a big block of Asiago cheese from Costco, a big bag of grape tomatoes, my big Costco sized tub of hummus, some organic tahini sauce, yogurt, my lunch for tomorrow, and some raw food for my dog.. among other things.

  14. fridge

Conclusion:

I want to thank Young and Thrifty for her assistance in the interview and helping with some great tips on grocery shopping and saving money!

I enjoyed hearing about her stories of her childhood (hoarding boxes of tissue papers)! My nonna still has paper towels when they were sold as singles. We seem to have many of the same strategies – combining sales with coupons and stocking up.  Great advice for stopping at the clearance aisle. You can find amazing savings at times there – just be careful on what you are buying.

Her tip of avoiding the centre aisles is brilliant for people that have problems avoiding junk food. It is also important to see that she shops at 3 different shops on a regular basis. If you shop at just one shop you are potentially leaving sales behind elsewhere.

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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