Boost your budget

Feeling the pinch at the grocery checkout more and more every week? If your budget is stretched to the max every month, you’ll be pleased to know that a new report suggests that climbing grocery prices are likely coming to an end. In fact, some food products may even go down in price. While this may provide you with some much-needed budgetary breathing room, it’s also an opportunity to boost your budget.Boost your budget

According to Kevin Grier Market Analysis & Consulting:

  • The two main factors that influence food prices are commodity prices (i.e. agriculture) and competition among grocery retailers. Indications are that commodity prices are pulling back, and that grocery retailer competition is heating up through the end of 2016.
  • The falling loonie is also behind a lot of the food price increases (particularly produce). The belief is that the loonie has almost hit its low
  • The emergence of department grocery superstores, like Costco and Walmart, are causing other grocery-specific retailers to be more competitive with their pricing, which is good news for grocery shoppers.
  • Meat prices and packaged food prices are expected to decline in late 2016.

“If you’ve managed to stay fairly close to your budget, even with the challenge of high food prices over the past few months, you’ll be able to kick that budget into high gear to help boost other areas that might need improvement, like savings or paying down debt,” says Jeff Schwartz, executive director, Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada.

“It’s not just the ticket price at the grocery store that can really eat into your budget; your practices around shopping can either stretch your dollars or waste them. If you combine smart shopping with lower ticket prices, you’ll really power up that budget,” says Schwartz.

Here are some things to consider when boosting your budget:

Budget review

If you’re not already in the habit of reviewing your budget on a regular basis, now is an excellent opportunity to do so.

Are you on track to meet your goals? Are there areas in which you are overspending or areas for which you overestimated? Your budget should match your lifestyle in the most current way possible, and the only way to do that effectively is to review and tweak your budget often (at least once a quarter).

Track your spending

Before you commit to budgetary cutbacks to your grocery allocation, track your grocery spending on specific items (i.e. packaged foods, produce, meat and dairy) to see if you witness a flat line or reversal in price. Once you’ve seen the same trend for a couple of months, you can likely make slight adjustments and then push that money towards either extra debt payment or savings.

Don’t pay for convenience

Convenience comes at a premium which smart shoppers won’t pay. Plan your menus ahead, based on sale items. Remember, competition is heating up between grocery retailers, so it literally pays to shop around.  Grocery shop once a week in order to save on gas and travel time. Avoid buying pre-packaged heat & serve items. You are paying for labour. A little elbow grease in the kitchen can mean extra savings at the checkout.

Save wherever and whenever you can

Make a habit of using coupons or price matching each and every time you head to the check out.  Switch to no-name products. Buy in bulk wherever you can (double up with a friend for extra savings).

Are you scrounging to find extra room in your budget every month to pay down your debts? The first step is to establish a plan through a solid monthly budget. Contact one of our trained credit counsellors at 1-888-294-3130 or visit our free online debt analysis.

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