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Has anyone else noticed a decline in their grocery bill costs?

Six months ago my weekly bill pushed $160. The past month I've seen it hover more between $130-$140.

My spending habits have not changed drastically, so I'm wondering if anyone else has noticed the cost of their bills drop so much.
 

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I have noticed a significant increase in my grocery bills.
I've said on this forum several times during the last year that the prices of essential household items (perishable like groceries and non perishables like cleaning products, etc.) have been going up since the so called recession of 2008.
My spending habits hasn't changed at all during this time and in fact I track all my spending in an Excel sheet.
I was expecting a drop in my monthly household expenses due to several reasons (kids out of diapers, switching to regular vs. organic produce, etc.) but instead have seen an increase.
I can list several weekly use things that have increased in price.
Bananas are 69c. instead of 49c.
Herbs are $1.29 instead of $1.09
Apples are $1.49 instead of $1.29
Milk is $3.87 instead of $3.47
Butter's $3.27 instead of $2.97
Most vegetables have gone up 20c./lb or more
Rice is up by more than 20%

I could go on, but your personal "basket of goods" may be very different than mine and so your CPI is different than mine.
 

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I agree with crump. My basket includes things like bread, milk, vegetables, yogurt, fruit, apples, bran muffins, whole wheat spaghetti, tomato juice, tomato paste and various canned vegetables. The prices on ALL of these things are up significantly in the past 5 years. As all of this stuff is heavy and must be transported, my guess is the high price of gas (50% more than the price 10 years ago) has a lot to do with it.
 

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I've got to agree, grocery prices are way up in the last 2 years. Every time I see one of those stupid inflation reports I always say to myself: where the heck are they buying their groceries!?!

(Yes, I know inflation reports take into account a lot of other things, but seriously, what does the average person care how much the price of an xBox changed over the last month?)
 

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This is why the generic "inflation rate" is pretty meaningless. You need to have a sense of your *personal* inflation rate, which may differ quite substantially from the aggregate rate.

In my book we talk about "there's a CPI - why not a CP-me and a CP-you?"
 

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There was significant food price inflation in the past five years, but there has been some mild deflation in the last year or so. Most of the grocery retailers in Canada have had mildly shrinking sales because of the falling price of groceries.

So, you're both right!

MG: I'm reading your book right now. This is a pretty good point that most people don't see made often enough. There's not much you can do to hedge your own inflation rate though, so you have to rely on something like CPI.

I wouldn't be surprised to see someone create a service that can take your current consumption mix and give you the inflation rate for your particular weighting. The subindices that comprise the CPI are available, so this should be doable. What good this does you, who knows? I can't imagine insurance companies offering products to help hedge your particular inflation rate. They could conceivably, but I imagine that kind of product would be expensive to create and not in particularly high demand--most people aren't even aware of this as a problem.
 

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Malcolm Hamilton suggests an annuity that increases by CPI less 2% - to account for declining consumption in retirement while providing a hedge if inflation exceeds 2%. (See page 191 of the book for a note on this.)

The point we were trying to make is that if you think "Oh, I am protected from inflation because I have an inflation-indexed annuity/DB pension" - it ain't necessarily so.
 

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Malcolm Hamilton suggests an annuity that increases by CPI less 2% - to account for declining consumption in retirement while providing a hedge if inflation exceeds 2%. (See page 191 of the book for a note on this.)

The point we were trying to make is that if you think "Oh, I am protected from inflation because I have an inflation-indexed annuity/DB pension" - it ain't necessarily so.
Does that significantly reduce the cost of the annuity (ie, is the value in the inflation risk hedge or the 2% growth rate)? Sorry if you answer this in the book--I'll probably finish it tonight.

This is opportunely timed. My parents are retiring and would like to have some sense of what they should be thinking about, so they're informed when they speak to a financial planner. This makes it easier to tell the ones who are good from the commission smash-and-grabbers. They've been burned before by the latter and it's making them gun-shy.
 

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The idea of an annuity which provides a hedge to inflation at (CPI - 2%) is purely theoretical. :( It's a great idea, though! In general, adding a CPI or COLA rider will reduce your payout by about 25%.
 

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I've noticed my grocery bills go down only because:

I shop several loss leaders every week. I stock up on items when they are on sale. I mainly shop No Frills and Food Basic, only shop at loblaws and metro when things are on sale, or I need a high quality meet/produce. Most of the time, the meat and produce at No Frills and Food Basic is fine.

I use point promotion events at participating locations. (mainly shoppers and superstore)
Last two events at superstore were spend $100 and get $20 in points. So it's like 20% off. With shoppers, they had a promotion where you spend $30 each in a group of 10 people, everyone gets about $20 in free points. WIth these promotions, I buy essential items (milk, bread, sugar, etc) and use items that have mail in rebates.

I use a lot of coupons now and collect them through several websites. I keep my eyes on RFD for mail in rebates and free items. Every week I shop, I use 1-2 coupons and about once a month, I seem to be getting an item for free. I hold the coupons and then wait for the items to go on sale. For example, today I bought two 500G black diamond cheese bars for $5.98. This was on sale and I used two $1.00 off coupons, found on the back of Latencia Milk.

I use MBNA smart cash credit card. 3% cash back on groceries-cheques go to mortgage.

I also made a list of "cheap meals" and we eat from it once or twice a week. In addition, meals are planned every day and grocery lists are complied from the weekly meal list.

Considering your grocery bill is the second biggest expense from the mortgage, it's worth the effort to save money.

We used to spend about $400/month on groceries, now I believe I can get it to $300/month. $1200 savings in one year. This will be piled back on the mortgage, saving even more money.
 

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The meal planning thing is probably the single biggest contributor to savings on groceries in my household. I've read that (on average, something like) 20% of grocery store food that is bought is never consumed - it rots and is thrown away. That's like going to the store, buying 5 bags of food, and then walking over and dropping one whole bag right into the garbage can!

I plan meals every weekend and physically prepare most of the week's meals on Sunday. I will do another prep session on Wednesday or Thursday night, too. There is never any thrown-out, rotten or wasted food in my house. :)
 

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There is never any thrown-out, rotten or wasted food in my house. :)
That's admirable! I wish I could say that. But even though I cook nearly all our meals from scratch, I do end up with a fair amount of rotten food for the compost bins. Part of the problem is that there are just two of us in my household. And another part of the problem is that it's hard to find some foods, like leeks, for example, where you can buy only what you need. I bought a bunch of leeks last week because I needed one leek for making stock; I found a very tasty leek recipe that used up half of the rest of the bunch, but we are now getting tired of eating leeks and I still have four leeks left. I suppose I could make potato-leek soup and chuck it in the freezer if I can find time; fortunately leeks last a long time in the fridge.

Similarly, because I didn't bother to grow mint this year in pots on our porch, I've had to compost a fair amount of mint and other herbs when I needed just a little for a recipe but had to buy a whole bunch. You can only drink so many mojitos!
 

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Considering your grocery bill is the second biggest expense from the mortgage, it's worth the effort to save money.
Perhaps this applies to you, but I'd wager transportation is the #2 expense for most people. Cars are expensive, and more expensive than most people really think. Annual cost for a two-car family can easily run to $10k +.


Nonetheless, your advice is pretty good. I usually find coupons to be a waste of time, because they are for 'national brand' items that are still more expensive than private label counterparts. Occasionally useful when the item is on sale, but most coupons have short times to expiry, probably strategically timed to miss any promotions.
 

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I need to start putting more attention towards our meal consumption. We waste TOO much in our house, I'm sure we're well over 20%.


The meal planning thing is probably the single biggest contributor to savings on groceries in my household. I've read that (on average, something like) 20% of grocery store food that is bought is never consumed - it rots and is thrown away. That's like going to the store, buying 5 bags of food, and then walking over and dropping one whole bag right into the garbage can!

I plan meals every weekend and physically prepare most of the week's meals on Sunday. I will do another prep session on Wednesday or Thursday night, too. There is never any thrown-out, rotten or wasted food in my house. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #15
And another part of the problem is that it's hard to find some foods, like leeks, for example, where you can buy only what you need. I bought a bunch of leeks last week because I needed one leek for making stock; I found a very tasty leek recipe that used up half of the rest of the bunch, but we are now getting tired of eating leeks and I still have four leeks left. I suppose I could make potato-leek soup and chuck it in the freezer if I can find time; fortunately leeks last a long time in the fridge.
True that! It drives me nuts to buy a huge bunch of parsley, only to use half of it! I told this to the grocer and all they could say is that it comes in bunches like that.

Being more concerned with waste than increasing my value proposition, I'd gladly pay the same amount, if they'd split the bunch in half.

True story about my bill though guys. Sure, I have noticed that milk is now $6-$7 and oil $12 (from $8 a couple of years ago. My whole bill however, is healthier. I'll have to keep investigating to find the cause.

Part of it may be that I am better at managing the waste.
 

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Perhaps this applies to you, but I'd wager transportation is the #2 expense for most people. Cars are expensive, and more expensive than most people really think. Annual cost for a two-car family can easily run to $10k +.


Nonetheless, your advice is pretty good. I usually find coupons to be a waste of time, because they are for 'national brand' items that are still more expensive than private label counterparts. Occasionally useful when the item is on sale, but most coupons have short times to expiry, probably strategically timed to miss any promotions.
I would also wager transportation is #2 for a lot of families. We are virtually car-free (we have one older vehicle on the road but rarely take it out and are considering on our next move of getting rid of it completely if we can realistically do so). Going car-free is a huge factor in our wish-list for postings.
 

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True that! It drives me nuts to buy a huge bunch of parsley, only to use half of it! I told this to the grocer and all they could say is that it comes in bunches like that.
I solved that particular one by growing my own. Parsley grows fine in a pot, as long as you make sure the pot is deep (Parsley has a taproot, so a shallow pot won't do). I keep it in a pot on my porch all summer and take just what I need; the only downside is that the local tomcats are forever spraying my pot and the plant itself so I have to wash it really well before eating! Same goes for our basil.
 

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omg please don't throw out your herbs. Or if you must, please don't mention it in a place where i might find out.

extra herbs are to be dried in small brown paper lunch bags & kept for the winter. Dried, their properties change, and they are often stronger, even more interesting. Mint is a perfect example. Brad you wouldn't be a person who buys fresh mint, uses a couple sprigs, throws the rest in compost heap, then buys boxes of mint tea bags, would you. I mean, you of all people.
 

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omg please don't throw out your herbs. Or if you must, please don't mention it in a place where i might find out.
Sorry, I must have taken leave of what few senses I have left. I do dry mint and oregano and use them all winter, although some herbs like basil, parsley, and cilantro are pretty depressing when dried -- I turn fresh basil into pesto and freeze it, but there's only so much time. And remember, I don't "throw out" any vegetable matter; it all gets turned into compost and feeds a healthy ecosystem of sow bugs, centipedes, and earthworms in my compost bin before ending up in the garden.
 

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I solve the parsley problem by eating it like a salad vegetable, not like a garnish - a bunch is chopped up and eaten over several days (along with mint and coriander and maybe a tomato and cucumber chopped in). Coriander I make into pesto with cooked spinach and feta and walnuts or cashews, served as an accompaniment to fish or chicken.
 
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