During these times of high food prices, the Powassan and District Food Bank hopes a seminar it sponsored helps people regularly save money on their grocery bills.
Food bank coordinator Diane Cole got local resident Leah Morrow from the local Home Hardware, to explain to residents how she uses coupons, websites and apps to reduce the amount of money she spends when shopping for food.
Morrow says one savings method she has had great success with is using cashback apps where she's been able to save $800 over six years. But she emphasizes she was able to accomplish this because she makes the time to look at flyers, takes advantage of various promotions, uses lots of coupons, has a supportive partner and a car that gets her to several surrounding grocery stores.
The website www.websaver.ca is one Morrow relies on a great deal.
She says this site serves as a platform for other companies to host their coupons meaning consumers can get a variety of coupons from different businesses all at one site.
Morrow says these sites have limits on how many days have to pass before they can be accessed on subsequent occasions.
Morrow says another way to save money on food is to contact the manufacturer directly and tell the company you enjoy their product. Not always, but in some instances companies may send you coupons of their products and also small samples to try.
When Morrow first started collecting coupons she stored them in a small packet. Nowadays she keeps them in a medium-sized binder and removes them as needed, being ever so mindful of when a coupon expires.
If you start collecting coupons via emails, Morrow says it's a good idea to create an email address dedicated solely for coupon activity.
“This way you're not inundated with a lot of emails to your regular account,” she said.
Morrow says it literally pays to be patient and determined to pursue coupon collection and other savings methods. She says having a smart phone where you can download coupon related apps is a big plus. The other must have is a printer when printing off coupons at home. Morrow says other apps help consumers find great deals.
For example the Flashfood app, which is free, helps consumers find massively discounted food items nearing their 'best before' dates. The foods are greatly discounted as an incentive for consumers to buy rather than have the grocery outlet throwing the food out. The Flashfood website shows that the app works at both No Frills in North Bay and Parker's Your Independent Grocer.
With the Flashfood app you order online and pay online with a credit card and Morrow says you need to pick up the order very quickly since it's nearing the 'best before' date.
Morrow says another app with the goal of reducing food waste by providing heavy discounts to customers is the Too Good to Go app. Once downloaded the app makes the user aware of food deals near them. Morrow says Metro in North Bay is a partner of the Too Good to Go app.
Another app is reebee which lets you browse flyers, create shopping lists or search for products by using your smartphone or iPad. Morrow says on Facebook there is a group called Canadian Savings Group and it's an organization that teaches people how to save money on everyday needs including groceries. The consumer just needs to join the group.
Morrow says many people are aware of loyalty cards like Scene + and the PC Financial Mastercard where you accumulate points with various purchases that can be used to make future purchases.
She says to make sure to take advantage when retailers offer additional points for the purchases you make or when special promotions allow you to buy more with your accumulated points than normal.
Morrow says one thing people should be aware of is websites that send you to a third-party site. She says if you have doubts, stay away from those websites and stick with the ones you feel are secure.
There are two people Morrow follows on Instagram for print and mail coupons and they are @Livingonaloonie and @frugalfairygodmother and both post videos every week to help consumers find deals plus they've checked the links they recommend to ensure they are safe.
Morrow also has advice on what not to do when entering the world of coupons. Don't print the same coupon more than once unless the site instructs otherwise. She says that's a sure way for retailers to stop distributing coupons if they see the program is being abused.
Morrow also says if you use a coupon to buy something at a lower price, afterward don't try to upload or submit a receipt for a cashback on the same product. You might get away with it, but Morrow says that's fraud.
Rocco Frangione is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the North Bay Nugget. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.