3 smart ways to save money and help the planet at the same time

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Looking for new ways to save? Here are three easy ways you can adopt if you’re serious about stretching your budget.

A bonus is that, aside from saving money, you’ll be helping Mother Earth at the same time! These tips will help you cut back on waste and may inspire you to extend a lending hand to someone in need.

Three smart ways to save:

  1. Use Flashfood

    Flashfood is a great way to slash your grocery bills by up to 50% and save food from getting wasted. This system partners with grocery stores and other food outlets to offer food that will otherwise be thrown out, at greatly discounted rates. These include meats, baked goods, dairy, fruits, vegetables and other produce that were overstocked or are nearing expiration dates.

    To avail of Flashfood, all you need to do is download the app on your computer or phone. Simply browse through the grocery deals available at participating stores nearest you, choose what you need, and then make the purchase on your app. Once your order is made, you can pick it up at the store. Flashfood Zones are usually near the customer service area. You can check-out the items at a designated section at the counter.

    In Manitoba, most Superstores, Loblaws, and No Frills outlets have Flashfood. To learn more about Flashfood, watch the video below:

    Save money on groceries with the Flashfood app

  2. Shop second-hand

    Buying slightly-used goods is a great option for wise consumers. It allows you to save and still have a perfectly usable item. You’re also saving these goods from being thrown out, therefore helping the planet cut down on waste.

    Some tips when buying second-hand:

    • Be selective– Of course, not everything should be bought second-hand. You shouldn’t buy used underwear, make-up, car seats, helmets and other safety gear. Items that are safe to buy second-hand include furniture, some electronics, clothes, vehicles, toys or anything that your kids will quickly outgrow.
    • Be extra discerning – Inspect goods before sending any money, especially if you’re buying on Facebook marketplace and other online markets. It’s also important to do your research before buying electronics, gadgets, furniture or appliances. Check online to know the model and the necessary accessories and parts it should come with. You don’t want to be left with a device that you can’t use because it lacks a cable or a charger. Also find out how much it costs brand new so you can gauge whether the seller’s price is good and if you have room to negotiate.
    • Know the rules – Find out the marketplace’s return policy. This way, you’ll be protected if the item is defective or if you discover damage that the seller did not tell you about.
    • Stay safe – Don’t meet-up with a seller in isolated or sketchy areas of town. Choose a public place. If you’re going to their house, meet them outside for your safety and to protect your health as well as the seller’s (remember that the pandemic is not over yet). If you’re in Winnipeg, consider meeting up at Buy and Sell Exchange Zones located at four Winnipeg Police Stations.

    Where to find second-hand items? For discounted electronics, go to stores like Best Buy and look for refurbished or “open box” products. For furniture, Ikea has a Circular Hub or “As-Is” section. These stores offer returned or slightly used items that have been re-programmed and repaired by the outlet. They are sold at discounted prices. For other goods, most Canadians take advantage of garage sales especially during summer. Items on sale range from furniture to food items. Online marketplaces, on the other hand, like Facebook Marketplace, Kiiji or e-Bay offer second-hand items all year-round.

  3. Shop your pantry

    This means using the ingredients you already have to plan your meals for the week (or month). This is a great way to stop wasting food and prevent overspending at the grocery store. The first step is to make an inventory of goods that are in your pantry and fridge, then plan the dishes that you’ll be cooking. The missing ingredients that complete your recipes will make up your grocery list.

    When shopping your pantry, keep the following in mind:

    • Prioritize items that are nearing their expiration dates. Use them first if possible.
    • Use apps and websites that help you build recipes from a list of ingredients. You can try: SuperCook, Epicurious, or BigOven.
    • Buy only what is necessary and stick to your grocery list.
    • Buy versatile ingredients. Stock up on ingredients that you use often and for a range of dishes. This include items like rice, oats, spices, or oils.
    • Organize your pantry and maintain an inventory list. This will make it easier for you to plan your meals and schedule grocery shopping.

Bonus Tip

Use coupons

Couponing doesn’t actually help save the planet, but it can help you save money and even help others in need. You may have used coupons in the past or heard of them before. Consumers have been using coupons for a long time to get discounts and free items. Some even collect stacks of them to get items in bulk. This is called “Extreme couponing” and it requires a lot of dedication.

It’s easy to get coupons. You can get them from flyers, at the entrance of grocery stores, magazines, newspapers, and even online. Some stores and couponing websites even offer to mail them to you. To use coupons, read the terms and conditions to know what they offer. Some offer outright discounts or free items, others include conditions like a product purchase (buy one, get one deal), or restrictions for a date range (you can use them only on the dates indicated). Present them to the cashier upon checking out.

Unfortunately, not all consumer products have corresponding coupons, so you’re not assured that you will get one for things that you need or use often. However, if you get a good coupon offer for something you don’t use, you can always consider getting the item and donating it to charity.

Want to learn more about couponing? The article How to coupon in Canada to save money by Credit Canada provides great information on how to get started, tips on how to do it efficiently, suggested coupon websites, and apps that help you earn money.
Sources: 12 Ways to Save Big on Groceries and Shop on a Budget, My Money Coach; and How to coupon in Canada to save money, Credit Canada. Accessed May 24, 2022.

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Want to know more ways to save? Read 6 tips to help you spend less on groceries.

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