Grocery Store Price Comparison

By Robb Engen | October 18, 2010 |
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Once a month, CTV Calgary creates a shopping list to compare grocery store prices at major Calgary grocery stores.  The chains that are used in this ongoing study include Superstore, Safeway, Sobeys, and Co-op.  All coupons and membership programs are included, however some chains vary their prices from store to store.

What I found interesting when comparing grocery store prices was that Superstore consistently came in as the best value for a basket of goods, typically by 20-25 percent over the most expensive grocery store each and every month.

Since my favorite rewards credit card is the PC MasterCard, I find this news exciting and will try and shop at Superstore a little more regularly than I do now to take advantage of the PC Points and cheaper overall grocery store prices.

I typically go shopping at Costco for meat, cleaning supplies, and other food staples, Safeway for mostly fresh foods, as Safeway is right across the street from our house, and Superstore for baby supplies and non-perishables.  I do find Safeway to be expensive, so I try to go there on 15% off customer appreciation day on the 1st Tuesday of the month, and try to pick up other items only when they’re on sale.

Compare Grocery Store Prices to Costco

I’d be curious to see how the prices at Costco stack up to the competition, but I’m sure you wouldn’t be comparing apples-to-apples due to the sheer size of most items at Costco.  Typically you should save money by purchasing in bulk, so long as you’re not wasting food by not being able to finish it before it goes bad.  However for toilet paper, paper towels, laundry detergent, and other cleaning supplies and household items, I’m sure that Costco comes out ahead in price per unit comparisons.

For those of you who are interested to compare grocery store prices here is the article from CTV Calgary’s August report.

Does this study hold true in other parts of the country?  Do you shop at one grocery store, or shop around to find the best prices?

The Best Laid Plans

By Boomer | October 14, 2010 |
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Recently my son did a post about living on a single income while one parent stays home with the kids.  I found the subsequent comments quite interesting and diverse.  Further to this topic, I would like to write about my experiences.

Of course, my children are now grown but even back in the “olden days” the question of staying at home with your kids was quite open to debate.

Staying At Home With Your Kids

We purchased our first house shortly before our oldest child was born in 1976.  Maternity leave was only three months at that time and I didn’t want to return to work after so short a period so I quit my job.

I happily stayed home taking care of my babies and getting to know the neighbours in our new housing development with distant thoughts of getting a part-time job when the kids started school.  Unfortunately two events occurred that changed all my plans:

  • My husband had a serious accident at work that resulted in his being unemployed off and on through most of the ensuing years.
  • Double digit inflation almost doubled our mortgage payment amount when it came up for renewal (along with other increased expenses).

I had no choice but to return to the work force.  I started working for a bank as a secretary.  I found an excellent day care but the cost was almost an entire two-week paycheque.

Related: The High Cost Of Child Care

I always thought that this would be a temporary situation.  At that time an employer sponsored pension plan for women was optional and I didn’t take advantage of if because, 1) I couldn’t afford the deduction and, 2) I didn’t think it was necessary because this was temporary. (A big lost opportunity there.)  This temporary job lasted for almost twenty-five years!

Even during the years of Women’s Lib when women entered the workforce in droves and denigrated those ladies that stayed home to be “just boring housewives,” I was never really career minded and I would have quit in a minute if the right circumstances occurred.

I still feel guilty to this day that I left my children in the care of others and was not around while they were growing up.

Luckily, finances and investing were interesting to me and I learned a lot as I slowly worked my way up the ladder, took all the courses and started to build my own portfolio.  I don’t know if I would be in the same financial position if I had gone to work in another industry.

My main point here is that often life doesn’t quite work out the way you expect.  You might have to have a plan B or C or even Z.  I think I have done quite all right for myself financially even with all the drawbacks I have experienced.  My mortgage is paid off and I have a respectable investment portfolio.

I have learned that if I want to be financially secure I can only rely on myself.  There’s no white knight on a charger holding a winning lottery ticket to bail me out.

I have found out that I can be resourceful and (after the odd couple of days of feeling sorry for myself) persistent and still find the time and money in my semi-retirement to enjoy life and do the things I want.

The Risk Of Inflation

By Boomer | October 12, 2010 |
Posted in
When you prepare a long-term financial plan for your retirement or a child’s education fund, a 2 – 3% inflation rate is factored into the total.  When the total amount is calculated, it seems unbelievable that costs can increase to such an extent, but that is the risk of inflation.

Risk of Inflation

On a year-by-year basis, higher prices for goods and services are absorbed into our budgets, hopefully set off by cost-of-living salary increases with barely a notice.  However, as indicated by the following list, which I discovered in a community newsletter, inflation has a real impact on your purchasing power.

  • 1961 – a good wage could be found at Jasper Park Lodge for $1 per hour
  • 1962 – rent in Edmonton for a 2 bedroom basement suite was $35 per month, including utilities
  • 1962 – you could buy 3 pounds of hamburger meat for $1
  • 1963 – a babysitter cost you 35 cents a hour
  • 1972 – a chocolate bar was 10 cents
  • 1973 – a glass bottle of Coke set you back 35 cents (with a 2 cent deposit)
  • 1978 – a monthly bus pass was $15 per month

Personally, I remember in 1976:

  • Our first house – an attached townhouse-type 3 bedroom condo with basement and small back yard – cost $37,000
  • I earned $12,000 per year as a full-time secretary
  • We shelled out $10 for a gasoline fill up for our VW Rabbit which cost us – new- $6000
  • A movie and pizza date was less than $20 (not counting babysitting)
  • I could buy 10 loaves of bread for $1
  • Universal Family Allowance was $16 per month for 1 child which, supposedly, was enough to cover the child’s basic expenses

So, there you have it.  You know what most of these items cost 30 to 40 years later.  With the exception of electronics, most items have increased by at least 500% due to inflation.  The other exception is income, which hasn’t increased nearly as much as expenses on a comparison basis.

Related: Inflation Rates Aren’t As Bad As They Seem

Can you accurately calculate what your expenses will be in the long term when it’s time to retire?  Not really, but it is necessary to pay attention to future forecasts and not just dismiss them as unrealistic.