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Stretch your grocery budget by shopping online

One of my pet peeves is buying something and then finding out it’s priced cheaper elsewhere. For example, I bought delicious cherries twice last week. The first store charged $ 6.99 per pound, while the second store charged $ 1.99 per pound. Because I was rushing, I didn’t price compare online beforehand, and thus, I paid way more on Monday versus Thursday for the same darn cherries.

Frugal fail.

Lesley-Anne Scorgie is on a mission to digitize her finances to save time and money, and shopping online for groceries is one way she’s tackling that goal.
Lesley-Anne Scorgie is on a mission to digitize her finances to save time and money, and shopping online for groceries is one way she’s tackling that goal.  (iStock)

The average Canadian spends roughly $ 200 a month per person on groceries and food prices are expected to rise up to three per cent in the next year, according to the annual Canada’s Food Price Report. Fear not; shopping online can dramatically reduce your bill by 15 to 25 per cent, AND you’ll save loads of time.

Better browsing

In many cases, online shopping allows you to browse for the best prices from different vendors, rather than being stuck in one store having to buy what you need at whatever the price. When buying produce, you’ll want to choose a retailer that delivers within 24 hours so that your produce isn’t rotten by the time it gets to you.

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Fewer pressures

Online grocery shopping has other added benefits, like keeping you better organized. You can keep a list and plan exactly what you need and buy just those items. Stuck for recipes? Check out menu-planning and recipe apps like CookSmarts and Pepperplate. Other sites like the PC Optimum members program or Amazon will keep a record of what you’ve previously purchased so that you can click for a replacement.

Online shopping also helps with impulse control. If you’re not in the store, you’re not tempted by things you don’t need. And, because kids are very influential (and expensive) when buying groceries, shopping online is a great way to “leave your kids at home.”

Use technology to help

Personally, I love coupons and I use couponing apps like Flipp. They aggregate the best coupons and prices for all retailers. I also scan for deals online using a Google search. Doing a deal scan is extra important if you have special dietary restrictions. You can almost always find coupons for pricier gluten-free, organic or “green” products.

Shopping online isn’t always a flawless experience but the benefits outweigh the downsides.

First, depending on where you order from, shipping can take a few days, but this will force you to pre-plan for what you need.

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Second, if you choose to “pickup” your order at a store, your personal shopper might not be as picky as you would be when selecting fresh produce. But give the store feedback and they’ll refund anything you don’t like.

As you can probably tell from some of my recent columns, I’m on a mission to digitize my finances with the goal of saving time and money. Shopping online for my groceries is yet another way I’m tackling that goal.

Lesley-Anne Scorgie is a personal finance author and founder of MeVest.ca

TORONTO STAR