How to save money when you’re short on time!

19 March 2016 by National Bank

By planning your purchases and creating some good everyday habits, you can save more money without spending more of your time!

We’ve all seen coupon fanatics on TV cut their weekly grocery bills by two-thirds. It’s impressive, but who really has the time to collect and sort through all of those coupons and hit up every local supermarket? With work, family and a full schedule, we’ve got better things to do with our Sunday afternoons!

Time is money

Lili Marchand, professional bargain hunter and founder of, crunched the numbers: to take advantage of all of the week’s deals at every grocery store within a 15 kilometer radius, she would spend an average of two hours of her time and the price of gas.

A lot of moms don’t have time to run around town and cash in on every deal. According to Isabelle De Palma, an assistant for busy families, “young families are overbooked, trying to squeeze in work, eating well, exercising and spending quality time with their kids...”

The upshot: a lot of people give up and don’t bother planning their purchases. “When you buy groceries at the last minute or on a whim, that’s when you pay the price,” adds De Palma. But you don’t always have to devote all of your time to saving money. There are easier ways to spend less at home and at the mall, but you need a solid plan.

Get more for your money

According to an informal survey of users, meticulous couponing reduces their annual grocery bills by an average of $2,500. But how much time do you have to put in? “At first, it will take a good two to three hours per week to get organized and figure out how to coupon,” says Marchand. “But when your system is up and running, you can bring it down to one hour.”

According to the expert, the key is to target products that you purchase on a regular basis. “For example, how much does a jar of peanut butter usually cost? If you keep this in mind, you’ll spot a deal as soon as it comes up.”

De Palma suggests having a better idea of what you need. “I always tell my clients to make a list of their upcoming purchases. Then they can think about what they really need, and avoid making any unnecessary or impulsive purchases.” By planning your purchases a few months in advance, you can save big. Try it out with clothes. According to Monique Pelletier of, “you can save up to 75% during end-of-season sales.” Now that’s food for thought!

Be smart with electricity and food waste

But you’re not just missing out on savings by paying full price for your groceries. Sometimes you can lose money without stepping out the door. The first place to look is your energy bill. In recent years, the price of electricity has gone up. You’ll pay more if your windows are poorly insulated or if you’re heating unoccupied rooms.

You’ll also lose money on food that you buy but don’t eat. According to a Value Chain Management International report1 from 2014,1 47% of food waste in Canada occurs in the home. That expired milk and head of broccoli in the back of your fridge? Money down the drain.

Making it worth your while

No one can afford to throw money out the window. So coming up with a plan to save, both at the store and at home, is part of the solution for better financial health. By planning your purchases and creating some good everyday habits, you can save more money without spending more of your time!

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    1. Food Waste in Canada – $27 Billion Revisited, December 10, 2014, Value Chain Management International (PDF)

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