As It Happens

Here's how this woman saves $1K a month or more on groceries

If you're walking up to the cashier aisles at a grocery store in Ontario and see Leanne Mathewson in line ahead of you, get ready to wait a little longer than usual.

Leanne Mathewson is part of a growing community of extreme couponers in Canada

Leanne Mathewson says she's able to save $1,000 or more a month just on grocery bills thanks to her avid couponing skills. (Submitted by Leanne Mathewson)

Story Transcript

If you're walking up to the cashier at a grocery store in Ontario and see Leanne Mathewson in line ahead of you, get ready to wait a little longer than usual.

"Usually, if I catch people early enough before I start my my transaction, I say, you know, I'm going to be a little while. You might want to go to another line. I try to warn them," she told As It Happens guest host Tom Harrington.

That's because the stay-at-home mom of five from Windsor, Ont., is also what some call an "extreme couponer," gathering deals from coupons, clippings and deal-searching apps to cut her grocery bill in half, saving $30 or more in a single visit on the regular.

She's part of the Canadian Savings Group on Facebook, a community of over 96,000 members with a self-described mission to "teach and guide you in saving the most money on your everyday household needs, including groceries, and other everyday items."

There is always a thrill to say, 'I got this for free.'- Leanne Mathewson, avid couponer 

And those lessons have paid off for Mathewson, big time. She's been an avid couponer for about six years, and keeps a detailed spreadsheet of her savings over time. In a given month, she says, she'll save between $1,000 to $1,500 on her grocery bills.

"The best savings I had so far was over $10,000 last year" in 2021, she said. 

More Canadians than before might be tempted to try out these couponing strategies, as the inflation rate recently hit 7.7 per cent, it's highest point since 1983. The price of gas and food in particular have been among the biggest factors putting the squeeze on budgets.

Produce vegetables are displayed for sale at a grocery store in Aylmer, Que., on May 26, 2022. The rising costs of food have been a major cause of concern for Canadians, as the inflation rate rose to its highest point since 1983. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

Discount-hunting apps

Dana Calder of Truro, N.S., says she's able to save even more than that with her extreme couponing strategies, as much as $20,000 a year.

Calder, who runs the blog The Coupon Nannie, explained one such tactic on Cross Country Checkup last weekend. By looking at what's on sale in local print fliers and then looking up on discount-hunting apps, she'll try to find ways to double-dip on the discounts for some items.

"So if normally Adams peanut butter [costs] $4.99, it might be on sale this week for $3.99. And then I have a cashback offer on [the app] Checkout 51 for $1.50 back. So that's even reducing the price even lower," she told Checkup host Ian Hanomansing. 

Discount-hunting apps have become a key tool for people hoping to optimize their couponing game without having to travel with a Rolodex's worth of clippings in their wallet.

These apps collect deals from coupons and fliers from stores in your area. Flipp, one of Mathewson's preferred apps, advertises that it includes data from more than 2,000 stores, from supermarkets like Metro to household stores like The Home Depot or Best Buy.

Mathewson admits shes gets something of a rush when she finds a good discount for an everyday item, or even slashes the price all the way down to zero.

"There is always a thrill to say, 'I got this for free,'" she told Harrington.

Still, it's all about the savings and her ability to provide for her family, especially in recent years as the cost of living from everyday expenses continues to go up.

"You know, maybe you're only saving 50 cents. [But] maybe you're saving three dollars. It makes a difference in the end."

Written by Jonathan Ore with files from CBC News and Cross Country Checkup. Interview with Leanne Mathewson produced by Arman Aghbali.

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