How to get the most out of your grocery rebate
This summer, the Canadian government is poised to roll out the grocery rebate program as outlined in the 2023 budget. The rebate was introduced to help combat high inflation, particularly regarding groceries and everyday necessities, which have become increasingly more costly for Canadians.
Below, I’ll share the latest information about who’s eligible for the rebate, when they can expect their payments, and some helpful tips on making the most of your grocery rebate.
WHAT IS CANADA'S GROCERY REBATE?
Inflation has become a major issue in Canada. The current Consumer Price Index (CPI) is 4.3%, according to the latest data from Statistics Canada.
That’s just general inflation, though. Food and grocery inflation is nearly double that amount, and many Canadians are having a tough time paying for groceries.
The grocery rebate was first proposed in the 2023 federal budget to help alleviate the increasing cost of groceries. The idea is to offer a one-time payment to low and modest-income families to help offset rising inflation. It’s a rebrand of the one-time GST rebate top-up that was provided on October 2022.
The grocery rebate became law on Wednesday, May 10 and eligible Canadians will begin receiving payments the first week of July.
Grocery rebate payments should be issued along with the July GST credit payments.
To receive a payment, eligible Canadians must have completed their 2021 tax returns. Otherwise, the payment may be deferred until a later date.
The grocery rebate was passed alongside a measure that will also provide a $2 billion top-up to Canada’s public healthcare system, and funds will be dispersed among all provinces and territories.
HOW MUCH IS THE GROCERY REBATE?
The grocery rebate is designed to help offset inflation by providing economic relief to lower-income individuals and families earning less than $40,000 annually.
Here’s how much you can expect based on your income and family status:
- Couples with two children will receive a payment of up to $467
- Eligible seniors will receive up to $225
- Eligible singles will receive up to $234
WHAT CAN THE GROCERY REBATE BE USED FOR?
The grocery rebate will be a one-time payment to all eligible Canadians. It should be issued as a direct deposit to the bank account that you have registered on your CRA My Account. If you don’t have a CRA My Account, then you should receive a paper cheque to the primary residential address that you have on file with the CRA.
That being said, there are no rules on how you must spend your grocery rebate, and you can use it on anything you want.
TIPS TO MAKE YOUR GROCERY REBATE GO FURTHER
If you are one of the many Canadians who are struggling with grocery bills, here are some ways you can maximize your grocery rebate at the supermarket:
1. Buy in bulk
Buying in bulk can often be cheaper than buying smaller quantities, especially for non-perishable goods like rice, pasta, or canned goods. Consider big box stores, but remember to compare unit prices to make sure you're saving money.
For example, if you’re buying canned goods in bulk and it comes with six cans at $18, the per unit cost is $3. If that price is less than what you could buy at a regular store, then you’ll be saving money.
Also consider buying things such as meat, and freezing them to use for later. Meat is usually one of the highest-cost grocery items, so you can save significantly by buying it in bulk.
2. Shop seasonally
Produce is usually cheaper when it's in season. In addition to saving money, you'll also get fresher and tastier fruits and vegetables.
3. Plan your meals
Pre-planning your meals for the week or month is a great way to save money. When you know exactly what you'll be cooking, you can make a detailed grocery list and avoid buying unnecessary items. You can also plan your meals around what's on sale for additional savings. This method also helps reduce food waste, as you only buy what you know you'll use.
4. Use coupons and loyalty programs
There are numerous websites and apps that consolidate flyers from different supermarkets, allowing you to compare prices and find coupons. Also, try to join store loyalty programs, which allow you to earn points on purchases that can be redeemed for discounts.
Use the discounts as they come instead of saving them for later, so you can maximize your current savings.
5. Store brands
Store brands, or "private label" products, are usually cheaper than name-brand items, and the quality is often comparable. Most of the large supermarkets offer a wide range of store-brand products.
6. Limit convenience foods
While pre-packaged meals and snacks are convenient, they often cost more than cooking from scratch. Limit these as much as possible and opt for whole foods instead.
7. Reduce food waste
Be mindful of what's in your fridge and pantry, and try to use up perishables before they spoil. Leftovers can be used for lunches or transformed into a new meal.
Christopher Liew is a CFA Charterholder and former financial advisor. He writes personal finance tips for thousands of daily Canadian readers on his Wealth Awesome website.
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