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BC Welfare Food Challenge – $21 For A Week – Part Seven Final Day

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014 by

It’s the final day of the welfare food challenge and a lot of interesting things happened as everyone probably knows in regard to the shooting in Ottawa. For this post I’ll try to stay on topic with the food challenge. Video recap below.

I was thinking for today that I would drop by a different grocery store on my way home and to the supermarket as technically if the challenge was to continue I would have to buy some grocery items again. I knew one thing for sure was that I was going to go to the supermarket and buy a can of sardines as I am out of meat today.

I was pleasantly surprised as the prices didn’t seem too bad as I found sound decent deals. Based on the deals, I could kind of see what types of different fruits, vegetables, or meats I could eat for next week if I was to continue.

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Of course, I didn’t buy anything from these places as I still have my food for the day. At the same time, it isn’t too rare to find good deals on fruits and groceries. But as always, do the shopping or you really pay for it. For example, look at these two prices for strawberries I saw today:

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I was looking for that 69 cent sardine and to my surprise it looked like It was all sold out. They instead tried to sell a different brand at 79 cents a can instead. From experience though, it’s not uncommon to see products sill lingering around the same section. I then noticed a part of the rack was covered which looks empty. However, upon further inspection I did find the 69 cent can of sardine.

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Shows you that it doesn’t hurt to check. Paying for the item generated a funny outcome though. Usually I would use my credit card to get cashback points. However, for some reason I decided to just use 75 cents in cash. I was then surprised as to why the cashier gave me 10 cents in change.

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After looking at it, I realized it was because Canada has been getting rid of the penny and so in this case since they don’t have pennies they have to round up the change you receive. So as a result, I actually gained 4 cents. This makes it as if the item cost was 65 cents. Unexpected surprise.

After all this, my last meal was made for the day and the welfare food challenge for me is over. In the end, I still have some leftover oats and rice. In the beginning of the day my remaining food fund was $2.97. With the sardines I bought for 69 cents and the 4 cents I gained as a result of the no penny scenario my remaining funds are $2.32.

Throughout my journey, I personally did not once feel I didn’t have enough food or that the quality or type of food I was eating deprived me from being energetic or attentive as normal. If anything, the challenge for me personally was more about not being able to take advantage of free offers or figuring out what foods are best.

Financially speaking, if I factor in all the things I could have gotten for free or the fact that normally I would have the full monthly food funds at the start I know for sure I would have saved even more money. I can say for my specific situation, $21 a week is not enough if I insisted in buying convenience, luxury or comfort foods. At the same time, not taking a little time to actually shop for deals as opposed to relying on a one stop shop solution.

Does that mean because of my experience that everyone else who can’t do it are simply lazy or entitled for example? Of course not as everyone else’s circumstance is different. And that is one of the disheartening points about all this I think. Because the challenge itself seems to be about spending and survival, I can’t personally say it is not possible as I just showed it is.

You can have someone on one side of the extreme try to discredit or ignore my experience such as claiming it is somehow impossible for me to do well with the food I had, but then you would have another person from the other side rebuttal that with other points like saying the money I had left. It essentially turns this into a shopping debate.

I recognize that the spirit of the competition was supposed to raise awareness for those who can’t financially make ends meet for whatever reason and they need help. To me personally, that can mean many things as opposed to just rate increases. What I do know for sure is that there are a lot of people within my demographic who feel it is a non-issue because for most people if they can’t see how it directly affects them in an immediate way then it is simply someone else’s problem. You can change the topic to anything else such as say the recent BC teacher’s dispute or the BC Justice system problems and the same will hold true.

I think we all agree that the point of a welfare system is to help people get off of it. I am only one guy and highly doubt that me doing this challenge is all of a sudden going to create drastic changes. Like most things, I think the real challenge is education about the topic and having open access to raw information that people can actually understand. Because a person like myself truly is ignorant about the topic as a whole.

So that’s this financial blogger’s take on whether or not food wise you can survive comfortably on a $21 a week budget within the Lower Mainland. Whether you agree or disagree with me is going to be different for everyone. But hopefully it at least made everyone think as either way I strongly believe issues like these affect everyone.

BC Welfare Food Challenge – $21 For A Week – Part Six

Tuesday, October 21st, 2014 by

What a hectic day this was as well as learning some interesting public feedback about this welfare food challenge. Sorry, rush post today as I am blogging and cooking at the same time. Video below for my day’s recap.

Today was interesting as work wise I agreed to do so many things which kept me busy all day. For one of the work I did, as mentioned yesterday meals were provided to people and this is what my friend got just as an example of the food I could have gotten too:

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I didn’t take it though as that would go against the rules of this food challenge. The interesting thing was this generated curiosity from people on why I wasn’t eating. I then explained to them about the challenge and the reactions were interesting. Essentially, people either thought it was a good way to create awareness, thought it was funny or was very cynical about it in general. That got me thinking on how maybe the way the message is being communicated isn’t ideal for everyone.

For example, I was reading some comments online where many people want to support the cause of poverty, but when they see certain pictures and the shopping habits they can’t help to focus and criticize that only. Example, buying canned beans as opposed to packaged ones where you have to make yourself. It seems to make people lose focus.

I haven’t been able to read everyone’s experience, but knowing those kinds of attitude and comments made me think that maybe this puts me in an interesting situation as I don’t think anyone is going to say I didn’t save a lot of money for example. It’s too bad I didn’t find anyone who was willing to show me how they shop as a welfare recipient too as it was something I wanted to do in the beginning of this challenge. Because as I mentioned in the beginning, everyone has different circumstances which I feel is something we all need to understand to see what the solution is.

One day left for the challenge. I am pretty satisfied so far on my spending and just hope all the supermarkets didn’t ninja change all of the prices as I will probably need to make one small final purchase. Giving my final thoughts will be fun too and hope to read more opinions on the matter.

BC Welfare Food Challenge – $21 For A Week – Part Five

Monday, October 20th, 2014 by

A lot of thinking today as well as all these deals I would have took. Video below for my day’s recap.

Food wise today everything smooth as usual. I was thinking how ironically doing this challenge may have made me a bit healthier as today I was able to pop out of bed with virtually no type of grogginess where you would usually want to sleep a little more still. The only thing I can think of is the food as normally I may eat like say a treat here and there or use various sauces in my meals. For this challenge though that type of stuff wasn’t on my list in an effort to conserve money.

I still continued with my normal habit of looking for deals on a daily basis. The interesting thing was I saw this offer from a grocery store where I could literally get what looked like free brown rice pasta and apple chips.

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Of course I can’t take it at the moment, but in a funny way it made me wonder if you could literally just go around collecting free samples to have like a week’s supply of snacks and such. I remember there was a company literally handing out the same small bags of rice that you would buy from the grocery store for free as a promotion.

Speaking of free food, I am hoping everything goes okay for tomorrow as I agreed to do some additional work that can potentially last for like twelve hours plus. As a result, getting meals and having access to free food and drinks throughout the day usually comes with the territory for this due to the potential of the crazy hours. Because of the stipulation of not being able to take food that we did not pay for I am hoping it will be a short day so that I can do my regular cooking. Still have my $2.97 which I only anticipate to spend some on Wednesday.

BC Welfare Food Challenge – $21 For A Week – Part Four

Sunday, October 19th, 2014 by

Casual day of research was the theme today. Video below for my day’s recap.

I didn’t physically go to stores to look at prices today. Instead, I casually looked online for some potential deals and pricing history for certain items. For the can of sardine I was potentially thinking of buying on the last day the cheapest I found was a two for $1 sale.

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Why is this important? I think you need to have good knowledge on how cheap an item can potentially get for you to better understand if you are paying way too much for something. I know we are all sort of programmed to shop in one place, but many times the prices of individual items are truly outrageous compared to others.

That dang peanut butter reared its head in a different fashion today as I did my price research. Upon browsing I found this coupon where you could knock $1 off of any size Kraft peanut butter. So literally that means if I knew that deal ahead of time as well as this coupon I could have gotten 1kg of peanut butter for 9 cents.

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I swear this combo deal specifically showed up this week just to taunt me……. I originally didn’t bother to research too much about coupons as I find they are usually for artificial food items and not fresh groceries. Guess this shows though it’s not that rare to find coupons for purchases that you will be making on the day.

All in all, still feeling great and not worried about food supply or money. I did research a bit about poverty issues involving food and how some people are suggesting that instead of raising the rate for welfare recipients we should move into a system involving food stamps. That then led me to read this interesting article about people who used food stamps to buy soda only to then resell it for money to buy other things.

http://www.wkyt.com/home/headlines/Using-taxpayers-money-for-profit-246412561.html

Guess that kind of showed that there isn’t a 100% proof solution as there will always be those that take advantage of something designed to help people in need. Something to debate about.

BC Welfare Food Challenge – $21 For A Week – Part Three

Saturday, October 18th, 2014 by

“Son of a…..” is what kind of crossed my mind today with some stuff I saw. Video below for my day’s recap for those who prefer it. I included some other interesting stuff I saw today in the video too.

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There was an obstacle today as I had to head out the door earlier than I thought. As a result, I wasn’t able to prepare my regular breakfast. Therefore, I only had an apple. That’s the main negative of being on a budget as many times we tend to buy convenient foods or simply purchase meals on the way to our destination. Generally speaking, you don’t really have the luxury to do that if you are on a tight budget.

I didn’t feel as energetic for the earlier part of the day. However, maybe eating all these vegetables and such pays off as I was able to still go through the day. As I did some price comparing within the area I was around it was kind of hilarious I thought as almost all of the supermarkets had free food samples as you can see here:

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Of course, because of the challenge restrictions I couldn’t try anything. I swear you could have a full meal just by trying out each free sample. I did see this one thing that made me react to my budget and purchase. Look at how much 1kg of peanut butter was here:

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$1.09!!!!!!!??????? This store just threw a frugal financial dagger at me with this. I did check the expiry date and the best before date was October 28, 2014. So, they obviously wanted to dump it fast and it would have been very good for the sake of this challenge. Considering I paid $2.99 for my 750g jar that’s a huge difference in terms of food I could have gotten with the deals I have seen so far.

What this made me think of is how having a network of people who know where the deals are in different areas can save you a lot of money. At the same time, having people with similar eating tastes and habits can be a good way to save too. For example, at this store I saw you could buy two boxes of strawberries for $2.99. That is too much to justify for myself. But if I had a buddy in this challenge for example it would have been a pretty decent buy if we split it.

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I found what seemed to be a decent deal for some rainbow trout. As you can see here, it was $1.99. For what you get it made getting the cans of sardines I bought seem like a bad value. Just shows more on how much you pay for convenience.

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Ultimately, I did decide to buy it as it would last awhile. Because of this, I was going to return the single can of sardine I had left for sure as 94 cents seems way too expensive compared to options like this and the others I have seen. To make things easier, I had a family member tell me that they wanted to buy it off me since they usually pay more for it. So, that is 94 cents back in my pocket.

In getting back 94 cents and spending $1.99 that leaves me with $2.97. After today, food supply wise I don’t feel that I have to do anymore shopping until the 22nd as it is mainly the meat that will run out. The only thing that is completely gone so far is one can of sardine and one large package of kale. I may have to indulge on some items like the sesame seed to finish it by the end of this challenge. I don’t think I can completely finish the oats as there is a lot.

It was nice to be able to switch things up for dinner. Even though I don’t think I will need to buy anything more until Wednesday that doesn’t mean I still won’t keep an eye out for crazy deals though. You just never know what deals you could find.