Every single reader out there I know has pondered how this goat of many is able to finance everyday life. (Hey…don’t worry this is something often pondered by this goat.) The crew I preside over is based on average as eleven in numbers (inmates) and the associated costs of such a gargantuan tribe present for all meals, toiletries and sundries (give or take an occasionally few more here and there). I can wake up in the morning and be dealing out the rations only to discover some kid has brought another friend or two (sleepovers …after I went to bed…the teenagers…of course) and they are in the lineup right alongside the usual natives.
Considering the bunch here (and the option of “extras”) I have had to become a professional practitioner in the magical art of grocery shopping and the more important art of financing those outings. Some days it I am sure it would be considered outright WIZARDRY!
A very dear friend once was staying for supper and thought she would help by peeling potatoes. After the first dozen or so peeled she asks “How many more do you need me to peel? I am not sure when I should STOP!” I looked at her and said “Only when the bag (10 lb.) is empty!” The look was priceless.
The children have been known to ask will they ever receive for dessert a bakery item that is “not from that 50% off rack!”~ Short answer… “NO!” The reduced rack is about as sacred to our family as the Holy Grail was to Indiana Jones! Before there are hoards out in cyberspace thinking that the children are munching down aging and moulding food …I assure you…this is NOT the case. Often items in excess are reduced (store baked too many apple pies, muffins or whatever) or there is a truckload sale. Many years I would buy birthday cakes reduced on the half-price rack and then freeze them (lots of birthdays in this joint) until one year some kid complained that they were less valued because they got a fresh cake instead of the frozen 50% off edition. Sometimes there is no pleasing the faithful. (!!)
The few times I have watched TV (not really a whole lot of time or much interest at my end) and viewed snippets of the show “Extreme Couponing” (TCL?) I have thrilled in the delight the participants must feel as they check their goodies through the cash and a $1,000 plus of merchandise is reduced to some ridiculous amount like $12.50 (albeit US dollars) and this represents three carts full! Granted buying 32 bottles of French’s mustard for less than a dime each is appealing however not really going to go too far to nourish the army at this end other than to perhaps provide ammunition! After being all excited to test my skills in this game I then realize I live in Canada and some of this is not even available (double couponing etc.) far less encouraged.
Until I discovered something else…
A few years back I learned that there was something here (in Canada) called the Scanner Price Accuracy Voluntary Code (or “Scanning Code of Practice”). This is the link to further info (Canadian Government) at the Federal Government Competition Bureau http://www.competitionbureau.gc.ca/eic/site/cb-bc.nsf/vwapj/ct02380e.pdf/$file/ct02380e.pdf.
Needless to say once I became aware of this program I use it literally every day. I currently average about an extra $300 per month (minimum) as refunds in my pocket (YES, hard cold cash). Errors of discrepancy between signage and the computer database running the cash register calculations in a given store can result in a product being labeled as one price but being scanned at the cash at a higher amount. Many people don’t notice. In Canada if the item is under $10 you receive the item for free. If the value of the item is more than $10 you receive $10 (in cash) PLUS the item’s price will be corrected to the price as advertised. If you are buying more than one of the same item, then “FREE” item is only on the first one …if BOTH are identical (same SKU numbers). However, if you have purchased similar items (as in Tide is on sale and you purchase varying kinds and with different SKU numbers) then if these items also scan incorrectly (different SKUs) you can receive these items also for free. I have been known to walk away with four different bottles of Tide for free all because the computer was not updated to reflect the price as it was displayed in the store. (It does help if you have a photographic memory!)
Sadly I am thrilled knowing that because of human error I will score a certain percentage of this family’s purchases every week for “FREE.” You will either recognize me at the store as the one stumbling into people as I leave the store reading the receipt, (line by line ensuring that everything did ring in at the right price) or by the group of children nearby hanging their heads while pretending they are not related to me (mostly those teenagers).
Then again with the tribe I feed, I pretty much know the price of any grocery item and any frills purchased would only happen if they were in fact “on sale.” Another way is to watch for mistakes is while the item is being scanned. Sometimes the difference in price is only one penny but when you can receive the item free it certainly adds up.
Since the kids seem to think stuff might taste “better” if it was not on the “50% off” rack good job most of them have no idea it was in all likelihood completely FREE! I will say that many of my teenage offspring, (already some of them mortified to be seen with me in public just because their chronological age has reached double digits) are not too thrilled to be in earshot as I challenge the errors made when the wrong price comes up.
In the end it adds up to a significant amount each month that helps this goat keep the little goats in oats and something everyone should check out at the check out!
The Garden Goat
(P.S. Alas…as of late I have had to start taking my reading glasses to the store to ensure the item is in fact listed for less!)