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Inflation: Expert advice for Canadian consumers

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Inflation: Expert advice for Canadian consumers

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As inflation rises to levels not seen in decades, experts advise Canadians to take advantage of coupon and points programs and buy affordable alternatives where possible to help ease the financial strain caused by rising prices.

Headline inflation in Canada hit a 30-year high at the end of 2021 with warnings from economists that the pace of price increases could increase further.

Statistics Canada reported Wednesday that the annual pace of inflation soared in December to 4.8%, a pace not seen since September 1991.

The growth in the consumer price index was fueled by the prices of groceries which climbed 5.7% year over year – the largest increase in a decade – and housing which climbed 9.3% compared to December 2020.

And despite lower prices at the pump month over month, gasoline prices were still up 33.3% year over year in December.

Laurence Booth, professor of finance at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management, told that the rising cost of gas, rent and groceries means Canadians have to “shop around”. tour” if they want to find the most affordable option for their budget.

“Consumers respond to prices, they respond to incentives. So check out all those coupons you might get…and be a wise consumer,” Booth said in a phone interview Thursday.

Booth said those on a “very limited budget” are likely already seeing the impact at the pump and the grocery store. For this reason, Booth said it’s “natural” for consumers to look for cheaper alternatives if their wages haven’t risen in line with inflation.

“When they start to see prices go up, they substitute other items that they probably wouldn’t have bought if only what they want has gone up in price significantly,” he said.

“They will substitute prices for commodities that have not increased to the same degree.”

Booth said the same goes for housing. He said renters might adjust their searches to a one-bedroom apartment instead of two, just because of the price difference.


Beyond finding more affordable options, Anne Arbour, head of education at the Credit Counseling Society, says rising prices mean Canadians need to focus more on tracking their spending.

“It’s about getting back to basics and really knowing your numbers, because you don’t know what impact [inflation] could have if you don’t know what you’re actually spending,” Arbor told in a Thursday phone interview.

Arbor said it’s important for Canadians to understand where their money is going in order to maintain a budget.

She added that those already feeling the effects of inflation should not rely on credit cards or loans to “make up for shortfalls” in daily spending.

“You don’t want to pay for pizza for 23 years,” she said.

Arbor noted that there are several ways to “stretch a food dollar.” She suggests using apps that monitor flyers in her area to find the best deals, as well as discount programs that offer cash back.

Arbor said rewards programs that offer discounts through point collection may also be an option.

“As long as you’re not buying in a fair way to get the deals, but you’re actually buying things that you’ll actually use and not throw away,” she said.

Arbor said it’s also a good idea to take stock of what’s already in your pantry before you go shopping, as well as prepare meals ahead of time.

“Sometimes we forget the extra bag of chickpeas we bought at the start of COVID, so making that list, getting into really good meal planning habits, and checking available resources can help,” she said. declared.


While there are ways for consumers to find deals on food, Arbor says managing prices at the pump can be trickier.

“If public transit is a possibility, it’s absolutely a great option… [But] for some people it’s just not possible depending on where you live,” she explained.

To keep fuel costs down, Arbor suggests Canadians carpool whenever possible, as long as it’s safe from a public health perspective. She also suggests consumers be “more aware” of where and when they are going.

“Bundling your errands and having the intention to leave the house and do things you need to do rather than coming and going will make a difference,” Arbor said.

With a file from The Canadian Press

Inflation: Expert advice for Canadian consumers

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