A small story about how we managed to save $100+ a week on groceries and how we came to realise that brand loyalty was impacting our fun in life.
I’m quite honest and open when it comes to my own personal finances. I can tell you that around 6 months ago me and my small family were spending around $330 a week on groceries at our local Woolies. This included a weeks worth of meals (meat, vegetables, a few snacks) along with some expensive baby supplies (nappies, formula, other incidentals etc).
The local Woolworths was our go to supermarket due to location and our Everyday Rewards program that earns us Qantas Frequent Flyer points (we are suckers for a free holiday, one day!).
Depending on where you live, your Woolworths could be more expensive
We soon found out that Woolworths changes their product pricing depending on store location. We did a bit of research after watching this on the news and found out that our local Woolies was in fact one of the most expensive stores in Australia. Ouch. I won’t go into too much detail in this blog post as it’s besides the point, however as a rule of thumb it meant that we were paying nearly $45 a week more than had we of simply visited another Woolworths or went to our local Coles.
Switching shopping centres to find a new Woolies
After switching shopping centres to find a cheaper Woolworths, I discovered a centre that also had an ALDI supermarket. I have known for years that ALDI is a great cheaper alternative for households looking to save money on their groceries but I hadn’t actually converted to a week in, week out ALDI shopper.
After some initial apprehension from my wife, we decided to do a test shop at ALDI for some staples that were heavy hitters in our weekly grocery bill.
I am not sure why there was apprehension at the beginning but I believe it has something to do with the loyalty towards brands that my wife had built up over the years (stick with what you know) and probably more importantly, she was scared of having to bag her own groceries and how fast/intimidating the checkout process can seem to an outsider (ALDI take note!).
The test involved buying some big ticket items that cost us a small fortune usually. These items included;
- ALDI Nappies instead of Huggies
- ALDI Baby wipes instead of Huggies
- ALDI Tuna instead of John West
- ALDI Eggs instead of Woolies eggs
- ALDI Bread instead of Tip Top Multi Grain
- ALDI Milk instead of Coles Milk (haha, a saving of 5 cents per litre!)
- ALDI Coffee instead of Moccona instant
- ALDI lean beef mince instead of Woolworths mince
- ALDI toothpaste instead of Colgate
- ALDI porridge oats instead of Uncle Toby’s
It may sound strange, but the idea of changing nappies that you know work (aka keep your child asleep through the night) is daunting. As is changing the coffee that you have enjoyed every morning for 10 years.
Advertising had really institutionalised us I realised. We somehow believe in the quality of a brand to the point that we can judge another product on it’s brand or image also. How on earth can anyone assess the quality of a product by its colour and packaging? Anyways I digress.
We saved on average 50% off every product we purchased
The test saw us save on average 50% on each of the products above. Imagine that? Nappies used to be $30, now they were $15. Coffee was $25 for a huge jar; now it was under $10.
These were material savings that were really going to add up. It all of a sudden sort of clicked for us just how much money we were going to save a week by simply doing 50% of our weekly shop at ALDI.
Why only 50% of our shop at ALDI? Well there are still a range of things that we can’t get at ALDI that require us to hit up Woolworths (more Qantas Frequent Flyer points, yay!). They are minor things like particular baby foods we want, fruit and veggies that you can’t get easily at ALDI and more.
But regardless, post test we were now saving over $100 a week by simply switching Woolies purchased products to ALDI purchased products. The reason I know how much we saved is because I kept a hold of our receipts for three consecutive weeks + a few weeks prior to the test. I couldn’t believe how every imaginable item was nearly half price.
Putting the savings in perspective
50% off an individual item is a big deal. If someone offered you a house for $250,000 instead of $500,000 you would be pretty happy right? Well really this is no different. Why would you pay more for items that are exactly the same due to some silly loyalty and built up desire for a branded product?
We are now trying to expand our ALDI purchases further
Now that we have 50% of our shop with ALDI we are actively starting to look for ways to do more of the weekly grocery shop at ALDI.
This involves perhaps adapting some recipes and dinners to utilise ALDI produce instead of Woolies veg etc.
When we have friends over for tea or similar we serve ALDI purchased biscuits (once off purchases are also going to save a lot of money over the course of a year) – so as you can see, it’s not just regular purchases that save money, it’s the once offs and replacements that we obtain from ALDI that are also going to drive our savings further.
What did we learn about our test with ALDI?
The fear of change is a prevailing and scary thing. I can see why so many families continue to shop at major supermarkets; they simply don’t realise how good the savings are and how superior the ALDI products truly are.
Now that I am a father, I realise that every dollar is vital. I want every dollar I have going towards my family and our life together. Money is tight when you have kids and to say that ALDI saved our weekly grocery budget is an understatement.
ALDI has provided us with fairer prices, a superior range of products and put a much needed $100 a week ($5,200 a year) back into our pockets (if not more).
For a new family that’s a lot of money; that gives us the chance to feel normal, go out for a dinner occasionally, not live pay cheque to pay cheque and more.
It’s not just about the savings, it’s about the feeling of having less restriction in life and the money to do what you want again. I look forward to converting more of my groceries over to ALDI so I can save more money and commend all of you out there who have used ALDI for the past 5-6 years when I was still an Emu with my head in the sand.