Alan Yu, Day 7

October 22nd, 2014

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 anyone. But hopefully it at least made everyone think as either way I strongly believe issues like these affect everyone.

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