The Consumer Affairs Commission (CAC) is encouraging persons to practise proper budgeting and good money management, as they make their purchases.
“It is very difficult to make choices during a constraint economy or where there is not enough funds to acquire everything you need at once…so, it is important that you make very knowledgeable choices and manage your money wisely,” Education, Information and Communication Specialist at the CAC, Dorothy Campbell, emphasises in an interview with JIS News.
She advises consumers to educate themselves in terms of availability, affordability and quality of products, before they go out in the marketplace.
“Determine, based on the available funds, exactly what your choices are…if it is food, make the best choices that will be most beneficial to the family in terms of nutrition and cost. Buy the carrots, the cabbage and all the vegetables that are available and the fruits that are in season at lower prices, in order to stretch your budget with the family,” she urges.
Miss Campbell adds that persons should be mindful of the various locations that are offering reasonable prices. “Find out the quality and prices of the goods you are seeking and where is the best location to acquire these things…whether it is food, clothing, electronics, we ask that you do due diligence before you go out and purchase,” she encourages.
The Education and Information Specialist asserts that the CAC continues in its bid to keep consumers informed of market prices and trends through its Consumer Alert publication. This monthly publication, she notes, informs consumers of the best food prices across the country and where they can be found.
“The Consumer Alert covers basic food items, such as rice, flour, sugar, canned mackerel, tinned sardine, milk powders, salt fish and cooking oil,” Miss Campbell notes, adding that focus is placed on basic rather than premium brands.
“We go for the most basic of brands in the particular item, so that we give the consumer what we would consider the average price, rather than going for the premium which is the high end,” she explains.
“The CAC wishes to re-affirm that we are here for the protection of the consumer …it is not a discretionary duty, but one that is embedded in law and so we are asking consumers not to be afraid to call on us to act on their behalf, to verify or investigate any anomaly in the marketplace that they have observed,” Miss Campbell informs.
The Commission gives the following tips for feeding the family on a budget:
· Shop at Home First– Before you make the list, check the cupboard, refrigerator and all the containers of pre-cooked meals, then when you go shopping, buy only what you need.
· Shop strictly by Recipe-The last thing you want to spend your money on when things are tight are recipes that do not turn out well. Stick to things you know your family likes or tried and true recipes from friends and family. If you really feel the need to try new things, try to stick to recipes that do not require a lot of new ingredients that you normally do not purchase, as these will definitely raise your bill quickly.
· Utilise CAC’s Price Survey -Plan to shop near your office, en route to home or your children’s school – wherever you travel, check the CAC publication for the best prices and buy those items on sale that you would normally eat.
· Buy in Bulk When Possible & Stock Up on Sale Items- Check your store ads, sales, and bulk buying stores. If you find something that you normally use at a good price, buy it, and buy a lot of it! Stocking up when things are on sale is one of the main ways to save money. Your freezer can keep things like bread, butter and cheese well, so that you can even buy those things in bulk at a good price.
· Mix ‘N Match Recipes – According to Miss Lou, “tun yuh han’ mek fashi’n”. By this she meant, utilise what you have to make something different. Use the same ingredients to create a new meal. Cook more one-pot meals and add more natural ingredients for colour and flavour. Shop and cook according to ingredients and you are bound to save! There will be no room for spoilage.
· Freshen up Leftovers -Plan for leftovers in your shopping. Count each batch as part of the meal plan. Wasting food is not an option when you are creating a habit of budgeting and saving money.
· Use Your Freezer–Use your freezer to save on gas and electricity. Parboil food, peas, meats and freeze them.
· Container/Backyard Gardening –Anything you do not have to place in the supermarket trolley is a saving. So, get on with the backyard/container gardening and save!
For more information and tips, contact the CAC at 978-4998 or visit the website at: www.cac.gov.jm.
By Kadian Brown, JIS PRO