I compared Lidl & Sainsbury’s last time, but what if you don’t have a discounter near you and want more choice while saving money on food? I set myself the challenge to try and get an online groceries order delivered for half price using cashback apps, savvy selections, and a few other tricks. I hadn’t ordered food online for over 10 years and it didn’t go to plan exactly, and I’m also autistic, so I’ll talk about what went right!Listen to “048: Is Sainsbury’s Online A Waste Of Time & Money?” on Spreaker.
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Bear: [00:00:00] Good evening, my fellow bears. And if it’s not evening where you are, I’ll let you decide if I am too early or too late. My challenge was to get a 60 pound shop at a major supermarket 50% off and cheaper than the discounters. The year was 2010. Possibly. My memory is a bit fuzzy. I placed my first ever online groceries order with Tesco and I was shocked and dismazed. Dismayzed? I was dismazed. It’s like being dismayed, only worse, but some psychopath working at Tesco thought white bread was a substitute for brown bread and then substituted most of what I’d ordered for strange things like offering me lots of spicy sauces instead of plain tomato sauce. On the whole, I found the whole experience disappointing and not an improvement on just walking to the shop at a time when I had no transport and could only carry so much. Fast forward a few years, Sainsbury’s kept sending me these £15 off £60 voucher codes for their online groceries.
But I got frustrated that if I tried to buy something on offer, it was not on offer at the checkout possibly because my delivery day, it was too far in the future. I don’t know. But at any rate I would just give up every time because I was trying to shop based on the offers and [00:01:00] everything I chose, the price would change at the end to full price.
They must have fixed that. Or I did something differently this time, because for the first time, in over 10 years, I ordered food online. And not only did it come in at a large discount, but it was also pretty close to what I ordered. Now the caveat is that I did use some extra tricks to get all that money off. So let me talk you through how I reduced the total order.
First of all, the £15 off £60 is essentially 25% off. The other thing I struggled with in the past buying just for myself was finding £60 worth of food to order if you’re renting, you have a small freezer, you’re wary of ordering too many fresh items when you can’t see for yourself in advance, what the best before date is on your milk, et cetera.
Now I have my own house instead of renting. I have more freezer space, but I’m mostly just wiser to how to cook with cupboard staples and not relying so much on fresh fruit and vegetables anyway.
So my 65 ish pound order ended up being £49.51 at the time of checkout. But remember that because that’s going to go up before it goes down. The delivery was £1 for choosing a weekday between 3:00 PM and 7:00 PM. But I could have [00:02:00] also had a delivery between 7:00 AM and 10:00 AM or 8:00 AM and 11:00 AM or very late at night, ~it’s only four pound.~
It was only four pounds if I had specified a 30 minute window at popular times and they message you to give you a one hour time slot anyway. And my driver showed up towards the end of that. So I personally wouldn’t pay more to narrow that down. But I’ve been working from home since before the pandemic and my time is very much my own.
So I have that luxury with being quite flexible on the deliveries so that I could get the cheapest delivery.
In terms of availability I could have got a slot the next day. But I opted for a few days later to get the afternoon slot that I wanted. So the stuff that I bought that was on offer anyway, were Nakd chocolish bars, a higgidy pie, but I was also expecting cashback on that. I’ll explain that in a moment.
And also Alpro’s barista oat milk, long life milk. Stuff that was competitive with Aldi and Lidl’s own ranges after the 25% off. Well, not much, actually. I ordered various of strong roots.
Strong roots is plant-based range. So they do like a [00:03:00] pumpkin burger, a beetroot burger. And some spinach bites. ~If you were going to buy something from where like a processed, frozen range that’s plant-based~
because that was on offer, plus I had the coupon and I normally make everything from scratch,
that made it comparable with something that I could have bought from the freezer section at Aldi or Lidl. ~I’ve also just liked strong roots in the past. Hadn’t tried these before thought it was worth a go for the price ~for everything else I chose the best value I’d normally buy anyway. ~So for instance, just the cheapest own brand bread ~looks like bread tastes like bread.
You’re going to put something on it anyway. Right? Now the risk that I took with this order was expecting cashback on various of the items. So I’ll break down what those were. Expecting cash back on anything
to change the final price is a risk. So if you use websites. I recommend like topcashback to also try and get cash back on other expenses like insurance, or just any other shopping that you do, I’d always say choose something based on what the price is without cashback and go for the best value that way, because cash back is not always guaranteed.
Now I said I was happy to receive substitutions and in future, I probably would not do that. The idea behind substitutions is that when you get your order, [00:04:00] if you say no, because you don’t think something is a suitable substitution, you are supposed to get a refund. If the substitution costs the same or less than what you originally chose, there’s no refund.
And if it costs more, they give you an evoucher for the extra. I didn’t find that very clear. I was like, why are they giving you an Evoucher? If it costs more surely they just charge you more if you keep it. And then is the voucher to try and get you to upgrade, if you like it, and the answer is they charge you the higher price.
Definitely. I wasn’t clear on that when I accepted the substitutions. The other thing that was fuzzy was they say your driver will tell you your substitutes and ask you what you want to keep. And -that very much not happened. I queried it as the driver was leaving because nothing had been mentioned. And he said, oh, well, they will have emailed you.
~And then he looked it up and pointed out. ~I hadn’t noticed because I was just so focused on getting my delivery and he pointed out that all the milk was totally different. It’s just a novelty for me to have a, a groceries delivery that I only do once every 10 years. And also because I’m autistic, if something unexpected happens, I will either freeze and you will get no decision from me or I just nod and [00:05:00] say yes, because I can’t kind of see the big picture of whether this new detail is going to be a problem.
And afterwards I realized, Hey, I can’t claim cash back for any of that milk. And it wasn’t even until the following day that I actually saw that I had been charged a higher amount. So I think that should have been a lot clearer. My mistake there was partly
buying something that I wouldn’t normally buy at full price.
And then just hoping that I would get the cash back as well. So I think if you wouldn’t normally buy something at full price and you’re going to accept substitutes on your delivery, maybe leave it alone because there is always a chance with cashback apps or sites like top cashback that if you don’t get your cash back, you could’ve just got the thing for less than the first place.
If it had worked, 20p is what it would have cost me. That would have been an absolute bargain, cause the milk was one pound 20 at Sainsbury’s reduced. And then I was due to get one pound off in the app and instead I ended up spending £10.80 on oat milk I don’t even really like oatmilk that much.
It was just a backup because we now live in a dystopia where in one of the most developed countries on earth, I regularly can’t buy simple essentials like milk because the shelves are empty every time you go [00:06:00] out. Thank God I got cash back on the vanilla syrup instead, because I’m going to need it.
I did get the voucher as promised because that had all worked out more expensive than my ordered, but of course you can only use that money towards another delivery. Now in terms of time cost, because I think that’s one of the really important things that’s overlooked when people are talking about saving money,
I spent about an hour and 20 minutes on the website. For someone who never checks out online for groceries, I thought was pretty good. And also, I just thought that was very good for my decision making skills generally, because as I mentioned, I’m autistic and
I’m very quick once I’ve learned how to do something, but encountering a process that I don’t normally do, I sort of start swimming at the speed of being underwater
with an anchor wrapped around you. But I did also let my choices be guided by the cashback apps and then just chose a few branded things that I would normally pick up if they’re on offer anyway. So things like the nakd bars was sort of like a default selection for me. ~Or I chose things that would be a pain to carry on foot.~
~And so it was easy to think of those.~
~So things like tissue. I normally do a lot of my grocery shopping on foot to limit the [00:07:00] amount I spend. And also just because it’s good to ~go for a walk and ~get some exercise and I don’t particularly like driving.
So I threw some heavy, bulky items in there. And lastly, I chose a few own brand essentials that you always need. Like bread.
I have walked to my local Sainsbury’s and done a shop in the same amount of time as it took me to do the online order. But obviously I wouldn’t normally carry home £50 worth of shopping if doing that. I suppose the flip side of that is that there is a lot of potential to overspend
~if you are doing an online order, instead of going in person.~
Now you can’t combine the Sainsbury’s coupon code with other offers. So you wouldn’t be able to put that together with like a new customer offer on somewhere like top cashback. And there were codes available also on money saving expert.com, martin Lewis’s well-known website, to get certain products for free.
Except that when I searched for those, they weren’t being returned on the website ~as if they didn’t exist. ~So I can only assume that they weren’t available for delivery in my area because I’d already booked my delivery slot beforehand. ~I also collected nectar points. ~I didn’t pay with nectar points, just in case I wanted a refund on any of the substitutions.
And it messed with my discount after the fact, because in my experience, combining refunds with voucher and point purchases can turn into a bit of a nightmare and [00:08:00] Sainsbury’s customer service aren’t as easy to contact as they used to be. I did pay with Amex however, and I earn points on my particular Amex card.
Now the cash back you can earn with American express credit cards did reduce around August, 2021, but you can still usually earn something back from them, even if it’s a new card. And then I get other rebate offers besides earning points on my spend through American express. Do use a credit card responsibly.
You need to keep the debt to affordability ratio really low on that card by only spending a tiny percentage of the credit limit available. I only spend money that I have anyway. And then I set up a direct debit automatically to pay the bill off in full, before incurring any interest. And that just demonstrates to lenders that you can manage credit and that will usually improve your credit score, which you can then leverage for something like a mortgage.
So done correctly, buying your groceries can actually go towards buying a house one day.
I’m not a financial advisor. That’s just my experience.
So the original order was over £60, reduced to around £49 with my Sainbury’s coupon before applying any of the shopping apps cashback. Now Sainsbury’s bumped my order up to [00:09:00] £53.11 because of the milk snafu.
Checkout smart and Shopmium saved me £12.20, I say saved me. It’s only really a saving, if you then take that saving, the money that you didn’t spend and put that in a savings account. So I did go and buy, an ETF with the money that I saved from this. So I put it into stocks and shares.
With the greenjinn cashback, the saving becomes £14.15. So after all of the cash back apps, an order costing £53.11,
got reduced to £38.96. And then I added 68p in Nectar points, which doesn’t go very far these days. Unfortunately, a lot of the nectar partnerships, you used to be able to spend points at vue cinema and halfords a lot of those have curled up and died because of COVID. But whatever, it all adds up. I think I probably earned over 50 Avios points.
I think it’s a point per pound. ~Usually that’s another thing where it depends on what you’re going to use those for. ~I’m saving long-term to put them towards flights. So I don’t worry too much about trying to squeeze out every last point. I just let it build up in the background of what I would spend normally anyway.
A bit like investing in stocks and shares. If you don’t check it every day, it’s nice [00:10:00] just to check in a few times a year and be like, oh, I’ve actually racked up a lot of points on this thing that I can now use without any extra. So was I able to get my order down to half price? No. And would removing the dastardly oat milk have helped? Possibly.
I suppose I could have got something else. And if my order had been closer to £60 than £70, that would’ve got me very close. ~The final point on that was that~ you can tell I got quite the mishmash of things. So apart from the lazy vegan, there were no complete meals here, unless you count bread and butter by itself as lunch and things like the coffee syrup.
I have put it on my porridge since. I guess you could use it in baking. But that was mainly useful because I already had mountains of coffee in the house. So this wasn’t a full shop by any means. Possibly wouldn’t go that far for a family, but it’s similar in size and items to what I’d aim to buy.
If I was driving to a discounter to stock up on either big, heavy things or multiple items of something so that I’m making the most use of killing the planet with my ancient car and not having to carry it all home. And then there were definitely items in there that I bought precisely because you cannot get them in the discount as easily because their ranges have gotten better, [00:11:00] but they’re still quite limited.
~Let’s be honest. ~Let me know if you have more success at getting your most money’s worth possible. And by all means, check out my previous installments on how to save money on groceries, especially if you want to eat more plant-based and save time as well. Why not ? go forth! If save like a bear has impacted your finances positively and you want to pay forward what you’ve learned on the podcast to someone else,
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