As the cost of living continues to rise in Canada due to rising commodity and fuel prices, many people are being forced to make changes so they can still pay for the daily essentials.

Kyle Stewart is a financial advisor. He says his clients have changed their strategy in the past year.

"It's been a lot tighter in the homes and it's been less of a focus on the investments and more of a focus on, you know, how do we reduce costs."

Stewart himself has also had to change his strategy, as the amount of money he must pay to travel to his clients' homes has also jumped.

"You know, $45 would be a full gas tank, now it's closer to $80. And doing that three or four times a week, it's quite a bit of money," Stewart says.

If prices hold, that means over the course of a year he will spend a lot more money on gas.

CIBC Economics reports gas has increased 28 per cent since last September, not counting recent spikes.

Based on those numbers, Canadians can expect to pay $12 billion more for fuel for the remainder of 2011. That's about $950 more per household.

University of Waterloo Economist Larry Smith says "For many people that price of gasoline has risen so significantly they have, in effect, taken a wage reduction, and for some persons whose wages are not particularly handsome to begin with that can be a serious stress on all of their family finances."

Stewart has watched the cost of feeding his family rise too, "Our grocery bill was about $200, now we're looking at about $300 to feed a family of three for a month."

Food prices have risen significantly between March 2010 and March 2011.

According to Statistics Canada overall prices are up 3.3 per cent, but it varies by product:

  • fresh or frozen meat is up 6.9 per cent
  • fresh vegetables are up 18.6 per cent
  • coffee and tea are up 8.2 per cent

And that trend will likely continue, with food prices expected to rise another seven per cent by the end of the year.

But there are things you can do to help ease the pain.

As a way to save money, the Stewart family has started making their own baby food. "Where before we'd spend $20 on individual jars, we spend $10 on a bunch of produce and we make our own," Stewart says.

They say they've learned from their neighbours, and now they're also joining with their neighbours to buy items in bulk.

Stewart says when everyone shares the shipping costs, it cuts down the expense that much more.

Plus, he says, it's had the unexpected benefit of brining the neighbours together.

Coming up in part two: Comparing Canadian food prices with those in other countries.

For more tips on saving money please visit: (for how to save money on gas)