Unintentional?

The other day I was thinking about my shopping habits, and how they’ve drastically changed since moving to the city.

And I mean drastically.

My weekly trip grocery shopping doesn’t always happen anymore.  There are weeks where I will just stop in at any one of the stores, pick up about $25 worth of perishables like milk, butter and eggs, and that’s my shopping for the week.   Before, living in a small town, I had to stock up when I went to the city.  The reason for this being that our small town grocery simply was not affordable to shop at on an all-the-time basis.   So when I would drive to the city for a grocery shop, I would stock up, and a trip was seldom below $130.  Of course, with that, there was plenty of purchases that went to waste, because we couldn’t use that quantity of produce before it went bad.

Now, when I do a weekly grocery shop, my average is around $70, and I’m slowly losing that feeling that I need to stock up.  Oh, it’s nice to have an array of meats in the freezer, and various dry goods in the pantry, but anytime I need something, an affordable grocery store is literally blocks away.  We’re also wasting so much less, for the same reasons.

But there are other major things that I’ve noticed.  The biggest one being that since we’ve moved to the city I have literally walked into Wal-Mart once.  One time.  And that one time was for a specific item for church, and the only place I knew to get that specific item was at Wal-Mart.

Now, before I go further, let me say that I am far from anti-Wal-Mart.  I think there is room in this world for Wal-Mart and other big-box stores, and I also happen to think that they are geniuses when it comes to marketing.

Living in a small town, we kind of had this mentality that there wasn’t much that we needed that we could purchase in town.  Planning a trip to the city took time, effort, and money, and in that regard, Wal-Mart was a livesaver sometimes, because it was one-stop shopping.  I also found it the cheapest place to shop for items like deodorant, toothpaste, and toilet paper- things we need everyday.  Except that I never walked out of there spending only a few dollars.  Why is that?  Marketing.  Genius marketing.

Because when I walk into Wal-Mart for Windex, Deodorant, Fish Food, and a Loaf of Bread, I am going to have to navigate the entire store to find these things.  But while I’m walking down the aisles I will see that my brand of shampoo and conditioner is on sale.  Some new headbands for Abigail will catch my eye.  Then as I head in the other directions I will see that table linens are on sale, and then there will be an endcap with candy at a great two-for-one price.  As I head to the checkout, I will realize that I have something for Abigail in my cart, but not Zander, so I will swing by the boys clothes and see if there is a tee-shirt on sale that he would like.   See where this is going?  All these things are great deals- but when you put them all together, the $12 worth of items I stopped in to purchase have become $102.

I just made a decision to stop doing that.

So I shop where these items may be a little more expensive from time to time.  The difference is that although I may pay up to a dollar more for deodorant, I am actually saving a HUGE amount of cash by avoiding the all-purpose store that tells me I need everything.

A beautiful side effect is that we are accumulating far less stuff.  We are not buying things just because they are on sale.   I want to note that this new way of life was completely unintentional.  As I said, I am not anti Wal-Mart or anti Target, but I am anti-take all our hard-earned money for stuff we don’t need.  It wasn’t that long ago that I realized that I hadn’t been going to Wal-Mart at all since we moved here.  Maybe part of it is that there are so many other stores closer to our house and more convenient.  That’s entirely possible.

Regardless of the reason though, I am so glad that I’ve been able to take a good long look at our spending habits, and I hope that we can stay mindful of where our spending is going as we roll into the holiday season.

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