Saturday, March 14, 2009

Grocery Shopping 101

I do enjoy grocery shopping. Those I love know this. But, I have realized that I have a problem: I spend way too much in grocery stores. Having taken a financial course through my church, I have been working to eliminate sources of wanton spending. Now, yes, groceries are a necessity. Everyone's gotta eat, right? But, overall, my five-times-a-week grocery shopping binges are eating a huge hole in both our pocketbook and Buzz's dreams of owning an 18-car garage full of classic Buicks, Cadillacs, and Bentleys.

I've nailed down a few reasons why grocery shopping is such a money trap for me.

  1. I take too long in the store. Instead of going in with a purpose, I wander around. After examining the past few bank statements, I've come to the conclusion that the amount of time I spend in the grocery store affects the amount I spend proportionately. The longer I'm in there, the more I spend. I know, that's genius in the works right there, baby. But, still, it took me a while to figure that out. I calculate that I spend about $100 an hour on most trips. My average trip? About 95 minutes. Do that math.
  2. I have kids. (Yes, a mom has every right to blame her kids for spending money.) It's easy to keep kids entertained, especially the four-year old, with a promise of a toy or treat at the end of the long grocery tunnel. (To be fair, my kids impress me. They are especially well-behaved in grocery stores. I'm sure it has NOTHING to do with the promise of a treat.)
  3. I fall victim to the "set up." Have you read What to Eat? Oh, boy, did I ever read that book. I don't think I ate a single thing for about 2 weeks. So, I guess I'm an educated consumer, but I sure don't act like it. Grocery stores set up their shops, according to author Marion Nestle, not for the shopper's convenience but for the maximum profit. Go figure. So, that's why the more sugary cereals are at toddler eye level. Instead of being smart and going in and getting my stuff, I trot right along with the corruption, allowing myself to bask in the marketing ploys.
  4. We have gourmet grocery stores in the Austin area. Oh, Central Market, how I love thee with your bounty of specialty foods, your wine and cheese to die for, your $20 a pound air chilled meats. Yeah. Stop. Gourmet is moderation. I think my spending average goes up about 20% when I'm in a store with a wine section the size of Rhode Island.
  5. I leave with items that are not groceries. NOT GROCERIES. Like a new muffin tin (that I don't need and could probably buy less expensively elsewhere) and a couple of magazines and a Matchbox Mega Rig Shuttle Mission.

It took me a while, but I've pinpointed these problems, and I'm making changes. Details soon!

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