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A Small Example of How Being Too Busy Has Cost Our Family Money

March 25, 2011 · 62 comments

in Personal Finance

Things have been kind of crazy here since the beginning of February and I have to admit, I have let a few things slide.  Namely, grocery shopping.  I looked in the pantry a few days ago, and I don’t think I have ever seen it so empty!  I usually check what is on sale each week, organize my coupons, and stock up on things I know we will use in the next couple months.  I should have known we were in trouble last week when I realized I didn’t have even one box of pasta.

Needless to say, we have surprisingly been running out of things lately, and I was forced to pay the piper on Wednesday.

My shopping trip began after I dropped my son off at soccer practice.  I was forced to shop at the grocery store closest to the soccer field because I was short on time.  The store I chose is part of  a very small chain, with maybe three stores in our area.  I am not real familiar with this establishment, but I can say I was shocked when they were advertising avocados for $1.99 each, like that was some kind of a good deal.  Fortunately, I only desperately needed three items:  Bounce Free sheets, toothpaste, and bread.  I would have preferred to buy more items, but the prices were so high I only wanted to purchase necessities.  I ended up paying almost five dollars for those Bounce sheets and the toothpaste was expensive too. (The bread was reasonably priced at least.)   I cringed putting those items in my cart as it went against all my shopping beliefs.  But, sometimes in life, convenience has to take precedence over cost.

While I was shopping, I thought about how so many people cannot stand Wal-Mart because they feel big box stores put the little guys out of business.  I understand the empathy for the little guy, but I realized that I am not willing to pay extra money out of my pocket just to keep smaller stores in business, all other things being equal.  I realize that many people may not appreciate my philosophy, but if there had been a less expensive grocery store right next door to this small chain store, I totally would have gone to the cheaper grocery store.

Now, if the prices are comparable, I would definitely support the little guy.  Or if the service was great at the small business or there was some other differentiating factor, I would patronize the smaller establishment.  For example, I would much rather go to the small hardware store near my house as opposed to Home Depot because I always need help in a hardware store, and nobody ever seems available to help in the bigger stores.  However, for everyday shopping, I prefer the least expensive store I can find.  I don’t need to interact with anyone except a cashier and I can make all my purchasing decisions without the help of anyone else.

What do you think?  Am I just cruel-hearted, or a savvy shopper?

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{ 60 comments… read them below or add one }

First Gen American March 25, 2011 at 6:01 am

I’m with you on shopping and I absolutely kick myself if I have to pay full price for dry or canned goods. None of my grocery stores offer a particularly outstanding shopping experience so usually the weekly winner is the person with the most # of items that I want to buy that are on sale.

We have a nice organic grocer in town but the prices are so high there, I only go on special occasions (like when family is visiting from out of town) or when certain things are in season that I can’t find anywhere else like morel mushrooms or fiddlehead ferns.

My latest thing is I hardly ever buy clothes and I actually overbought 3 things that I ended up not liking once I was home. Well, I ended up losing the receipt and It cost me about $50 in clothes I don’t need. I wish I could have returned those items. Ugh. Oh well. Sometimes that’s what happens when life is too chaotic.


Dave M March 25, 2011 at 9:05 am

I don’t think that you’re being cruel-hearted. I completely agree with you. If a small local store doesn’t have competitive prices, then I am going to shop at Wal-Mart or Target because I can get a better price. If they are comparable in price, then I would definitely support the little guy too.


DoNotWait March 25, 2011 at 10:34 am

Agree with you… yes and no! I don’t like Walmart, although I may go there maybe once every two months or so. My grocery is one of a kind, but offers the prices I’m looking for. Not always buying on sale, but happy to find some good deals in one place. Maybe it is also because good food is our main entertainment. We really enjoy having good suppers. So I don’t mind paying a bit more when I really “feel” like having this or that. But, if I have to choose between two big chains, then I’ll definitely pick the cheaper one.


krantcents March 25, 2011 at 12:09 pm

There should a difference between the low price store and the high price store. Service, different products, or location. If not, why pay more.


101 Centavos March 25, 2011 at 12:16 pm

Principles can be expensive. We don’t have to like it, but we all vote with our wallets.


beth March 25, 2011 at 1:07 pm

I HATE Wally World (aka Walmart)!

Although, my husband recently found out that Earth’s Best organic powdered formula (which is horribly expensive) is made by the same company that makes Walmart’s brand of organic formula and the formula is exactly the same for a much cheaper price. So, recently, he has been making the trip to Walmart to just buy the formula. They didn’t have any in stock the last time he went and we bought organic Similac instead. So, we may be done with Walmart. Every Walmart I’ve ever been to, with the exception of the one in under-populated Houghton, MI, has been so dirty and I’ve found the employees to be lacking in everything needed to work with the public.

I prefer to find a grocery store that always seems to have the lowest prices over all and stick with it. In my opinion, that’s Meijer, which is technically a “locally” owned store since they are headquartered in GR, MI. I visit the Spartan Store by my house every once in a while to pick up a couple of items, but they are usually over priced and lacking in quality for their fresh items. Oh, I also avoid any store that requires you to have a card that tracks your spending in order to get their sale prices…


retirebyforty March 25, 2011 at 1:13 pm

I’m with you on groceries. For restaurants though, we support small restaurants and try to avoid chains as much as we could.


Nicole March 25, 2011 at 3:27 pm

We tend to go to one grocery store that is the only upscale one in town. We like fancy cheese. It’s still a regular grocery and still has similar prices on most things to the other stores in town.

The super-Walmart in town is unpleasant to shop at. It’s always packed with people in a hurry. Target isn’t, but they don’t have groceries.


Jeff March 25, 2011 at 4:28 pm

Never shopped at walmart, never will. I guess target is equivalent though, so I’ve been guilty on a couple of occasions. I agree with retireby40, chain restaurants are not on my list for eating at.


Alan March 26, 2011 at 7:15 am

I don’t think you are being cruel at all. I too look for any advantage that the small shop can give, so that I can give them my business, whether it’s price, service, organically grown produce, or just fresher nicer produce. Sometimes, however the smaller, local shop has nothing extra to offer and supporting them is really just throwing your money away, because it’s a losing cause.


Moneycone March 26, 2011 at 8:43 pm

I do not know if you are cruel or savvy, but you certainly are very practical! With the hardware store example you drive home your point very nicely Kris!

If the small business owner has a family to feed so do you and this is a tough economy!


Barb Friedberg March 27, 2011 at 8:27 am

I have a tip-skip the “bounce” altogether. I think they are absolutely unnecessary! Other than that, I totally get your retisence to buy at the “high cost” grocery!


Justin @ MoneyIsTheRoot March 27, 2011 at 1:38 pm

I really feel the same as you. For the most part I tend to go where the prices are cheaper. If a smaller local shop provides a product or service that is comparable to the chains then I am more than happy to help them out, but cost and convenience is a factor.


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