With summer comes a break from employment for me because I work in a school. This past year I worked more hours, and I am thinking about how that affected my behavior with our money.
All along we have been staying debt-free and working a budget, but even within that I can see an increase in ‘buying to get through the week’ kind of behavior – unconscious spending. I can tell I haven’t been as mindful with money when I am afraid to see what the grocery spending looks like when I run a report in Quicken. I haven’t run one in a long time, but did so tonight. It was better than I expected, but lots of room for improvement. When I get lax with our shopping and meal planning, it generally costs us about an additional 100.00 a month.
It’s easy to get in the mindset of picking up convenience items at the store, and saying ‘yes’ to impulse purchases, when you are so busy. Yet, that isn’t really how I want to spend the money I go to work to earn. What I dislike even more than the expenditure, is the unconscious part of the spending. Unconscious spending to me means those expenditures where I say, “Looks good, I’ll pick one up. Why not.” Conscious spending is when I might deviate from my plan, but I do so with intention and joy (and a definite plan to use the item soon).
If any persons think some of the maxims too rigidly economical, let them inquire how the largest fortunes among us have been made. They will find thousands and millions have been accumulated by a scrupulous attention to sums ‘infinitely more minute than sixty cents.’
-The American Frugal Housewife, 1832
Meccas for unconscious spending: Whole Foods, Trader Joes, Fresh Market All danger zones! I don’t belong to Costco but I suspect that it also belongs on the list.
So, I am contemplating this summer how to find that balance come fall between minding the food expenses and not running around all weekend with coupons and grocery store flyers. Your input is welcome!
Great post! I don’t coupon much either because it is very time consuming. I wrote a few tips on my blog that could help under the menu item “Meal Saving Tips” that could give you a few ideas. I’m not trying to promote my blog…just trying to help! 😉
I appreciate that and I will come over for a look tonight. I am even thinking I might be able to get some freezer meals going in advance of fall school starting.
That’s a great idea, but keep in mind that processed foods will cost you more. You could buy a few items and make your own individual meals. That would be healthier and save you more! Good luck! 🙂
Whole Foods is the worst for us, too. Even when purchases there are “justifiable,” they’re usually not necessary. We’ve found the best strategy to be shopping from a list and not diverting from it. And only going to Whole Foods once or twice a month, and doing more of our shopping at the less tempting food co-op and the farmers market.
And a family trip to Whole Foods is 100.00 waiting to happen. There’s tea, sushi, fancy beers… I’m ok with it for New Year’s in lieu of going out on the town. I don’t even mind it when it is a conscious choice. I recently got a friend who left paid employment a very nice bouquet there. I chose to buy her something there from my heart. The problem is when I’m roaming the aisles saying “Ooh frozen spanakopita….” 😉
I am reasonable frugal but I do draw the line sometimes. Yesterday I needed to buy 2 peppers and a zucchini for a recipe. I went to the produce market (the cheapest) and picked up a quart of strawberries as well. But the lineup was so long, it would have taken me 30 minutes to buy my order. So I left and bought the same things at the supermarket, where there was no wait, and it cost me about $2 more. Then I had time to actually make the recipe before I went to the evening’s event!
Me too. I’m not willing to sacrifice all of my family time to track down every deal out there. Marathon not a sprint!
I like a deal and sometimes kick myself for not comparison shopping more, but there is a balance.
I’m not sure if you have an Aldi nearby, but I now do the majority of my grocery shopping there. They don’t accept coupons and I usually pay a lot less at Aldi than the grocery store!
This is exactly why I no longer have a Costco or Sam’s Club membership. First off I didn’t buy enough to offset the membership fee with what I saved, plus it was tempting to put too many things in our cart that really weren’t necessary.
I’ve found that shopping once or twice a month and buying large quantities seems to help eliminate some of the splurge spending. Then sticking to a list for the perishables like milk, bread, fresh veggies, etc. Plus it frees up a lot of time!
I agree… I could only justify Costco if my household were like a baseball team with boys going through gallons of milk everyday. I’ll have to mull that twice a month shopping. It sounds daunting but it would save so much time!
FYI-if you want to buy from Sam’s once in a while, they usually have a visitor pass you can print out on their website, you pay a 5% upcharge on anything you buy, but if you are only buying a small amount of stuff, sometimes that still works out cheaper than buying a membership. I recently did this and not only did I save a membership fee (my upcharge was only $11), I was reminded as to why I wasn’t all that impressed with them in the first place. It is handy though if there is something that you can only buy there or on one or two items with significant savings.
With Costco, they don’t do a visitor pass, but if you have Costco gift cards, you can also shop there without a membership. I’ve been tempted to have my father-in-law pick me up one here and there, he has a membership because it does save him a ton of money on prescriptions. Our closest Costco is almost an hour away too, so it’s not somewhere I’d go often.
Wow, I never knew that about Costco. That might be a real plus before the holidays when our shopping list is bigger. We now have Maijer .. Haven’t been there yet though.
I shop Sams club once a month for just myself and my husband and find it to be the best prices for meat & dairy in our area and paper products are comparable and saves me running all around. In the summer I only shop Sam’s club because all of our veggies come from the CSA program we sign up for with a local farm and the week I need milk I buy theirs though it is more expensive but not so bad once you factor time and gas to go to Sam’s- in the winter I make the trip to my local grocery store twice a week for fresh produce and milk. I have to say I really love the CSA program if you have a local farm that offers definitely look into it.
Great idea… We do have a lot of farm share opportunities in our area. Could be something where we even share with a neighbor. We used to do a,big garden ourselves but have cut back a little because it was producing so fast we couldn’t keep up.
Thanks for your comment! I imagine monthly shopping forces you to make the best use of your purchases too.
Costco and Target are me and my wife’s danger zones! If I need anything from those stores I try to go during my lunch break so I don’t have time to browse. Better yet – I try to make as many purchases online so I only buy exactly what I need. Target Redcard for free shipping is awesome!
Great strategy to go when your time is tight!