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March 3, 2008

Walking down the (grocery) aisle

http://www.jewishjournal.com/blog/item/walking_down_the_grocery_aisle/

They say money doesn’t grow on trees. Technically it does, just not with the presidents on it. This week, I took a journey down the road of money management in a way that I wouldn’t necessarily have before.

I knew that this was a week for a “big shop”: what we term a visit to the grocery store that involves spending $100+. On the way home from work I had a choice to make. Do I go to Ralphs, which is in a slightly nicer part of town, has a great parking lot and a larger selection; or Vons, which is closer to my home, has a pain in the butt parking lot and less selection because it is is a smaller space.

The kicker: In my neighborhood, Ralphs costs more — and as a newlywed on a budget, who has to save where she can given the high cost of gas these days, Vons looked like the pick.

I have club cards for both locations, so I knew I’d be saving some money regardless, but I figured why save a little when you can save a lot?

So I exited the freeway in a slightly roundabout manner (the lack of left-turn lights near the shopping center drives me bonkers), maneuvered around the spaced-out pedestrians and “I really shouldn’t be behind the wheel” drivers and parked.

I had my shopping list (a MUST for couples on a budget), and something in my tummy (because you never want to go shopping on an empty stomach).

Yes the aisles were tight, but they had everything on my list—even some items the Ralphs near me didn’t carry like my low-sugar Smuckers apricot jelly. I knew produce would be costly, but almost everything was on sale. My yummy bottled Starbucks were $2 off I skipped getting more cereal in favor or 2-for-1 oatmeal; even the store brand of bread couldn’t beat the name brand “buy one get one free” sale.

Then it was the moment of truth: checkout time. I saw the numbers add up ... more and more, higher and higher. The checker hit the button for the total and I saw it: $120! I guess I hadn’t saved as much as I thought. Then he hit another button — all the “club” savings. My new total: $96!

I was so excited .... I couldn’t wait to tell my husband (something told me the people at Vons wouldn’t care very much that they would be getting less money from me).

In the end, it is amazing how the little things can make us so happy. Sure the parking wasn’t as great—and I kept having to skirt around families in the tight aisles — but saving that money, over time, will make life so much better.

I’d rather use the extra $30 toward our anniversary cruise in October — margaritas are so much more fun than fabric softener.

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