Confessions of a Non-Budgeting Grocery Shopper

Today, I went into Walmart with the intention of spending less than $100. We needed random things I hadn't needed to buy in a while, like mayo, salt, dish soap, and sandwich bags. But we also needed regular items like eggs, bread, flour, and onions. I actually had to make a list, or I would have walked out of there without cat litter (yikes!) or something, which I really couldn't go another day without. I don't often make an official grocery list, since my shopping generally consists of going up and down the aisles grabbing things I'm sure we need, I think we need, we might need, look interesting, and OMG I MUST HAVE IT. Not necessarily in that order.

Some days, when doing my weekly to bi-weekly shopping for my family of five, I end up with a completely full cart. Other days, there's still room for my 3-year-old to sit in the basket when I get to the checkout line. Some days, I set myself a "don't spend more than THIS" goal. Other days, I have a vague idea that I'd like to keep it under $ridiculous. Today was the former.

Usually, I'd set myself a goal and end up a little over, maybe by $10. Not today. Today I was disciplined. Today I said, "No more than $100. Even if you can't buy cookies." I had to pass a few things we sort of do need but can live without for a week or two, like olive oil. But I also passed the cute Halloween pajamas, the brownie mix, the bagels, and the chips and salsa. I passed the Halloween Hello Kitty shirt I was kinda thinking of getting for my mom (she expressed interest), the cow blanket sleeper that my friend who's having a baby boy any day now might like for him, and the Thomas underwear that my son really wanted. I was determined to meet my goal.

My tally? $99.28.

I was even able to get myself and my son something to drink at the impulse buy refrigerators, because I had passed up so many other treats. That made him happy, and me happy, and I don't think the cashier fully understood the depths of my pride that I had managed to spend less than $100 at Walmart. Because I could easily spend my entire paycheck there on things I need, or my kids need, or my friend needs, or my husband wants, or I think is cute, or my son really wants, or would look awesome on the baby, or my oldest could use for school.

I'm getting better at calculating what I'm spending on the fly. I'm getting better at paying attention to price tags and comparison shopping and knowing what I can live without. I'm getting better at sticking to the basics and then splurging when appropriate, and not every time.

And I know I must have forgotton something, because how in the world did I get out of Walmart spending less than $100?!


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