Last night I realized I couldn’t put off a trip to the grocery store any longer. You know what I mean – that moment when the fridge is empty, you’re out of the stuff that you NEVER run out of, and your dogs are literally licking the paint off the walls because their bowl is full of generic emergency food (or maybe that only happens at my house).
It’s been over a year since I had to use a credit card to pay for something necessary like food. And while I was determined to spend as little as possible, I underestimated exactly how much stuff I needed. Overall, I spent $180. Ouch! But that didn’t stop me from trying my best to save where I could – you guys know I’m not exactly frugal, but I made a conscious effort.
In my area, Walmart is definitely the cheapest place to shop – when the SuperCenter was built, the local grocery stores raised their prices to make up for all the people flocking to Walmart, making it nearly impossible for me to shop at those stores.
I was amused and a little saddened by some of the things I did to minimize usage of the credit card. I realized that, even though Walmart is cheaper, I really couldn’t afford to shop there (or anywhere else, for that matter) right now.
6 Signs You’re Too Poor to Shop at Walmart
1. You curse the guys rounding up shopping carts in the parking lot. AND the people walking into the store. Last night I sat for all of 30 seconds waiting for a guy to push a million shopping carts past me, but I was in my car going, “Really? REALLY?” Same thing when 20 people decided to enter the store just when I needed to drive past. Why? Because I was worried about wasting gas in my car. That tank has to last!
2. You look at every single bottle of shampoo in the store before choosing one. Did it really matter whether I spent $1.84 on 20 oz of shampoo or $1.96 on 22 oz? No, but you’d think it was life or death to watch me comparing the bottles. I stopped short of getting out a calculator, only because this old lady in the aisle looked like she wanted to kill me.
3. You wonder if it would be cheaper to buy candles instead of lightbulbs. Four lightbulbs cost about $2. Yet I actually debated whether I should buy a pack of candles instead of replacing the three bulbs in my bedroom (which all decided to go out at the same time). I also briefly wondered how much light I really need in my bedroom since I basically only go in there to sleep.
4. You walk halfway across the store to put back a 2-liter of Pepsi because Coke is 30 cents cheaper. Oh yes I did. There was a display of Coca-Cola at the front of the store, and I totally went back to return the Pepsi to save 30 cents. Jayden started his “You’re embarrassing me!!!” thing and walked away. Bonus points because I don’t even like the taste of Coke.
5. You don’t buy the $5 sweatpants your child needs for gym because he has “only” grown 4 inches since last fall. Maybe I’m awful, but I figure everyone looks like a dork in sweatpants anyway; why not go all out with a Steve Urkel look to separate yourself from the pack? Jay is going through his awkward stage right now, so it shouldn’t be that much different from everyday life, right?
6. You tackle the cashier when she fails to remove and scan the “Save $1 now!” sticker on a package of AA batteries. Okay, I didn’t completely tackle her. But I did reach my arms across the conveyor belt in what must have been a threatening manner. Next thing I know, a manager is standing next to me while I complete my transaction. Batteries are expensive, darn it!
Reasons This is Tongue-in-Cheek
I knew it was worth making fun of myself when Jay looked at me on the way home and said, “That was like shopping with the Beverly Hillbillies, only worse.” And I could tell he was being completely serious.
However, as funny as it was, I’m really not that poor. Yes, I had to use credit, which hurts my soul, and I may not be able to pay off the balance before the payment is due. I may have to charge quite a bit more on the card before my financial situation is straightened out. I have spent so much time and energy worrying, I think I’ve become slap happy in an effort to escape the seriousness of what I’m going through.
But last night, I left my warm house full of nice things, drove my lateish model car to Walmart, and spent $180 on food and household supplies. And I wasn’t hungry when I went to bed last night. And I didn’t have to worry about whether my child and I were safe. And I’m sitting at my JOB (something far too many people can’t say) finishing this post on my iPad. Yeah.
I may be hurting for cash right now, but my situation could still be much worse. This could be my everyday life instead of a (hopefully) temporary setback. No matter how bad things get, I know I have plenty of options, even if I really don’t want to use them.
I may be too poor to shop at Walmart right now, but I’m not too poor to meet our basic needs. Yet. And for that, I’ll gladly tackle as many cashiers as needed.