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Monday, November 14, 2016

Once A Month Grocery Shopping - Mental Adjustment Required

Wow, not shopping is very weird! I used to go to the store several times per week, once for our main grocery shop for the week, and one or two quick trips to pick up a needed item and usually an impulse purchase or two would be included, and then maybe a few trips out for other things I wanted, a book, a pair of shoes, gifts, you get the drift. Suddenly I have a lot more time on my hands, and it is entirely due to NOT going shopping. It is unbelievable, I never realized how much time all those "quick" trips out were using, not to mention adding mileage to our vehicle and burning up gas. This is icing on the cake, the cake being the money we are now not spending and are truly saving.

So, the above all sounds good? What's not to like? Saving money like crazy, having lots of extra free time, both are nice perks of being frugal.

Now, the odd side, I won't say down side, because it is early days and I think I am in the process of a mental adjustment :). The odd side is the extreme withdrawal from going to the store, it has taken me by surprise, completely by surprise. It is shocking how many times a day I think about going to the store, and all day long items keep coming to mind; we need this, we need that, maybe just go and pick up two items that isn't really shopping, well you get the drift.  The thing is, these thoughts are beginning to drive me nutty, I never considered myself a shopper, a person whose hobby is literally shopping, after all my shopping was necessary, mainly groceries or things we "needed", oh, boy it is so easy to justify our behaviors.  I have to assume that shopping for me was way beyond the hobby stage, in hindsight it must have been my lifestyle, and that is a truly bizarre revelation to me. This seems the most rational explanation for my extreme withdrawal.

I am absolutely positive I will pass through the withdrawal stage just fine, a mantra I like is, "train to refrain...", I just add whatever negative thing is going on at that moment to the end.  For example when I run, for some reason, always around the beginning of mile four my body wants to stop, so in my head I start staying, "train to refrain from quitting", and I say it over and over and suddenly realize I am now into mile five and doing just fine.  Losing weight, it is difficult to stay in control, sometimes I am very tempted, but when I feel tempted I say, "train to refrain from over eating", and now I am saying, "train to refrain from shopping". Quitting the shopping habit is a lot like doing a long distance run, or losing a lot of weight and then maintaining the weight loss, you MUST stay focused on the end result.

It is November 14, I have made one shopping trip for groceries since October 21, and if I am careful with our supplies I will not need to grocery shop again until December arrives. I have gone into a store three times this month, once to pick up a birthday gift ordered online and if I did in-store pick up I did not have to pay shipping. Once to purchase another birthday gift, and once to grocery shop. The time between grocery shopping on October 21 and my next trip on November 10 is the longest  time I believe I have EVER gone in my adult life between food shop trips. And, I live to tell the tale, we did not starve and ate nutritious meals. I plan to go three weeks this time and hopefully at least that the following time. December will have some shopping as I have Christmas gifts to purchase for grand children and will have a few additional treats on the grocery list for Christmas day dinner. Our checking and saving accounts are much healthier after one month, and I am excited to see where we will be in three months, six months, the rewards have been so immediate it is highly motivating.

I am glad we decided to make this change, it is challenging in a good way. I think about what food supplies we have, what meals I can make, what will make good left overs, what is the most economical way to cook something to make it stretch yet still be nutritious and enjoyable. I way underestimated the number of eggs we use, but seem to have estimated everything else fairly well.  I find myself making lots of little decisions throughout the day about food preparation tempered with the reality that I am not going to grocery shop until December 1 at the earliest. I want to add that the idea with shopping once per month is to drastically reduce the amount of money we spend on food, and staying out of the store eliminates temptation and impulse buying.  We used to spend about $110/week on food, add to that non-food items such as pet food, toilet paper, personal hygiene, dish detergent, and impulse purchase the $110 could quickly become $150 or more. So far this month I have spent $164.44, this includes all food for the rest of the month including some extras for Thanksgiving, like the turkey, and pet food. We are pretty well set on personal hygiene items and toilet paper. I spent $19 on the additional birthday gift. Right off the bat we will not have spent the usual $500 or so we usually spend on groceries/household, but instead about $165, that is an  additional $340 or so dollars staying in the bank, not to mention the elimination of other shopping trips that increase that $340 this month. Will each month be this good, I think they will get better, because along with the savings we have made, we have become more disciplined with regular savings this year, and we will pay off a medical bill this month, which will then allow us to focus on paying off the money we borrowed to do our roof this past spring. Because we have freed up money from shopping we have more to apply to payments and the roof will be paid in full in a few more months and then we will have no debt. An additional boost to money save, we decided to drop our DISH tv, saving $106/month, we have had cable for most of our married life, we will celebrate our 33rd anniversary next month. The decision was easy, we realized we never watched DISH, we watch one local channel some evenings, and otherwise watch Netflix or YouTube, we decided we were ready to cancel and so we did.

The main challenge is not getting bored, there are plenty of free things to do, but it can still feel limited at times. I have done a lot of things around the house, and outside, but sometimes feel restless. I get out and walk or run for an hour each day, I stay busy knitting or sewing, doing chores around the house, but sometimes I just want to go do something, anything. I can go run or walk at a park, go to the library, go for a drive, go to church. But it seems to me the primary entertainment available to us all and one that we all partake in is shopping and going out to eat. Although we rarely go out to eat, it is something to do, and it is enjoyable. So some of the challenge is finding other ways to occupy ourselves that do not involve spending money.

So in summary, although a significant mental adjustment is required to change shopping habits and careless spending, it is possible, and the benefits are very rewarding.

Blessings to you,



Pen Wilcock said...

I love this journey you are on. I am so grateful to you for posting about it. It's so helpful and such food for thought.

My instinct about what you say in this post, is that the thing missing is purposeful community. I engage with "things" because I am stressed, alienated and lonely. Times in my life when I've been plugged in to a loving and purposeful community, I didn't think much about things at all. Or shopping. The whole thing is something like a pacifier/dummy is for a baby - a poor substitute for something real, but, sadly, yes, better than nothing. xx

Bean said...

I think you are correct, shopping is definitely like a pacifier, it seems purposeful for the moment we are engaged in doing, but afterwards leave us rather flat. Because just like a pacifier, also called a fooler in the US, shopping is simply a distraction, fools us, or lulls us into a sense of well being that is really a illusion.


affectioknit said...

I know what you mean about all the time shopping takes...I usually go on just once a week...but I usually go to 3 different stores to get all the best deals...and it takes about 3 hours round it really adds up...

~Have a lovely day!