I spent last Friday injecting some cash into the local economy. It had been several months since we went to Costco and the pantry was looking a little bare. We had paid full price — twice! — for individual rolls of paper towels at the local supermarket. So after dinner at the King of Prussia Legal Sea Foods, we hit the King of Prussia Costco with each parent pushing a separate cart. We filled them both (minus the volume consumed by the three children stashed in the carts). We felt like good, frugal shoppers the whole time and walked out paying several hundred dollars. What happened?
The psychology seems to be that Costco has a halo over it. Prices are, generally, lower. You can buy these microwave single-serving mac-n-cheese cups that my 2-year-old is obsessed with for $9.75 for 12. The best sale my local grocery store has ever had is 10 for $10 — and usually they’re more like $1.29 each. Four Costco cheese pizzas are $9.99, whereas a DiGiorno pizza (slightly bigger, but still) is more like $7 for one. But, of course, you’re buying in incredible bulk. And because there’s a halo over everything, you buy stuff you don’t need because it’s all so cheap! Why ask tough questions about whether you really need something if it’s all so cheap! Surely we’ll use that gigantic bag of chocolate chips eventually, right?
Which is why I now have a gigantic $9.99 bag of chocolate chips in my freezer. We did not need all these chocolate chips in our lives. It’s hard to save money by spending money. Whether you’re at Costco or not.
What attempt to be smart with money has landed you with the biggest bill?
Photo of Costco shopping carts courtesy flickr user Anthony Albright