Today I wanted to have a bit of a Fun Financial Friday and talk about a few different shopping personality types. Earlier this week I shared all the details of what I really saved (or didn’t) by shopping at a warehouse club; and gave you eleven tips to save on warehouse club shopping. I promised a Friday post too, so here we are! (Although I also promised a Wednesday post and accidentally published on Tuesday…)
In my mind the first tip in my earlier article is the most important. Determine whether or not warehouse club shopping makes sense for your personal situation. How far away is it? How big is your family? What kinds of foods do you eat? Do you have the money for a big stock up trip? Do you stick to a list? And so on.
That got me thinking about different grocery shopping archetypes. I know this won’t capture everyone’s specific situations. But I hope it’ll be fun to see if you can see yourself in one, some, all or none of these. And if I missed one let me know in the comments! Give it a fun name and I’ll shout you out on social media.
Without further ado, let’s have some (money nerd) fun and peek into the lives of four different women…
Time Limited Tracey – Quick And Dirty Saver
Tracey is a busy working mom of three. Her husband also works full time. Evenings and weekends are filled with kids activities. Tracey and her husband want to be smart with their money. But they don’t have the time to chase bargains and coupons. They need a strategy that’s simple, straightforward and saves the most money most often. Storage isn’t an issue-in fact stocking up means fewer trips to the store, meaning the most time saved
Tracey and her family would benefit from quick and dirty shopping stretegies. Clipping coupons in the app and scheduling a warehouse club order for pickup. Joining a local CSA to get fresh local fruits and veggies at a good price, without having to pick them. Tracey should look into a deep freezer to buy perishables in bulk, prep meals all at once and freeze them. This will make life easier on crazy weekdays. And “prep” here refers to ~the whole family~ helping prepare the meals. Everyone eats, everyone is busy, everyone helps.
By having plenty of food at home, meals planned out and everything prepped and frozen, Tracey and her family save money compared with many of their counterparts. They aren’t tempted to eat out as often. They don’t succumb to the meal kit delivery services. And Tracey isn’t the only one stuck making dinner every night.
Moneyless Maggie- It’s All About the Money
Maggie is in the opposite situation from Tracey and her family. Maggie’s family is small-just her, her wife and their six month old baby. Maggie currently stays at home to care for the baby while her wife works. Money is tight and every dollar counts. Especially in times of rising inflation, the grocery bill seems to grow with no end in sight. They live in a small apartment with limited storage.
Maggie is All About the Money. She has a lot more time than money, meaning she can spend more time on money saving strategies. It also means shopping loss leaders at multiple stores makes more sense for her family. Signing up for coupons from companies selling baby products, visiting the various coupon match up sites, stockpiling moderate amounts when she comes across a great bargain all make sense. Shopping at a warehouse club would be great for diapers, maybe. But only if a friend picked them up-there’s no room in the apartment to stockpile more. She takes the baby around to various stores in her town, picking up things she can get for free (or nearly free) and planning her meals around what’s a deal that week.
Bargain Beth – Bulk Pantry One Stop Shopping
Beth is a single mom to a seven year old and a five year old. Being a single mom she is short on both time and money. Although money is tight, Beth lacks the time to shop at multiple stores and coupon each week to get the absolute best deals possible. She has a bit of stoage in her two bedroom condo, but not a lot. And it would be great to shop at a warehouse club! But Beth doesn’t live near one. And doesn’t have hundreds of dollars sitting around she can use for a big stock up trip.
Beth would benefit from having go-to pantry items that make quick and easy meals in the house at all times. Every week she can pick one store to shop at, based on what she needs to restock and what loss leaders are happening that week. She can (moderately!) stock up on bargain items by adding $10 or $20 to her weekly budget. This will cost more up front, but save her both time and money in the long run. Or if that’s not a possibility, she can keep her budget the same but use it to buy extra loss leaders and less of other items for a while.
Using the Savings Snowball principal, she will eventually have more room in her weekly grocery budget. This allows her to have financial room fo stock up even more. Having a freezer will let her stock up on perishables like meat and cheese when they’re a bargain. Freezers also allow for batch cooking and freezing meals for quick and easy weeknight dinners.
Keeping the same simple meals in rotation means that she doesn’t have to worry about an ever changing grocery list. Instead she can focus on getting the best price on her standard pantry items, for the least amount of time possible.
Local Lucie- Bulk Up on Local In Season & Ingredients
Lucie lives alone, a successful working woman in her 50’s without kids. She lives in a moderate sized home-not very large by traditional American mega house standards, but with plenty of storage. Lucie has, over the past few years, come to prioritize local and organic items wherever possible. Although work does keep her busy, she has a moderate amount of free time to shop different places and do some bulk cooking (although not much).
Lucie would benefit from getting to know her local farmers and farmers markets in a reasonable driving distance. Bulking up on fresh produce-strawberries, blueberries, green beans and such-and freezing them when she finds a good price will let her have fresh local options even in the winter.
Lucie might be able to score savings on end of season, or end of day items where farmers are looking to unload at a bargain. She also has the time to reseach and travel to sources of local items that don’t make sense for others. Local sources of things like soap, coffee, wheat, paper towels and toothpaste could be hard to find depending on where she lives. In these cases, stocking up when a reasonably priced option presents itself will save her money while still aligning her spending to her values
Oh and let’s not forget my personal favorite option-the CSA. By paying an up front fee to a local farmer, Lucie gets a box of bag of fresh local in season veggies each week. This lets her focus on rounding out the week with meat, fruits, sides and non perishables.
So What Shopping Personality Am I?
Years ago I was more of a Moneyless Maggie (athough not a stay at home parent). We were young, broke parents. I was early in my career with limited responsibilities, and although I was advancing, I still had more time than money. Saving was key to paying the bills, and to having a bit extra to put towards my dreams. So coupon match ups, deal hunting, stocking up on loss leaders were all part of my saving strategy.
Today my family life is more of a Time Limited Tracey. I’m a busy working mom who travels frequently for work, my husband works full time in a non remote job. We have a full time college student (who works part time), a high school sophomore and a second grader in the house. There’s a lot going on here. We also live a debt free life (INCLUDING the mortgage) and so have more budget room than we once did. But that doesn’t mean I want to just spend willy nilly on caviar and meals out all the time. Not only is saving engrained in my brain after doing it for so long, but I still have higher priority things to do with extra money rather than eating it.
I went through periods in my life where I was a Bargain Beth, like when my husband went into septic shock and almost died back in 2012. During that time in my life I had no time and I had no money. I remember one day in particular where I worked all day, went to school all night (I was getting my MBA at the time), went grocery shopping and then stopped by the rehab center to visit my husband. I got home around midnight that day and relieved my grandmother, who was generously watching the boys that evening. Money was tight and time was non-existent.
In the future I could see myself turning into a Local Lucie. We love buying local but with five people and limited time, along with living where we do, there’s only so far we can go with it. When I retire-or shift to more part time work-in the future, and the kids are grown, things will be different. Assuming my budget at the time allows, I would 100% see myself seeking out local sources of hard to find items and making more from scratch
Which Shopping Personality Are You?
Are you a Time Limited Tracey, a Moneyless Maggie, Bargain Beth or Local Lucie? You might be all of these! Or through your life you may pass through all of these as phases. Or perhaps I missed one. I would love to hear from you in the comments or on social media. I’m on Twitter, Facebook, Insta, TikTok, Pinterest, and email firstname.lastname@example.org.