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Penny wise, pound foolish shoppers

"As Americans attempt to perform cost-benefit analyses of their needs and behaviors, they are whittling pennies from cable bills only to squander dollars on gas driving miles to discount stores, or on coupon-spurred splurges for nonessential items, like Cheez Whiz or organizing supplies. Pinched by shriveled retirement and college accounts, battered by ballooning mortgage costs, rent and co-op maintenance increases, and hedging against the possibility that a job might vanish, some are practicing economies that may not deserve the name."

The comments above are from Failing Home Economics, an article in today's New York Times. In it, reporter Penelope Green looks at the cost-benefit decisions of shoppers and where we often go horribly wrong.

Grocery receipt The anecdote with which she begins her article particularly struck me. It's about a shopper who weighed time saved against money saved and usually opted for the extra minutes.

That's typically me.

Even with grocery shopping, which is my favorite type of consumerism (in all definitions of the word!), nine out of 10 times I take the quicker route.

But as noted in an earlier post, I still comparison shop and spread my grocery dollars among several local stores.

Typically, I alternate between the closer, usually cheaper store (H.E.B. for all you Central Texas shoppers) and Randall's (the local manifestation of Safeway). Most of our edibles come from H.E.B., but when the Randall's weekly newspaper insert has deals that are markedly better or on special, either the hubby or I detour there.

We try to do so when we have other errands to run out the direction of the Randall's outlet we choose. And we go with a specific list based on the advertised specials.

We try to stick to just those items, but now and then, like the woman in today's article, the convenience factor kicks in. And, again like the woman in the article, failure to do so costs us.

What's your shopping style? Take a look at the New York Times piece and see if you, too, are a victim of what one expert calls "incidences of feckless budgeting and bad math."

Another person points to instances where many uf us are "grocery wise, cable foolish." That means we travel extra distances to save 10 cents on crackers, but pay each month for electronics options that we never use.

Has your shopping style, particularly for essentials, changed as the economy has worsened? How do you save? Please share your tips with the rest of us. We all need as much wise penny-pinching help we can get!

And here are some related blog posts you also might find of interest:

Here's to good, and cost-effective, grocery shopping, espeically for this coming Thanksgiving dinner!


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In June I started using coupons, take advantage of rewards/loyalty programs such as CVS, Safeway and Dick's Sporting Goods. I have saved a lot of money, but I do have to admit that it takes a lot of time and discipline. If I had a full-time job, I don't think I would be able to do this.


I am indeed a vic. of incidences of feckless budgeting and bad math.

We shop for our groceries at only one store.
We don't shop at Wamart as I am a huge hater of the chain these days.

As for other goods, including gas, we use the PC and the WWW to find better deals on the things we buy.

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