One month without Wal-mart

Well, technically, it’s been about a month and a half since my last visit to a Wal-mart or a Target, but whatever. The point is: how is it working out?

It turns out that it is both simpler but also trickier than I had anticipated. Not harder, just trickier. I’ve also been able to step back a bit from my own shopping habits to see that I’m probably not a typical American, and that my success here probably would be very different for most others.

So why do I say it’s trickier? If you can’t shop at Wal-mart or Target (or really any such place), where do you procure the following things?

  • A copy of TaxCut or TurboTax so that you can do your taxes?
  • DVDR blanks?
  • Socks?
  • Shower curtains?
  • Mid-range electronics like cheap network cards, flash drives, or USB hubs? Not the good stuff that you would buy for yourself, but the cheap stuff that’s good enough for using at the office.

My point is that you can certainly find those things in other places, you just have to stop and think about it. Also, you end up making lots of smaller trips as now you have to go to more places. You’re not going to be able to pick up a network card at the same place that you pick up a gallon of milk, for example.

The really interesting thing is the money. You would think that because I’m no longer buying things at the Wal-mart price range, I must therefore be spending more money. It turns out that’s not actually the case—I’m actually spending less overall each month. Sure, the individual items may be a little more expensive, but now that I have to stop and think about things before I buy them I find that I’m buying less and buying smarter. There’s far less well, since I’m here already shopping. While this has slightly increased the cost, it has also increased the value of the things I buy.

I am very pleased with my choice of resolutions. It’s really made me stop and think about what I am buying, why I am buying it, and what level of quality and price range I really want to work towards when buying it.