Jan 22 2011

a 25¢ lesson cost me hundreds [day 241]

Yes, I made a judgement call based on 25¢, a quarter I thought I would loose.  Listening to some bad advice, I decided not to try a new grocery store in my area, a store that opened over a year ago.  Some person (I don’t remember who) told me that the new Aldi grocery store charges 25¢ for the use of their carts.  What this yo-yo neglected to tell me is that you get your quarter back when you return the cart.  So instead of checking this out, like I normally would, I decided not to.  My 25¢ lesson?  Make my decisions based on my own research, not something someone says. Of course I will always take advice and opinions into consideration, but I should always see things for myself.  I do this with people, I should do it with everything.  Lesson learned, but not just one.  There were many great lessons from this experience that I would love to share.

What is Aldi? “ALDI is a discount grocery chain that operates over 1,000 stores in 31 states. Through a select assortment and convenient grocery shopping approach, we’re able to offer our customers the highest quality everyday items at the lowest possible prices—honest to goodness savings.” Read more about them and why they’re different at aldi.us.

So why the quarter for the cart? “At ALDI, we cut costs every way we can to keep prices low. Our shopping cart deposit system is a good example. You insert a quarter to release a cart. When you return the cart, you get your quarter back. This system cuts down on the labor of collecting carts left in the parking lot, damage to cars, and we pass the savings on to you.” I like this.  In addition, it keeps the carts from hitting the cars in the parking lot and the carts seem to be in better condition.

I decided to shop there a few days ago.  It was the closest store and I just needed 2 items.  After the great experience, I decided to go back.  This time was to shop in efforts to try some of the different brands, buying one or two of each thing we normally purchase.  After seeing first hand, the incredible savings, I decided to do a cost analysis.

Last night, my kids and I went to our local grocery store to compare prices.  It was nice to get out of the house and I forgot my phone, which was nice, as my kids and I had fun doing this.  Who would have thought?  Here’s the results.

Aldi price: $65.40

This is pre-tax.  There was only one thing that was a name brand I usually buy, Amy’s vegetarian meals.  All of the other things were Aldi or generic brands.

Name brand price: $139.51

I priced the name brand items that were comparable in size and type to get this number.  The name brands cost 113% more than the Aldi brands.  Whoa!  that got my attention!

Off brand price: $99.33

To get this number, I used the same criteria as above, but with generic  or off brand items.  There were a few things that didn’t have generic brands, so the brand name item price was inserted.  Shopping at the major grocery store for off brands cost 52% more than Aldi.  Again, wow!

I’m sure you have some of the same questions I did before going in here, so I will address them now.  I had some very unexpected shopping results, that were much more than just saving money.  I also got me thinking about my shopping habits and how I have some room for growth.  Continue reading


Nov 13 2010

black friday shopping: the new olympic sport [day 170]

Okay, so it’s not an olympic sport… yet.  I do however, find this black friday business very interesting.  The idea for this blog post started with an article I found in a local magazine, called Black Friday: Survival Tips.  Please understand, if you choose to participate in this sport, I’m not saying it’s bad, this might just be another way to look at it.

Black Friday, ironically a name associated with financial crisis, started back in the mid 60’s and has become a cultural icon of holiday shopping addiction.  “Door busters” is another iconic shopping term, born out of the black friday marketing efforts of the major retailers.  Back in 2008, a WalMart employee was trampled to death by a black friday door buster event.  Is this really what its come to?

Back in 1993, I worked as a manager for Toys R Us in Miami, Florida.  This was during the Power Rangers craze, where people would line up outside the doors, knowing the the shipment came in the night before.  At opening, two people had to unlock the doors, simultaneously at the count of three, then run to paste their bodies as close to the wall as possible, as to not get trampled by the insane crowd pushing their way into the store.  I only wish I had saved the security tape where we recorded this, as it’s hard to put into words.  I also remember calling the police several times a week to break up a fist fight between parents fighting over the last of some random toy that is probably in a landfill by now.   Continue reading


Sep 13 2010

it's not bubble wrap [day 110]

I had to pick up a few things at Kroger yesterday.  It was enough groceries to warrant the use of a cart, but few enough to use the express lane.  Most of the time I remember to bring in my green bags, and this time was no exception.  Some of the items included two gallons of milk and two bottles of wine.  As I was checking out, the girl asked if I wanted my milk in a bag.  I said yes because two fit nicely in the green bags and it makes them easier to carry.  I like that they ask though.

Then we get to the wine.  She asks if I’m old enough, and I tell her yes, more than twice over.  She might have been new, but she looked a little confused about how to bag the wine so they wouldn’t break.  She wraps the first one in a plastic bag, tying it in knots that will never come out.  (A)  If I have green bags, I’m probably using them to avoid plastic.  (B) A plastic bag is not going to protect that wine bottles from breaking.

I always bring more green bags than I’ll need, so I had enough to used them to wrap the wine bottles and pad the bottom of the bag.  She was really nice, maybe new, and you’ll be happy to know I didn’t lecture her or give her the link to my blog.  😉


Jul 7 2010

the challenge: day 41 [an island of green… bags]

I got to tour a private island yesterday.  The owners are really wonderful people and the island is absolutely beautiful.  After seeing the rocks, the landscape, the ocean views and the beach, if I had to guess at what I would see next, I would have not guessed in a million years what I saw.  On the back porch of the house was a green bag, filled with green bags.  Now let’s think about this.

Island living 101: It’s a lot of work to bring stuff onto the island and it’s a lot of work to take stuff off the island.

Annie had to go grocery shopping when she took us back to the mainland.  She not only remembered the green bags, she had to remember to get them from the back porch, walk them down the steep hill, onto the boat dock, then onto the boat.  Once on the  mainland, she had to remember to bring them off the boat, into the car, and then finally, into the store.  Wow!  Annie is setting a great example for all of us, not just with green bags, but being green in general.

Green island living: There are no trash pick ups or trash dumps on an island.

We went into the kitchen and the first thing I saw was the old-fashioned heating oven, but right after that masterpiece, I saw the recycling set up.  “Paper, or anything that burns” and “trash, no recycling”, and on the counter “biodegradables, for seagulls”.  On an island, you can’t just throw your recycling in a large bin out back and wait for your weekly pick up.  Not only are these people intentional about the trash and recycling, but they have to carry it off the island to the mainland to get it to the recycling center.  The thing is, they don’t have to do this, but they do.

I’m very intentional about my recycling, but when I have that little voice in the back of my head, complaining about the extra effort to do the right thing, I will think about my island experience.  Thank you Bob and Annie for making the extra effort to be green.