My wife and I had dental appointments this afternoon, and spent a bit of time afterwards doing some grocery shopping at Wegmans as long as we were in town. (Combining errands is one of the good ways to save money on gas.)
We both love our food, so watching how much we eat out and how much we spend on groceries is a priority as we work out our personal finance plan. Grocery shopping is essential, but it also can be a key place to save money. My wife has really gotten good at making up a shopping list before she goes out. She also has at least a mental do-not-buy list: those things that we have plenty of and need to consume before buying more.
Do we grocery shop well as a team?
My wife does a lot of the grocery shopping herself, but occasionally (like today) we did some of it together. If we get back to our goals, which involve reducing the amount we spend on groceries, we have to ask ourselves whether or not shopping together is helpful or not.
In the past, we were less aware of our spending than we are now. And I'll admit it: Part of me really likes the visual stimulation of all of that consumerism. It's calming in a way. Not so for everyone, but it is for me. Spending more time in stores is a primary factor to reaching an empty wallet. Doubly so if I make the mistake of going shopping tired, hungry, or both.
Having another person there can help if both are of like mind to shopping purposefully. If the two people feed off of one another and egg each other on, then forget it. Shop alone. Here are a few ways that purposeful shoppers can help one another:
- If one person gets enticed by something, then the other is there to pull them back to task, give them the evil eye, shame them, whatever.
- One person might be able to spot a better price on something that the other missed. It could be a generic brand, or a larger, more economical size. (I caught a better price today.)
- One person may have more willpower to set limits if the other wants to wander. (I'm usually the one who wants to wander and look. Shame on me.)
- Remind, but don't push. I might ask my wife if we need something or not, or might suggest that we stock up. But if she doesn't want to, then I let it drop. She usually has better intuition than I do.
Basically, it's the difference between grocery shopping being a team effort, or team sport. If it's a team sport, go solo. I think it used to be more “team sport” for us, but now we're coming around to having it be a team effort.