Saturday, March 3, 2012

Competitive shopping - Walmart

March is "get-my-finances-in-check" month.

What does that mean? That means that I am actually using the budget app on my iPhone and putting every single purchase I make in it. That also means that I am going through the grocery store and Costco and keeping a running total on my iPhone calculator so I can be sure and stick as close as possible to my allocated budget. That also means not shopping.

But all those things should mean an extra $500 of savings at the end of the month. If all works out well. But it wont realize for at least another month since I make all my purchase on my Amex. So this month I will pay off February, which means all my good habits won't really be noticeable until next month. In theory though, two months of super-strict budgeting could almost buy a plane ticket to Europe. Now ... that's something to keep me motivated ...

The grocery store is definitely someplace I need to improve. I tend to spend too much for a single person and I tend to buy too much on impulse. I don't make shopping lists and I don't menu plan. Hence, random product purchases. So, this month, I am a) making lists, b) menu planning, and c) trying to use coupons whenever possible.

On top of all this, my dad is always saying that if I want to save more money I should stop shopping at Super Target because it is more expensive. I don't really believe the difference is enough to merit shopping elsewhere. I like the environment and shopping experience of Target. I also find their locations very convenient for my weekend trips (I either do Roseville or Edina).

Anyway, I decided to use this month as a test to really understand the savings I could achieve by shopping at Cub Foods, Rainbow, or (heaven forbid) Walmart. So, I will do my shopping at one of these locations each week and note the base price of most of the items I regularly buy and some other "common" items. Since I am a planner, I have already started an excel document to track all this.

So this week, since I was at Ikea, it was convenient to go to a Walmart. Normally, there is no Walmart that is really convenient for me (and I prefer it that way). So ... parked my car and off I went ... with my shopping list ... and my iPhone calculator.

All in all, I was able to stick to my list and even came in under-budget (but I wasn't purchasing any big ticket items). But the experience was not one I would want to repeat again. I'm sorry, but even if I could save $20 a month - or whatever - it would not be worth it. My personal opinions ...
  • Due to the location of the Walmart, it was a bit sketch. When I got out to my car I had to do a careful lap around to make sure it wasn't damaged. I literally saw someone push a cart in the general direction of the cart rack, miss, and hit a poor little VW Jetta. Yikes!
  • It is overwhelming! There are way too many SKUs of everything and way too many categories. Seriously, I just don't need all of those.
  • Too many displays, too much end cap merch. Ahhhh ... overwhelming!
  • The shelves are so cluttered and messy. I just got dizzy looking at everything. And nothing was really where it should be. And no one really makes sure the shelves look nice!
  • They don't stock some of my favorite products ... 
  • While I am willing to buy Target's store brand (Archer Farm), for some reason, the Walmart store brand (Great Value) just isn't as appealing.
  • Did I mention that there was just TOO MUCH of everything? I did? Well ... there is.
  • I don't like the color blue (haha).

So, all in all, I don't think the extra savings (which I'm sure exist) are worth the headache. It is inconvenient and a poor shopping experience. I'm not interested. And I don't really care of that makes me a grocery store snob ... 

Next week ... Cub Foods. To its benefit, there are locations in Roseville and Edina near the Super Targets I generally frequent.

Walmart = too much stuff!

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