Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Costco-Frugal or Not?

I received my Costco membership magazine in the mail today. Paging through it, I started thinking about the ways that Costco supports my attempts at frugality. Just today I paid about 15 cents/gal less for gasoline there. In the last couple of years we've been pleased with their optical department...and with 5 people in contacts/glasses, that's been a wonderful benefit! We have a list of regular items that we purchase there...usually because they are less expensive than purchasing in other stores. I've also been happy to see more and more organic and/or free-trade foods available for purchase.


Spending is still spending. For me, frugality does not equal coupons or money saving tricks. For me, frugality = not spending money. It is so easy to nickel and dime one's way to substantial debt. Shoot, a $3 coffee just 4x/week adds up to over $600/year!

Thankfully, when I don't spend money, I also reap something else I'm after...a smaller footprint on the earth. A few years ago, someone quoted a ridiculously high percentage of new purchases from stores like Target/Walmart/etc. that end up in the landfill within one year of purchase. I don't remember the exact number, but I was appalled.

But back to Costco...

When I walk into Costco it is oh-so-tempting to spend more than I intended. I browse through all the latest books (my biggest vice!) and drool! At Christmas time, I walk down the toy aisles and try to program my feet to "move ahead!" Even the food items can get tempting (esp. when you get a sample at every corner!)--carbonated fruit juices, specialty coffees, chips, packaged snacks...all stuff that can be fun but is stuff that I DON'T NEED!

And the funny thing is...if I do really need it...I can find it at a garage sale within six months of seeing it at Costco. ;)


Jennifer said...

While I'm in comment mode I'll come back here and note that I find this an interesting/baffling topic to sort through....frugality, sustainability, footprints, stewardship, and context. At the top of my personal list is my desire to not live at the expense of others as much as it is possible in this consumptive culture. I am guilty of the latest technological acquisition, and certainly always of the latest tech lust. I am not such a good daily second hand shopper, though an avid craigslister at the same time. I do care about very much about the sourcing of my food and goods though and pay attention to buying "stuff" with efforts toward ethical production and designed for durability. This usually costs me more--though hopefully not so often. All this to say I think there are a variety of paths to living consciously. However, thoughtful living is not promoted enough in our culture...I think.

richmomma said...

Baffling is a good word!

I've been having tech lust. :) My computer is over 5 years old. Doesn't that sound RIDICULOUS! It's OVER 5 years old. But here's the thing... I cannot do on my computer what I want to do (including educational activities!) because it's not fast enough. I was comparing with a friend's computer--hers is two years old and SIX TIMES FASTER. I HATE IT that electronics--esp. high tech--forces us to upgrade in order to be able to DO the high tech. I HATE knowing that my computer is likely to pollute the earth when it's disposed of. I HATE that I don't know what else to do but buy a new one.

Without question, ethical production can and often does cost more. But I'm surprised at how often it doesn't have to. Esp. when you slow down and take the time to do things like garden, meet your local homeschool chicken farming kids, etc... ;)

A variety of paths to living consciously? Absolutely! I just wish we had more opportunities to think about how we live. It's only too easy to watch a commercial, fill up our grocery carts and not think about the "cost" (not just monetary) of what we're buying.

I used to try to do the coupon thing...see how much I could get for the $. But when you see how little nutrition is in coupon items...how much packaging those items use...how much pollution is produced through the manufacturing... I digress. ;)

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