Thursday, April 23, 2009

Habits and Patterns Around Spending

A comment appeared under yesterday's post in response to Lisa and Julie purchasing honey-roasted turkey breast and Hummus (around $6 each).

Web's comment: "Did you and the girls think about buying an uncooked turkey breast from the meat counter? When I'm around the house, I find it's easy to throw a breast in the oven for 25 minutes with any flavor I choose to add to it, resulting in a nice, preservative-free lunch meat."

In effect, Web is suggesting that if Lisa had purchased $6 worth of uncooked turkey and roasted it herself, either basted with honey or mustard or another complimentary flavor, then she would have had more turkey on hand than the few slices she purchased at the deli.

Plus the turkey would have been free of the preservatives often injected into deli meats.

However, Lisa purchased the sliced turkey breast because it was for her a "non-negotiable" treat and so she was willing to spend extra for that reason.

What I've noticed, shadowing a number of people as they've done their grocery shopping, is that comfortable habits are hard to change, even if it means spending more money to maintain those habits, and even when one simple change translates into savings.

Web also commented: "When I want Hummus (which is often) I pick up a can of garbanzo beans for about a dollar. I throw them in the blender with salt, cumin and garlic to taste, adding olive oil until I get the consistency I like -- this takes about 10 minutes. Tahini is a nice flavor bonus but I don't find that Hummus needs Tahini, and it can be pricey, so if I'm out of it, I'm not going to go buy it just to add to the Hummus!"

I agree. Hummus is so easy to make, yet Julie, like Lisa, encountered a "non-negotiable" moment over the purchase of this item.

As we stood at the deli, I mentioned to Julie how easy it would be for her to make Hummus. Unintentionally she cut me off, saying she hates making it from scratch. Her manner suggested that any further prompts from me about the savings on making one's own Hummus, versus buying it ready-made, would not have been welcomed.

In other words, Julie demonstrated resistance to changing her habit around buying and consuming made-up Hummus in the same way Lisa demonstrated resistance to changing her habit of buying and consuming sliced deli turkey.

One way to gently challenge yourself to break spendy purchasing patterns at the grocery store is to be aware of where you're resistant to change.

With that awareness in mind, ask yourself why you're resistant, and then what it would take to make one small change to break through that resistance.

If you have a roommate, or a partner at home, why not agree to help one another become more mindful of habits and patterns around spending and consumption, particularly if adhering to a grocery budget is important to you and yours.

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