Dorothy Harris

Throwing off his grocery groove

Recently I accompanied Mr. Harris and the kid to the grocery store. Often they do the shopping on Sundays, allowing me some uninterrupted time to write, but today I tagged along. At checkout time, my presence was clear by the overspending. I don't mean to throw off Mr. Harris' shopping groove, but it was pretty obvious by tagging along I messed with his focus, muddled his list and certainly made the trip take a lot longer than it would have had I been home at the keyboard. I did this all from my own shopping cart, overachiever that I am, from way on the other side of the store. I'm that good, you see. It is fall and this means that we, meaning me, bought a bunch of seasonal goodies. From the apple cider to candy corn and three dollar apples, I royally screwed up the budget. Did I say three dollar apples? Yeah, that shocked even this princess. The two pretty apples my lovely daughter and I picked out cost $3.39. The only thing that saved me from spending seven dollars on four apples is that as an AC Nielsen Consumer Panel family, I scan my purchases as I make them. When I scanned the barcode for the apples and inputted the price, I did a double take. "Hey these are really expensive," I informed my daughter, "Only one each." "Skip mine," opted Mr. Harris who doesn't feel the need to indulge in fruit like his girls do. "Man," I groused, "Can this really be the price?" Sure enough checkout confirmed it. We've been living on this darn budget for about nine months now and it surely makes a difference. What it doesn't do is allow me to splurge like this.
Apologizing on the way out of the store, I reviewed the list and saw all the places where yours truly had diverted from the path of budgetary restraint. "It wasn't really the apples," I shared, "Although I'm sure that couldn't have helped. It was also that breakfast ham I bought for you." I had seen this fancy ham Mr. Harris adores and bought it, knowing he'd enjoy having it on the weekends. When we merged carts at checkout, I had felt him eyeing my load, but he hadn't said anything so I didn't know what he was really thinking. "I do like that," he replied, "But if I had come alone, I wouldn't have bought it." Thus his shopping secret is out. He sticks with the list. He makes no impulse purchases, except for maybe a Matchbox car on clearance and that's only every once in a great while. He is the ultimate focused grocery shopper. He hunts out a bargain like he's bringing home the tribal kill. He is also willing to switch brands or products based on price and will try anything at least once. That explains why we have some items no one eats. Eventually, though, he will even eat those things, like the peach oatmeal his picky princesses won't touch. When I consider how much he has changed in this aspect, I'm amazed at how sharing the finances and shopping has created one extremely smart shopper of my husband. He even clips coupons now. I can't help but wonder what the coming years will bring. Hopefully we'll keep on track with our spending so we can enjoy a few more indulgences as time goes on. Even so, I don't think I'll be buying any more of those $3 apples until that major book deal comes in.