Posted by: jgurner | April 20, 2010

Un-Wal-Marting

Even as I type this, I find it very hard to believe, but, since New Year’s Eve, I have been to Wal-Mart only twice.

Let me say that again: In the first almost four months of the year 2010, I have been to Wal-Mart only two times! And, both trips together, spent well under $100 – less than $15 on my second visit.

And I don’t plan to go back any time soon.

What brought this on, you may ask. Is it your intense dislike for Wal-Mart and its practices that destroy small-town businesses and monopolize commerce such as grocery shopping in many towns and cities? Nope. I rant about these things, but that doesn’t keep me from going. Is it you dislike of the way they treat their employees, giving them only enough hours where they aren’t considered full-time in order to get benefits and such? Nope. Again, it pisses me off, but doesn’t stop me. Is it the fact that you’ve pretty much been broke for, well, pretty much ever? Ha! Like not having money has ever stopped me from buying stuff.

No, the secret is there really isn’t a secret. I just stopped going to Wal-Mart.

Some of it has to do with my doing more shopping at home rather than driving to Oxford. I would much prefer to spend my money in my home town, but that’s not always practical. However, in the past six months to a year, the two dollar store here in town have started carrying items that while not exactly what I got at Wal-Mart, they’re close enough.

Some of it has to do with laziness. I just don’t want to drive to Oxford like I used to. In the past, Wal-Mart was an excuse to get out of the house and go do something. Now, those insidious urges have pretty much gone away.

And, some of it has to do with the zone of devastation that the Oxford Wal-Mart has become as they redo the store. That’s also what will keep me away. I was very happy knowing exactly where everything was located. I don’t want to have to learn it all over again. It’s the same with going to another “strange” Wal-Mart. Sure there are stores in Batesville and Grenada, but the Batesville one is nasty and the one in Grenada, well, everything is just in weird places. It freaks me out.

But, I also have to admit I’m trying to cut back on my spending and change some of my financial habits, just as I’ve ben trying to do for the past 20 years. I’ll let you know how that turns out.

Now, in the interest of total honesty, I have to admit that in this same time period I’ve been to Target and Big Lots probably a dozen times. To be fair, I rarely spend much money in either. And even with the number of times I’ve been to both stores combined, it still is less that I would have normally gone to Wally World. There are specific things I want from each of these store, mainly snacks, and I rarely buy anything else. I can go to both Target and Big Lots and get out for less than $20. Usually less than $10.

Not so with Wal-Mart.

You know how it is with Wal-Mart. You go in for a couple of items – cat food, milk, chips, cereal and sausage patties and you come out with $120 worth of stuff in your cart and when you’re half way home you realize you didn’t even get the milk, which is fine since you forgot the cereal as well. And forget about breakfast altogether, because you forgot the sausage patties. And dammit, the cats are really going to be hungry.

But, at least you remembered the chips.

Even with my increased dollar storing, Target and Big Lotting, Krogering and Costcoing, I find I save a ton of money just simply by staying out of Wal-Mart. And even by my increasing use of the other stores, I find I actually go shopping less than I used to. In the past, Wal-Mart and Kroger were pretty much a once a week thing, now, I find myself out in the stores maybe twice a month.

And, oddly enough, I’m not really going without anything I need, or really anything I want.

Maybe I’m finally maturing a little when it comes to money. Maybe I’m doing like the rest of America in these tough financial times and cutting back on unnecessary expenses.

Or, maybe I’m finally beginning to understand that stuff doesn’t really mean much. It won’t bring happiness or peace of mind. In fact, it will usually do the opposite. As Buddha taught, all things are transitory and trying  to hold on to attachments or gain possessions lead to unhappiness. The trick is to learn to enjoy what you have, no matter how much or how little it is and not spend time and effort in wanting and acquiring what you don’t have.

Maybe, but I think I’m going to go with the laziness rationale. That kind of fits me better.

So, sorry Wal-Mart, but, at least for now, it seems I won’t be doing my part to sustain your commercial reign. Don’t know how long I’ll hold out, but here at almost four months, it’s gotten pretty easy.

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