My little town is growing up.

We’ve recently had a massive mall built a couple of miles from the centre of my small town, and while there are always pros and cons to such development, I’m focussing on the positives, including not having to take a bus for an hour just to go clothing shopping!

A new Walmart is part of the package and I’m sure I’ll visit reasonably often for a variety of purchases. But for my test run yesterday, I just focussed on the grocery section, with the awareness that I want to continue to give plenty of love to the local smaller grocers in my more immediate neighbourhood. Still, a couple miles walked in the sunshine to investigate the big timer felt worthwhile.

I, slightly dangerously, did not go with a shopping list but thought I’d see instead what caught my eye for current or future purchases, and I bought eleven items, without a doubt saving on them all. Like the bag of five full sized avocados that was less than $3 as opposed to easily being $5 or more elsewhere. Or the bag of potatoes that was $2 cheaper. The chips, cheese, ice cream, cake, and chocolate peanuts were all one or two dollars less than what I’d usually spend. (Okay, those items don’t make me sound healthy. But peanuts are a good source of iron, did ya know?) And the large bag of sunflower seeds and the in house brand of Parmesan cheese also saved me a couple dollars each.

Overall, I spent $40 on my purchases but would have easily spent $60 elsewhere, so I saved $20. For anyone who does this kind of shopping weekly, that adds up to over $1000 saved in a year, simply for going to one store over another. With no deprivation whatsoever.

But… like any massive store with a million items, one can easily be tempted to purchase things they hadn’t originally planned to because of the prices. Like the cake I bought. And honestly, aside from the icing, the cake did not even taste good. I think someone mixed up the salt and the sugar. So that will help me the next time I go there and am drawn to the $5 “great deal” cake as it honestly turned out to be a waste of money. (Instead, for $5 at my local grocer’s, I could have gotten ten freshly baked cookies, with simpler, healthier ingredients, to last me as a week’s worth of dessert.)

The turkey slices of two 150 gram bags for $5 were a solid deal, and I don’t know about you, but I’m appreciating a little extra tryptophan that the precious turkey can provide this time of year. I could have, within a few steps of that product spent $8 for the same total of 300 grams of another brand of turkey, or $3 more for the same amount of product. For some unbeknownst reason. So I’ve found it’s best to not assume that all makes sense or that all prices are reasonable, no matter where one is shopping.

Life, as we know, is not black and white. You’ll get a lot of great deals at Walmart but not every item at Walmart is the best deal or smartest use of your funds.

So, finding a balance between wants and needs, between cakes and cookies, between big, medium, and small stores is an ongoing journey for many of us. But distinct clarity on some things will arise as one stays open to possibilities. I know that the next time I go to Walmart, I’ll be taking a shopping list, and it won’t have cake anywhere on it.

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