For many years, and I mean many, many… many years, I avoided buying milk from the corner store because it was always a buck or so more expensive than buying it from the grocery store or supercenter.
Instead, I would trek to the grocery store and pick up milk from the very back corner of the store; often collecting a variety of other shopping items – including items that were needed as well as a good collection of items that were not needed – on the way.
I always believed that grocery store milk was “cheaper” than corner store milk… but in the end, it was costing me more.
And then one day, not that long ago, I ran out of milk and all the grocery stores were closed. Gritting my teeth against the “outrageous prices”, I faced the worst possible scenario of having to buy milk from the overpriced corner store.
I entered the store on a mission, knowing that the cost of the milk was probably going to send my budget-wise mind over the brink. I walked quickly to the back of the corner store opened the cooler section to grab the milk and headed to the cashier.
On my way I spotted a delicious looking chocolate bar (ok, maybe two… and a bag of chips and some pop) which I added it to my purchase.
The cashier rang up my purchase I paid left the store and got into my car.
It wasn’t until I was on my way home that I realized how little I had actually ended up spending at the corner store. What could easily have been a $100 (or more) trip to the grocery store ended up costing me a little over $16.
I also realized how much faster the trip had been, because the corner store was only 3 minutes away from my house versus the nearest grocery store which clocks in closer to seven minutes (parking included). And, finally, I also realized how much less gas I had to use driving back-and-forth.
And that is when it struck me.
Unless you have tremendous self-control (which I don’t), buying milk from the grocery store is probably costing you more than buying it from the convenient store.
I struggled with that concept, because it went against everything that I had trained myself to believe during my many, many, many years of Shopping.
Don’t get me wrong, dollar-for-dollar corner store milk is still more expensive than grocery store milk (with rare exceptions). As is almost everything that you would buy at a corner store. That’s why they are called convenience stores and not budget-wise stores.
And I would never recommend that anyone do their full week’s worth of grocery shopping at a convenience store. Your money simply will not go as far.
However, the one lesson I did learn is that if all you need is milk or a single loaf of toast bread or a chocolate bar, the corner store can be the more fiscally responsible place to go.
You have to look at the fully loaded cost of your time, your transportation, and the other “junk” you are more tempted to buy at other stores.
When was the last time you saw a grocery cart at the corner store?
Don’t get me wrong, there are still plenty of distracting options at a corner store. But – pound for pound – there are far less than you would find at any typical grocery store or super center.
In fact, any time that you need less than three things from the grocery store, you may find that there is a better place to buy them that – in the end – will save you money.
Here endeth the lesson.