What are fashionable and attractive consumer goods are fickle and rarely dependable notions upon which to center one’s expense budget. For instance, a person can purchase sturdy, near new blue jeans with the hang-tags intact at a Goodwill Store for less than $10. The same brand and style of jeans at the local outdoors lifestyle store in the mall will set you back nearly $100. Common sense tells me to get the jeans at the thrift store.
Each month, one of my acquaintances drives to the Costco Store in Omaha to purchase dog food. She spends $28 per 40-pound bag. While at the store, she fills two jumbo size carts with other necessities. The dog food bill for the month is around $84. The total for the other items is usually around $400. She saves perhaps $30 for the entire order. This works out to around $4,800 per year–give or take a few dollars.
There are some hidden costs in her “budget” shopping trips. She pays $60 for the annual Costco membership card. Her car is old and undependable, so she rents an SUV that is large enough to contain her purchases. The going SUV rental rate is about $100 for a single day. So each year, my acquaintance spends $1,260 dollars extra just for the ability to buy things and bring them home, each year. This does not factor in the four-hours non-stop time behind the wheel on the highway (if the weather is ideal). Double that time for her helper’s time (this used to be me). So there are the eight-hours of labor that are not billable but should account for something.
So, when we calculate the annual costs for her to buy stuff at Costco the grand total is $6,060 per year. It’s simple to determine her dog food and basic human food costs because her trips to Omaha are only to Costco. She does not go to any entertainment venues nor does she do any sightseeing. The travel is strictly from Norfolk to Omaha then Omaha to Norfolk so she can get back to take care of the dogs’ needs as soon as possible. On paper as well as in reality, my acquaintance spends a ton of money in order to save perhaps a couple of hundred dollars each year. That means her savings are around a negative $1,000. This does not account for spoilage of the excess perishable food nor the costs of incidentals she purchases at the local supermarket.
If she purchased her dog food and human food at the supermarket, she would save a minimum of $1,260 per year, and cut out nearly 100-hours of human labor. So the act of saving money on purchases does not always translate into thrift. At the end of the day, the dogs do not know, nor care where the dog food comes from. At least my acquaintance has bragging rights that she goes the extra miles to care for them.
I guess thrift is in the wallet of the beholder.
The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes author and venture capitalist, J. D. Vance. “We spend our way to the poorhouse. We buy giant TVs and iPads. Our children wear nice clothes thanks to high-interest credit cards and payday loans. We purchase homes we don’t need, refinance them for more spending money, and declare bankruptcy, often leaving them full of garbage in our wake. Thrift is inimical to our being.”