I am a big fan of Costco.
In case you don’t know about Costco, let me give you a quick overview. It is an international warehouse chain that requires an annual paid membership ($60 for a basic membership) in order to shop at their stores. It is now considered the world’s second largest retailer, the leader being Wal-Mart.
If your shopping habits require you buy in bulk, then Costco is the place to go. For me, I do a good portion of my grocery shopping there. In addition to food, you can also buy items such as clothes, toys, books, jewelry, electronics, household items, and apparently, even caskets and urns for your funeral needs. Filling up your gas at Costco is a good way to save money at the pump. And of course, there is always the need for more toilet paper in my house, which Costco provides quite nicely.
My most recent trip to Costco involved an interesting encounter while I was buying eggs. Yes, apparently drama can be found when shopping for eggs. The Costco that I go to offers two types of eggs, white cage-free eggs that are $3.39 for 2 dozen, and organic brown eggs that are $5.99 for the same number of eggs. There was a gentleman with a shopping cart filled to the brim, surrounded by 4 young girls- I presume that he was their father. He asked one of the girls to get the white eggs. She asked why they weren’t buying the brown eggs. He replied that they were basically the same and people who bought organic eggs were getting ripped off.
I felt all eyes on me as I sheepishly reached for my brown, organic eggs. The judgment was real.
So this post is not going to go into a discussion about the merits of buying organic versus conventional. That’s akin to talking about politics and religion, so I’m not going to go there.
Instead, I thought this was a great example of your spending choices and other people’s perception of your choices. Aren’t we all getting judged to some degree by what we buy? Everything we purchase, from the house we live in to the types of eggs we buy, sends a message to people around us. People make assumptions based solely on what they see, with absolutely no idea about the context in which we make that purchase. I was a complete stranger to that gentleman and his daughters, and in one instant, they probably assumed that I was a tree hugger who made a very poor financial decision when it came to my egg-buying habits.
This can go both ways. I could have easily assumed that this guy was a total cheapskate who doesn’t care much for animal welfare and the environmental impact of conventionally produced eggs (which, for the record, I didn’t).
In a previous life, I would have taken this very small encounter quite personally. I would have internally debated with this man as to why I felt justified to spend an extra $2.60 on my eggs.
But I didn’t go there. Because it would have been a complete waste of time and energy. Chances are very small that any sort of conversation would convince him that it was worth it to buy more expensive eggs, because his mind has already been made up.
So what if this guy buys conventional eggs? He’s free to make his own choices, and to him, spending the extra $2.60 is clearly not worth it. That’s fine. Now, if he’s saving a couple of bucks on eggs but then goes out and racks up a credit card bill with a 15% interest rate that carries a balance month after month on non-essential items, then I would be concerned (rather than judgmental) about his spending habits. In the end, no matter his personal situation, it’s really not any of my business. He’s free to spend however he wants, according to what he values. Just like I’m free to spend my own money however I’d like.
So do our purchases align with what we value? I am more than happy to pay that premium on organic eggs with the full understanding that it is well within my spending plan. There are other areas in my spending plan that I willingly spend less in order to accommodate a larger food budget. For example, I am okay with spending more on groceries and less on my clothes, because honestly, I could really use some help in the fashion department, but it’s not a priority for me. It’s a conscious decision, and I think that all of us have to make these sorts of decisions if you want to stick with your spending plan.
Here was the other thought that came to mind. What sort of message was he sending to his girls? They could very well come away from that encounter thinking that every person who buys organic groceries wastes their money. Essentially, he was telling them to judge a book by its cover. This motivated me to relay this story to my own children. What are their thoughts when they see what people put in their shopping carts? What sort of assumptions do we make? How can we move past instantly judging others, which is a part of human nature and how our brains are wired?
How people spend their money is their business. Everyone is entitled to spend their money however they’d like. My mission is to simply make people aware of HOW they’re spending their money, and I challenge them to see if it actually aligns with their values and life goals. Most of us want to live comfortably with the least amount of negative stress as possible. Being aware of how you’re using your money leads to this sort of lifestyle.
So the next time you shop for eggs and you see someone reaching for the eggs that you did NOT choose, remember that it is too easy to judge. Rather, wish them well as they continue the rest of their grocery shopping, completely unaware that you are sending them good vibes. It might make that next shopping trip a little more interesting.
Have you ever caught yourself in a similar situation? Comment below!