Monday, February 15, 2010

Reflections on Walmart, Alli, and Money

Tonight I walked three Walmart. I came in through the garden center because I absolutely detest parking closer to the Home Depot across the street than to the building. Because most people who go there to grocery shop, there is minimal competition on the other side of the lot. I have found that this totally rocks.

Because I try to be a good customer, and because the garden center entrance is sometimes skinny on carts, I brought in one from the lot. Once reaching the doors, I heard that lovely "clang clang clang" that is apparently the trademark of all Walmart carts except the motorized ones. Those ride smoothly...they just give out halfway across the store. I know this because I've seen numerous stranded MeeMaws over the years when they weren't running me down in the aisles or parking in front of whatever I needed for just short of an eternity.

I walked across the store and realized that my Walmart - because it isn't "super" has a limited selection in certain areas. I was attempting to find DVD-R disks and labels for the wedding videos I've been working on...and have now finished. There are 8,000 different types of printer ink in the Electronics Department, but I never did find the disks or the correct packages of labels. Nor was there anything close to what would be deemed an intelligent life form employed within.

Navigating to the grocery section to pick up a couple of items I was able to locate three packages of dog treats, nine packages of half price pink and red napkins and plates, a couple of the actual items on my shopping list, a supersize box of dishwashing detergent, two bags of Reese's peanut butter cups that I can't even eat but purchased because they were half price, and a box of Alli.

Alli...a cute little name for orlistat capsules. These are touted by the following on the box "helps you lose more weight than dieting alone." Yeah, you'll eat less out of FEAR. Some of the other "issues" are not so pleasant such as "gas with oily spotting" and "loose stools". I'm not so sure that I want to do this, but I'll take all of the tough love I can get right now to keep me on track. This box says you are to eat a "low-fat diet." I'm betting that is an understatement. It would probably be safer to just eat chalk.

I went back through the garden center to check out, and I am still amazed at how much money I spent purchasing nothing. Granted, I had coupons, but WOW. Naturally, the Alli purchase meant that my exit set off the alarm system, which is always mortifying...but we figured out that the Alli was the culprit.

I then went to Target to get the missing items...which I was able to find. I also had the opportunity to catch up with a friend who also has a daughter at University of Alabama as we wheeled through the cleaning supplies. She and I are living parallel lives in some regards...most notably the fact that we wish we were able to send more money to our daughters but know in doing so we are doing them a terrible disservice. Sometimes it is good to have those encounters...because you realize that you are not alone.

I finally checked out, and lugged all of my oh-so-important purchases home. I was greeted by the dogs who were a little put out that I was late feeding them. They brightened up at the dog treats and are now both passed out in their beds. I am forgiven.

I write all of this not to bore you...but because I realized something vitally important today. It was that many of us have enough money to meet our basic needs. We therefore do not feel guilty about spending money on items that are not imperative to our family's well-being...or ours. We buy things because they are neat, they are on sale, or because we happen to want them. There's a huge difference in wants and needs, but in recent years, those lines have blurred. And then we wonder why our kids don't seem to appreciate everything that we give them.

I know that my attitude needs to change, and I am going to try to be a far better steward of what I have. And once I hold myself to that standard...I will then expect my children to be held to the same. They have far higher expectations as to what we should be doing for them than we had of our parents. My casual treatment of my money may be partially to blame. I can blame society...where I sent them to school...or any number of cultural changes over the past twenty years. But the only one of these variables that I can the example that I set.

So, for the next 30 days I won't be spending. After doing an inventory of the freezer and the pantry this weekend, it is abundantly clear that I clearly have abundance. We won't starve. In fact, a few missed meals are definitely in order. And that is where the Alli comes in. The fear factor alone is enough to keep me scared straight. Trust me on that one...

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