Saturday, January 24, 2015

4 Mischievous Ways to Keep Your Partner from Overspending on Groceries

Those grocery stores…they are sure slick!  It's damn near impossible to come out with exactly what you went in to get.  Well, impossible for some people.  Perhaps you are as anal-retentive as me and always shop for the items written on a list, nothing more, nothing less?  Perhaps you can control yourself, despite the wicked ways in which the stores place their most delicious and attention commanding products in high traffic areas?

Here's my situation.  My wife, Jessica, loves to grocery shop.  She goes to the Costco, Stater Bros, and Trader Joe's to get the foods she likes.  On one shopping trip, she'll spend $200 at the Costco and another $75 at the Trader Joe's.  "Why did you go to the Trader Joe's after being at Costco?" I ask.  "Cuz!  Costco doesn't have these gluten free cookies or Ajani and Rehani's crackers," she says emphatically.  Of course, my concern is on all the money that was just spent.  It'd be fine if it happened once a month.  Unfortunately, we make at least three separate trips to the grocery stores each month.  I give Jessica the benefit of the doubt.  She knows what we need and when we need it.

Yet, from going with her to the store now for many years, I know the two of us are incompatible shoppers.  Even though we can both agree on a list prior to leaving the house, somehow other items find their way inside the shopping cart.  It irks the hell out of me!  How about you, partner?  This happen to you?  These extra food items are unnecessary in my mind.  "We don't need them!" I plead.  Jessica's playful response: "You hush!"

Damn.  I get beat every time.  Two can play that game though and I have devised ways of curbing some of Jessica's impulses at the store.  She is like Michael Jordan.  You can't stop her, you can only hope to contain her.

Here are my four tips for containing my partner from going crazy at the supermarket:

1) Do the shopping yourself.  Take the list you just made at the house, grab the car keys, and tell your partner not to worry, you got this!  Jessica doesn't know what hit her.  She yells as I'm fleeing the house:

"Make sure you get the right type of turkey sandwich meat!  Call me when you're at the deli section!"
"Sure, babes," I say.  Off I go before she can add anything onto the list.  Then…she texts me while I'm at the store:

"Get yobaby yogurt, avocados, canned pinto beans, & bananas."

See, I held her to just four other items not originally on the list.

2)  Hijack the shopping cart.  When your partner isn't looking, make a run for it!  This is how this technique works.  First you make sure that the items on your list that can be found on the aisle you're currently in have been all placed in the cart.  At this point, your partner is just browsing around looking for other things she/he can buy, not on the list.  Uncomfortable, isn't it?  The only solution to containing them is to leave them in the aisle alone.  They can only carry so many items in their hands and when they turn around for the cart, it will be gone!  Thus they leave to find you.  When they catch up with you and ask, "Why did you leave the aisle?"  Act stupid and say, "Oh, I thought you were right behind me, sorry."  They'll dump what they have in their hands (extra items not on the list) and continue shopping with you in the new aisle.  Note: This technique only works once on any given trip to the store.  When I get caught, Jessica says, "I'm on to you, Mr.!"

3) Put stuff (not on the list) back when your partner isn't looking.  This technique is quite sophisticated.  Caution, if done too often, it could make your partner believe that they are losing their mind.  Here's how it is done like a pro.  Prior to getting to the check-out line, while your partner is distracted, take one item from the bottom of the shopping cart, preferably a smaller one, and put it back on the shelf.  Having been underneath all other items, this product has been out of your partner's sight and hopefully out of mind.  Pick something not from a refrigerator (non-perishable) so as not to punish the chain for your mischief.  Also make sure the item(s) are not a favorite of your partner.  You'll be caught for sure if you grab your partner's favorite treat and put it back on the shelf.  They don't forget having grabbed these items while at the store.  Go through the check-out, and feign ignorance when it comes up in conversation back at the house:

"That's funny," Jessica says as we're putting the groceries away, "I could've swore I bought a box of Quinoa & Brown Rice packets."

I stay silent.

"Babes!" she yells.  "Did you see a box of Quinoa packets at check-out?"
"No," I reply with a straight face, "can't say I did."

4.  Lie about the length of the check-out lines.  This strategy is used at the end of shopping, once every item on your list has been procured.  It's best used when your partner is dragging.  You're just about your wits end seeing your partner place a multitude of items not on your list inside the cart, and can't take it anymore.  You gotta cut them off.  Be like: "Oh, honey, I'm going to get in line now, the check-out lines are packed!"  And bug the heck out!  Hang out near the entrance of a check-out aisle.  Keep letting others get ahead of you.  Keep looking out for your partner.  If you see him/her coming with a handful of last minute items, get in line quick and look toward the cashier.  Nothing going on around here, Officer.

I know what you're all thinking by now.  Carlos, why not just talk to Jessica about setting limits at the grocery store?  Carlos, why not just try communicating?  Ha!  I tried that.  It worked a few times, but like all chemical reactions, the chemistry is for coming back to equilibrium, meaning reverting back to our individual ways.  I know Jessica will have her way and I love her for it.  I will try to restrict her from going crazy at the supermarket, getting more than what we actually need, and be foiled each time, like Wile E. Coyote.  But the four tactics listed above keep me feeling like all is not lost.  If anything, there's plenty of entertainment happening on our shopping trips to the grocery store.  How go your joint food shopping trips?

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