The Cost of Routine – How Getting Stuck in a Rut Costs You Money

The Cost of Routine – How Getting Stuck in a Rut Costs You Money

062309rutAs humans we are creatures of habit.  We settle into predictable routines repeated day in and day out.

A person may read the same newspaper each morning, stop by the same coffee shop, socialize with the same handful of co-workers, and visit their favorite food truck for lunch every day. At home the same news channel are watched,  the same types of meals eaten, and the same type of music listened to.

Routine creates comfort and surrounds us with what’s familiar.  Yet our normal routines, our regular patterns of behavior can cost us dearly.  This is no more apparent than when it comes to shopping. Here routine behavior can be costly.

Over years, even decades, our routine patterns of shopping behavior have been ingrained so that they become second nature. 

We’ve been shopping the same way for so long that it becomes almost impossible to change our ways.  In the process, our entrenched shopping routines – shopping ruts,  frequently blind us to cheaper alternatives.

Yet every so often something comes along that forces us to change our routine behavior.  For some its a reduction in financial resources. For others its a health scare that necessitates more healthy eating.

Yet, when we do venture out of our comfort zones and try new things a funny thing happens – we inevitably find new ways to save money!  

For me the jolt to my normal shopping routine came in the form of an nationwide economic meltdown just as I was making a crucial career change.  As a result I was forced to tighten my financial belt and make serious changes in how I spent money.

Here are just a few of the ways in which my routine, my shopper’s rut cost me hard earned money.

For nearly eight years I’ve known about Aldi supermarkets. Yet week after week, year after year I’d bypass Aldi stores and shop at my favorite local supermarket.

Yet it took an economic downturn to force me out of my comfort zone and check one of these supermarkets out.  To my surprise, what I found was a clean store with great low prices.

Aldi’s claims that the typical consumer will save  20%  to 37%  off of regular supermarket prices.  I routinely save $20 a week simply by shopping at Aldi’s.

But what if I’d stepped out of my comfort zone eight years ago when I first heard of Aldi’s? I could have saved $20 a week for nearly 12 years, making me $8320 richer today!

Bakery outlets are another change in my routine for which I am now grateful. I was first introduced to the concept of bakery outlets by my grandfather when I was a small kid.

Yet once I was an adult my weekly shopping routine never entailed shopping at one. It was only in the past year that I was forced out of my shopping rut and experienced the enormous benefits of shopping at a bakery outlet.

Not only can you get bread and other baked goods at a 50% to 75% discount over supermarkets but the products are frequently just as fresh as those found in your supermarket.

I can easily save $25 a month by making a monthly visit to my local bakery outlet. My normal shopping routine was costing me $25 a month, or nearly $3000 over the last decade!

It was these changes as well as several dozen others that got me thinking of how my routine way of grocery shopping blinded me to cheaper and often better alternatives.

So how do we break those shopping patterns that have been so deeply entrenched through weekly repetition?

You could wait for external factors to force a change in your shopping behavior or you could take the plunge yourself and just decide one day to do something different.

As the Nike commercial fondly advertises:  “Just Do It”

Either way you’re bound to save money.

Here are some examples of simple ways to break your normal shopping routine:

  • Try a local bakery outlet. Find an Entenmann or Wonder/Hostess bakery outlet near you.
  • See if your supermarket has a store brand guarantee that allows you to return store brand products if you don’t like them. Then try a few of these products risk free.
  • Check out a local Aldi’s supermarket. Find a location near you.
  • Purchase a Sunday newspaper and clip a few coupons for things your family normally purchases.
  • Instead of just picking up the name brand item that you’ve been buying for years, try the item that’s on sale. If you are true to Tropicana Orange Juice but its not on sale, try the brand (say Minute Maid) that is on sale.

Anything that gets you thinking or acting different when it comes to your same old shopping routine is a step in the right direction.

Have you changed your shopping behavior to save money? If so what did you do? How’d you do it? We’d love to hear. Leave a comment below.

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