Tuesday, March 5, 2013

GONE LOCAL Week Nine: Buying Local Bottom Line

When I announced that we were GOING LOCAL on January 1, my husband’s first comment was, “Can we afford to do that?”  I assured him we could, although I was not certain of that fact. Now, with two full months of buying local behind us, we are both pleased.

While we may have spent more on items like saline solution, birthday gifts, and beer/wine, we have saved in other areas. But the biggest reason our budget looks so bright and shiny, is that there has been less impulse buying and much less oh-that’s-such-a-good-deal-why-don’t-I-just-pick-up-six-while-I’m-here purchases most commonly made at stores like Walmart and Giant that I no longer frequent  Another area of huge savings has been the near complete halt to internet shopping. It’s much too easy to add things to a virtual cart and press “next,” without considering the consequences.

Shopping locally has made every purchase intentional. It sometimes means making a special trip. And that many times means I decide to forgo the desired item altogether. Surely, there’s something else I can use that’s already in my cupboard? Milk with a dash of lemon juice is a fine substitute for buttermilk. That means we saved not only on food expenditures, but gas.

There’s something else happening too that’s hard for me to elucidate. I’ve been staring at the cursor for a full five minutes looking for the words to explain the good feeling I get when I lug my bag of purchases to my car after a shopping excursion. It feels right. That’s a very weak way of saying I feel good about the money I’ve spent as opposed to the heavy somewhat guilty feeling I used to have when I wheeled my cart away from the Wal-Mart doors knowing I didn’t need half of what I was about to deposit in my car.

When I buy from the locally owned stores and the stands at the market, each purchase is deliberate. That’s not to say that I don’t pick up things like the sea-salt & cocoa dusted almonds from Penderbrooks at Central Market (Oh my!) that I don’t technically need. But I’m pleased with what I’ve spent my money on and happy to hand it over to the friendly faces I’ve grown to know.

I’m one of those odd people who tracks all our family’s spending, so I could tell you how much we spent on pet care in April 1998 if you asked, but since you haven’t, let me instead tell you how this January and February stacked up against January and February 2012 in the categories of  food, household expenses, and clothing. I picked these categories because they were all substantially affected by our local only spending habits.

“Food” (including groceries & dining out): we spent exactly $7 more in 2013 than in 2012.
“Household” (includes paper products, personal care, hardware purchases, and other non-food family expenses): we spent $46 less in 2013 than 2012.
“Clothing”: we spent $168 less in 2013 than 2012.

 “Food”: we spent $69 more in 2013 than 2012.
“Household”: we spent $300 less 2013 than 2012.
“Clothing”: we spent $8 less in 2013 than in 2012.

If you’re doing the math, we saved $446 by shopping locally for these past two months. That’s a lot of sea salt & cocoa dusted almonds, my friends.



  1. AWESOME! I don't track expenses like you do but know that I have very few impulse buys now because I am not in stores all the time. Every tripis planned even if I pass the store on my way some where else.
    With the price of gas incresing daily the fact that ypu are saving money in essential categories is important.
    Tk you for getting me on the local path!

  2. I have my Quicken going back nearly 20 years so get your tracking. I try to buy US made, but you blog gives me food for thought about what else I might do.