By Patrick Griffith on April 9, 2016

Costco and Perspective

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Today I had to go to Costco. That’s normally one of Sarah’s chores. But being the most amazing husband ever I thought I’d take my turn.

It wasn’t until I reached the parking lot that I remembered: Costco doesn’t accept credit cards. Except for Amex. Inconvenient given that I just closed my Amex card earlier that day. And I don’t carry a debit card. So I had to get everything on my list for the $120 in my wallet.

It was an eye-opening experience.

Chicken was $17/box. I wanted two boxes but figured I’d probably only have enough money for one. So I put one in my cart and had to keep that $17 figure in my brain in case I had any money leftover.

Eggs were $7 per two-dozen carton. Hot sauce was $5.50. Coffee was $16.50. And so on.

Every time I put something into my cart I had to update the running total in my head. And I had to remember the price of the items I purchased multiples of, like eggs, so that I could put some back if I went over-budget.

In the end it was a success. I got every item on my list. I was one box of chicken and two cartons of eggs short, but I got at least one of everything I wanted. And I was just shy of that $120 mark. It was a little stressful, but it worked out.

Then the cashier’s screen read $127.82. I have no freaking clue how I miscounted that badly.

For the sake of this blog I was I could tell you about all of the embarrassment that ensued. But I ended up having $140 in my wallet and not $120 like I had thought. My second math error of the past 45 minutes. Who said two wrongs don’t make a right?

A few things about that Costco trip jumped out at me:

1) It’s mentally exhausting to be on a literal fixed budget. Not an “I only want to spend X budget” but an “I literally can only spend X” budget. Not to mention that people in such a scenario have a lot of other financial things to keep track of in their minds. Like if they’ll be able to pay the utility bills or go to the movies if they spend the whole budget.

2) I’m a privileged little shit. If you asked me yesterday how much chicken or toothpaste or yogurt cost I wouldn’t have had a clue. When I want chicken I buy chicken. The cost is irrelevant. I’m not going to apologize for the advantages I have in life. But I do recognize them.

3) Many flavors of minimalism in general are privileged. “Just in case” is the most hated phrase of minimalist blogs. But how can you blame someone less financially fortunate for keeping something that they might need again some day? Something that they can’t afford to buy again?

Which is one reason why I’m not a “I only own 112 things” minimalist. Owning 112 things is expensive. My minimalist wardrobe cost me a hell of a lot more than my previous non-minimalist wardrobe. Which is fine because it brings a lot of value to my life. But it doesn’t make me more minimalist than someone who can’t justify buying multifunctional techwear clothing.

Also, those lists are bullshit.

Minimalism is whatever you need it to be. Make it suit you.

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