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My wife is no big spender, but during her regular visits to Costco she’s been known to throw this and that into the cart along with items from her list. Problem is, “this and that” at Costco can easily add $50 to your bill.
So when she told me she needed a few things from our favorite bulk food outlet, I offered to go instead. “Just text me your list,” I innocently said.
Driving to work that day left me missing my morning walk to the office. To ensure I hit my mileage for the day, I decided to walk to Costco, pick up the food, walk back to the office, and then drive home.
As I headed out of the office, Chance (YNAB COO), said (with some confusion in his voice) “Do you think you maybe want to take your backpack?”
My backpack! No wonder Chance gets the fancy title.
After grabbing my backpack, I confidently strolled out of the office and marched myself to Costco.
I quickly made my rounds through the store, picking up the items on Kate’s list:
As I headed to the checkout, my confidence in the mission wavered. The pile of food in my cart seemed like a bad combination of big and heavy.
I checked out, loaded everything into a pretty good-sized fruit box (you know how they do it at Costco) and headed for the door.
Once I cleared the door, I ditched my cart, loaded the spinach and the cheese into the backpack (thanks Chance), which left the juice concentrate, grapes, and the eggs in the box.
Welp, I thought to myself, we’ll see how this goes.
You’ll be shocked to hear the box made for an awkward carry.
I hefted it onto my shoulder, busboy style, and walked about 10 steps. My shoulder tired quickly, and I switched to a more traditional forklift approach.
Ten or twenty more steps, and I was ready to set the box down on the nearest mini-van and call my wife to bail me out.
No! That’s the coward’s way out. Finish the mission.
I made it to a stoplight and rested my load on the crosswalk button. One of my neighbors happened to drive by, giving me a confused look and a wave.
Only then did I realize how ridiculous I must look. Grown man, walking out of the Costco parking lot wearing a stuffed backpack and carrying a large box of groceries on his shoulder.
The light changed; I marched on. After a couple hundred yards I realized the box just wasn’t going to work out – it was too blasted awkward.
Luckily, I was right next to one of the two grocery stores I’d passed on my way to Costco. Did I forget to mention those?
I walked up to the store, set my box down on the ground in front of the big sliding doors, went in and grabbed five or six grocery bags.
Am I shoplifting? I remember wondering.
Back outside, I transferred the eggs, orange juice, and grapes into the bags, and took off, hoping there wasn’t a teen-aged grocery bagger behind me dialing up the cops.
Ahh, yes. The bags made for easier carrying.
Although I do have to hold them out from my sides to keep from banging them into my legs…
And, man, these bags are heavier than I thought. My arms are going numb…
And, hm, I don’t think I got the weight distributed quite evenly between the two bags, and the fingers on my left hand are dangerously close to giving out.
With dead arms and purple fingers, I picked up the pace. Fast enough to cut my time down, but not fast enough to risk blowing out the bottoms of the bags. So, instead of Strange Guy with Backpack and Big Box of Food, I’m now Weirdo Gently Speed-walking with Two Grocery Bags in Each Hand.
Finally I turned a corner and my office came into view.
I shouldered the door open, plodded up the stairs, and unloaded the food in the office’s kitchen area, cursing my own stupidity.
Chance walked by just then, and cheerfully asked “How’d it go?”
Panting and sweating, all I could think to say was,
“I hope the eggs survived.”
Remember, budgeting is not restrictive. You won’t be spending less, you’ll be spending right. You can do this! Today. Right now. What do you have to lose? Except all that debt and stress. (Ok, so kind of a lot.)
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