Monday, March 16, 2009

Day 16- $1 a day

As someone who enjoys hitting the blackjack tables at Lake Tahoe about once a year, my mantra when I go there is “you gotta bet big to win big”. As I spend $1 a day for 40 days, I am seeing something more along the lines of “you gotta spend big to save big.”

Last weekend my friend vicki told me about a Safeway coupon where I could get 18 eggs for 97 cents. Good deal. So I clipped that coupon and excitedly went to the store only to be told at the checkout counter that there was fine print on the coupon and I had to spend $10 at the store in order to use the coupon for eggs. I didn’t have $10 to spend. Denied.

This reminds me of Costco, where for many products the per unit price decreases as you purchase a large quantity of the product. For example, a six pack of Coke may cost about 50 cents per can at a supermarket, while if you buy a case of Coke at Costco the price may be more like 25 cents per can. This is probably a bad example because Coke is not nutritious, but my point is that people living in poverty can’t afford to buy the large product that saves them money in the end.

I suppose that a few low-income families could band together and buy large products with a good per-unit price at Costco, but they would also have to split the cost of the Costco membership ($50 annually). Furthermore, those of us who don’t own cars and who rely on public transportation know that we wouldn’t be able to carry all that stuff on the bus anyway. You need a car to stash a 25 pound bag of rice, a huge box of diapers, and a mesh bag of 3 cantaloupes.

You may have heard the observation about there being so many Mercedes parked in the Costco parking lot. People with means have access to more of the savings. People without means and transportation are often shopping at their corner liquor store or “convenience store”, and as someone who has two of those corner stores one block away from my apartment, I can tell you that there are no deals to be found on those shelves.

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