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Date Night at the Grocery Store

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On a recent date night, Vonnie and I went somewhere that we have rarely gone together during our 16 year marriage.

It's a rather expensive place to go for a date night, but we had the money budgeted for the occasion. As we entered the store, I held my breath in anticipation of the adventure that was about to begin. 

On this particular date night, my wife and I went to the grocery store.

Voluntarily going to the grocery store together is a huge deal for us. In the past, grocery shopping together has commonly resulted in arguments and hurt feelings because we had very different styles of grocery shopping. I would make a list, and get exactly those items on the list. 

Vonnie enjoyed going up and down the aisles and placing into the cart anything and everything that looked good. That's what it seemed like to me, anyway.

I tried to keep the cart as empty as possible and the grocery bill low. At least that was my intention. However, even though I had made a list, I really had no idea how much the items would total. I'm not even sure what my wife's thoughts were on how much groceries should cost, because we never discussed it.

I think it's obvious why our past joint grocery shopping excursions were complete disasters.

But given the recent changes in how we handle our finances, we walked through the doors of the grocery store that evening with the right information and a fresh perspective that was sure to make our date night a success:

Budgeted Amount:  Since we now do everything finance related together, we had an agreed upon amount that the groceries HAD to stay under.

The List:  We made the grocery list together, complete with price estimates for each item. The grand total was within the agreed upon budgeted amount. 

Attitude:  We walked in relaxed and ready to work together to purchase what we needed to feed our family for the coming week. 

As we grabbed a cart and walked past the checkout lanes, Vonnie suddenly pulled out her cell phone and started punching buttons.

"What are you doing?" I asked.

"Finding the calculator on this thing," she replied,"I want to know exactly what our total is before we go through the checkout lane."

Standing in the produce section next to the Pink Lady apples, I fell in love with my wife all over again.

Pushing the cart through the store, we checked off the items on the list as we found them. But the list was used as a guideline, not an absolute. There were items we added, and there were items that we removed, but we made each decision together.

When we were all done, we found that our estimated total was slightly over budget. Scouring the cart together, we found a few items that we didn't really need and returned them to the shelves.

We watched with anticipation while our items were scanned and bagged. 

The grand total was within three dollars of the number on Vonnie's cell phone, and less than a dollar under our budgeted amount. We attributed the difference to some items being taxed which we did not account for. The checkout person laughed as Vonnie and I gave each other a high-five.

We walked out of the store with a cart full of food and a smile on our faces. We stayed on budget, and we actually had fun doing it together. We went to the store with the purpose of getting groceries, but we accomplished so much more.

Best. Date. Night. Ever. 

Related Links:

A Grocery Store Dilemma

Breakthrough - I Finally Get it!

3 Years in the Debt Management Plan, Still Learning...


Travis Pizel, Debt Management Plan Customer Blogger for CareOne Services, Inc. Travis Pizel

Travis is a contributing writer for the My Journey out of Debt and A Straight Talk on Debt blogs. He is also a very active member of the CareOne community forums. Travis is currently enrolled in a CareOne Debt Management Plan (DMP). Travis candidly shares his personal journey to pay off his debt and the tips he's learned along the way. As a father and husband he provides a unique perspective on balancing debt, finances, and family. You can also read more from Travis on the Enemy of Debt blog, where he is a featured blogger. Compensated Blogger for CareOne Debt Relief Services.

Follow Travis on Twitter @DebtChronicles

To connect with Travis on Google+ click



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  • It is so awesome to see the progress the two of you have accomplished since you first started your journey out of debt!!  I love the different ways the two of you have learned to come together and work together to meet your goals.  This blog made me smile all the way through!!  Progress is one step at a time and I know for me it has been a pleasure watching the two of you grow!!  I love it when my grocery budget is less than the amount I figured in.  

    One way I learned to figure out how much it was going to cost me for groceries is by going onto the grocery stores website and shopping on line first for my items, without submitting the order.  This way I know I am on budget.  And with the online prices sometimes a bit inflated I know the cash I take with me will cover the costs.

    Another great blog!  :-)

  • I love this post! So cute :) I can totally relate, I'm like you (buy what's on list) where hubby likes to take his time and browse. I want to get in and get out especially if we have the baby with us. He jokes that I took his love for the grocery store away with my budgeting. Good for you guys :)

  • It's amazing to see how far you and Vonnie have come since your first post about "communication"; you are not only almost out of debt but the experience has brought you closer.

  • Great idea to shop online first, mdavis1964!  Unfortunately I don't think that's an option for me where I shop.  Although thinking about it now, even though I think we do a pretty good job of estimating prices of items, I should start a spreadsheet with prices in it from our shopping receipts, which can be used when making a list, and updated when prices change from newer receipts.  I think  I just found a new project!  :)

  • LOL, too funny, mrsplungedindebt!  I loved grocery shopping because I got to get the things needed to make yummy food (I'm the family cook), AND it was alone time.   Now, while I do get to go alone sometimes, I've found that going with my wife is even more fun. We can joke and spend quality time together.......even if we are working with a budget - as long as we're in the right mindset when we walk in the store, it's all good!

  • It's definitely taken a lot of hard work, Suzanne, but we've been steadily tweaking and improving our communication skills.  With better communication skills comes a better understanding of what each other is thinking and feeling.  That can only have a positive impact in ALL aspects of our relationship.  We've been married for 16+ years now, and I truly believe we are just hitting our stride as a couple - I can't wait to see what the future holds for us.  :)

  • I love the story and the high five at the end was the best!  The strangest things can bring couples closer together but that's what love is all about, isn't it?  You didn't mention, did you use coupons?

  • This experience occurred before I challenged myself to use coupons, tiquie.  But not to worry, an update of my coupon usage is still in the works.  Now give me a high five......oh come on, tiquie, don't leave me hangin'  LOL.

  • This has to be the cutest + funniest + informative post on grocery savings my eyes ever did read. Thanks for the tips and the laughs :)

  • Anytime, Agatha - it's the least I can do to pay you back for the laughs I got from your #fincon ignite speech in Denver!

  • How romantic! I sometimes use a calculator in the store to make sure we stay in budget. Embarrassing? Not as embarrassing as having to put back multiple items in the checkout line.

  • So true, Brent......always better to put items back if necessary BEFORE you get to the checkout line.   Romantic indeed....as our friend J Money would say, "Budgets are Sexy!"

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