Choices…Choices…and more Choices

By Regina Felangie


            Sandy Martinez has always bargained shopped. She cuts out coupons and watches out for sales on regular priced items whether it be food, clothing, cleaning or toiletry products. Sandra has two daughters and has always tried to teach them both to save their money and spend it wisely. The oldest daughter, Jenny, has moved away and started living on her own. To Sandra’s dismay, Jenny is not a wise shopper. She will spend her paycheck right away on groceries and clothing, which are her addiction, without saving money as she should and could. Sandra has been fighting with Jenny to spend less on the same products she could be buying at different stores for cheaper prices. Jenny has no patience to be cutting out coupons or looking out for sales. Jenny will buy anything impulsively without thinking. Sandra has had enough with Jenny’s spending and is ready for an intervention to help her stop before she goes bankrupt. 

            Sandra is tired of worrying about Jenny because she needs to grow up and be a responsible adult. Sandra cannot always be there for Jenny to rescue and lend her money when she is in a bind. Sandra goes to Jenny’s house in hope of teaching her daughter that there are many choices out there in the stores where she could buy the things she likes and wants without spending more than she should.

            Sandra knocks on Jenny’s door. Jenny asks, “Who is it?”

Sandra responds, “Jenny, it’s your mom.” Jenny opens the door and welcomes her mom in her house.

“Mom, what are you doing here unexpectedly?” Jenny asks. “I wanted to speak to you about your spending habits.” Jenny grunts, “Ugh! This again?! I am tired of you trying to make me be like you. I want to run my own life and live how I want to live. I am not a child anymore!!!”

Sandra says, “Let me talk, Jenny. Just listen. I am here as a friend who wants to help you save money. What’s so wrong with saving money? It is easier than you probably think.”

Jenny asks, “How then?”

Sandra responds, “It is common economics, Jenny: demand and supply. I am sure this is going to refresh your memory from your econ class in high school. Actually, who knows? I think that might have been one of the classes you got a D in!”

Jenny responds, “So? I hate Econ. It’s boring. Does not interest me and is not important in my life!”

Sandra begins to explain to Jenny how economics is not just a class because economics is all around us and affects us daily. Sandra explains, “When a product is priced higher than a consumer’s buying value or expectations, consumer’s will not buy that product and eventually turn to substitute products that may be priced lower. See Jenny, eventually products will drop in price when consumers are not willing to buy that product. A company will then lower their price to compete with their competitor’s price. That’s when you should buy certain products, once they have dropped in price so that you will save yourself some money. I want you to start looking out for sales because it will only benefit you. I am tired of you being a price taker!” 

Jenny responds, “Well I can’t wait forever for all my products to drop in price, mom! If I need them, I have to buy it right away.”

 Sandra responds, “Jenny, I understand that when you need things you have to go and buy them. Don’t get me wrong. There are some things we cannot go without and have to pay the price listed because there are no substitutes, like gasoline. With the rising prices, we cannot just stop driving until the price goes down because we do not have other choices. Let me suggest ways in which you can save money without it taking up a lot of your time. First, you can look at store catalogs that come in the mail and scope out some things that are on sale that you may need and buy them to take advantage of the sale. Or if it is not on sale, waiting just a few days can sometimes make a difference because maybe not this week, but next week, a product may go on sale. Remember, there is a great range of variety when it comes to some products. In this country, we are lucky to have many choices to choose from. Like toothpaste, it is an oligopoly type of market where they are a few sellers that sell the same type of product, but have different brand names to try and differentiate themselves from their competitors through price and quality. This is why toothpaste is not that expensive because there is competition between the sellers because they try to get as many customers as possible to increase there revenue. There is always a demand for toothpaste, so there is always enough inventory to sell.

Jenny says, “Yea, I do prefer Colgate over Crest. I don’t like any brand other than Colgate and you’re right; it isn’t very expensive to buy toothpaste and it lasts for a long time too.”

Sandra continues, “Second, you can go to Costco and buy certain products, such as toiletry products, drinks, and food that come in large quantities that will last you for a long time instead of buying small quantities that run out fast and have you going to a local store to buy a product more frequently. Jenny, are you listening to me?” Jenny nods and Sandra continues. “It is economically better to buy a product, such as Tide, at Costco where it is in a bigger box that holds more detergent loads to wash your clothes with for a wholesale price. For example, let’s say Costco size Tide contains 150 loads you can wash for a price of $20 and Target offers a Tide size box of 75 loads for a price of $13.99. So as you can see, it would be economically better for you to buy the Costco size of Tide because you get more loads for a cheaper price. If you bought the Target size of Tide, you would be spending more money in the long run because after you buy 2 boxes of Tide at Target, you will have spent about $28, which is $8 dollars more than one Costco size Tide.”

Jenny responds, “Okay mom, I get it. I will buy Tide at Costco, even though I have to pay a membership fee to buy products there.”

Sandra explains, “In the long run, you will be getting your money’s worth. If you take advantage of your membership and buy many products, not just Tide, then you will be saving a lot more than what your membership costs. In the long run, you won’t just break even; you will be making a big profit on savings!”

Jenny asks, “Is that it?”

Sandra replies, “Almost. One last thing, try to not buy a lot of things that are originally priced if you do not need it right away. Always ask yourself, do I need it or just want it? Clothes, for example, go on sale after a while. Once a new jacket comes out and you like it, but can’t afford it, then just wait. If you do not need it right away, after the season is over, it will most likely go on sale. Just keep a look out. Resist as much as you can because I know you love shopping, but you can’t afford things you don’t need. Plus, you have enough clothes as it is.”

Jenny says, “All right mom. I think I will take your advice. You have a good point. I have to watch my spending because I need to pay my bills. I guess this is not the time to tell you about all my debt on my credit cards!!!”

Sandra responds, “Oh Jenny. I am not surprised. This is why I came over to help you.”