I often write that I still make financial mistakes, but it occurs to me that I don’t share them here as much as I once did. After April’s story earlier this week about the cost of healthy food, now seems like a good time to share a mistake I made on Tuesday.

Generally, I work out in the morning. I get up at 5:15 and am at the gym for the 6:30 Crossfit class. On Tuesday, however, I slept late. I got up at 7:00 and spent the morning writing articles for Get Rich Slowly. I went to the noon Crossfit class instead.

Because I hadn’t bothered to eat breakfast (I don’t normally eat before I go to the gym at 6:30), I was ravenous when my class got out at 1:00. Since Kris had asked me to pick up bread and milk, I stopped at the local organic grocery store, which is conveniently located between the gym and home. “While I’m buying milk and bread,” I thought, “I’ll grab a little something for lunch.” It was here that my trouble began.

First I chose some pre-fab beef kabobs. And a bottle of wine (for lunch?). Since I had the bottle of wine, I grabbed a hunk of my favorite cheese, which meant I needed a baguette, and then grapes. If I had grapes, why not get pineapple and blueberries and watermelon, too? By the time I’d finished my quick trip, I had spent $67.79 — on a single bag of food.

Here’s my haul:

Healthy food at a healthy cost

For the record, I came home with:

  • One gallon of organic 2% milk ($4.99)
  • One half-gallon of organic chocolate milk in a glass bottle ($4.99) — why?
  • A loaf of Ezekiel bread ($2.50)
  • A bottle of Giesen sauvignon blanc ($10.99) — tasty!
  • Half an organic seedless watermelon ($3.31)
  • 14 ounces of organic pineapple chunks ($6.99) — dumb dumb dumb
  • 2.09 pounds of organic red grapes ($3.74)
  • A pint of organic blueberries ($4.99)
  • About a pound of szechuan beef kabobs ($9.69)
  • A garlic baguette ($2.49)
  • 0.60 pounds of olives ($5.99)
  • A hunk of cambozola cheese ($6.12) — well worth it

Now, there’s no question that this is high-quality food. I had a great lunch on Tuesday, and I’ve been eating fresh fruit ever since. But the problem is that I spent far more than I had intended because:

  • I went shopping when I was ravenous, which even college students know is a no-no.
  • I went shopping without a list. I had a mental list, but that wasn’t enough.
  • I went shopping at the organic grocery store instead of good ol’ Safeway. I’m not opposed to the organic store, but it has a role, and impulse shopping isn’t it.

In the grand scheme of things, this mistake is minor. I know that. It’s not like I bought a new Mini Cooper. But this is an example of how even folks who know better can still fall into the same traps that plague financial novices. And it’s very typical of the sorts of errors I make from time to time. (I make them too often, actually.)

Next time I work out at noon? Well, I’ll eat before I do. And I’ll take something to snack on immediately after the workout. Either option would have kept me from making a mistake on Tuesday. Doing both would have been even better.

Note: Upon reading this, Kris’s response was to shake her head at my foolishness. She’s always thought I’m a poor shopper. “I can get a whole week’s worth of groceries for $68,” she said. “Easy.” I can too. But not at the organic food store.

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