This weekend, I plan to start posting about menu planning, grocery shopping and cooking for one. In the meantime, I’m going to share some thoughts about money and saving generally.
Some of you may have heard this story, so bear with me. When I was 14 or 15, my dad got a new company car and so I set out with my parents for a Sunday drive. We ended up at Mary Coyle (an ice cream shop) in downtown Akron. As I remember it, we were the only customers at that time. Our server, a college-aged black girl, came to the table to take our order. I noticed her name tag and noted that the name on it seemed unusual. “Is it a family name?” I asked. “Or does it have a special meaning?” She looked at me a little strangely before shaking her head and walking away. What did her nametag say? “Trainee.”
Bias is defined as “a particular tendency or inclination, especially one that prevents unprejudiced consideration of a question.” I assumed that because of the color of her skin, Trainee’s parents had given her a name that to me—a white, middle class, suburban teenager—seemed unusual and exotic. For all I know her name was Sarah or Jill or Kate. I was young and had a particular inclination that led me to make an incorrect assumption.
We all have biases, whether we’re aware of them or not. And having a “particular tendency or inclination” isn’t necessarily a problem. For example, I prefer Coke over Pepsi. I strive to use only cruelty-free cleaning products. I’m a vegetarian. I buy only Charmin toilet paper. But when a preference becomes a prejudice and prevents us from impartially pondering a question, we may miss out.
How does this relate to saving and spending? To cut back on expenses, you need to do things differently than you have, which means considering things you might not have considered before—like shopping at a thrift store, using coupons, buying the “no name” brand, getting a second job, having a garage sale. Maybe you think homemade laundry soap won’t clean your clothes as well as Tide. (Bias!) Or that home canning can’t possibly be safe. (Bias!) Or that you’ll never find anything you like at the Goodwill. (Bias!) Not all of the ways I conserve and save are going to work for everyone, but as moms always say, you’ll never know unless you try.