Money Monday: How Far Will You Go For Low Prices?

BY: - 13 Aug '12 | Money

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Every time I pass though the sliding glass doors of my local Wal-Mart I feel a twinge of guilt. I try to suppress it, but it continually gnaws at my insides.

In the end, the call of seductively low prices is often too much for me to resist. I am a bargain shopper to the core, and Wal-Mart usually has the lowest prices in town.

Who cares that Wal-Mart devastated the local business community when they set up roots in my small town years ago? A once vibrant downtown area has been transformed into a ghost town littered with closed and abandoned store fronts.

But I have my low prices.

And does it really matter that the cashier ringing up my purchases is probably struggling desperately to make ends meet? Wal-Mart workers earn 14 percent less than workers at other larger retailers.

According to the Institute for Local Self-Reliance:

Many big-box employees, even those who work full-time, do not earn enough to meet basic living expenses. Many also lack health insurance as they are not eligible for or cannot afford the company plan. At Wal-Mart, for example, full-time employees must wait six months and part-timers one year to qualify, leaving almost 40 percent of the company’s workforce ineligible.

Of those who are eligible, about one-third do not enroll, in many cases because of the high out-of-pocket cost. Instead, large numbers of big-box employees rely on Medicaid, food stamps, and other public assistance programs to get by.

And because Wal-Mart is the dominant retailer in the world, it’s Wal-Mart who dictates prices to its suppliers. The low prices I so covet are possible largely because Wal-Mart squeezes its suppliers to the brink of death.

If Wal-Mart tells a supplier that it’s costs are too high, the supplier has few choices. It can cut corners and the wages of its own workers, or move its operations overseas. The Economic Policy Institute concludes that this Wal-Mart effect has cost the nation nearly 200,000 jobs.

It seems everywhere you look someone is paying for our addiction to low prices. And this perhaps explains why my conscience is starting to get the best of me, even if I am saving money.

BMWK, Do you feel guilty for shopping at Wal-Mart? Should you ever feel guilty for taking advantage of any resource that helps your family save money in a tight economy?

About the author

Alonzo Peters wrote 184 articles on this blog.

Alonzo Peters is founder of MochaMoney.com, a personal finance website dedicated to helping Black America achieve financial independence.

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7 WordPress comments on “Money Monday: How Far Will You Go For Low Prices?

  1. Chasity

    As an ex Wal-Mart employee all of the above is true. In February 2011 I started couponing and quickly realized Wal-Mart is actually the most expensive in the couponing world. Most couponers cringe at the thought of Wal-Mart after getting so many large discounts and freebies at every other major retailer and drug store pharmacies.

    Reply
  2. Jackie Holness

    Wow, that’s truly sad…I’m pretty much addicted to Wal-Mart too, but Wal-Mart doesn’t have the organic products that I need so I shop at Whole Foods and balance out the rest of my generic needs at Wal-Mart…hmmm…will have to think on that…

    Reply
  3. Jackie Bledsoe, Jr.

    I don’t feel guilty about shopping at Walmart…I just don’t like shopping at Walmart. When I go to Walmart that is normally the worst part of my day…long lines, lack of customer service, less than enough lines open, but you can get anything and everything there for a decent price…which is why I continue to go back. smh! Somebody help me! LOL

    Reply
    1. Aja

      I agree with you on that. For me I feel less guilt and more “I hate this place!” whenever I’m there. I almost always regret my decision as soon as I walk in. Why they always have 50 registers and 10 lines open I’ll never know. I always feel like stuff is disorganized, the parking lot is always crowded. I hate the experience, but like you said, it is also has everything, which when I’m out shopping with the kids its easier for me to just go there and get socks, milk, and a CD all in the same place than paying higher prices at three different places.

      Reply
  4. Maris King

    I am not Wal-Mart addict but I am addicted to low priced items as well.
    I also shopped for necessary but cheap items, it’s actually my hobby!

    Reply
  5. Jacqueline

    I stopped shopping at walmart years ago when I watched a piece on 60 minutes about how Walmart gets clothes that are made overseas and those ppl are barely getting by. Right is right and if we don’t stop being nonchalant about things it is going to cost us things that money can’t buye and for me that’s too high of a price. If we are truly God fearing then we know He will provide

    Reply
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