Saturday, April 10, 2010

Givin' up the Wal-Mart boycott?

OK, not quite, but I'm beginning to wonder ... ["Wal-Mart Bets on Reduction in Prices"].
I have been to Wal-Mart twice in my life: Once, because it was the only store in southern New Hampshire where I could find a taxi cab mirror for my car (I like to be able to see three or four lanes out the rear window), and the second time, while shopping for big screen TVs (although I just looked, I didn't buy one there. They weren't as cheap as Best Buy and didn't offer financing either). But articles like this that make me wonder.
Question: Is it better to stand up for certain values or have more money in your pocket for other things? I guess we all make those decisions every day. We know corporations make those decisions when they send jobs overseas or cut employees to award higher returns to shareholders.
Locally, the food choices are Market Basket, Shaw's, Hannaford's, Wal-Mart (there are two S&Ss in Manch). I don't know if Wal-Mart can actually beat MB on prices. MB is already pretty low. They easily beat Shaw's and Hannaford's although they don't have the selection. MB also doesn't sell the PAYT bags, which is annoying. But, it might be worth a look at Wal-Mart. Five bucks here, $10 there, before you know it, you're talking real money.
I will say that Wal-Mart's marketing campaigns are pretty good. I particularly like the one that shows people how much they save by cooking at home instead of going out. It is an effective campaign. Most of us knew that already but whatever helps people pay their mortgages and save money is always a good thing. Sure, making nuggets and fries at home is not the same as having them at the 99. But a treat is a treat, and not a regular thing.
So is anyone else considering going to Wal-Mart (or going there now) to get necessities at really low prices or are you just winging it? I'd like to know.

In thinking about the Wal-Mart marketing campaign, I think it might be time for some anti-smoking ads that show the same thing. Most anti-smoking ads that are broadcast on television always emphasize people's health - they scare people about dying, etc. But that clearly isn't working. Cigarette sales have leveled out here in New Hampshire, according to some substance abuse folks I know. But, that's not good enough. Whenever I see folks smoking, I think, There goes $6 ...
I can understand the joy of smoking. It's not unlike the joy of drinking or driving fast. It's dangerous. It can kill you. But, look at the money side of things. If you smoke a pack a day, at $6 a pack, you're going through nearly $2,200 a year. Over five years, that's a low end new car. If you smoke two packs a day, that's a $22,000 car. Would you rather have a new car or ciggies? (New car, of course!)
If you have kids and you're smoking, don't say you don't have money for them. That's a lie. One pack a day is $40 a week you're spending on smokes. Two packs a day is $80 or about what I pay for a family of four food bill each week (Maybe they are driving you to smoke ... but that's another issue ...)
Now, I'm not trying to lecture people here. If they want to smoke, smoke. It's their right. But, be prepared for the consequences and stop complaining about not having money.
I wonder, should there be a rule that anyone who receives government assistance be forced into a smoking cessation program? That, it would seem, would be money well spent. That $40 or $80 a week is better spent feeding and clothing kids than smoking, welfare mamas and papas!
The flip of this is that the government really needs you to smoke.
According to WikiAnswers, state and local governments get about $35 billion from people via some sort of tax or tobacco settlement payment. Those are taxes paid by smokers that, if they all stopped smoking, would disappear. Whatever that $35 billion buys would be put onto the backs of the rest of us. I guess it all evens out since we all pay more for health care because of smokers. But, it all really makes me wonder ...

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