Sticking to Budget

I’ve been going shopping every day since we got here. On the very first day I got most of the essentials: towels, coffee and sheets. But I didn’t want to get pillows and comforters at IKEA (Jysk has a better selection), so I got those on the following day. Luckily, we were staying for two nights at a hotel.

Once we got into our house, I’m slowly noticing what I’m missing: a can opener, gardening gloves, a mop. So I go out shopping every day and buy as much as I can carry. Yesterday I got four bowls, but only two plates, because even between me and Nani it seemed like too much to carry back.

We also go grocery shopping every day. Now I am glad that everything comes in little amounts. The largest container of laundry detergent had enough for 14 loads. The milk is no more than 1 liter and the flour comes in one of these little cubes (probably less than 1/2 of what you’d get in the States). So every day, Nani and I head for the supermarket down the street and get just enough stuff for dinner and breakfast and lunch for the next day.

It seems like a lot of shopping and at first I thought that everything was very expensive. But I’m starting to think that sticking to our budget will be a lot easier here than back in Seattle.

For one, there will be no overbuying. You can’t just buy anything just because it’s there and you like it. Nani tried doing this a couple of times and my response is always: and who’d gonna carry it home? With groceries, you also don’t want to buy anything that isn’t absolutely necessary. Again, you will have to carry it home. And if wine is on the list (it always is), then your load is already heavy enough.

Then there is the tax. Taxes are high in Denmark (the income tax is the highest in the world), but they’re already roped into the price of each item. That is why it seems that everything is so expensive. But if back in Seattle I bought something for $99, there was the additional $10 I had to pay in tax at the cash register. Here, if something is 99 krone, then that’s what you’re paying (actually, you’ll be paying 100, because one krone is 15 cents and the cash registers often don’t have small coins like that). I’m still thinking the way I did back in Seattle, so I still – subconsciously – add that 10 percent sales tax to my purchases, only to be pleasantly surprised at the cash register.

And then there are sales. Now seems to be a sales (udsalg) season. Everywhere you go there is an “udsalg” going on. The very cute bowls I bought yesterday were only 10 krone ($1.50) each! So yeah, it’s not as bad as you might think.

Denmark seems expensive when you come and visit. Going out isn’t cheap (but neither is it cheap in Seattle these days) and when you’re downtown Copenhagen, you are mostly among the fancy designer shops. When it comes to shopping though, my weakness were never the fancy designer shops. It’s the discount stores, like Marshalls! There is no Marshalls here. All the shopping is done in small town shops, so that I get a corkscrew in one, but need to go elsewhere to find ant traps. I like that too. The fact that small neighborhood shops are thriving.

So, shopping’s been fun. It not only allows me to stick to the budget, but I’m also building upper body strength.

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