Chet Collins

A Year of Walmart Grocery

Late last summer, I was watching a video on YouTube about how to save money on your monthly grocery bill. I was new to town and hadn’t yet settled on a grocery store to use. The one closest to my house is small, with over a third of shelf-space dedicated to non-grocery items. Their sister-brand discount chain is ten minutes up the road, selling the same store brand items for almost 30% less, which made me mad. The video suggested using a store grocery pickup service to keep under budget. The only store at the time in my area that offered that service was Walmart.

Before now, I hadn’t been a fan of Walmart. The stores were run down, poorly merchandised, and filled with junk. At least that was what the Walmart was like in our old town. My local Walmart is a lot nicer. It’s newer, clean, bright, and mostly well stocked. Still, I didn’t believe that I could get all of the food items that I needed at Walmart Grocery. Going into the store, it felt like it was almost all junk food, with few quality ingredients.

Wanting to stay on budget, and with a $10 coupon in hand, I decided to give online grocery pickup at Walmart a try. I was pleasantly surprised! Not only did they have every ingredient I needed (some are a bit exotic), but they were almost always in stock. I ordered grocery items I had never seen inside of Walmart, which was awesome. Their prices absolutely crushed their local competitions. As a bonus, almost everything has the same unit price as Sam’s Club, so I can get a good deal without having to deal with bulk.

From a business perspective, Walmart sees huge opportunity to grow their business through a growing grocery business. Amazon is in the space with their purchase of Whole Foods, but I’ve never been in one so I don’t know exactly what changes were made. Regardless, grocery is now an important segment, which explains why they would literally pay people to shop for me just for the chance to capture that business.

The early days were spotty, there weren’t too many customers and items were frequently out of stock. Inventory management is truly make or break in groceries. Walmart will either substitute you with a larger quantity or better brand, at the lowest price possible. So if I ordered a generic 16oz peanut butter and they were out, they might give me a 16oz name brand, or 32oz name brand, at the 16oz generic price point. If, for whatever reason, they don’t have an substitute, they mark an item as unavailable and take it off of your order. This is less than ideal, especially if its a key ingredient.

Substitutions and out of stock items were common last year, but in the past several months, things have been much better.

Two more nice things about online shopping with Walmart. First, if an item is recalled, like all of that lettuce was a few months ago, they automatically refund your money for the recalled item. Second, if there is literally anything wrong with an item, you send them an email and the refund the purchase.

My primary goal for switching to Walmart Grocery online pickup was to keep under budget. By adding items to the cart, I can see at all times the price of my order and make adjustments as necessary. With the substitution and refund policies being very customer friendly, paired with their rock bottom prices, it really is the best deal in town. That, and not having to move through the store with three little ones twice a week.

Pizza Dinner

Went out for pizza,

Kids were fun to hang out with.

Sleep does some wonders!

Currently reading: You Need a Budget: The Proven System for Breaking the Paycheck-to-Paycheck Cycle, Getting Out of Debt, and Living the Life You Want by Jesse Mecham 📚

Better Driver

Lighter on the gas,

A more comfortable ride.

Much more fun to drive.

There’s a special bond between a man and his barber.

I don’t like the word “infotainment.”

Bought a gas blower and trimmer today. I’m big time!


A slight glow below,

As I walk the neighborhood.

Moonlight is special.

Cauliflower is life.

Airbus to Retire the A380, the Superjumbo That Never Quite Took Off

After billions of dollars of investment, Airbus is retiring a plane it had hoped would supplant Boeing’s 747.

If the design had been more beautiful, would things have been different? It’s so ugly.

The Pope and a Trusted U.S. Cardinal Clash Over Sex-Abuse Crisis - WSJ

The dominant view in the Vatican was that the Americans were going too far in tackling sex abuse. When Cardinal O’Malley called for the world-wide adoption of the U.S. practice of publishing accused priests’ names, other Vatican officials privately condemned the practice as defamation

On the contrary, the Americans are the only ones willing to act. Again, this is not hard.

Happy Valentine’s Day!


I used to have a very large number of apps on my phone, constantly downloading and trying out new ones. Those were in the golden early days of the App Store. Nowadays, it’s rare if I add a new one every month.

As a part of this change, many developers have moved over to subscription models. For many customers, this is a huge problem because the value proposition is unclear. There is an exception.

One of the best apps that I’ve used, now going on six years, is YNAB. I would put it on the same shelf as 1Password, CARROT, Castro, Day One, Deliveries, Fantastical, Oak, Things, Ulysses. This is a quality, well-designed, beautiful app.

YNAB switched to a web app and subscription model back in December of 2015. There was the usual consternation, but over the past 3 years, there has been tremendous, meaningful, solid development work. New features are released regularly, and the syncing backend is as solid as it gets.

At the beginning of this year, I took inventory of my apps, workflows, and tools. This is a normal occurrence. When it came to my family’s finances, I looked at our YNAB budget and considered if it was really working for me. After much reflection, observation, and research, I decided to fully implement YNAB’s four rules.

I created a “Fresh Start” budget, realigned my categories to mostly match theirs, and reallocated my dollars. The whole process took less than half an hour, which is incredible for budgeting. Now, I just have to maintain the machine.

YNAB is a great example of a simple idea, executed thoughtfully, and assembled with an eye on design. It’s an app I used across all of my devices, every day, and it gives me the comfort and peace of knowing where my money is and what its doing.

How great is it that makes a separate RSS feed for microcasts? I just started listening to @nathanrhale’s new microcast, and I subscribed to the feed in Castro. No other services needed. The best!

Podcast Ads

I get it, I do,

But they still mostly annoy.

I should skip ahead.

It’s nice when the kiddos help out with the chores.

I’ll never get over that blue.

Car Seat Buddies

Two kids in the back, 
Side-by-side, all smiles for now!

No way this can last.

Medium rare ground beef tastes so good.

Laundry Overload

Got the laundry done,

Now its folded on table.

Won’t make it to drawers.

Working into the evening with rain providing the soundtrack.

Did it All

Up since four-thirty,

Did everything on my list.

A good week ahead!

Spent about an hour out in the garage reconfiguring the van. Moved seats around for better loading and unloading, purged napkins and old materials, refreshed kids books, and reorganized technology. I ordered in a wireless charging pad to install later this week. A nice refresh!

Car seats are complicated.

So Many Errands

On the go all day.

Here, there, everywhere in town.

Felt good, productive.

© 2019 Chet J. Collins