Shop in Monroe County and Save!
It’s no secret that Monroe County residents often do their shopping in the La Crosse area. A common justification for this is that “Monroe County stores are more expensive.” A recent study by the Monroe County UW-Extension office and the IBuyMoCo program shows that this is not the case, and that you can save money by doing your routine shopping in Monroe County. If you live in Sparta, you can save up to twenty dollars per trip and up to forty dollars if you live in Tomah.
First, consider the cost of groceries. UW-Extension shopped the local grocery store in Sparta, Tomah and Onalaska for the same common products (milk, eggs, pasta, ground beef, and the like), taking note of the regular, non-sale prices. The cost of our shopping list in Onalaska came to $53.74. Given the conventional wisdom that Monroe County stores are more expensive, you might be surprised to find out that the same grocery list at Monroe County stores was only an average of $2.89 more!
The next step is calculating the “true cost” of your shopping trip. The actual price of goods is only the first piece of the calculation. When you figure in additional costs you can begin to see dramatic savings.
To begin with, look at the cost of the drive. Gas prices are high of course, but that is not where it ends. In addition to fuel, the wear-and-tear on your vehicle adds up, as do insurance and registration costs. The Internal Revenue Service uses these factors and more to arrive at a mileage reimbursement rate. Currently, the rate is 55.5 cents per mile.
If we simply add up cost of mileage using the IRS rate from downtown Sparta to the shopping district in Onalaska, we see that the mileage cost for a round-trip is nearly $25! For a similar round-trip from downtown Tomah, the mileage cost is over $40! This does not take into account extra expenses you may incur, such as “making a day of it” and having lunch or dinner at a restaurant.
Consider as well the time commitment of a drive to the La Crosse area. From Sparta you will spend about an hour in the car round-trip, perhaps more if traffic is heavy, and from Tomah you could spend nearly two hours round-trip. It is hard to put a price tag on this, but there is no question it reduces the time you have to spend on more relaxing pursuits.
When planning your next trip to the grocery store, consider the true cost and stay home in Monroe County. You will save time and money!