At the checkout we were asked for our member number. "We don't have one" I responded. The clerk asked if we belonged to any other food cooperative in town. "No" I replied. To which he asked, "would you like to join, it is $10/year for an individual, otherwise there will be a 5% surcharge on your purchase". I paused. $10 -- that isn't much money, but how often will I actually shop here? I told him I'd pass for today and keep it in mind for next time. I paid my $4.87 and we enjoyed our snack on their outdoor terrace.
Later that evening I recounted the event to my husband. He muttered to himself a bit, as most engineers are inclined to do when calculating something in their head. A moment latter he said, "you'd have to spend $200 a year there to break even". These moments should not stun me as they still do, but I thought, goodness, how I wish I could be a human calculator at times. My gut told me the $10 wasn't worth it, this confirmed it. I doubt I'd spend $200 a year at the co-op. Primarily because they do not have carts set up for two kids in diapers. It's amazing how much of a pull those mega-carts have on a mom with a 3 and 1 year old. If, like me, you are wondering how he reached that number, here is his back of the envelope calculation:
- X*0.05 = 10
That translates into dividing $10 by the 5 cent surcharge, which comes out to $200/year. With this number I can make an accurate estimate of how likely I am to benefit from the $10 expense. I'd have to spend $200 in year in order to benefit from the $10 membership. This tool can be applied over and over again as you make educated purchases!