Hate to shop or just short on time? In this article, we’ll cover how to stop wasting time and shop efficiently. There are items we need to live and it isn’t always possible or desirable to have them shipped or delivered.  Some of these items include: food, household goods, medication, yard and gardening equipment and many more. For those of us who want to shop efficient and spend less time at the store there are ways we can speed up the process.

Know what you want

Always have a list or a clear picture of the item you want before driving to the store.

  • Take a picture if you are trying to replace an item, choose a decorative item that needs to match something else or many other scenarios. (A good place to keep an inventory of items at home, prescriptions, anything you want to remember and be able to find again is Evernote).
  • Check with other family members to find out what they need at the same store. It is a colossal waste of time to get home from the store and find out you have to go right back to get something another member of the family needs right away. To prevent this train your family to add the items they need to a list that is in a central location like the refrigerator).
  • Stick to what is on the list, getting distracted and “browsing” is where you will quickly lose time.

Do Your Research

Before setting foot in the store, do your research.

Consider what are the important elements in the item you wish to buy:

  • What are the features you care about most for the item?
  • Does the brand matter for the item?
  • Is the manufacturer important?
  • Are there service considerations?
  • What is the reputation of the product, service or it’s provider?
  • How will you use this item?
  • Are there multiple uses for this item or is there a version that would serve multiple purposes?
These tips might seem to only apply to large purchases but they are important to consider for smaller items as well. Is the toothpaste or canned item you are buying really a good, quality purchase or would another brand be better for your family. Shop smart when you make purchases to be sure you spend your money wisely.

How to find the information:

  • Read reviews online
    • Check multiple review sites, read multiple reviews to get a well rounded view of others’ experiences with the item. Not all reviews are well written and there are some fake reviews out there. Use your own judgement and research when relying on information to make your purchase.
    • Find the info you need online quickly with these tips.
  • Ask your friends or neighbors for their experiences
  • Read books, magazines or other articles that review the product or service you are interested in

Online product review sites to browse:

  • Consumer Reports (paid website or their magazine)
  • Amazon
  • Epinions
  • Zappos
What are your favorite sites to use when researching a purchase? Share them in the comments below.

Shop efficiently at the store

  • Make sure the store has the item in stock (call them or check online if available).
  • If possible have the store put the item on reserve for you so there is no need or temptation to walk the aisles, just head straight to customer service. (Some stores allow you to order the item online and pick it up at the store – huge timesaver!)
  • It’s also a good idea to have a second choice when you weren’t able to reserve the item ahead of time.
  • Shop at stores that are close together during the same trip.
  • Schedule a shopping day once a week, this way everyone in the family knows to request the items they need before that day.
  • Be sure the store you shop at has a good service and return policy. This way when you have an issue you will quickly be in and out and happy, not fighting to get your money back.
  • Shop when there are fewer people in the stores (generally soon after the store opens or near closing the store will always be more empty).

Realize that if saving time is most important to you may not always get the best price. Different strategies are necessary when that is your main goal.

Featured photo credit: woman in a shopping mall with colorful bags via Shutterstock and inline photo by William Warby via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

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