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Stop Wasting Time and Start Shopping Efficiently

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Stop Wasting Time and Start Shopping Efficiently

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.

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  • 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.

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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.

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    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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    Last Updated on January 5, 2022

    33 Painless Ways to Save Money Now

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    33 Painless Ways to Save Money Now

    In a difficult economy, most of us are looking for ways to put more money in our pockets, but we don’t want to feel like misers. We don’t want to drastically alter our lifestyles either. We want it fast and we want it easy. Small savings can add up and big savings can feel like winning the lottery, just without all of the taxes.

    Some easy ways to save money:

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    1. Online rebate sites. Many online sites offer cash back rebates and online coupons as well. MrRebates and Ebates are two I like, but there are many others.
    2. Sign up for customer rewards. Many of your favorite stores offer customer rewards on products you already buy. Take advantage.
    3. Switch to compact fluorescent bulbs. The extra cost up front is worth the energy savings later on.
    4. Turn off power strips and electronic devices when not in use.
    5. Buy a programmable thermostat. Set it to lower the heat or raise the AC when you’re not home.
    6. Make coffee at home. Those lattes and caramel macchiatos add up to quite a bit of dough over the year.
    7. Switch banks. Shop around for better interest rates, lower fees and better customer perks. Don’t forget to look for free online banking and ease of depositing and withdrawing money.
    8. Clip coupons: Saving a couple dollars here and there can start to add up. As long as you’re going to buy the products anyway, why not save money?
    9. Pack your lunch. Bring your lunch to work with you a few days a week, rather than buy it.
    10. Eat at home. We’re busier than ever, but cooking meals at home is healthier and much cheaper than take-out or going out. Plus, with all of the freezer and pre-made options, it’s almost as fast as drive-thru.
    11. Have leftovers night. Save your leftovers from a few meals and have a “leftover dinner.” It’s a free meal!
    12. Buy store brands: Many generic or store brands are actually just as good as name brands and considerably cheaper.
    13. Ditch bottled water. Drink tap water if it’s good quality, buy a filter if it’s not. Get 
        a reusable water bottle and refill it.
      • Avoid vending machines: The items are usually over-priced.
      • Take in a matinee. Afternoon movie showings are cheaper than evening times.
      • Re-examine your cable bill. Cancel extra cable or satellite channels you don’t watch. Watch the “on demand” movie purchases too.
      • Use online bill pay. Most banks offer free online bill paying. Save on stamps and checks, and avoid late fees by automating bill payment.
      • Buy frequently used items in bulk. You get a lower per item price and eliminate extra trips to the store later on.
      • Fully utilize the library. Borrowing books is much cheaper than buying them, but in addition to books, most local libraries now lend movies and games.
      • Cancel magazine/newspaper subscriptions: Re-evaluate your subscriptions. Cancel those you don’t read and consider reading some of the other publications online.
      • Get rid of your land-line. Do you really need a land-line anymore if everyone in the family has a cell phone? Alternatively, look into using VOIP or getting a cheaper plan.
      • Better fuel efficiency. Check the air pressure in your tires, keep up with proper auto maintenance, and slow down. Driving even 5MPH slower will result in better fuel mileage.
      • Increase your deductibles. Increasing the insurance deductibles on your homeowners and auto insurance policies lowers premiums significantly. Just make sure you choose a deductible that you can afford should an emergency happen.
      • Choose lunch over dinner. If you do want to dine out occasionally, go at lunchtime rather than dinnertime. Lunch prices are usually cheaper.
      • Buy used:  Whether it’s something small like a vintage dress or a video game or something big like a car or furniture, consider buying it used. You can often get “nearly new” for a fraction of the cost.
      • Stick to the list. Make a list before you go shopping and don’t buy anything that’s not on the list unless it’s a once in a lifetime, killer deal.
      • Tame the impulse. Use a self-enforced waiting period whenever you’re tempted to make an unplanned purchase. Wait for a week and see if you still want the item.
      • Don’t be afraid to ask. Ask to have fees waived, ask for a discount, ask for a lower interest rate on your credit card.
      • Repair rather than replace. You can find directions on how to fix almost anything on the internet. Do your homework, and then bring out your inner handyman.
      • Trade with your neighbors. Borrow tools or equipment that you use infrequently and swap things like babysitting with your neighbors.
      • Swap online. Use sites like PaperBack Swap to trade books, music, and movies with others online. Also, look for local community sites like Freecycle where people give away items they no longer need.
      • Cut back on the meat. Try eating a one or two meatless meals every week or cut back on the meat portions. Meat is usually the most expensive part of the meal.
      • Comparison shop: Get in the habit of checking prices before you buy. See if you can get a better price at another store or look online.

      Remember that saving money is not about being cheap or stingy; it’s about putting money into your bank account rather than giving it to someone else. There are many ways to save money, some you’ve never thought of, and some that won’t appeal or apply to you. Just pick a few of the ideas that sound doable and watch the savings add up. Save big, save small, but save wherever you can.

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      Featured photo credit: Damir Spanic via unsplash.com

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