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7 Ways to Shop Less and Have More Free Time - Dollar Stretcher Guest Blogger
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Dollar Stretcher Guest Blogger

7 Ways to Shop Less and Have More Free Time

by Nick Simpson

Your time is valuable, especially in today’s fast paced world. The time you spend with your spouse and children comes as a commodity, as everyone rushes from appointment to soccer game to work to school and back again. You want to save time wherever you can, so you can enjoy the good things in life. Reducing the time spent at the grocery store will let you do just that.

Yet, you still need groceries. Dinner time is one of those rare family get-together opportunities, and without a shopping trip, dinner at home can’t happen. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to reduce time spent shopping so you can focus on what really matters:

  1. Streamline your couponing. Chances are you don’t have the time or the desire to be the next star of the Extreme Couponing show. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take advantage of some savings, however. You can use a number of tools, such as online couponing sites like Saving Star or even a retailer’s own electronic coupon site in order to get some discounts on your groceries. You can also sign up for a rewards credit card, and use the retailer’s frequent shopper card for additional discounts. Cut out all of that time clipping coupons, and instead use that time for the things you truly enjoy.

  2. Eat intentionally. This one will not only help you shop less and have more free time, chances are it will increase your health and well-being, too. Try to plan your meals ahead of time. Know what you’re going to eat from day to day. You don’t have to set everything in stone; make a list of five different recipes you want to make in a given week, and be flexible about what you have each day. Make sure you identify foods you like to have as snacks, and that you have a sufficient supply.

  3. Plan your shopping trips. One of the best ways to waste time at the grocery store is to go in without a plan. If you want to make the most of your shopping trip, you need to go in with a specific list. That list should contain the ingredients you need for your meal plan for the week (or for the next two weeks, even), as well as those regular household items you use on a regular basis. Don’t be distracted by sale items or by anything else on the shelves. Don’t browse sections of the store that don’t have any items on your list. Get in, get what you need, and then get out.

  4. Shop online. More and more products are available online. While things like electronics and books have been available online for a long time, today you can even get items such as fabric softener through sites like Amazon as well as other online retailers.

  5. Consider a grocery shopping co-op. Find a trusted friend or someone in your neighborhood who wants to free up some of their time, too. Work together to create a regular shopping list, and then take turns actually making the shopping trip. When you get to the cash register, consider ringing the orders up separately, making it easier to separate out one another’s’ purchases. Sure, your shopping trips will take longer, but you’ll have many fewer trips to deal with.

  6. Try to avoid midweek grocery stops. Sometimes, you’re going to need an extra loaf of bread. Other times, you’ll have unexpected company and need to make a special grocery trip. These things are reasonable. What’s not reasonable is going to the store to get the asparagus you simply forgot to buy for tonight’s dinner.

  7. Organize your pantry. Know what you have on hand at any given time. This will not only reduce the overall time you spend shopping, it will also help you save money because you’re not buying duplicate items, or purchasing something when you really don’t need it. Having tabs on what you have on hand will greatly increase your overall efficiency.

You have hundreds of obligations in life – to family, to work, to friends, even to have the oil changed on your car. By taking a step back and approaching some of those obligations (like grocery shopping) in an organized and efficient way, you can free up time for the activities that really matter. Spending a few minutes on proper planning and organization can buy you extra hours to spend with your kids or your spouse, doing the things you love to do.

Nick Simpson is Social Media Coordinator at SavingStar, a leading provider of grocery coupons. SavingStar has pioneered the process of providing coupons online and has a rapidly growing customer base of happy shoppers that save money with their supermarket coupons technology.

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