Monday, March 17, 2014

Running Errands on the Cheap

I live in a small town 25 minutes outside of a main city.  All my main shopping is done there because as crazy as it sounds, I don't want to pay three times as much for the same groceries.  We do most of our stuff in the local city like go to church, swimming lessons, etc.  Maybe if you are like me you have some experience with a trip into the city ending up costing way more than you hoped because of those little people in your car complaining they were hungry or you ended up driving from one end of the city to the next 5 times because you weren't organized.  Here are some tips I have learned to minimize my expenses when going out.

1.  Avoid meal times.  This isn't always possible, but when you can avoid it, run your errands when it isn't meal time.  That way you avoid you and your kids getting HANGRY!  You know, hangry...when you are hungry, and then you get angry?  We are a family of hangry people, I swear it is in our genes.  Sometimes when the husband or I are being short with eachother the other one looks at the other and replies, "honey, do you need a sandwich?"  Speaking of which, a sandwich sounds really good right now...

2. Pack food.  If there is a chance you are going to be out for awhile, or around meal time, pack a lunch or snacks.  Truth is, if you have kids with you the chances of someone getting hungry if you are out of the house more than 20 minutes is pretty high.  Might as well pack some food for most trips just in case.  My kids have water bottles as well that they take with them quite often.

3.  Have a back-up plan.  Sometimes no matter how hard you try to be organized, life happens and you find yourself in town without food and hangry people. Have a back up plan for where you will buy food if this happens to avoid spending more than you want.  For us, we either go to the grocery store for snacks or get a 5 dollar pizza at one of the local pizza places.  Even if we buy 2 pizzas because we are REALLY hangry, it is still cheaper than buying dinner for our whole family through the Mcdonald's or Wendy's drive-thru.  (and don't judge on the drive-thru...if you have three kids in car/booster seats and you are on your own you know how difficult it can be to take your kids in and out of the minivan over and over again on an errand trip.)

4.  Plan your route strategically.  Write out what you need before you go and what stores you need to go to.  Then plan your route according to location.  This will help avoid you spending more gas than you had hoped because you are driving all over the city.

5.  Go by yourself.  I LOVE grocery shopping by myself.   If you can have someone else watch your kids while you run errands this can make the trip faster and less chance of spending more money in so many ways.

What do you do to avoid spending money when you are out?

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