I always wanted to join my mother when she ran errands as a kid. There were so many fun things to do! We used to go grocery shopping, drop off dry cleaning, run to the bank, return books to the library, go to the pharmacy, or pick up a paycheck (when paper checks were still a thing).
Now, as an adult, running errands have lost its luster. There is so much to do, so little time, and so little money. If you are constantly running errands, then you want to know how to maximize your money and time best when running errands.
With so many tasks and items on our never-ending to-do list, getting time back in your day by optimizing your errand runs is time you can use for something that you love to do! Get some time back in your day and money back in your wallet by using these errand running tips.
1. Buy in bulk
If done correctly, buying in bulk at the grocery store will save you time and money. Buying in bulk is often cheaper and will save you from going to the store often. Going into the store less will keep you from impulse spending and save you time and money from transportation costs.
Buy items you know you frequently need in large amounts. Make sure you have all staples readily available to prepare food in your home quickly and easily without ordering in or getting take-out. Even if you are not getting price savings by buying in bulk, grab an extra or two of items that aren’t perishable and of toiletries and household items to always have on hand and reduce your store visits.
If you find something on sale, with a coupon or on clearance, grab a few and keep them home. Fewer errands mean more time for the things you love.
2. People on the Move: Use your gps
Traveling all over town to run errands can be exhausting and irritating. Use a GPS to minimize time wasted and money spent. If you use public transportation, traversing across town and switching train or bus lines is expensive and tiring. Instead, use a GPS to plan your best route and maximize your transfers to save money.
You can use your GPS to map out the quickest or most efficient fuel-saving routes if you are driving. Often these are the same. Planning your route efficiently will save you money on gas (no small matter with gas pricing rising) and save you time as you plan your day efficiently.
3. Choose the store or location with the maximum savings and efficiency
Do you have limited time or limited mobility? Pare down your errands lists to the places you can get the most done in one shot.
Big box stores often have groceries, toiletries, and household items in the same store, and some have gas stations right outside. Some stores even have ATMS, nail salons, eye stores, and other services inside the store. Even if it’s not your preferred place to shop, going to one of these stores will save you time.
You can also research and find a shopping strip with the most locations you need and do your shopping there. Get as much done in one spot as possible, even if it costs you more. Choose the store with the lowest price on the items you buy the most and go there to make your big shopping trips.
4. Know the lay of the land
Having a plan is always wise. Plan your errands and shopping trips to make the most of your time and energy. Schedule your day so you are purchasing perishable items and heavy items last so you can go home straight after purchasing instead of having to head out again.
For example, don’t go to the library first and then to the bank. You will have to carry your heavy books around in your bag; instead, go to the bank first and then head to the library.
You can also plan your actual shopping trips. Many stores have apps that can tell you where in the store items are located. Make a list and plan the store you need to go to. This will save you from having to walk the length and breadth of the store numerous times (which is exhausting!). You can also choose to have some items available for in-store pick up, so you don’t need to look for them.
5. Use your time wisely
Running errands inevitably means some downtime. Whether you are driving from place to place or using public transportation, you have some “down-time.” Use this time to either take care of other tasks or enjoy yourself.
If you take public transport, you can send emails, make lists, make calls, send texts, and otherwise do administrative tasks. You can even order items online and save yourself time. If you are trying to be more frugal, take this time to upload receipts to cashback apps, sign up for store rewards or take surveys to make some extra cash.
If you are driving, you can’t use your phone to send emails, but you can make phone calls using Bluetooth or listen to an audiobook or a podcast. If you use your time driving to do something productive or do something you enjoy, the time spent running errands will be joyful.
6. Use services
Are you always in a rush or have limited time and energy? Order items for delivery or curbside pickup to reduce your errands time. Many stores have grocery drop-offs that you can use for staples and your essential shopping list, making sure you always have the items you need. You can use the curbside pickup option to optimize your time as well. Schedule a curbside and pick it up on your way home from work or school and lessen the time you are out.
Sometimes you can save money by ordering online, especially if you are getting cash back from sites like Rakuten or TopCashBack, but it may also be worth it to spend a little more if it means less time running errands. If you’re trying to save money, every dollar counts. When you have limited time, every minute counts.