Shopping Sucks

We all need food and supplies to survive. At its essence, though, shopping sucks up time and money, the two biggest elements of my life that I am trying to protect. Not to mention that shopping ranks right down there with going to the dentist on my list of fun things to do.

Nevertheless, I can’t ignore the fact that food and household goods represent 20-25 percent of our monthly spending. Controlling that outlay is a must. We need to save as much money as possible to save for future events like college, a wedding and retirement.

Also, a highly overlooked cost of shopping is time. My wife Courtney has traditionally done the bulk of our shopping, but the only times she can go (Saturdays and after work on weekdays) are the worst to be at a grocery store. I’m the one with the theoretically more flexible schedule, so I’m the one who should be able to go to shopping at market down-times (i.e., weekday mornings).

But from a business perspective I have to be careful. I can’t rework my schedule without impacting my work. If I shop during my core income-generating hours, free run 4.0 v3 then I lose not only the money that I spend but also the money I could have made if I had continued working.

These are the issues that have led us to learn to shop smarter and more efficiently.

For one, we limit the number of trips we make to the store by keeping better track of what we need in the house. The key is that we record items to buy (and then re-stock them) before we run out. This limits the need for spontaneous trips to pick up one or two things we need right now. Just this one simple adjustment reduced our trips to the store by 50 percent.

Another time-suck for me is that I used to wander around the store like a lost dog, returning to aisles over and over to sniff out what I needed. So I made a spreadsheet of our most purchased items, organized by department. Now all I have to do is check off the list as I walk the circuit once. Having an idea where things are keeps my shopping trips fast.

We also bulk-purchase things that we know we will need over the long haul. The spare freezer we purchased eight years ago has paid for itself several times with the dollars and hours saved by storing large amounts of mass-purchased perishables.

One tip we can’t take advantage of anymore (because we reside in too rural an area) is ordering groceries online. When we lived in a more populated region, we used Peapod. For a $5 delivery fee, I could order everything we needed through their website in just a few minutes, as opposed to spending an hour or two making a brick-and-mortar trip.

All these strategies save us time new jordan in ancillary ways, as well. Fewer trips out equals less time packing up our daughter for a car ride, and less time dealing with tantrums because she didn’t get something she wanted at the store. It also equals less money spent on gas, and less wear and tear to the car, extending the life of our vehicles and the periods between repairs.

Now if only I can figure a way to reduce trips to the dentist…

Bigger and Better Places

Well, we’re moving. We’re staying in New York City, but moving clear across the avenue, away from 33rd Street and over to 32nd.

Yep, we’re relocating to one block away.

Of course, traversing a block in NYC can put a few thousand people between your old place and your new. Moving a few blocks away can put you in a different world.

From the outside, city dwellers can appear a bit odd in their moving habits. We move a quarter mile in one direction, or a half mile in another, and talk about how different our new life is. We’re not exaggerating.

In NYC, everyone’s interpretation of their neighborhood is the only-somewhat imaginary boundary that contains their needs: pizza parlor, Mexican restaurant, sushi bar, good coffee, grocery, decent produce market, dry cleaner, hardware store, laundromat, hair salon, etc. Aside from work, there isn’t much need to travel outside that small circle (or rectangle — or it could be a trapezoid if you live near Broadway). So migrating a few blocks puts you into a thoroughly new mix of services, and thus people.

However, none of that is our impetus for moving, or we’d be going four blocks farther. Our pertinent issue is space. For three years my wife and I have shared 350 square feet. To those accustomed to roshe run flywire the country or the ’burbs (as I was until 2010), that sounds intolerably claustrophobic. But there’s a saying here — in NYC, your apartment is your bedroom, the city your living room. The sentiment behind that is accurate; you spend so much time outside your abode that a small living space doesn’t feel so confining.

Still, we are welcoming the opportunity to upgrade from 350 to 550. Now we’ll have room for a toilet.

Really, we won’t be adding much stuff. To our additional 200 square feet we’ll be bringing only 16 square feet of new furniture. One of those items is a dresser, the other a crib. Both will serve to more comfortably accommodate the one person who was not in our equation when we cohabited our current place: 6-month-old Maggie.

So what are our plans for the other 184 new square feet? For one, my wife and I will be able to do household things without bumping into each other. I mean that literally. We cannot cook meals and wash dishes simultaneously, due simply to the laws of physics. As for Maggie, she will be able to roll longer distances, and she can learn to walk in more than 3-step increments.

Additionally, we will have an actual kitchen, rather than a living-room-infringing kitchenette. I will not need to cook, eat, work and relax in the same room. I will not need to move my desk chair to open the refrigerator, nor move the microwave to open my cabinet.

My wife will be able to fall asleep in a bedroom that is down the hall from the living room (as opposed to being essentially attached to it) while insulated from the noise of me clacking on the computer when working late, or from the sound of the TV while I watch the end of an extra-innings ballgame. Moreover, the larger bedroom can house a real crib, zx 630 allowing Maggie to graduate from sleeping in a Pack’N’Play.

Part of this, I know, is absurd. Before I lived with Molly I was the sole inhabitant of 1,200 square feet in Connecticut. Now I’m excited about sharing less than half of that with a child and another adult.

It’s all about perspective. And I should have more of that when I can’t view my entire living space from one chair. I should have 184 more square feet of perspective — or, rather, 61.3 when we divide it.