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…

The F Bomb

In many homes, for at least one half of the marital couple it’s a dirty word: Finances.

For most people, the word triggers a fight-or-flight response. The problem is that for each individual, the response is almost always the same. At the mention of the word “finances,” some get excited and prepare for battle with numbers, while others prefer a more pacifistic approach.

Furthermore, when the twain mix, intramarital wars can often arise.

In my house, I’m the finances warrior. My wife Courtney and I are so polarized in this area that if I want to watch a ballgame alone, all I have to do is drop the F Bomb. She’ll vanish from before my very eyes, leaving behind just a cloud of dust, à la Wile E. Coyote. There is no way I can package the word without bringing on her instant anxiety.

Well, there’s nothing like throwing a baby into the mix to make the finances challenge even greater. It really makes you start thinking about the future.

College: Are we going to pay for it? That should be a palatable $300K bill by the time our daughter graduates. Wedding: That’s cheap, right? Maybe we can convince her that weddings are bad. Or maybe we can lock her in the attic for the rest of her life — that would save on college, too. Insurance: We all live forever so why is that air jordan 9 important? Will: In the event of a fiery wreck that kills Courtney and I, who is going to care for our child and where is all our stuff going?

So how do Courtney and I approach this? Plan A was scratch-off tickets, but that seemed a little risky. Plan B could land me in jail for a while. So we are on to Plan C: the crazy notion of looking at the numbers and starting to strategize our financial life.

I handle personal finances the same way I tackle business finances: I use tools and seek knowledge. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Taking the first step is a bite, and if you take bites frequently then you’re on the right track.

My tools? I use Quicken to track business and household finances. It’s a very easy program to learn and it allows us to see all our money plans in one picture. What gets measured, gets managed.

My knowledge? When I don’t already know something, air jordan 5 femmes or when I need a second opinion, I go to Edward Jones for advice. Not only are they professional and knowledgeable, but they have a great feature for a work-from-home father of a 4-year-old: They make house calls.

No matter who in the home feels comfortable with the F word, it’s important to confront the matter early and often. If you can’t tackle it as a team, at least make sure you acknowledge which of you is the quarterback and which is the water boy (or girl). Both roles are important to putting a winning team on the financial field.