Save Time without Paying for It

by Erin Huffstetler


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Living in a society where everyone rushes from one activity to the next, we have all come to expect to pay more for conveniences, whether it's paying a premium for a meal at a fast food restaurant or shelling out extra cash to have shipping expedited on an important package. Admittedly, these expensive services, and many others like them, help us all to find a little extra time in our day. But they aren't the only time-savers around, and they are certainly not the most affordable. If you are serious about finding more time in your day, then any one of the following time-saving ideas could be just the thing, and they won't cost you a lot of money. In fact, all of these time-saving solutions are absolutely free!

Make trips to the post office a thing of the past. Visit usps.com and sign up for the new Fast Stamps program to have stamps delivered directly to your door. Simply select the style of stamp you prefer, the quantity you wish to have delivered, and whether you would like monthly or bi-monthly shipments. Then your stamps will be delivered with your mail. The best part? There's no additional fee for this service. You'll pay the same rate that you would at the post office!

Keep film and deposit envelopes on hand. How often do you find yourself filling out deposit envelopes at the ATM machine? Probably every time. To cut down on the time that you spend running errands, get in the habit of keeping a stash of envelopes at home. Then the next time you have a deposit to make or film to drop off, you can have everything ready to go before you even leave the house.

Utilize self check-out lanes. More and more grocery stores are installing self check-out lanes to help customers get in and out of the store faster, and yet, too often, these wonderful time-savers go unused, at least partly because customers are uncertain of how they work. If this is your excuse, it's time to get brave and give it a try. The computer screen will guide you through the process, and if you have any questions, an attendant is always near by. Wouldn't it be great to breeze to the front of a self check-out line while everyone else is stuck waiting for the next available cashier?

Fit exercise into your daily routine. Instead of devoting a block of time to exercise, why not fit exercise in throughout the day? If you have to go out on errands, try to park further from the store than you normally would. Doing so will only add seconds to your time at the store, but it will do wonders for your health. Likewise, if you find yourself waiting in the car while your child finishes up soccer practice, get out and walk. A quick lap around the parking lot or field is all it takes to get your heart rate up.

Double your cooking efforts. The next time you're making dinner, go ahead and double the recipe. This will add mere minutes to your prep time, and then you'll have plenty to freeze for another meal, which translates into much less time in the kitchen.

Use cash-back to avoid trips to the bank. Most grocery stores and many retail stores now allow you to get cash back if you are using your debit card. Taking advantage of this service will cut down on your errand time, by saving you a trip to the bank or ATM; just remember to use it wisely. It's only a great deal if you aren't tempted to take out extra money!

Pay bills on the run. We all have times we are stuck waiting for a doctor's appointment, or someone who's late. While you can't really do anything to speed up the wait, you can at least make use of the time. Get in the habit of taking a stack of bills with you when you expect a wait. Then, you can use the time to pay a few bills. This is also a great time to sort through the mail, make a shopping list, or cut coupons.

Set up automatic bill pay. If you find that you are devoting entirely to much time to bill paying, setting up automatic payments may be a good option for you. This works particularly well for bills that have the same payment each month. Mortgage payments, cell phone charges, and auto insurance premiums are a few of the bills that might typically be paid in this manner. However, if you prefer to retain full control of your finances, online bill paying may be a better option for you. Once you register your accounts online, you can then simply go in and make your payments with a few clicks of the mouse. You no longer have to write checks, fill out payment slips, or go through the hassle of mailing your bills.

Put these time-saving ideas into action and you will be well on your way to carving out more time for your family!


Erin Huffstetler is a freelance writer and mother of two who resides in East Tennessee. She is the Guide of the Frugal Living section at About.com and the owner of the site My Frugal Home.

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