Making the most of each stop
by Rich Finzer
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If there are two things we Americans never seem to have enough of, it's time and money. Our lives have become increasingly complex, while at the same time we're encouraged to multi-task and become more productive. Now if some smart guy would just invent the 28-hour day, this would make life easier, but until that breakthrough happens, start leveraging time you do have while performing the necessary task of shopping for groceries.
Leverage the Service Counter: In many grocery stores near my home, the service counter offers a variety of customer supports. At my regular grocery retailer, I can pay my utility, phone, and satellite TV bills at the service counter. The store handles the transactions, and I save a couple bucks on postage. Better still, I avoid a trip to the post office to mail the bills, saving more time plus gasoline. If I used public transportation, I could also purchase a monthly transit pass at the same place. Sound convenient? It should, and there's more.
In-Store Banking: My grocery also houses a branch of my local bank. I can make deposits, withdrawals, or use the ATM and avoid another side trip. But the best part is the bank is open every day including Sunday! If that's not convenient, I don't know what is.
Bottle Return: Here in New York, there is a five-cent deposit on most beverage containers. There are stand alone deposit redemption centers set up around the area, but as long as I'm going to the store anyway, I avoid yet another extra stop and redeem my containers at the grocery. The store issues a credit slip, which I use at the checkout.
Booze: While it's not a reality yet, very soon grocers in New York will be permitted to sell wine and liquor. I don't consume much hard liquor, but the utility of buying a bottle of wine when I buy the fixings for the meal I'll serve it with strikes me as the epitome of convenience.
With the possible exception of walking and chewing gum at the same time, multi-tasking is a true misnomer. Basically, we perform all tasks one at a time. But, if I can pay bills, visit my local bank, redeem my bottle deposits and purchase some wine under one roof, I can perform a multitude of tasks while avoiding extra driving and extra expenses. Now as far as the 28-hour day, I'm working on it, but the math is killing me.
Debt is preventing me from taking a vacation this year or the vacation I'd like to take this year! Tell us: Yes, debt is affecting my vacation plans! or No, we're going exactly where we want to go but we'd love to learn make our trip as inexpensive as possible!
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