First things first. If you're a mega-couponer, bargain hunting fiend, or have your budget relatively under control, this post is not for you.
But if you're a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants, wait and see kind of budget person with little personal willpower, I'm here for you. Because that is how I am too.
And, while being carefree and easy going about most things is certainly admirable, when it comes to money, it turns out having some amount of control is a good thing.
So I'm here to let you in on a tip for saving money - go online.
Really. Go online.
But - here's the catch. Going online means you're not stepping foot in the physical stores.
It's really quite simple. Let me paint the picture. It's 9AM on Saturday morning. I need my Starbucks, some basic food items, lightbulbs, maybe a watering can. I make my Target list and head out. I stop by the front for my caffeine fix, and begin my stroll. With the toddler at home with dad, I'm on my own. It might as well be a spa day. We've all been there.
All of a sudden, I'm at the checkout lane with a full cart. It's like I blacked out. I don't even know how it happened. Two throw pillows, a swimsuit, a decorative vase, car leather wipes, and more - all made their way into my cart. My $50 trip turned into $150 without any real thought or purpose. Clearly this isn't ok.
And the grocery store isn't much better. For someone who rarely (OK .. never) cooks, all of a sudden when I'm in the grocery store, I'm inspired to be the next Ina Garten, buying all sorts of ingredients for a gourmet meal. I view the grocery list as more of a starting point than a finite set of items. Specialty cheeses, artisan pickles, healthy snacks - they all need to go home with me.
So my solution has to make sense. In order to save money, I cannot let myself within 50 feet of these stores. But clearly we've got to access these goods somehow, right?
Modern technology. It's an amazing thing.
With a subscription fee and the download of an app, I can make my list and have someone else shop, load up, and deliver my groceries and household items to my front door. I've been using Shipt but there's various options depending on where you live.
I know this sounds ridiculous, but hear me out - by paying a subscription fee, I'm actually saving myself at least 3X the fee amount (if not more) by avoiding the store.
Using the app, I'm forced to make a list - and stick to it. I'm forced to think ahead about what we'll eat that week. As we run out of shampoo, toothpaste, etc, I can just go ahead and add them to my cart for the next delivery (whenever that will be), which means my special talent of forgetting a key item and making a return trip (spending more money) is null and void.
We've been using Shipt for two months now and I've already gotten my subscription fee back in savings sheerly by steering clear of the store. If our order is over their minimum, there's no delivery fee (though I do tip). People have asked about the quality of what the shopper selects, especially with produce, but I've found they actually usually select better than I could (and you can leave a note on your list if you want a specific ripe-ness, etc). If they are out of something, they text you. You can also leave a note at the bottom of your order if there's something not available on their app (they have most things from the store on the app but not everything - so you can ask for a specific item if needed).
The downside I've found is that you can't use your rewards (Kroger) or Cartwheel (Target) with Shipt, so you lose out on some discounts and fuel points. From my basic level of research, I've learned that Shipt charges you about 10% more per item than the grocery store (this varies by item - I only really noticed it when our large goldfish container was $10).
So if you're like me and you can't keep your cart to a minimum, try out going online as a way to save money. Best part? You don't even have to leave the couch.