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Old 08-14-2005, 06:28 AM
Jora's Avatar
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Trip to the 'big city' -- long, w/ a request for ideas

We live in a very small town; and about once a month, we travel to a much larger town about an hour away.

When we do, we pack in a lot of errands. For example, yesterday was:

*Home Depot [aka Hardware Store #1] (from the time we hit town till noon)
Electronics Store. (DH ran in alone)
lunch (at a sit-down restaurant. came to $42. ouch.)
Hardware Store #2 (DH ran in alone)
Hardware Store #3 (DH ran in alone)
Bookstore (DH ran in with one child)
*Sam's Club
Electronics Store #2.(DH ran in alone)
Big Lots (DH ran in alone)
JoAnn's Fabrics (I ran in alone)
Electronics Store #3 (DH ran in alone)
Hobby Lobby (I went in w/ the kids while DH was in Electronics Store #3).

We left the house at 9:30 a.m. and got home about 8:30 at night.

Now, we did a bit of splitting up. And some errands only took a few minutes, like DH running in to Electronics Store #2. But some errands (like Home Depot and Sam's Club) took a couple of hours apiece. Very few of the errands were fluff.

(My trip to JoAnn's Fabrics was the only truly fluffy part. DH and the kids stayed in the car and listened to a book on tape. And I was quick. I wanted to get to a specialty needlecraft store, but, again, it wasn't a priority, so I didn't make it.)

But it was still a long, tiring day.

Here are my dilemmas:

* 1. Cost.
It costs us about $15/day to eat at home. (Well, food and HBA and household cleaners and laundry soap). When we go to town, we usually spend around $50 on eating out. (lunch out, then a snack later at Sam's Club). So, we spend an extra $35 in eating out.

We spend about $10 in gas for the round trip.

So, a trip to town costs us roughly $50.

DH counter argues that we hardly ever eat out. And that, like most people, we enjoy eating out once or twice a month. And eating out is relaxing when we're in the middle of a very busy day.

* 2. Exhaustion.
Between the 2 adults, we went into FIFTEEN businesses. We had to prepare lists ahead of time and unload after-the-fact. I try to get a book-on-tape that we'll all enjoy from the library.

Quite intelligently, this time, we started with the BORING hardware store. DH needed my opinion on a number of items, so we had to drag the kids with us. (Sometimes DH drops me and the kids somewhere like Big Lots, where we can browse while he gets hardware).

* 3. Time
If we hadn't spent all day in town, we could have been doing something productive, like vacation planning, or house repairs, or even just playing Monopoly with the kids!

So, please, give me ideas to reduce the tremendous amount of overhead on these trips to town!

I am strongly considering that next time, DH can go alone without any of the rest of us. I can give him my Sam's Club list and a cell phone.

I'm also thinking that paying internet shipping charges could be worth it, instead of popping $50 for the extra cost of eating out and gas when we make a trip to town. We could have bought some of the hardware on the internet -- at roughly the same price. And I'm sure I can find nice yarn shops online.

Other ideas? Please.

Last edited by Jora; 08-14-2005 at 06:31 AM.
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Old 08-20-2005, 09:39 AM
RobertaD's Avatar
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I think you did very well with your time hitting all those businesses in one trip and a great idea to get the books on tape to entertain everyone on the trip.

The only thing I could think of would be to pack lunch and have a picnic. Or you could bring snacks & drinks from home instead of buying at Sam's Club in the afternoon as you probably bring a cooler for the food you buy at Sam's Club.

A lot of people budget for "dining out" in entertainment instead taking out of the grocery money. It is more frugal to eat out at lunch then dinner in most restuarants and some places the meals are big enough that you can share with the kids or spouse.

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Old 08-20-2005, 09:46 AM
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This is a tough one!

Can you pack and bring a picnic lunch and take your break at a nice park? That would give the kids a chance to play and run around, a nice break from being dragged from store to store. If that is doable, I bet the kids would enjoy being part of the planning and food prep for their picnic!

I live in a small town, too, although shopping isn't far away. However, I am wheelchair-enabled and much of the time, I make lists with coupons and give them to DH, and he does the shopping. Sometimes this works fine and sometimes it doesn't, but he IS learning and improving! Whether your DH is trained for that, you would know :-)

As for buying online, I have found that many things are totally worth it. For one thing, there are many items that you'd pay sales tax on in the store, but not online. Many websites give free shipping with orders over a certain amount. I drink a lot of herbal tea and also we go through a lot of nuts and nut flour. If I order 20# of nuts/nut flours at, the shipping is free. In fact, if I order 25#, the price drops! I used to get my Celestial Seasonings tea, vitamins, stevia, protein powder, and various other items at, where they give free shipping on orders over $50, but after 5 years of shopping with them, we had a dispute over a $7 item and I refuse to do business with them anymore and no longer recommend them. I found another source for tea online and they have free shipping if you order $75. I generally get books at; you do have to pay for shipping, but their books are cheaper than I can get in stores, even used bookstores, so I come out ahead. eBay can be like that, too, where the savings make up for the cost of shipping. My point on this is that some products and some sites are worth it. You'll have to explore it!

Also, does your city have a cheaper place to eat? I was thinking of Cici's Pizza, which would get you out of there for half that cost and feed everyone so well, you won't have demands for snack later!

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Old 08-20-2005, 10:09 AM
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We are in the same boat as you, and one day a month is our big shopping day in the city. We usually get up at 5am and hit the road and sometimes aren't home till dark. There really isn't much of a way to "shorten" your day because you want to do as much that day as you can fit in. Just keep it all to one day and that is about as best as you can do.

We usually take homemade muffins, and breakfast bars in the car to eat breakfast on the go. I have even made sausage and biscuits and taken them with us before. Eveybody takes their travel mug "we bought large ones " and has their choice of drink for breakfast. Once in awhile we will stop at Cracker Barrell for breakfast, but that does make the trip cost more. On the times we stop at Cracker barrell though we get big breakfast and that is our "brunch". If we plan on the stop for breakfast we take dried fruit and nut mix to snack on later in the day.

You could also just take peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or something else that doesn't require refriegeration and do lunch instead of breakfast. I did buy a refrigerator that plugs into my cigarette lighter in the car though which helps with the drinks and on the go meals.
We also in the hot weather always take a cooler with water, and other drinks suited to each individual; much cheaper than buying drinks anywhere! In the cold weather we usually take a pump container or thermos with hot drinks.

If we have eaten our on the road breakfast and didn't do any lunch we sometimes will stop for a buffet supper. Just remember though the breakfast or lunch is much cheaper than eating supper anywhere.

We have recently combined some orders to one place that will ship free if your total is above a certain amount. That way we drop a place or two to stop at and don't have the gas bill too. The days of shopping at several of the same type of store to get the best price is over with the gasoline prices now. So even though you may pay a little more for some items if you can cut out having to drive there at all it may save you money in the long run.

We schedule our city trips on a doctor visit day if we have one, if not we schedule around whatever else makes sense in your life at the time.

We also keep a clip board in a place where everyone in the family can use it. Anything you need goes on that list so a couple days before the trip the stops can all be planned. You can see where you can combine a stop with others and maybe cut out some stops. We also can make a scheduled circle trip so as we get into town we know where we are going and you can schedule other stops on the way out of town; (this all depends on store hrs).

Then if we need to stop on the way back home at some of the stores the city doesn't have we make those stops then too.

Invest in a chest freezer if you have not already done so, you can buy at sale prices only and have the room to stock up and don't need to make
"extra" trips. We recently bought a second refrigerator; this one is in the garage. I can keep extra milk, juices and anything that needs refrigeration but don't have room in the kitchen refrigerator. That has already made a very big difference in even having to not go the 10 miles one way to the local store just for milk. I also have two bread machines so running out for bread doesn't have to be done either.

I buy in bulk at Sam's, but watch your prices, sometimes buying regualr sizes in bulk in your regular grocery is cheaper than buying Sam's bulk items.

Good luck and think your one day shopping is about as good as it gets!

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Old 08-21-2005, 03:59 AM
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Packing your own lunch and eating at a park or some other place with outside benches has already been mentioned. You could also pack your own snacks like dried fruit, nuts, Cheerios, cheese and crackers, etc. Are you using coupons for the lunches out? Depending on the distances, you could maybe either pack your own drinks or sandwiches and then buy the other to take to the park or outside benched area. That way your husband would still get part of the treat of "eating out" but you would save some money.

I don't understand why your husband has to go to two different hardware stores and three electronic stores the same day. Is he comparing prices or looking for something specific? Could he maybe use the internet or the phone first to check prices or see if the store has the items he needs? That might save you some time.
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Old 08-21-2005, 01:42 PM
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Trip to big city

I use a web site to compare prices on things. They tell me the best prices at several different stores. Here it is:

You pick out your state. I use it almost every week to see what DVD's are on sale and where. Hope this helps to plan out your outings and cut down on stops.

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Old 08-21-2005, 04:29 PM
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We were looking for items that we expected to find at ANY hardware/electronics store -- much to our surprise, they weren't even available at 2 of the hardware stores, and only by special order at the 3rd. (We used the cell to phone a 4th and 5th hardware store once we realized how hard this particular deadbolt was. DH eventually bought one in another town.) Same deal w/ electronics -- he was looking for some sort of readable/writable cd's. We expected it at any electonics store. DH came out of one saying, "They have a 4'x8' section of record-only cd's; record-only dvd's; dvd +- read write, but THEY DON'T HAVE READABLE/WRITABLE CD'S!" Eventually, we found them, but it wasn't as straightforward as we had expected.
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Old 08-22-2005, 08:42 AM
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Pinkie Winky Saving Money on Trip to town

My suggestion is to either pack for your day to town, or to time it where you can sit and eat in Sam's Club (4 of us can eat for $10.00 and it is good- free refills) or eat fast food, we eat at McDonalds (Double Cheeseburgers) off of the dollar menu for me and my hubby, the kids get happy meals and play in the playyard (around $12.00 this way) , stop at a gas station for drinks (cheaper and more drinks) bag of chips instead of Fry's. I also keep an old lunchbox with various snacks, and juice pouches under my youngest childs seat so we can make sure that they are full and not have to overspend. I make a precise shopping list and shop at discount stores first.

Good Luck!
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Old 08-22-2005, 09:10 PM
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Oh boy does this bring back memories. We used to do the very exact same thing when our children were growing up. I agree with these ladies. You can fry some chicken as it tastes good cold, as well as potato salad, and some brownies. Also pack some soft drinks. The children will think this is fun and will be memory making as well. Go to the park and let them play there. Also, you could do a search on the Internet for that town's chamber and find out what free places that you could go. There may be bands playing and so forth that you could watch while eating your homemade dinner. You can put your grocery items in the icechest that you bring your dinner in.

Also, I LOVE getting stuff on the Internet. I agree, you usually don't have to pay sales tax and on large orders you may not have to pay shipping. Another plus is that you can shop around on what each place has and how much the items cost. Plus, even if you do have to make the trip, you've already done the shopping around. This will free up some time for ya'll to go only to the stores that have what you want.

Good luck!
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Old 11-10-2013, 10:44 AM
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I am really getting to be a mainline internet shopper. Our WalMart (40 miles from us) is so understocked and overpriced, that on the prices are less or at least comparable. Plus free shipping after $35 and they are fast!! Between that and Amazon I can get nearly everything we need except dog food as far as non-perishables go. DH really appreciates it since he is "the shopper" in our family since I work so much. Bless his heart!!
Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory. ~ Dr. Seuss
~~ Kell ~~
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