How many hours a month do you spend doing mundane chores, like shopping for groceries? The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the average married parent spends somewhere between an hour and three hours each week shopping for groceries. While there were no published numbers for single folks, chances are they spend at least an hour a week doing the same. Sixty to one hundred and eighty minutes a week adds up. If you were able to cut the time you spent grocery shopping by even a third, you’d enjoy twenty minutes to an hour of extra (free!) time each week. Add that up over an entire year, and you’ve got yourself a free day or two. Does that sound too good to be true? Well, online grocery shopping is finally coming into its own. By simply purchasing non-perishables online, rather than in stores, you will not only minimize the time you spend, but you will most likely save money at the same time. What’s not to like about that?
Sarah on “Everyone Needs an Alice”
“In the sitcom The Brady Bunch, Mrs. Brady, mom to six children, could always count on her maid Alice to take care of the grocery shopping. As a working mom, I would give my left arm for my own Alice! I was an early tester of online grocery shopping, optimistic that it would, at the very least, make it easy to ‘time shift’ the grocery shopping but ideally save me time as well. Unfortunately, I never seemed to save enough time (you couldn’t save a regular ‘basket’ of goods, so there were no real shopping time efficiencies) to justify the shipping costs. Or, if I ordered from a local store online, dealing with the delivery hassles (i.e. please be sure you are home to meet the truck between the convenient hours of 8am and 3pm) pretty much nullified any time savings. But a new site, called Alice.com, has changed all that. It has thousands of those basic packaged goods for sale at prices that match those at super-stores like Target and Wal-Mart, an interface that actually reminds you of what you need to buy, and the shipping is always free. Best of all, the site has ‘taken all the coupons in the entire country and uploaded them,’ so the savings is built-in and no clipping is required. That’s a huge bonus for anyone who struggles to clip and organize coupons, or even just remember to bring them to the store.”
Alicia on “The Benefits of Technology”
“One of the major benefits of online shopping is that comparison shopping and budgeting are much, much easier. At the click of a button you can rearrange products to display from the lowest to the highest price items or quickly compare products on a price-per-unit basis. If you’re using a site like Alice.com, you can also see what products have coupons and the price with the coupon applied, something that you have to calculate by hand if you’re walking around a physical store. I also love that technology makes it possible for me to look at my budgeting, by category, by month, without doing anything. It is so simple and easy to track spending.”
Here are a few simple steps you can take to set yourself up to maximize the time and money you save using the online grocery store, Alice.com.
1. Invest Time in Setting Up Your Account.
The first time you use the site, take the time to go through and select all of the products you purchase on a regular basis and save them in the “My Products” section. That way, any time you decide to do your shopping, all you have to do is drag and drop the items you currently need into the shopping cart. As you select each new item, the site prompts you to estimate how often you will need to reorder it. Don’t stress too much about that number, as you can always change it later. There is also a neat “Advanced Planning” tab that lets you drag and drop your products into reorder windows, like two weeks, four weeks, and four months. Once you have that set up, the site will automatically remind you via email that you might be running low on a particular item, like detergent, and offer to ship you some before you run out.
2. Take Advantage of the Budgeting Tool.
A big reason most people don’t stick to budgets is because tracking spending is a pain. Who wants to spend time poring over receipts and re-creating what you just spent on a budget form? From your first purchase, this site keeps track of how much you spend in each area of the house. For example, you might see that you’re spending 60% of your dollars on personal care products. If you’re trying to reign in spending, that might be a good category to focus on finding better deals or buying less expensive products.
3. Establish a Habit.
Over time, the site will observe what you buy and will try to come up with a regular box delivery schedule if it gets enough data on your habits. Making the switch to online shopping can be a little bit strange, as you have to stop yourself from buying the “old” way (and last-minute runs are just not possible). So in the beginning, set up a regular time, whether that’s once a week or once every ten days, where you just log on and get your shopping done. Pretty soon it will become second nature.
About the Authors
Sarah Welch & Alicia Rockmore are the co-founders of Buttoned Up, Inc.(www.getbuttonedup.com) , a company dedicated to helping stretched and stressed women get themselves organized and co-authors of “Everything (almost) In Its Place.” We welcome your thoughts! Please visit us at www.getbuttonedup.com and follow up on twitter @getbuttonedup.