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As stay at home parents (or even wage earning “working” parents, really), there seems to be an endless loop of errands to make, day in and day out. Sometimes it could feel like all we do is hop in and out of the car, and drive to and from places.
Personally, I loathe driving way too much, and would do almost anything to not drive anywhere. But sometimes it is unavoidable. Or is it?
Many years ago, I had a wage paying job, meaning I worked outside of the home. But I also had a daughter with some health issues, which meant extra trips to specialists, labs, drug store, etc. Not counting the usual grocery shopping, picking up and dropping off stuff and such.
However, when I became a full time stay at home mom, I had a big goal in mind: to drop my driving around to a minimum. And to only go where I wanted to go. Pretty ambitious goal, huh? Well, yes, it is. It was ambitious. But also completely doable.
My biggest concern was and still is, the insane amount of time spent away from home. I am a home body. I love being at home way too much. But there’s another issue that should not be overlooked: gas prices and gas usage.
Unless you have an extremely cost effective, eco friendly, newer car, chances are you are wasting way too much gas running around in circles. And by circles, I mean literally. Oftentimes, we go about our errands in the most erratic, disorganized way.
If this speaks to you, then continue reading. And if it doesn’t, continue reading anyway ;). Chances are, if not you, somebody you know has been making the oil companies richer than they absolutely have to. By following these few very simple and doable tips you could make things go better. And your days move smoother. And your wallets happier.
Let’s dive in!
Plan plan plan
This is the simplest tip. You already know what trips are completely unavoidable, like driving the kids to and from school. Or going to the post office. Or maybe after school activities. What I mean is, use those already planned, unavoidable trips out and get other things done.
For example, if you know your kid has soccer practice at 3pm, then head out a bit earlier to stop at the post office. If the grocery store is on your way to dance lessons, then leave early and either stop on your way over or on your way back.
The best and easiest way to plan your day is by using some form of calendar or planner (I use the exact same one you see if you click on the link, and I love it!). It could be a physical planner like this one or a digital one on your phone, tablet or computer. It doesn’t really matter. What matters is that you write down where you’re going and when, including the every day trips.
By doing this, you can make sure you only go out when you need to, instead of hopping in your car every hour of the day.
Create a route
The route you take for your every day runs is probably the same. Use this to your advantage. If you’re already going west to drive your kid somewhere, then check your planner and see what other errands might be on your way to your final destination. Do not drive west to a Dr.’s office, to then drive east for a grocery shopping stop to then turn around and drive back west for a sports meet.
Do you shop at many different stores to save money? Well, that is definitely a very nice concept but it can turn out to be much more costly than you think. To avoid this, list all the stores you will be visiting on shopping day. Then, map out the locations so you go about those trips in order, either working your way there or starting at the furthest store and working your way back home.
You’ll be amazed at how much of your time and gas can be saved by simply touring town the right way.
Pick your battles. Or your trips
Unless a trip somewhere or a certain stop absolutely has to be done, move it to a different day. Do not make any extra trips or go out of your way unless it’s unavoidable. If you know for a fact that you don’t need to go anywhere near the north part of town, then why are you scheduling a trip there today?
I see this more often than not, when people make plans to meet up to purchase stuff off of Facebook selling groups. It always amazes me how someone is so willing to drive all the way across town for no other reason than to meet up and sell an item that will bring in maybe $5. Is it really worth it?
Not in my opinion. You must justify that trip in some way. Ask yourself, do I really need to do this today, or could I schedule for tomorrow when I do have to drive that way? How much am I actually profiting from this sale, if I’m wasting so much gas and time driving over? Chances are, not much. If at all.
Use your resources
I know some people are quite hesitant to bank online. And I can understand the dilemma. Some feel like they are risking their personal information by putting it all out there, on the web.
However, if you did a bit of research, you’d find that most if not all of your banking transactions are done on a secured server. Also, banks will most likely have some sort of insurance, in case something goes horribly wrong.
The point is, using the online banking feature your banking institution offers is an excellent way to save time and gas. I mean, who really wants to bill-hop around town if they can avoid it? No one, that’s who. Nowadays, I pay gas, water/electricity, internet, and garbage using my bank’s “Pay Bills” feature on their website.
You may also have the option to have the money taken from your account on a set date. This will only work if you are consistent and vigilant on making sure the money is there on the agreed upon date. We are currently doing this with our insurance, and with Netflix, and it has worked well so far. We just have to make sure the right amount is available. And to verify that everything is running as it is supposed to, I check my bank account on that day to make sure it was in fact taken AND that the right amount was taken as payment.
Finally, some companies sort of “punish” customers if they pay at their office. I have found this to be the case with our cellphone provider. I didn’t realize it when I first switched to them, but every time I went to pay our cellphone bill, a $3 “fee” got added to our total. When I noticed, I asked my husband and he said that they charged me for “going in to pay”. Can you believe it? Needless to say, I have since switched to paying on their website and have, not only avoided the fee, but also saved my time AND gas because I don’t have to drive anywhere to pay it!
Last but not least…
You are a parent, not a taxi.
Oh how much we love being at the mercy of the little tyrants! No? Exactly.
As parents, we do everything and anything for our kids. We encourage them to be busy, either with after school activities or by meeting up with friends. But how is it that we then turn into their personal taxi drivers?
We shouldn’t. When kids are younger, it is entirely up to us to enroll them in the activities they love. Or not. We certainly do not have to enroll them in everything and anything. We also should not feel like we have to drive them everywhere they want.
And when they get older, even less so. If your kid is already old enough to have his cellphone and use it responsibly, then chances are he or she might be more than capable to make his or her way to a bus stop if he or she want to meet up with friends at the mall.
Do we want busy kids to keep them away or stir them from bad choices? Yes! Do we want them to have a healthy social life, with nice friends and fun to be had? Absolutely. However, we should be comfortable saying no. We should never become their personal driver.
What I mean by that is, you should encourage your kids to participate in activities and have a social life. Just make sure they understand there are limits. Do you have to drive them wherever, whenever? No. Set limits. Learn to say no. Discuss their expectations vs the reality. Explain to them that some of the extra trips will cost them some money, as they’ll have to pitch in to pay for gas costs. Trust me, they’ll either find a ride with another parent, not go or at the very least, take some responsibility for their expenses.
How to Save Time and Money While Running Errands
- Create a route
- Pick your trips
- Use your resources
- Don’t become your kids’ taxi
You’ll be doing yourself, AND your whole family a big favor by setting up the right standards. The less time we spend in our cars driving our kids to countless activities, or running around town like a headless chicken, the more time you’ll have to yourself, your personal goals or even to dedicate to your home and family. Pick and choose what truly needs to be done and when. Get organized. And reclaim your time and your money!
***If you like the Create 365 Planner, you may want to check out the Mom Life is the Best Life sticker booklet, with over 1400 pieces. I use the stickers all the time to make my planner more fun and colorful. And the best part? You don’t have to be a mom to use them! It includes stickers for payday, pay bills, date night, meal plan, movie night and more.
I also absolutely love the Quotes sticker booklet and use it quite often as well, for a tad more inspiration. It has over 400 pieces and they are all fun, colorful and great for any day or occasion. I am sure you’ll love them both!
(If you also looooovvveee the wand/pen pictured above, you can find it here . I like to think that when I am writing/working/blogging, I am creating some sort of magic, so the wand/pen combo is perfect! Plus, the cute bookmark (not pictured) that came with it is a cool addition to my ever growing bookmark collection.)
What do you do to make your days run smoother? How do you save time and gas while doing errands? Please, share with us in the comments section below!