Shopping and Other Tips

I thought would write some tips to work around the shopping hours (well what has worked for me). Obviously if you like doing your grocery shop with your partner, I can't help you there but for me and my family it something that has to be done so that we can spend our time doing other things like seeing what this country has to offer outside of a Tescos. For me, shopping is not a hobby for me. It is a means to an end.

I am a lover of organization and many things can help you be organized and help you save money. My husband and I both work full-time and have many volunteer commitment so whilst we do not have children, we are full occupied. I run a brownies and rainbow unit on different nights and other nights are spent preparing for what is ahead. I think one evening I spent hours cutting out snowmen for rainbows so those that think leaders of the clubs just show up, think again! Remember that lovely Sunday afternoon I spent inside because I was sewing my rainbow ribbon for the promise party?  My point is we are all busy in different ways.

One area where I think I am lucky is that my husband and I work as a team when it comes to the running of the house. This makes both of our lives easier. We have our certain tasks that each of us do but it contributes to our house being clean and well maintained. He vacuums everyday when he get s home from work because Dusty sheds so much. I clean the whole house on the weekends. I meal plan and we share the cooking responsibility (he does a lot of it because he doesn't like the mess I make! ;) ). We run the washer machine when and as needed rather than having a set day and one of us will hang it out to dry as we do not have a dryer. But that works for us.

Here in the UK, most of the SAHMs will do the errands during the week so that they can enjoy their time with their husbands in the evenings and weekends- that is a cultural thing. However, my mom was not a big shopper and although she worked full-time, she never made our time with her be compromised with shopping. She did it because it was something that had to be done not something to do.

So here are my tips and why I do them. I mix American and British shopping habits to maximize my time. Americans like to buy in bulk but with the lack of storage, that is hard to do. Recent studies have shown that the British have been doing smaller, more frequent shops. So I do both!

  1. Do your bulk grocery shopping online. I do one every month or every other month as required. I started doing this a few years ago. Jon like Ruddles beer and it goes on sale every once in a while and when I go to the store, I can only get a few at a time. If I order online, I am able to order as much as I would like and because it keeps for a while, I buy in large quantities. During this time, I will also buy my canned tomatoes, pasta, frozen veggies, toilet paper, laundry detergent, anything that I use often and doesn't go off quickly. Also doing this means that you reduce your impulse buying. This is delivered when one of us is at home saving me from the parking, wandering the aisle and not finding just what I am looking for and buying what I don't need. Use, this goes a step further and tells you which store will give you the best price based on what you are buying.
  2. Plan your meals. I have Google calendar that has meals planned out over the year. You don't have to go to the lengths I do, but you can plot out what you are going to have for the next week or two and shop around that. This can ensure that you have less waste and less likely to order takeaway or pizza when you can't be bothered to cook!
  3. Do little shops for what you 'need'. I have two Co-ops and a Tescos Express on my way home from work. I cycle to and from work so bulk shopping it nearly impossible and definitely dangerous. So on my way home I will stop by and get the carrots, eggs or milk that we need and nothing else. I shop here once or twice a week.
  4. Tie in your errands. I go to church on Sundays and my butchers is open on a Sunday so I swing by there on the way back from church and buy what I need for the next week or two and freeze what I don't need. I only drive once or twice a week. The night I do Brownies being one of them. If I am pushed I can swing by Tescos in Milton on this night but I find shopping in the store so time consuming.
  5. Don't buy what you don't need. I think I have said that I am not a big shopper. I came out of the USAF without any debt and with the lack of storage here, I felt that I didn't need a lot of clothes or other items. Six years later, we are still debt free, the only loan we have is our house and that feeling is great! I have to say that I have plenty of credit card debt while I was in the USAF and it took me many years to get out of that habit. Now I only buy 'things' if and when I need them. So Saturday when I was meeting my friend for a coffee in Cambridge, I made a list of the things I needed to get while I was in town. If you have ever been shopping on a Saturday in Cambridge during the tourist season, you understand why I like to avoid it if I can!
  6. Do a cabinet challenge. Every so often, I plan my meals around what is in my cupboards so that we are saving money because we have already spent it on the item in my cupboard and so its is not wasted.
  7. Buy health and beauty products in bulk. I buy all my health and beauty products (shower gel, pain killers, shampoo etc) from Boots. They have the best rewards card and often have events that if you buy a certain amount you get extra points. I take full advantage of these events. The points I save up for gifts for my family at Christmas.

My intention of yesterday's post was to tell you what it is like here and why I like it. It is a blog and therefore my opinion. My life has changed since living here especially since I work and live on the economy. You are only here for a short amount of time so you can adjust to the way it is done here and go back to 24/7 shopping on your return to the U.S. My family here are British and they and the other families I know spend their Sundays together at our club or walking or as a day out. Shopping less allows me to go to all the amazing places that I have been and this way I don't have to choose between my stuff and experiences. Experiences win every time with me.

All the Best!

American to Britain