About every couple of weeks or so we go shopping for groceries and other necessities at one of the so-called big box stores – in our case either Wal-Mart or Meijer. In the meantime, I keep a running list of what we will need to buy so that I don’t miss anything. In between the larger trips we have a local store about two miles from us if we need emergency rations such as milk.
The main problem with these larger shopping trips is that we tend to spend more money than we sometimes need. As we are moving through the store to the grocery area after getting a haircut or picking up a prescription at the pharmacy, we come across all kinds of items that we suddenly realize we really need – but actually we don’t.
I’ve never been one to enjoy shopping and now that I’m older it seems to be more of a chore than ever. The noise, bright lights, largeness of the store, sometimes the number of people in the grocery isles depending on when we go shopping, and how I am feeling that day all play a part in whether I enjoy myself or dread being at the store.
A secondary problem is that the older I get, the more tired out I am during and after these larger trips. I find that half way through getting everything that’s on my list, I find myself so exhausted I do one of two things:
- start skipping items that are on the list but I don’t think we really need right now, or just throwing things into the cart
- without really considering cost or if we even have a need, so that we can get this over with and I can go home.
Have you ever done that?
Even though we know these stores are set up specifically to draw impulse sales, we do it anyway. Most of the time I make sure I only follow my list, but the tendency to pick up extra items is strong. These sellers are good at what they do, and we often and willingly fall into their snare.
Here are several shopping tips that should help us seniors keep an eye on our grocery list, our wallet, and our health.
- Wear comfortable shoes and clothes. Not only should your shoes be comfortable, but plan on wearing comfortable, layered clothes. Sometimes the stores can be incredibly cold if the air conditioners are running. Other times they are very warm and that increases our tiredness. Also, not only will you be taking your groceries out to your car, but you will also have to carry them into your house or apartment. In our case, we have five steps to go down to our garden apartment and then back up if we need to make several trips carrying heavy bags.
- Watch for coupons and sales. My daughter is a master at collecting and using coupons. She saves a lot of money on items that she wants to get in the first place. She has a small accordion-style file where she keeps her coupons sorted out and has everything ready before we go to the store.
- Plan your route throughout the store. I hate when I have to backtrack through a large big-box store because I forgot an item that is at least half a mile away. I’m familiar enough with the stores I go to that I know certain items are in the pharmacy area that I would have thought were in grocery – actually they used to be before the larger stores were built. It took me a couple of times to realize the difference between stores and where they place their products.
- Take a break if needed. As we get older our stamina isn’t what it once was. There are times when I need to take a break if we are at the store longer than I expected. Most of the larger stores have a break area or even a restaurant. Wal-Mart stores often have a Subway shop right inside their store and we have sometimes spent a few minutes there if one person has finished shopping and the other (usually my daughter) hasn’t finished yet. It is also a good place to stop for a few minutes if you are not feeling up to par so that you can get a second wind and finish up. Seniors need to be especially sensitive as to how much walking they can do at one time.
- Treat yourself when you are finished shopping. One of the most fun times when we go on our extended shopping trips are the treats we have on the way home. Quite often we pick up lunch or dinner on the way home by hitting up our favorite drive-through. We consider it part of our shopping experience and actually budget for those stops. That way we don’t have to fix a meal once we get home, but we don’t stop long enough to endanger any food item that needs refrigerated. It’s a win-win for all of us.
Shopping can be a good experience for seniors if we plan it right. If we don’t, it can be a long, torturous drag that we won’t want to repeat. Unfortunately, in the next week or so we have to go through the process once again. By keeping a list, knowing where we need to go in the store, dressing comfortably for the season, taking needed breaks, and treating ourselves when we are finished, we will create a much more enjoyable experience.