Curbside Pickups: More Expensive or Save You Money?

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Hi guys! Aside from the ‘2020-like’ events that have happened so far this year, I hope 2021 is treating you well. Not too much has changed for me. I’m still teleworking and doing curbside pickup for the most part for groceries and other household items. This week though, I physically went into a few stores (with my mask on) to get my groceries. I didn’t spend too much money but afterwards, I realized that I did something that I hadn’t done in a very long time.

I bought things that weren’t on the list.

Crazy, right?

For months, I’d been making a list for what we needed then placed my online order and picked everything up curbside. If something was out of stock, I made due with what we already had and tried again the next week or so when it was time to get more groceries. And I was spending considerably less money than I had in the past. Sure, 2020 caused me to watch my spending a little closer, and sometimes, out of stock items meant I spent less by happenstance rather than on purpose, but even that aside, I was spending less money on groceries than I probably ever had. And we still ate well, had everything we needed with some extra for frequently used items, and still got takeout from time to time. So, what made the difference?

I know I’m not the first to say this, but the fact is, it’s true. It’s kinda hard to stick to a list when you physically go in the store. There’s almost always something new to try, or you might as well get one or two more since you’re already here, right? But do you need to do that? Do you really? I’ll help ya here – no. Most of the time, the answer is no. But you know what makes it surprisingly easy to stick to a list? Yep. Staying out of the store and ordering online.

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I used to be all over the place with my food budget. Actually, I probably shouldn’t even call it a budget. I didn’t set aside a specific amount for it and just picked up what I wanted or needed whenever I wanted or needed it, and it fluctuated quite a bit. Nothing too crazy, but $75 one week and $150 the next week wasn’t an unusual thing. I wasn’t an out of control spender, just not a consistent one. If you’re anything like me, some level of consistency, especially with finances, is important to you. I wanted to create a budget, just didn’t know where to start.

*Enter the stay at home orders*

When the pandemic hit, I was still physically going into a store to get groceries at first, but I slowly started transitioning to curbside pickup until I was pretty much doing pickup exclusively. After a little while, I realized something. I had consistently started spending $80-$100 every single week, sometimes less, and we still had everything we needed and the snacks we wanted. I felt that I was keeping my family safer because I wasn’t going into the store every week (where not everyone cares to distance or wear a mask). I had fewer uneaten or expired packages in the pantry over time because I was adding things we actually eat and use to the list and was only buying those things. And the cherry on top, I had developed a consistent grocery budget.

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Now, I’m not saying that you can’t go to the store and do the same thing because you absolutely can. It is totally doable to go into a store and stick to a list. But, for me, I realized that primarily ordering online, and especially from stores offering free or very low cost grocery pickup fees, has made it easier to stick to the list and has ended up saving me not just money but time – another bonus.

What has your experience been with grocery or other curbside pickup? Have you tried it before? If not, pick your favorite store and give it a try. You may be surprised to see how much money you’ll start saving too!