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From prudent professional to smart shopper: the nurse’s advantage

iStockphoto | ThinkStock + Scrubs

iStockphoto | ThinkStock + Scrubs

During a long shift, perhaps you find yourself dreaming of your days off and hard-earned paycheck to come. But once you clock out, you find yourself with yet another list of to-dos, including that necessary evil of grocery shopping.

Does your grocery bill prompt you to tears? Do you feel that your checking account suffers miserably after a shopping trip? Do you lament the time that these trips eat away from your limited, precious days off?

You don’t have to fear that grocery trip anymore. It is possible to save money, leaving cash for saving or playing. In fact, nurses have the upper hand when it comes to saving money. Your schedule and specialized skills give you an advantage over others. In fact, many skills you use every day on the floor are vital for surviving and thriving in the store.

CLAIM THE SHIFT DIFF
Nurses have the benefit of a flexible schedule; working shifts makes a difference for maximizing your time. When you’re off a weekday or two, you can go to the store while others are still at work. If you’re a night shifter who is used to the graveyard hours, you could even do your shopping at 11 pm or later, since many stores are open 24 hours. A less-crowded store equals more efficient shopping.

PLAN
Nurses are planners by necessity. Though you expect the unexpected from the start, you probably begin your day with a plan in mind. As you go through the day, you are constantly checking off and prioritizing tasks.

Be a planner in your personal life as well. Write your list and stick to it. It will be easier to keep your bill from breaking your budget if you don’t add impulse items. However, just as unplanned events occur throughout your shift, you may notice a sale that is too good to pass up. If it is something you will truly use and that you can stockpile without worries of spoiling, then why not add a few of those items to your cart?

OBSERVE ACUTELY
The eye of the nurse is never shut. Even when you’re not consciously assessing, your eye is attuned to every detail. It might be the subtle color change or a slight swelling. Any deviation from baseline immediately demands your focus.

Be just as vigilant during shopping trips as at the bedside. Items featured in displays or sales ads are not necessarily sale items. Look further to see if cheaper items are around the corner. Most stores stock the more expensive items center and at eye level. Expand your view to see what is above and below, and you may discover cheaper prices.

TRY GENERIC
We help our patients save money by educating them when generic medications are available as the same product at a lower cost. Though not all generics are equal in the shopping arena, many store brand products do provide high quality for less cost than brand name. You spend time empowering your patients; why not empower yourself?

Each shopping trip, try sampling a generic item. Many stores offer a satisfaction guarantee and will return your money or give you store credit if you truly aren’t satisfied. On the other hand, you may find you like the less-costly generic just as well as or better than the name brand.

Don’t spend your days off watching your time and money fly by. Whether you’re a novice nurse or have years of experience, the skills you possess put you steps ahead of other shoppers. You’ve already got what you need to be efficient and effective from the floor to the store. Apply your nursing advantage.

If you do it right, you’ll have extra money and time to spend elsewhere on your days off!

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Sara Beth Furey, RN, BSN, CPN

Sara Beth Furey, RN, BSN, CPN is a nurse and professional writer. Her unique educational background consists of a BSN from Indiana University (IUPUI) and a BA in both English and biology from Butler University. Writing pursuits have sent her foraging for wild edibles, exploring auto repair shops to learn about “hubside manner” and investigating countless other topics. Past publications include magazine articles as well as educational materials.
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