Batch It, Baby!

by Katy on November 17, 2008 · 8 comments



I live in an ideal urban neighborhood.

There’s barely anything out of walking distance. Supermarkets, movie theater, restaurants, cafes, pet supply, gym, library, bakery.

I’ve got it all. (Well . . . except a Goodwill.)

I could draw a one mile circle around my house and never conceivably venture out of it.


But sometimes there are places I need to go to, and that does involve getting in the car and schlepping across town. And I hate to drive distances for one lousy errand.

So I batch it!

I wait until I have a number of errands to run before I fire up the ol’ mini-van.

Northeast Portland?

  • Consignment shop, (to drop off kid’s clothes and collect a check!)
  • Irvington Goodwill thrift shop.
  • Visit with my father, and pick up firewood.
  • See my friend Sasha.
  • Go to Trader Joe’s.

Southeast Portland?

  • Grocery store.
  • Library.
  • Half-price bagel joint.
  • Main Goodwill thrift shop.

Northwest Portland?

  • William Temple House thrift shop.
  • Hipster Goodwill.
  • Hair cuts.

You get the drift.

I don’t go to every place, every time, but I rarely run that single errand. And because I won’t run an errand until it’s part of a batch, it really cuts down on gasoline usage.There are many days when I don’t move the car at all. 

Which leaves me more time to do the things I love.

Like write this blog. 

Do you practice batching your errands? Tell us about it in the comments section below.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

CanadianKate November 17, 2008 at 7:06 am

Within a one mile circle of my house is the church, General Store and the car repair place. There’s also a home-based hair dresser, accountant and bike repair place.. If the circle is expanded to 3.5 miles (biking distance in good weather) I get my second church (I belong to a 2-point charge and have responsibilities at both) library, doctor, pizza place, pub, video rental store. At the 5 mile point (long bike ride) I get dentist, banks, hardware and everything store. I’m looking into getting an electric bike. It is a highway run to the other villages but the roads are quiet enough that biking is reasonably safe.

In general, though, I batch everything and get really grumpy if I drive into either the other villages or the suburbs for a single reason. I encourage ride-sharing for those of us attending meetings at the second church.

For runs into the city, we make sure all trips are multi-purpose. My dh and I have coordinated hospital appointments in March as an example and I’ll hit goodwill and the grocery store on the way home from that (and the bank too if there are any cheques needing deposit.)

I had switched 90% of the grocery shopping to the local villages accepting higher prices and slightly lower quality in order to save gas and time but now I’m doing Weight Watchers so I drive into the nearest suburb once a week. I hit every grocery store for their loss-leaders while in there and can go to the consignment store if I feel the need to look for something to buy (that doesn’t happen often.) Shopping there definitely saves me money as there is a bulk-food store, a good produce store, and a good discount grocery store for staples.

Getting out to stores or other errands aren’t a priority for me so I leave our village, on average, only twice a week. I don’t go stir crazy because I walk to the general store daily for our mail. So I’m not house-bound, just village bound and the village is so full of fellowship, this doesn’t feel stifling.


Erik Assadourian November 17, 2008 at 10:05 am

Hi, I just read this blog and I agree: bundle errands (assuming they’re necessary). But I did notice it sounds like it’s your car you’re using. Have you considered (if you’re using your car as infrequently as it sounds) to just get rid of it altogether and use a carsharing organization (Zipcar for example) the few times you need a car? DC is perhaps more pedestrian friendly than Portland and I don’t need a car at all to do errands (as long as I go grocery shopping regularly so I can carry everything). I also use the farther away places (like the main library) as a way to combine exercising with doing errands (walking the 3 mile round trip rather than taking the metro). As a fellow non-consumer of clothing, not having a Goodwill nearby is a difficulty–but I just don’t buy “new” (used but new for me) clothes as often and when I’m visiting family over holidays in sprawling suburbia (where driving is essential), I use one of those car trips to visit a Goodwill.

Keep up the Simple Living!


thenonconsumeradvocate November 17, 2008 at 10:23 am

In response to Erik’s comment:

I would like to car free, but it’s just not practical at this point in my life.

I have 10 and 13-year-old sons who play soccer, often way across town. I also work 10 miles from home, and to use public transportation would add an unacceptable amount of time to the commute.

My compromise is to try and minimize driving as much as possible. My sons take the school bus, and when I do drive for errands, it’s mostly very short distances.

My husband needs to drive to his work place, but he recently changed the location of a weekly work-related group to our house! See? No commute there!

-Katy Wolk-Stanley
The Non-Consumer Advocate


Andy November 17, 2008 at 6:19 pm

If you own and use a car, batching is great. I think that cars are evil for single-occupant commuting, but not too bad if you are carpooling and batching trips to be more efficient.

For me, I don’t batch trips. I could say that it’s because I bike everywhere, but it’s mostly because I don’t buy things or go out really. The only time the car gets used is once a week for groceries, and when we take trips to go hiking or whatever.


Kristen@TheFrugalGirl November 17, 2008 at 7:07 pm

That’s what I do…I don’t live in an area that is at all walkable, but I try to combine my errands as much as possible.


Andy November 18, 2008 at 7:04 am

Exactly! Batching my car useage is the only way I go. I only drive to work when I have other errands to run that require a car. And this works out to be only once or twice a week at most. This way, I can justify not paying the extra insurance on my car that is normally required if you commute to/from work in your car, because, yes I am driving to/from work that day, but those trips include stops at the grocery store, etc… So not only am I saving money on gas, I am saving money on car insurance too. Double win! 🙂


Heidi November 18, 2008 at 7:51 am

I always combine errands, and try to keep my trips to maybe twice weekly. I carpool whenever possible for school stuff for the kids. When gas was $4-something a gallon, I reeeeeally kept my trips to a minimum. Now that gas is back down to $2-something, it’s easy to slip back into old sloppy habits and not worry about the number of miles we put on the car. I try to live as if gas were still $4/gal, by consuming less, and keeping expenses low. I envy those of you who live in an area where you can walk or bike to get where you need to go.


Wren November 22, 2008 at 2:59 am

Hubby is retired and I am not (RN at a nearby hospital) so we talk each morning about who will be driving the most that day. The person likely to put the most miles on that day takes the older car. We are trying to make our newer, nicer car last as long as possible. Many days he does all of his errands on foot but not everyday.

We bought this retirement (hopefully final) house a few years ago because it is within walking distance of grocery store, restaurants, etc. It isn’t a perfect house but we knew it was in a perfect location and the value of not depending on a car to buy your necessities is priceless!


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