7 Tips for Surviving the Checkout Line


For many people, standing in a checkout line is the time we’re exposed to the most sales and hard advertising on a regular basis. Rather than succumb to the strategically placed impulse purchase items, there are a few things you can do to reduce the annoyance.

1. Impulse purchases

By simply realizing that impulse purchases are there for a reason, you’ll be less likely to buy these usually overpriced items. There might be a pack of five band aids that costs $2, when you could buy 20 times that amount for the same price from a different shelf in the same store. The longer you consider buying something, the more likely you are to buy it and standing in a line, staring at those items that are there to convince you that you need them is a long, captive exposure time, indeed. Don’t cave to this effective money-draining selling tactic.

2. Check your email

Many of us have smartphones or iPhones or some other technological gadget that allows us to send and receive messages during small pauses in the day. Standing in line waiting is a great time to catch up on unread emails or send quick messages. If you decide to focus your attention on a small, hand-held screen, though, don’t forget to step forward when the line moves.

3. Keep impatience at bay

Lots of people get irritated when they’re forced to deal with delays. It doesn’t matter if it’s a traffic jam, a locked up computer screen, or listening to someone drone on about inconsequential matters. Standing in line at a store can sometimes irk the most patient of us, but realizing we’re likely to lose patience can help us keep it in check. Realizing other people are in the same boat and are likely to be impatient can also help us not take the bad moods of those around us personally.

4. Add it up

Play a game that uses math and memory skills if you’re standing in line with a friend or family member. See who can guess the total cost more accurately. This game relies on remembering the costs of items and it requires mental math to add everything together. Doing this on a regular basis also makes kids more aware of prices during shopping, which is a good money-saving habit. If you’re only buying one or two items and you already know the exact cost, try to count out exact change ahead of time. Making your transaction just a little faster is a favor to everyone standing behind you in line.

5. Check it off

It doesn’t matter if you keep your grocery list on a piece of paper or on your phone. Standing in line you might remember something else you wanted to pick up. There’s never a better time to add it to your list for the next store trip than standing in line when you’re thinking of necessities you might have missed. Even I’d you checked everything off your grocery list, you can take a moment to update to-do lists or plan the rest of the day efficiently.

6. Read

There are so many sources of great reading material for free that there’s no reason to feel stuck browsing magazine covers, looking for something interesting to read while standing in line. Try listening to a Khan Academy lesson on your smartphone or read some classic free books (or new ones from independent authors). You can even opt for open access science articles or simply browse the news.

7. Skip it

If you can predict times when store lines will be particularly short or if you can opt for self check-out, use these pieces of information to your advantage. It’s true that surviving checkout lines isn’t impossible, but why not skip the line altogether if you can?

Do you have any tips for surviving the checkout line? Share your ideas, please!