Before I consistently kept a shopping list, I wasted a ton of time and probably a decent amount of money. I would jot things I needed on a Post-It note just as I was running out the door to the store. Or, I would stop at the store on my way home from somewhere and rack my brain for things we needed, only to find out when I got home that I had forgotten half a dozen items. On top of all that chaos, I used up precious brain power (I only have so much, let's face it) trying to hold lists in my head until I got to the store, reminding myself several times in a day what I needed to buy. Crazy!
Getting consistent with a dependable shopping list system (yes, it's really a system) has streamlined the entire process. I don't waste time trying to remember this and that, and I don't waste money buying things I thought I needed but didn't. Here's how you can save time and money with your own shopping list.
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Shopping lists are super-important if you want to shop smart, especially during the holidays. Although grocery shopping is the number one list we all need to keep, buying from a list works for every type of shopping trip, including clothes shopping. For instance, I keep a running list of clothing items I need for my kids, like socks (where do they all go?), underwear, winter coats, spring coats, etc.
When you have a well-thought-out list, you can save money and time in numerous ways. How you keep your list is up to you. Some people leave a notepad and pen out on the kitchen counter. I have a friend who uses the Peapod app to keep her list of groceries to buy. My personal system is named Alexa. What did I do before that silky-voiced, dependable AI came into my life? I tell Alexa (through my Echo Dots) what I need as soon as I realize I'm running out of something. Even better? My kids and my husband can do the same thing. Then, when I'm at the store or the mall (or Target, where I shop 90% of the time), all I have to do is pull up my Alexa app and check items off my shopping list as I go. Plus, my husband can pull up the same list if he decides to stop at the store on the way home. You can learn more about how I use Alexa on my other blog.
Here are a few tips to make sure you're getting the most out of your new shopping list system.
When you have a shopping list, you’re going to stay focused on what you’re buying instead of all the distractions that stores put in our faces to try to make us buy that last-minute item. Just because it’s on sale or it’s at eye level at the checkout counter doesn't mean you need to buy it.
Stick to Your Budget
If you're good at making lists, you’re going to save money. When you put on blinders at the store and only focus on the items on your list, it’s way easier to skip the things you don’t really need, like those Double Stuf Oreos. (That'll save your waistline, too!)
More Efficient Shopping Trips
When you create a shopping list, you can plan more efficient shopping trips. For example, you know you should get the refrigerated and frozen foods last. But if you also have shoes on your list (again, I'm at Target in this scenario, natch) you can plan to get those first before heading into the grocery section. That way, you don't end up with soggy food by the time you get home.
Planning Always Saves
Using a shopping list also saves you money when you comparison shop. You can look at your overall list to see if there are any deals or coupons you can use. For example, sometimes when you buy two products together, you get a discount or a third item free. If you spot those two items on your list, and choose the right brands, you've just saved yourself more money.
Often, and this is especially true with grocery shopping, we pick up things that look good at that moment but that we just end up wasting and never eating. (Hello, saffron-infused rice mix!) This is also true with impulse clothing purchases. You snap up something at the register and it ends up gathering dust on your dresser or in your closet. Eventually you donate it, tags intact, and watch your money go bye-bye. Instead, keep your eyes on the prize.
Take Advantage of Sales
That's not to say you shouldn't keep your eye out for sales. When you have a list of clothes you need to buy, you can check mailed circulars, newspaper sales and email newsletters to find out when there are sales and then take advantage of them.
Avoid Multiple Trips
You’re much less likely to forget something while you're at the store if you have a dependable list. If you forget something, you'll end up making a second trip back to the store. (I've done that way too many times. Ugh, such a waste!) Then, when you make another trip to the store, you naturally spend more money because while you're there because the more often you see that adorable set of oven gloves you don't really need, you're more likely to buy them. Hardly anyone who shops can resist impulse buys more than a few times before they break. Your shopping list will make sure you only go to the store once.
Make More Informed Choices
If you make a shopping list, you can do all your research at once, ahead of your shopping trip. Big purchases — like mattresses, beds, appliances, etc. — can all be researched ahead of time. Then you can plan which store has the best bargains for everything, or at least plan the most efficient route between several stores. And when you know what you're buying, it's easier to stay on budget.
How do you save time and money with your shopping lists? Tell us in the comments!