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grocery shopping

How Shopping with a List Helps You Save Money

It’s a common situation. You hit the mall, grocery store, or big box retailer with a plan to buy one or two things (or “look around”) and you walk out spending far more than you expected. This has happened to almost everyone. However, the problem with this situation is that it leads to overspending.

A lot of people get to the end of the month and realize they’ve spent more money than they thought. Then, when they think back, they can’t remember where the money went. This “missing” money is a big problem in a lot of people’s budgets. If you can’t remember where your money went, it’s hard to make changes, and that makes it hard to stick to your budget.

One solution to this issue is to shop with a list. There are many reasons why this is a good habit to keep.

It Keeps you Focused

Most stores are designed to make you buy more than you wanted to. Their layouts, displays, and every aspect of how they are set up is done with this goal in mind. If you put together a list before you get to the store, you’ll be able to decide what you need outside of the store environment, where you’re away from temptation. Then, once you get to the store, you can stay focused on your list and avoid anything that you haven’t already written down.

Not only does creating a list put you in the right mental state when you’re shopping, but if you have a list, you’ll likely only look for the things you’re planning to buy. You’ll be less likely to wander through the store looking around or heading up and down aisles that don’t contain anything you want to buy. This helps keep costs down.

It Helps you Budget in Advance

A good tip to follow is to write down prices when you’re putting together your list. Whether you’re preparing a grocery list, a holiday shopping list, or just about any other kind of list, it helps to price things out before you go shopping.

When you prepare your shopping list, write down estimated prices beside each item. Then add everything up. Once you have a total, make sure you can fit this amount into your budget. For example, if you’ve only budgeted $150 for groceries this week and your list adds up to $180, you’ll need to make some cuts.

When you price out your list in advance, not only will it help you avoid “impulse buys” but it will also make it easier to stick to your budget by getting you to add everything up and make sure it fits into your spending plan before you head to the store.

It Makes Meal Planning Possible

Writing out a grocery list is an important part of meal planning. When you plan your meals, you can make your dollar stretch further, save yourself some time, and live a healthier lifestyle. A good strategy to follow is to look at flyers and advertisements (both physical copies and online versions) for grocery stores near your home. See what’s on sale and what’s available for a good price. Then look at what you already have in your pantry or fridge. Once you know what you could potentially be working with, you can plan a menu for the week.

Planning doesn’t just help save money because you can take advantage of sales. It’s also a great idea because it prevents food waste. If you know exactly how you’re going to use everything you buy before you buy it, you’re much less likely to end up with food that spoils. This means you won’t need to throw food (and your money) in the garbage.

Putting together a plan is also helpful since it will reduce the number of trips you take to the grocery store. This means you’ll spend less money on gas or transit and it also reduces the likelihood of you buying things you don’t need. The more often you go to the store, the more likely you’ll be tempted to pick up something that isn’t in your budget. If you visit the store less, you’ll probably end up buying less.