Budgeting Tips

Why You Should Never Shop Without a List

August 7, 2016
Why you should never shop without a list!
Never Shop Without a List!

A few years ago, Target opened up a new store right by our house. Let me tell you, I love Target. I much prefer the bright aisles and all of the red décor from Target than going into the darker, warehouse feel of Walmart. On that cold October day, we walked into the new Target for the first time. We went up and down every single aisle and started looking at all the things that we used to have to drive 20 minutes to get to.

Now everything was so close, so convenient.

Michael and I found ourselves with excuses of just needing one thing from the store, and we would run to Target to pick it up. Then we found ourselves with another excuse to pick up a new movie on Tuesday, and we would run to Target to pick it up. Finally we found ourselves with the excuse of not having anything to eat.

They always tell you “it’s cheaper to buy food at the grocery store to cook yourself than it is to get fast food every night.”

Well, Yes and No.

It’s definitely cheaper when you find yourself spending $25-$30 at Carl’s Jr every night. Only to get everyone chili cheese fries and big burgers. And it definitely can be much cheaper to go into the grocery store if you figure that’s $150 just on dinners getting fast food.

What’s not cheaper?

Going into a store for a can of corn and coming out with $60 worth of nonsense, and forgetting the can of corn. This is what happened to us at Target. Every stop we made to pick something up, it always cost us $60. That’s the magic number at that store. That is the most expensive can of corn I’ve ever bought, without actually getting the can of corn. And then we’d have to run in again to pick up the forgotten can of corn. This time we remembered to get it, but another $60 spent on more nonsense.

How many times has this happened for you?

I can tell you that when it comes to shopping, Michael and I are great at finding things to buy. We can go up every aisle in the store and pick out at least one item from each aisle!

Professional Shoppers over here!

But what about the countless times we went in to shop for something for dinner and ended up with $60 worth of nothing? And a missing ingredient for the dinner? This happened to us just about every time.

The biggest reason this happened?

Because we didn’t shop with a grocery list

The easiest way to hold yourself accountable is to make a list. This same method can be used anywhere else, too! I go thrift store shopping a lot, and there are always extra items I find on the shelf that I really don’t need. But what I do now is make a list. If I’m looking specifically for a black sweater, I write down on my list- “Black Sweater.” Rocket science, huh? If I’m looking for a crystal vase, I write down “Crystal Vase.” It’s almost guaranteed that I will spend less money because I’m sticking only to what’s on my list.

In some cases you may find that you get everything on your list and then add a few more things that you didn’t need.

Does that mean this method doesn’t work for you?

No! It means that you still got everything on your list so you wont need to make an impromptu stop at the store. You’ll run the risk of spending even more in the process by making that second trip!

Want advice on how to put together a grocery list?

I wrote a whole post of 7 tips for lowering your grocery budget which helps us to stay in line with our groceries. The best tip I have for you on this post: always keep a pen and paper handy. When you need to replenish something, start your list as soon as something is missing. Don’t find yourself trying to remember what you’re out of at the last minute. Chances are you wont remember it.

-Emily

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