Anyone who has carried their children through the gleaming aisles of the local grocery mega-mart knows it is nearly impossible to keep little hands from reaching for candy bars, matchbox toys and coloring books. Heart-wrenching cries, protesting, “Mom! It’s only two dollars!” ring out, making any doting parent nod their heads in defeat.
Your local supermarket is designed to encourage you to add unplanned – and unnecessary – items to your cart. Pocket-sized tissue packs, chapstick tubes, magazines and more are all placed attractively at eye level while you stand in line at the check-out counter. Who wouldn’t want a travel-sized static removal spray for their work attire? Why not snatch up that adorable key chain? Oh wow! Dora the Explorer trading cards!
On average, the everyday shopper strolling down the aisles adds more than $50 in merchandise to their cart than they intended to purchase. Buyer’s remorse is an all-too-common reaction once you’ve examined your mile-long receipt. You may have stopped off at the store on your way home to pick up a loaf of bread and a carton of eggs, but you returned home with four bags full of frivolous purchases that destroy your budget.
The trick is to arm yourself with a well-planned and organized shopping list. You’re walking in the valley of the shadow of temptation, and should you stumble, your bank account pays the price.
Begin your shopping list by planning a weekly menu. After selecting your choices for each night’s dinner, list what you’ll need for each meal. Include main course, side dishes and even desserts and beverages. Make sure you’ve listed everything you’ll need for a complete meal every night. Don’t forget breakfast, lunch and snack items for each day.
Once you’ve made a list of all the items you’ll need for each of your planned meals, label a separate sheet of paper with categories such as dry goods, canned goods, meats, frozen goods, fresh vegetables, dairy, and other aisles within your local grocery store. Organize the items needed for your daily meals into the appropriate aisle heading.
If you’re more tech-savvy, there’s an app for that.
We use an app called Shopper on our iPhones to quickly enter our items and it categorizes our list by aisle for easier shopping.
On your list, be sure to include an “other” category. In this category include household items such as toiletries, pet supplies, cleaning products and other essentials needed for your home this week. You may even want to include your usual impulse purchases on your list. If you know your children like to pick up a new coloring book or pack of trading cards during every shopping trip, and your budget allows, include this on the list. Never purchase anything not included on the list.
Never shop without a list. You wouldn’t walk onto the battle field without armor and a sword. Treat your trips to the supermarket as a test of your financial wits and physical endurance. A well-organized list is essential to your shopping success.