Simple Shopping

We live on a tight budget. We cannot afford to run to the store several times a week for extras that we end up wanting or discover we forgot. We usually shop twice a month, once every two weeks. And even if you can afford to run to the store whenever you want, depending on your life obligations, this can turn into a hassle in no time at all. Have you ever spent a couple of hours shopping, only to discover you forgot one simple thing? Here’s a remedy. It will save you time and save you money because you will be able to avoid impulse buying on those second, third and fourth trips to the store that were “supposed” to just be for one or two forgotten items.

Start by using the logging system of your choice. You can use your computer to create a document, spreadsheet or notepad entry, or simply grab a piece of paper and a pen to start the process. Make sure to try to use a method that is easily saved. I prefer to use Google Docs because the entries are auto-saved online, and I don’t have to worry about my computer crashing, or a disk failure.

Separate the list into categories;
1) Food
2) Other Household Items
3) Wish List
4) Incidentals
5) Other – Recurring
(refer to this list of categories in examples down below)

The initial process to create your master will take some time and fine-tuning. But I have been using my shopping list master for years, and at this point rarely need to alter it at all.

Starting with each room in your house, including the garage and outside, look over the items stored there. Place each item into the appropriate category on your master.
For Example;
If I started in my bathroom, looking in cabinets, the shower, and on the counter-top, some items would be deodorant (2), Zoloft refill (5), pre-natal vitamins (2), shampoo (2), conditioner (2), children’s 3-in-1 body wash (2), toilet paper (2) and so on, and so forth.

You will discover some items that you will never buy again, some items you may only need once a month and some items you won’t know you need until they break. Add everything to your list that you can possibly think of, and alter it as household items/needs change. This can happen in any category.
For Example;
Right now I am on an anti-depressant. Should I ever discontinue using it, I can simply delete it from the No. 5 category. My child has a newly discovered gluten-allergy. I have now altered my No. 1 category, by adding foods to my list that are gluten-free to coincide with her allergy diet.

What about things you really want, or maybe even need that you can’t afford to purchase yet, but you still want to remember them? This can turn into a lot of post-it notes on the fridge. Instead, put these in category No. 3. Every time you write your shopping list, you can take a look at this category, and see if you have funds available to purchase any of these items and start crossing them off.

Twice a month, I use my phone to pull up my document or spreadsheet on, do a brisk walk around the house as I read through the master, and write down on a separate piece of paper what I need to get. This can take as little as 15 minutes, and because I have almost anything I could think of on the master (even things like salt, pepper, other spices or incense) I don’t have to worry about forgetting anything, or as much impulse buying. While at the store if a new product becomes one I want to now be recurring in our shopping master, I simply make notes at the bottom of my list and add them to the master when I get home, or delete things that are no longer profitable for us. You can even keep your receipts, and add the cost of each item to your master, so you can know ahead of time what you will be spending on each item before you even leave the house, while leaving a little wiggle room as prices are often subject to change.

I hope this helps you in your quest to live on a budget, save time and avoid extra trips to the grocery store!

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