This week’s Budget Bootcamp challenge was: Make a list and stick to it. If you’re at the store and want something not on the list it cannot go in the cart.
This weeks’s question:
How easy/difficult it is to avoid those nasty impulse buys? Do you make a list? Do you see a significant difference when you do?
Yes, I make a list. I actually keep my list on my itouch, which has handy little check boxes for me to check off when I’ve bought the item on my list. It then goes to the bottom of my list so that I can see the list being narrowed down. Lists are not a problem for me.
But apparently, impulse buying is a big problem for me. I had always considered my “style” of shopping one of the things that saves me money on my grocery budget. I like to walk up and down the aisles looking for the deals and stock up on things (like cans of veggies when they’re 33 cents a can) even when they’re not on my list.
What I realized this week during my shopping trip was that a) I forget to put a lot of things on my shopping list, and I remember “Oh, yeah! I REALLY need toilet paper!” and b) I have a really hard time not getting things that I know we’ll use when I see a good deal.
I also learned a few things this week that I think will make a big difference in my budget in the future. First, I need to be better about making my list. Shopping lists are not only important for the ingredients I need for this week’s meals, but they are important for those staples that we are running low on. Just last week, the kids went looking for vegetable oil to make pancakes, and couldn’t find any. They made their pancakes with olive oil. Oops. I guess I should be keeping better track. I should put snacks on my list, too. Especially when I’m preparing 4 lunches every morning, I really do need to buy things like granola bars and juice boxes. And second, I really need to spend an extra 10 minutes or so before leaving for the store to plan out my trip. Not only will I save money, but I’ll save a lot of time not wandering the aisles and checking out every shelf for the best deals. Just yesterday, I went through the weekly newspaper and saved all of the grocery circulars that were inside so that my next trip could be planned a little better.
Here’s some great information that I thought was worthy of including in my results this week. Claire from Mummy Deals has some great tips and reasons to make a list:
There’s a great reason that the jolly man in the red suit makes a list and checks it twice. Sure, he’s checking for naughty kids. Frugalites; we’re checking for those naughty little purchases that usually happen when we’re listless. You know the kind, the ones that are not scheduled. The “I just ran into the store and walked out with $50 worth of things I didn’t need! Argh!”
Impulse shopping will always put you over your budget and retailers know that and position things in the store so that you’ll have to walk past the “goodies” to get to what you really need. A savvy shopper knows this and is prepared.
First off with a list. A list is a way to cut down on huge amounts of impulse buying. Recent research showed that 20% of what we buy is unplanned but that number is decreased if you write it down and stick to the plan.
Unless I’m going in to look, I make a list and then put the blinkers on, moving quickly past all the week’s sale items, past the candy and snacks and to the food we really need. Research shows that my $50/week grocery bill would be increased by $11.50 if I didn’t consciously make a list and only buy things on the list.
There is 25% less unplanned buying by shoppers who use a weekly flyer to get their information and then compile a list from that which also takes planning but is a good idea and can easily be done each week to plan your meals around the sales items.
One last thing I thought was interesting in the study is that impulse buying goes up by 23% if the shopping trip itself was unplanned but goes down 13% if the trip is part of a weekly or major regular shop.
Your mom always told you never to go to the grocery store hungry and you dismissed it as an old wive’s tale but it really makes sense that when we go starving we buy things to satisfy the hunger and not things we need.
Finally, avoid browsing the aisles. Sometimes I get distracted and wander up and down and during those moments I’m more likely to get off task and buy things I didn’t come for and we don’t need. If it’s not on my list from home then I mustn’t have thought we needed it and we probably don’t. Keep focused on the store layout and know what you need.
How about you? Do you make a list when you shop? Do you stick with your list, or are you like me and wander the aisles looking for the deals?
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