There is nothing new under the sun, as they say. I had a little debate with myself as to whether I was going to share this story. But, in the end, MoneyBasicsU is about being real and teaching you the basics about money. And, what happened to me one weekend while grocery shopping is amusing and may have happened to some of you before. So, here is goes.
I was standing with my grocery cart considering some cereal options on the shelf. In my left hand was my grocery list and the other was a pen, which I use to check items off my list. A fellow shopper approached me and proceeded to ask me if I could help her locate an item in the store. Before I could reply, she immediately extended her apologies. She thought I was a store employee because of my checklist and pen.
Now, I have to admit I don’t believe I’ve ever seen another shopper with a grocery list like mine. Some of you may think it’s a little over the top, but to be honest with you, it’s a fabulous tool. And, I’m all about identifying the most convenient tools to help me with my money smart decisions.
I have created a typed template of all my regular purchases and divided them by category. It’s saved as a short cut on my computer, and I print it off weekly. Before trekking out to the store, I review my list and home supplies and put a check mark by everything I need. Done!
Of course, there are some immediate benefits to creating a typed grocery list:
Benefit #1: It makes a quick, convenient reference to all the products/items you regularly buy.
Benefit #2: You don’t have to re-create a list every week.
Benefit #3: You never have to forget something because you neglected to add it to your list.
Benefit #4: It eliminates impulse buying and makes it easier to stick to your budget.
Benefit #5: Provides you a tool to advise other little shoppers [kids and grown up kids] that you have a budget and need to stick to what is on the list. (We talked about this in Teachable Moments for Kids & Money).
Let’s face it. The grocery store is the trickiest place to go shopping because it’s so easy to have an extra item or three drop into the cart. Month after month multiplied by years can add up to a lot of money spent on items that could be considered impulse buys. Besides, we all know that stores design displays, samples, and layout to induce spending. From the money smart consumer’s perspective, you’ve got to keep it balanced to maintain a balanced bottom line as well.
If you would like to try using a typed money-saving grocery list, keep the following three points in mind.
● Organize by category. Since grocery stores are essentially divided by product category, it’s easier if your list is designed the same way. Within each category, I itemize everything I purchase, even if only bought periodically. I use the following categories:
√ Fresh Produce
√ Canned Goods
√ Pasta and Bread
√ Meat *
√ Dairy *
√ Frozen Goods
√ Jams, Honey
√ Baking Goods
√ Health & Personal Products
*I’m primarily a plant-based eater so I include vegetarian and non-dairy choices for me.
● Keep a printed copy on your refrigerator. My sister gave me this idea. If you have a family, keep a copy of your grocery list on the refrigerator. When the last of an item has been used, have a family member make a note on the list. This tactic can be particularly helpful on items such as toothpaste, Kleenex, trash bags, and other non-perishables.
● Review for online coupons and those on file. Although we haven’t discussed coupons to date, take five minutes and browse through your favorite coupon sites and store coupons to see what can be used. These small amounts add up over time.
You may be surprised how quickly your printed grocery list comes together. One thing I can promise you. Once you start using this money tool, you’ll never go back to those handwritten grocery lists again!
I would encourage you to create a master grocery list. It will save you loads of time and keep you on target when shopping.