Monday, October 8, 2012

How to Write Your Shopping List When Using Cash

(Or for when you want to stay on budget when shopping with a card)

     If you haven’t been grocery shopping using cash lately, I highly recommend it. It changes your perspective on what you really need and what is an impulse purchase.
     The key to shopping with cash is deciding on what you’re going to buy before you go to the store and once you’re at the store sticking to your list (this is the most challenging tasks for me because I always remember a million things I forgot to put on the list when I get to the store.) Your list is the most important part of your trip, think of it as a permanent list, and do not stray from your shopping list.

     Writing a shopping list that allows you to stick to your budget is easy, just start with this:

1. Start with your normal shopping list. (I'm resisting saying "duh" here, but I guess I just did, ha!)
2. Next to each item on your list, write how much you think each item will cost. Your best guess is good enough. Try to guess high because it's always better to be under-budget than over-budget.
3. Add up your list and make sure you are within your budget. If you're over budget go through your list and decide what you don't need to buy.

Now you are equipped with a budget friendly grocery list. When you get to the store make sure each item is at or under the price you assigned to it.
What happens if you get to the store and an item that you planned on purchasing is more than the amount you assigned to it. Instead of going over budget try purchasing a smaller size or a different brand than you normally get. Whatever you do, do not buy something it if it above the price you set for it. If you’re using cash, when you get to the register you won’t have enough. If you’re using a credit or debit card you’ll be over budget again. I know that a few dollars here and there does not seem like much, but it’s the little things that add up to be big things, so you’ve got to make the little things count.
Whenever I write my list, I try to round up when assigning my prices. For example, I assigned $3.50 for a jar of peanut butter but when I got to the store I was pleasantly surprised that I can get peanut butter for $2.75. When I get to the checkout lane I usually end up spending less than I planned. Having extra money at the end of a shopping trip is always a good thing.
If you get to the store and realize that there is something that you absolutely need that you completely forgot to include during the list making process; get it, BUT take something else (at a similar price point) off your list. If you do not have money for both, you can’t buy both, it’s pretty simple really.
I hope this list making method helps at least a few of you out there stay within your budgeting goals.

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