Thursday, April 16, 2009

Organized Shopping

Does shopping have to be an organized event?  YES!


You will save time, money on the items you're buying (coupons!!!), and gas money (one-stop shopping, at least trying to).  Organization prevents the pitfalls of overspending, forgetting items thus second trips or buying at full price, return trips to the store when you realize that purchase was a waste or you found a better deal.

So let's get started:
1.  Make a list!!! (my sister can testify to hearing this ALOT from me)
You can use an online grocery list maker to help you.  Start by making a list of everything you buy (EVERYTHING).  Some categories to help you get started are:
Packaged (chips, snacks, crackers, etc)
Breakfast Food (oatmeal, pancake mix, etc)
Baking Goods (flour, etc)
Seasonings (ketchup, mayo, etc)
Frozen (fries, veggies, etc)
Household Goods (cleaning products, sponges, etc)
Paper Products (paper towels, bathroom tissue, etc)
Misc. Household (batteries, coffee filters, etc)
Other (although I don't know how many more categories you could come up with)

2.  Once you have made your entire list, write where you buy the item
I basically shop in three places, Costco=C, Target=T, and Local Grocer=G, so I place a letter next to the item.  This helps limit unnecessary trips.  Once I looked at my list, I realized, I don't buy as much in Target as I thought, but I was going maybe 2 or 3 times a month!  And although I enjoy a Target trip (the $1 section can be filled with arts & crafts goodies and items to fill the boxes for Operation Christian Child), beware you can come out with extra items!

3.  Write the best price for the item (I am still working on this one)
This will help you know whether to wait for the item to go on sale or buy anyways.  For example, since Costco sends me coupons, I already know the items that I can buy using a coupon (shampoo, soap, etc) as opposed to items I know don't have a coupon (meat, milk, eggs).  This is also helpful in case I am at let's say Target and I see an item on "sale" from my Costco list.  Sometimes we are deceived into thinking that because it's on sale, it's a better price, but not so.  For example, Target may have a sale on shampoo but compared to the price per unit I get at Costco, it's not a sale for me.  

4.  Stick to your list
I don't believe in using a coupon because I have one unless it is for an item I use.  I also try not to deviate from my list (once in a while a bag of cookies gets thrown into the shopping cart especially if I am shopping with my husband), but for the most part, I try to stay focused. You're less likely to get unwanted items if you know what your family really uses.  Going through those aisles of attractively displayed items can be tempting, but I've got my list!

5.  Take your Tools
When shopping, I take my notebook with my list written in it (I write the prices of items as I shop, subtract the coupons, get total so there are no surprises at the register), a pen, a calculator, coupons, and envelopes to stash my receipts (don't loose money by loosing your receipts, always keep them until they expire or you're used the items in case you need to return something).

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May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer. Psalm 19:14