Monday, November 30, 2009

Shopping Tips

A conversation I had with my mom this morning got me thinking about making a blog post on questions I ask myself when I'm shopping to keep from over buying. Hopefully they can help when you are on a budget or just looking for ways to help save more money.

First, I maintain a list on a dry erase board that I update in between shopping trips, plan all the meals in advance, and anything not on my list (and even some stuff on the list) get asked these questions:

1. Do I need you? If no, then I ask why do I want you? I put it away and in two weeks when I'm in the store again and I'm still thinking of the item and know exactly how it will benefit me then I will purchase it if it is within my budget.

2. Do I need you anytime in the next two weeks? If the answer is no and it's regular price, it goes back on the shelf and remains on my shopping list until next time. If it's an incredible bargain and it is something I truly need in the next month, then I will purchase it.

3. Is there a way I can get you cheaper? For example, if I see a book I want I make a note of it and order it off PBS. If it is food, can I make it from scratch with what I already have on hand? For home decor, is there a way I can make it? You get the idea.

4. Are you something I will still want in two weeks? The trick here is not to answer the question and just put it back. I had carried the same purse for the past four years and earlier this year saw an olive green oversized boho bag at Walmart that I fell in love with. I knew it would be perfect to keep a small knitting or crochet project in as well as all my personal items. Weeks went by and I couldn't get this bad out of my mind, so I went ahead and bought it and have never regretted it. Anything else I have forgotten about by my next shopping trip. (This is just a further illustration of a response to question 1).

5. Are you on my list? Why did I pick you up? Sometimes I'll just carry items around the store with me until I am ready to leave and once I realize how much I am already spending or that I don't need it, I'll make a final lap around the store to put things back (It's a great way to fit in some extra walking too). In a way it helps to get past the impulse urge by picking it up and putting it in the shopping cart, but the trick is not to let it leave the store with you.

6. Is purchasing you going to put me over my budget? This goes for items I put on my shopping list as well as impulse items. Sometimes I think I would like a new pair of cleaning gloves or a bag of chocolate, and once I have the things I know I need and have them added up, then I examine the less crucial items to determine whether they really need to be purchased or not. There is nothing more stressful to me than going over budget and knowing I'll be dipping into what I could be saving.

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