Being the designated shopper for your family is a big responsibility, especially when you’re living on a budget. It’s important to get the biggest bang for your buck, and one of the simplest ways to ensure that is to plan ahead.
Keep an ongoing shopping list instead of starting a new one every time you go to the store. Keep a second list around the house to track how much you have of the things you buy often. Prioritize items you use a lot or are low on. Finally, before leaving the house, ask everyone if there’s anything else they need. A good game plan can save you not just money, but headaches too.
Use the Internet
I don’t need to tell you how important it is to watch for sales and clip coupons (both paper and electronic). But here’s another tip: if you shop at big box stores like Wal-Mart, it’s easy to find discount codes online. Just search “Wal-Mart promo code” and see!
You might think “Great, but if I buy online I have to pay for shipping.” Wrong, bucko. You can pick out what you want on the store’s website, punch in the code, and pick up your order in-person. Then you can save even more with the aforementioned coupons. Am I smart or what?
If you’re anything like me, your to-buy list is probably long enough to be a full-blown book. When trying to stick to a budget, however, it’s imperative that you use every penny wisely. That means putting the essentials first: groceries, toiletries, household products, etc.
As tempting as it is to occasionally splurge on some new clothes or a little entertainment, try to resist the urge. That’s not to say life has to be all work and no play, but reducing how often you splurge on little things means you’ll save up enough money to splurge on something really worth it later.
Go it alone
If you’re shopping for your family, it might seem to make sense to bring the whole clan with you. More hands to help are always good, right? Besides, who better to tell you what everybody needs?
You know what they say about too many cooks in the kitchen? It’s true. The more people you have with you, the more likely you or they will get distracted. Plus, everyone has their own idea about what they “need,” and it ain’t always the essentials. Bringing your family shopping is a good way to end up with a whole bunch of voices in your ear begging for “Just this one extra thing, pleeeease.”
Pay with cash
For some, this isn’t always an option. But when it is, it’s a good one, especially for those of us with a little self-control problem (guilty as charged). The thing about paying with a credit card is that it becomes all too easy to convince yourself to overspend, rationalizing that you’ll take care of it later. Then you get the bill and feel like a doofus.
Hit the bank before you go to the store and take out a certain amount of money within your budget. Leave the credit card and checkbook at home. Once you’re out of cash, you’re done shopping for the day. No budget-busting or credit card regret this time.