How many times has this happened to you? You walk into the store and plan on spending just $25 and before you realize it, you have an entire cart full of items and your total is more than $100? This can be very taxing on your budget. After all, you only have a limited amount of money to spend and if you overspend at one store, then that has to come from another budget line item.
It takes some re-training on your part, but you CAN do it! Below are some tips anyone can follow to help keep that spending in check and make sure you stay in line with the budget.
1. The Shopping List Trick. This is the best tip I can offer. Make a list. Then, start forcing yourself to stick to it! I personally never shop without a list. The list keeps my eye on those items I need. Not only does it help me keep my spending in check, it actually saves me a LOT of time. I don’t wander the aisles just looking at items. Instead, it is a list for me to follow and I walk through the store, checking them off of the list as they go into the cart. When I get home, I’ve only spent the amount I planned on and also never have one of those “Oh – I Forgot the ________!!!!!” moments.
A list can be jotted down on a piece of paper, on your phone using an app or notepad – it doesn’t matter. If you need help with a list, we have a free template you can download. I print one off and then go to the copy store and pay minimal cost to get a stack printed off every few months. It helps me have a list at my fingertips at all times – and I add items to it throughout the week so I don’t forget to grab it when I shop. Get the free form HERE.
2. Menu Planning. If you aren’t sure what you will have for dinner and/or lunches during the week, you don’t have a plan of action. Instead, you end up walking through the store and randomly toss things into your cart. When you get home, you may not have anything you need to put together a meal, which results in another trip to the store – again wandering to find something for dinner, usually meaning more items into the cart. The cycle repeats itself.
My creating a simple meal plan, you not only know what to have for dinner, you can plan your shopping trip. You will get those items you need without spending too much! We share Menu Planning Tips (including free forms) right here!
3. Don’t fall for end caps and clearance. These are money spending traps! You walk by and your eye is drawn the end cap with the big SALE sign in front of it. If you don’t need that item, don’t grab it. Also, don’t walk by the clearance section and think “I’ll just look” as you will often pick up items you don’t really need – again, meaning you are spending money you had not originally planned on.
Instead, shop the sections you need. If you need detergent, just go to that section and grab your item and then go to the next on your list. Don’t wander through the store as you will be more likely to do “cart tossing” — when you add items to your cart without even realizing what you are spending.
4. Stay busy. Often times, we go to the store out of boredom. That means more spending. Find a new book, a game or get involved with a non-profit. If you have kids, try to get more involved in activities or even volunteer. The busier you stay, the less likely you are to head to the store, just to get out of house.
5. Use a calculator. If cash truly is something you can not do, or you plan on using your store card for an extra discount, then you need to track what you are spending. As you add items to your cart, just add the product price to a running total. You keep track of what you are spending and can stay on budget.
You can also use this to check the per unit price to make sure you are getting the most for your money. Many stores will put the per unit price on the shelf tag, but if you do not see that, you can determine if the bigger bottle, at a higher price, is less per unit than something smaller, and less expensive.
6. Keep emotion out of shopping. One thing I never do is shop hungry. When I do, I buy items I normally would not, because my stomach is controlling my spending.
If I am going on vacation, I stay out of the stores as I find clothes, accessories and other items I think I “need” for my trip. In this instance, my excitement is controlling my spending.
If I am feeling badly about myself (for whatever reason), buying something I have been wanting may end up making it’s way home with me. Here, buying it to make myself feel better is the reason for my spending.
There a many emotions attached to spending. You have to identify which one(s) apply to you and find a way to fulfill that need through another method – other than spending money.
7. Clean and declutter. This tip actually has an added benefit. First of all, when you declutter, you find all of those items you’ve spent money on and no longer need. It makes you realize where you are spending. It also makes you think twice about how clean the closet is now and how you don’t want it to be filled up with stuff.
The added benefit of decluttering is that it keeps your house clean and organized! You can find what you need more easily and don’t have so much “stuff” cluttering the house.
8. Use cash. I know, I know — broken record here. However, when you use cash, you can ever overspend. You simply don’t have it to spend. You are much more aware of what you place into your cart. You also are less likely to wander the aisles. Instead, you will grab the item you went in for and that will be it. You can even only grab a $20 bill to go in – so there is no possible way you will dip into more cash in your wallet!
9. Save first. When you get money, it is so tempting to run out and spend it on something you may have been wanting. Instead, make sure you are paying yourself first. That could mean savings or retirement. This will decrease the amount you have to spend, which in turn means you can’t purchase as much!
10. Budget. Budget. Budget. With a budget in place, you know how much you have to spend on groceries, clothes and more. Without one, you often spend willy-nilly and don’t even realize it. When you have a set budget for $300 on groceries for a two week period, you know that is all you can spend. No more. If you spend $350, then you have to take that money from somewhere else in your budget.
Budgeting is tough – I will not lie. However, once you have one in place and get use to following it, you will feel more balanced and can really keep your spending in check. Learn more about budgeting (including FREE templates and forms you can use to make one yourself).
What additional tips do you have to add to our list?