shopping lists en-US Save Money by Trusting Yourself <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/save-money-by-trusting-yourself" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="piggy bank" title="piggy bank" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Every day I hear about people contorting their finances because they don't trust themselves to be responsible. Avoid the contortions. You can save a lot by trusting yourself. (See also: <a href="">It's All Your Money</a>)</p> <p>Of course, there's a second step. You have to be worthy of that trust.</p> <h2>Trust Yourself in the Grocery Store</h2> <p>I wrote about one small version on this a while ago, in a post on <a href="">Buying Groceries European-Style</a>. It was a reaction against the idea that <em>sticking to your list</em> was the only way to avoid making budget-destroying impulse buys. My point was that if it keeps you from buying stuff cheap when there's an unadvertised sale, sticking to your list <em>costs</em> you money. Much better is to trust yourself to make the right decision there in the grocery store.</p> <p>Of course then you have to be worthy of that trust. Going off your list to buy asparagus because it's fresh and cheap, or to buy a roast for 75% off because it's almost at its sell-by date are great ideas. Going off your list because they put a new flavor of pretzels near the checkout line is a bad idea. (Which is not to say that you can't put pretzels on your list.)</p> <h2>Trust Yourself With Credit</h2> <p>A much bigger deal is using credit safely. Especially if you don't have <a href="">a proper emergency fund</a>, a judicious use of credit can save you a lot of money.</p> <p>The specific example that prompted this post was a radio story about how the rent-to-own model had moved into the tire business. A woman interviewed for the story was making weekly payments to rent tires. If she made all the weekly payments she'd own the tires, but she'd have paid double what they would have cost if she'd just charged them on a credit card. The woman explained that she didn't have access to credit &mdash; and further, that she didn't <em>want</em> access to credit, because she couldn't be trusted with credit.</p> <p>If you can trust yourself to use credit only when it saves you money &mdash; to avoid having the power turned off, costing you a reconnect fee (plus the contents of your refrigerator), to avoid having your car insurance canceled, costing you your drivers license (plus all the money you'll ever earn, if you're in an accident) &mdash; you can save thousands of dollars a year.</p> <p>If you're not worthy of that trust &mdash; if you use credit to live beyond your means &mdash; you can very quickly ruin your life.</p> <h2>Trust Yourself With Cash</h2> <p>Probably the first story I wrote on this topic was a short bit from back in 2007, in which I recommended that people <a href="">carry some cash</a>. I got a lot of comments from people who couldn't trust themselves with cash &mdash; if they had money in their pocket, they spent it.</p> <p>My point was that, even in this age of debit cards and online payments, there are still some problems that are most easily solved with actual cash money. If you can trust yourself with cash, you're in a position to solve those problems in the easiest way.</p> <p>It is entirely possible to <em>decide</em> how much you want to spend and what you want to spend it on &mdash; and then actually spend <em>exactly that much</em> to buy <em>exactly those things</em>. And if you can do that, it doesn't make any difference whether you have cash or plastic in your wallet, or both.</p> <h2>Trust Yourself to Be Productive</h2> <p>As a personal example, when I quit working a regular job I had to trust myself to be productive without a manager to monitor my productivity. This was a big deal for me, because I'd always thought of myself as a fundamentally lazy person. I thought there was a real danger that, having no boss to check up on whether I was getting stuff done, I might not get anything done.</p> <p>Instead, it turned out to unleash my productivity. I've written over four hundred Wise Bread posts, other writing assignments here and there, and continued with my fiction writing. I've done it while helping my wife run our household, improving my diet, and greatly improving my exercise regime (to the point that I'm in the best shape of my life).</p> <p>It was a great insight to realize that, all those years I thought I was lazy, I just didn't want to do stuff that wasn't what I wanted to do. Once I trusted myself to be productive at the stuff I did want to do, I was able to improve practically everything about my life.</p> <p>Trusting myself turned out to be one of the best decisions I've ever made.</p> <h2>Trust Yourself &mdash; and Be Worthy of That Trust</h2> <p>The key, of course, is that trusting yourself only saves you money if you're worthy of that trust.</p> <p>Can you trust yourself to make the right decision on the spur of the moment? I think anybody &mdash; no matter how easily swayed by advertising, no matter how susceptible to the lure of shiny things &mdash; can develop the ability to make the right decision about small matters. Getting it right in the grocery store is not hard, and if you make the occasional mistake (and come home with a bag of expensive pretzels in the latest flavor) your actual loss is small.</p> <p>With big decisions the stakes are higher. It's worth creating some <a href="">structure to support making wise decisions</a>. The most basic structure, of course, is a budget &mdash; think about what you want and arrange your finances so that you get as much of what you want as possible. (Budgeting is <em>not</em> about denying yourself stuff. Budgeting is about <a href="">getting what you want most</a>.) By deciding in advance, you reduce the chance that you'll see something that's <a href="">so, so shiny</a> that you simply must have it now, only to realize only later that there's other stuff you'd rather have.</p> <p>A budget is a tool. So is a shopping list &mdash; it's another useful tool. Of course, there's a difference between having a shopping list so that you don't forget something you need and having a shopping list that you won't deviate from, even if you see something fresh and cheap that you want. The former is a tool. The latter is a shackle that you're locking yourself into.</p> <p>To my mind, creating a budget is the ultimate expression of self-trust &mdash; it's a concrete step that you've taken to empower smart decision making.</p> <p>When I talk about &quot;contorting your finances,&quot; I'm taking about something different. I'm taking about concrete steps taken to disempower stupid decision making. For example, many people put a physical obstacle in the way of making poor decisions &mdash; only carry a few dollars in your wallet, keep your credit cards locked in your desk, etc. If you want to spend more than you've budgeted, you have to make a special ATM visit. If you want to charge something on a credit card, you have to home and get the card. (An extreme version of that I've seen is to freeze your credit cards in a block of ice, so as to put it that many more minutes away from use.)</p> <p>These sorts of tricks are generally harmless, but I tend not to recommend them. Like a crutch, some people may find them indispensable. But also like a crutch, it's better to develop the strength and balance you need to get along without it if you possibly can.</p> <p>More drastic measures, such as not having credit cards at all, can do real harm to your finances &mdash; as in the case of the woman renting-to-own her car tires. That's a lifestyle choice beyond merely using a crutch; it's more like using a leg brace. Again, if you really need it, it's better than having to do without it. But if you can develop trust in yourself &mdash; and then be worthy of that trust &mdash; you're ahead of the game.</p> <p>I recommend it.</p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Save Money by Trusting Yourself" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Philip Brewer</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Lifestyle cash shopping lists trust Tue, 18 Jun 2013 09:36:34 +0000 Philip Brewer 978189 at Buy Your Groceries European-Style <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/buy-your-groceries-european-style" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="Groceries Cold Meats Fruit" title="Groceries Cold Meats Fruit" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="214" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Make a grocery list and stick to it? That's a piece of advice that'll cost you a lot of money. The theory, I guess, is that you're so terribly prone to impulse buying that you can't be trusted to wander free in a grocery store. The reality, though, is that you can save a lot of money if you can make yourself trustworthy.</p> <p>I was actually taught to make a shopping list in school. I think it was part of the health curriculum &mdash; the same unit where we learned the four food groups. It came as part of a whole scheme that involved checking the grocery store ads, basing a menu around what was cheap, and then creating a shopping list for the week. It's an adequate shopping strategy, not so unreasonable for someone who works full time and can barely fit in a once-a-week trip to the grocery store. But it means that you're both <strong>paying more</strong> and <strong>missing out on the freshest, best-looking food</strong>.</p> <p>I think of the alternative as &quot;European-style&quot; shopping, although it was perfectly ordinary in the United States as well, back in the days when people shopped at grocery stores, back before the invention of the supermarket. It still works fine, though, even in a supermarket.</p> <p>When I'm buying groceries for the household, I shop almost every day. Instead of planning a menu in advance, I go to the store and look around to see what looks good. That way, I can get whatever's fresh and cheap.</p> <p>Meat in particular gets marked down as it approaches its sell-by date. You can't do much with that sort of deal if you only shop once a week, because you won't want to be cooking meat a week after its sell-by date. However, since I'm going to cook it that same day, I'm perfectly happy buying something on its sell-by date &mdash; at which point it's often been marked down to a fraction of its regular price.</p> <p>I rarely find such great deals in produce, but whatever's local and in-season is usually cheap, and there's no substitute for browsing in person for finding what looks best.</p> <p>So, that's what I do. I may make a list to remind me of any regular items that I need to get, but then I look to see what looks good and what's cheap. Since I know I have a pantry full of staples, I'm confident that I can make a meal out of whatever I find. (I talk about those skills in <a href="">Frugalize Any Recipe</a> and <a href="">Teach Yourself to Cook</a>.)</p> <p>It may seem like a lot of effort to go shopping every day, but it's actually a quick and easy trip. Since I'm only getting a few items, it doesn't take very long and I can do it on foot.</p> <p>It's easy to do &mdash; in fact, you can even combine buying cheap and fresh food with weekly shopping (although you wouldn't want to stock up on meat close to its sell-by date). All you have to do is trust yourself to go for good deals on real food instead of making impulse buys of stuff you shouldn't be eating anyway &mdash; and then be worthy of that trust.</p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Buy Your Groceries European-Style " rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Philip Brewer</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Food and Drink Shopping cheap groceries groceries shopping lists Mon, 22 Mar 2010 13:00:02 +0000 Philip Brewer 5949 at 6 C's to Keep You Frugal While Shopping <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/6-cs-to-keep-you-frugal-while-shopping" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="shopping" title="shopping" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>We can all relate to going into a store for &ldquo;just a few things&rdquo; and wheeling out a shopping cart loaded to the brim of things you really didn't need but called to you all the same - &ldquo;BUY ME!&rdquo; Each of us may have fallen victim to an <a href="">impulse buy</a> (or many) over their lifetime but fear not &ndash; those stores pay marketing gurus top dollar to make sure you can't resist those buys so it's not entirely your fault. But there are some things you can do to fight back. (See also: <a href="">How to Really Save Money When You Shop</a>)</p> <p>When you prepare to go on a shopping trip, there are certain things, 6 in fact, that you should equip yourself with before heading out. By ensuring the following 6 C's are in your wallet, you might stand a better chance of remaining frugal and leaving with only what you have gone in to buy.</p> <p><em><strong>May I present the 6 C's:</strong></em></p> <h2>Cash</h2> <p>One of the easiest ways to overspend is to bring your credit cards to the store with you. Many people get into credit card debt by considering it to be extra income instead of something that needs to be paid off each month. <a href="">Bringing cash</a> with you will limit the amount you can actual spend to what you are able to spend according to your budget. Some will argue about missing out on credit card rewards such as cash back deals but if you are strong enough in your willpower, you can predetermine the amount you can afford to spend and tuck that amount of cash into an envelope at home to ensure you can pay off your credit card debt in full each month. This way you get cash back and still maintain great credit, all the while not going over your spending budget. If you can't be trusted with credit cards, stick with cash.</p> <h2>Concise Shopping List</h2> <p>Never just &ldquo;run in for a few things&rdquo;. Instead, have a plan. Keep a notepad on the refrigerator and add to it throughout the week so you will always know what you need for each trip. Limit your trips to once a week and take the shopping list with you. Stick to buying only what is on the list. This helps you focus on only what you needs, avoid the temptations, and gives you more time to comparison shop for quality and price. (See also: <a href="">7 Tips for Streamlining Your Shopping List</a>)</p> <h2>Coupons</h2> <p>In addition to your shopping list, prepare before you leave home by sorting through the coupons relevant to the things on your list. If you have less to struggle with and make a point to bring the coupons you can actually use with you each time, you are more inclined to use them and actually remember to take them with you. <a href="">Coupons aren't as great </a>as they used to be but hey- savings is savings. Get the most out of the time you have spend clipping, sorting and storing each week.</p> <h2>Calculator</h2> <p>If you have never taken a calculator with you to the store, it is likely you've underestimated your shopping total at the register from time to time. Instead of the surprise, you will need to ensure you are staying on or under budget, especially if you plan to pay with cash. Keep tabs on your spending by calculating all of the items you put into your cart. You'll never go over budget in the cashier's line again.</p> <h2>Candy</h2> <p>It's true what they say &ndash; Never go grocery shopping on an empty stomach. You will likely buy way more &ldquo;wants&rdquo; rather than &ldquo;needs&rdquo; to satisfy your rumbling tummy. If you haven't time to grab something before hitting the aisles, make a habit of keeping some candy, gum or even a bottle of water, in your bag to keep your mouth occupied during your shopping excursion.</p> <h2>Children's Picture</h2> <p>For shoppers with kids, keep a picture of their sweet faces in front of your credit card or in the money holder part of your wallet. Let their picture serve as a reminder of why it is important to save (emergencies, college, retirement) money each month. Switching your money priorities can be a strong motivator to <a href="" title="Supermarket Savings Guide">save more</a> and ignore impulsive buys more often.</p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="6 C&#039;s to Keep You Frugal While Shopping" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Tisha Tolar</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Personal Finance frugality impulse buys saving money shopping shopping lists Thu, 14 May 2009 18:50:58 +0000 Tisha Tolar 3163 at Supermarket Shopping for Savers: 6 Ways to Avoid Their Tricky Traps <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/supermarket-shopping-for-savers-6-ways-to-avoid-their-tricky-traps" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="market displays" title="market displays" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="188" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p class="MsoPlainText">Going to the supermarket and sticking to a list is an exercise in discipline and requires fortitude and resilience of epic proportions. Employing tips like <em>&ldquo;don&rsquo;t shop when you&rsquo;re hungry&rdquo;</em>, <em>&ldquo;look for the no-name brand&rdquo;</em>, and <em>&ldquo;avoid the checkout counter displays&rdquo;</em> are simply damage control for an experience that (if you are like me) categorically breaks the budget.</p> <p class="MsoPlainText">But most of us still need to shop, and supermarkets often offer the best prices and selection. In some cases, the supermarket is all we have. <strong>Here are six tips on how to get in and get out without going over your budget:</strong></p> <p class="MsoPlainText">&nbsp;</p> <h2 class="MsoPlainText">Put Blinders On</h2> <p class="MsoPlainText">Staple foods (like eggs and milk) are often located at the back of the store. And for good reason: the only way to get there is to walk through aisles upon aisles of temptation. If all you need is a quart of milk, then do not allow yourself to get sidetracked by an &ldquo;amazing deal&rdquo; (see below) on something you don&rsquo;t really need.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h2 class="MsoPlainText">Be Wary of Amazing Deals</h2> <p class="MsoPlainText">Many people (myself included) look for sales, and will often formulate the week&rsquo;s menu accordingly. However the supermarket marketing gurus are on to us: when your eyes scan the shelves looking for the sale stickers, take a peek at the original price before you decide that it&rsquo;s a steal; you may find that the amazing deal is a discount of a whole whopping 8 cents. Now I&rsquo;m all for a deal, but 8 cents is not enough incentive to buy that can of corn for a dish I may not have otherwise used the corn for.</p> <p class="MsoPlainText">&nbsp;</p> <h2 class="MsoPlainText">That Special Display is Just for Show</h2> <p class="MsoPlainText">The gondolas (displays at the end of each aisle, and racks of product hung where shelves join) and other special displays - be they seasonal promotions or just a mountain of cases of pop in the middle of the floor - are also tricky traps. You may automatically assume that they are featuring sale items, since they are prominently displayed and have a neon sign highlighting the price. Again, buyer beware: check the original price and compare it to other similar products. Often the items displayed on gondolas are actually more expensive, be they on sale or not. Only after some due diligence should you decide if that pretty pyramid of product is really meant to compliment your shopping cart.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h2 class="MsoPlainText">&ldquo;Complimentation&rdquo; &ndash; the Ultimate Distraction</h2> <p class="MsoPlainText">Coffee or tea is on your list. And before you know it, a package of yummy-looking biscuits that are temptingly displayed next to the coffee and tea is also in your cart. Then you head for the pasta aisle, and walk out with an over-priced pesto sauce that simply looked too good to resist. Be wary of items which compliment each other that are positioned near one another in the supermarket. If you aren&rsquo;t the sort to rigidly stick to a list, complimentary items will jump off the shelves and into your cart before you know what happened.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h2 class="MsoPlainText">Watch the Checkout Like a Hawk</h2> <p class="MsoPlainText">You may not remember the exact prices for everything that is in your cart, but you likely have a good idea of what you will be charged, especially if you picked up a few sale items and are proud of it. But upon reaching the checkout, you could well discover that those items you thought were on sale are not scanning through as such &ndash; either because the actual sale item was next to or below the one you picked up (a very sly maneuver on the part of grocery stores), or because the scanner codes were &ldquo;accidentally&rdquo; never adjusted.</p> <p class="MsoPlainText">If there is a huge line up behind you and you don&rsquo;t want to cause a stir with the check-out clerk (who will likely have to call for assistance and stare belligerently at you while you both wait for somebody to run around the store doing price checks), then simply march your items and receipt up to customer service and politely point out the discrepancy.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h2 class="MsoPlainText">Try a Cupboard Special</h2> <p class="MsoPlainText">After reading this, are you angry at supermarkets for their little ploys and marketing decoys? Great! Skip your next scheduled trip to the supermarket! See what you can scrounge up from the dark corners of your cupboards or frost-bitten freezer, and get creative. Some of my best meals have been dubbed &ldquo;cupboard specials&rdquo;, making use of what I have on hand when supplies start to dwindle.</p> <p class="MsoPlainText">&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoPlainText">&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoPlainText">Does anybody have some <a href="" title="Supermarket Savings Guide">supermarket saving tips</a> of their own? Let&rsquo;s beat sneaky stores at their own game!</p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Supermarket Shopping for Savers: 6 Ways to Avoid Their Tricky Traps" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Nora Dunn</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Life Hacks Shopping budget grocery shopping grocery stores impulse shopping shopping lists supermarkets Mon, 29 Sep 2008 22:10:17 +0000 Nora Dunn 2470 at