We've all been there - you run into your favorite grocery or big box store "real quick" to grab some milk and bread, $50 (or if you really lack self-control, like me, $100) later you're wondering what the heck happened. Sound familiar? I have recently decided that enough is enough. I need to get a handle on my budget and exercise more discipline when shopping.
I've found a few things that really work in keeping me on budget!
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But, first things first, you need to have a budget! Several years ago, I went through Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University. This book (and the entire program) really helped me learn how to budget and, though, I've fallen off the wagon a time or two, I still use many of these principles. If you're looking for a free option, this is a great post on how to create a budget.
Ok, so, here are my tried and true tips for keeping yourself in check before you hit the checkout counter.
The cash envelope system has never failed me. If you only have x amount of dollars, you can only spend x amount of dollars. If you only take the amount of money you need, you won't overspend.
Skip the cart
I have recently implemented a rule for myself, specifically for those "quick trips", I do not get a cart. If it's more than one or two items, I place my items in a recyclable bag. But there's only so many items I can carry without a cart! Bonus: This is also a fun "job" for your toddler.
Go when you're pressed for time
If you have somewhere else to be, you can't spend as much time shopping for things you don't really need. I know it sounds a little silly but it really works!
One of the best ways to resist buying things you didn't go to the store for is to stay out of the store! Nowadays, there are several options for doing your grocery shopping from home. Many stores, even Wal-Mart, have a pick-up service where you can order online and then go pick up your items. Or you could stay away altogether and use Amazon pantry, Thrive Market or something similar.