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I am embarrassed to say how many times I've been to the grocery store to pick up one specific item only to get home and realize I had forgotten that one thing. I'll have bags full of 20 or more miscellaneous products I didn't really need.
I'm pretty sure that's why someone invented the list. The problem for me is how to stick to a list.
Make a future list while shopping
One of the tricks I use to stop myself from straying from a list and overspending is to make a new list while shopping with my old list. I call the new list my "future list," since it's for things I will consider buying in a week or longer. While shopping for black shoes recently I spotted a pocketbook that I loved. Instead of buying it, I put it on a list that included the name of the store and price. I rarely go back a week later to purchase an item on my future list.
Try it on instead of buying it
Another way to stick to a list is to try an item on. If I try something on that fits right and feels right, I make a note of it on my future list. Oftentimes the material will not feel right and I'll realize I don't want the clothing anyway.
Shop with a man
My husband has no patience for pleasure shopping so there are few to no impulse buys when he goes to the grocery store with me. He grabs the items on the list and is out the door. In fact, last weekend I couldn't find him while we were shopping at Costco. He was already at the check-out and I had just started my browsing.
Take limited funds
Since I know the price of most items I am purchasing, I can usually take almost exactly the amount of money I need in the form of cash. The other day I had a grocery list that included eggs, peanut butter and bread. To make sure I left with only those three items, I took $11. The receipt came to $10.23 so there was not even enough wiggle room for a pack of gum.
In order to redeem most coupons, I have to purchase a certain brand. It's critical to follow a list that includes the name brand. I reward myself for sticking to my list when I use coupons by paying myself the amount I saved with coupons. I use the money for things I never have on a list such as massages and getting a pedicure.