Stop the Budget Killer: Impulse Grocery Purchases

One of the biggest ways to kill a budget is with impulse grocery purchases. I find that it is so difficult to walk in and out of the supermarket with just one or two needed items during a nonscheduled stop. No matter how good my intentions, a candy bar or a family size bag of chips or cookies always seem to make it into my shopping cart. As such, this is absolutely the biggest problem for my household budget and one that I’d like to get under control in 2009. This article covers tips to keep me and you on track with the impulse purchases this year.

Place Your Coupons in Your Car

Most families that clip coupons tend to complete this task on Sundays. So at the beginning of the week, make it a part of your Monday morning ritual to place your coupon envelope in your car, briefcase or purse. This way it will always be within reach when you need to make an impromptu stop at the grocery store.

Eliminate the Quick Stops

Take it a step further by planning your meals for the entire week before you go grocery shopping. Start by going through your refrigerator and spice cabinet to make sure that you have all of the basic items for each meal. This ensures that you won’t miss anything during your major shopping trip. This also makes sense as it is often the basic items that we tend to make quick stops for.

If you must make a stop, don’t make one without checking your coupon stash. Take a few extra moments before you walk into the store to check your coupon stash to see if you have a coupon that you can use.

Always Shop with a List

A simple tip that can never be shared too often, always shop with a list. I seldom forgo the list when I am making a quick stop at the grocery store. That is a mistake. The purpose of shopping with a list is twofold: so you don’t forget things and to keep you on track. Quick stops should not be made without a list. Often times, I find that I may get one or two items that I need; however, I’ve forgotten something else. This wouldn’t be a problem if I came with a list. Additionally, absent a list we are all more likely to pick up extras that we don’t need.

This year I’ve got to do better in the impulse purchase department. Specifically, I tend to snag items on the end caps and near the registers that I hadn’t intended to purchase. By not only shopping with a list during my main shopping trip, but also during my quick stops, I think I can keep myself on track. Additionally, by keeping my stash of coupons with me at all times and constantly reminding myself to check them before I go in, I believe I can do better. I hope you’ll consider using some of these tips to help you stay on track this year too.

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Michelle Sharrow

Michelle P. Sharrow, MBA author and editor of Family Finance, is based in Waldorf, Maryland, she holds a Masters Degree with a concentration in Finance. Michelle provides a monthly column on ways to help families maintain their finances and stick to a budget titled, Budgeting and Savings for Families.
Michelle Sharrow SharrowFamily FinanceStop the Budget Killer: Impulse Grocery Purchases By Michelle P. Sharrow, MBA One of the biggest ways to kill a budget is with impulse grocery purchases. I find that it is so difficult to walk in and out of...Parenting Advice| Family Fun Activities for Kids