1st Step to Organized SpendingOne thing many people don’t think to organize is their shopping lists.

I think this is crazy.  An organized list is the first step to organized spending.  Organized spending means I can stay within my budget.

I not only organize my shopping list, I maintain multiple lists and they are organized in a master list.

Now you think I’m crazy.

But I’m not.  At least not in this way…

I use an app on my iPhone to maintain my shopping lists.  I don’t really like the app I use for a whole host of reasons, so I’m not going to tell you what I use.  There are a lot of good apps out there, I simply haven’t had time to switch apps.

I’d suggest looking for a shopping list app with the following features:

    • Maintain multiple lists
    • Add headings to individual lists
    • Allow multiple users to modify and sync to the same list from a variety of devices (computer, phone, tablet)
    • Dynamically choose whether checking off an item removes it from the list or crosses it out (so you don’t have to recreate your lists every time you want to shop – especially when some items on the list are regular purchases like eggs and milk)
    • Operate offline

OK, so once you find an awesome app, here’s what you can do:

1.  Comment, e-mail, or text me with the name of the app so I can change too!

2.  Make a separate shopping list for each type of shopping/errand-running you do.  I have maintain these lists:

    • Groceries
    • WalMart
    • Lowes
    • Hobby Lobby/JoAnn’s
    • Sams
    • Staples
    • Clothing
    • Items I Want to Find
    • Ikea
    • Cookeville
    • Knoxville
    • Nashville
    • Texas/Oklahoma
    • Delaware/Pennsylvania
    • Library
    • Vacation Grocery List
    • Thanksgiving Grocery List
    • Gift Ideas
    • Car Travel Snacks
    • Homeschool
    • Replacement Parts

3.  Within each list I have subcategories or headings.

In my Grocery List, I have headings for each major area of the store in the order I like to shop based upon how our store is arranged.

    • Returns
    • General Merchandise
    • Dairy-Eggs-Refrigerated Breads
    • Deli-Hot Foods
    • Refrigerated Foods
    • Aisles
    • Raw Meat
    • Frozen Foods
    • Produce-Bakery
    • Check-Out Items

In my Replacement Parts list I keep information for odd things we need replaced at odd intervals.

    • Appliances:  here I list things like the model for our refrigerator filter, the bulb needed for the oven light, the filter for our air conditioning unit
    • Batteries:  it might seem obvious, but these are specialty batteries for key fobs, watches, and a variety of toys that use watch/hearing aid type batteries: Hex Bugs, Lego Hut, voice changer
    • Cars:  wipers, headlamp bulbs, bulbs for blinkers, model numbers in case we need to replace key fobs entirely
    • Clothing:  Here I keep sizes for people who don’t change – my husband’s undershirt size, neck size, pant size, etc. that I can never seem to remember once I start looking at all the different sizes.
    • Light Bulbs:  kitchen floods, under cabinet halogens, basement spots, it’s amazing how many unique light bulbs we seem to need!
    • Printers:  ink cartridge numbers for our various printers, paper feeding rollers, etc.
    • Contacts:  the current prescription information needed to reorder contacts for the many contact wearers in our house
    • Sewing Machine:  I can never remember which size needle, bulb, bobbin without having the information written down.  And since I have a sewing machine and an embroidery machine and my daughter also has a sewing machine, there are a lot of parts to get confused!
    • Misc:  I keep my hair color information, the type of flossers we like to use, razor blade info for the shavers in our family, and other little things I might not remember exactly what kind we use when it’s time to re-buy.

In my Gift Ideas list I have headings for all the people for whom we typically buy gifts. When I come up with an idea to buy or make, I put it on the list so I don’t forget to find it.

You may have different places and types of shopping than we do. But the concept is the same. For instance, I have lists for certain locations, too.

Since we live in a small town and infrequently travel to the “big city,” I want to make sure I don’t miss an opportunity to pick up things we can only get when we are in the city.

I also keep lists for where our families live so that when we visit we can pick up regional favorites – like Herr’s Salt & Vinegar chips when we are in Delaware or Doguet’s Roux or Fiesta Fajita Seasoning when we are in Texas.  These lists are a great place to list items I need to take with me when I make a visit as well.

One of my favorite parts of my list organization is that my husband and kids can add items to the lists when needed.  My husband usually puts the date he adds something as part of the item so I notice it’s on the list and not a mistake.  We can also divide and conquer when shopping – as we pick things up, we check them off, and the other person’s list is changed, too, so they know not to toss it in their basket.

We also use the list to divide and conquer on shopping trips. We’ve split into three separate teams and raced to see who could finish their part of the list fastest (without crashing into any other customers and while still checking unit prices to make sure we get the best deal).

So there you go – the first step to organized spending is an organized shopping list!

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Photo Credit:
Shopping List by Bruce Turner from AustinTX (shopping list) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons