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3 Ways to Use Shopping Lists to Reduce Impulse Purchases

A woman checking items off her list at the grocery store.
Stokkete/Shutterstock

Are you an avid list maker, or do you go to the store and wing it? Lists aren’t just good for making sure you buy the things you need; they’re also surprisingly useful for stopping you from impulse shopping, too.

How are lists useful in reducing impulse shopping? Use these three list-making tips and tricks to make sure what goes into your cart is an intended purchase.

List How Much You Need of Each Item

It’s easy to start tossing five boxes of cake mix in your cart, especially when it’s on sale. Before you go crazy on sale items, consider how much you actually need. If you don’t bake cakes often, those boxes may expire before you get around to baking. Make it easier by writing down how much of each item you need.

This goes for more than groceries. When you’re shopping for clothing, birthday gifts, and new furniture—write down exactly what you need. It will make shopping easier, and you’ll spend less money by not impulsively buying too much of any one item.

Make a Separate List for Each Store

Are you shopping at more than one store? Write each store down with its own shopping list. Go only to the stores you have lists for. It’s easy to get drawn into stores you don’t need to go to when they have sales going on, but sales aren’t saving you any money when you’re buying things you don’t actually need.

It may seem silly, but if you’re the kind of shopper that feels the call to pop into Target or Michael’s just because there might be something on clearance worth looking at, sticking only to stores that you’ve made a list for will go a long way towards reducing impulse shopping.

List Items by Store Location

You want the real super-secret to avoiding impulse purchases? Map out your shopping list. Whether you have to do some research on the layout of a store or you’ve shopped there enough to know where everything is, write your list in a way that ensures you’re staying out of the departments you don’t need anything from.

Following your list may also keep you from retracing your steps multiple times (which means multiple trips past endcaps loaded with impulse purchases), and keep you from wandering through departments that aren’t on your list. You can’t impulse buy a bunch of candles on sale if you never end up in that aisle, after all.

Yvonne Glasgow Yvonne Glasgow
Yvonne Glasgow is a professional writer with two decades of experience. She has written and edited for nutritionists, start-ups, dating companies, SEO firms, newspapers, board game companies, and more. Yvonne is a published poet and short story writer, and she is a life coach. Read Full Bio »

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