Here's How I Save $100+ Per Week By Shopping With a Grocery List

Shopping with a grocery list is a simple, smart financial hack that actually works—and saves you tons of money in the long run.

If you've ever walked into a grocery store on a mission to buy just eggs and milk, but left with a cart full of items you didn't really need, you're not alone. I was in your shoes-for many years. Then I made one small lifestyle change that ended up saving me more than $100 every week.

As an impulsive buyer, I gravitate towards pulling things off of shelves. That was especially true at grocery stores, where it's easy to start filling your cart with buy-one-get-one snacks, bottles of wine on sale, and some new salad dressings that sound tasty. Next thing you know, you've spent an extra $100 on groceries you never intended to spend. It adds up fast-especially when you're grocery shopping on a weekly basis.

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Breaking the cycle

I knew I needed to make a change in my shopping habits. Between just my partner and me, we were spending ridiculous amounts of money on groceries (averaging out to $250 or more per haul). It felt excessive and wasteful, especially when at least a quarter of the items we were buying ended up sitting in our pantry for months, uneaten and forgotten about. I started thinking about how much money I could save through smarter shopping habits to free up our budget.

To break the cycle, I decided to implement a grocery shopping list that could get me out of this shopping trap. In many other areas in my life, including work, I've always been big on lists. They help keep me on track, make sure that I get everything done, and also add some structure to whatever it is I'm taking on at that moment. Plus, they make me feel more organized in my day-to-day activities. So I chose to extend this practice to grocery shopping.

Growing up, my mother often shopped with a grocery list. Not only does it help you not forget to buy what you actually need, but it cuts down on the amount of time you spend in a grocery store, period-you know, standing in the aisle, trying to remember what you needed to get, when that shiny new purchase catches your eye instead. Thus, sticking to a list has the benefit of fewer impulse buys.

I made one master list to keep on my phone that has all of our essentials that we buy each week, such as eggs, dairy, meats, fruits, vegetables, drinks and a handful of go-to snacks. I also keep a whiteboard on our fridge where we write down anything we run out of. Then, before each trip to the grocery store, I sit down at my dining table and combine the two lists, keeping a written tab on everything we need that day.

When I started this method, I made a vow to myself to stick as closely to the list as possible, allowing no more than three additional impulse buys if something caught my eye.

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Saving big with smarter shopping

The first time I shopped with a list, I found how much faster I made my way through the grocery store. Instead of spending an hour shopping, I was in and out in half the time. I also found myself less inclined to make impulse buys, since I wasn't casually browsing the aisles. The biggest kicker? When I checked out-with everything I needed that week-it clocked in at half the price of our usual grocery hauls. Rather than looking at a $250-plus bill, the final sum was $100 less.

I was amazed at how much money I saved. Sure, I didn't go home with an extra three bottles of wine that had such a good sale on them that I couldn't say no, and an armful of exotic snacks, but I did go home with a decent chunk of cash that I could use elsewhere. And after repeating this new shopping process three or four times, I found myself saving upwards of $400 a month.

When I checked out-with everything I needed that week-it clocked in at half the price of our usual grocery hauls. Rather than looking at a $250-plus bill, the final sum was $100 less.

While switching to list-only shopping seemed like a major change at first, I grew used to it rather quickly. It made shopping more efficient, and our household budget that much more flexible. Now, I've been shopping with a grocery list for more than a year, and I'll never go back to casual browsing. Thanks to this tiny lifestyle hack that amounted to serious financial gains, I was able to better prioritize my spending and learn smart ways to both shop and save. Plus, I've become much less wasteful with food-another hidden bonus of this strategic shopping practice.

Print out a list like the one above or make one on your phone; it doesn't matter how you go about it. Shopping with a grocery list (any grocery list!) can be a smart financial hack that actually works-and saves you tons of money in the long run.

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