Yesterday we discussed making a menu plan to save money. In order to make an effective menu plan, you first have to access what's in your cupboards, fridge, and freezer(s). This way you know what you have to work with. Think about what meals you can make based on what you already have. For example, say you have meatballs and marinara sauce but you need pasta. Put pasta on your shopping list, and you have one night's dinner already planned. Remember to add items to make your breakfasts and lunches for the week. Make a trip through your house to make sure you don't forget to add things like laundry soap or sponges to your list as well. But the most important part of making a list, is sticking to it! If you make a list and then don't follow it, that is not going to save you money. Double check your list before you leave for the store to make sure everything you need is on it, then go buy only those things. Since you know the list contains your needs, then everything beyond the list is a want. Wants can add up, so make sure to keep them in check. To lighten the blow, maybe pick one 'want' to splurge on each week if you have room in your budget. Next time you go to the store, put all the items on your list in the large part of the cart, and the other items not on your list in the smaller 'seat' section. Before you check out, re-evaluate everything in the want/seat section -- is it something you truly need (like a box of tissues for the bathroom that you just forgot to add to the note), or a want that can be left at the store to save money? This exercise definitely helps to put things in perspective, especially if you add up the items that you put back. This one tip could easily save you $20 week, and that is a lot over the course of a year. So, tip #4 -- make a shopping list, and then stick to it to save money!
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