An Effective Wal-Mart Strategy

by mike on June 16, 2011

written by Mandy Young

I have always been the primary shopper of the family.  Since I do the cooking except for the occasional frozen pizza and grilled dinner, it is natural that I also do the grocery list and shopping.  Along with this I also manage the other supplies in the home.  Cleaners, toiletries and other miscellaneous odds and ends fall under my responsibility.  This would be a very simple task until you throw the “budget” into the mix.  If I could go to the store and just buy what I wanted, it would be fun.  But that is not how we live.  There is a limit to what I spend in a week and this caused some frustration for me in the beginning.  It always seemed to be that one week we would need toothpaste and nothing else.  Then the next week,  along with Mike telling me he is out of garbage bags and shampoo, we need paper towels, napkins and my razor is so dull I might as well use a butter knife.  I cannot buy all this with what we have in the envelope this week.  I quickly realized I had to get organized.  So to the best of my ability I am going to share with you how I manage our household items budget.

1.       I separate food from everything else.  I found it easier to plan with these numbers separated.  That way I can concentrate on using all the money in the food envelope to provide nutritious meals for my family and don’t feel like I am cheating my kids out of fruit to buy shaving cream.

2.       I keep a list posted on the fridge so when Mike runs out or notices something getting low he can add it to the list.

3.      I have backups of just about all of our household items that we use regularly.  This is the biggest key I have found for being able to plan a budget for miscellaneous items.  This took me a long time to build up.  If you think of all the items in your house that you buy on a regular basis the dollar amount adds up very fast.  Obviously you are not going to be able to back up every item in one week.  The way I started was slow and steady.  Now when I go to the store I am buying to replace a back up, not buy something because we are totally out.  When making your list for your next run to the store, right what you are out of or low on first, then add items you would like to back up.  Start with the ones you use the most or are needed because of the season, like sunscreen in the spring and summer, lip balm for the winter.  You may notice that a mattress pad is getting thin, don’t go buy one right away, add it to the list and wait.  If it means you have to set aside five dollars a week until you save up to buy it, so be it, the point is to be your own credit, not Visa.  Each week you will grow your supplies, making your list and adding as many backups as you can.  Eventually the goal is to have an open item and one waiting on the shelf.  No rush, no stress.

I have found that following these guidelines has taken the frustration out of my shopping.  I’m not annoyed that I can’t buy everything on my list because I know that we still have it at home.  No one is going to be out of something they need because I can’t tell the future and anticipate the exact moment my husband will use the last swipe of his deodorant.  I can confidently stay within my budgeted amount.

Photo Credit: Wendy Copley

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