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Cable TV is not a necessity. Coffee house coffee is not a necessity. Shopping for clothes is not a necessity. Stay out of the mall and the marts and depots. You must change your thinking here. Advertisers, retail companies and big box stores are very good at persuading you to part with your money for things you really don’t need. There are several industries devoted to the psychology of shopping and how the American consumer makes buying decisions. Warehouse stores are really good at this too.

You know, the big box stores you see advertised in the Sunday paper have the great sale on something you must have at such a great price. Have you noticed that you stop in to these stores to pick up a new dog leash or some picture hangers and wind up spending $60 to $100 at the checkout stand? You didn’t know you were going to buy any of that but you find you need these things and they were on sale. They know how to trick you into buying stuff you don’t need. Stay out of them! Here’s a trick. Throw out the Sunday ads and read the editorial section instead.

Look at what you are paying and not what you are saving when you go out to shop. That last sentence is very important for shopaholics “but I saved 50%” but you spent money on something you don’t need.

Shop with a list. Stick to the list. When you are sure you need something i.e. groceries, look in the pantry, refrigerator and cupboards. Make a list of everything you need. When you get to the grocery store, don’t buy anything that is not on the list. You will find temptation everywhere. The supermarket is as good as the advertisers and big box stores at getting you to buy things you don’t need. Plus, they have an advantage. You may be hungry. They know that and will offer samples at key times during the day. They will also place items next to each other to psychologically trick you. Regular priced tomato sauce is right next to the sale priced spaghetti. Coupons are not worth the time. Buy generic and save more that you would with the coupons. Looking through the coupons will only remind you of things you didn’t know you needed. They are designed to sell you products, not save you money. Catalogues are also very good at separating you from your money. Stop as many of them as you can. I still receive a few but I recycle them as soon as I get them.

Start a price book if you want to be a really good shopper and save money, start a price book for the things you use all the time; Milk, eggs, butter, bread, cereal, frozen dinners etc. These items often go on sale as loss leaders. If you make a small notebook and write down the each item, one per page, list the price, size and where you bought it or saw that price, you will know when items go on sale and whether one market charges more than the others for the same item. Stock up a bit when things are on sale and you will save money at the store.

Make sure you also check the price per oz, many boxes or bottles stay the same size, they just have less in them.