List-Making & Focused Spending
Some people love making lists. Other people are indifferent about them. Either way, lists can be helpful in focusing your spending decisions and behaviors on what you need (or want) most, be that groceries, gifts, or anything else you may be looking to buy.
If you read our last post on Overcoming Spending Temptations, you'll know one way to avoid impulse purchases is to plan ahead. One of the best ways to start your planning process is with a list! Beyond your "To-Do List", you can use lists to:
- Prioritize multiple SMART goals
- Identify food you need to buy
- Give the most thoughtful gifts
- Acknowledge your values
- Share what you want with others
- Guide discussions about shared responsibilities
- Appreciate what you're grateful for
There are so many ways to use lists, but if you're not familiar with some of the tools available, it might be daunting to get started.
Digital vs Analog
There are several considerations when deciding which type of list is best for you. Some people prefer a physical list, especially in certain situations, like grocery shopping or brainstorming. Others prefer a digital list so they can take it with them.
If you're someone that tends to lose physical lists, but not your phone, you may want to use a digital list.
If you're someone that can hold onto a notebook but frequently forgets to charge their phone, a physical list might be better.
If you're concerned about fomite or contact transmission while out shopping in a physical space, a physical list may provide more piece of mind than remembering to disinfect your phone after your shopping trip since you can throw away the physical list.
There's no right or wrong answer to how you choose to curate your list(s). You just need to consider what's most useful for your individual needs.
Personally, I use a combination of both physical & digital.
I tend to do a lot of quick brainstorming on sticky notes, then organize my thoughts later to put into a digital list which I keep on an app in my phone. Since I keep my phone on me most of the time, I can edit or add to those lists more easily on the go. Plus, it relieves the stress of looking for the physical sticky note that I might have lost.
There are so many apps that you can use to make lists, which can be especially helpful if you share lists with others in your household. My partner and I have tried several different apps to share shopping lists for household items, groceries, or DIY projects.
Finding an App for You
If you're the type of consumer that likes to use reviews to make choices on what to download or purchase, consider that fake reviews have been on the rise during the pandemic (Lee, 2020).
If you use an app that has ads or suggests coupons, think critically about if that coupon or add is causing you to spend more money than you would have without the app. If you find that you're spending more with the app because of coupons or ads, that might be a good indicator to switch apps or stick to a physical list.
Lists for the Holiday Season
As we approach the holiday season, you may consider using lists to:
- Create your Thanksgiving Menu & ingredient-shopping list
- Identifying gifts you want to give to your friends & family (DIY or Purchased)
- Make a Black Friday or Cyber Monday deals-watching list
- Comparing pros & cons of attending holiday events & gatherings*
Including costs with the lists can also help you budget throughout the holiday season. A lot of people remember to account for the costs of gifts, but they may forget about the increased cost of travel, shared meals, and more.
*With the coronavirus having such an influential role in our holiday decisions this year, it's important to remember that the bigger an event is, the higher risk it is for everyone involved as well as the unsuspecting people that come in contact with the attendees.
If you have a preferred method of using lists to focus your spending, please feel free to share!