My Journey out of Debt

Featured customers currently enrolled in a CareOne Debt Relief Plan, share journey to become debt-free; hear how they juggle family, finances, and more.

The List

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Lists are powerful things, and I'm a list kind of guy.  It's my opinion that things are less likely to be forgotten, and more likely to get done if they're written down on paper with ink.  I make all kinds of lists.  Each night I make a list of things I need to get done the next day and set it on the counter so I'll see it in the morning. I have a list of things I need to do at work, on my office whiteboard.  I make lists of things we need to buy, and stick them on the refrigerator.   I have a list of projects that need to get done around the house written in a notebook.  But my favorite list of all is the grocery shopping list.

I love to cook, and I love to eat.  It's only natural that I would then love to go grocery shopping.  Armed with the week's grocery ad of sales, and coupons, I get a blank piece of paper and make a list of meals we're going to have for the next week on the right side of the paper. This will eventually get ripped off, and placed on the refrigerator door as the week's menu.  I then write the things that are needed to create those meals on the left side of the paper - making frequent trips to the cabinets to ensure we don't already have an item.  I space the items out and put them in the order that I will encounter them at the grocery store where I shop.  Finally, the list is filled in with snacks and special requests from the rest of the family.

Now it's time to see what the damage is.  I put an approximate price next to each item and add up my total.  If the weekly grocery budget has been exceeded, things start getting crossed off the list.  When a budget-friendly list has been finalized, it's time to make the trip to the store and purchase the items.  

My wife and I have very different methodologies when it comes to shopping.  I once heard a comedian attempt to describe the differences between men and women with respect to shopping.  While this description is certainly a generalization and in no way represents all people, it rings true to my own personal situation. 

The comedian said that men tend to treat shopping as a military mission.  Define your goal, get in, accomplish your mission, and get out.  Do this as quickly as possible.  Women tend to take their time, browse, and treat shopping as entertainment. Specifically, my wife views grocery shopping as an activity that allows us to spend quality time together.  I love my wife more than I can ever put into words, but there is no place for quality time during a military mission.

I treat the list as my military goal.  It is absolute, and written in stone.  If it was to be changed, it should have been done before we started the mission.   My wife treats the list as a guideline.  It is fluid, and subject to change while we're pushing the cart.  If someone would listen in on our conversations while we're grocery shopping, some common phrases would be, "Oh, that looks good," "It's on Sale," and "That's not on the list." 

My wife doesn't always want to accompany me on grocery shopping trips, and grocery bills are typically lower when I go it alone. We both know it.  When I'm ready to head out the door with the list, and she says, "I'd like to come with," we usually have a discussion with respect to having to cut back a bit on weekly entertainment.   I believe that she has come to realize and accept the power of the list.  It keeps us on budget, and on task.  If we want to take a more quality time / entertainment approach, then well, that's going to affect the week's entertainment budget. I have come to accept that as well.  It is this kind of compromise and understanding that has taken us 14 years of marriage to figure out, and it's still not perfect. 

Although, I think that with the knowledge she has gained, my wife sometime manipulates my love of the list.  I will sometimes find entries on my various lists that are not in my handwriting.  But it's on the list, so it must be done.  I told you, lists are powerful things.

Related Links:

Great School Shopping Adventure 

 Gimmie a Spring Break



Travis Pizel

Travis is a contributing writer for the My Journey Out of Debt blog and is a very active member of the community forums. Travis is currently enrolled in a CareOne Debt Management Planand in his posts he shares his personal journey to pay off his debt and the tips he's learned along the way. As a father and husband he provides a unique perspective on balancing debt, finances, and family. Compensated CareOne Blogger.

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