I have a number of friends that are active or former military. They are some of the finest people I’ve had the privilege of knowing. On the whole, they have an above-average sense of purpose and follow-through.
I’ve heard enough of their experience that this sense of purpose and follow-through comes from their military experience. And it makes good sense. Imagine if the military didn’t have a sense of purpose. What would happen if the military didn’t plan what it would do from day to day? It would be crazy, wouldn’t it? I mean, a fighter pilot might decide to light up Nebraska just to see if he can make a whole bunch of popcorn or something.
Much to the delight of Nebraskan corn farmers, and lots of others, our military has a plan. The plan starts at the top with guys with a lot of stars on their shoulders, goes down into the ranks, and is executed.
Do we shop with a plan, or do we just “go shopping”?
If we want to shop wisely, we need to plan for the shopping trip just like our armed forces plan their day, week, etc. We need a sense of purpose and follow-through, or else we’ll end up wasting a lot of time, money, or both. In other words, execute a shopping plan rather than just “go shopping.”
- Make a list of what to buy. Know what you’re going to buy before heading out to the store. We have a white board in our kitchen area that has a number of columns for various places we shop. As we get low on things, we add those items to the list under the appropriate store.
- Make a list of what not to buy. Know what you have plenty of already so that you don’t add to the confusion. This is a “do not buy” list.
- Stick to the list! You know what you need to buy, so stick to it! Execute the shopping plan rather than “go shopping”.
- Do you need a cart? If you’re only shopping for a couple of items, then no, you don’t need a shopping cart. Shopping carts tend to fill up if you have them.
- Shop from a position of strength. Translation: Don’t go grocery shopping hungry.
- Verbally remind yourself why you’re there. A Marine friend of mine told me about the three parts of a presentation: (a) saying what you’re going to say; (b) saying it; (c) saying what you said. Reminding yourself what you’re shopping for will help you get in and out with that item, and nothing else.
Compiling the lists doesn’t take a whole lot of time. Depending on how much you like shopping, the follow-through might be a little tougher, but that’s the critical part: the execution. Even the best-laid plans mean nothing without good execution.
What other tricks do you have to keep to your shopping plans?
(Note: Thanks to Sweating the Big Stuff for including this article in the Carnival of Personal Finance!)