How to organize your shopping

Now that some of the restrictions on your life are eased and stores are opening do you want to shop?  With fewer activities available to participate in, do you find that shopping is away to pass your time?    Especially during these difficult times, it is easy to use retail therapy as a way to temporarily feel better. Shop with a purpose and a list.  This will help you to only buy what you need, stay within your budget and keep the clutter under control.

A girl in a shopping aisle with an armfull of junk food.

If you find that you spend too much time or money shopping, here are some ideas from “Don’t Agonize Organize your Office” by Diane A Hatcher.

Buying for the Wrong Reasons                                                                                           

  • It was on sale
  • Too good a bargain to pass up
  • I may find a use for it someday
  • Someone else I know may need it one day
  • It feels good to shop

How to Buy

  • Shop for things you need not want
  • Shop for things that fit into the space you have
  • What am I going to use it for?
  • Where am I going to put it?
  • When you buy something new, give 2 things away.

Whenever you buy, make a plan first. 

Signs can encourage to purchase items, so follow your plan not their plan

What habits have you set for yourself so you don’t buy unnecessary items?

Julie Stobbe is a Trained Professional Organizer and Lifestyle Organizing Coach who brings happiness to homes and organization to offices, in person and virtually. She enjoys working with her clients to provide customized organizing solutions to suit their individual needs and situation. She reduces clutter, streamlines processes and manages time to help her clients be more effective in reaching their goals. Julie can coach you to break-free of the physical or emotional clutter constraining you from living life on your terms. 

Contact her at

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  1. Janet Barclay on July 8, 2020 at 4:59 am

    I’m not really comfortable going into stores right now, so I’m grocery shopping every two weeks instead of weekly. To plan that far ahead, I have to be really organized with a good list and be flexible enough to make changes if I can’t get something on my list. That much food takes up a lot of space in my shopping cart, my trunk, and my fridge and cupboards, so I really can’t afford to buy anything we don’t need.

  2. Seana Turner on July 13, 2020 at 8:07 am

    I’m still not really shopping for non-essentials in physical stores. I haven’t even bought much online because I don’t need much. I think that has been sort of an eye-opener… to realize how little I need. I know multiple people who have gotten into serious trouble because shopping felt good. It really can ruin a life.

    • Julie Stobbe on July 14, 2020 at 8:13 am

      Shopping can cause serious trouble. I think some people shop online to have things coming to their house. I think it helps them to feel less lonely. I think they enjoy the task of opening up a package and seeing what is inside. Then they return it. It feels like a lot of work. The problem gets serious when they don’t return it.

  3. Amy Slenker-Smith on July 13, 2020 at 8:17 am

    Great article. I love the lists and agree 100%. “Advertising Works” is a phrase I say to myself when I feel I’m being influenced to buy something. And then I walk through the questions you recommended. Our consumerism culture needs this reminder daily even during pandemic!

    • Julie Stobbe on July 14, 2020 at 8:10 am

      I listen to a podcast called Under the Influence. It is about marketing. Sometimes I enjoy reading the advertising and analyzing it to see what technique it is using to make me buy. By studying the advertising it takes away the power to make me buy and turns it into a fun game.

  4. Sabrina Quairoli on July 13, 2020 at 10:38 am

    I was talking about this with my mother-in-law the other day. She found that she has minimized how much shopping she does in the stores because 1. she is older and doesn’t want to be exposed to COVID-19; 2. she doesn’t go out as much, she doesn’t need much. It’s essential to figure out why you are buying something before purchasing it. Taking the time to make a list will weed out the wants and allow you just to purchase the needs. =) Thanks for sharing.

    • Julie Stobbe on July 14, 2020 at 8:06 am

      I appreciate your comments Sabrina. Buying what is essential saves a lot of time and money. The more amount of time you spend in stores the more you will buy. The list helps you to get in out quickly and target the parts of the store you need to visit.

  5. Linda Samuels on July 13, 2020 at 4:30 pm

    These days the only stores I go to are the market and CVS. I don’t miss “window shopping.” And I’m not anxious to go back. It’s interesting how my habits were forced to change during this time and I’m fine with it. I also haven’t been going out to eat and have been making all of our meals. That’s another big habit change. I don’t miss dining out either. It was expensive and noisy.

    When I do go to the stores, I have my list in hand. It helps keep me focused (get in and get out,) and also I don’t make impulse purchases. So while I don’t wish the pandemic on anyone, it’s been interesting to see how some positive habits have developed out of necessity.

    • Julie Stobbe on July 14, 2020 at 8:02 am

      I agree the pandemic has changed the way we shop and what we thought we needed. We have just started to go out to eat again and I do enjoy the break from cooking. It will be hard for me to keep cooking as much as I have but the upside is now my husband cooks twice a week. He learned a new skill thanks to Covid.

  6. Ronni Eisenberg on July 13, 2020 at 4:43 pm

    When I think of shopping I can’t ignore food shopping. I always go in with a plan and a list. And, I always leave with more items than I intended to purchase.
    I like what you said about being aware of signs that encourage you to buy. They pull you in. It doesn’t matter if something is on sale if you’re on a budget and don’t need it!
    Well done!

    • Julie Stobbe on July 14, 2020 at 7:58 am

      The signs are a big problem, 2 for 1, get 50% off on the second. Usually, we only need one so buy one.

  7. Janet Schiesl on July 13, 2020 at 7:38 pm

    I am have thoughtful when I shop for anything other than food. I know that we need food, so it’s necessary. But for most other things I do ask myself if I really need it. Often I’ll see something that I’d like and don’t purchase then. If a day or two later I still want it, I’ll return to the store and purchase it. But most of the time I don’t feel the same way about the item I wanted even the next day. If saves me a lot of money.

    • Julie Stobbe on July 14, 2020 at 7:57 am

      I do the same thing, wait a while and figure out if the item really meets all my requirements. I find it usually doesn’t and if I wait the right thing comes up. For some people, the inconvenience of needing to come back again will be enough of deterrence and help them not to purchase on the spot. Thanks for reminding us to wait a day or 2 before purchasing.

  8. Meaghan Jackson on July 17, 2020 at 8:46 pm

    These are some great tips. I have found that I often feel the need to buy something when I go to a store. It is really hard to stop myself if nothing happens to fit or I don’t find what I need. Having a list keeps me more accountable.

    • Julie Stobbe on July 20, 2020 at 7:43 am

      I like the use of the word accountable. That is really helpful. Being accountable to your budget, time, philosophy are important reasons to consider when shopping to make your life the best it can be.

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