The Money-Saving Benefits of Making Lists

by Debra Karplus
The Money-Saving Benefits of Making Lists photo

Could the simple task of making lists really improve your finances? First, consider these money-saving benefits of list making, and then get into the habit of making your own lists.

It seems so blatantly simple, but most people don’t do it.

Making lists (on a piece of paper, in a calendar book, on an electronic device, or via a portable device or phone app) really can save time and money. According to Forbes’ The Life-Changing Magic of List-Making, there are numerous benefits to making lists.

Making a list can save time and money in little ways that accumulate into much bigger savings.

Problem: If you are like most people, you head to the supermarket or discount store without a list of what you need. You return home, and though you did buy many of the items you set out to purchase, you realize that at least one item you set out to buy never ended up in your shopping cart. Also, a few impulse items were bought on a whim. Don’t beat yourself up about this; you are more the rule than the exception. In fact, you are like most people!

Solution: Start a master list for each of the places you routinely shop for groceries and other frequent items. Organize your list based on how the store is organized. For example, if produce is the first section of the store, then put produce at the top of your list. Keep this list in your purse, wallet or otherwise handy place where it will always be available when you need it. Next time you need to buy things, you can fly through the store in record speed and only buy what you set out to buy.

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Determine the types of lists that will best suit your money- and time-saving needs.

Lists can serve you well for other routine tasks like running errands. Notate where you need to go and prioritize as needed, keeping in mind where places are located and what you will be picking up or dropping off. This simple technique, which hopefully turns into a habit, is guaranteed to save time, gas, and money.

Other types of lists to make might include a master list for packing, especially if you travel frequently or on short notice. Do this and you will never have to make an emergency run to a convenience store in a strange city looking for overpriced toothpaste or pantyhose.

Making a “to-do” list of home repairs can also save money and time. Whether you are a do-it-yourselfer or someone who hires professionals, this can save money, both in trips to the home improvement store and in paying the service call for a repairman. For example, if your handyman charges a minimum for a routine service call, you could have him do a few other lesser repairs while he is already charging you for his time.

Some people even make lists of books they want to read. When you find yourself with a spare moment for a good read, you won’t have to waste any time looking for a good book.

Making a list of your short- and long-term financial goals truly has the power to make you rich or at least richer!

Where do you want to be financially in the next 10 years, 5 years, 1 year, or even this month? Most people probably cannot honestly answer that question. If you truly want to improve your financial prowess, the only real way to do this is to set realistic and measurable goals. Maybe you want to pay off your mortgage faster or put new carpeting into the master bedroom. Possibly an Alaskan cruise has been on your bucket list.

Making lists of specific goals is your ticket to a more secure financial future; it guides you toward solidifying your goals and provides a tool to keep you on track each time you revisit your list of goals.

Prioritizing your list is crucial. It is the well-kept secret that promises to keep you from becoming overwhelmed by your list or lists. Putting your daughter through college may take precedence over moving to a new house in the immediate future, but both may be doable. Make some lists and make it happen!

Think about some of the categories of your life that could be tweaked by making a list. Then get out whatever paper or electronic method that suits you best for keeping organized with a list. If you like using apps, then be sure to search online. You will be amazed at the increasing number of apps to help you with this process. Allow list-making to become a habit.

Reviewed October 2022

About the Author

Debra is an occupational therapist, accountant, teacher and freelance writer. She is a writer for Advance for Occupational Therapy Practitioners. She also writes for Grand Magazine, has some items (fiction and non fiction) selling on Amazon (Kindle), has written several travel articles for the Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette and several articles for and volunteers as a money mentor for the University of Illinois Cooperative Extension money mentoring program. Learn more about her at

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