7 Lists You Should Be Making To Save You Money

Lists can save lives.

Okay, that may be hyperbole, but lists certainly save my sanity and keep my life organized. Lists help me stay on the top of things. Without lists, my life would be one big hot mess.

Lists can save money.

This one is certainly not hyperbole. Here is a list of these lists (see what I did here – I made another list :))

Lists You Should Be Making To Save a Pretty Penny

1. Budget

I know what you are thinking. You’re wondering if a budget is even a list? It is.

Lemme explain. In its simplest form, a budget is a list of your sources of income on the one hand and a list of your expenses on the other. In order to organize things, you categorize your expenses into various heads like food, travel, home, personal etc.

The first step to using a budget to help you save money is to start recording all your expenses. By all your expenses I mean each and every one of them, from the tiniest to the largest, from every single coffee you have to your monthly rent/mortgage payment.

Once you have an idea of what you spend on an average in a month, you can start comparing this to your monthly income. Assign budgeted amounts to every single category of expenditure. Budget your amount so that you have some left over to save for your financial goals.

The final step in using a budget to help you save more is to Limit your expenses so that you do not end up overspending. Regular tracking of your daily spending, weekly reviews will help you to stick to your budget and save you a pretty penny.

READ MORE: Can’t make a habit of budgeting or even noting down your expenses? Use these hacks to help you.

2. Meal plan

How many times do you end up making an emergency run to the grocery store to buy something for a recipe you want to make?

On the other hand, how many times do you end up throwing away stuff you bought because you never got around to making it? Or bought extra and it got spoiled?

There is no one system of meal planning that works for everyone.

For many years I did not plan what meals I was going to make for the family. I just cooked what I felt like eating on that particular day. If I did not have the ingredients that were required, I would swing by the grocery store just to pick up those two or three items.

meal plans - a list you should make to save money

It was exciting but it was all so tiring and time-consuming. Also, as I matured, I realized the unplanned system just was not who I was.

So then I started planning. I would plan every single dish for every single breakfast, lunch, and dinner, Monday through Sunday. I was planning 21 meals a week.

saving money with lists

This system didn’t last for very long, either.

Now, I plan for 7-8 meals each week. There is a list of dishes that are family favorites. Most of my meals consist of these tried and tested recipes. Occasionally I try out new recipes. These are planned in advance.

Rotating meals from a list of  family favorites has brought a lot of stability to my kitchen. The best part is that I don’t need too many special ingredients for these, just a few fresh vegetables and some meats. Most of the other ingredients (like pulses) can be found regularly in my pantry. I know instinctively how much of an items gets consumed in my house before it goes bad. Only that quantity is bought.

It has been a learning process, but this system works great for me. It does not feel restrictive. I make fewer trips to the supermarket, buy fewer items that I don’t end up using and less food waste.

My meal planning helps me to save. Win.

3. Grocery list

Americans waste roughly one pound of food a person per day, or 225-290 pounds per year. This is enough to feed 2 billion extra people every year.

A grocery list helps you to buy the stuff you need in the amounts you need. It works in alignment with your meal plan.

Staples: Note down any which are almost getting over and need to be replenished. This would include flours, rice, cereals, pulses, spices, oils, and frozen foods. Make a list on your phone, note them on a chalkboard hung in your pantry or a dry-erase board on your refrigerator.

Cleaning supplies and toiletries: Keep adding these to your list when you notice you notice you are running low on them.

Produce: Once you have made your meal plan, add the vegetables, fruits, fresh herbs, and meats that you need for the week and the quantities needed.

Finally, see what quantities of eggs, bread, milk, juices, etc you need for the week and add to the list.

It will help you stay on track and prevent aimless wandering in the aisle. Your grocery list helps keep you away from that tempting bakery section that gets your salivary glands going and you shelling out extra bucks that you did not plan for.

4. Holiday Gifts

Holidays can be such a stress, financially. I mean, the festivity and the joy is lovely. But you gotta mind your wallet.

It is so easy to get carried away while buying gifts and ending up with heartburn after.

So, it is best to plan ahead. Start with a list of ALL the people who you would be buying gifts for. Write down a budgeted amount against each person. Ensure that the combined total is something you can afford to and are happy to spend. If not adjust.

Then, for each person think of things that you would like to gift which fall within the budgeted amount. If you are buying multiple items for one person, make sure that the total amount does not end up overshooting your budget.

Go shopping with this list. Check online to see if something is available at a discount.

You will avoid a lot of last-minute what-to-buy kind of stress. Not to mention, avoiding burning a hole in your pocket.

READ MORE: How to Budget and Save for Christmas

5. Back-To-School Shopping List

Back-to-school is such a buzzing time of the year. New school supplies, trendy wardrobe updates, attractive displays everywhere from Walmart to Staples, it is little wonder that this month ends up derailing your monthly spending budget.

To avoid meltdowns and overwhelm, it is best to pre-plan. Talk to your child about what is needed. Note it down. Budget a small amount for some stuff that you may be tempted to buy at the last minute.

Make sure to have your kiddos buy-in on it. Helps him to feel responsible for sticking to the budget too.

Read More: Use this back-to-school shopping guide to help you make your shopping list.

6. Inventory of Items You Are No Longer Using and Can Sell on eBay

There is little doubt that we end up buying too much stuff. A few years ago, the Wall Street Journal reported that American spend $1.2 trillion on goods and services they don’t absolutely need. This was roughly 11.2% of total consumer spending.

In simple words, out of every 100 dollars that American spend, 11 is spent on buying things that are not needed.

One out of every 10 Americans rents a storage facility. This is in addition to the garage, attic or basement which are full of unused things. Clearly, there is room to trim the fat.

Think of all the stuff you have lying around gathering dust that you have not used in months. Do you even remember all these things – clothes, furniture, accessories, baby stuff, gifts received?

Make a list and start selling them. Not only will you earn some moolah, but you will also actually save money on that storage facility you have hired.

7. Books You Own But Have Not Read

How many times have you picked up a book with the intention of reading it? There is something about the smell of paper, isn’t it?

Yet, today it lies there on your bookshelf untouched and pristine.

So before you find yourself getting sucked into a bookshop once again, make a list of all those books that you own and haven’t read as yet. Sort out your bookshelves and reboot your reading plan. Let this list be your reading roadmap for the days (months?) ahead.

That is not all. The lists you should be making that will save you some pretty bucks can go on. You can make a list of pantry items that need to be consumed soon, a list of gifts lying at home that can be recycled, a list of self-care things you can do. I am sure you will come up with a few of your own, too.

Do you make any of these lists to save money? Which others would you add to the list?

How to save money around the house. Here is are some quick and easy ways. Make these simple lists to help you cut spending. Tips for a frugal life. #savemoney #frugal

Feature Image Photo by Lisa Fotios from Pexels
Photo by Stepan Kriz from Pexels
Photo by Hutomo Abrianto on Unsplash
Photo by Jess Watters on Unsplash


  1. Kevin

    November 14, 2018 at 6:12 pm

    Great article… we do 5 of the 7… we need to start making an EBay list and books we haven’t read list!

    Great tips!

    1. pennies4cents

      November 14, 2018 at 6:24 pm

      Awesome. You are doing great. Is there any other list you make that helps you also save money?

  2. Candice

    November 14, 2018 at 7:44 pm

    Some great tips. I already do a few of these, but it looks like there’s a lot more I could be doing.

    1. pennies4cents

      November 14, 2018 at 7:51 pm

      Do give the others a try. Are there any other lists you make that also help you save money? I would love to know.

  3. Eliza De Bruyne

    November 14, 2018 at 8:25 pm

    I really really need to start doing all of these! I tried the budgeting list, but I quickly lose track of everything… Reminder to keep up it!

  4. Beth Elkassih

    November 14, 2018 at 11:09 pm

    I agree this is a great article and very much needed. Well done!

  5. The Passive 100

    November 15, 2018 at 12:03 am

    I love making lists. Kind of obsessed actually. These are some great ideas! I haven’t been doing some of these so definitely need to start.

    1. pennies4cents

      November 16, 2018 at 7:08 pm

      Me too – kinda obsessed with lists and journals and paper.

  6. Kimmy Ripley

    November 15, 2018 at 3:39 pm

    Meal planning saves me a lot. I used to push a shopping cart around in the store but now I use Kroger’s ClickList and I save money by seeing how much my total is coming to. If I start going out of budget I figure out what can removed from cart to cut down cost. This is a great post with some great tips! Don’t forget to look all over online for coupons to print and clip while meal planning!

    1. pennies4cents

      November 16, 2018 at 7:07 pm

      Woohoo to saving money on your groceries. Glad this system works for you. Do you also use Kroger’s ClickList to buy fresh produce?

  7. Sasha

    November 15, 2018 at 8:05 pm

    These are some great ideas! Thanks so much! I really need to start more meal planning, I think that saves me the most money. Grocery shopping without an idea of what I’m doing is expensive LOL.

    1. pennies4cents

      November 16, 2018 at 7:01 pm

      It sure can be. Give it a try and let me know how it goes.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.