"By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail." I wish I'd invented that phase, but the inventor Benjamin Franklin figured out the whole planning and failure thing well before my time. And since planning is kinda easy, I'm sharing my favourite ways to save time and money by preparing with two no-fail lists:

1. The Spending List

Did you make a plan to spend that money? If "Yes", then awesome! If "No", then less awesome. To get yourself on track this year keep a simple spending list or journal to track where and when you spent your dough. Be sure to save your receipts and tally your spends every day. It may seem like a lot of work at first, but over time you’ll find that a daily money tracking system is an easy habit to keep.

You can track spending with the tried and true pen and notebook method, a daily planner, my free expense tracker worksheet, or a digital money-tracking app. All methods can affect your money decisions by opening your eyes to what you're buying and giving you the insight to make a change.

2. The Shopping List

Impulse spending is the misfortune of the saver. I repeat this line every time I get lost in a mall without a shopping list to keep me honest. Before stepping foot in a department store, grocer, or even a second-hand consignment shop I keep my trusty list on hand. This helps me stick to spending on the items I need while staying wistful over the stuff I want.

Since 17% of impulse spending happens during unplanned shopping trips and you're 53% less likely to splurge when you shop for "immediate needs or forgotten items”, it's super important to stick to a list and not shop when bored. (Here's the scientific study: Unplanned Purchases: Who Does It, How Often, and Why). Phew.

Flipp makes it easy to plan a shopping trip with the perfect money-saving list in the palm of your hand.

  1. Method One: Tap and Add. Use the Flipp Shopping list feature to tap and add your items to a master list. Flipp will neatly categorize food into grocery subcategories (Dairy & Eggs, Meat & Seafood, Bakery, Pantry, Produce, etc.) You can also organize stuff into other spending areas such as Personal Care, Babies, and Electronics. Making a shopping list is so easy I get my five-year-old daughter to help out with the groceries. As a bonus I'm also teaching her the importance of smarter spending and saving money.

  2. Method Two: Take a photo. Write out your list on paper, take a picture, and Flipp will transcribe and digitize your written words into a shopping list.

  3. Method Three: Clip Away! Use Flipp to search for sales and clip flyer items to the My Clippings area. I often shop for groceries by browsing Flipp's clipped items to guide me through the sales. Keeping a clipping list is also handy if you need help locating a sale item.

  4. Method Four: Share a shopping list. Invite a friend or spouse to your Flipp account and work together to build a master shopping list. Since using Flipp's Collaborate and Combine feature with my husband we've stopped overbuying milk.

  5. Method Five: Store Mode. Save your time and sanity by tapping your local store from within your Shopping List, and Flipp will map your items to the store's aisles.

With so many ways to plan your spending there's no excuse to fail -- so get listed and save!


Kerry K. Taylor is a consumer expert at Squawkfox.com.