Grocery list

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Carry a Master List
You know the drill: Make a list before hitting the grocery store or department store aisles so you'll be less likely to buy impulsively and more likely to come home with things you actually need.

But, what about those visits that are more spontaneous? When a friend drags you to her favorite outlet or an afternoon stroll ends in a new neighborhood boutique, you'll find a master wish list might save you from yourself.

"I keep a shopping list on my smartphone," says Lauren Lyons Cole, a certified financial planner. A few times a year, she goes through cupboards and closets from attic to garage and notes what she needs. "I'm only allowed to buy the stuff that's on my list."

Although a small notepad and pen would do the job, a smartphone means access to apps such as Google Shopper, which not only can store your master list, but also can scan barcodes for price comparisons, reviews and more.

Think of a master list as the ever-present instructions for scavenger hunting items you most covet to be found at the very best price.