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Making Lists Saves Time and Money


I am a fairly recent convert to the smart phone world. I got an iphone in September 2012 and was just given an iPad for Christmas. One of the apps I open a million times a day is the standard “Notes” app that comes with apple products. I’d be curious to learn how much time and money I’ve saved by using this simple app. I am a to-do list kind of person. I love them so much I even add things to my to-do list that I’ve already completed because I love the feeling of accomplishment from crossing off items on a to-do list. Anyone relate?

Time = Money
You can’t put a price tag on time but we all know it’s highly valuable and limited. While you don’t have to fall head-over-heels in love with to-do lists like me, having one can make you more efficient and, as a result, you can save quite a bit of money from better managing your time. I’d say it’s safe to say everyone reading this has a phone… most of you are reading this very article from your phone. When you’re done soaking in this helpful information, I suggest you open up that notepad and set yourself up to be more productive in 2014.

5 categories in my “Notes” app that keep me organized:

Article ideas
This tip applies if you are a fellow blogger. Sometimes article topics come to mind while I’m out and about so I just jot down my thoughts in my note called “Articles.” This is so handy for when I sit down to write an article because I don’t waste time thinking about what I should write about!

Meal Ideas
This is the same concept as keeping ideas for articles. I add new ideas from Pinterest as well as our favorite go-to dinners that are quick and easy. Having a few ideas ready for each week also allows me to plan a more strategic grocery list.

Grocery list
I have the “Any List” app because I thought it was cool that my husband could update the list from his phone and it syncs with mine. It’s cool in theory, but I’m usually with Dave when items come to mind so he rarely has to use the app since he can just tell me what we’re running low on. I find it easier to have a note named “Groceries” and add stuff before my next shopping trip. This seemingly small task makes me more efficient for multiple reasons:

1. I have a physical (not mental) grocery list so I’m less likely to make spontaneous purchases and more likely to only purchase what is on the list.

2. I end up meal planning for the week so I know what I need to add to my grocery list.

3. Meal planning cuts down on spontaneous eating-out occurrences.

4. I cut down on extra trips to the store because I’m less likely to forget an item I need for a meal later in the week.

5. I get through the grocery store way faster than trying to think of what I need as I walk aisle by aisle

6. I can go to the grocery store whenever is convenient because I have my grocery list on my phone, not on a piece of paper stuck to the fridge that I need to go back home and retrieve. This used to happen and my memory was never good enough to recall everything on the list.

If you’ve followed me for any amount of time, you know we’ve kept a monthly budget throughout our 4 years of marriage (see our actual Excel spreadsheet in this article). We’re not penny pinchers, but saving a few bucks here and there has allowed us to pay off $30k of student loans in 9 months, set up a 6-month emergency fund, and complete many other financial goals way faster than we ever thought we could accomplish. In our case I’m usually the grocery shopper, gas filler-upper, and bill-payer. After I get my receipt for a purchase I just type the amount into my notes titled “Expenses” and enter it into our Excel sheet when I get a chance. This method is easier than saving receipts that clutter my home or losing them altogether.

I usually keep two to-do lists; one on my phone and one on a pad of paper. The list on the pad of paper includes a “get done today” list and the list on my phone is for stuff that I’d like to get done during the week but isn’t urgent (an “eventually” list). I add one or two things from the “eventually” list onto my “today” list throughout the week. For example:

“Today” list- drop off books at library, groceries, clean bathrooms, wash sheets & towels, put salmon in fridge to thaw for tomorrow’s dinner.
“Eventually” list- oil change, change car insurance deductible, buy new air filters for furnace, clean out fridge, flu shot.

Other categories
You can think of other categories that would apply specifically to you; here are a few others that are relevant to me:

– Hospital bag (what to pack for baby Nora’s arrival date!)

– Gift ideas (I’m terrible at thinking of gifts for family/friends, so this list stays on my phone all year and I add to it when a good idea comes to mind)

– Home “to-do” (things we’d like to eventually do to our condo)

– Baby registry (things I want to add or change when I get the chance)


What tools do you use to save time and money?


AUTHOR Derek Sall

Derek has a Bachelor's degree in Finance and a Master's in Business. As a finance manager in the corporate world, he regularly identified and solved problems at the C-suite level. Today, Derek isn't interested in helping big companies. Instead, he's helping individuals win financially--one email, one article, one person at a time.


  1. My to-do lists are integrated with Google Calendar. That way I can get to them wherever there is a connected computer. My grocery lists are typically hand written, but I never go shopping without a list. I may go off list to buy something that I know we will eat and is on a particularly good sale, but that is rare.

    • I have yet to set up Google Calendar. For some reason I can’t move on from my traditional paper and pen planner. It works well for me but it would be handy to have my schedule on Google Calendar in case I don’t have my planner with me. Thanks for the tip, Bryce.

  2. I love my iPhone for saving money! I used the RedLaser app to scan products in the store and compare them to other prices online/in store. It’s saved me lots of money and it’s so quick and easy too.

    • I have not used that app before but gave a few friends who swear by it! I would probably use it for big ticket items but not if it’s only going to save me a few bucks that I’d spend on gas from driving to multiple locations. Thanks, Monica!

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