My Never Fail Secret For Bargain Shopping Success

April 22, 2017


My Super Secret Bargain Shopping Trick

I love to shop for home decor. Decorating is my passion, but let's face it, without restraint it can be a very pricey hobby. That doesn't work for me. I was raised by depression era parents, being frugal is in my genes. I also live in a tiny cottage. Too much stuff makes me itch and twitch. Simplifying has been the name of my recent game.

That, however, does not mean I like to shop or decorate any less. I just have to be very discerning.

So how do I keep my obsession with pretty accessories and accent pieces in check? What's the secret to my shopping willpower you ask?

Simple. I never get a cart.

Genius, right?

Carts are dangerous. 

Things just seem to hop in. 

When I carry items, I tend to look at them over and over, scrutinizing each one, and its price, as I juggle them all to fit more in my hands. 

I also have to put things down periodically to look at and handle other potential purchases. When I pick up my stash again, I am forced to reevaluate what I can realistically hold. 

Hard choices are made. 

It's survival of the fittest. 

If something makes it to the register, I must really, really want it. 

Trust me. 

I'm lazy. I am not going back to the front of the store for a cart and I am not going to find a sales associate to ask them to hold things for me. 

No. I make a quick trip up and down and the aisles, checking out the goods and grabbing only what I can carry. 

Now, if I had a cart, I would just toss everything in there, items jumbled on top of each other, a big pile of pretty, prices probably unknown. Anything that caught my eye would just go in the cart.

Until the cart was full. 

I might dig through it trying to figure out what I wanted, but usually, by the time I had no room left, I would be ready to pay. I would just say, ring it all up. I can always return it if I change my mind. 

I'll decide at home. 

Big mistake.

We all now how that goes. Once it's home, it's much harder to let go. I mean I do return things often, if it's not perfect, it goes back.

But what about when it is positively perfect ~ I just don't need it. Or it's more than I wanted to spend?

Since it's paid for and already the house, well, I may as well, just keep it.

And there in lies the problem with the cart.

This is what the stores count on. I'm not a big Target shopper, I actually can't even remember the last time I was there, but I know this happens all the time in that store. There are videos, memes, Facebook posts and quotes about it.

"Just went into Target for toilet paper and came out with $350 worth of I don't know what!"

No wonder. Have you ever seen the size of their carts?

The grocery store is the same way.

It's the classic cart trap.

Paper Flower Kit Easy DIY

A few weeks ago, I shared the details of recent shopping trip. I showed off what I bought and what I left behind, which included a beautiful red canister set. People commented and emailed me, how could you have let them go. Surely, you are going back...

Well, the truth is, I really liked them. They were beautiful and they would've looked fabulous in my kitchen. However, they weren't cheap and I didn't need them. I have done the canister thing before, a few times, and I never put anything in them. They were strictly for show. After several months, I would get bored and the canisters would get donated or tucked away never to be seen again.

Money and space wasted on a whim.

If I had a cart, I probably would've put them in it, but since I didn't and there was no way I could hold four heavy, odd sized, ceramic containers, I left them.

And it was for the best.

Farmhouse Style Bread Bin

A few weeks later, the space was decorated with a lovely white bread tin that is way different than anything I have ever owned and it really is filled with bread, totally functional. Even better, I can use it as a charming planter or a vase or a storage container. I don't see it getting tucked anywhere, anytime soon.

Perfect.

Full disclosure, when I ordered it, I did have to put it in a virtual cart.

Yeah.

I have no trick for that one.

Yet.

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72 comments:

  1. Love this post!! I have two stories about carts....first I had a girlfriend (had, because she moved away but also had so many quirks that I couldn't shop with her anymore!) that would throw everything she wanted into a cart and then when it was time to pay would just take out one or two things and leave the cart in the middle of the store, full. I was horrified and asked her if she was going to put the stuff back and she said that is what the employees are for! The next cart story is how I don't take one at Goodwill and every single time I find stuff to buy. I am buying for my shop and booth so I want to fill a cart, but whenever I start out with one, I find nothing! Too funny but it works every time. I usually have to go back to the front of the store for a cart so I don't drop everything. It is so hard to be discerning, even when buying things to resell but I am getting better at it.....

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    1. Your stories are funny, AnnMarie! I worked retail for many years, during high school, while pursuing my undergraduate and graduate degrees and sometimes during my summers off from teaching, so I have a lot of cart stories of my own. I also ran into a lot of people like your girlfriend. Let’s just say that now, as a shopper, I always put things back, I never leave items in the dressing room or on the floor and I am super nice to the cashiers. As far as your Goodwill shopping goes, it seems as if you have worked a lack of carts into a good luck shopping charm. Hey, if it works for you, awesome…and you get some exercise walking back to the front of the store to boot! Win win! Thanks for sharing your cart tales and have a great week!

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  2. Such a brilliant idea! Same goes for the grocery store...mine has three choices for carts. One very small one that's barely bigger than a hand held basket, one medium size one, and one extra large one. I'm guilty of getting the extra large one every time. Maybe it's time for a change. :)

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    1. Ooh...I love the cart size choices. We don't have that! perhaps I would get a cart if I could get a tiny one. Then again, even that could be dangerous! ;)

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  3. I love your take on shopping and I thing the NO Cart rule is one of the best tips I ever heard of! Sometimes I'll go on a little spree, I think it's more therapy than anything else. On my drive home I'll play "Name what you have in your shopping bags." It's scary because sometimes I can't and then I know it was a whim.

    My mom used to say the best way to save money was to stay out of the stores. She was very, very smart!!

    Happy Weekend, Kim!

    Jane x

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    1. When I'd come home with the bargains that I'd found and show my husband and tell him how much money I'd saved over the full price, he'd tell me " You know, you'd save even more if you wouldn't go in the store to begin with.". I won't ever tell him this but he was right, lol! I go into town once a week and run all of our errands on that one day including grocery shopping. Window shopping just to see if a store might, maybe, possibly have something I might, maybe, possibly might want....well, it's just not that exciting any more. On the increasingly rare occasions that I do, I use a basket. I put stuff in, I take stuff out. More often than not, I leave the store empty handed. But I did get a lot of excersize pushing that basket around and around the store, lol!

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    2. Jane, my mom used to say the same thing and she was right. Sometimes I would end up in the store to kill time while I was waiting to pick up the kids. I never needed anything, but I always walked out with something. Not having a cart definitely helps! ;)

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    3. Kim, my sister used to go shopping and she would show her husband the items and say, "This was on sale and that was on sale, so I saved this much!!" He would always reply with a wink and smile and say, "But you spent money so how did you save money?" I was a teenager at the time and would giggle, but just like your husband, he was right! ;)

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  4. Really loved the bread box, and it was in my price range. Then I found out it would cost $30 more for shipping. Grrrr...... Looks like I'll have to look elsewhere.

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    1. Well, that's no good, Ronny. I know that they did offer free shipping over a certain amount, but I don't remember the spend amount. I hope you are able to find a comparable tin.

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    1. Thanks Cindy! I'm glad you enjoyed it! :)

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  6. I do this at the grocery store if I am just running in for a few things. If I have more than a few items, I get the smallest cart I can find. ;)

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    1. Great minds think alike, Debbie!! :) Thanks for the comment!

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  7. Dear Kim ... I always get a cart, but our errand and grocery shopping day is once a week. My solution is that my hubby is with me, so I tend to be a bit more selective with my shopping. It seems to work most every time. I do have to say that I am pretty frugal in my buying, but if it is something I really need or want, I will buy it. My hubby does pretty much the same. I must say, I do love your bread tin ... so vintage and so charming. Weekend Blessings ♥ Teri

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    1. Thanks so much, Teri! I love that bread tin, too. It’s so pretty to look at. You sound like you have your shopping down to a simple and pleasant science. I am not surprised. You always have such a thoughtful and sensible approach to life, that is why I enjoy reading about your days so much. Thank you for the visit and for sharing your thoughts. Happy week!!

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  8. I agree, so I rarely use a cart for the same reason. Unless I'm in a candy store. One that preferably has lots of chocolate. Oh, and coconut. Then that cart and me are joined at the hip ;). But I digress...

    xxx

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    1. Yum...now I want a cartful of coconut covered chocolate. ;)

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  9. I don't shop with a cart and neither does my spouse. I always wipe down the cart and my spouse does too, but more meticulously. We also have to go back and get one if we remember we needed toilet paper. That's always a pain. I am too picky, and I don't buy a lot of things for the home. Usually my heart has to skip a beat to bring something in. But even so, the junk accumulates for example, I love used bottles and tins, but I don't need as many as I hold on to. Just cleaned it all out. xoxo Su

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    1. Yes, Su, those carts are icky, too. I forgot about that point. That is reason enough not to use one! Thanks for the visit and the comment.

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  10. Kim, I have the opposite problem. I go into the grocers to get just few things so I don't take a cart. Then pretty soon I have to go back to the front of the store, arms overflowing with stuff, to get a cart so I can pick up the rest of the groceries I remember I need. But that's just in the grocery store. In other stores I almost never take a cart. But then I don't buy much retail anymore. There's just not much I need. Hugs, Nancy

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    1. The grocery store is tough, Nancy, I agree. I am shopping for a family so it's easy to grab tons of stuff that we don't really need, when all I really do need is milk. Plus I find that what I am grabbing on those runs isn't usually the healthiest stuff. When I go for the week, I plan meals and shop with intention. Those hit and runs can be dangerous! ;)

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  11. Love this article and it is so true. Next time I go to Target, have to try the no cart rule. The other day, I went in for 1-2 items, and grabbed a cart. True to what you send I wound up with a $150.00 bill of I don't know what. But whatever it was it took up my whole cart!!
    Tracy

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    1. Oh boy, it's very easy to do,Tracy. You are not alone! Good luck next trip. Remember, no carts! ;)

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  12. Hi, Kim
    Great post and tips. I do agree with you about stores shopping carts, they have gotten bigger. It's there way to trap women. (LOL) I have come up with a system to make sure I don't overspend or buy more then I need. I also return stuff if it doesn't work for me since I go back to the same stores all the time. Have a great weekend.

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    1. I'm with you, Vanessa, at the same stores over and over, so returns are easy. Thank goodness! :)

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  13. I will have to try that no cart concept . .
    I have changed to the mini carts in the grocery store, does that count.
    Seriously, to not have a cart in front of me would discourage some purchases.
    I'll give it a try . . .
    Happy Springtime Kim!

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    1. The grocery store really can’t be done without a cart sometimes, Lynne. I totally get that. I need it for those big shops!

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  14. I love this tip! Now to see if I can get it to work for me.

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    1. Just close your eyes and walk right by those carts, Carol! ;)

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  15. Very clever! I realize I do this at times, but not always. Because there isn't one closer than 45 minutes away, I only go to Target about once a month...but I DO use a cart there. The Dollar Spot alone keeps my craft stash full ;)

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    1. There is a Target on every corner in my neck of the woods, but I am not a big box store shopper. The Dollar Spot is a very dangerous store. I definitely avoid the carts there!! ;)

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  16. Off the subject a bit :) I am from Southwestern Pa where we have this "Pittsburghese" thing going on. At a grandkids party this afternoon where a few people were not local from the area. So the subject at one point was what do you call this or that? :) In my area we say GUMBANDS not rubber bands and things like that and the question came up about shopping carts versus buggy today. :) So whether we get one or fill one the Name was the discussion....I had to laugh coming over here, seeing your post and remembering that : )

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    1. That's funny, Deb! I remember my cousins calling them buggies! :)

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  17. I am a cart shopper, if nothing else to hold my purse in the kiddie seat. Fun post, lots of food for thought.

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    1. Glad you said that because it's exactly what I do. Because this area seems to be the shopping mecca of the country, I put things I like in the cart until I make the final decision (and put back what I don't purchase).
      Myrna

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    2. Lorri, I totally get it, I see that all the time! I actually have a cross body bag and wear it, so I don't need to place my purse inside. I started with those kinds of bags when I was a kid, taking city trips and such. Once I had kids of my own, they were easier to use, since I could hold the kids' hands without having to worry about the where my purse was. Now that's all I have had in years...boring, I know!! ;)

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    3. Myrna, I totally agree, it's all about shopping around here, too. It's become a pastime for much of the country. I stay away from carts, but it sounds like you have found a way to make it work for you! Thanks for the comment. I love hearing everyone's perspective! :)

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  18. A great hint Kim, I'll give it a try... wouldn't work for me in the grocery store unless I am only there to get milk, upon which it should work, lol! I love the pieces you found bargain hunting, the blue floral plates are so pretty! I live in a very small space and realize that I am better off just not shopping if at all possible, like your mother's advice, it is easier not to spend money if you don't go where money needs to be spent, lol! Love you post today :)

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    1. Thanks Marilyn!! The grocery store is a tough one. I definitely need a cart in there when I do my weekly shop, but sometimes, I run in for milk and grab a cart and before I know it, it's full of stuff we didn't really need (or shouldn't be eating!!). My mom always said that when you leave the house it's very hard not to spend money and she's right...be it gas, food or stuff. I prefer a walk at the beach. No carts there at all!! ;)

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  19. I think its great that you know yourself so well!! I use a cart, but if I am on the fence about something I let it sit in my cart for a while, until I get ready to go. Then I reassess it all, and pull out what I don't really have to have. I usually try to get things back to the part of the store they originated from, though. If I can't do that, I hand it to the cashier and tell them I've changed my mind. I worked retail for years, too, and I totally understand the change of heart. After all, they are just "things". (:

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    1. Retail is fun, isn't it? I worked in so many places either as an associate during high school and college or as a manager when I was getting my master's, I have lost count. Pottery Barn, Coach, Esprit, Children's Place, Filene's Basement, local shops...I actually preferred waitressing to retail. I spent way too much of my paycheck in those stores!! Waitressing, I was always too busy to eat!! ;)

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  20. I'm totally a cart shopper! And it's JoAnn Fabrics that kills me. Their carts aren't huge, but there's so much eye candy that I think I want, but don't really need. I've started to ask myself "is that is something I came in to buy"? If not, I'll sleep on it.

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    1. Oh I hear you loud and clear, Pam. JoAnn's is a killer. I definitely leave the cart at the door in that store! ;) I clearly have no willpower!

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  21. What a wonderful post! I love the bread tin! -Marci @ Stone Cottage Adventures

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    1. Thanks Marci!! I have to admit, I am smitten! ;)

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  22. Cleverest thing I've ever heard....just don't get a cart...I love that idea! I too, was raised by Depression parents. In fact, I wrote a whole post about it that I called "Depression Thinking." What I usually do, is carry the item around with me in the store, asking myself all the while if I really NEED it. And it usually goes back on the shelf. I talk myself out of stuff all the time.

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    1. That's what I do, Florence, talk myself out things. It's a lot easier when I don't have a cart though, otherwise the common sense voice gets drowned out by the pretty!! ;)

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  23. I think we'll all be trying this rule now, if we don't already. I admit I take a cart if they're available, simply because there's a place to put my purse, umbrella, prop my list, etc.

    I do love that bread tin. In fact one real problem in my small kitchen is what to do with bread, buns, etc. I have a vintage one that I love but it holds 1 loaf, max. And that made me start wondering the other day what exactly do bloggers do with their breads, etc. Of course a large bread tin would also take up valuable counter space. That's what's good about pantries but this house did not come with one. We turned a small coat closet into one but no room there for big bread containers. Maybe we just need to stop eating bread?

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    1. I have never really used a bread tin or box before. When I was young, my mom always had one and the loaves would be jammed into it, white, wheat, rye, pumpernickel!! We did not have a pantry. I have been keeping the bread in the fridge, since we don't eat a lot of it and it would go stale if I left it out. In the pantry, no one could find it! Go figure. So I am trying the tin. So far, so good. We are eating a bit more bread now, because I am filling it up with several loaves, and that is not good for my waistline. But man it's pretty!! ;)

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  24. Well said my friend. I am a huge fan of Dave Ramsey. So, yep, I have a list, what is on the list is what I get. ;-)
    When I go shopping for fun, I am like you, I do not take a cart.
    Again, well said, Kim!

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    1. Dave Ramsey makes a lot of sense. I used to listen to him when I picked up the kids from school. A list is key and cash is king! ;)

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  25. I don't shop in places like Target normally and if I do, I don't use a cart because I'm just going in there for something like toothpaste. Although that would be hilarious to show in the checkout line with just that and then take it out to the car in the cart. Yes, I'm a weirdo with a weird sense of humor, but you know this ;)

    Virtual checkouts are good and bad. I have 45 things in my Etsy cart at any given time, but I rarely buy anything lol Amazon is another nightmare.

    Grocery stores... my rule is... don't go hungry. That right there saves me hundreds of dollars, so I try to shop right after lunch. But then once a month, I'm ALWAYS hungry so that doesn't work lol

    xoxo,
    rue

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    1. How did I know that you were not a Target shopper?! I’m like you, I always have stuff in my Etsy and Amazon cart, but I rarely pull the trigger. Things seem to lose their shiny feel once I leave the website. And yet, I never actually remove them from the cart. Hmmm…Oh..and I’m always hungry, too. I bought the smallest mozzarella and salami roll the other day for $6.99 because the Boar’s Head lady was giving out samples and I needed more. One toothpick taste was not enough. ;)

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  26. I'm like you, I don't use a cart either and I wiz through stores pretty quickly. If something really catches my eye, I stop, but I really only shop when I need something specific. Online shopping??? That's a different beast. ;)

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    1. A totally different beast, Kristi. Although, I do find that if I leave something in the cart and come back a day later, it's not usually as enticing. Then again, I am not furnishing a new home! :)

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  27. Very clever! I use a cart but my budget (which is usually nothing) keeps me from buying too much. If I buy it, its something I really want/need! I can see how your not using a cart would be helpful!

    I've been looking for a bread box like that for years! You are right that there are so many possibilities for using it!

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    1. You sound like a very disciplined shopper Deanna! I need that kind of willpower. ;)

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  28. You're one smart lady, Kim! I confess, I do use a cart. I live so far away from any of those awesome shops like Target or Home Goods that when I finally go visit one I go a little bit crazy!! So, my secret is.....I don't go more than a couple of times a year!

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    1. Well, I think that’s the best way to stay under budget!! ;)

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  29. Hi Kim, LOVE this post and you are so right about cart shopping. As hard as I try, I still get the cart but have learned to be frugal in my choices. It's not easy!! Many times I use the small hand held basket and I always shop with a list for everything from groceries and more. This works well for me to keep over spending in check. Thanks for sharing your tips!!

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    1. A list is so important!! I try to stick to it in the grocery store, but when I have the husband or the kids with me, well, that's another story!! Thanks so much for the visit! :)

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  30. Kim you are a genius. Yes those target carts are huge! And it takes a lot to wield them around too. I am definitely going to have to try this. I mostly go shopping at the supermarket and it never fails when I get the cart as opposed to the basket I end up with twice as much stuff.

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    1. My husband was the one who pointed out the Target cart size. I haven't been there in so long, I didn't really think about. I get it, that people buy bedding and large items and they are perfect for that, but like Rue said, when you're in and out for toothpaste, no cart is necessary! :)

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  31. It's so true that having a cart makes you purchase more things, mindlessly. I've noticed that the carts at Walmart are GINORMOUS! I will take your advice the next time I'm in Home Goods. If I need to carry things around in my hands, I will re-evaluate whether I really need them.

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    1. I haven't been to a Walmart in a long time, but I am sure they are huge, too! ;) Home Goods is a my nemesis. If I have a cart there, I am in big trouble! Thanks for the visit, Mimi!

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  32. I've been known to grab a cart, I'll admit. But my trick is not to buy something before I visualize where I'm going to put it. I talk about simplifying but I still have a LOT of stuff and not much room for new things.
    Amalia
    xo

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    1. Right there with you, Amalia. So much pretty, not nearly enough room... ;)

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  33. You are so spot on with the size of the carts! They are humongous. When you develop a trick for the virtual cart, let me know.

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  34. That's a really helpful guide, especially only buying things you can carry!

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    1. I brought my husband this weekend. It didn't work as well. I had two extra arms...it was almost as bad as having a cart! ;) Thanks for the visit Mary!

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