The Supermarket

Bill Parrott |

The supermarket is a Venus flytrap for unsuspecting shoppers. If you’ve been shopping without a grocery list while hungry you know what I’m talking about!

Store designers carefully dictate your flow through the aisles making sure you cover every square inch of floor space. When you enter, you’re drawn in by the powerful aroma of fresh flowers and the sweet smells emanating from the bakery. We must traverse the gauntlet of aisles as we fill up our carts with the items on our list. Healthy items are found around the edges while packaged goods are housed in the interior. The checkout aisle is the most tempting as we stare at candy, toys, and soft drinks while waiting to pay. The layout is not left to chance, nor is it random. It’s done so we make a few impulse purchases. In fact, “Two-thirds of what we buy in the supermarket we had no intention of buying,” says consumer expert Paco Underhill, author of Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping.

To maximize your time in the supermarket and minimize your food budget you must shop with a list. It will keep you focused on the items you need and help you avoid impulse purchases. It will be your guiding light, your North Star.

Of course, shopping without a list will expose you to several pitfalls like spending more time in the store buying things you don’t need.   

Grocery shopping has similarities to investing. Like shopping, an investor would be wise to follow a list. The list for a successful investor is a financial plan. A solid plan is based on an individual’s financial goals and dreams. It will quantify her goals and guide her through all types of market conditions.  It will also let her know when she’s arrived at her financial destination.  For example, if she wants to purchase a mountain cabin in the Rockies for $300,000 she can check it off her list if she has saved the money. 

Like a grocery shopping list, a financial plan will have multiple goals whether it’s planning for retirement, paying for college, or eliminating debt. As you reach these milestones, check them off your list.

An investor without a plan is more likely to make impulse decisions that may have severe consequences to his long-term wealth. Without one, he may chase returns or sell his holdings during a market correction. Furthermore, if he doesn’t follow a plan, how will he know how much money to save for retirement or other important life goals?

Does a financial plan really help? According to one study, investors who followed their plan had three times the wealth of those who didn’t![1]

The next time you head to the supermarket add a financial plan to your grocery list. It will bear much fruit for you and your family!

I am the worst at the grocery store. It turns into three carts. It turns into, 'Oh did you see the truffle cheese? We've got to get the truffle cheese!' ~ Guy Fieri

May 7, 2018

Bill Parrott is the President and CEO of Parrott Wealth Management an independent, fee-only, fiduciary financial planning and investment management firm in Austin, TX.  Our mission is to remove confusion, complexity, and worry from the financial planning and investment management process. For more information please visit

Note:  Past performance is not a guarantee of future returns.  Your returns may differ than those posted in this blog and investments aren’t guaranteed. 



[1], website accessed on 5/7/2018.