Frugal Tip #4: Buy Items on the Cheap and Stock Up
I know that busy people cannot spend hours driving around from store to store in search of the best deals, so I won’t propose that solution. I will however suggest that you spend just a few minutes each week looking over the drugstore circulars.
Most of the major brands like CVS, Rite Aid and Walgreens now post their weekly advertisements online. I won’t suggest that you drive to the drugstore every weekend just to buy one tube of toothpaste, but I think you should try to keep an eye out for sales and head to the store when a number of items you typically buy are on sale at the same time.
It makes absolutely no sense to pay full price for shampoo, conditioner, body wash and other personal products when you can pay half that amount by waiting for a sale at the drugstore. If you always buy the same shampoo or body wash keep your eye out for sales and buy double. Those items will last for quite awhile on your shelf and you’ll have extra on hand the next time you run out in the shower.
While I don’t drive to the drugstore every weekend I do make specific trips every so often to buy razors, shaving lotion, shampoo, conditioner, body wash, kitchen soap and detergent. I don’t head to the store every time one of these items is on sale, but if it’s a good sale I will load up. My husband often jokes that I always have a spare for him. Most of these spares are due to stocking up during buy-one-get-one free sales or waiting for one of the drugstores to carry products free after rebate. I also keep my eye out for free-after-rebate tags on the back of bottles.
I never, ever shop for personal products in the grocery store. I find the discounts, rebates and sales are always better at the drugstores in my area. Similarly, I almost never buy party supplies from the grocery store, Target or Hallmark.
I typically purchase wrapping paper, gift bags, bows, ribbons, streamers and ‘happy birthday’ banners from my local dollar store. Most of the items are 99 cents or a $1 each. That beats the $3 to $4 I’d spend on the same items at Hallmark. I’ve also picked up crayons, coloring books and playing cards for my niece and nephew.
One item of note: I do avoid all party favors and toys at the dollar store. I’m fearful of the quality of these items, so while I buy all types of party decorations, decor and wrapping I never, ever purchase toys there.
Truth be told I buy a lot of items long before the occasion arises to use them. I don’t stock up on a million tubes of toothpaste, but I do make certain that I have at least one spare. The same applies to gift bags and wrapping paper. I keep a stash of these items so I’m prepared for the next birthday party or special occasion.
You don’t have to drive to the store a million times to make this solution work for you, though you will have to find a little space to store the extra items when you buy them on sale. The best thing about shopping this way is that you never find yourself running out of something when you need it. When you hit the last drop of shampoo in the bottle, you can run to the linen closet for a spare. When your nephew’s next birthday pops up, you may have to get him a present, but you won’t have to make an extra trip for wrapping paper.
If you decide to give stocking a try you might want to compare the prices at Amazon.com. I recently found a brand of tea I like on sale for $6 less than I can find at nearby stores. If I signed up for repeat deliveries the price fell another $1.50. I drink at least one to two cups a tea a day so that price difference adds up really quickly.
Like all of my other tips this one does require a little advance planning, but I know you will save tons of time and money by being more prepared. If you clip coupons you can often save 90-100% on these items, but even without coupons you’ll save 30-50% if you just stock up when they go on sale.
Believe it or not, although you may be driving to more stores I bet you’ll find yourself taking less trips overall. At least you won’t have to run to the store every time you use up a bottle of shampoo.