Toothpaste, detergent, toilet paper, paper towels, and other various household items can easily cost thousands of dollars every year. Due to our habitual nature, it’s easy for people to naturally gravitate to brands that they’re familiar with, even if it’s more expensive. Because of this, shoppers can spend up to 20% more than necessary on essential items. To help combat that, we compiled a list of easy ways to save on various household supplies.
Know What You Need
The first step to saving money is to figure out the products you regularly use and how much you use over a set period of time. What do you buy every time you go to the store? Toilet paper, paper towels, napkins, a certain kind of cereal, bread, or anything else can be considered a household staple. Going back and scanning receipts to find what you buy most often is an easy way to figure out your specific household's staples. Once you’ve established that, start figuring out how long it takes you to work your way through the items. Knowing your pattern helps you figure out how much to buy and plan accordingly.
Join Frequent Shoppers Clubs
Most retailers (especially large chain retailers) have some form of membership or loyalty club that provides members with exclusive discounts and deals that aren’t readily available to general shoppers. The retailers you shop at aren’t the only ones you can reach out to. Organizations like AAA or AARP can also provide shopping discounts and coupons to various stores; just check with the organization in your area to determine where you can use your discounts.
Lots and Lots of Coupons
Couponing has become its own industry in American culture, with several TV shows focused on the extreme lengths many go to in order to stretch their dollar. Though you don’t have to go to extremes to save money, there are several simple tactics to help you get the most bang for your buck without driving yourself crazy with coupon madness.
The internet can grant you access to coupons for any chain retailer in existence, so don’t be afraid to utilize sites like Coupons.com or Coupon Network. Don’t forget about your store’s own website because it will have coupons often than not. Once you find the coupons you want to use, stack as many as you need to get you the best deals. Make sure you read the fine print and the ones you’re using are stackable.
Rain checks and substitutions are also a fairly common practice. If a store runs out of the item on sale, you can typically ask for a rain check or a substitution. Rainchecks are basically an extension on the coupon to get the same price when they have more of the item in stock. Meanwhile, a substitution will be used if they don’t have the item they can find one similar and charge the same price.
Buy Store Brands and Generics
We all have a brand that we’re loyal to for no real reason other than we like their stuff, but usually large chain retailers will offer their own brands of the same product. The real difference? Store brands cost much less than the brands we’re typically loyal to. Buying the generic or store brand in pantry staples, paper products, and over-the-counter medications can save you hundreds of dollars over the course of a few months alone, so it might be worth making the switch.
Buy in Bulk
Usually, the more you buy of an item, the lower the price-per-unit is. Stores love to do “two for one,” “buy one, get one free,” or “buy one, get half off.” The only real danger of these is that sometimes you get you so caught up in the deal that you wind up buying things you don’t need, and ultimately wasting money.
Buying in bulk whenever possible on staples or stuff you really need can help you save money, just make sure you spend it on things you know you’ll often. Paper products like toilet paper, paper towels, and paper plates are usually some of the best things to buy in bulk, while food is a little riskier.
If you think you need to buy in bulk (like if you have an event or party coming up), make sure you buy only what you know you’ll need. Don’t worry if you get too much because you can always give away what you don’t need to your friends and neighbors.
Hit Up the Dollar Store
The dollar store can be your best friend if you’re trying to focus on saving money. Household items that you would normally spend more than $5 could only cost $1 or $2. Dollar stores also usually have top-quality brands for way less than you would pay at a regular grocery store. Just be wary of some things like electronics, batteries, and medication. There are some things that it’s better to shell out a little more money to ensure quality.