Better than coupons
For nearly six months now I haven’t laid eyes on a newspaper coupon. It’s not that they’re not a useful tool but I have a method that’s working better for me at this point.
I have built up to a six month stock on most household items and now I’m using it up – slowly. Which means the six month stock is probably going to last me 18 if I’m lucky.
Some things I will not replace outright when they’re used up. Once I’m out of shower gel I’ll switch to bar soap. I’m going to experiment with homemade cleaners once I get through my stock of general cleaners and Windex.
Other things don’t really get used up. I have kitchen hand towels and drying towels, bath towels, rags and a stack of dog bath towels. Those take a LONG time to wear out. I can wear good quality clothes again and again without the fabric staining, fading or tearing. When I open a new toothbrush the old one gets thrown in the cleaning cabinet so I can use it to scrub small spaces. Considering how often I scrub those will last me a few years.
This strategy is not really about saving 2 cents by using less toothpaste or stretching shampoo for one more shower. First and foremost it’s about wasting less. Whether you’re an environmentalist or a frugalist, avoiding waste is good sense. Wastefulness is something we have come to expect and enjoy as a right in this country. I want to produce less waste not because of Al Gore and not because of stewardship but because I believe it’s the proper thing to do.
I’m also saving time. If I buy something I’m naturally putting a lot of thought into it. I notice my toilet paper stock is low, I consider the impact of not buying more toilet paper, I do a quick search for coupons online, I may even print one off, I go to the store buy it, pay for it, haul it home and store it. The fewer times I have to do that the better.
I’ve narrowed down my choices for a lot of items so I don’t stand there debating to myself vanilla vs mint mouthwash. Somethings I have a definite preference – like nicer razors that don’t nick my skin – and others I have no preference – most shampoos work fine for my hair. By identifying those preferences ahead of time I save a lot of back and forth.
This doesn’t mean I never buy something I don’t want to use. I might pick it up free in order to include it in a gift pack. And when it comes to some items I like to think long term. I have a gift box and many ways to give to others from my stock without missing a thing.
Yesterday I sent my brother a belated Christmas present consisting of refills for his overnight bag (he travels for work training). New razor, toothbrush, toothpaste, shaving gel and body wash. Total cost: $5.21
Tomorrow: how to stock up a little at a time without breaking your budget.