6 Ways to Get your Toiletries for Cheap or Even Free!
With my budget straining at the increase in the cost of milk, I can’t always justify buying my favorite shampoo, the best razor, or that luxurious body wash I crave. I have found ways to ease the pain, and while not always predictable, they work! If you don’t mind getting a bit creative with your methods, you can pay much less (even nothing) for your bath and body treats, too!
Guest Services. When I was a girl, my Aunt came home from a convention in Vegas and dumped a gallon Ziploc bag of designer mini-soaps and tiny shampoo bottles in my lap. At the time, I thought she was loony. Who would use these hotel spiffs for everyday grooming? Years later, my husband began working a “road-warrior” job that left us with too many of the tiny treats. We continued to save them in a small plastic bucket in our bathroom closet. They came in handy when guests or relatives visited, and when the budget got a bit tight, we would hold off on buying full-size products until the bucket had been emptied. We could go weeks on what he had acquired in a year. (And before you complain that it’s greedy to take the hotel soaps, many places throw them out if you don’t use them for hygiene’s sake…)
Free Samples. Joke all you want about those of us who sign up for every free sample you can get online. With the ample supply of one-time use samples I’ve received, I have been able to enjoy some of my favorite brands at times when access to them would be scarce. (When each of my children were born, I would pack the samples into my “baby bag” for my first shower at the hospital. After 3-4 days of hospital care, having the tiny packets of my favorite body wash in my institutionalized beauty routine seemed like heaven.) Other fun uses for them? Send them with kids going to summer camp, tuck them into a car kit for unexpected road trips, or add them to that “hotel mini” basket mentioned above. Some websites that offer regular samples of brand name products include Walmart.com and Start Sampling. You can set up Technorati tags to scout out anything labeled “freebies” for even more good leads. (To cut down on waste, I would personally avoid signing up for items I would be certain not to use. It’s clutter and it costs money to mail. Let’s be responsible here.)
Shop ‘Til You Drop. This tip takes much more work, but can net you some great deals on your top brands. Our own Carrie Kirby has already shared how she scores free and almost-free stuff regularly at CVS retail stores. I have been successful at scouting out Target Clearance Deals in the health and beauty aisles and pairing them with high-value manufacturer’s coupons. Many websites track the best deals on items, including my favorite website, Refundcents (which also allows shoppers to chat about their deals and trade coupons.) Just be sure you are buying things you will use, and don’t hog items for the thrill of it. Overconsumption is NOT the goal.
Free After Rebate. Some folks despise the “effort” involved with purchasing a product on the premise that it will be free after a mail-in rebate. Several outlets make this an easy choice for shoppers, including Walgreens. Their monthly Easy Savers Rebate catalog features 3-6 brand-name items for nothing after rebate. Rebates are easy to obtain, thanks to their dependable tracking system and online submission forms (which don’t require even the cost of a postage stamp.) Late rebate requests are usually no problem, as long as you call and explain the situation. With a 10% extra incentive for rebates that are placed on Walgreens gift cards, it’s possible to buy your favorite items for completely free, including the price you paid in tax. (Although, I prefer to get mine back as cash.) If you are getting items that won’t rot in the back of your closet, you can add $10-20 to your health and beauty budget. With items ranging from hair dye to cold medicine, I have found it to be an EXCELLENT deal.
Bulk Buy with a Buddy. I’m no sucker for those giant bottles of mouthwash packaged together at Costco. They are a great deal if priced separately, but how long would it take me to use all of it? I’ve found the best way to save money at bulk co-op outlets and warehouse stores is to go halves with my Mom. She buys pretty much the same stuff I do, and by splitting both the cost of the warehouse club fee and divvying up the goods, we make out like bandits on items that rarely go on sale or don’t offer much in the way of manufacturer’s coupons. (Carpooling saves us gas money and makes for a fun afternoon!)
Dispense with Care. Many of the products we use every day are packaged poorly. They are designed to allow a large amount of product to come out at a time, increasing your usage and forcing you to buy more often. If you only need a “dime-sized” helping of shampoo, why does a “half-dollar” come oozing out? One way to save money is by changing your usage habits. We do this at home in several ways. My favorite is to buy some inexpensive foaming hand pumps for products like face wash. A nifty toothpaste tube flattener helps us use every bit of paste, and keeps the kids from trashing the sink. Storing bottles upside down in the shower lets us get two or three more days from most items.
Saving money doesn’t have to be a hardship. I’ve never been one to ask families to make their own beauty products for the sake of frugality (although it can be a fun hobby!) I also despise generic beauty products and don’t believe in watering down the goods. It is possible to stick to your favorites and save at the same time!