Encourage Family Sharing and Save Money by Going Unisex
Meeting everyone's food preferences in a family is challenging enough. If you, like many other home economists, find that accommodating a different toothpaste flavor for every teen and keeping up with clothing replacements puts you over the edge, consider the following unisex savings strategies that encourage sharing and help you make ends meet. (See also: Savings in Every Room)
I've written before about how you can save money by sharing scents as a couple, but I'll use this opportunity to point out you can also extend this to shopping for youngsters and teens. Young children may be able to meet in the middle on bubble gum scented toothpaste where teens might find common ground on citrus-scented shower gel.
While you may frequently travel as a couple or a family, chances are there will be times when some of you travel separately and require specialty luggage to do so. Whether you have children sharing a rolling duffle to navigate the teen sports circuit of away games or tag team various out-of-town business trips for freelance gigs like my husband and I do, chances are there may be a way to share a particular piece of luggage when those issues arise. The key is to choose a style and fabric that is unisex in nature in order to avoid constant quibbling.
Buy One, Get One Sales
When most people think of BOGO, they think of the buy-one-get-one-free offers made regularly by their local grocery store. But I tend to look for the offers made by department and clothing stores. True, they don't always allow you to get one free. They may instead let you get a second item half off after you buy one at the full price. Still, provided there are clothing options for both genders at the store offering the deal, you're in business.
There are a couple of different ways you can play this.
First, if the offer is available for an entire category of clothing such as swimwear or winter coats without specifying whether you need to buy from the ladies' or men's departments, you can stock up on a seasonal item at a greatly reduced price. This same strategy applies when all children's items of a certain type are on sale and you have a house full of little ones to clothe. Think sneakers and play T-shirts for toddlers or new school jeans for teens.
Second, even if the offer is only buy one and get one at a reduced price, you're still only having to make one trip to the store for a unisex shopping trip. Both gas and time will be saved, along with the savings you each score on your selected items.
You don't have to travel with a tablet device or smartphone very long before you realize that a protective covering is a good idea. They help you maintain your device's screen, buffer against bumps and drops, and help keep your gadget scratch free for later resale.
By choosing a cover in a unisex color, you are making it easier to share said devices.
This is particularly true on the road. My husband is much more comfortable using our Kindle Fire in airports for example, because it's black and not covered in some pink and orange design that screams flower power. The same may apply in your marriage. Think about it, husbands. Do you want to kill time before a flight catching up with social media obligations on a smartphone protected with a material emblazoned with Hello Kitty? I'm just saying.
Similar to the BOGO strategy mentioned above, shopping through catalogs and online retailers that offer products for both genders allows you to utilize free shipping offers more efficiently.
At my house, this list of retailers has historically included companies like Eddie Bauer, L.L. Bean, and even Amazon through their Prime program. At yours, it might be Sears or Macy's. Wherever you shop, consider how many times you've ordered an extra blouse in order to meet the purchasing total for a free shipping offer. Hey, don't get me wrong. If you're 10 bucks away from receiving 24 dollars in free shipping and an extra top will get you there, you're definitely ahead of the game by going for it.
What I am saying is that by choosing to power shop with a retailer offering clothing options for both genders, you preserve the option of grabbing a couple of clearance items for other family members. Shopping exclusively with women's or men's clothing suppliers eliminates this benefit. I realize this may stretch some people's definition of what it means to shop unisex. However, this meets my personal shopping definition of unisex because it allows me to kill two purchasing birds with one free stone.
Whether you are traveling to a unisex salon for trims and other grooming services like my husband and I often do or traveling to a mutually favored retailer to restock athletic socks and workout shirts, shopping together can shave big bucks off your monthly fuel bill. Think of it as a creative carpooling strategy for couples.
In addition to sharing scents, there may be products that can serve both you and your spouse in different ways. One of the homemade beauty products I whip up on a regular basis is astringent. The only ingredients aside from a bit of water that the recipe requires are witch hazel and tea tree oil. While my husband uses a masculine fragrance when he's going to a biz event or enjoying an evening out with me, his day-to-day choice for aftershave is — you guessed it — witch hazel.
This makes my homemade astringent one of our favorite multipurpose beauty products for both home and on the road. I store the mixture in a small squirt bottle suitable for traveling, which means less liquids for us as a couple if we're flying out on an adventure vacation. Since basic grooming supplies are on our list of essential business travel items, we figure this also has us covered if we need to schedule an impromptu meeting on a backpacking trip.
How about you? Do you have a secret unisex shopping strategy that helps you save money? What products and stores do you prefer to channel your unisex money?