20 Things I’ll Never Pay Retail For Again

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It’s not always easy to find bargains on your groceries and household items. And when you keep kosher, well, it’s even harder. One of the ways I compensate for the more expensive items on my shopping list — like $4.99/lb ground beef — is by stocking up on other items when they are at their rock bottom price, or better yet, free! (Of course, we limit our consumption of the expensive stuff, too.)

After two years of couponing and stockpiling, I can confidently say that I’ll never pay retail again for….

1. Cereal – Seriously, if nothing else, this blog has hopefully proven that cereal doesn’t have to cost $3.50 a box.  In fact, I’d be hard pressed to imagine every paying more than $1 for a box of cereal at this point.

2. Toothpaste – I haven’t bought toothpaste in well over 6 months and I still have 10 or more tubes in my basement. If you don’t have a stockpile, just watch my weekly CVS post (I post it Motzei Shabbat) and you should be able to accumulate your own little stash.

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3. Toothbrushes – We’re not brand loyal, and we use the old fashioned manual kind, but even still, our supply of free or $.50 toothbrushes is pretty staggering.

4. Body Wash – Again, as long as you aren’t brand loyal (the kiss of death to a couponer), free body wash should never be a problem.

5. Shampoo & Conditioner – Thanks to CVS and Walgreens, we enjoy high-end drug store brands, including organic ones, for free or less than $1/bottle.

6. Razors – Manufacturers love to put their razors on sale, and then charge a fortune for replacement blades. Despite it going against every Earth-loving bone in body, I refuse to fall for their trap! When my blades need replacing, I just grab another free razor from my stockpile.

7. Dish Soap – I used to stockpile Dawn, since it is so often free with the $1/1 coupon in the Homemade Simple home mailer. But then I got wind of the $.69 deal at Target on Seventh Generation and decided to make up with Mother Earth for my eco-hating purchases of new razors.

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8. Dish Washer Detergent – I’ve told you before that I don’t buy exclusively organic, but you wouldn’t know it from my stockpile of Seventh Generation dishwasher tabs. I’m down to just 10 boxes, but at one time I had 18. Thank you Babies R Us clearance sale + coupons + Seventh Gen rebate!

9. Pens & Pencils – Remember all those back-to-school deals? Now when my mom tries to bring me free pens from conferences she attends, I hand them back to her. Bic and I are all stocked up, thank you.

10. Safety Scissors - See #9 above.

11. Printer paper – Thanks to Office Depot, Office Max and Staples, I enjoy a steady supply of free-after-reward-program paper. Is it the highest weight paper in the world? Nah. But it’s more than adequate for printing out my coupons!

12. Deodorant – There was a time that CVS was very good to me and my need to not-stink-up-the-place. My husband’s, too, for that matter. I haven’t bought deodorant in well over a year, and we still have at least six a piece in the basement store room.

13. Cough syrup – One of the first deals I ever did was Robitussin cough syrup. Walgreens paid ME $5 for every three bottles I “bought”. I think I stopped at 12 bottles. I donated 9 bottles last year and held on to the rest. Just in case.

14. Dental floss – As long as those $1/1 Reach coupons keep resetting and Target keeps charging $.97 for its white box of Reach dental floss, I think it’s fair to say that I’ll never pay so much as a penny for dental floss again.

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15. BBQ Sauce — Okay, random, I know. And this may be a regional thing. But every summer, the grocery stores here put KC Masterpiece BBQ Sauce on sale for $1. With either $1/1 or $.50/1 coupons, which double at Hen House, I acquired a dozen bottles of free sauce at one point. I stopped because it just felt gluttonous. And as my oldest son pointed out, “Donating BBQ sauce isn’t very nice, unless we are going to donate the chicken to go with it.” I gave away a few bottles, and used a couple to make crock pot BBQ beef. I still have four bottles.

16. Salad Dressing – Last summer, I picked up eight bottles of Wishbone salad dressing for free. Even better, I got a package of Dole salad for every two dressings I “bought”. The salad didn’t last long, but the Wishbones are still hanging around. It’s our favorite marinade for hanging tenderloin — which we don’t eat it often, but when we do…. yum!

17. Light Bulbs — Peaking out on the right of my dishwasher detergent picture is a corner of my lightbulb stockpile. Most of those were free at Target. I think I paid $.50 for the rest!

18. Diapers – If you’ve been reading here for more than a day, you already know my take on disposable diapers. A dime a diaper (or less) is my target price. Below is my stash of size 4s and a few boxes of wipes. I don’t do as well with wipes, although once a year or so, I can usually get a tub for $.50 or less. (Over there on the left is my stash of … ehem… feminine products. Not very tzanua, but all of it free.)

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19. Lip Balm – Every winter, CVS and/or Walgreens seem to have a deal on lip balm. I picked up a few more packages last year during the Christmas clearance at Target — the tubes have those Coca Cola polar bears on them, which I guess made them “seasonal”. I aim to keep enough tubes on hand so that when my boys want their own and then promptly lose them the next day, I don’t get irritated.

20. Cake Mix – Taking these pictures has definitely reminded me that I must donate about a dozen boxes of cake mix. Most of mine were free. A few were $.28. I love having them on hand, but even if I baked cakes for everyone in my extended family, I still wouldn’t be able to go through those mixes in a year! A great tip that a friend shared with me recently: If you have a child who is allergic to eggs, you can mix one box of cake mix with one 15-oz. can of pureed pumpkin and bake it as usual!

So, tell me, how do you fill in the “never pay retail again for __________” blank? Food, toiletries, shoes? What’s on your money saving list?

Comments

comments

Comments

  1. Love this post! The only thing I have an issue is with diapers. I had such good deals I bought lots and then got baby gifts later. I hope that my daughter uses the size 2 before she grows out of them. I still have a size 1-2 box (228 count) never used, and out grew, because of too many diapers! oy!

    • You can usually exchange them for the next size up if they aren’t opened and the store sells that brand/size packaging even if you don’t have a receipt. The 2 Walgreen’s I shop at most frequently are totally cool with this and we just had to do it today moving from 2’s to 3’s. Just go in and ask to make an even exchange on the other size.

  2. You probably can’t see in the picture of the diapers, but I’ve started taping the receipt onto the diapers I buy ahead of size. N is such a peanut, for all I know she’ll be in size 3s until she’s done with diapers! When I run low on my size 3s, I will sometimes just exchange a package of 4s.

  3. many stores will exchange diapers for the next size even without a receipt, as long as they carry that particular size box. (as in don’t try an exchange a huggies from shop rite at costco, they won’t fall for it!)

  4. Very interesting post! I recently found your BLOG and am enjoying reading it very much! Your stash of diapers and the feminine items in the photo made me remember something. I don’t know how much you actually spend on feminine products per year but to save $$$ and the environment, you may want to look into a Diva Cup. it cost’s about $30 and takes a little getting used to, but after a couple of days it’s great, more convenient, and best of all, it’s basically a one time purchase.
    Anyway, thanks for being so informative and interesting to read!

  5. I must have at least 30 tubes of free toothpaste, as well as tons of deoderant, shampoo, and body wash. But my kids like kiddie toothpaste and in the name of them brushing teeth, I give in for that, but would like to get a small stockpile there too.

    • We recently started stockpiling kid’s toothpaste as well. There was a deal a while back at Target on the kids Aquafresh in a pump, which for some reason my boys just think is the BEST. I got 4 tubes and wish I had gotten more!

  6. I do find irony in the fact that your icon on top is a pomegranate when Pomegranate is a very expensive grocery store in Brooklyn.

    We like yours better.

  7. I have a lot of this stuff stockpiled too. Except the cereal doesn’t seem to last too long around here…..

    However, my stockpile of diapers is cloth. :) When we first started doing cloth diapers, I kept a spreadsheet of how much I was spending versus how much I would have spent on paper diapers. After the first few months, we were ahead already! After a few years (everyone is potty trained right now), I can confidently say we’ve saved a ton of money. (I use mama cloth too.)

  8. @Rivka – We also use cloth… well, I should say “used”. I’ve used it with all three kids and with my baby until she was about 8 months. We’ve got really hard water, so I was having a hard time with build-up, and she was getting a rash. We’ve stepped away but my husband is really encouraging us to get back to it. I’m planning a post in the near future about the cost- (and other) benefits of using cloth… I’d love to have your input as well :)

    • galileegirl says:

      I so wish I had known how to do this when we lived in the US. No chance of doing this in Israel. Every once in a while Superpharm has coupons that remind me of American couponing.

  9. So true! Couldn’t agree more :)

  10. Seriously lovin’ this blog, Mara! As for the list, pretty much everything you listed I’ll never pay retail again. Recently got 20 bottles of Marzetti’s dressing for free and it could have been as many as I wanted because they were $.99/bottle and I had $1/1 Q’s. Poor cashier had to adjust all the Q’s down by a penny to make them go through but she was mightily impressed!

    I’ll also (G-d willing) never pay retail for tomato sauce or canned tomatoes since we now have a respectable garden and realized how easy and fun home canning can be (that goes for pumpkin/squash puree and peach preserves among other things).

    And yes, it’s after 3am (I’m on Central Time, too). Didn’t want to wait till after Shabbos to check this out. So glad you let me know you were here. You’ve totally inspired me to get back to tending my blog.

  11. elisheva says:

    where do you get these $1/1 Q’s that you talk about. I’m a little bit lost here and have always wanted to be able to not pay retail for things I’m sure other people are getting for cheaper, but I don’t understand how you are able to do this. Help? Which post tells me how to do this?

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