By Jon, the Master Tightwad
I am a lean, mean tightwad machine. My boss and I have a Monday morning ritual of comparing who got the best weekend deal, and usually I win. I once bought 38 cans of organic soup for $4.17. Since then, my boss has pretty much given up. My goal in life is to pay as little as possible to live as comfortably as I can.
I haven’t paid for toothpaste since 2005. Last week I had to give away 4 tubes of it to some strangers near a homeless shelter because the tubes were about to expire. Shampoo? I have 23 bottles. Seriously. And they were all free.
Scoring free hygiene products is easy, and anyone can do it.
- Step 1: Always buy the Sunday newspaper.
Most weeks I actually make money on shampoo, toothbrushes and various sundries. You’ll need to save ALL coupons until they expire. Tip: Write the publication date on the first page. I’ll explain why below.
- Step 2: Using said Sunday paper, set aside the advertisements for every pharmacy.
Where I live, Walgreens, CVS and Rite Aid are the major drugstores. I save each ad. In them, you’ll discover lots of “FAR” (free after rebate) deals.
- Step 3: Find a reliable deal compilation site, like bargainshare.com.
Rather than find the deals yourself, start at a site where other users post their finds. At bargainshare, for example, I can quickly peruse the drugstores in the discussion forum to find products that are “FAR” or, even better, those products where I actually make money. Every Sunday, I scour my ads for freebies. Trust me, you will find them every single week. But then I cross check the coupons I have (Bargainshare will tell you which week the coupon was published. This will prevent you from paging through your archive of coupons). I have been most successful with CVS. I signed up to receive emails from their ExtraCare program, and almost weekly they will send me a “Save $4 off your next $20 purchase” offer. I print the email and bring it in. Combine that with other savings, and I often receive more than $20 worth of products at no cost to me.
- Step 4: Managing inventory isn’t easy.
The biggest challenge I have is using everything I’ve got. I’m a single guy, so the feminine hygiene products don’t have much use. They go to my best friend’s fiancé. I also find creative ways to use products. Conditioner, for example, works as well as any shaving gel. Finally, the philanthropist in me loves to distribute excess products to others. Be sure to keep tabs on what you give away: Uncle Sam will pay you back when you file your taxes.
Combining these tips should get you started on the road to savings. And if they don’t, at least you’ll have some stories (or, like me, a few cans of split pea soup) to share with your boss. That, and really clean hair.
Jon, the Master Tightwad works in the non-profit software industry by day, and hunts for bargains by night. He’s a single guy living in the suburbs of Birmingham, Alabama.