Even those who pride themselves on getting by on just the basics spend a lot of money on consumable household items. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2017 Consumer Expenditure Survey, the average family spends around $762 each year on these products. Luckily, there are ways to keep your home clean and your personal hygiene in check without dishing out all that cash.
Here are some common household items you’re probably paying way too much for:
In 2009, American spent more on body wash than bar soap for the first time since its invention. The wide variety of scents available, coupled with the convenience of liquid soap, makes the product hard to resist, but choosing off-brands and larger sizes can actually save you up to $2 a bottle. On top of that, comparable bar soaps often have longer-lasting fragrances.
The mere concept of paying for water in a bottle still has many people flabbergasted. It’s much cheaper, and much more eco-friendly, to simply filter your own water in a filter pitcher or filter attachment on your kitchen faucet. Filling your own reusable bottles instead of buying water prepackaged can reduce your annual water costs by around 75 percent (assuming you drink the American average of 21 gallons of bottled water a year).
Candles and Air Fresheners
A fresh smelling home is important to most cleanly Americans. So important, in fact, that they spend over $5 billion each year on scented candles, oils, sprays, and solid room deodorizers. Instead of contributing to that number, deep clean your carpets on a regular basis, keep fresh air circulating throughout the house, and let houseplants and fresh cut flowers produce the bulk of the fragrances. If you can’t give up the scented oils and candles, buy them on sale, find discounts at online retailers, or scour dollar stores for great deals.
One of America’s most brand-loyal products is detergent. Many consumers choose the brands their parents used, but you’ll find it helpful to explore several different brand options, many of which are often less than half the price of the popular labels you grew up with. If you still prefer your old standby, watch for good sales and combine them with coupons for maximum savings.
If you’re concerned with exposing your family to possibly harmful chemicals, make your own household cleaners with economical ingredients like vinegar, lemon, hydrogen peroxide, bleach, baking soda, and water. Not only will your house smell fresher with fewer artificial scents, but your savings will be substantial and the environmental impact will be minimal.
Brand recognition also significantly impacts sales of OTC medications such as simple pain relievers (aspirin, ibuprofen, and acetaminophen) and cough medicine. Armed with your reading glasses or a magnifying glass, check out the ingredients in generic brands and compare them to those in the brands you typically purchase. Most of the lower-priced unfamiliar labels have exactly the same active ingredients in identical proportions and typically cost up to 40 percent less. The same applies to cough suppressants, ointments, vitamins, and other medications.
A number of popular household cleaning companies sell replacement products for refills at lower prices than their original products. However, these discounted cleaners typically don’t include the pump or aerosol attachment of the originals, which usually lasts through three or four refills. For even simpler savings, you can also buy empty spray bottles and fill them up with the replacement products.
It’s easy to get hooked on a great smelling shampoo, conditioner, or styling product and blind yourself to its inflated price tag. Salon products recommended by your stylist are usually high-quality, but let’s face it: $20-plus for a bottle of shampoo is more than overspending. Check out some budget brands at your local drug store, and you’ll probably find a suitable replacement for 50 to 75 percent less.
Whether you’re a gentle brusher or go after those teeth with the vigor of a warrior, toothbrushes last a long time. If you stick to a biyearly cleaning schedule, you probably get two free toothbrushes a year from your dentist. Buy interim toothbrushes as necessary, and always choose the ones that are on sale. Remember that the brushing technique is always more important than the brush you use.
Other General Money-Saving Tips
- Make a list and stick to it. Meandering around the store usually adds dollars to what you spend as you begin to impulse buy.
- Shop at stores known for low prices and not customer service. The cost of personalized service is often reflected in the price of those stores’ products.
- Download online coupons to your phone to eliminate the time and hassle of cutting them from sale flyers.
- Take advantage of bulk purchase savings such as “buy one, get one free” or “buy one, get one at 50 percent off.”
- Just for fun and self-satisfaction, track your savings over the course of the next month or two.