In this Start Saving series, I’m trying to share some of my experiences and advice with people who are new to the couponing world. If you missed the first five parts of this series, you can catch up HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE.
I used to be so sure that I was saving money by shopping at Wal-Mart and buying their store brand merchandise. If you look at the price tags on the shelves, they don’t lie. The Equate brand shampoo is much less expensive than the Garnier. And I can say, having tried many of the store brand items, most of the products are pretty high-quality. Buying generics must be a better deal, right?
Think about this scenario…..
You’re taking a shower tomorrow morning. You use the last drop of your shampoo, and you have no extra bottles in the house to replace that one. What do you do? You swing by Wal-Mart and pick up a $2.50 bottle of generic brand shampoo to replace the empty one, right?
Well, if you read yesterday’s post about shopping at CVS (HERE), you saw how you can often get health & beauty and home care items for free or almost free. When I can get items for rock-bottom prices, I don’t just buy one. I buy as many as I can with the coupons that I have (within reason). That means that I have a nice little stash of shampoo, toothpaste, deodorant, hair color, medicines, and other similar things in my cupboards. They were all bought when I could get them free or close-to-free, so they only cost me pennies.
If the above scenario happened to me tomorrow morning, I would walk to my cupboard and choose a new bottle of shampoo to replace the empty one. I paid pennies for my bottle of Pantene, Garnier, or L’Oreal shampoo. You would have paid $2.50 for the generic. I would much rather use the name brand shampoo if possible. Using coupons and matching them to sales makes it possible for my family to use name brand products for MUCH less than it would cost us to use generics. And I don’t have to spend any gas money driving to Wal-Mart…. not to mention the five other things that would mysteriously find their way into my shopping cart while I was there. That bottle of shampoo could end up costing me $30!
It takes a while to build up a nice stockpile of items to pull from, so you may need to buy items as-needed until you’re well-stocked. But once that stockpile builds a little bit, you’ll love “shopping” in your own cupboards!
Note: My exception to this rule is food. If I’m shopping for groceries and don’t have a coupon that would make an item cheaper than the store brand, I am willing to try the store brand. I am especially fond of the Kroger brand canned veggies, fruit, pasta, cheese and beans. I believe Kroger has a money-back guarantee if you’re not satisfied with one of their store brand items.