Don't Spend a Dollar for That!

by Sharon Camino

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Years of pinching pennies have not only saved me dollars, but also helped form savings habits that by now are second nature to me. Oh, I clip coupons and regularly peruse the grocery sale flyers like most frugalites, but I've also developed a mental catalog of thrifty buys. These are grocery and household items that should always be available for free, or under a dollar. I'm not just talking about that souvenir pack of matches, but the ordinary, household items that we all regularly use. You may have to be creative, but limiting costs for these products isn't hard at all. By simply combining coupons, store sales, rebates, and free-bates, I regularly acquire these items at my price, and not the seller's, and you can too. Following is a list of freebies and near-freebies.

Miscellaneous - Let's include those stock matchbooks in this category, along with all those other fribbles and trifles similarly found (that is, free and easy). Pens, pencils, rubber bands, twist ties, and paper clips should never be purchased.

Books, magazines, videos - These are all free and available at local libraries. Keep in mind that cookbooks and CD's are often available for borrowing as well.

Trash bags - You can get these in abundance from grocery and shopping trips. Paying for trash bags is a particular pet peeve of mine. You buy them with the intention of throwing them away!

Homemade snacks, cookies, and drinks - Homemade goodies are better tasting, healthier and (often) cheaper than the processed store-bought. Borrow a good cookbook and try some new recipes.

Calendars, calculators, notepads, clocks, etc. - These items are "gimmes" from banks, credit unions, and libraries. My favorite calendar is handed out each December at our church.

Perfumes and creams - Samples abound at beauty counters, yours for the asking. Some of these come in generous sizes, too.

Houseplants - Ask friends and family members for clippings of favorite plants; then place in water until they develop roots, and plant.

Glassware and plasticware - Wash empty food containers to make fine temporary vases (especially good for those small clippings) or storage bins. I like to use frozen food trays as drawer organizers.

In the "near-free" category, the following list of items can be purchased inexpensively. By combining coupons, store sales and rebates, I typically spend less than $1 for these products (often the name brands): shampoo, bath soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes, make-up items, adhesive bandages, deodorant, razors, cough drops, cleaning products, dish soap, bleach, greeting cards, wrapping paper, seasonal decorations, paper products, rubber gloves, panty hose.

Of course, there are many other products that can be found cheaply, and I've barely even mentioned food. But you get the idea. By being creative and attentive, you can develop thrifty habits and regularly save money each time you shop.

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