smart spending

Stock up on staples for pennies

Household staples such as aluminum foil, shampoo, conditioner, Band-Aids and toothpaste can be the straw that breaks the camel's back in the grocery budget.

They're all somewhat pricey when added to the expense of buying actual food. However, savvy consumers get them for mere pennies -- or even for free -- when they shop smart.

As this month's Frugal contest winner, Desiree Wyrick, found out, when you go to a dollar store armed with coupons, you can stock up on household staples for years.

July's Frugal $ense winner: Desiree Wyrick
Desiree Wyrick, of Orangeville, Pa., won $100 for submitting the following tip:

Toothpaste and coupons
"When you get the Sunday newspaper coupons, make sure you clip the ones for toothpaste and toothbrushes. I will never run out because most coupons are good for $1 off. If you go to The Dollar Store, Dollar General or any other such store that accepts coupons, you will get the items for free because most of those places only charge $1 anyway.

I have a stockpile that would outlast a nuclear war and didn't pay a cent."

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Bankrate: I can't believe you can get free stuff from the dollar store with a $1 coupon. How did you find that out?

Desiree Wyrick: I've always used coupons but I didn't know that Dollar General and places like that took coupons until one day I asked. And I realized that I had the coupons for toothpaste and toothbrushes and Band-Aids and when they rang it up, it came out zero. And I had a whole shopping cart full.

Bankrate: What else do you do to save money?

Desiree Wyrick: I use coupons considerably, I buy things when they're on sale and I have a coupon that's a big one. My fiance was so surprised when he saw how much money I saved when he went shopping with me. He now buys the Sunday paper for me every week.

Bankrate: How do you avoid buying things you don't need just because you have a coupon?

Desiree Wyrick: I typically don't clip coupons for things I don't use because you do fall into that trap and you end up spending more than you normally would. So I don't clip coupons for things I don't use -- but I always have a friend who will, so I pass them around.

Bankrate: Do you go to dollar stores often, and do you get good deals?

Desiree Wyrick: Absolutely, I go there once a week. The shampoos and conditioners, razors, feminine products are usually a little bit less expensive and with a coupon you save even more. It's great when you have a buy-one-get-one-free coupon and they're already buy-one-get-one-free.

Bankrate: How does that work -- you get all of it free?

Desiree Wyrick: You do! I had a coupon for Oscar Meyer hot dogs, (which was) buy-one-get-one-free, and they were on sale for buy-one-get-one-free and they were all free.

Bankrate: Do you have any other frugal tips you can share?

Desiree Wyrick: Probably a lot of the same tips that have been submitted: We do garden to save money on vegetables; we have contacted our utility company to ask about off-peak hours, we've gotten rid of our house phone since we have cell phones. Especially nowadays, every little bit helps.

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