Maximizing Your Budget: Home & Personal

Maximizing Your Home and Personal

In 2015, we’re putting extra emphasis on budgeting since it’s a must for financial success. Each month, we tackle a different category, and by year’s end, we’ll have one big resource for maximizing your entire budget.

Our Home & Personal category has an array of uses in our budget. It covers any of our non-food necessities (e.g., paper towels and toilet paper), home goods (e.g., pillows!!), and personal care items (e.g., deodorant and contact solution). In our budget, it’s actually a mere subcategory nestled under our “Everything Else” category. We keep it there because our Home & Personal spending fluctuates from month to month. Like any other area of our budget over the years, we’ve found ways to cut our spending in this category, so we wanted to share our tips and tricks today.

Buy in Bulk

When it comes to home and personal care necessities that we use year round, our number one way to save is by buying in bulk. Not only does it save on the cost per item, but Johnny and I both get a certain peace/satisfaction knowing that when we unexpectedly run out of deodorant, there’s another brand spankin’ new one just a cabinet away. And it’s a nice prevention tool from either of us having to borrow the other person’s deodorant and smelling like a different gender all day long. Which, has never happened, of course.

Our go-to destinations for our bulk purchases are Costco and Amazon. Amazon has quite a few basic necessities that come in packs of two, three, six, etc., and the prices are usually great. The only downside to our obsession with buying in bulk is that I have an entire closet in our apartment (very precious space in Manhattan!) devoted to all of our extra paper towels, toilet paper, soap, toothpaste, deodorant, fabric softener sheets, Clorox wipes, and what have you. But to us, extra space and all, it’s totally worth it.

Subscribe & Save

If you haven’t heard of this feature, it’s a nifty little option that comes with Amazon Prime. With items that you know you use up at very regular intervals, you can create a subscription and have the items automatically shipped as often as you need them (e.g., every month, two months, six months, etc.). And on top of being really convenient, it also saves extra money, anywhere from 5% to 20%. It’s a win-win. The only word of caution is to check your subscriptions every month or two to make sure you are still good with the subscribing schedule for each item. Otherwise, you may end up with six unopened tubs of Clorox wipes… not that that’s ever happened, either.

Create a To-Buy List

Johnny and I used Wunderlist to keep all of our different to-do lists in check, and one of our lists is a “To Buy” list. On it, we list items for our home that we want or need but that aren’t absolutely essential at the moment. And then we buy the items as our budget allows it. When our “Everything Else” category has a lot of money leftover at the end of a month, we pick one of our “To Buy” items for our home — like maybe a new toaster because our two-year-old roommate broke ours (We didn’t even know toasters could break!)… just a hypothetical, of course. This list also gives us time to space out purchases, avoid impulse buys, and wait for items to go on sale before we buy them. And it gives me peace of mind knowing it’s typed out somewhere that we NEED a new throw for the living room couch. Highly important.

Buy Secondhand

This tip only applies specifically to home furnishings, but it has saved us boatloads over the years. Johnny and I have enlisted Craigslist, secondhand furniture shops, and thrift stores for many items in our home (which you can see here). We like our home to reflect our personal tastes, but we currently have a very small budget for decorating. Buying secondhand has helped us in furnishing cheaply, while still giving our home a bit of our own personal style. And there’s something that makes both of us so proud, knowing we’ve found a steal on items bought for our home.

And now for the best part… What are some ways you save on your home and personal goods? We love getting new ideas from you smart folks.

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  • Reply Rebecca Martin June 8, 2015 at 7:29 am

    I like to use groupon to by things like toilet and kitchen roll in bulk as I find it much cheaper.

  • Reply Rachel June 8, 2015 at 7:45 am

    We are also bulk buyers who are lucky enough to also have a double garage… we never run out of toilet roll etc! Costco is probably our main source for this but we also have set prices we are willing to pay for items, so when we see our favourite allergy free shower gel for £1 bottle, we buy 10.

    Originally we weren’t shy about buying second hand furniture, and still do occasionally. However we are now at the stage of slowly upgrading to high quality furniture that will last forever (or at least a very long time). We research carefully, only buy at reduced prices, haggle and only pay cash. While it would be nice to go out and get all the grown-up stuff right away we never have that ‘the interest free credit on the sofa is about to run out’ panics. Next step is bedroom furniture, we know what we want and how much we’re willing to pay – just need to wait for the shop to sell for that right price.

  • Reply Petrish @ Debt Free Martini June 8, 2015 at 9:08 am

    I also keep a To-Buy-List and it really comes in handy. I have heard of people buying in bulk on Amazon and wonder if you really save money? Do you have any experience with that?

  • Reply Ali @ Anything You Want June 8, 2015 at 10:50 am

    The “to buy” list is a great idea. I keep a similar list of things that I don’t need imminently but will need in the next month or so. Like you, I like to keep a backup of all toiletries and paper products, so this list usually has stuff like shampoo, body wash, etc. Then, when I look though sales fliers each week, I know what I need and buy the items that are on sale that week. I’m getting the best price and making sure I don’t run out!

  • Reply Rob June 8, 2015 at 7:30 pm

    Hi Joanna!

    Well, since you guys rent (rather than own) your living accommodation, your Home budget differs from ours in that it doesn’t include home maintenance/improvements/upgrades like ours does. To address these expenses, over the years we’ve saved significant $$$ through using friends/family who had key skills (like carpentry, electrical, plumbing, etc) for small but manageable projects. Another strategy that we’ve used is bartering. For example, years ago when finishing our basement, one of my BILs (who was a phone lineman) did our electrical work and installed some more phone jacks. In return, I agreed to paint the interior of his bungalow (since he was a lousy painter – lol). A win-win deal for both of us.

  • Reply Christa June 12, 2015 at 1:35 am

    Hi Joanna,
    This is so helpful. Thank you! I love the idea of a “to buy” list. I am such an impulse buyer that I literally need someone (husband) to smack sense into me when I want something. I always have a project that I NEED and it takes a lot of restraint to realize it’s not actually a need but more of a want. Sigh. 🙂

  • Reply Meghan June 14, 2015 at 10:16 pm

    I’m a huge fan of both Costco and Amazon myself. I think I’m about to move, so today I returned some of those extras to Costco (sorry guys). I really didn’t want to move a 20 lb. box of Tide. If it wasn’t for the dog food, I’d probably cancel the membership but the deals more than make up for the membership fee.

  • Reply Melanie June 25, 2015 at 8:32 am

    It’s funny-my Mom always had a stockpile of toiletries, and for some reason, I’ve become the opposite. It’s been to my detriment because in the past few months, I’ve run out of TP once or twice. I had to use napkins until I got a chance to restock, which is usually within a day as a CVS or grocery store or Target is never far away! You can imagine my mother’s horror when she came over and I was out of TP, haha. But lo and behold, she ended up giving me a few rolls to tide me over. 🙂

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