After I graduated from college, I started having to make toiletry and cleaning product purchases for myself. I usually made my purchase decision based on either which item had the lowest price, or I was brand loyal.
If I didn't really care about the product, I would purchase the lowest priced item, which was usually the private (or store) brand item, or I would pick a product I liked and always purchase that brand every time I made a purchase. To my credit, I did usually keep an eye out for sales and try to stock up then.
That strategy worked for me, because I would save a little money, and it would diminish the amount of time that I had to spend thinking about every item I was going to purchase. Who wants to spend 10 minutes deciding what to buy for every item they place in their cart?
However, once I started playing the CVS game, I discovered that the best way to save the most money was to drop most brand loyalties. Once I decided to go after the best deals regardless of the brand, I was able to get many items for free or almost free. Many times, when manufacturers introduce new products (or product improvements), they'll often have great promotions and coupons that allow consumers to try to product for "free". The goal is to get the consumer "hooked" on the product, so they'll pay full price in the future.
For example, I have always used Tide detergent, since that's what my mom used when I was growing up. I loved the smell of it. But, would other detergents clean my clothes just as well and still smell good? I have recently purchased Arm & Hammer detergent as well as All, and they have both worked out well for me. Plus, I was able to get a much better deal than trying to get Tide on sale with my usual $0.25 coupon.
By relaxing your brand loyalties and shopping the drugstores at "rock-bottom" prices, you are also able to try out many different brands that you might not have experienced. If you hate it, you just don't purchase it again (I know not to buy any more Soy Joy bars for my husband!), but I have discovered some great shampoos and deodorants that I might not have normally tried.
Even if you (or your family members) have some items that you are very brand loyal, by saving money on the other items that you don't care so much about, you free up money to make your brand-loyal purchases. And, you can still pair sales and coupons on those items and stock up.
But, most importantly, I have been able to decrease my family's toiletry and household goods budget dramatically. By shopping at the drugstores and having very little out-of-pocket expenses, I probably spend about $20 per month on these expenses vs. a much higher amount previously.
Have you decreased your brand loyalties to save expenses? If not, what's holding you back? For more frugal ideas, please visit Being Frugal.