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How Do You Save Money on Everyday Essentials?

Real Simple readers share how they save big on the little things.

Wallet and keys James Baigrie

Changing Priorities

Define what is really “essential.” With the changes that have occurred in the state of the economy recently, I feel differently about what is a want versus what is a need. Reality is a very good tool to use when it comes to saving money.
Melissa Fiffield
Manchester, New Hampshire
Instead of using store-bought cleaners, I use natural cleaning agents (vinegar, lemon juice) and salt (as an abrasive). Instead of steel wool, I use elbow grease. And instead of buying baby food, I puree whatever we’re having for dinner. My family is healthier, better off financially, and more understanding and appreciative of what our grandparents went through during the Great Depression.
Jacque Foster
Greenville, South Carolina
I use coupons religiously and wait for the 25- to 50-percent-off sales, when I can use both the coupon and the discount. I buy better brands in larger amounts―not cheap imitations that end up costing me more because I have to use more product for the same result.
Pam Pampe
Winchester, Virginia
I cut dryer sheets into thirds. A third gives me just enough sheet to stop static cling but doesn’t overwhelm my sinuses with the scent.
Patty Laverdet
Spotsylvania, Virginia
Instead of buying bottled water from the vending machine at work ($1.25 a bottle), I bring my own glass to work and fill it at the water fountain. This saves me money, and I’m also going green and cutting out the temptation to buy soda.
Amy Parks
Peculiar, Missouri
I buy boring stuff at the dollar store near my house. Nobody is going to notice if you don’t have brand-name toilet cleaner or plastic bags. By saving a few bucks on cleaning and household items, I have extra to splurge on fun things, such as a meal out with friends or a new shirt.
Emily Payne
Greenville, South Carolina
Bring a bag lunch to work. In our household, brown bagging saves us about $35 to $40 a week.
Joyce Raeburn
Amsterdam, New York

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