Saving big on home necessities, consumables

Every household requires non-glamorous purchases each week.

The specifics vary from family to family. The quantity depends on the number of people in a home. The brands, quality and preferences are unique to preference and sometimes upbringing.

A lack of these products sends us to the store in a panic, occasionally bringing home a number of extras we don’t really need and perhaps can’t really afford.

Paper goods or consumables can easily consume your budget if you’re not careful.

Americans spend around $6 billion on toilet paper alone per year. Add in other household items such as paper towel, tissue, paper plates, plastic cups or utensils and consider how much money is spent on items that eventually end up in the trash.

Some of these purchases are non-negotiable. But others we could do without or purchase less. No matter which brands or quantities you buy, there’s always a way to save money when it comes to these necessities.

Toilet paper

Buying toilet paper is nothing to be ashamed of but paying too much for it is embarrassing. One of the most frequent items issued coupons, you should never pay full price for your toilet paper (unless it’s really an emergency of course!)

Check your grocery store or big box retailer coupons. Get coupons from Red Plum or Smart Source in Saturday’s newspaper.

Don’t leave the house without your TP coupons. Consider buying the store brand over the name brand.

Oftentimes, generic products roll off of the same production line, with the only difference being the outside wrap.

Paper towels

More and more households are electing to reduce the number of paper goods they consume, often eliminating paper towels first. Purchasing a good set of flour sack towels to serve as a reusable substitute might be a good fit for your family. While we were paying off $127K in debt, we still bought paper towels, but only two rolls a week.

After they were gone, we used hand towels instead. Setting a specific limit on the number of goods you purchase can help you manage what you have much more effectively. Knowing you have a finite number of items will cause you to think twice and reduce waste. Some of the best deals on paper towels and toilet paper are found when you purchase in bulk. Granted, this strategy runs counter to the limited number purchase, but priced for unit, the best deals will generally be found when you buy a greater quantity. Be careful when comparing paper towel prices. Take into consideration not only the size of the roll but the size of the individual sheets. When possible, opt for the smaller sheet sizes.

Paper plates, plastic cups, and the rest

These items don’t qualify as “needs” and should be viewed as luxury items in your budget. There will certainly be busy seasons in your life where you might need to reduce spending in another category to afford these niceties, but don’t fool yourself into thinking that you can’t live without them. Households functioned just fine without disposable tableware for centuries.

Yes, it means you’ll have to do the dishes more frequently; however, it won’t be the end of your world. I promise. When it comes to scoring the best deal on these types of items, consider the same strategies mentioned above. Pay attention to price per unit and the specific size of plates and cups. It’s easy to trick yourself into thinking you’re getting a great deal when you’re really purchasing a very small product. You may want to consider shopping a restaurant supply store like GFS for your unique needs. I find that no matter where I shop for items like these, I can’t beat the prices at ALDI.

Sorting out what truly is a need and what’s more of a want can be tricky when it comes to paper goods. Decisions are made household by household, season by season. Be flexible enough to lay down the extras in pursuit of bigger financial goals and determined enough to score the best deal possible on the items you can’t live without.

Greenwood resident Cherie Lowe and her husband paid off $127,000 in debt in four years and now live debt-free every day with their two kids. She is the author of “Slaying the Debt Dragon: How One Family Conquered Their Money Monster and Found an Inspired Happily Ever After.” Send questions, column ideas and comments to