Being a creature of habit is not a good idea in the couponing world!

Frugalistas have to be flexible in more ways than one. Couponing is about trying new products, getting the best deal, saving money like never before, and being willing to accept the challenge!

I never used travel sizes until I started couponing. I always thought that buying bulk saved me money. And then I would spend time transferring the liquid to a travel size bottle for my travels (what a mess!) Or I would drag that full size bottle of hairspray to work! But couponing has opened my eyes to the tiny world of travel sizes, creating variety and uses I had never imagined. I can honestly say that I had never bought a travel size item until this year!

When I just need a little bit of something, it’s a great value and gives me exactly the amount I need. One of the great things about travel sizes is that they require much less storage space at home and when traveling. We were recently on a trip and stayed in a cabin, and the travel-sized toiletries I brought fit perfectly on the small vanity in the guestroom. Another cost-saving feature of travel sizes is that you can save money at CVS. The Magic Coupon Machine offers great coupons which are usually applicable on travel sizes. I recently used a coupon for $5.00 off Lumene face products. I bought the smaller sizes of the day and night cream for $3.79! Small size, great savings!

When I go to a new drugstore, I always look for the travel section. Some stores have much larger sections than others, and name brands are always available. I have found small bottles of name brand contact solution and women's shaving cream, and I plan on stocking up for my next trip!

Here’s how to benefit from using travel/trial sized products:

  • Try a new item! I scored an MCM coupon at CVS for $3.00 off a John Frieda item and used it to buy a can of travel size hairspray. It’s small enough to keep in my purse, take on a trip or keep in my desk at work. John Frieda is an expensive product that I would not have tried in a large size without a great deal. If you have a coupon for a brand name but are hesitant to try the full size, buy the travel size first, and then you’ll know if you want to invest in the larger quantity. The items in the travel section usually range from $.39 for Q-tips to $1.99 for razors. And there are many different brands available. Read each coupon carefully, especially the store-specific coupons to see if trial sizes are included. Another favorite items is Soft Soap body wash in the trial size. This product is great for trips because it’s just the right amount to last a few days, so there is no need to lug it back home!
  • Get it for free! Some coupons have size restrictions and others don’t. When a coupon isn’t size specific, use it on a trial size. It’s a great way to try an item you wouldn’t normally buy or a brand that you especially like. For instance, consider a coupon for $1 off Crest toothpaste. Without size specifications it is possible to get the trial size for $.99. Some stores may have to adjust the coupon depending on their individual store policy. Since I know where the trial size section is located in my local drugstore, I know right where to go in case a deal comes along. Often there is an unadvertised offer to buy one get one half off, or buy two get one free.
  • Stretch small budgets further. Sometimes we run out of necessities between paychecks. Contact solution, deodorant and tooth paste can’t wait until payday! And even couponers who stockpile can run out of certain items! Go to the trial size section and find a sample size product for less than $5 to stretch your dollar until payday. Believe it or not, there are often sales in trial sizes. I needed some Gold Bond powder but didn’t want to buy a big bottle for $4.99. I found a travel size, and it was available for buy one, get one free! If you don’t need that additional product received with BOGO offers, remember that trial size products are ideal as donations for homeless shelters or other charities.
  • Enjoy brand names instead of generic. Since I started couponing, I have enjoyed the fact that I can buy name brand products for much less than buying the generic version that I may or may not like. Go to the trial size and get that nice hand cream by Nivea or the Dove deodorant that you love. Stock up to have extras for your purse, gym bag, car, or diaper bag (or send with your child to school).

I have learned that there really is a reason to buy brand name, because the item is usually a better quality and lasts longer!

This has been a guest post by Tammy from North Carolina
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