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The Depends Dilemma: Why I Buy Items I Won’t Use (Guest Post)

Should you buy items you don’t need or can’t use if it will save you money in the long-run? Kimberlee sent me the following guest post on why she does just that and I thought it might be a good start to a great discussion. I appreciate her honesty and I think she provides some interesting food for thought. Read her post and then I’d love to have you chime in with your thoughts. – Crystal

Guest Post by Kimberlee at The Peaceful Mom

Question: Why did I buy the Depends at CVS this week if I won’t use them?

Answer: They are part of my overall plan to save money.

(If you are unfamiliar with the CVS customer rewards program, Extra Care, you can read more about it here.)

I use this program for several reasons:

1. To Make Money to Purchase Other Items

My daughter has severe eczema and we have found that a CVS-brand ointment is the best product for her to use. I bought the Depends for $6.99, but I used a $2 off coupon so my net expenditure was $4.99 plus tax. I then received $6.99 in ECBs, thereby making an extra $2 to spend on the ointment or special body wash.

2. To “Roll” My Extra Care Bucks

Extra Care Bucks have an expiration date. So as not to lose them, I occasionally buy something I won’t use, but will give me “fresh” Extra Care Bucks in return.  I strive to buy only things which will give me the same or a greater amount of ECBs so that I spend as little cash as possible out of pocket.

3. To Donate

Even though we have quite the stockpile of toothpaste, when I can get free toothpaste (almost every week at CVS!), I do. Why? Because I can give them to friends who don’t coupon or donate them to our church’s homeless ministry. Body wash is another item that I can regularly purchase free (by combining sales, coupons and ECBs) and is a welcome donation at any battered women’s or homeless shelter.

So even if I won’t use the Depends, they will go to a good home and I made a little extra money to buy my daughter’s expensive necessities. I think that is a win-win scenario.

Kimberlee is the wife of one very patient husband and the homeschooling mom of four hilarious children ages 9-15.  She regularly feeds her family of six for less than $450 a month and in her “spare” time she enjoys writing, planting things, and getting free stuff from CVS.  You can visit her at

What do you think? Do you buy products you know you won’t use? Why or why not?

I understand we may have differing opinions and I welcome friendly discussion, even when there’s a need to agree to disagree. However, as always, any comments which are attacking, demeaning or mean-spirited will be deleted.

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  • Sarah says:

    Often depends pads (not the full undergarment) are on sale and so much less expensive than sanitary napkins. Most often I use my reusable cloth sanitary napkins, but when traveling or for long days where it would be embarrassing to keep the used cloth pads, I use the disposable depends. Who says you are buying things you can’t use!

  • Cathi Carpenter says:

    Yeah Erika…Also the Red Cross does alot of those donations too…Our St. Vincent DePaul pantry will weekly put in our church bulletin what they are looking for …. this week, I’m “clearing out” my cleaning supplies shelf….I mean, how much Windex do I really need? LOL! I am so glad to hear other women out there that feel the same, that if we are blessed with health, the ability and brains that sharing the love…aka…payin it forward is the way to go!

  • Each week I highlight items on my blog that can be purchased for FREE, more than FREE, or for very little. I encourage people to take a few extra minutes to plan and clip to “purchase” items for donation. This is a great way to help others when money is tight at home. I have found that I am able to give so much more now than ever before!

  • Brenda says:

    I agree. I do the same thing if it is something that I can give away/donate or I know someone that is in need of that item or just using the item.

  • Elaine says:

    It all depends on the item and the sale I suppose. When I first started couponing, I spent HOURS clipping, organizing, making lists, driving to stores (I dragged my poor 3 year old son to 5 different stores in one day. Poor guy was exhausted!). It felt like an obsession. Now I’ve toned it down a LOT. My husband was getting annoyed (“Do we REALLY need all this deoderant!?” “Well….eventually we will….”).

    So, I check what the deals are, see what I need and go from there. If there’s an RR on something that I don’t necessarily need right now, but will use in the future (shampoo, soap, toothpaste…not deodorant since I went a little nuts in the beginning and now we each have enough to last us half the year…), then I’ll get it. My husband is a full time student who works part time and I’m a stay at home mom, so money is tight. I especially like RR’s on food, like pop tarts because I can use food stamps to buy the item and use the RR to purchase necessities (like diapers) that food stamps don’t cover. And pop tarts are the sort of “treat” that we don’t get to enjoy very often.

    But now I don’t really work too hard to find deals. Like everyone else has said, it’s about moderation. Not just in the quantities we buy, but in how much time we devote to the pursuit of “savings.” My time with my husband is worth a lot more than the few bucks I was saving.

    That being said, if you can balance it and donate it and stuff, I say go for it. I completely disagree with the idea that we should only donate cash. I think you need to find a good charity and find out what they need. If they don’t need the toothpaste you have, find one that does. There’s ALWAYS someone who needs it. I also find myself disturbed by the idea that we shouldn’t donate because we’re worried the money will be mis-used or the items won’t make it to the people they’re intended for. I’d much rather give the items and have some of them misused than miss a genuine opportunity to bless someone in need because I was suspicious. I give because it’s in my heart to give and because Christ gave everything for me. What someone else does with my gift is between them and God. I don’t judge. I just obey.

  • Jennifer says:

    I am going to cvs today and I plan to buy the depends. I donate many of my free items to local caharities and homeless shelters. I am unable to donate my time due to my schedule and I feel they truly appreciate every donation they recieve whether it be money, time, food, or personal care items.

  • Katherine says:

    I do this. I get items that are free or moneymakers after coupons and rewards programs for the same reasons – to make the money or to roll my rewards into fresh ones. I also have a rule that if I can get an item for less than a dollar that I don’t normally use (i.e. potatoes in a box), I will pick it up and add it to my food bank box. When the box is full, off it goes!

  • Tammy says:

    This completely boggles my mind. Time is money too, and I just don’t have the time, energy, or brain space to waste on buying unneeded items from the store!

  • Laura says:

    I was able to give away a lot of food and toiletry items last week at a collections site for victims of the flooding in Nashville. If I didn’t stock up or buy things when they were free or almost free, this would have not been possible. It felt so great to be able to give so much when we’re trying to get out of debt. It cost me next to nothing and was going to a great cause!

  • Laura says:

    I think that your plan works great especially since you donate so many extra items! Great! I do wonder, though, about some people (not meaning you) who completely clear the shelves as soon as a deal begins on Sundays. I’m sure you’ve been behind them too when they do multiple transactions – taking more than allotted per family. It’s a bit frustrating for the rest of us. There’s bargain hunting and then there’s greed.

  • Jeff Kaplan says:

    I think these are all great perspectives! I often pickup items that are free or very inexpensive after coupons/ECBs/rebates just for the purpose of donating. It’s also a great way to stockpile items (like toothpaste) that will last a long time, and you may eventually need. My broader family and friends use us as their free drugstore and we’re happy to share the wealth! The easiest experience I remember was for a supermarket deal on soups, where the Catalina discount made them free and you could go back over and over again. I don’t know if it was a coincidence but the store had put out a donations box right outside for a local food shelter – we only had to walk a few feet to donate our soup, over and over again!

    For those concerned about the time spent, you are right that if you are making a special trip (and using up gas to do it) then it might not make sense for everyone. But I am surprised at how many people will pass up the opportunity once they are already in the store. We advise people to always take a look at the store circular and any coupons that are available, to at least see if there is a good opportunity. The difference in cost between a full price item and one on sale + coupon can be 60-70% (or 100% in some cases) and that’s savings worth a moment to consider.

  • Jenn says:

    Found this through The Simple Dollar linkback. I do coupon for products I won’t use at home. My family went to one income last year, and couponing helped me maintain my donation levels to the local food bank and women’s shelter, plus helped me round out what would have been a fairly skimpy Christmas season.

    I keep a big cardboard box in my car to drop donations into, so they never clutter my house. When the box is full, I take it straight to the donation drop-off point. Plus, I’ve been able to pull things out and give them away on the spot when a family member forgets to buy something on their shopping list.

    Giving feels good!

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