General Tips for Saving Money

Generic vs Brand Name * Getting the best price-per-unit * Sales and Coupons * Subscription Services and Membership Discounts

There are a lot of strategies for saving money. I’m not the best at this, but here are some of the things I’ve learned.

Generic vs Brand Name

Generally speaking, purchasing something in the “generic” or “store brand” version is going to be cheaper than the actual brand name item.

CAUTION: When purchasing over-the-counter medications for cats, you must check the active AND inactive ingredients to make sure they’re all safe. If you’re unsure, stick with the exact item your vet has recommended.

Getting the best price-per-unit

You’ve probably been trained to believe that buying in bulk, or buying the largest size of something is always cheaper in the long run. Well, unfortunately that isn’t actually true. To make sure you’re getting the best value for your money, take a moment to calculate the per-unit price. Here are some easy examples so you know what I mean:

Example 1: Tidy Cats Free & Clean Cat Litter

This litter is available on Chewy, or in most stores, and comes in multiple sizes. The example I’m giving uses the current prices from Chewy.

The commonly available sizes are:

  • 20 pound jug = $8.78
  • 35 pound pail = $14.64

Calculate the better deal

Method 1
Calculate the price per unit of one and expected total cost of the other

  • Divide 8.78 by 20 = 0.439
    • This means that the 20 pound jug is $0.439 per pound
  • Now multiply 0.439 by 35 = 15.365

This means, that if you paid the same price-per-pound the 35 pound pail would cost $15.36. Since the 35 pound pail only costs $14.64, the 35 pound pail is the better deal.

Method 2
Calculate the price per unit of each and compare results

  • Divide 8.78 by 20 = 0.439
  • Divide 14.64 by 35 = 0.418

This shows that the price per unit is lower for the lager tub, so it’s a better deal.

But wait! Chewy also carries a 40 pound box, so that must be the cheapest, right? Well, it actually isn’t!

40 pounds for $19.99 = $0.499 per pound. It’s the most expensive option they carry!

Sales and Coupons

Store Sales

Sticking with the Tidy Cats Litter example from above, a local Target store recently had some sales that also need to be looked at.

Target stores in my area happen to carry this litter at a lower cost than Chewy:

  • 20 pound jug = $7.64
  • 35 pound pail = $14.39

At these prices, the 20 pound jug is the cheapest purchase option. But, Target also likes to have sales where they give free store gift cards. In one sale the 35 pound tubs came with a $10 gift card for every 2 tubs you purchased, limited only by the amount they had in stock or what you could fit in your car.

So, if you bought 2 tubs for $14.39 each you pay $28.78. But then you get $10 back (which you can use to purchase more litter) so effectively you pay $18.78 in the end, and that works out to $0.268 per pound of litter.

Coupons and Money Saving Apps

Check out local discounts by using sales apps. Flipp and Krazy Coupon Lady are two that I know of. Krazy Coupon Lady will show you exactly how to do “extreme couponing” whenever options like that are available.

Some stores have apps that let you scan your receipts and will automatically give you a rebate if anything you purchased has a price reduction within a certain amount of time after your purchase.

For stores you routinely shop at, check their website to see if they offer printable or digital coupons you can download.

Search for manufacturer coupons online before shopping.

  • Dr. Elsey’s ALWAYS has a coupon for their cat litter available on their website
  • Stores like Fry’s/Kroeger often have digital coupons to download to your store membership card

Some stores will also offer a discount if you order online then pickup in store. In many cases you can pick up your purchase the same day, depending on their stock and what you’ve ordered.

Subscription, Membership, or Autoship Discounts

Places like Chewy, Allivet, Petsmart, Petco, and others, offer small discounts when you sign up for automatic shipments. The discounts are not applied to every item in their catalog, but will be clearly labeled on anything it does apply to.

I’ve used autoship from Chewy and Allivet. Both stores always send notices ahead of your shipments so that you can make changes, cancel, or postpone a shipment.