Coupons and Toiletries — A Follow Up

by Katy on November 1, 2009 · 27 comments


I am loving all the comments in response to the recent column titled, “Coupons — Are They Worth The Trouble?” It does seem that many people are finding ways to make coupons work for them, despite an aversion to Hamburger Helper and other packaged food.

A number of readers shared websites that they use to print coupons from home, (Including a few extra that my friend Karen, an unapologetic Couponista recommended.) Here are the links:

I looked through and did find a few coupons to print out. I also saw that today’s newspaper has a big Safeway coupon insert with store coupons that can be combined with manufacturer’s coupons, which is apparently the path to brag-worthy savings.

Many readers also wrote in about how they save money on “toiletries,” which I want to address.

By toiletries, I assumed people mean shampoo, soap, toothpaste, tampons and pads; cosmetics, shaving cream, etc.

It is certainly possible to use coupons to buy shampoo, but I just buy White Rain brand, which is always $1, (sometimes less) and call that good. Although my great shampoo savings is due to the fact that the people who rent out my mother’s guest cottages almost always leave shampoo behind. (I don’t think I’ve bought shampoo in the last six months!)

I am a strong believer in informed consumerism and Paula Beguon’s Don’t Go Shopping for Hair Care Products Without Me is a great resource for people looking to shovel through the hype and empty promises for a functional product. This great book was an eye opener for me, as there really is not a correlation between price and quality. White Rain is recommended.

Beguon’s Don’t Go to the Cosmetics Counter Without Me is another great resource that looks at cosmetics with the same critical eye, which is to say that spending more money on a product has zero correlation to getting a superior product. I hardly ever wear any makeup, and when I do it’s just lipstick and maybe some mascara, but if you are a regular makeup wearer this is an awesome book!

The last toiletry issue I want to address is just for us womyn, so if you are of the male persuasion or particularly squeemish please feel free to scroll right back up to the top of the page.

Okay ladies, it’s time to talk about tampons and pads — Expensive, inconvenient and the source of a lot of garbage. I use a Moon Cup, which is a silicone resuable menstrual cup that supposedly can last more than a decade. The initial outlay of cash was a bit much, ($28.00) but once you have it you no longer have to buy any more menstrual products. None. And best of all, there’s no garbage to deal with!

It did take a cycle or two to get used to, but it’s a fabulous no brainer now. I love that I no longer have to worry about whether I’m stocked up on supplies, and I leak less than when I used conventional products.

And I love that I don’t have to cut coupons and go broke every 28 days.

Are you a coupon clipper for your cosmetics? Have you made the switch over to a menstrual cup? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”


{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

Carla November 1, 2009 at 2:43 pm

Yeah, I tried one of those. Flooded it right out. What a mess. Immediately changed to something I knew how to handle. That was some years back and the question has become moot with menopause anyway.


KC November 1, 2009 at 2:53 pm

I have a moon cup which I struggle with – currently have given up. I find it extremely difficult to remove. Also it’s very tricky to deal with at work – in the unisex bathrooms.


Jess November 1, 2009 at 3:02 pm

I’ve been using a DivaCup for four years now (this is it’s fourth anniversary, actually). The lack of trash was more important than the cost at first, but I figure I’ve saved around $250, plus the stress savings of not risking running out of tampons. For those of you who need help with it, check out the helpful community at

As for coupons, I usually only use the ones at the stores themselves. (Freddy’s often has little yellow coupons on the shelves.) When buying online, I always swing by to see if there are any promotions for what I’m going to get.


Darcy November 1, 2009 at 5:04 pm

I like the idea of using a Diva Cup, but the idea of emptying it during the work day has kept me from acutally doing it. I work in a large office with a bustling ladies’ room. Without getting too graphic, I’d imagine a person could empty the cup within the privacy of a ladies’ room stall but would still have to rinse it out in the sink before reuse? I can’t image doing with my co-workers peering over my shoulder…..


marianne November 1, 2009 at 7:54 pm

i use a diva cup and had trouble the first few cycles but now am fine with it. a lot easier than pads or tampons actually. but i work from home so its easy to clean in the sink. My previous work had both multiple stall bathrooms, and a single one. I could see how it would be inconvienent to have to leave the stall, clean it out then go back to the stall to finish. who knows, maybe they can come up with a diva bathroom for when you are using your diva cup? lol. but that may bring back memories of wearing black jeans in high school during your period and everyone knew because you were wearing your black jeans those days. 😉


Rebecca November 1, 2009 at 8:34 pm

I like my DivaCup, but it’s not without its disadvantages. For one, it makes my cramps worse, which is, needless to to say, a pain. For another, I can and do fill it up more than once on my heavy days. I wish it came in a larger size!

I did wait to get out of the dorms before I bought mine, because there was no way I would be able to clean it in the bathrooms there. Now that I live in an apartment and have a private bathroom, it’s not an issue, and I can normally get away with just wiping it out with toilet tissue when I’m emptying it at work/school (and if not, I carry a water bottle around in my bag, and just use a little of that), so it’s not a big issue anymore, but there are certain living situations where it really wouldn’t work.

Once you get the hang of it, though, it’s pretty easy, and it really does save you money. It works well for me, but I wouldn’t neccessarily recommend it to everyone.


Greta November 1, 2009 at 9:27 pm

Thanks so much for the coupon links. This may become my new obsession. As for moon and/or diva cups, it’s hard enough to pee in New York City without worrying about having to dump your cup of blood someplace where there’s probably no hot water, soap or towels. I’ll pass.


Loretta November 1, 2009 at 11:53 pm

Love my Lunette cup! I’ve had no shame talking about it with the mums in the school playground and have convinced 2 of them to give it a try. I’ve told my 9 yo daughter about it too, in preparation for when she needs it, but she’s still convinced tampons are the way to go. Hopefully I’ve still got a few years to talk her around 🙂


lauren November 2, 2009 at 5:46 am

i’ve used the keeper since before 2000. one of my friends found the information in the pre-Y2K thing. I had to stop for a year or two because the first one they made was of latex and i did become allergic. Then they made a silicon one. i really would not go back to anything else. as for being out and about when i need to empty – i empty – wipe the edge clean with tp and redo. works fine every time.


Bad Hippie November 2, 2009 at 7:11 am

Any one want to weigh in on the difference between the moon cup and the diva cup? Is there anything significant?


SanQ November 2, 2009 at 7:47 am

I have been using the diva cup for a few years now and I really love it. I would suggest to those that have tried alternatives to pads and tampons to give the cups another try, perhaps reading some of the links/boards above will help. That helped me, also I had an offline friend that had been using it for some time. I live in a big city and have never actually dumped my cup in a public bathroom because I haven’t had to. Give it another try!


Diane November 2, 2009 at 8:42 am

I’ve been using a cup since the beginning of the year and wouldn’t use anything else now. I actually found my cramps lessened, and my headaches all but went completely.

Bad hippie: There is a difference in the size and length in the cup manufacturers, so if one doesn’t fit right it may just be a matter of getting one that does. When I did the research I found a site/forum that listed all the different types and the sizes of them. Maybe google for that?

Also I haven’t had an issue changing it in public as you need to empty it less than you would pads/tampons. I find I can go morning/evening usually with an extra emptying on my heaviest day


AJ in AZ November 2, 2009 at 9:09 am

I’m afraid some of those coupon sites would open you up to all kinds of spam if you aren’t extra careful and make sure not to give out any email addresses. I wasn’t as careful in the past as I am now, and have had to jettison several email addresses because of spam.


Juli November 2, 2009 at 10:21 am

I use a Diva Cup, and before that had a Moon Cup. The Diva Cup is silicone and the Moon Cup is, I think, natural rubber. I find the Diva Cup works better for me- perhaps it is a bit different shape as well as the material. I second the person who says that if one cup isn’t working for you, to try again.

I only have to empty at work during heavy days, and when I do will wet a paper towel with warm water to take in the stall with me to wipe the rim of the cup and my fingers, then put that in the stall waste basket- neatly done.

As for coupons- they aren’t worth the trouble for me because they are all for things that come packaged in plastic, and I avoid one-time-use plastics. Sometimes there might be a coupon for flour or sugar, but most of the time they are selling some new processed food item, air freshener, or shampoo. Plastic city!


Dana November 2, 2009 at 10:40 am

My period solution? Hysterectomy.




Lucia November 2, 2009 at 10:52 am

Ok, a few thoughts. First of all, I have a special email account that I put on all my coupon request websites and yes, I do get span, but who cares? Its just for the coupons. I use coupons, and I’m a couponista, I guess, if you must label me. I just wanted to give an example of a great deal I did a few years ago. I bought, with no out of pocket expense, a huge rubbermaid crate of Sunsilk shampoo (all free). I still have some of that shampoo. I have used it, given it away to friends who come here to “shop” from my stash of freebies, donated to charities, and sold a bunch at a yard sale for $1. If you can use the product, or know someone who can , getting it for free is a public service. I have helped countless people with my couponing, as do most die-hard couponers.

And on the subject of the cup, I don’t think so. I work in a school where we use the restroom with the students. Imagine trying to explain that! But then again, I don’t pay for my tampons anyway 🙂


magdalena November 2, 2009 at 12:01 pm

I’m so close to menopause that my stash of pads will probably last me out! I wish the cup had been more available when I was younger. There were a few products around, but they looked a little scary! Anyone ever tried the reusable pads available from some very green sites and catalogs? They might work if you could carry a spare or two, and a waterproof, leakproof bag for the used ones.

Our toiletries shopping list is whatever is cheapest shampoo, as long as it is made in the developed world (be forewarned that some Asian products have been contaminated in the past), mild soap, toilet paper (what’s on sale in bulk) and toothcare. My husband spends maybe $4 a year on razors and shaving soap – Brethren beard cuts down on the amount of face to shave! I occasionally have to replace my store of bobby pins – maybe $3 a year.

But now we have a household that includes a 2 year old, and her Nana might like some help buying diapers (she’s close to toilet training – no time to switch to cloth diapers!) and other baby products, so I’m looking at coupon sites.


Queen Lucia November 2, 2009 at 12:40 pm

I’m also interested in hearing if anyone has used reusable cloth pads. I don’t think I could swing a cup, but the cloth pads might be better. Anyone do that?


Laura November 2, 2009 at 2:58 pm

Yeah, there’s a slight size difference between DivaCup and MoonCup — I think the DivaCups tend to run slightly larger diameter or something. The MoonCup is latex; the same company also makes a silicone version, like all the other menstrual cups out there.

When I’ve got my period, I only need to empty my cup twice a day — when I wake up in the morning, and before I go to bed at night. So for me, emptying at work isn’t an issue. I took a camping trip once, to a place that had flushies onsite, and took a container of antibacterial wet-wipes with me to wipe down my DivaCup with, when I emptied it. It worked pretty well for the four days I was there.

Like Jess, I’ve also found to be a wealth of information. And I have a friend who uses Dana’s solution too 🙂

One of these days I’d like to try making my own shampoo. I’ve made my own laundry detergent, and I’m thrilled with how well it works!


blackgirlinmaine November 2, 2009 at 3:30 pm

Regarding cloth pads, I have used them in the past and while they are comfy for home use. I don’t find them practical at all as far as using when I am way from my house. When I use cloth pads I have noticed my flow seems a lot lighter, I recommend them. Definitely more comfy than say Always with wings. 😉


Meredith November 2, 2009 at 7:26 pm

I use a Diva cup, and have for about nine months. Sometimes it will overflow on a heavy day, but if I am careful about emptying it it’s usually not a problem. Re: public or shared bathrooms: I will often just empty it and wipe it off with toilet paper if I am out and about, then wash it when I get home. If I remember, I’ll stash a wet washcloth in a plastic bag in my purse and use it to wipe the cup and my hands before heading out to use the sink. But mostly it works for me. I love not shelling out for pads and tampons every month and I never have to worry about having them on hand.

The only cautionary tale I have is that four-year-old boys think they look like space ships, so be careful where you leave it….


ksmedgirl November 2, 2009 at 7:31 pm

I use a diva cup and like it. I find I still leak a little around it so I just wear a pantiliner and that works for me. I never go to online coupon sites. I did that once and got spammed with porn which was impossible to stop. Not worth the potential savings to me!


WilliamB November 4, 2009 at 10:11 am

A couple years ago a dad I know wrote Huggies a complementary letter, amazed that Huggies could hold 11 times its weight in pee. (We measured.) They sent him 3 coupons for $2 off.

Recently he wrote Huggies to politely complain about a problem, referencing his earlier positive experience. Huggies sent him 3 coupons for $6 off any Huggies product, 2 coupons for $1 off, and suggestions about which Huggies diapers might work best for this child.

The moral of the story is: good things happen when you write the manufacturer.

I understand also that most of the baby stuff mfgrs have clubs which get you discounts, coupons, stuff on the kid’s birthday, etc.


ToilingAnt November 6, 2009 at 7:51 am

I’ve used a Diva Cup for the past several years and hardly ever buy commercial menstrual products anymore.


H November 12, 2009 at 5:26 pm

Getting an IUD has saved me. No birth control pills and the periods have gone away pretty much completely. I haven’t used a tampon in 5+ years. No pads either. I used to use pantyliners for a while, but haven’t needed those either for quite a while.


Gypsy March 7, 2010 at 2:34 pm

I am working on a post about simplifying my bathroom and this was great. here in new zealand we don’t have coupons to nearly the same extent … and the little skincare I buy I buy from direct from people that make it and sell at farmers markets. I can’t get my head around mooncups, but I use cloth sanitary pads and they are wonderful.

I am aiming to get down to one lipstick, one mascara and one eyeliner as my sole makeup … I love the cosmetics – a genuinely ethical company!

I can’t wait to get to my truly pared down bathroom!


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