Four ways to avoid the ‘pink tax’

close Customers line up to use a JPMorgan Chase ATM inside of a Duane Reade store in New York, U.S., October 3, 2016. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

We’ve written about the ‘pink tax’ before. It’s that pesky additional charge companies add on to products or services when they’re made for women instead of men — think the extra few dollars women’s shampoo and razors cost when compared to the same brand’s versions for men.

You might think the easiest solution to this problem is just to use men’s razors and deodorant, but it’s not always that simple. Personally, I’m loyal to a few pink/feminine labeled products, and I refuse to make the switch! I love the scent of Herbal Essences ‘Be Happy’ shampoo, and the Gillette Venus razor just works for me.

After spending two years extreme couponing through college and watching sale prices like a hawk, I finally mastered a strategic shopping plan that allows me to get the best deals on personal care items while still remaining loyal to the brands and products I like. Here are my four best ways to save on personal care items that carry the pink tax.

Buy in bulk.

If you happen to find your favorite products at Costco or similar warehouse clubs, you can save a lot of time and money buying in bulk. Purchasing an industrial bottle of shampoo decreases the per ounce cost, and a year’s supply of razor cartridges are not only convenient to have on hand, but also are usually paired with a few razor handles. I also like to shop at online retailers such as Boxed, which doesn’t require a annual membership, but still offers prices competitive with the warehouse clubs.

Shop for items with seasonal packaging.

As the holiday season approaches, you’ll start to see more and more seasonal gift sets for sale at stores like Target and Walmart. For example, bath and body gift sets at Target go on sale for 50 percent off right before Christmas (down from $9.99-15), and they usually have other promotions happening that can be stacked with this sale. Make sure you check both their Cartwheel offers and their coupon page to get the best deal.

Take advantage of Amazon’s Subscribe Save first order discounts.

Amazon’s Subscribe Save program enables shoppers to schedule regular deliveries of the household products they need, like toilet paper, dish soap or toothpaste. It’s a nice service when used normally, but there’s a way to hack the system that can save you big time on these products, month after month.

This hack works throughout the year, and is great for items you need on a monthly basis. Here’s the deal: Amazon frequently offers a coupon for a set dollar amount or percent off and free shipping on your first Subscribe Save order. This is in addition to the 5 percent discount you’ll already get for subscribing. Let’s say you’ve got your eye on the Gillette Venus Spa women’s razor, which costs $8 at Walmart and comes with two cartridges, so it should last you around two months. If you buy it on Amazon Subscribe Save and use the $3 off coupon for first-time users (which they offer almost monthly), you can get it shipped to your door for as low as $3! Cancel your subscription after your first delivery, and you automatically qualify for the same first order discount in the future!

I’ve bought razors using this trick three times this year, and have ended up getting them for as low as $1.50/cartridge plus a fresh new handle every time.

Sign up for store loyalty programs.

My favorite game to play is what I like to call ‘the drugstore game’ at Walgreens. They offer two reward programs, a points-based program and register rewards. Both programs reward you for buying products throughout the store (including name brands) and give you a set dollar amount in the form of points to use on a future purchase.

I often see these rewards on items such as Kotex and Playtex tampons, which are charged a nine percent “luxury” tax in 39 of the 50 states according to a recent article on Retail TouchPoints. I don’t know about you, but I find nothing luxurious about buying a $7 box of tampons every month. About every three months, I see a sale price overlapping with coupons and one of their reward programs, and when this happens I can score a box of my preferred brand of tampons for as low as $0.49! I recommend trying to never pay more than $2 for the 16-count boxes or $3 for the 32-count boxes.

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