I’m usually on a health kick in some form or fashion and regardless of whether my diet works, the one constant is that being healthy is expensive. One of the big areas that I’ve been able to manage costs is with my vitamin purchases. Luckily, with a little planning, consultation with a doctor and some smart shopping you really can save big with your vitamin purchases. Here are 10 simple steps to save big:
Know what you need: Figure out what type of vitamins you need and make a list. Just like going to the grocery store, buying only what you need can help you save big bucks. There’s so much temptation in the way vitamins are presented to end up walking out of the store with products you just don’t need. Also, having this shopping list will help you save money in almost every stop given below.
Purchase your vitamins on the Internet: As a general rule of thumb, buying on the Internet can save you some big bucks. Finding a reputable service for the highest quality vitamins like SuperSmart is very useful, and they have some good educational resources as well. Major online retailers like Amazon.com, you can really save big bucks over traditional vitamin stores like GNC. Not to mention you get the benefits of avoiding the traffic and hassle of actually going into the store. As with any online purchase, you need to keep in mind where you’re buying the product. There are certainly unscrupulous vendors out there, but if you do a little homework or use reputable sites, you’ll know that you’re purchasing a quality product safely.
Compare Prices: Prices for vitamins vary widely from store to store. You would think that in a competitive market like the one that exists for vitamins, there would be a standard price for what is being offered. Truth is there isn’t, and a Vitamin Shoppe next door to a GNC may sell the same name brand product for 30% less than the GNC next door. If you decide to buy online, comparing prices doesn’t get any easier. If you can save a few bucks easily by comparing prices, why wouldn’t you do it?
Buy in Bulk: If you have a vitamin or supplement that you purchase frequently, go ahead and buy it in bulk! I do this for my multivitamins and the savings are enormous. Be sure to check the label for expiration dates, but most vitamins last well over a year, so you might as well go ahead and buy the big bottle. Buying in bulk might also make you more likely to keep taking the vitamin.
Go “generic”: Like with prescription drugs, there’s usually no difference between the main brand and the generic store brands. At a fraction of the cost, there really isn’t any reason for not purchasing them. Additionally, they’re frequently on sale and usually are available for purchase in large quantities.
Use Store Cards: Many stores offer customer cards similar to that seen in grocery stores that offer rewards for frequently shopping with them. Some offer a certain percentage off of your purchase, and others offer points or gift certificates at certain benchmark spending levels. Try and take advantage of store cards at stores that offer you cheap rates to begin with so that you can really kick the saving up a notch.
Look for Sales: Just like a grocery store, most vitamin stores offer periodic sales on certain vitamins and supplements. Keep an eye out and when you see a vitamin that’s already on your shopping list and go grab it! Also, usually when a new shipment of vitamins comes in, or the store decides to discontinue selling a particular brand, many will mark what’s left as “clearance” and sell the item at a greatly reduced price. Keep those eyes open!
Look for combinations: Take a look at the ingredient list of a multi-vitamin. If you look closely, you’ll see a bunch of vitamins and nutrients that are being sold individually in the store. As an academic exercise, if you have some free time, take a few ingredients off that list and find them being sold individually in the store. Just add up the prices and you’ll see very quickly how much money you’re saving by buying combination packages of vitamins. Keep in mind that not only multi-vitamins come packaged in combinations, there are many targeted combinations out there – just look around!
Get vitamins from natural sources: I’m sure you’ve heard this before but as you know vitamins are great, but they’re not better than the real thing. Keep in mind that the foods you eat like vegetables, orange juice and milk, contain vitamins. If you drink enough orange juice, you may not need an extra Vitamin-C tablet each day. This will require some work, but you may find out that you’re getting too much of a good thing! Which leads me to . . .
See if you really need the vitamin: As mentioned above, one trip to your local GNC and you’re convinced you need almost every vitamin they offer. Why wouldn’t you – each seems to offer some great benefit, right? Wrong! Think about it, if I already have a great immune system, how many immune system boosting vitamins do I really need? There’s a huge risk of waste when you take so many vitamins that your body can’t even process or adequately use at a given time. Many of the vitamins you consume in excess will just be excreted from your body in the form of urine anyway. As a side note, I’ve heard many Doctor’s say that American’s have the most expensive urine in the world!
Image source: Shannon Kringen, via Flickr.