As Seen On TV Gimmicks to Save Money?

You’ve seen the ads. Soap Savers to help you use every last sliver of soap. Pants Extenders to help your pants fit, even after you gain weight. Soda Pop Lids to keep your soda fresh, in the event you can’t drink the whole can. Green Bags to keep your produce fresh longer. The list is never ending.

On the surface, these ideas seem good. After all, it’s more frugal to use and reuse things than to throw them away and buy new, right?

The idea is right, but these gimmicks rub me the wrong way. Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t think these products really appeal to frugal people, who tend to be do-it-yourselfers.

I use all of my bar soap, but I don’t need a special product to do it. When I have a sliver of soap left, I break out a new bar. When both the new bar and the soap sliver are wet, I stick them together and let them dry, and they become one. Another creative and crafty solution I’ve never tried is to save a bunch of soap slivers and then melt them into a single bar.

And as a frugal person, I tend to buy two liter bottles of pop, when I buy it. That way, I can determine how much I drink, and it’s often not 12 ounces in a single sitting. If I happen to be drinking a can of pop that I don’t finish, it’s not that difficult to pull out a jar (I save all my jars), pour the pop in, put a lid on it, and keep it in the fridge. Of course the most frugal solution would be to not drink soda at all.

And pants extenders? I’ll admit I don’t fluctuate in sizes much. But there’s something to be said for comfort. For $3.99, rather than buying an extender, I’d probably run to the thrift store to buy a pair of jeans that fits correctly.

As far as Green Bags go, I’m not sure what makes them special, and I’m not willing to pay to find out. I find that storing my produce in a ziplock bag with a clean, dry paper towel works very well. Washing the ziplock bags to be used again keeps the costs down, too. Just don’t rewash bags used for meat.

Maybe I’m too cynical. I just think that paying money to be frugal isn’t very frugal in most cases like these. What do you think?


By , on Aug 13, 2010
Lynnae McCoy I'm Lynnae, wife of one and stay-at-home mom of two. I'm committed to getting out of debt by being frugal with my choices in life.


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  1. Ally:

    As I was reading this (by the way, I found out about your blog through a news article :) all I could think of was the little “thingy” that helps the toothpaste out of the tube and allows you to get out the last bit. They come as cheap as $1 and well, they work! I can’t think of another way to use every last drop and it drives me nuts when a lumpy (still quite full of toothpaste) tube is in the garbage. :)

  2. Loan Lee:

    I’ll agree with you especially about sliver soaps., but most of all we tends to reuse things in order to save more.. But you did a great post! Very informative..

  3. On the whole, I’m with you – you can usually make your own version of one of the gimmick products for free. But I love the soda can lids! My brother gave me a pair for Christmas last year because I am the world’s worst about not being able to drink an entire soda at one sitting. It always goes flat before I can finish. Those little lids work like a charm, though! And they’re great for drinking in the car – I don’t spill with my little recloseable lid on the can!

  4. Jen:

    My dad swears by the green bags, but I’ve been eating all the fresh summer fruits and veggies as fast as I can and haven’t had a chance to try them yet.

    Other than that, I think most products designed to help you save money or time aren’t worth the time or money they cost. Just yesterday I was bemoaning a roommate’s purchase of that microwave egg cooker – what on earth was that called? It was plastic and came out around 2000. It took just as long to cook as it would have in the pan and it was a HUGE pain to clean!

    The soap example is a good one – sometimes the way we’ve always done it is plenty good enough.

  5. Pamela:

    I think to each his/her own. I have bought some gimmicky things in the past and loved them. I bet all of us are honest we all have. And I bet some of the things we use everyday today might have started as a gimmick!! Think on that one!

  6. Jen:

    I think you’re right — frugal people are very resourceful and don’t need the “help” of these gadgets and what nots to extend the life of things.

  7. My 3: We have had reasonably decent luck with a $7 wine pump – it pulls air out of the bottle, so in theory it makes the wine go off more slowly. If you really care about this, drink reds instead of whites. White wine that goes off can still be used for cooking.

    Know your dollar stores. We buy bread there when it’s good, and put it in the deep freeze.

    That reflective barrier stuff really, really works, as does an extra layer of blown insulation. We did our attic in that and did see a difference, both in our bill and in the temperature maintenance level of the upstairs.

  8. Shannon:

    Green bags work! I find them at grocery outlet also, for a fraction of the $10 suggested price. If you’ve ever wasted extra produce, its worth it. The bags can be reused a number of times, and frugal types reuse them more than the # quoted.

    As for the pop can deals, we have them too. I didn’t get them to save money, I got them to keep cans safe from my 3 yr old who frequently knocks things over. They’re handy in the car too.

    I don’t generally like “niche” products, and while the pop toppers are definitely niche, the green bags are just like wax paper / ziploc bags / foil etc.

  9. Scott:

    Definitely – I have no use for the gimmicks, but the green bags to work. My head busts with ideas…. some I haven’t seen lately are: I don’t think making my own laundry detergent is economical, instead I buy a medium grade detergent (Fresh Start if I can name a brand) and UNDER USE it by half – works great. Same with softener, dish soap etc. Use vinegar to clean about everything. I found dollar store brands of shampoo that are actually pretty good. Coupons drive me nuts, they take too much time but are a good idea.

  10. kelliinkc:

    I have done the soap thing for years! Works really well. I only buy sodas in cans as I find that the bottled sodas get flat way to fast. I rarely manage to finish a can of soda at once so I just stick it in the fridge and take a few swigs off and on all day, then I toss the can into my recycle bin. I don’t run out of fizz and I didn’t have to dirty up another container that will need to be washed! I have wondered about the green bags though, I am tempted to buy them!

  11. Attila:

    I agree with you; the people who invent, market and sell these things are not out to help me but to help themselves! When I do have gadgets and gimmicks, I use them a few times and then forget them and they sit around cluttering the place up or get lost, so I don’t bother unless it’s something really good that I really will use.

  12. I have to agree with you. Sometimes the cost of saving money just out weighs the value you can save. My DH and I run into this problem every time we go to the big box stores and stock up on the essentials. Some of the discounts are a great buy, but others…. we just end up with a lot of left over that gets tossed.

    Pants extenders… just a reason for me to eat more (not less) and pop lid savers, a good idea, but an open bottle of soda in the house is an endangered species with a house full of boys…

  13. Beth:

    I have to disagree with you on the soda one though…I love those things, as does DH. He bought them for me because I don’t drink a lot, and when I open a can of soda (diet for me!) I only drink a little. Then I can put those things on and pop them in the fridge and they stay fresh. Instead of wasting soda. Never thought to put them in a bottle though….hmmmmm, good idea!
    I have the green bags (got as a gift or something) but never used them yet. They are sitting in my cabinet with dust on the outside :)
    I do think the ads are mostly funny for the ‘as seen on tv’ stuff out there. Makes you laugh out loud!

  14. AngelSong:

    I agree with you. Many people do not take the time to stop and really think when they see these ads, and that’s what companies count on. It really does help to pause long enough to consider what one’s needs really are and if there are already other options available that don’t require spending more money.

  15. Debbie:

    Gimmics usually just make me laugh. I usually applaud the ingenuity of the person who invented it but that’s as far as I go.

    Good post. I guess you could put most ‘green’ products in this group too.

  16. I tend to agree with you, except for the green bags. I can get them for 1.99 a box a Menards most of the time, and they are amazing. I currently have snow peas in my fridge in a green bag that I picked over a month ago and they’re just as fresh as they were when I put them there. Lettuce lasts a lot longer than in regular plastic bags too. I love them!

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