I’m a grown woman, and I deal with my own shit. And my own period blood, my birth control, any humans growing inside of me, and my pee. This is how I take care of my unique female needs on a budget and cut the cost of being a woman.
I save money by not buying toilet paper for me or my family. Gross? On the contrary, my derriere is cleaner than it’s ever been. How? I use a bidet at home.
It can cost up to $1,000 to get a bidet installed in your home in addition to buying the unit. If a standard roll of toilet paper costs 84 cents and typically lasts five days (depending on how many people you’re sharing with!), then you’ll make that money back in 16 years. Even if you go through toilet paper much quicker — say, a roll every two days — it would still take you six years. Wow.
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The ploy wasn’t designed to be a money-saving maneuver. The bidet entered my life after a painful urinary tract infection (UTI). The UTI cost $77 for a minute-long clinic visit, $19 for penicillin, and $12 for pure cranberry juice. It also cost me a day off from work, which I used to scour the internet for ways to prevent a repeat performance.
The best option appeared to be a bidet. We got one for $40, and we’ve taken it from house to house with us. We now spend $0 on UTIs and $0 on toilet paper — and we even save a few bucks on water (you flush less often when you don’t use TP).
Some people save money by clipping coupons for toilet paper. Not me. I’m radical. I’ve ditched TP altogether.
Being a woman also requires me to keep clean during my period. For years, I paid a double pink tax. In other words, I not only paid sales tax on my tampons of choice, but I also always bought more than I needed when I bought tampons from Target (every month).
I was sick of shelling out $10 to $15 every month for my period.
That said, if you buy your sanitary products through Ibotta, you can earn cash back. It works in over 500 stores, including Duane Reade, Walgreens, and CVS.
But I didn't want to deal with clipping coupons — digitally or otherwise. So I hunted for longer-term solutions.
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I considered birth control options that would stop my period. However, I don’t like sticking something into my body without reading up on it first, and the literature surrounding birth control is super boring. For me, hormonal period prevention went into the trash (along with all the literature).
I ended up buying a Diva Cup, which is literally a plastic cup that collects period blood. A teammate from my cross-country team told me about it in college — it feels just like a normal tampon (which is to say, like nothing). So I bought one, and I’ve never turned back.
Diva Cups cost $14.99, and you only need to buy one per year. They also hold more blood than a standard tampon — I’ve lost exactly zero pairs of underwear to period blood since switching to the Diva Cup.
A few months after I gave birth to my daughter, I started powerlifting. Here’s what I’m going to say about that: I grew a human being inside of me (she was my second). Then I squeezed said human through my vagina. She wrecked my entire pelvic region.
When I started lifting, I suffered from bladder leakage. Kegel exercises are the cure du jour, but they didn’t work immediately. So I tried wearing pads for a few workouts. I hated it.
Rather than quit working out, I searched for “period” underwear with high absorbency. Then I realized that you can buy pee-proof underwear from places like Icon or Thinx. The underwear did the trick while my muscles got back in shape. The undies cost $35, which is about $28 more than I usually spend on underwear, but these were worth it to me.
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If you’re a fertile and sexually active woman, then you need to know how to save money on pregnancy.
Of course, the best way to save money on pregnancy is to avoid it.
But there are some shocking stats on the effectiveness of various birth control methods based on typical use. You’ll notice that the majority of the most common methods have birth rates of more than nine percent.
How do I deal with it? I’m a gambler — I use the pill as advised. I got my birth control prescription from Maven Clinic, an online-only women’s health clinic. It costs me $9 a month to pick up at Walmart. My first appointment cost $10. It was also the best experience I’ve ever had with a doctor. I met the doc via a Skype service, and the meeting lasted just 10 minutes. And on top of that, she was on time and very helpful.
Another solution to no health insurance is Hello Alvin, an online medical service that can provide prescriptions that can be collected at your local pharmacy or store, wherever is the most convenient! And if you have health insurance but can’t make it out of bed, some providers cover telemedecine, too!
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Pregnancy (When the Human Grows Inside of You)
I also saved quite a bit of money when I was pregnant.
Four years ago, I gave birth to my son at the Minnesota Birth Center, which costs half of what the hospital across the street would have billed me. Price was important to me, since I was on a high-deductible health insurance plan at the time. My insurance company negotiated some discounts, but I personally negotiated for another 15 percent off by paying my part upfront.
With my daughter, saving money was all about timing. I injured myself when I stuck my finger in a blender at the very start of my insurance year. It cost me around $2,000 to get that fixed, but I saw it as an opportunity.
My husband and I were already talking about having a second child. Since we were so close to hitting the deductible for the year, we decided to go for it, and my daughter was born three weeks before a new insurance year started.
I also negotiated a 25 percent discount when it came time to pay the bill.
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Final Thoughts on Cutting the Cost of Being a Woman
A lot of people might turn their noses up at some of these health and hygiene solutions, but they're actually my preferred options today. I’m not missing out by not spending more. In fact, I’m happier with the less expensive options.