Switching to reusables will automatically save you money on period products since they pay for themselves after a few cycles. Still, the cost per cloth pad, menstrual cup, etc means that the initial investment can make it hard to overcome the start-up investment. This guide will share some ways you can buy quality reusable products from reputable brands while making them more affordable.
Here is my unpopular opinion. To make the most of your investment it’s best to purchase the best menstrual cup for you, not the cheapest one. A cheap cup that doesn’t work or fit doesn’t save money in the long run when having to buy another cup!
Buy Period Products with your HSA/FSA
If you’re lucky enough to have an insurance plan that includes a health savings account, or flexible spending account, you can use these pre-tax dollars to buy any and all of your period products. Seriously! Every type of period product is covered by the recent CARES Act Section 3702. This includes reusable products like menstrual cups, menstrual discs, cloth pads, cloth liners, period underwear, and even washes for your cup! It also covers disposable tampons and pads. Most people are unaware this is an option and they spend money out of pocket when they could pay with HSA or FSA funds, which are pre-tax, thus saving money.
If you have an HSA debit card all you need to do is pay with it just like you would with a credit card in-store or online. Our retail arm, Period.Shop, accepts HSA cards at check out. You’ll enter the card’s numbers just as you would any other credit card to pay.
If you don’t have an HSA debit card that’s ok! Pay out of pocket and file your receipt with the insurance company. You can find a guide on how to file a claim with HSA/FSA here.
Installment Plans | Split Your Cost Into 4 Payments
Many online stores are offering interest-free payment plan options to their customers. AfterPay (what Period.Shop uses), QuadPay, ShopPay, and Klarna are just a few popular options. Most of these options won’t do a hard credit pull (Afterpay does not, which is why we selected it!) when you choose them to pay and they will split the total cost of your item into smaller payments. Your items still ship out as if you paid in full right away – no waiting! These payments are usually interest-free, unlike paying and carrying a balance on a credit card.
As with any payment plan, you do have to pay on time or there will be some sort of financial penalty. Choose wisely and always read the fine print.
When our retail store added this option as a way to help more people afford reusable period products we did a lot of research. Afterpay was the fairest to the customer, even though they charge us a higher fee than similar programs.
Add to Cart and Wait
Savvy shoppers know that most online retailers are hoping to make a sale. One way they tempt customers is by sending an abandoned cart email. If you add products to your cart and don’t check out for a few hours or days you might see an email like “Whoops, you forgot something! Here’s a coupon to help you complete your purchase!” Score! The amount will depend on the retailer.
You can also follow brands and stores on social media (@PeriodNirvana is a good one *wink*) where sales will be shared or sign up for their email list. Usually, you’ll get a discount when you join a store or brand’s newsletter.
Believe it or not, there is a market for gently used period products. Don’t scrunch up your nose! For reusable medical-grade menstrual cups and discs, a good boil will sterilize these products, making them safe to use afterward. This is a process that involves a few things, including trust in the person to send the product and send it in the condition it was listed as. Most forums that facilitate these swaps and buys are “at your own risk” to the buyer/trader. Some forums do have seller ratings that help you know that you’re not being scammed.
Why would you buy a used cup? Someone tried a cup, it didn’t work, and they hate to see it go to waste. They’ll sell it significantly cheaper than new and in most cases, it was only used a time or two, or maybe not at all. Some people also just swap cups because one didn’t work and they’d like to try a different size or brand.
If it’s not for you don’t do it, but many people find this a great way to try period cups or discs without the $30-$40 investment.
Most period charities understandably focus on providing immediate solutions to those in need. Disposable products make more sense to provide – they don’t need sanitation or special instructions and they’re also more “one size works for all” than menstrual cups. I have seen local organizations assist with reusables but it should be stated that because cups are so individual it’s important they work with the recipients to find the right size product and provide some education. Another organization, Cloth Connection Outreach, does have a reusable menstrual products program*
Things to Avoid
As menstrual cups and reusable products become more popular there are more brands and “deals” than ever to look out for. Amazon and eBay are especially dangerous places to trust because the brands sold there are not vetted products – anyone can list a cup on Amazon after setting up an account. Be an informed consumer.
“Free” Menstrual Cups
Social media is full of promises for FREE menstrual cups. Sometimes these are “free for shipping” or they provide a form to fill out for a “free” cup. Save your time and don’t fall for these online scams or deceptive advertising. Free is tempting but remember, free is never free when it comes to things online. Even if you receive the product you could have provided private information they can use in other ways, and the chances the item you received is a quality, FDA-cleared device, are low.
Why would a company provide you with a free product? In the case of one company I happened to see on my Facebook, it is deceptive advertising. Their product is “free” and the shipping for your free cup is $14.60. The product they’re sending? It costs just $0.50. If you’re prepared to pay $15 for a .50 knock-off product just put that towards a better product from a better company.
Cheap Menstrual Cups
Not all reusable menstrual cups are created equal. A $5 + shipping cup may look like a great way to try out menstrual cups but if that shape/firmness/ size isn’t right for you, or it’s too flimsy, that’s just money wasted. It’s also not always a safe cup to use – some cheaper brands use filler in their silicone or are made cheaply with uncomfortable seams. Or they’re simply a bad design.
$25-$40 is a lot for a tiny little cup but the price is worth it for a trusted product made from quality medical grade materials with premium finishing that is also a good fit for your needs. This investment pays for itself in 2-4 cycles and you’ll have a “free” period for years to come!
There are cheaper cups on Amazon or Instagram, these are tempting, but they’re all nearly identical products (if not the same exact cup from the exact same manufacturer!) The phrase “capitalism breeds innovation” comes to mind… ironically. You can learn more about “private label” menstrual cups and why so many “brands” seem to be the same cup.
I’m not going to say that reusables are cheap, but you can find a way to invest in quality products that are the right fit for you. In the long term, you WILL save money even on the highest-priced products. By using your HSA, a payment plan, or even buying used you can get the exact product your body needs in a more affordable way. I encourage consumers to buy as ethically as they can but understand financial constraints means cheaper private-label cups are sometimes the only option. You can always ask for FDA evidence from the brands you buy from. Before you take the plunge be sure to try our menstrual cup quiz to see which one is a good match for your needs and use these tips above on how to save money on period products to make buying a cup or disc more affordable.
*A link does not serve as an endorsement.