When less is better
I’d bet at some point in everyone’s life they’ve seen the phrase “lather, rinse, repeat” on a shampoo bottle– and then snickered because, unless your hair is really dirty, “repeating” is ridiculous. It is an obvious ploy on the part of the manufacturer to convince people to use more shampoo during each shower, resulting in more shampoo purchases.
The next time you are in a cynical mood (or thrifty mood– whatever works for you!), start looking at other products in your house where the manufacture provides measuring cups (say, in the cap) or instructions on how much to use the product. Then really think about how much you think you need to use. Make a list and start experimenting in reducing the amounts used.
Since a soap-like product makes an easy example, I’ll keep using it. The next time you load the dishwasher, reduce the amount just a little. Keep reducing the amount (slightly) during each subsequent use until you’ve found a level you are comfortable with. Don’t go below the amount you are comfortable with because, after all, if you don’t think your dishes are clean, then you aren’t getting any value from your purchase (and may just run it again, thereby cancelling any savings).
Now you may be wondering if this will really save you money. For your average products purchased at a big box store, it may be a cumulative savings, with little savings on each individual reduction. However, if you can also do this to more expensive items, it makes those expensive items more affordable. My favorite example is a trick I learned from my mom, who learned it from my sister: We love the foaming soaps from Bath and Body Works, but at $5 per bottle, they are a bit expensive. So– surprise!– I only buy them when they are on sale (around $3 per bottle). Then, I stretch them even further by pouring half of a bottle into an empty bottle (from a previous purchase)– then add water to both. Viola, it is now $1.50 per bottle (CVS foaming hand-soap is $1.99 per bottle and generic hand-soap at Target is about $1.50). Not bad!
Here’s a list of things I’ve stretched by using this method:
- laundry detergent (especially if you are also adding stain-remover boosters or fabric softeners)
- dishwasher soap
- shampoo (when I can– this varies depending on the brand and water quality/pressure)
- body wash (also, when the bottle is “empty” I add water to it, shake it up, and then use that for at least another week before cracking a new bottle)
- juice (water it down a little–with the bonus of consuming less sugar per drink)
- powdered drinks