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Do the little things *really* count? - Page 3

post #41 of 75
Thread Starter 

I suppose when I started this thread it was from reading one too many "make your own laundry soap! It will save you so much money!" comments, like it's the holy grail of saving money. 

 

I do overall believe that things add up, that it can all help. I guess it just makes me wonder if people are grasping at straws and/or hiding from the bigger picture, things they can't control. Which I know, is a horribly offensive thing to say, I just don't understand everyone's obsession with laundry soap. When I think about where and when money is spent throughout the day, laundry soap is pretty far down the list. Even when we were really poor, watching every penny spent, no money coming in and behind on bills, it would have never entered my mind to make laundry soap as a way of saving money. I remember how happy and proud I was when I made focaccia from ingredients we happened to have in the kitchen to jazz up yet one more meal of spaghetti (recipe, minus the cheese, because cheese was a luxury!)

 

Maybe I've just been reading the frugal threads for too many years and tired of the same things repeated over and over. (I was here under another username-which I lost the password/email to- back to 2006). Maybe I'm just bored and suffering from frugal burnout. Does anyone else feel like that sometimes?

post #42 of 75
LOL I really haven't seen that many laundry soap posts, maybe I've been blind to it???

But I do feel like, on a F&F forum, there are going to be a lot of the nickel-and-dime stuff, because the big stuff is mostly pretty obvious & there's just not a ton of need to discuss it & get ideas from others. The little stuff is creative and (for some of us) fun and fulfills multiple purposes -- i.e. making our own laundry soap means I'm not supporting big-box stores, and that the run-off from our laundry is not loaded with chemicals, and that my laundry doesn't have an artificial scent (something I'm sometimes sensitive to)...

Frugality can be addictive, in my experience. It starts out with shopping sales and clipping coupons and then you start thinking, hmmm how could I save even more? How can I save on the little minutiae of daily life? Sometimes that shift happens out of necessity and other times it's just something we get enjoyment out of. For me, it started of necessity, and for a while shifted into a hobby, and now, with DH unemployed, is more of a necessity again. I honestly would probably continue making my own laundry detergent and toothpaste even if I had a million dollars or more. I just like living simply and being in control of the ingredients and spending as little money as possible.
post #43 of 75

 

Quote:
I just don't understand everyone's obsession with laundry soap. When I think about where and when money is spent throughout the day, laundry soap is pretty far down the list

I think a lot of this comes down to being more concerned about ingredients . Yes, you can buy laundry soap pretty inexpensively, but if you are concerned about chemical ingredients or additives or someone in family has sensitivities, then making your own laundry soap can save a lot of money over buying the more expensive "natural" brands.    It's the same thing with bread and jam and other items.  Yes, you can BUY them cheaper, but usually the cheap brands have HFCS or other "bad" ingredients.   So, it's likely quite a bit cheaper to make them yourself over buying the "natural, expensive, organic, etc." brands.

post #44 of 75
Thread Starter 

I use a variety of laundry soap, whatever is on sale. Sometimes it's arm and hammer essentials or it's La Parisenne. Both are biodegradable in 28 days, plant based and come in dye/perfume free varieties. It's not like I'm buying Tide with Bleach. 

post #45 of 75

I think ameliabedelia made some good points regarding why some of us choose to do things like bake our own bread, make our own soap or laundry detergent. It isn't necessarily all about saving money. I also think how much money you save depends on what you would otherwise buy and how much of it you use. One family may go through 1 loaf of bread a week while another may go through 4 loaves. Similarly, having (soon to be) 2 in diapers, I may wash more laundry than you, hence, save more in detergent costs. People with larger families may wash more laundry than me and save more. I agree with high efficiency washers being a great investment, but one has to have the money to make the initial investment. And I would likely still choose to make my own detergent because it's something I enjoy doing that takes so little time. I haven't made my own soap yet, but I would love to try sometime, not because it would save me tons of money. Soap is honestly pretty cheap, but because I would enjoy the process of making my own soap and learning the skill. I'm also a little curious about homesteading and that lifestyle. So sometimes it's also about, and possibly even more about finding personal fulfillment in making certain things from scratch. I'm old fashioned. I love the smell of bread baking in the oven. I love knowing that I made it myself, having that skill. So yes, it's cheaper to make my own, I enjoy the process and I control the ingredients. It's not just that it's cheaper or just that it doesn't have chemicals, etc. There's a combination of reasons why it works for me, as I assume there is for other folks.

 

Another frugal example is cloth diapering. There are many reasons, aside from the obvious frugal ones, why I choose to cloth diaper my babies. I believe it's better for them, better for the environment, more economical, it brings back memories from my childhood, I don't think washing & maintaining them is a big deal, etc. I take personal pride in it. Disposable wipes are cheap enough, but I choose to use wash cloths, instead. That is not a reflection on anyone else, but what works for me personally.

 

I clean with baking soda and vinegar because it works for me, I'm not bringing chemicals in my home around my little ones. It's simpler. I don't have to worry about running out of the store bought natural cleaners, most of which I've found to be out of my budget, anyhow. So there's the simplicity factor, the non chemical factor, the economical factor, etc. It's not ALL about being frugal, although it does feel good not to have a list of cleaning supplies I need to keep in stock.

 

Toilet paper for my family isn't a big deal cost wise, but I grew up in a family with 7 daughters. We were a family of 9, a very poor family, and let me tell you that we could really have benefited from using cloth, as we went through a lot of toilet paper. It's all relative.

 

There are things I wouldn't do (unless I absolutely had to) like go crazy clipping coupons. I've tried it and it's absolutely too much work for me personally. It takes from my quality of life, at least at this point in my life. It's something I do not enjoy in the least. That and searching out all the sales and what not. I hate shopping in the first place. But if clipping coupons and scouting out sales works for other people, that's great, and I would in no way put them down. Maybe those same people wouldn't choose to make their own laundry detergent, and hopefully they wouldn't put me down. We each have to find what works for us individually. I've borrowed the complete tightwad gazette, and while I found the parts I had time to read to be interesting and incorporated what I could use here and there, nobody has time to be completely frugal. It's all about finding what personally works for us. And, it's not always just about being frugal.

 

Again, I save more money accepting hand me downs and buying used than I do any other way. I just happen to enjoy making my own laundry detergent and baking my own bread, as well.

post #46 of 75

I know what you mean about the laundry soap. :p I do make my own, as of recently; but it does amuse me to see it treated as the pinnacle of frugality. It's almost become a frugality... meme?

 

Like many PPs I do my DIY stuff out of a combination of motives - ethics, thrift, creativity, or sometimes just plain old peer pressure. Often I find things I started doing out of ecological awareness are surprisingly cheap (like alternative haircare); sometimes I find supposedly thrifty pursuits, like baking, sucking up money as I get fussier about ingredient quality or cookware.

 

I like the "if I had a million dollars" litmus test - if I were rich, I'd still bake from scratch, including bread, sew as many of my own clothes as I could afford, make my own laundry powder and so on. I'd just spend way more on the raw materials and equipment - awesome quilting cottons and zips with fancy toggles, stoneware baking pans, Tahitian vanilla beans and a full Wilson piping set!

post #47 of 75



 

Quote:
Originally Posted by PoetryLover View Post


Wow, it sounds like we have had completely opposite experiences with this detergent.  I haven't had it mildew or leave residue in my washer and it has done a very good job cleaning my clothes, better, I would say than the commercial detergent I'd been buying. I'm very pleased with it.

I had the same experience as Lilyka - I think it is related to the hardness of the water around here.
post #48 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by choli View Post



 


Yeah, I read it doesn't do so well in hard water.

 

post #49 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by A&A View Post

Since detergent keeps coming up, I'll mention that my front-loading washing machine uses a lot less detergent and water.....saving money right there.  ( I don't buy the expensive HE detergent you're "supposed" to buy for front-loaders; I just use a lot less of the regular stuff.) 

 

And it's so much easier on clothes, so that saves money in the long run, too. 



it is important to do a lot of research on front loading washers before buying one.  Mine lasted just a few days longer than 5 years (guess when my warrenty ran out)  The repair guy said this is pretty average.  The one I am using is not as efficient with water and detergent but it is 20 years old and way cheaper to buy than our front loader.  Kind of a toss up for me.

 

I still liked the front loader better.  

post #50 of 75

I'll list some of the "little" things I do that have the biggest impact on budget:

 

  • homemade body lotion (I have a skin condition and it's far cheaper to make my own than buy, I use tons of lotion))
  • homemade facial toner (once again, it's super cheap to make your )
  • homemade facial cleaner (oil cleansing method, actually I use a mix of aloe and oil) + washcloth, so cheap compared to an average bottle of "natural" facial cleanser is at least $3-4, this saves $
  • vinegar as fabric softener, it couldn't get easier, cheaper, or healthier
  • I <<stretch>> regular laundry detergent with borax and/or baking soda ( i did not find making my laundry soap was worth it-I am already purchasing the borax and baking soda for cleaning products)
  • using the clothesline (that's a no brainer, electricity is expensive)
  • I use cloth for peepee and I'm the only who does it, sometimes dd but usually not, and we buy at least 50% less TP when we shop now
  • packing lunches for picnics ***BY FAR, THIS HAS THE BIGGEST IMPACT, we could eat lunch out for about $10-20 or we could pack a lunch for, I don't know $5?, that is where we save lots of $.
  • coupons, I'm not a crazy couponer but just started paying attention to them and I can save about $15 a week on stuff I would already be purchasing by looking out for coupons, i spend about 30 minutes a week MAX clipping, sorting coupons.
  • this is getting into the bigger purchases category but shopping second hand saves a ton of $.  I buy my dd's clothes almost exclusively at thrift stores.  I VERY OFTEN find brand new with tags, or very close to new condition clothing for her from stores like The Childrens Place, Old Navy, Hanna Andersson, etc at thrift stores ( I almost never pay more than $3 for an item and I only purchase stuff in excellent condition).   I go thrifting once a week and look for deals in the next couple sizes up.  This frees up $ to buy her decent shoes which I usually have to buy new.  I did buy some on Ebay once and while it was a good deal at first, it turned out not to be because they were not comfortable for her and she wasn't able to try them on, so now we only buy shoes that she can try on.  Now I have the time to do this, if you don't have the time for thrifting this might not be a good deal for you.
  • We invested in a water filter, a really good one (Berkey) and it has saved us tons of money on water filters.  This was big purchase though, but one that continually saves us $.  Every time I pass by the Brita filters in the store I am glad we bought the Berkey.  
  • I'm always on the lookout for good deals.  Our home warranty company just emailed with an offer to get 12 months of free a/c filters for the home.  There was no catch, I just had to sign up.  But I ALMOST deleted the email as spam at first. 

 

 

And while I do know how to bake my own bread, sew our own clothes, make laundry detergent-none of those things really had a big impact on the budgt and I determined my time is worth more in these instances.

 

 

 

 

 

post #51 of 75

DH and I both work so I'm in the time-is-money camp.  We've worked hard to develop a lifestyle that's below our means and put some aside for emergencies.  But we still have to budget and it never quite feels like enough - human nature I guess.  Since there isn't much variation in our fixed costs I'm obsessed with the grocery bill.  At times I have tracked every penny and tried to develop rules to live by.  Like - buy kids stuff secondhand, buy meat under $10/kilo, that kind of thing.  Usually this keeps our bill under control but if it's a tight month I will actually do the math in my head as I put each thing in the cart.

 

I've tried a lot of the little things and some are just impractical for me time-wise, so I just do the ones I like.  I think cloth diapering and cleaning with vinegar and baking soda probably do contribute a lot to keeping our bills on track every month.  Cooking from scratch is a huge savings.  Gardening is fun for me but probably doesn't save us any money - our garden is small and it's more for luxury items like fancy lettuce and herbs.  If I didn't garden and just bought staple produce I'd break even. 

 

I don't bake bread, make laundry detergent, or use cloth TP and I don't think these have a huge impact on our budget.  I've noticed that our bills tend to be pretty stable no matter where I shop.  If I'm at the closest supermarket I'm extra-careful to watch for sales.  If I'm at the big box supermarket I'm not as careful because the prices are generally lower and I blow more money on organics since they're closer in price.  I probably spend at least the same amount if not more.  Same thing with Costco.  If I go to the cheaper places we probably eat better, but it takes longer and I have to do more trips and the total budget savings is negligible.

post #52 of 75

I just do what I can, when I can and don't worry about it.  I DON'T make my own laundry soap.  I even buy the "expensive" kind. LOL  But 1 small bottle lasts us 2 months.  So it's not a big deal in my book.  However I DO use mostly cloth products in my house because there's a difference between buying just TP and having to buy TP, paper towels, napkins, menstrual pads, ect.  I don't buy cleaning products except for a $1 bottle of Dawn every 2 months.  It does make a difference since I'm not buying Dawn AND windex, AND scrubbing bubbles, AND 409, ect.

 

Some things are not practical for me.  I live in an apartment and can't line-dry.  I've tried and failed 4 times at no-pooing, so I'm keeping my $1 a bottle suave for now.  If it works for me I do it otherwise I just don't worry.  I'm always finding new things to do to help out though.  I made my own deodorant a few weeks ago and it works and was super easy to do so I'll stick with it.

 

I did add up my savings for my cloth pads vs disposable pads one time and it came to like $350 over the last 6 years.


Edited by bandgeek - 7/31/11 at 12:01pm
post #53 of 75

Oh yeah!  I forgot my Diva cup and cloth pads.  That saved lots of $.  I've had the Diva for almost 3 yrs now and the cloth pads for about 2.5 years.  I only occasionally buy disposable pads (panty liners) and they only cost .99 for a pack that will last me 2 months.

post #54 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by bandgeek View Post

I just do what I can, when I can and don't worry about it.  I DON'T make my own laundry soap.  I even buy the "expensive" kind. LOL  But 1 small bottle lasts us 2 months.  So it's not a big deal in my book.  However I DO use mostly cloth products in my house because there's a difference between buying just TP and having to buy TP, paper towels, napkins, menstrual pads, ect.  I don't buy cleaning products except for a $1 bottle of Dawn every 2 months.  It does make a difference since I'm not buying Dawn AND windex, AND scrubbing bubbles, AND 409, ect.

 

Some things are not practical for me.  I live in an apartment and can't line-dry.  I've tried and failed 4 times at no-pooing, so I'm keeping my $1 a bottle suave for now.  If it works for me I do it otherwise I just don't worry.  I'm always finding new things to do to help out though.  I made my own deodorant a few weeks ago and it works and was super easy to do so I'll stick with it.

 

I did add up my savings for my cloth pads vs disposable pads one time and it came to like $350 over the last 6 years.


Do you have a recipe for the homemade deodorant? Thanks!

 

post #55 of 75

I'm not the one you asked, but I use a mixture of baking soda and coconut oil. It works! I've used various commercial natural deodorants before, and a deodorant crystal, and they all stopped working after a month or two. My mixture hasn't. I did get a rash once, and started rubbing on the coconut oil first and sprinkling the baking soda on afterwards, and it cleared up; but right now I'm back to using the mixture, and it's fine.

post #56 of 75

5-6 tbsp coconut oil, 1/4 cup baking soda, 1/4 cup cornstarch.  Melt the oil then add the BS and cornstarch.  I also added a few drops of tea tree oil so it smells nice.  It makes about 4 oz.  Pour it into a baby food jar or some other container.  You can scoop it out with your fingers.  Some people pour it into empty deodorant containers so they can apply it that way.  I guess you have to keep it in the fridge when you do that though.  I'm really liking it so far.  It's not really an antiperspirant so on really hot or muggy days I'll reapply.  It's nicer than regular deodorant though and doesn't leave white marks all over my clothes!  I made mine 2 1/2 weeks ago and have maybe used 1 oz?  So I think one batch should last me 2 months.

post #57 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by Smokering View Post

I'm not the one you asked, but I use a mixture of baking soda and coconut oil. It works! I've used various commercial natural deodorants before, and a deodorant crystal, and they all stopped working after a month or two. My mixture hasn't. I did get a rash once, and started rubbing on the coconut oil first and sprinkling the baking soda on afterwards, and it cleared up; but right now I'm back to using the mixture, and it's fine.


Quote:
Originally Posted by bandgeek View Post

5-6 tbsp coconut oil, 1/4 cup baking soda, 1/4 cup cornstarch.  Melt the oil then add the BS and cornstarch.  I also added a few drops of tea tree oil so it smells nice.  It makes about 4 oz.  Pour it into a baby food jar or some other container.  You can scoop it out with your fingers.  Some people pour it into empty deodorant containers so they can apply it that way.  I guess you have to keep it in the fridge when you do that though.  I'm really liking it so far.  It's not really an antiperspirant so on really hot or muggy days I'll reapply.  It's nicer than regular deodorant though and doesn't leave white marks all over my clothes!  I made mine 2 1/2 weeks ago and have maybe used 1 oz?  So I think one batch should last me 2 months.


Thanks ladies! I am definitely going to try this!!

 

post #58 of 75
I guess that's one thing I didn't think of. I guess it's been so long since I bought personal care type stuff that I don't even factor that in as a savings now. I don't buy shampoo or conditioner or any hair care products. I do have a flatiron which I do use sometimes, but without products. We do have some goat's milk and oatmeal soap we buy but only use it if we're actively dirty or stinky - the kids never use it, DH uses it about twice a week, I use it... maybe once every two weeks? So one bar lasts forever. I use homemade pads (OK, cut up wash cloths) for both family cloth and mama pad purposes. We don't buy TP; we use baby wipes which actually last a lot longer and feel nicer, for the, umm, number 2's. I brush my teeth with baking soda. I don't use lotion, if I ever do it's a bit of coconut oil. The only thing I miss, really, is buying razors. Those cost a lot. I always shave my legs and armpits but that's about all. When I had more money for razors I'd shave more. I do buy deodorant and eye liner and mascara, but that's about it.

I guess buying all those things would add up, over time...
post #59 of 75

For us, certain lifestyle choices make a bigger impact than saving money here and there on household and food items or making our own stuff.  We live in a small apartment in the city and both DH and I work, so we don't have the storage to accomodate bulk items and we also are limited in our time. 

 

Things that have made a difference for us:

 

1.  Living in a small place, which reduces the need for buying stuff to clean the space;

2.  I know this may sound a bit odd to some, but we have limited wardrobes, so aside from basic work clothes, we tend to wear the same 'at-home' clothes all week and that includes pajamas;  we also each get one towel per week.  This has greatly reduced our laundry load (we do two loads of laundry per week).  We buy a bottle of non-allergentic laundry detergent about once every three months, and then dilute it for each load.  I also highly dilute our diswashing detergent (I have use a glass bottle and use 1 part dish detergent for 4 parts water). 

3.  We opted to join a food co-op and although we have to work there a certain number of hours every month, we have reduced our food costs greatly (and the produce is almost all organic!).  Sometimes it is a pain to have to put in the hours, but honestly, it is a small price(timewise) to pay for great food and household items (including detergents) at incredible prices.

4.  We made a choice not to have a car.  It is easy for us because we have a good public transportation system here, but it is still amazing to me how many people own and maintain cars here in the city. 

5.  Back to the wardrobe thing:  although we have limited clothes, we really do try to buy quality clothes and shoes that will last years, not just a season or two.  I have found over the years that a little expenditure on good shoes (I had a great pair of boots that I wore for 11 years!) and basic, classic quality clothes and coats will pay off many times over.  This is a little more difficult with DD, as she is growing, but DH and I have managed to save a lot with respect to ourselves.

6.  We don't use a lot of personal hygiene stuff except basic soap, toothpaste and deoderant for myself.  DD and I have allergies to everything under the sun, so I don't buy lotions or any other skin products.  This is a default savings but a savings nonetheless. 

post #60 of 75

As so many have already commented, whether it matters really depends on you and your economy.

 

In my family it definitely does matter, since it is the difference between making it go round or having to be really rather creative in order to get food on the table by the end of the month. With that said, we don't always save everywhere where we can, because sometimes the value of things are not in pennies saved but in how you feel about having to save. For instance, I love good quality writing paper and will spend a little bit extra to have it. Same goes for soft quality toilet paper...which strangely enough isn't that much more expensive than the cheap, scratchy kind. The reason being that generally, we tend to use less of it in my family because we know to use as little as possible, but also because it is simply more effective at simply wiping.

 

I think the art of being frugal is knowing where to save and where to spend, not necessarily always saving when possible, because sometimes we have to spend a little to indulge ourselves if we can find the room for it. If nothing else, so because of the feeling of actually being able to afford having watermelon once a season, and chocolate cake with raspberries when the season for raspberries come keeps one afloat in a sea of always, constantly having to think about saving and never, ever spending the money on unnecessary things.

 

I don't think it is good for the soul, long run, to always worry about saving and really...I can't see why people would put themselves through that if they don't really have to. If you can afford to save something each and every month, however little, pat yourself on the shoulder and tell yourself you are doing a swell job because you are living within your means. Not everyone is so fortunate as to be able to do that.

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