Week 10 Budget Challenge:
Think about one thing your family purchases that you could do without to save money – paper towels? Disposable diapers? Now, go without it for the week. How did it effect your life? How would it effect your budget if you no longer purchased it? What other items could your family do without?
Despite my typical frugality, there are a few items around my house that I love simply for the convenience of them. They may not save me money, but they save me time and they make me smile. Worth it? I’ve convinced myself that they are. But this week’s Budget Boot Camp challenge was to do without something you typically use in order to save money. For some strange reason, this challenge coincided with a shortage of several of our normal household necessities. Either I ran out of the items and didn’t replenish them on purpose, or I simply forgot to add them to my shopping list. Either way, it provided an interesting perspective this week.
What we did without:
- Napkins – My kids use and over-use napkins. A few of my kids are clean-freaks when they are eating. Any little stickiness must be removed immediately. The table is set with napkins at each spot. But not this week. We ran out unexpectedly and I forgot to put them back on my list. Plus, I was curious to see how everyone would manage without napkins at every meal. The result? They did just fine. When they needed something to wipe off, they either grabbed a paper towel or walked over to the sink. How I felt? Honestly, for $1.29, I’d rather keep 300 napkins around. But we would be wise to use them a little less.
- Kirkland Signature Household Wipes (Costco) – I would maintain a yearly Costco membership simply for these miraculous wipes. I love them. I love the smell, I love the way they clean, I love the way I can hand one to a child and they’ll clean anything. I love them over any other brand that I’ve tried, and I certainly love them better than handing a child a towel and a spray bottle full of cleaner…..somehow half the bottle of cleaner is always used when they have control. Plus, I can’t stand sponges or wash cloths in the kitchen. But, in light of the challenge, I thought I’d back off on the Wipes and make some of our own. Here was my thought: I always put several paper towels in the bottom of a used container to soak up the cleanser left in the bottom after the wipes have been used. So why not use a dry container to make some wipes of my own? Great idea. Not so great execution. My problem? The paper towels I used were not strong enough (got to use heavy duty paper towels) and the cleanser I poured on top of the paper towels had a tendency to get sudsy. So every time I pulled out one of my homemade wipes, I had to squeeze the excess liquid (and suds) out of the paper towel. They didn’t work well to scrub things that had dried. And I resorted to using a sponge to scrub. Eww! The consensus: the homemade wipes didn’t work for us. We did save money, but I think entrusting the kids with a rag and spray bottle is probably a better option. They’ll learn limits, right?
- Lunch and after school snacks – These suckers can be costly! It’s hard to NOT have anything around, though. Convenience is…convenient. So we’re trying something else. Instead of buying individual bags of pretzels or chips or apples or carrots (etc), we are buying big bags and putting them in small snack sized ziploc bags. They are still convenient and ready-to-use, but they cost less and I can control portions a little bit more. And there are plenty of things that I can make myself to stick in their lunches to save money as well. For instance, I enjoy making my own juice or lemonade and putting it in a used water bottle. My favorite? Homemade popcorn. Which brings me to my next go-without item…
- Ziploc bags – When we ran out of ziploc bags it was not on purpose. When you’re making as many bagged lunches as I do, you go through ziplocs pretty fast. But when we ran out, we had no choice but to figure out another alternative. Sandwiches were wrapped in plastic wrap. Snacks were put into a make-shift aluminum foil baggy. Disposable containers were used (the problem with that is having enough of the right sized containers…and getting them back home!). The final result? I went out and bought ziplocs as soon as I could. Brown paper lunch sacks on the other hand…..we’ve been able to get by just fine without them. Thank goodness for reusable lunch bags…and for those kids that don’t want to use the reusable bags, lunch is a great way to recycle/reuse shopping bags.
- Purex 3-in-1 Laundry Sheets- Spring Oasis scent. I got hooked on these laundry saviors back in February when I did a review on them. (Note–it’s totally worth it to click on that link to watch the hilarious short video about them). The way they make my laundry smell makes me happy. The fresh, clean scent literally acts like a calming essential oil or something. I love it. It’s also SO easy to use these things. Just drop one in the washing machine, and then carry it over with your clothes to the dryer. The one, simple sheet acts as detergent, fabric softener, and anti-static. Wait. I’m not trying to sell you on these sheets. I’m trying to do without them. Ahh. Ok. So I stopped using the Purex sheets this week. And guess what? My laundry got cleaned. No one noticed or complained that their clothes didn’t smell quite so nice (really, it’s just me who cares about it). Laundry didn’t take me any longer than it usually does (that’s not saying much, really!). We survived. And I can attest that we did save money using regular, generic detergent.
What are some things around your house that you could stand to eliminate for the sake of saving some budget money?
PS–I’ve got a giveaway ending every day this week. If you missed last week’s Back to School Giveaway bash, make sure to check them out before they’re gone!
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