My grandmother was a very frugal woman who often told me “if you will mind your pennies your dollars will mind themselves.” I hope to share here some of her wisdom and the wisdom of others I have learned over the years

Saturday, June 8, 2013


Okay, so it’s a play on the phrase, but to be among the haves and not the have nots you first need to consider being among the halves and half nots.  Confused yet?

As I loaded my dishwasher after breakfast this morning I realized how routine it has became for me to use half of the recommended amount of dishwasher powder.  I don’t even think about filling the cups now.  I automatically fill them a little less than half full and KNOW my dishes are going to come out shining and clean.

I totally ignore the rinse agent dispenser.  It seldom sees anything but white vinegar these days and it only sees the white vinegar on the once a month visit to clean the water scale build up out of the pipes of the dishwasher. 

I started doing this many, many years ago when I read in “The Tightwad Gazette” by Amy Dacyzn the concept of using half or less of all cleaning products and still getting excellent results.

It was suggested checking to see how much of anything like detergent, shampoo, dish soap you truly need by a little experimentation.  Start out with the “recommended” amount per the package.  Then cut the amount back each time you use it until you are to the point that any less would not meet your desired results. 

I have found the rule of thumb is roughly one half.  So if one half will work, then why in the world do the manufacturers recommend twice that amount?  Surely more of the detergent will get the clothing cleaner right?  WRONG!  Too much detergent will not rinse out well. 

Clothing with leftover detergent in it well get a build up that can cause spotting, discoloration, block the breathability of fabrics, increase the chances of an allergic reaction, cause a faster break down of the fabric fibers and numerous other things.  So to extend the life of your clothing use less detergent instead of doing extra rinsing and wasting water.

Back to the why they do it?  Well… SALES!  The almighty dollar.  The more you use, the more you buy.  Then as a result of the extra build up in clothing, hair, on your dishes, whatever, they can then sell you a product you can use to remove that build up. 

They of course tell you to use too much of that product to the point you strip your items down too much of natural oils, or natural softness in clothing,  and you then have to purchase another product to fix that.  The cycle goes on from there.

I for one have not used fabric softener in over 30 years, I haven’t needed it.  I limit the amount of detergent I use, wash in cold water and only dry the items as long as they actually need to be dried.

These three things eliminate the need for fabric softener.  So by saving money on detergent, the heating of water, and the shorter drying cycle when using the clothes dryer I ended the expense of the fabric softener.

The fabric softener itself can cause clothing to lose its flame resistance, ruin the thermostat on your drier, cause discoloration and spotting on your clothing, increase allergic reactions and many other things.   If you feel that you truly need fabric softener, use white vinegar in your rinse cycle.  You don’t need much ¼ cup or so is all.  Not only will it soften your clothing it will clean the plumbing of the washing machine and be good for your septic tank.

Static cling, quit drying your clothing so long.  Static cling is a result of over drying.

Cutting back on shampoo and the frequency of my shampooing eliminated the need for conditioner.  The list goes on and on.

Think about how much money you could save if you only purchased detergent, shampoo, dish soap, floor cleaner, dishwasher detergent, all cleaning products half as many times per year.  No better yet, set down and actually calculate it, don’t forget to add in sales tax where applicable. The total will astound you.  Now what bill could you either pay off or do a major payment on with that money.  Or if you prefer how far would that go toward that vacation you have been wanting/needing?

Even when you get the products for “free” with combining sales and coupons still do it and the next time you are invited to a wedding shower, need a graduation or first home gift.  Give a “Starter Kit” that contains all the needed items for cleaning a first home.  Put it in a bucket or trash can, tie it up in dish towels, make a bow out of the dish rags and you have a unique gift they can truly use.  Thus saving even more money in your budget while helping them with theirs!

You can do similar things for baby shower gifts supplying baby wipes, disinfectant wipes, baby shampoo etc.  Put them in a baby bathtub and wrap with receiving blankets with pacifiers for a bow.

Don’t give gifts of this sort any more?  Garage sale your extras or better yet, donate them to a shelter.

So the moral to this story (stories always have a moral you know) if you become one of the persons who halves and only use half you will be that much closer to being the person who is a have rather than a have not.

Jan who has been working on this system so long it is second nature to her family in OK

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