After many friends heard and read about the crazy ways our family stretches out our money or uses every bit of the items we have, I thought some of you might be interested in some more of our thrifty-stretches.
Saving paper and ink: In our home, we do a tremendous amount of printing at the computer. There are several ways we save money on purchasing toner and papers. Most notably, we use the Staples Rewards program to score free or cheap paper. But no matter how much I spend on paper, we will continue to use it to the very best of our ability.
One way that we extend the life of the paper is by printing on both sides. When my kids print out a test or a lesson guide, we use those papers -- making sure not to mark them with a permanent marker, which might bleed through -- and once the job using those papers is complete, we insert them in the printer. We put them in upside down and backwards and we are able to print again!
Not only do we do this with our everyday printing needs, but I also use this method when I am printing from a coupon site where the coupons appear only on the top of the page.
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Saving on dishwasher detergent: Earlier this year, I happened upon a fantastic deal on dishwasher detergent. I stocked up on dishwasher detergent at a membership-style store, which is not where I normally find the best deal. However, the buy-one-get-one-free opportunity was irresistible. I paid about 7 cents per tablet. The truth is, I bought enough of the dishwasher detergent to last about a year and a half -- or so I thought.
About a week into washing the dishes using the new detergent, I noticed a soapy taste in my mugs. My husband commented that his morning water bottle tasted like soap as well. It did not take much investigating to realize the soap was just too strong for our dishwasher. We began breaking the tablets in half to see what would happen.
Guess what? The dishes still get clean, they do not make our food taste like soap, and now I have paid only 3.5 cents per tablet. I’ll be spoiled now -- and will not have to buy any dishwasher soap for approximately three years.
Saving on laundry detergent: I wash a lot of laundry each week. In fact, I began the year a couple of years ago determined I would keep track of how much laundry I do in a year. Unfortunately, I lost count at about 17 loads on week two. Truly, that gives you an idea of the amount of laundry that gets washed at my house. We could spend a lot more on detergent than we do spend now, if it were not for several savings steps we take.
First, I only buy detergent when it is on sale. Then I use a coupon to further reduce the price. The most I will pay for a bottle of detergent is about $2. I buy a $6-$7 bottle of detergent for a savings of 66 percent to 75 percent. The next thing that I do to extend the life of the detergent is to measure carefully as I add detergent to each load.
I do not simply turn the bottle over and squirt. I am careful to extend the life of the detergent (and my washing machine) by using the least amount of laundry detergent possible.
Whenever the bottle is nearly empty, I always turn it upside down and allow it to sit for a day or two, bringing all the remaining detergent to the cap. Sometimes I will even throw the cap into the washer to use up every last drop of detergent.
I hope these savings and stretching tips for three commonly used -- and sometimes expensive -- household items will help you. Remember that it is so important to make the most of what you have -- no matter how much money you saved on the purchase.