October 18, 2010

How Long Does it Last?

My family hasn't noticed yet, but they will before too long.  I have been marking on certain items the date that I open them.  Have you ever wondered how long some items last?  That is a big factor when determining the price of an item and whether you want to try your hand at making it on your own.

Two years ago in order to prepare to go to one income, I began some couponing.  There were a lot of coupons for cleaners and when I was able to use a buy one get one free coupon for an item on sale, I stocked up.  A lot of it was all purpose cleaners, laundry soaps, softeners, dish detergents, bar soaps, body washes, 12 packs of toilet paper, paper towels and more.  As certain things have run out, I have been making my own cleaners, cutting back on paper towels, have been making my own laundry soap and yet, I was wondering how long every thing lasts in order to compare it to what it is truly costing me.

For example, does it pay to take a name brand dish soap and either dilute it down or mix it with a generic alternative in order to stretch it?  Does it last longer?  How long does shampoo and conditioner last?  Do the store brands last as long as the name brands?  Do bar soaps last longer than a body wash in the shower?  Will my son ever pick up his clothes off his bedroom floor or perhaps he is saving steps by calling the floor a hamper?  I digress.

Yep, a lot of pondering is taking place while I am working on our fence.  I'm coming close to being done.  Why is it taking me so long?  I work on it every other day as I have chronic back pain.  When I spend the entire day working on this project I usually end up in pain by the evening and have to take it easy the next day.  It's just something I live with as it is my "normal."
Getting back to the subject of this post.  I started to take a marker and write down the date I opened a bottle of fabric softener, (I do love liquid fabric softener), dish detergent, the automatic dishwasher detergent, shampoo, all purpose cleaner, my homemade laundry soap, and, well you get the picture.  I also wrote down on each bottle the price I paid for that item. 

My goal is to get a handle on what I am spending on the non food items that I need to purchase for our household, to figure out how long I can make each item last and to also compare how long the homemade versions last.

My grocery spending is well in hand and I have been able to lower the amount I spend each week. Now I am tackling those non food items by coming up with good homemade alternatives and using a reduced amount that is called for on the products.

For an upcoming post I am working on a list of all the items I have in my freezer and pantry as I am going to commit to eating out of the freezer and pantry over the next several weeks in order to save for Christmas.  This should be fun.


Maureen said...

I will be really interested to hear how you go with your experiment. I use dishwasher tablets and as I only use it once daily I knew exactly how much I spent over a set amount of time, i buy Aldi tablets and find them really good. but then a friend told me that she cuts her tablets in half and she still gets the same results, and it,s true as i have been doing it myself lately and I honestly can,t see any difference.
Look after that back of yours I have one exactly the same, a legacy from an accident I had as a teenager.

Martha said...

It will take a few months to see how this experiment comes out.

Our closest Aldi is over 30 miles away. We had an Aldi store here in town until Super Walmart moved in. After one year, the Aldi store closed. Sad thing is that people didn't check prices and just believed that Wal-mart was cheaper. In our town, Wal-mart is the most expensive place to buy groceries.

I miss our Aldi store.

ckaal5 said...

I have done this before with dishwasher soap and also regular dish soap. I am in the process of doing this now with a new homemade laundry soap. I am intersted to see how long this new version of laundry soap last me verses my old version. My family usually makes fun of me when they see I have wrote the date on something. But oh well if it helps me to save money then I can live with their teasing :)

Martha said...

To Ckaal5:

I use the liquid version of the homemade laundry soap and it calls for 1/2 cup per load but I use 1/3 cup and it works just as well and only costs me 1 cent per load.

When I had to replace my washing machine in the spring, I bought a top load model that was quite inexpensive. The salesman told me that no matter what the laundry soap package says I was to reduce the recommended amount. It is not necessarily the soap that gets the clothes clean as much as the agitation in the machine.

He was definitely correct.