How long do things last? I always wondered how long some products would last and how much they would cost me over time.
Last fall I began tracking certain household items by marking the date on those products of when I opened the container and noting when it was used up.
I started to use a bottle of Finish Dishwasher Detergent (75 oz. size) on October 5, 2010. I paid $2.75 for this bottle on sale and with a coupon. I only run the dishwasher once a day as we are only a family of 3. Here it is January 6th - 3 months later and I still have detergent left in that bottle. I would estimate I have about a week's worth left. Now I only fill the dishwasher cup about half or 2/3's of the way so I do save by not using the full amount of the detergent.
Also, I add Jet Dry Rinse Agent. I bought a 16 fl. oz. bottle for $1.00 on sale and after using coupons. I started using it the same day as the detergent, October 5th and 1/3rd of the bottle is gone.
So if the bottle of Finish lasts one more week and the Jet Dry dispenser is full and won't need to be filled before then, that bottle lasted 100 days at a cost of .03. Add the Jet Dry into that (.33 for 1/3 bottle) and it costs less than a penny more - so we will say it cost me 3 1/3 pennnies per load.
Why do this? Because I have often wondered how long a bottle would last as compared to the convenient gel pacs - such as Electrasol or Finish or Cascade. Last year I was able to get Electrasol gel pacs 20 count for $1.00 (or .05 per load), Finish Powerball tablets 32 count for $3.29 (or .10 per load) and Finish gel tabs 32 count for $1.19 (or .037 per load) all on sale and with coupons. All of the gel pacs and tabs contain a rinse agent. I used to stand there and look at those gel pacs and tabs and wonder if they were a good deal even on sale.
So what have I learned? Buying a bottle of dishwasher detergent does last longer and is cheaper than the gel pacs or tabs. Even if I purchased the Rinse Agent at double the price I paid, it would still be cheaper than the gel pacs or tabs. I would have to consistently find a $1.19 sale I mentioned above to use the convenient gel tabs over the bottle of detergent and rinse agent.
Now on to Shampoo. I use Pantene Volumizing Shampoo and I purchased a 22.8 oz. bottle on sale for $3.00 back in June of 2010. I still have 1/3 of that bottle left. I don't wash my hair every day. If I washed my hair one day and the next day I get up and my hair looks great even after sleeping on it, then I don't wash it. Also, I only use one application of the shampoo each time I wash my hair. My hair is shorter so I don't need as much shampoo. I would say that I wash my hair 5 days out of 7. That bottle has lasted a long time and will probably last me a few more months.
Since I make any good quality shampoo last, I could, if I wanted to, buy a higher end shampoo at the salon - about $15.00 for 18 oz. and it wouldn't break the budget. I have that option, but why would I?
I use a name brand liquid fabric softener on my clothes and since I get the ultra type I only need 1/2 to 1 teaspoon per load depending on the size of the load. Yes, I have experimented and that is all that I need to soften my clothes. I am presently using Downy and I bought a 77 oz bottle or 90 load size on sale and with a coupon for $6.00. There are 6 teaspoons in an ounce so I will get about 462 loads out of this bottle. I opened it on August 16th and I have been using it along with some fabric softener sheets I still have on hand so I have about 3/4 of the bottle left. The cost is a little over one cent.
Why two kinds of fabric softener? Well, back in the summer I was drying my clothes outside so I liked using liquid fabric softener. I have softener sheets on hand because I got some name brand softener sheets for $1.00 for 80 sheets. I cut the softener sheets in half and use them on jeans, whites and such. I use the liquid softener on dress shirts, dress pants, and delicates. When the fabric softener sheets are gone, I will use only liquid fabric softener from now on. Why two kinds of softener? I have found that softener sheets can sometimes leave marks on some clothing items. That is why I only use the softener sheets I have on hand on darks, towels and my load of whites.
As to coffee, oh my, we are obviously drinking too much in our household. A 28 oz. container lasts us almost 3 weeks. I have been able to get our coffee on sale and with coupons over the past 6 months for between $4.00 and $6.00 for a large canister.
So what I have I learned from all of this? First, since I know how long things last, I know how much to stock up on when there is a sale. Obviously I can buy 2 large bottles of softener and it will last me a year. My shampoo will last about 9 months and dishwasher detergent will last about 3 months. Now I know when there is a sale and I want to get a one year's supply, I just buy 2 large bottles of softener, 2 bottles of shampoo and 4 bottles of dishwasher detergent.
Coffee is a little different - I try to keep a 6 month's supply and now I know that is about 9 large canisters of coffee.
As I stockpile I don't want to get to the point that I overbuy something. That is why it is good to know how long it takes our family to use up certain products and I can then judge accordingly when there is a great sale nnd how much I would need to have on hand until the next sale comes along.
With all of the above said, how many of you watched TLC's Extreme Couponing? What an eye opener into, in my opinion, how you can let something good such as saving money with coupons grow into something that totally takes over your life and becomes a compulsion. I save money on groceries by using coupons and sales shopping, but I will never let that control the time I spend with my family nor will I let a stockpile overtake my entire home. That was the case of one of the women profiled.
I would never let that happen.