Saturday, May 16, 2009

Step 6 to Abundance (Part 2) Disposable Products True Cost

by Janine Bolon

Well, I was a bit surprised by the number of comments that flooded my email inbox, Facebook account and twitter direct messaging regarding this topic so we're going to chat about it for a bit longer.



First off, please, please everyone stop beating yourself up, okay? Stop with the guilt and self-flagellation on this. We are all here learning how to become financially independent. You are going to make mistakes, have challenges and meet resistance (both internally and externally) as you move along this road to debt-free living. Here is a sample of some of the comments made by folks that demonstrates many of the emails I've received.

"I know I waste money on paper towels. I'll go forever, not buy any and then get desperate and buy some. My kids and hubby go through them so fast that I then stop buying them again. I just need to go out and buy a bunch of dishtowels. Thanks for the reminder."


"I'm willing to do without paper towels, just don't mess with my toilet paper budget."

"Please, please don't ask me to give up my Charmin! I don't want my wife to read your post."

I find it funny that so many folks immediately start thinking about toilet paper whenever I mention disposable products! LOL. As one reader said, she'd tried to save money by having her family use the old Sears catalog trick, but they rebelled. (heavy tongue-in-cheek here!) Then the next item on the list of questions from readers was, what did my family use two-ply paper or one ply. I was inundated with questions about toilet paper. I had several husbands (3 to be exact) email me and beg me NOT to tell their wives about the costs because they have preferences for their bathroom tissue and they can't stand the generic brands. Toilet paper, toilet paper, toilet paper!!!

Look, this is the thing folks. Don't worry about what brand you use of ANY disposable paper, plastic or cleaning product. Just know the amount of money that you are throwing away on a daily basis. Then make a decision as to the cost/benefit ratio. Is it worth it to you to have a specific brand of toilet paper? If the answer is yes, well then buy it...you have my permission. LOL.

Make the sacrifices that you can comfortably live with and then save money somewhere else in your frugal life. There are thousands of ways to save money in this tightwad lifestyle. Use the other 999 ways to save money and stick to buying the bathroom tissue that is your favorite! Yikes! I had no idea that we would open up such a can of worms on this tip. Although, I thank every single one of you for emailing me. By the way, my husband totally agreed with you guys! DON'T mess with a man's favorite bathroom tissue. We're treading on sacred ground here. (Sorry, but I can't keep laughing from the shear PASSION this tip unearthed!) Your many emails let me know that you were reading the blog and that is good. Keep reading and you'll learn more than just money tips, you'll learn the mindset that keeps you walking the path to financial freedom.

Okay, now let's talk about all the other disposable products that are used in common households, not just the passionate issue of toilet paper. LOL. (Sorry, I'll try not to giggle anymore, but the response really has me giddy. It was so unexpected.) As I run through the list, just see which ones you can really do without and which ones that you make a goal to eliminate from your household budget. Alright? No panic attacks here. Remember this frugal life is all about saving money in places that won't make you feel deprived!



  • Paper towels - buy kitchen towels and store a whole STACK under your sink for daily use.


  • Napkins - buy cloth and launder


  • Plastic flatware - buy a BUNCH of flatware from the thrift store for pennies and take that with you on your outings, picnics and potlucks. If it is lost or left, no biggie.


  • Paper/disposable cups - again, the thrift store is a treasure trove of coffee mugs, unwanted tea cups and glassware. When we picnic out or go to potlucks my family wraps our drinking dishes in those linen towels from the kitchen. We've not had a breakage yet. Now, be sensible...around the pool or on the beach...of course, use reusable plastic cups.


  • Cleaning wands, sweepers and other house cleaning disposable products - I tried the new Clean-all-dust-mop-thingy when it first came out because I had a store coupon and I bought it on double coupon day and it only cost me $5 instead of the $20 it was going for. I could also write it off as a business expense because I was testing it for my "readers." Well, that thing DID NOT clean as well as my dust mop that has the removable cotton head that I just throw into my washing machine. Actually, it left stuff behind that my other dust mop was able to pick up. Really look at your housecleaning goodies, how many now languish in the back closet never being used after you realized that your broom did just as well, thank you, and doesn't cost you "pennies" every time you use it? Get rid of them and clear out that closet.


  • Trash bags - when we moved into our current house I went to the thrift store and bought bathroom sized trash cans for various rooms of the house. I even use the little bathroom trash can for my kitchen. I do this so I can use plastic bags given free at the store as liners. Sure, sure...I do use canvas bags for shopping, but when my trash can liners run low, I'm using the freebie bags. Now, I have a few things many people do not. Colorado is very big on the whole GO GREEN thing and we have an amazing recycling program here in Boulder County. Our curbside trash can is 1/2 the size of what you normally see! No lie. See the picture below. Also, every family has a variety of different trash and maybe this system won't work for you. However, it is just another way to save on a normal expense. There are ways to creatively get around most expenditures. Why did I ever come up with this? Well, it was when I was pregnant with kid number four. I couldn't lift the kitchen sized trash bags when I was as big as a whale. My husband traveled a lot and my other kids were also too tiny to handle the job. My answer...use tiny trash cans and smaller bags. Then I could make multiple trips to the trash, but hey, I could at least LIFT the silly thing. That's when it struck me that I was also saving money.


I hope this helps you out. Continue to do little things every day to keep your life simple and frugal. Give up the things you can, buy generic when you can and purchase the items that make a difference in your life. No guilt here. Just be conscious of what your buying and how much life energy it costs you. Good luck and, guys, keep those emails coming. I'll try to protect you from an overzealous wife. Remember, she just want you to retire early!

1 comment:

Tittel Tribune said...

I L.O.V.E my Swiffer duster/vacuum! It sucks up the dust, dog hair and yucky stuff from the floor without sweeping it back up into the air - and with two Dust Allergy family members it has made a HUGE difference. I save my pennies by not buying the disposable sweeping cloth refills and using a rag cut to the same size as the refills and then laundering it. I have lots of wooden and tiled flooring and it makes "sweeping" a very tolerable experience :)

We like to use paper towels for certain things. It seems we don't use them much, but we have saved by buying the "snack" size that are perforated to be half the size of a traditional paper towel. Works just as well for most things. I like to wrap a sandwich in it if we are on the go and have to eat in the car.