Although some people keep their grocery budgets completely separate from other household needs such as toilet paper, cleaning supplies etc., most of us buy all that at the supermarket as well as food. You can apply the same savings priciples to these items.
For cleaning, besides using double or triple coupons to get the brand name items you can also buy the off brands (Xtra Pine instead of Pine Sol, etc.) or just use bleach or ammonia. Bleach cleans and sanitizes your toilet just as well if not better than fancy cleaners that cost 10 times as much. Ammonia is great on floors and mixed with water in a spray bottle on windows. If you wipe the windows with newspaper they come out sparkling clean and you don't waste your paper towels. Whatever you do NEVER MIX BLEACH AND AMMONIA! Together they create toxic fumes!
We received the following email and got such a kick out of it that we are posting it here just for fun:
Subject: FROM WHITECAP INC (XTRA PINE MFGTS)
Date: Mon, 19 Nov 2001
From: "JUAN JOSE CORDERO GUTIERREZ"
Thank You for listing us in your website as an alternative product for Pine Sol. We have been business for 50 years ensuring that we give the consumer the best value brands. We also have a very successful drain opener: "Xtra Drain" that compares to the quality of Drano & Liquid Plumber.
Congratulations on your site, and we appreciate your concerns for the penny-wise consumers.
Juan J. Cordero
White Cap, Inc.
Note: Since receiving Mr. Gutierrez's email we have tried Xtra Drain and can report that it works just as well as higher priced brands.
Health and Beauty aids like deodorant, shampoo and hair color often turn up in the buy 1/ get 1 free sales and really ARE a bargain that way. The store doesn't raise the regular price and if you combine the sale with coupons these items can be had for very little money. We never pay more than 39 cents for brand name deodorants.
Paper towels are something you can do without if you are so inclined. Buy extra dishtowels or shop towels to wipe up messes with then you can wash and reuse them. Paper napkins are also not necessary if you buy some cloth ones which can be found inexpensively at yard sales and thrift stores.
Here are some ideas from Melinda (who also sent us some tips for the wedding page): I also have some non wedding related tips, you may of heard some of these already. I use fabric softener sheets and have found that using half of a sheet works as well as a whole sheet, cost instead of 5 cents a sheet it is only 3 to 1 cent a sheet depending on whether they are on sale. With certain swiffer type brooms, you can use a dusting cloth in place of the disposable clothes, and a wet wash cloth works as well if not better than the wet swiffers. Using a piece of printed/plain paper in a page protector with a dry wipe & erase marker creates a great reusable page for all kinds of things; chore charts, cupboard inventory. Or take a large index card/regular paper, using clear contact paper, a towel, & an iron you can laminate a page, stick a magnet on the back and you have a memo sheet for the fridge (I learned this laminating trick from a friend.). The towel protects the iron and the contact paper.
After receiving this email I tried the half a sheet of fabric softener idea and it works fine! Additionally, you can use half as much liquid or powder laundry detergent as the package calls for and your clothes will still come out clean (unless they are VERY heavily soiled). I have been doing laundry that way for quite a while. We have also heard that you can use half as much dishwasher detergent but since we don't have a dish washer you'll have to test that one yourself!
A similar tip from Tracy L.: I started using those Oil of Olay Daily Facial cloths and found that cutting them in half works just as well. On days when you don't wear make-up and just need a light wash, you can even use them in quarters!
A recipe for homemade laundry soap from Jena:
Homemade laundry soap is cheap and free of perfumes. It cost me about 3 to 4 cents a load and I always have laundry soap on hand and about 15 minutes away! I'd love for you to pass it along.
1 bar of Ivory Soap...generic copies work just as well (plain soap w/no fragance)
1 cup washing soda (not baking soda!)
Fill a large bucket or container ( I use a 3 gallon wastepaper basket ) with hot tap water and set aside. Grate a bar of soap into a saucepan. Add just enough water to cover the grated soap. Heat the mixture, stirring constantly, until the soap is dissolved. Add the soap & water mixture to the hot tap water in the bucket. Stir to combine. Then - do not reverse this order- add 1 cup washing soda and stir well. As it cools it turns into a white gelatinous soap. The thickness will vary depending on the size container used.
To use: pour 1 cup into washing machine with soiled laundry
I buy my soap in bulk and the washing soda is found near the borax type products in the grocery store. Its made by Arm and Hammer and looks like a big box of baking soda( but it not the same thing!)
More homemade laundry soap from Meghan Surdenas in New Jersey: I've been making my own laundry detergent for at least 1 yr. & honestly will NEVER buy commercial products again. I believe this mixture is superior & have come up with the measurements through experimentation. Admittedly - I found the recipe on another website but have changed the actual amounts used. I am also including other related ideas for the same ingredients.
Homemade laundry detergent:
1 bar Fels Naptha soap (tried others but this is superior)
3/4 cup Borax
3/4 super washing soda (NOT baking soda)
Heat 1qt. water over MEDIUM heat. Grate Fels Naptha soap into pot, stir until melted. Remove from heat & add other ingredients, mix very well Pour into large bucket, add hot water to 2 gallon mark, stirring constantly (I use an hand blender while adding the water) As the mix cools, it will thicken to thick gel-like consistency. Do not worry if mixture looks lumpy - it doesn't affect cleaning abilities. Use this detergent as a pre-treater for common stains. Fels Naptha soap is an excellent pre-treater for more difficult stains. Simply wet garment, rub with soap & put in washer. Borax is great for soaking up pet accidents & removing odors. Blot area first to remove most moisture, sprinkle liberally with borax, allow to dry (usually overnight) & vacuum.
From C.P. Richardson: Use a couple squirts of ketchup on the copper bottom, smear with your fingers and let it stand a couple minutes... stubborn spots can be rubbed quickly with a non-metal scour pad. Keep a washcloth size cotton cloth scrap at the washer. Dampen it in the rinse water, wring out, and pour a tablespoon or two of liquid fabric softener on it. Put it in the dryer with the clothes. Repeat for every load to be dried. Saves a bunch. Every couple of months, take the lint trap from the dryer, remove as much lint as possible, then use an old toothbrush or handbrush with bristles and using hot, soapy water scrub the screen thoroughly. Rinse thoroughly and you'll be amazed at the difference. It helps dry clothes faster and is less of a fire hazard.
From Jeff Dumas,El Dorado AZ :Boric Acid kills ants and roaches and is much cheaper than most pesticides. I did some figuring. When you buy a can of pesticide, you are actually buying only about a half ounce of the actual stuff that kills the bugs. Look at it this way, a pound of actual pesticide costs well over $150!!! You can buy a pound of boric acid for a couple of dollars. So do youself a favor and read a little about boric acid.
From Joyce Mink: As a busy stay at home mom, I am always cleaning and looking for ways to save money. The following is a recipe for a wonderful Homemade Grease Cutting Cleaner that I use for almost everything, and is VERY INEXPENSIVE! Mix together in a spray bottle 4 oz. Ammonia, 12 oz. rubbing alcohol, and 16 oz. water. Leaves your chrome shiny without water spots too!
From Timothy Gorman :Calling Cards are a good deal at warehouse stores.. The less you use them the more you can save. We buy one for $20 every year or so, and the minutes increase each time. With calling cards you don't need to have a long distance plan. We save a $5 dollar monthly fee plus the cost of calls. That's at least a $40 dollar savings a year on your phone bill. The current amount of minutes is around 675 minutes (I think) which works out to 2.9 cents a minute. You can't buy a long distance plan that charges that little per minute. It can be a pain to dial the extra numbers, but it's worth the "inconvenience". Calling cards can be used anywhere. If your workplace doesn't allow you to make long distance calls, they usually allow 1-800 numbers. If you have an emergency and need to make a long distance call you're set with a calling card. Or if you don't carry change with you, and you need to make a call on a pay phone, but hate calling collect, calling card to the rescue.
From Lynn Lind: Eliminating MCI as our long distance carrier caused us to learn that Sam's Club sells one of the best prepaid phone cards on the market: .0347 cents a minute. No expiration date. The card for 600 minutes costs around $20. We went back to Qwest for instate long distance at 10 cents a minute any time and a $3 one time fee. Most of our calls are instate long distance. We're thrilled to learn how to cut our telephone bill!