As the world economy continues to walk its flimsy tight rope, frugal living is becoming more and more popular among people that both want and need their money to go towards their bills. For some, they want to stretch their income to better care for their families, for others they want to redirect that income into digging out of student loan debt.
One of the keystones to frugal living is cutting the fat - so to speak - out of our daily lives, removing the things we don't necessarily need and spending the money elsewhere. However, something that people don't often consider is literally cutting things in half to save money. Not everything can be halved, but the stuff that can is often not only easier on the pocketbook but easier on the environment as well. Here are the top ten household items that you can cut in half (and sometimes cut out completely) to help you save those precious pennies.
Laundry / Dish Detergent
Don't fall into the trap of the directions on the back of the container. You can easily cut these items in half for the same effect. Dish detergent is easy to cut in half. It recommends two tablespoons, but only using one tablespoon works perfectly. Laundry detergent is a little bit more tricky as it can depend on your washing machine and how well it washes things. Try cutting the detergent in half and see if you notice any differences, you may or may not have to go to the full dose.
Meat and Cheese
You know what makes your grocery bill soar? That's right, meat and cheese. Although, honestly it is mostly the meat and pre-prepared food (ex. frozen meals) doesn't help either. Between diseases in livestock and the general cost it takes to process the meat at each junction, meat is expensive and it has only been getting worse. If you love meat and want it cheaper, buy it with the bone in. Each process the meat has to go through before it is packaged only makes it more expensive. For recipes that call for a pound of ground beef, only use half a pound. When it is mixed in you'll barely notice it.
As for cheese, skip buying pre-shredded cheese and just buy it in a block. This is a trick I only recently discovered and I was shocked by how much farther I could stretch a block of cheese by grating it or slicing myself. Plus, cheese block is a yummy snack in a pinch.
Before everyone riots and thinks I am trying to tell them to take cold showers, settle down. I'm not saying skip the hot water all together, but rather limit it in smart ways. Instead of using the warm or hot setting on the washing machine, use the cold setting whenever possible. This not only makes your cloths last longer, but it will save a lot on energy bills.
If you turn your shower on the hottest it can go and that scalds the crap out of your hand, go to your water heater and find the knob that controls how hot it will heat your water. Turn it down one or two notches and adjust over the next couple of day until you and your family are happy with the maximum temperature. Having your water heater heating water that is insanely hot is a waste of whatever energy heats it if no one ever uses it. Over the next few months, you'll notice the difference on energy bills.
Dryer sheets are not only easy to cut in half, but easy to cut out all together. For the longest time, I used both dryer sheets and fabric softener together and you don't need both. Cut dryer sheets out for one wash and see if you can smell and feel any difference. My cloths come out smelling nice and are nicely soft without them.
Shampoo, Conditioner and Toothpaste
Most people always use more than they need of their toiletries. Kids especially are really quite guilty of this because they don't really ever get what things cost until they are on their own. If you live on your own, it can actually be pretty fun to see how far you can stretch these toiletries, but those with a family will have to make a family-wide commitment to it, stressing the importance of how much you need to make these things last.
When you get your rectangular sponges look at them and ask yourself, "Do I really need all of this sponge?" Essentially, you will only need half of it to get the all those scrubbing, wiping and sponging jobs done. In the case of those SOS pads, they'll also sharpen your kitchen scissors when you cut them too.
Paper Towels and Napkins
These things, you barely use before you toss them away. They are also one of those things you can either cut in half to stretch further or do away with all together. Instead of using paper napkins and towels, switch to cloth. Cloth rags to wipe down kitchen counters and cloth napkins for dinner. Both of these things can just be tossed in the laundry when they are dirty and come back all clean and reusably fresh.
This is often the hardest thing to cut in half because, well, no one likes to be bored. However, you need to choose the services that provide both quality and quantity of entertainment. Sure, trips to the movies will entertain for a few hours, but Netflix will provide months of movies and television shows. On that note, if you have both Netflix and Cable, pick one or the other. Cable can be pretty expensive, so that would be the biggest money saver.
Juice is yummy, but it is an expensive habit if you are not careful. 100% juice may be the healthiest option, but it is also the most expensive, try instead cutting it in half by mixing half of it with water. You'll get the vitamins from the juice as well as a good dose of hydration, plus the juice will last longer.
You'd be surprised at the amount of people that overeat each day. Junk food isn't the only problem with the growing obesity trend, but serving sizes are an issue as well considering most people completely ignore the recommended serving size in both cooked and packaged meals. Cut the serving sizes down and you'll cut both calories and cost.
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