Thursday, April 8, 2010

Use Half. Save Money.

Do you realize how much stuff has a "suggested amount" that you should use which, in reality, is often way more than you actually need? This means you could be saving a whole lot of product, and thus money, and still get the needed benefit out of the stuff that you buy. Consider:
  • Toothpaste. Commercials show that you need a huge glob of toothpaste on your brush in order to get your teeth clean. You don't. A little dab on your toothbrush will provide the same effect--getting your teeth clean.

  • Shampoo. The bottle says to lather, rinse, and repeat. You only need to lather and rinse and you will still end up with clean hair.

  • Laundry soap. The bottle with the measuring cap makes it look like you need a lot of detergent to get your laundry clean. In reality, detergents are much more concentrated than they used to be, washing machines are much more efficient at cleaning, and most people aren't working on farms like they did in decades past so your clothes aren't all that dirty to start with. Use half the amount of soap that is recommended and see if your clothes don't get just as clean, If you want to do a little test, put some towels that you just washed and dried back into the washer, set it on the wash cycle without the soap, and when it gets to the agitate cycle check out the water. If you see soap bubbles you will know that there is still soap in your clothing that you thought had been rinsed out. Use less soap, get less soap residue in your laundry (and save money too).

  • Dryer sheets. I don't know where I picked up the habit but for as long as I can remember, when I open a new box of dryer sheets, I cut them all in half. Then for each load of laundry I throw in the dryer, I just toss in half a dryer sheet and still get the fresh smelling, anti-static-y results that I am after.

  • Heat. If you usually have your heat on 24/7, consider running it only the few hours a day that you are actually at home and awake. Otherwise set the thermostat to 55, throw some extra blankets on the bed, and/or in the evening run a small space heater in your room before bed instead of heating the whole house, and enjoy lots of savings on your heating bills.

  • Hand soap. The average pump on your hand soap will spit a huge glob out onto your hands. Just push the dispenser down half way, get a half serving of soap, scrub your hands vigorously for about thirty seconds, and you will end up with clean hands.

  • Hot water. Keeping a huge tank of water hot 24/7 is a mostly American custom. In most countries, water is heated only when it is needed in order to save money. So, to save money on your hot water bill, do these things: set your thermostat to 120 degrees, put water saver shower heads on all of your showers, conserve water by using less of it, and put a timer on your hot water tank in order to turn in on only when you will need it (usually in the morning and evening).

  • Denture adhesive. If you watch the commercials, you will see the announcer plaster a huge line of denture adhesive from one side of the denture plate to the other. Not only is this messy and causes a copious amount to "squish out" when you put the dentures in your mouth, it is a waste of good product. A better way to do this, from those in the know, is to put small dabs of the paste on each side and at the front-when you insert the dentures, this will squeeze out a bit and provide a good bond between your dentures and gums.

  • Water for plants. Some people plant flowers, fruit trees, or vegetables, then proceed to water them deeply everyday. This is usually not necessary and can actually hurt the plants because it encourages shallow root growth instead of forcing the roots of the plants to grow deeper in search of water. Cut back to watering deeply every dew days and watch your water bill shrink (and your plants grow better).

  • Band aids. This is getting down to the nitty gritty, but we have, on occasion, cut big band aids in half (length-wise of course) for use on little kids with little "boo boos".

  • Paper towels. Another of the things I do automatically is to use half of a paper towel for almost all uses. I simply rip the paper towel in half length-wise and leave the other half hanging on the role for the next use (it doesn't look pretty but it does double the life of a roll of paper towels).

  • Anti freeze. If you live in a mild climate, you may want to use half anti freeze and half water instead of full strength antifreeze.

These are just a few of the ways that you can use less of a product, save money, and still get the use out of the product that you need. From now on, when you are using a product, ask yourself how you could use less of said product and still meet your needs.

p.s. A couple of caveats: there are some products that you don't want to use less of in order to save money. These include prescription medicine (use as directed) and measured components in baking and cooking (unless you know it won't impact the edibility of the item you are creating).


  1. karen peissinger-venhausApril 11, 2010 at 7:49 PM

    I saw in a European documentary on simpler living a Dutch couple who followed the rule of halfs. What they do is use half the recommended amount of the product, like you recommend. If they obtained good results, then the next time they use half of the half (one-quarter). If the results are good, the half the the half of the half (one-eighth), and so on. When they get to the point that the product no longer produces a good result, then they know the previous quantity is the right amount. It made quite an impact on me, and I try to do the same thing. Thank you for the post!

  2. We've been halving things for a long time, and even cut some things out, like dryer sheets. We also use towels 80% of the time and paper towels only for really messy cleanups.

    Regarding shampoo, especially if you have a dry scalp, try washing your hair *without* shampoo. Believe me, it works! Just massage like you normally would, add conditioner if you want, and then rinse. Your hair will still be clean, and you will have a healthier scalp and fatter wallet. I only wash my hair with shampoo a couple of times a week (I used to do it every day) and get compliments all the time on my healthy hair - even from my hair stylist!

    The other big saving here is on food. When you cook, look to see what a portion size is on the recipe - it is probably a lot less than you think. Serve a little and go back for more if you are still hungry rather than dumping a bunch on your plate to start. Same goes at a restaurant - plan to take half home for lunch the next day or split it with your date. Helps your wallet and your waist!