Friday, April 11, 2008

Frugal Friday

Mr. B and I try to make a game out of being frugal. We're constantly trying to come up with more and better ways to shave our expenses. The competition is friendly and the outcome is mutually beneficial!!

One example recently was homemade dog treats. Michael loves giving the dogs a treat at random times, and when you have as many as we have, that gets pricey.

So I looked for recipes to make some of our own! My comparison price was $4.19 for a large box (26 ounces) of a certain nationally known brand, by far not the most expensive around, just a good basic bone shaped dog biscuit.

My results? These were mixed up in about four minutes, rolled out between waxed paper sheets in about four minutes, and cut/baked while I did the dishes, and cleaned up the kitchen from dinner.

This is only half of them. By the time I got around to taking the picture, they were half gone. And yes, I had fun using a bone-shaped cutter, fire hydrant-shaped cutter and just for giggles, a kitty-shaped cutter! The kicker? ALL the dogs love them, whereas two were not really fond of the national brand. No additives or preservatives.....just basic ingredients like whole wheat flour, peanut butter, etc. Total expenditure was about $1.50 (plus a few cents for oven heating?) and total weight was a lot more than the 26 ounce box from the store. Yay! Score!

Mr. B is fond of stopping by Ralph's grocery store on his way home, certain days of the week. He knows when they are going to check the meat and he gets more than 50% off on steaks those days. This is perfectly good meat. There is still a day or two left on the "sell by" label and he walks in the front door with it, and I walk out the back door with it, and throw it on the grill! Yummy! Score!

Well, here's a Frugal Friday idea! I was pondering ways to $ave a few weeks ago and at the time I was washing a load of rags that I had been using for the Never. Ending. Cabinet. Project. in the kitchen. (Yes, I still have the same 8 cabinet doors left to go.....I was so burned out on cabinets I could not even contemplate them for a couple of weeks!)

I had purchased two 24-packs of the white terry cloth towels you can get at Home Depot or Sam's or Costco (sometimes in the automotive department). These are about a foot square, plain white, with hemmed edges. I gave $4.98 for each 24 pack.

These were being used to slather on stain, or scrub off the stripping solution, by the dozen. They were stained and it didn't matter, cos they were my Never-Ending Cabinet Project rags. But it occurred to me, that I could use the same type of rags in the kitchen, in place of paper towels.

Cute little tea towels just don't cut it in my house. I love, Love, LOVE, having a couple to hang on the stove handle, or my little shelf that has a towel rack under it, and they look so pretty. But I really just can't use pretty ones for actual counter scrubbing, mess cleaning, range top cleanup, refrigerator cleaning, etc. It ruins them and they don't really clean as well, anyway.

This was one of my better ideas! I really ran with this one. Michael initially thought I was nuts. (nothing new there!) Then he thought about it and started grinning. And yes, I know a lot of folks will think I've gone over the edge (nothing new there, either!), but hey, when you are married to someone who regularly walks in the door looking like Santa Claus with huge plastic bags over his shoulders, filled with dozens of ......

rolls of toilet paper bought at a significant savings......

Yeah. I'm probably over the edge. I'm a little weird and that's just fine! (Then again, those of you who have been doing this for a long time will probably wonder why it took me so long to think of this.)

I went back to the store and bought another two 24-packs of terry towels. $4.98 x 2. I used a Walmart trashcan which has a plastic removable bucket-like liner inside.

Pay no attention to the state of the pantry.....we certainly don't!!

Ikea drying rack (I Kan Even Afford it! About $16.00)

I put the paper towel holder on the opposite side of the kitchen from the sink, and I put a neatly folded stack of these little terry towels where the paper towels had been. When they are used and judged "dirty", they go in the trashcan in the pantry. They sit all week and I have yet to smell anything mildewy. Saturday or Sunday, I toss the week's towels in the washer with HOT water and detergent and bleach. I let them soak about an hour and then wash them.

Then they go to the "solar dryer", the rack from Ikea. Took me about 5 minutes to hang them, each folded in half, on the rack....I filled the rack by the time I was done. The ones on the right are a bit older but the ones I've been bleaching and drying in the California sunshine each week have stayed nice and white!

When they were dry, there was no folding to do, which would have been necessary if I had used the real dryer. I plucked each folded towel off the rack with one hand, stacking them in my other hand and off they went to the cabinet to await use.

Now. The fun part in this case is the math.

(And while math usually makes me throw up, this IS fun.) I spent roughly $26.00 on towels and rack. Not even counting the benefit of having the rack to dry other clothes, which I do, the total expenditure was $26.00.

I had been spending about $15.00 monthly on giant packs of paper towels from the warehouse club. I just checked online and the price ranged from $12.28 to $17.53. So roughly $15.00 a month X 12 months a year. $180.00. Minus the $26.00 start up costs for the whole idea.

I'm saving $154.00 a year by not buying paper towels. And even if you buy ONE 12 pack to have on hand (1 roll a month) for jobs that people just don't want to use the terry towels for (window/mirror cleaning), or for guests who may think you have definitely lost it if they find out you "don't believe in paper towels any more", still leaves a net savings of $139.00 a year.

And to drive the point home to myself in terms I understand?


Every year! I'll probably have to buy a new towels once a year. The rack should last many years. My only ongoing cost is the energy used for one load of rag laundry weekly. Less than a cost of a can of soda.

Yes. Ahem. I knew you'd understand.

Okay, tag! You're It! Tell me your latest frugal idea!


Jackie said...

Aha!! I have been using/re-using towels like that for some time. It became a necessity when I realized that teenaged boys had a brain disconnect on a certain subject. No matter how many times you tell them, they still insist that it takes three paper towels PER HAND to dry their hands after washing. And since we have instilled in them a healthy regard for the benefits of handwashing in the germ season, that is pretty often!! :) Since I was not making any headway, I switched and have not looked back. (It is amazing how much less toilet paper we used when both boys were out of the house, too.....) But we love'em!! I am a johnny come lately to another frugal idea, though - I have started making my own granola bars!!

Joy said...


Yvette said...

I am crying laughing reading your Blog. I need to take frugal lessons from you. I do wash my own cars, does that count?