Author Topic: household goods expenses?  (Read 15543 times)

WageSlave

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household goods expenses?
« on: July 06, 2012, 02:58:37 PM »
In our monthly expense tracking, we have a category called "household goods".  In this we put exciting and glamorous things such as:
  • Paper goods: paper towels, toilet paper, facial tissue
  • Personal hygiene: soap, shampoo, shaving stuff, deodorant, toothpaste, floss, lotions, makeup
  • First aid: ointments, band-aids, OTC drugs
  • Cleaning supplies: laundry detergent, sponges, bleach, dishwasher detergent
  • Diapers and wipes for our toddler
I suppose you could also call these domestic products; based on what I've seen, most people lump these into a "misc" category (or maybe baby-related stuff has its own category for diapers and wipes).  So I'm not sure if a lot of people have a good handle on this or not.  But for us, it's significant: we're averaging over $250/month!  And my gut feel tells me that most people aren't spending as much as us on this stuff.

When trying to reduce expenses, I like to look for the easy wins, the low-hanging fruit (e.g. cut cable TV, although at least I can say we haven't had that for years).  So I look at $250/month and think, that ought to be easy to reduce.  But when I get into it, it's more like death by a thousand cuts.  Just lots of odds and ends that never seem to go away.  And it's not even fun stuff... who plays keeping up with the Joneses with their tampons? :)

Only in April did we join Costco, so that average number carries a lot of pre-Costco baggage.  Since joining Costco, though, our monthly costs haven't gone down much, but I keep seeing giant/bulk packages of these things popping up all over the house, so I'm hoping the number will start to go down as we build up our inventories.

Anyone have any thoughts or comments on this?
« Last Edit: July 09, 2012, 09:25:56 AM by matt_garman »

Worsted Skeins

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Re: household goods expenses?
« Reply #1 on: July 06, 2012, 03:10:10 PM »
Two words:  cloth diapers.  Soooo much cheaper in the long run!

My nephew and his wife are new mustachians.  I bought some diapers and wraps for them from Green Mountain Diaper after consulting with moms on another board.  Even if you need disposables for day care, using cloth at home in the evenings and on weekends will save.


smalllife

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Re: household goods expenses?
« Reply #2 on: July 06, 2012, 04:33:18 PM »
Eliminating most of the paper products in favor of cloth (aka no paper towels) will go a long way.

Making your own cleaning supplies, or at least some of them, will also cut expenses drastically.  There's no need for a different cleaning solution for every room in the home when vinegar and baking soda can handle 90% of the messes just as effectively.  Simplifying the personal hygiene routine will also go a long way (using "real" soap will cut down on the need for lotion and can replace shaving cream).

Gerard

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Re: household goods expenses?
« Reply #3 on: July 06, 2012, 05:17:54 PM »
  • Paper goods: paper towels, toilet paper, facial tissue: replace most paper towels with cloths or sponges that you wash (or sterilize in the microwave)
  • Personal hygiene: soap, shampoo, shaving stuff, deodorant, toothpaste: I've replaced most of these with water/washcloth and/or baking soda
  • First aid: ointments, band-aids, tylenol: I seem to need fewer ointments since I started the water/washcloth thing... if you're going through a lot of tylenol, something else is wrong and worth taking the time to figure out (I mean this earnestly, although I get that it might sound bitchy)
  • Cleaning supplies: laundry detergent, sponges, bleach, dishwasher detergent: make own laundry detergent, reuse/wash/sterilize sponges more often, make sure you're not using more than recommended amounts of bleach, make Alton Brown's kitchen disinfectant by putting a couple of tablespoons of bleach and a half-liter of water into a spritzer, make friends with baking soda and vinegar
  • Diapers and wipes for our toddler: can't help you here. Cloth?
Anyone have any thoughts or comments on this?
It's really hard for me to figure out how you're going through that much moolah here, except for the diapers. Have you tried breaking down some of your sub-categories farther? Do you maybe spend a shitload on makeup (or whatever)?

iwannaretire

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Re: household goods expenses?
« Reply #4 on: July 06, 2012, 06:34:52 PM »
Play the drugstore couponing game, using ECBs from CVS or UPs from RiteAid along with their loyalty cards.  You should end up dramatically reducing these costs because you can get a lot of these items for free. 

Jamesqf

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Re: household goods expenses?
« Reply #5 on: July 06, 2012, 06:39:50 PM »
  • First aid: ointments, band-aids, tylenol
A small thing, but why a brand-name pain reliever, when plain old generic aspirin is much cheaper, and as a side effect, has been shown to reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke, colon cancer, etc?  http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/21/health/research/studies-link-aspirin-daily-use-to-reduced-cancer-risk.html

Another small thing: are you using the correct amount of laundry detergent per load?  Many people use a good deal more than the recommended amount.

happy

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Re: household goods expenses?
« Reply #6 on: July 06, 2012, 08:04:38 PM »

Another small thing: are you using the correct amount of laundry detergent per load?  Many people use a good deal more than the recommended amount.

You can use one third to half of the recommended amount per load and it still works fine ie at least 50% saving. I've been doing this since last year no problems. (cheaper still to make your own, but I've yet to do that).
White vinegar instead of fabric softener also saves about 50%.

HeidiO

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Re: household goods expenses?
« Reply #7 on: July 07, 2012, 12:43:56 AM »
Check out the dollar  store - they excel at cleaning supplies, bandaids, tylenol.  Depending on the division of labor at your house, your wife better be on board before you start making decisions about cleaning products, cloth diapers, etc.
Heidi

rosarugosa

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Re: household goods expenses?
« Reply #8 on: July 07, 2012, 04:56:18 AM »
We've definitely saved money by using more microfiber cloths and rags/dishtowels, and less paper towels, although we do not plan to give up paper towels completely.
We're also saving lots on cleaning prods. by using more vinegar, baking soda, and homemade solutions.
This site has some good ideas for DIY cleaning prods:
http://www.macheesmo.com/2011/01/four-homemade-cleaners/
We buy generics of things like Tylenol at Costco, although we don't tend to spend a lot on OTC drugs/remedies.
I've also played around with trying to find the least amount of something that will still do the job (e.g. laundry detergent, shampoo).  It is often less than the recommended amount, so products tend to last longer.
I try to avoid things like Swiffer products, pre-moistened glass cleaner wipes, furniture polish wipes, etc. because I think they are a poor value.
« Last Edit: July 07, 2012, 04:58:33 AM by rosarugosa »

DocCyane

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Re: household goods expenses?
« Reply #9 on: July 07, 2012, 05:23:30 AM »
One thing I do is to not buy on the fly. Don't wait until you're out of toothpaste to go buy more. When you're at the discount store, find the sales and stock up on shampoo, moisturizer, etc. Have a shelf of extras bought at the best price.

Also, see if you have a waster in the family. There's usually someone who uses a roll of paper towels when a couple of rags was a better solution.

crunchy_mama

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Re: household goods expenses?
« Reply #10 on: July 07, 2012, 02:47:50 PM »
Holy cow that is a lot!  Here is how it breaks down for us- Family of 5, we have an almost 8 yo, 5 yo and 2.5 yo (with 1 on the way).  I use a lot of reusable products, skip a lot of stuff I feel is unnecessary, use less of what we do use, buy in bulk and look for good deals.  A lot of this stuff you can get for free if you aren't brand loyal using coupons but it does take time and energy and as it is I really spend very little and we have certain things we like (I generally avoid anything w/ dyes or fragrances and my husband has a few brands he likes for what he uses).

I was just figuring this today as I had to buy tp, I generally buy in bulk but my priced averaged for the month:
diapers- I use cloth diapers and wipes, prefolds and flats w/ pullon covers- $150 maybe for the entire set-up birth to potty trained and good for multiple kids

Menstrual Products- I use cloth and last I bought was 5 yrs ago

Napkins/paper towels- use clothe napkins found at yardsales or rags cut from t-shirts, etc

I wear minimal make-up, I spent $20 in Jan and haven't bought since then.  I use coconut oil for my face and no other fancy cleaners etc.$3 month

OTC drugs etc I don't hardly buy or use them, the only thing we go through a lot is bandaid everything else is pretty rare (and I buy the 100 pk from the Dollar Store as 2yo's think they need them for everything).- $3 month

Dish liquid- $14 for 1 gallon, last one lasted 18 months- I've been using a bit more lately though so I'll generously say - $1 month

Dishwasher Det and Laundry Detergent- Homemade about $8 for a box of borax and washing soda and 2 bars of soap- and that leaves extra borax and washing soda and enough detergent to make 2 huge batches which last 1 yr plus- 67c month

Cleaners- Vinegar and Borax- I also use vinegar in my dishwasher to rinse, about 1 gal per month at about- $3 month

Soap- Dollar Store 3 pk/$1 dye and fragrance free 67c a month

Shaving Cream- Dh has sensitive skin and only likes certain kinds I just bought some on sale and it will be enough to last the year though as he shaves a few times a week and uses sparingly- 50c a month

Deodrant- Again dh likes a certain brand and I just stocked up on sale at 50 c each I bought more than enough for the year- 50c per month
I have homemade for myself and the cost is negligible

Toothpaste-I have Tom's of Maine right now I bought at the discount store for 89c- 1 tube lasts at least 2 months- 40c a month

Shampoo- Dh has a favorite brand-1 bottle lasts 6 months or so for us- 33c a month

TP- about $5 per month

tissues- only if sick- and often I use cloth as well- works out to maybe 25c per month averaged

trashbags- 100ct bought at Home Depot- $10- lasts 1 yr +- $1 month

Total an average of $20 a month being very generous in amounts

Cloth diapers and pads as I said were bought years ago and are still going.

nolajo

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Re: household goods expenses?
« Reply #11 on: July 07, 2012, 06:20:27 PM »
OTC drugs are a major place to use generics. They're regulated by the FDA, exactly like their name-brand counterparts, so there's seriously almost no difference. That switch should be a pretty easy "low-hanging fruit" cut. As for some of the other toiletries, some switches will be easier than others. A bar of soap in my experience can last for months - considerably longer than a bottle of body wash. With that difference, you could even use a luxurious bar of soap and come out ahead, while feeling sanctimonious about both your savings and your eco street cred.

I have found that there is a significant quality difference between brand name and generic feminine products, but I've actually just gone to using a Luna Cup, which should save a pretty penny in the long run. There's a whole thread that your wife might take a look at here: http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/forum/share-your-badassity/for-the-ladies-only/msg9607/#msg9607

Otherwise, I agree with the above commenters. Cloth diapers freaked me out a bit as a kid diapering my younger sister (I was terrified I was going to pin her!) but I gather that there are a lot of better options around now and considering that diapers are one of the most expensive aspects of a kid before college it seems, I imagine you could knock out a lot of those expenses with just that.

Good luck getting the wife on board!

fiveoh

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Re: household goods expenses?
« Reply #12 on: July 07, 2012, 06:20:32 PM »
Holy cow that is a lot!  Here is how it breaks down for us- Family of 5, we have an almost 8 yo, 5 yo and 2.5 yo (with 1 on the way).  I use a lot of reusable products, skip a lot of stuff I feel is unnecessary, use less of what we do use, buy in bulk and look for good deals.  A lot of this stuff you can get for free if you aren't brand loyal using coupons but it does take time and energy and as it is I really spend very little and we have certain things we like (I generally avoid anything w/ dyes or fragrances and my husband has a few brands he likes for what he uses).

I was just figuring this today as I had to buy tp, I generally buy in bulk but my priced averaged for the month:
diapers- I use cloth diapers and wipes, prefolds and flats w/ pullon covers- $150 maybe for the entire set-up birth to potty trained and good for multiple kids

Menstrual Products- I use cloth and last I bought was 5 yrs ago

Napkins/paper towels- use clothe napkins found at yardsales or rags cut from t-shirts, etc

I wear minimal make-up, I spent $20 in Jan and haven't bought since then.  I use coconut oil for my face and no other fancy cleaners etc.$3 month

OTC drugs etc I don't hardly buy or use them, the only thing we go through a lot is bandaid everything else is pretty rare (and I buy the 100 pk from the Dollar Store as 2yo's think they need them for everything).- $3 month

Dish liquid- $14 for 1 gallon, last one lasted 18 months- I've been using a bit more lately though so I'll generously say - $1 month

Dishwasher Det and Laundry Detergent- Homemade about $8 for a box of borax and washing soda and 2 bars of soap- and that leaves extra borax and washing soda and enough detergent to make 2 huge batches which last 1 yr plus- 67c month

Cleaners- Vinegar and Borax- I also use vinegar in my dishwasher to rinse, about 1 gal per month at about- $3 month

Soap- Dollar Store 3 pk/$1 dye and fragrance free 67c a month

Shaving Cream- Dh has sensitive skin and only likes certain kinds I just bought some on sale and it will be enough to last the year though as he shaves a few times a week and uses sparingly- 50c a month

Deodrant- Again dh likes a certain brand and I just stocked up on sale at 50 c each I bought more than enough for the year- 50c per month
I have homemade for myself and the cost is negligible

Toothpaste-I have Tom's of Maine right now I bought at the discount store for 89c- 1 tube lasts at least 2 months- 40c a month

Shampoo- Dh has a favorite brand-1 bottle lasts 6 months or so for us- 33c a month

TP- about $5 per month

tissues- only if sick- and often I use cloth as well- works out to maybe 25c per month averaged

trashbags- 100ct bought at Home Depot- $10- lasts 1 yr +- $1 month

Total an average of $20 a month being very generous in amounts

Cloth diapers and pads as I said were bought years ago and are still going.

what brand and where do you buy a gallon of dish liquid?

rosarugosa

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Re: household goods expenses?
« Reply #13 on: July 07, 2012, 07:32:49 PM »
I would like to add that this is truly an area of the budget with quite a bit of flexibility - you can meet the same set of needs for pretty big or pretty small money.
So it's a fun area to work on - depending on your idea of fun:)
We've also found that we are totally brand loyal for some items in this realm which we think offer us the best value although certainly not the cheapest, (e.g. Bounty paper towels, Scott toilet paper, Dawn dishwashing liquid).  For other items (e.g. napkins, generic OTC drugs) the lowest price rules.

crunchy_mama

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Re: household goods expenses?
« Reply #14 on: July 07, 2012, 08:07:46 PM »
I buy BioKleen dish liquid through Azure Standard co-op, we have delivery here.  They sell 5 gal as well for even more savings but I don't use enough to warrant that.

tannybrown

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Re: household goods expenses?
« Reply #15 on: July 07, 2012, 11:23:52 PM »
I'd recommend keeping a price comparison notebook with you when you go to various stores, especially if you don't do all your shopping at Costsco.  For what it's worth, I've found that Costco is not the lowest price option for everything. 

(The flip side is that you don't want to be driving all around town, trying to be penny-wise.)

WageSlave

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Re: household goods expenses?
« Reply #16 on: July 09, 2012, 10:07:17 AM »
Wow, lots of good replies here.  My take-away from all this is that we're just going to have to look at these expenditures in greater detail, possibly even itemizing.  Without fancy quoting, I'll just try to quick reply to everything:
  • In case I gave the wrong impression, we don't buy all that stuff every month.  That list in the original post was just to illustrate all the things we classify as "household goods".
  • OTC drugs: we definitely buy the generics.  (I was just too lazy to look up how to spell "acetaminophen".)  We actually don't use a lot of OTC meds anyway.
  • Feminine products - I'm not even going there, that's entirely the discretion of my wife.  :)
  • Laundry detergent - I convinced my wife to use cold water instead of warm/hot water for all loads.  Her only complaint was that she felt that the detergent doesn't seem to rinse out as well.  So I said use less detergent: win-win!  I think we are buying name-brand detergent only because my wife said she had bad allergies with a lot of detergents when she was young.  But perhaps we can revisit this.
  • Cloth diapers - my wife does 90% of the diaper changing, so I leave this up to her.  We did switch from Pampers bought on Amazon to the Costco brand.  We get more diapers for less money.
  • Cleaning supplies - for those of you using vinegar, how do you feel about the smell?  I find it really offensive.  It seems they use it to clean the bathroom where I work, and there are times when I can barely stand to be in there.  But I know that's a "classic" frugality tactic, and in general I like the idea of simplifying things.
  • Body soap - my wife and I both use bar soap, but it is name-brand (Irish Spring for me, Dove for her).
  • Makeup - I don't wear any :) and my wife wears a modest amount.  She doesn't even wear it that often, since she's a stay at home mom.
I guess I'm just going to have to itemize.  I suspect all the "standard" stuff (paper products, OTC meds, cleaning, personal hygiene) doesn't actually contribute that much, and there must be a new "one off" every month that is pushing this into too-high territory.  One example off the top of my head: I wanted to install a couple new outlets in our house.  We needed shallow, drywall-mount boxes (which happened to be the most expensive), and the shortest length of wire was still like $20.  I got the actual outlets for free from my dad.

grantmeaname

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Re: household goods expenses?
« Reply #17 on: July 09, 2012, 10:20:12 AM »
  • Laundry detergent - I convinced my wife to use cold water instead of warm/hot water for all loads.  Her only complaint was that she felt that the detergent doesn't seem to rinse out as well.  So I said use less detergent: win-win!  I think we are buying name-brand detergent only because my wife said she had bad allergies with a lot of detergents when she was young.  But perhaps we can revisit this.
The fragrance in the detergent is the part that my family members are allergic to. Maybe you could try unscented store-brand detergent?

Quote
  • Cleaning supplies - for those of you using vinegar, how do you feel about the smell?
I think vinegar smells delicious, but that could be evidence of serious brain damage. Seriously, though, you could try diluting it to the weakest concentration that'll get the job done and see if the smell fades sooner.