Friday, November 27, 2009

Guest Post: Being a Wise Consumer

Guest Post by Laura from Sharpen Your Scissors.

I believe that as an American, I live in the land of over-abundance. Endless opportunities and options force us to make choices all day long. While savvy shopping and coupon spending skills are amazing tools to help ourselves and our families to shell out less of our hard earned incomes, we can also be doing ourselves a disservice, maybe without even realizing it!

Isn't it easier to donate an item of clothing that you purchased from the clearance rack rather than a really nice designer pair of jeans that you can still remember exactly how much you spent on them? I think that it is completely normal to have the price tag value of an item dictate how we care for an item.

Obviously I take better care of my pots and pans (by hand washing them)than I do my spatula that I also use to cook with. The truth being the replacement value is higher for the pots and pans, and I'm not interested in replacing them anytime soon!

But how does this mentality translate into our everyday consumables? How about when we factor in purchasing everyday essentials for pennies on the dollar when we make our purchases with coupons?

Personally, I have found myself guilty of over-using products simply because of the purchase value. Many items that I purchase are either extremely minimal in cost or FREE! I have found myself not really caring how much shampoo I squeeze out of the bottle, or how many baby wipes I use in changing dirty diapers... as long as I had a back up product in my arsenal that I call my stockpile, did I really care?

For the last several months I have begun reading the recommended dosage on product containers... kind of like Weight Watchers for over-consumers... wink!

My current bottle of body wash actually encourages me to use a button sized dollop. I was under the impression that if I used more I may smell even better. So, reluctantly, I tried a button's worth and found that a button's worth of wash works just as well as a silver dollar size!

Then I began experimenting...

I have heard that breaking dish detergent tabs in half, and just washing dishes with half of the recommended dosage works just as well as the full tab. In all honesty, I needed to decide if I really cared enough to break a tab in half- seeing that I purchased a box of 20 tabs with a coupon and only paid $.50 for the box. Was the breakage worth my time?

I already was experiencing a great deal every time I washed my dishes with a $.025 tab... but I tried a half tab load of dishes and realized that they came out just as clean as a full tab. Now I happily clean my dishes for just over a penny per load.

I also have taken the laundry soap challenge by washing a load of laundry on just half a large load's worth of detergent.

We have sensitive skin in our family, so I am a stickler for my favorite laundry soaps, which includes Tide Free and Clear. This jug was actually purchased for FREE with store reward money (ECB's) at CVS. So by the typical standard, I really shouldn't care how quickly the bottle is emptied, especially since I have more bottles of Tide awaiting their turn for use in my arsenal.

The cup on the left has the recommended dosage for a large load of laundry, the cup on the right is the amount that I personally add to my large loads of laundry. I've used the smaller quantity and been just as happy at the result as when I had used full strength... although I'm bummed that I still needed to fold and put away the clothing...

I'm also a recovering over paster.

I've had the pleasure of donating 200+ full sized tubes of toothpaste this year- we've experienced a ridiculous over abundance of toothpaste in our family- so much so that it is easy to bestow absolutely NO value whatsoever to toothpaste (except for the clean teeth and minty fresh breath aspect... wink #2)!

But after reading that kid's can get away with a pea sized dab on their bristles- I decided to try it our for myself... and guess what- my teeth were just as clean (heh, I felt like a kid again!!!)!

I've personally decided that I can no longer bypass consumption recommendations and abuse my privileges of owning nice products simply because I have purchased them inexpensively.

Being a savvy consumer, in addition to purchasing wisely, also means consuming wisely as well. The less I over use, the longer my family will benefit from my wise spending habits and the more I will have to give away when someone that I know is in need.


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