This post started to come to mind when I read a list in a budgeting newsletter about things the author refuses to buy. Lately, we’ve been watching the show Shameless which is about a very poor family in Chicago and how they survive. There are a number of things that family does that I would never in a million years do. I’m not talking about illegal activities (since there are a lot in the show), I’m talking about the necessities they purchase.
I understand that much of this comes from culture. I was raised in a different culture of poverty than the family in Shameless. I remember one time when I was in grade school, one of the kids was teasing me for being a rich kid. I thought this was funny because I knew we were a welfare family. We didn’t live like a welfare family. In fact, I find it very funny that in that same community was a family that everyone complained about because they were a welfare family. They weren’t, they made more money than most people I knew in the community. It’s all about perspective.
I’m going to do my best to categorize these items on the list. The author name was just initials so I have no idea what the sex of the author is. I think that makes a difference because I feel that men and women have different needs sometimes. May or may not be the case here. I would love to hear what you think about the list and my opinions.
“Paper goods” – baggies for sandwiches and leftovers, paper napkins, paper towels, Kleenex.
I’m half and half here. We use cloth napkins and I rarely buy paper towels. The last roll I bought was over a year ago because I wanted to make seed strips. The leftovers from that roll lasted six months. However, I can’t behind cloth tissues. I find them disgusting and I hate the way they feel. My husband has the worst allergies and I bought him several cloth handkerchiefs. He uses them about 50% of the time and Kleenex the rest of the time. More of that has to do with location since his handkerchiefs usually live in the bedroom so he doesn’t have to carry yucky ones with him everywhere. I do keep one for myself for when I have a runny nose during cold season. Otherwise, I am more than willing to pay for Kleenex (usually generic at Costco) to keep down the yuck factor.
I feel the same with food baggies. I like that they are cheap. I hate that they are trash but there are just some times when I’d rather be able to throw them out. Like when storing meat in the freezer or sending snacks with my son. I don’t have to stress over the cost. When it is something that doesn’t make the inside sticky or germy, we reuse. We use Tupperware when we can so we aren’t just using them for everything.
Cleaning – dryer sheets, fabric softener, spot free rinse for dishwasher, washing machine pods, dishwasher pods, disposable vacuum bags, air fresheners
I have been cutting back on dryer sheets because I do think there are better alternatives but when we did buy them, we bought them from Costco. The price is so much less and we use them sparingly. One should not use dryer sheets on towels or washcloths because it reduces the absorbency.
Fabric softener is something we also buy but rarely for laundry. It makes great fabric refresher (think febreeze). We buy one that we like the smell of from the dollar store and it lasts years, even with the occasional use in the washer.
I don’t do one use items if I can help it and I don’t use a dishwasher. I, personally, believe they aren’t worth the money. Dishwasher detergent is more expensive than regular dishwashing soap. And I find that I basically have to wash my dishes first before putting them in the washer so why not do them by hand. We never let the dishes pile up so it’s not a problem (and because of that we never have enough dishes for a load in the washer).
I agree with the vacuum bags. Many vacuums now don’t do bags which reduces your cost and the environmental impact.
However, I will never give up my air fresheners. Perhaps the author has a lovely house with lots of windows – I do not. I have a stuffy damp apartment, a cat, and a family that eats. We need air fresheners. I happen to make them from scratch. I bought 2 air fresheners from Watkins years ago. They have lovely metal spritzer containers. When they run out, I fill them with rubbing alcohol and essential oils. Works wonders. I’ve also made gelatin room deodorizers and added essential oils to baking soda in lovely jars to help with odors.
Toiletries – Deodorant, hair dye, beauty shops, finger nail polish, hair conditioner, liquid body soap.
I have talked about my experience with homemade deodorant. It was all about being more environmentally friendly for me and it was a disaster. While some people have great success with homemade deodorant, that won’t be me. I make so many beauty products at home that I can suck it up and buy deodorant. Especially since I have a teenage boy who really needs something easy to reduce his boy-like smells.
I don’t dye my hair but if I did, I would buy dye from the store and do it myself. While not everyone feels the need to make a change, I see nothing wrong with spending a little money to feel better. It’s cheaper than a night on the town or a new wardrobe.
Again, not much for changing up the hair. I get my hair cut about once every two years. When I decide it’s time, I go to the local beauty school and have my hair done. They’ve only messed up once in the 20 years I have been going. And I feel like the situation was a little unique – I think it was just one of those things. My family goes and none of them have left unhappy. It’s affordable in so many ways. They also do other beauty things like dye hair, manicures, pedicures. Once for my birthday, I got my hair done as a treat and had no regrets.
I don’t do fingernail polish because it’s bad for the body, however I have found tons of it at garage sales. I’ve picked up bags of the little bottles to use in projects (makes a great paint). Like all things, comparison shop and budget shop to get the best deals. And if it makes you happy then it’s worth it.
I don’t use conditioner any more. I use rosemary vinegar that I make and it works great. My son uses conditioner by the gallon. He pays $1 a bottle and it helps keep his wild hair manageable. Again, I’m thinking this person is quite lucky that they can make that choice. My son would die without conditioner (or be killed by his parents while trying to brush through his hair).
We make our soap so we have no need for body wash. I do, however, buy liquid soap from Costco to refill the soap dispensers at all the sinks. I find it reduces the mess and makes people more comfortable. I know that I have no idea where the soap has been when I have to wash my hands in my son’s bathroom, I can’t imagine how feels to be a guest using the soap.
I’m going to stop there because this post was becoming insanely long. I’ll return tomorrow with the rest of the list and more thoughts.