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The March challenge is over! Here’s the full set of update/results posts:
I’m happy to let you know that the first Keep Thrifty Experiment challenge is ready. For March 2016, your goal is to attack your spending in Household Care items.
Household care includes: Paper towels, toilet paper, cleaning products, dinnerware; basically anything needed to keep your house “running” outside of food, electricity, etc. If that’s not clear enough, I’ve got a big list of the items I’ve put in this category for myself later in this post.
As always, keep the following guidance in mind:
- The whole point of the experiment is to make sustainable changes — shortcutting in an area one month only to have it explode in the next doesn’t get you closer to your goals
- Part of the fun here is pushing your boundaries and seeing what you can do without. Don’t be afraid to stretch outside your comfort zone; you never know what you might find!
- Don’t get discouraged if you don’t achieve every goal — any progress is a step in the right direction
- Be creative and have fun :)
Helpful Resources & Ideas for Saving
Most items in Household Care are consumables, making them a regular part of your budget.
There are some good opportunities here to swap out consumables for reusables — in particular, check out the Zero Waste Bathroom link below. These may bump up spending a bit right away but quickly start paying for themselves and are a great way to cut long-term spending.
Other than that, focus on reducing this category to only buying what you need and to find less expensive options where possible. Check out the links below for advice from the experts.
- Are You Cleaning Out Your Wallet? (Mr. Money Mustache)
- Buy baking soda, vinegar, and borax and google what you need to clean to figure out how to use these safe, inexpensive basics. Lots cheaper and less harsh chemicals = lower impact on you and your family, lower impact on the environment
Personal Care & Makeup
- Zero Waste Bathroom (Zero Waste Home)
- Mrs. Money Mustache — Eliminating Lady Temptations (Mr. Money Mustache)
- Use hankybooks instead of tissues
- Light Bulb Showdown: LED vs CFL vs Incandescent (The Simple Dollar)
- 8 Tips to Save BIG Money on Diapers (The Thrifty Couple)
I’m doing this challenge right along with you, so here’s my analysis, goal, and plan for how I plan to tackle Household Care spending in our family this month.
Using Thrifty, I’ve got a good sense of where our family stands on spending in Household Care for the last 6 months.
Looking at the details, our last 6 months of household care has included a laundry list of items:
- diapers and wipes
- cleaning supplies (including baking soda, vinegar)
- toilet paper
- toothpaste, floss, mouthwash
- soap, shampoo, conditioner, deodorant
- laundry detergent
- personal care items
- hair brush and comb
- Norfolk pine houseplant (our new Christmas tree)
- wine glasses, cutting board
- furnace filters
- ant traps
- worm composter (and worms)
- notecards, chalk
- glass jars (for buying bulk food)
- light bulbs, christmas lights
At first, I was amazed we were spending about $255 a month but once you get the list out there you can see how everything can add up.
My goal for our family is to drop from $255 per month to $100 per month.
If we can do this sustainably, we’ll save $1865 a year — not too shabby!
The good news is that many of the expenses above shouldn’t be repeating ones — we only (presumably) need one worm composter and now that we’ve got enough bulk jars, we should be good to go.
Actions we’re planning on taking to drop our amount:
- Continue our move from commercial cleaning supplies to more “old-school” solutions — vinegar and baking soda, borax, etc.
- Avoid “extras” like candles, other kitchen gear
- Getting rid of our need for diapers — you can’t rush potty training, but we’re keeping a good focus on it and hope this will be a big impact
Will all of these changes add up to $155 a month? We know from January that it’s possible for our family to spend less than $100 total, but can we repeat in March and set ourselves up for the future? We’ll see as the month progresses!
Are you ready to join the challenge? Share your thoughts in the comments below or tweet me with your goals, plan, or progress!