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Passive Savings

March 12th, 2010 at 01:57 am

Today I was trying to think about all the things that I do to save money that require little to no effort on my part. Of course the things I do to actively save all quickly spring to mind, but what about the little things? What about the things that have become so automatic in me that I do them most of the time without thinking at all.

Well, since I was in the shower at the time, I started there. With hair as long and as thick as mine I can't exactly skimp on the shampoo or conditioner, but I know how much I need and I am very careful to not let it come pouring out at a fast rate of speed. Accidentally ending up with a huge handful of shampoo doesn't do my hair or my budget any good.

All of my bottles are kept upside down. Shampoo. Conditioner. Shower gel. Gravity is always right there, helping me get as much as possible out of the bottles. And when gravity is done doing it's part, of course I fill the bottles a quarter of the way full with water, swish them around, and use them once or twice more if the stuff clings to get out the final drops.

I go further with the shower gel, starting from the beginning of the bottle. For the price of a 50 cent shower pouf, I can make a dime size drop of gel lather into enough for a full body wash. Try doing that while putting the soap directly into your hand. Doesn't work, does it? A 16 ounce bottle of gel that could easily be gone through in a few weeks in a nondiscriminate manner, lasts me and my family of four (we all have our own poufs) a couple of months.

Gravity again does it's job in the kitchen. At any one time you can open up the fridge and find upside down bottles of mustard, ketchup, barbecue sauce, and chocolate sauce. Things that can't be put upside down without getting stuck in the lid get the spatula treatment. This generally falls into the category of round bottled condiments like mayo, salad dressings, jelly and peanut butter. The spatula also works well on scraping out the last bits of tomato sauce or paste, chili, stew, anything that sticks to the side of a tin can.

Probably the only thing that a spatula doesn't work well on is that poorly shaped mega bottle of Kraft Miracle Whip my husband insists on eating. Square containers with indentations? Really, Kraft? Who ever thought that was a good idea? I prefer to buy the larger product because at cost value it is cheaper, but at actual value when so much of it stuck in those stupid indentations? I'm not so sure. Really, Kraft, go back to the cylindrical containers. Your customers will appreciate it in this economy. (End mini-rant).

I'll let the last drops of olive oil in the bottle drip out onto a salad for ten minutes. I've contrived a contraption for holding the bottles up out of one of those aluminum can crushers mounted sideways. Just tie the thing shut and the bottle stays in place. Then you don't have to hold it, but you can be sure of getting it all out.

My thoughts moved on to wash cloths. I haven't bought wash cloths in years. We use towels to the point of making threadbare spots, so when the time comes that a good 1/4 of it is no longer effective, I simply cut them up, hem them quickly, and I've got a new supply ready to replace the ones that I've worn down.

I had to think about whether or not I consider composting to be a passive activity. On the one hand it involves the effort of taking the fruit and veggie scraps and egg shells out to the compost pile, but on the other hand my other two choices would be running the water and the electric to put them in a disposal or taking them out to the trash. And since I don't bother to turn my compost pile and just let time and the worms do all the work and maybe once a year fork off the top layer to start a new pile and get to the good stuff, I think I can pretty much consider the making of compost passive savings, especially when it is passed along to the garden later in the year.

I keep things unplugged that do not get active use, and if it's easy to get to the outlet, things that do get heavy use, like the toaster and the microwave. Most of our clocks are small battery operated wall clocks. The digital electric alarm clock only gets plugged in and set on the nights we have to wake up at a certain time the next morning. Computers, monitors, printers, and laptops are kept off when not in use and their power strips are turned off. Same with the TV. Since we no longer have a VCR we don't have to worry about resetting it every time it gets turned off.

I'm sure there are more things that I do passively that save me money but for the moment that's all I can think of. So I'm curious. What does everyone else do automatically and with minimal effort to save on the little things?

7 Responses to “Passive Savings”

  1. campfrugal Says:

    Gravity and the Spatula are my friend also.

  2. Ima saver Says:

    I keep the hot water heater turned off almost all of the time except when showering or running the dishwasher.

  3. Single Guy Says:

    One concern I would have is unplugging your alarm clock. I had started to do that, then every day I would need to reset the time. As mine is digital, I was afraid I would eventually break a button used to set the time day after day and waste any savings by having to get a new clock. So now I just leave it on all the time. If your clock is analog I guess that wouldn't be a problem.

  4. yisave Says:

    Your ideas are good and thought provoking. It makes me rethink about how I can cut down and reuse my items.

  5. baselle Says:

    1 more passive thing - flush the toilet a bit less often (if its just yellow). Shampoo every other day instead of every day, or even longer if you can stand it. My hair isn't really oily, but it its not dry either.

    Also, passively substituting one thing for another if you run out. For instance, I like a bubble bath every so often, and at $3/ bottle, its cheaper than therapy. Every so often from the every so often, I want a BB, but no BB to be had, so I substitute shampoo. I haven't yet shampooed with BB, but I can imagine its no biggie to do that either.

  6. dtjunkie Says:

    I like your idea of Passively doing things. Everytime we pick up food and they give us more napkins, forks, spoons, condiments than we need, I put them in a drawer.

  7. patientsaver Says:

    I have a lot of bottles of body wash that i got free from walgreen's when they did their free after rebate deals.I have started using that body wash to fill an empty neutrogena liquid hand soap dispenser i keep at the kitchen sink to use after i change the cat litter or come in from working outdoors.

    I also keep a small bucket in the shower to catch all the water that's normally wasted while you're waiting for it to heat up.

    I also have my hot water heater on a timer and i have it programmed to go on for only 3 hours a day. I've never had an issue with not-hot water.

    There are probably a hundred little ingrained habits of mine that are frugal-oriented, but of course it's hard to think of them now.

    I don't foresee using the dryer anytime soon. This winter i discovered my clothes dry quite well indoors with all the dry heat my furnace produces, and of course I already dry my clothes outside in the summer.

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