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Cut back on products you don’t need

By on November 14, 2009

shampoo shave
photo by cherryfluff

As a society, we’re fortunate — so much so that we’ve become gluttonous. Wants and needs have become blurred. We’ve become conditioned to believe we need many things. Some people might even think chocolate is a food group. But in all seriousness, we’ve forgotten that we live in the land of options. Modern life is different from basic life. But many of the convenience products we enjoy have alternatives or aren’t needed at all. Putting your buying decisions into perspective can help you better evaluate your spending. Why are all these small things important? It’s especially helpful if you’re living on a fixed income. You can’t hide from inflation.

So what have you grown to rely on?

Here are a few products we think we need, but we don’t.

SHAVING CREAM: You can use soap and water or cheap hair conditioner, shampoo or baby oil as you shower. Or use inexpensive lotion or even liquid dish detergent.

DRYER: Air-dry inside on a retractable clothesline, drying rack or install a tension rod and hang clothes to dry. When the temperatures are warmer, hang outside on a clothesline. Or simply alternate and use the dryer half the time.

PAPER NAPKINS AND TOWELS: You can opt for cloth and save a considerable amount of money. They don’t take up much space in the washer and are reusable. Check thrift stores and garage sales for these items for greater savings.

GIFT WRAP: There are plenty of options, such as using recycled gift bags. Or reuse paper, such as newspaper or handmade fabric bags and wraps. Visit for a wonderful tutorial on how to make gift wrap from a recycled sheet or cotton fabric and ribbon. Or check your local library books on Wrapagami or Japanese furoshiki, which will show you how to take ordinary fabric and create beautiful gift wrap. You can also consider giving gifts where the outer wrap is part of the gift, such as using tins, baskets, jars, bowls, purses, etc.

BOTTLED WATER: Get a reusable bottle, and fill it up with tap or filtered water. You have to admit you feel ripped off when buying it. It creates a lot of extra waste, too.

BEAUTY PRODUCTS: Eat healthy, stay hydrated, cleanse and moisturize and protect your skin with sunscreen, and your skin will look radiant. You don’t need a dozen products with tons of chemicals on your skin. This is, of course, assuming you don’t have skin problems or sensitivities that require specific products.

CLEANERS: Many of your cleaning products can be replaced with vinegar, salt, dish liquid, essential oils, lemon juice, castile soap and baking soda. The exception will be for natural surfaces, such as granite countertops, but for most other surfaces, you can use your own homemade cleaners.


  1. Becky Thomas

    11/15/2009 at 12:06 am

    This isn’t the first time I’ve heard that you don’t have to use a dryer. I have to disagree. If you live in a small house, drying on a rack inside isn’t an option. Also, if you live in an area that gets lots of rain drying outdoors isn’t either.

  2. Debbie

    11/15/2009 at 10:56 am

    I haven’t managed to ditch the dryer yet but I’ve cut out almost all of the above. I’m still working on converting the hubby over so he still uses bottle water and shaving cream but I’m trying to lead by example. The kids and I don’t partake of the bottle water anymore.

    Not on your list but one we’ve cut way back on is fast food restaurant visits. The kids are missing their happy meal toys but I sure haven’t. I’ve also converted hubby from Coffee Shop tea. He now makes it at home and takes it with him to work, says it tastes way better too 🙂

  3. Amity

    11/16/2009 at 3:32 pm

    Hmm, shaving cream or scraped up legs? Maybe I’ll try using hair conditioner. If it works and doesn’t clog up the razor, that’s a good idea. With the cloth napkins, we would use probably 10-12 per day, then I’d need to be washing them…so how many do you keep around? I keep telling myself I’ll make some, I know they’re very easy to make. It just doesn’t seem worth the trouble.

  4. Emily

    11/17/2009 at 12:44 pm

    I have used conditioner as shaving cream for a long time. It solves the problem of running out of shampoo before the conditioner. Big fan of cloth napkins too. They don’t stick to your hands when eating messy foods like ribs, etc.

  5. Amy

    11/17/2009 at 3:49 pm

    I have used conditioner in the place of shaving cream for a few years now. I buy the Target brand which I think is similar to pantene but much cheaper.

    We use cloth napkins-I think I have at least 12. I have bought them on sales for under $1 each and have had them for a few years now.

  6. Emily S

    11/20/2009 at 12:59 pm

    If using soap while shaving leads to scraped up legs, try a soap that’s a little more moist, or a liquid body wash if you use that instead of bar soap. I haven’t bought shaving cream since I was a teenager and I never have scrapes. All the chemicals in the cheap conditioners keep me away from going that route.

    I’d love to have cloth napkins, but all the ones I’ve seen in regular stores feel gross. I don’t sew so if someone can tell me where to buy decent 100% cotton cloth napkins, I’m on board.

    Also, how ironic that the hover ad for the bottled water paragraph in this article is for Arrowhead bottled water? Advertising is fine, but isn’t that a little weird?

  7. C.E.O.

    11/22/2009 at 10:42 pm

    Interesting the clothes method it goes both ways, its just the dryer ruins clothes faster when drying on the line, you need to hang it right or else that kind of thing i do both…

  8. Marlene

    11/29/2009 at 7:38 pm

    Put olive oil in a spray bottle in place of cooking spray!

  9. Linda

    12/7/2009 at 8:12 am

    I’ve reached a compromise on using a dryer. I partly dry clothes to get the wrinkles out, and finish drying them on hangers on a shower rod that I hung over the tub. This cuts drying time in half and keeps clothes newer looking longer, extending their life. I do dry sheets & towels fully since I have no outdoor drying space. In summer, I finish the drying on my outdoor patio instead of inside. Energy and cost savings – very little trouble – no ironing – win, win, win!

  10. Jessica

    12/22/2009 at 9:35 pm

    I think making excuses is what a lot of people end up doing. Sure finding space and time is harder than the alternative. People live in smaller, more cramped and just as rainy environments as you all over th world and live without a dryer. If you want to make it work you will. If you want to use your dryer that’s fine, but own up to it lol

  11. kbunny

    1/7/2010 at 6:16 pm

    as a cosmetologist, i have to disagree with the conditioner idea, yeah you might save a couple of cents, but the money you save there you will now spend on razors. They dull quicker, and they get gummed up, and the properties of conditioner will actually hinder healing time and/or cause inflamation/irritation if you happen to cut yourself. where as now shaving creams have ingredients in them to help healing, and avoid skin irritation, etc. i’d rather spend the 75 cents to get my barbasol. i just see too many men and women coming in to see me with skin irritations because they use conditioner instead of shaving cream. don’t get me wrong, there is something for everyone, but if someone experiences irritation from it, i always strongly recommend using shaving creams.

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