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Avoid frugal flops

By on June 26, 2011

Frugal strategies can cost you. They don’t always work equally as well for everyone. It’s easy to justify buying or doing things when you believe it’s going to help you to save money later. You can fall into a trap and make poor decisions all in the name of frugality. Frugality isn’t an all-or-nothing lifestyle. Pick and choose what works best for you or adjust strategies to fit your life.
What frugal failures have you experienced?
Here are three common flops shared by readers.



One reader, C.M. from Illinois, shares: “I tried to make laundry detergent. The recipe said it was supposed to become gel-like. It didn’t. It ended up being discolored water with yellow chunks floating on the top. Needless to say, we didn’t use it.”

–Get recipes from a trusted source.

If using a website, look for recipes that include ratings, reviews and photos if possible. Because results can and do vary, always test a small, inconspicuous area or a rag first, too. If interested in a homemade laundry soap recipe (liquid and dry versions), visit

–Explore your options.

You might discover that buying laundry soap when it’s on sale coupled with coupons is the better way to go, or you might enjoy options such as soap nuts ( or Charlie’s Soap (


This type of buying is impulsive and often leads to buyer’s remorse. Another reader, Michelle from California, admits: “I love garage sales for the money they have saved me. However, they have also been my downfall along the way, as I have made the occasional errors in judgment and purchased items I didn’t need and/or ended up not using. One mistake was clothing items purchased one or two years ahead of time for my 9-year-old daughter, who decided she didn’t like them once they finally would
fit. They have been or are being garage-saled again.”

–Ask yourself the following questions prior to purchasing:

Do I need it? Will I use it? Is there room for it? Can I borrow this? How long will it last? Can I do without it? Can I find a better price? Are there negative consequences?


The concept is great, but it’s not the most practical or useful solution for all families. Many people have bought products such as juicers, dehydrators, canners, food sealers and meat slicers. They don’t use them often enough to justify buying them. Maybe you don’t have the time, or it’s not as cost-effective for you as it is for someone else.

–Consider your resources.

Such as whether you can buy appliances secondhand or have a source for inexpensive food. Know your limitations, too. Maybe instead of a large-scale bulk-cooking session, you can cook once and eat twice, such as making a large pot of soup or spaghetti sauce or a big pan of lasagna. Another reader, Jessica from Washington, shares: “My family started getting sick of casseroles. I have found that instead of making ‘heat and eat’ meals, I try to do a lot of the prep work and freeze the ingredients. Then all I have to do is throw it together the night we’re eating it. For instance, instead of freezing a big pot of chicken and dumplings, I fill a quart-sized bag with shredded chicken. Another small bagful of chopped carrots, celery and onion, and some poultry seasoning and flour. Another baggie with homemade chicken broth. I store all of these little bags in a larger bag in the freezer. When it’s time to make the meal, I just heat some oil in a pot, toss in the veggies and saute them briefly. Then I throw in the chicken and chicken broth and bring it to a boil. Then I make up some dumplings (or use refrigerator biscuits) and plop them in. A fresh, homemade meal that doesn’t taste like it came out of the freezer.”

photo by


  1. michael

    11/13/2011 at 9:57 pm

    the dry laundry powder works awesome.

  2. Cindy

    1/15/2012 at 2:17 pm

    I agree with Michael. The dry laundry detergent works GREAT and has saved our family a lot of money. Laundry detergent here, on sale, is $5 for only 32 loads. I only pay a fraction of that with the homemade laundry soap. I think you should find a picture of something that actually is a flop.

    • heather

      3/18/2012 at 9:41 pm

      i agree with the two above me. i have saved alot of money with powder laundry soap. it is easy to make and easy to use. i do not think that recipe is a flop at all. you should pick another recipe/picture

  3. Valerie

    4/16/2012 at 6:36 pm

    I have been making the homemade liquid detergent for several months now. It does come out off colored water with floating chunks of “SOAP”. This coloring is due to whatever type of soap you used. This consistency issue is caused by there not being enough bar soap being grated for the amount of liquid (hot water) being used. If this happens again then you just take a wood dowel rod or old broom handle to mix up, stir the solution to blend the soap back into the water. Then you can use a cup per load and of course you can pretreat stains with liquid dawn soap before you wash.

  4. Michele

    4/25/2012 at 8:27 pm

    The flop might have been not heating the grated soap until it fully melts into the water. I have made detergent for a while now and never had a bad experience but have friends who have. They all made the same mistake, not heating the original 4 cups of water and grated soap to the point they are well incorporated. I buy my soda, borax, and bars on sale and figure my 4 gallon batch costs $0.64. Can’t beat that!

  5. denise robinson burton

    6/2/2012 at 10:37 pm

    I make the dry home made laundry soap. Wonderful!!!!!

  6. Noel

    6/25/2012 at 11:23 am

    It all depends on the water in your area! Home made laundry soap doesn’t clean anything for me. It’s greyed and dingy looking. Smells great, just doesn’t get clean. But I shop the sales, last year I got detergent for taxes, as I had found some great coupons. Can’t beat .21 for 40 loads.

    I have the same issues with commercial dishwasher detergent. Liquid/Gel Cascade doesn’t do anything for my dishes, yet powdered works great. When I called the 1-800 line, the said it depends on how hard the water is, powdered does better with the hard water, then they gave me a coupon for a free product.

    So the recipe might not be bad, it just doesn’t necessarily work with your water.

  7. Jill Ozuna

    8/3/2012 at 4:21 pm

    I use a dry powder homemade laundry detergent using borax, A&H washing soda and felsnaptha. It has saved our family tons of money and is very easy to make, he friendly and very effective. I use the same recipe omitting the felsnaptha for dishwasher detergent but I rarely use the dishwasher. I use my own homemade scented vinegar for water softener that works great and smells amazing. Your picture of fops is misleading and just plain wrong.

  8. Misty

    10/19/2012 at 8:31 pm

    I been making gel laundry soap for a long time now and have never had it not turn out right. It is very important to make sure your have shaved the soap and added to boiling 4 cups of water slowly so it melts smoothly not clumpy.

  9. Sara

    4/23/2014 at 6:29 pm

    I make a dry laundry soap with the very ingredients pictured above and it works just fine. I don’t do it to save money. I do it to avoid unnecessary chemicals on myself and the planet.

  10. JTD

    6/6/2014 at 6:48 pm

    You’re making things needlessly complicated, listen…
    What you do is go to these dollar stores–the real deal where “everything’s a buck”–and buy your soap bars there (some can be had for 3 for $1)and of course a big jug of bleach, a box of dishwasher detergent, etc. Just try and get these things for a dollar at a supermarket chain…you won’t.

  11. bjr

    3/21/2015 at 5:28 pm

    The liquid homemade laundry soap works great for me and I use the recipe as shown in your picture.

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