Wednesday 15 January 2014

The easiest money-saving trick ever!

I must confess to being a little nervous of writing this down.  It's not rocket-science, in fact it's probably the simplest thing you can do, but it really has made SUCH a huge difference to me that I had to share.

It occurred to me like a blinding light one night as I was glooping loads of cleanser onto a cotton wool ball, followed by drowning another cotton wool ball in toner so I could clean of the load of foundation I'd previously slathered on that morning.

I was literally throwing money away!  

Did you know that us Brits spend £14 million on toiletries each year? That's phenomenal!  But what if you could halve your cosmetic and toiletries bill? That would save you spondoolies right?  And then do the same with your household cleaning products?  And all sorts of other areas of spending.  That would be ace right?

The answer was glaringly simple.  I need to USE LESS!

Now, wait.  Before you click away thinking that's the most banal thing ever written, that's like saying 'how to save money: don't spend it', hear me out.

Take a look around your home right now.  How many products do you have? Bathroom cabinets stuffed with make-up; perfume; gels; spray and lotions. Kitchen cupboards with cleaning potions and laundry detergents...

Only the most committed eco-warriors will have the fortitude to give up products completely (yes, I'm looking at you Lucy with your awe-inspiring giving up shampoo shenanigans. By the way, do check out her amazing new thrift blog Wonderthrift).  

No, most of us still use lots of products in our daily life.  But how much do you really need to get the job done?

I was a serial dolloper.  A habitual ladler.  Pouring out products with gay abandon. I'm betting many of you do too.

I made the conscious decision the next morning to be more mindful about my usage, and poured out only half my usual amount of shampoo.  Then I squirted out half my usual helping of shower gel.  And guess what? The world didn't stop turning.  I came out clean and fresh, but with half the gloop used.  In fact, if anything my hair felt better.  Using too much can be counter-productive anyway.  We've all heard the expression 'product build-up'.  And what's the industry's answer to this?  Another product to clear it of course!

Most lotions and potions don't come with a dosage dispenser to show us how much to use.  Of course, if they did we'd all be screaming 'nanny state'.  But the reality is, brands want us to ladle this stuff out.  Of course they do, because we'll go back and buy more, quicker.

Modern beauty and cleaning products are incredibly effective, and you'll be surprised at how little you need to get the job done.

So, I carried this careful usage on with other things too.  Kid's toothpastes are marked 'use a pea-size amount', but it doesn't say that on adults so we (well I) tend to squeeze out a whole toothbrush length.  Our daily routines have become just that - a habit, almost a ritual - do I really need a squirt of perfume behind each ear, and one on my wrist for luck?

I guess you would call this mindfulness.  Changing my mind-set has really drastically reduced the volume of product I consume.  It just takes a little while to think about it consciously, and then you form a new, less wasteful habit and reduce the amount of money you're throwing down the drain.

Now, I'm not suggesting you adopt the old skool dad routine and stand outside the bathroom door bellowing "3 sheets is enough" to curb your household toilet roll expenditure - although the way kids use fistfuls of the stuff with every visit, that's perhaps not a bad idea!

But how great would it be not to have the cost of loads of bottles; jars and sprays in your trolley every week? Better still, you could do as Being Mrs C does and make sure you've used up all those unloved bottles languishing in the cupboard before rushing out to buy new ones. If you can just switch your mind-set and be more conscious and present, you can adopt it in all sorts of areas and save yourself loads of money.


Shampoo - Conditioner - Shower Gel - Bubble Bath - Talk - Moisturiser - Body Lotion - Toothpaste - Make-up - Make-up Remover - Hair Styling


Washing-up Liquid - Laundry Detergent - Surface Cleaner - Floor Cleaner - Bleach


Olive Oil - Butter - Condiments and Sauces - Kitchen Roll - Foil and Cling Film

So why not try it today?  Use half what you would normally.  I bet you won't notice the difference, but your purse will.  And the planet will thank you for it.

Other posts you might like:

Extreme Couponing and Mindful Shopping

30 Ways to Save £1

100 Easy Ways to Be a Thrifty Family Book Review


  1. Oh you are so so spot on there Liz and something that I'm doing at the moment too - even if I haven't really thought about it. I'm also taking it a bit more extreme with things like only washing my hair every other day. It doesn't really need washing every day and therefore I use half as much shampoo, conditioner and water (well bit more on the water as I do still shower daily) and also save the energy which I was using with the hairdryer every day. It also means on those non-hairwash days I can give myself five minutes more under the duvet!

    1. Ahh perfect! I've only recently started switching the shower off while I lather up, to save water. Mind you, I think that will be a bit easier when winter's over!

  2. Guilty as charged! I've just looked round my bedroom and there are LOADS of half used products that would probably last me months if I actually used them instead of buying more when something pretty...ahem.... throws itself in my basket.

    Fab post as always x @mummiafelice

  3. I think we're brought up with the mindset that more = better. It's hard to break that thought process but we've been working our way through my stash of cleaning stuff in the kitchen and our shopping bill is definitely smaller

  4. *hangs head in shame*
    You are totally right. This will be my new mantra!
    Thanks for the nudge x

  5. Pump bottles are a great way of saving shampoo or shower gel. One or two pumps is more than enough for a hair wash or shower, but just look at how much comes out of a bottle when you squeeze it. No surprise, many of us have to go and top up every other week x

  6. Wash powder is another thing I use less of than the recommended amount. I also mix it with soda crystals which are cheap in Home Bargains, so a large box of powder lasts me for months.

  7. Oh I so agree Liz!! We all just use tons out of habit! And then there are all those unfinished potions and lotions.. worth trying to use those all up too!

  8. Clever you! And using less oil will make you thinner too!

  9. Ha! I could write loads about this.Needs must and be being green I don't very few bottles of anything.I haven't used washing powder since last June for starters.

  10. I was just looking at the bathroom shelves this morning looking at the half used bottles of smellies that have been used and shelved in favour of another aroma. I'm making a stand, no more toiletries on my shopping list until we have used what we have!

  11. I have so many toiletries to use up before I need to buy any. It makes me feel very frugal using them all up. I'm going to challenge myself to use less shampoo, conditioner and shower gel now.

  12. A great idea Liz, Everytime I use something now I'm going to think of you lol. :-)

  13. My daughter is the worst for products, I'm happy with the ones I use but always feel I have to use the ones bought for me, even though I always say don't buy me these things, i have tried many products for my face cream and used them twice only but have finally found one that I like and will be sticking to, no more wasteful spending, brilliant idea and has made me think about my shampoo and shower gel usage x

  14. I love it! I am currently doing the same trick with food. If I eat a smaller portion I am still as full but taking in fewer calories and keeping my wallet happy!

  15. You are so so so right. Aaron's bubble bath is so expensive that a long long time ago I started rationing it - it really really works. I have about 25 bottles of various brands of body moisturiser. I think I should ladle them out so I can get rid of some of them LOL xxx

  16. Fool your kids and pour out half the product ( shampoo for example ) and fill up the bottle with
    good old fashioned water