When I bought my house in 2012 my budget became so tight I had to really come up with ways to save that were creative. My mortgage was $100 a month more than expected due to issues I had with property taxes that took over a year to resolve. My mortgage was roughly $500 when I expected it to be $400. Already, that was a big chunk of my $1,400 budget, and squeezing an extra $100 out was very hard. When I cried on the phone with the auditor who would not just FIX IT, she laughed at me. It was rough times. Of note – I appealed, took her to committee, and won, but it took almost a year.
Getting ahead financially on such a small income requires what I call a “death of a thousand paper cuts” in regards to finances. Yes, there are a few big things you can cut and feel amazing about. The low hanging fruit, cable and what not. After that? It’s much harder, and it’s a couple bucks here and a tenner there. Here is one way I cut costs over time that continues to this day.
First, I got rid of paper towels entirely. Walmart sells an 18 pack of white wash cloths for roughly $3. I bought two of those. These became my everything towels. My kitchen towels, cleaning towels, occasional sneeze towel. I gave up fancy matchy towels. I didn’t have place mats. I was – without being aware – practicing minimalism. I was also having very bad problems with my hands and arms as I had not had surgery at this point, so I was minimizing anything I had to do with my hands. I stopped folding towels. I don’t fold them to this day. It’s a waste of my time. At the rate I use and wash cleaning towels it’s ridiculous.
No paper towels, no napkins. Wasn’t so hard. Until your dog vomits or poops. Then what?
I had that moment of consideration.
Here is what I have learned:
If it’s solid, use a poo bag to scoop it up, then clean what remains.
If it isn’t solid: It is important to dry it out. How do you do this? Well, I save all my mailers/ads or paper bags I come across for this. For this purpose and also for draining bacon or fried food. Set paper on top of it and let it dry out, then scoop up and clean with towels. My friend has a set of towels she dedicates to DOGS ONLY. I don’t. I have decided it all comes clean in the wash. Look at me. Still alive six years later.
It’s pretty straight forward. Simplify by having only one kind of towel for 95% of uses. I have 4 bath towels for myself and the dogs and two hand drying towels for hanging for guests in the bathroom. The rest are all the white wash cloths. I do a couple loads of those a week and don’t fold them. I put them in a basket I mounted to the wall (Ikea $3) and then as I use them they go in a plastic bucket. I could have used a free bucket, but I wanted one that looked halfway decent in my kitchen so I bought a black recycle bin at Ikea for $3. It’s right next to the washer. Again, minimize and simplify. Life is hard enough when you are fighting life and health. Pick your battles!
A battle I did modify over time? Kleenex. I still don’t use it, but I can’t wipe my nose when I’m sick so frequently on terry cloth. UGH. So I had hankies/bandannas for years which worked better than terry cloth, but last year my friend offer me a stack of OsoCozy flannel baby wipes. SO GOOD.
Now these are one thing I do fold. It’s not necessary, but it serves that need for neatness and order inside me. I wash them in with the other towels, but picked up a portable plastic travel carrier for wipes at a thrift store for $0.25 and I store them in that. SEE. SO CUTE.
I cannot find the same one online, but this one is similar. They go with me all over my house, and if I’m ill, when I’m away. Super soft, wash well, excellent on the nose!
The next battle? TOILET PAPER. YEP. Over three years sans TP here in this house. Part 2 of paper reduction coming soon!