Save a buck, and the environment.

Everyone knows I am the World's Biggest Cheapskate. I will go to pretty great lengths (some that worry Mr. Meat and Potatoes) to save a buck. Last night I pulled some left over macaroni and cheese out of the garage fridge and when he saw it on the counter, he asked me three times if I thought it was still okay and made me try it first. IT IS FINE, I insisted. No way was I letting that big casserole pan of noodles and cheese go to waste.

As cheap as I am, though, it turns out I am not really big on coupons. Coupon cutting has never worked for me. I don't have the time or brains or energy, and certainly not the organizational skills to figure out all those deals that you can work at Walgreen's or CVS. Plus, I don't want to drive around to a bunch of different places just to get deals. I need to find ways to save money that work for me, or it's really not worth it at all.

These days, I have added diapers and formula to my weekly budget, and let me tell you, they take a fairly hefty toll. And I buy store brand. My friends are tired of me touting the benefits of store brand formula. Even with the great Similac ($5) coupons, it is still more expensive than the store brands at Dillon's, Target, and Wal Mart. And I don't have to keep track of coupons and sales. The store brands are ALWAYS cheap. And before you start biting your nails, or thinking of calling CPS because I AM ABUSING MY BABY by not giving him the most expensive formula available, let me just assure you: IT IS THE SAME. Store brand formula is just as good as name brand stuff, only almost 50 percent cheaper. Also, many of the big name brand formula companies have caught some flack for their heavy advertising in third world countries where the water supply might be contaminated - a practice not followed by the companies that make the store brand formulas, so I pat myself on the back as I buy it, because it is the ethical choice.

Still, the diapers and formula took a chunk out of my budget and I've been looking for new and exciting (yes, I need a life) ways to cut costs and make up the difference. Among the things I hate to pay money for are all manner of cleaning products. I mean, I hate to clean, so it feels like a poke in the eye to pay $7 for a product that I will loathe using. Not to mention the big plastic bottle that I have to recycle afterwards, and the general feeling of "Is this safe for baby?" I get when I spray Windex and 409 all over my house. I know you can buy "natural" cleaning products, but they are even more expensive than the traditional ones, and that really rubs me the wrong way.

Inspired by Urban Homesteading, I started making my own laundry soap a few months ago. And that was so cheap and easy, I wondered if I could go even further. We used to use Windex to clean our laminate floors, but we never liked the result. I switched to plain water in a spray bottle with a couple of drops of dish soap and voila! I got great results, didn't have to use a stinky chemical product, and I don't have to buy all that extra Windex.

Further inspired, I wondered if I could eliminate 409, and sure enough, I can. Into a reusable spray bottle, I put 3 C of hot water, 1/3 C Borax (which I already have because of the laundry soap) and 1/3 C vinegar. Squeeze a lemon in if you want to make it smell better. This stuff works great on my surfaces - kitchen counters, cabinets, sinks, inside the refrigerator, that sort of thing.

Instead of Comet, I mixed together a powder of baking soda and Borax which proves excellent for cleaning tub and toilet. I love it because I don't have to keep a million bottles under my sink. I can make it as-needed with products I always have in my house, in the amounts I need at that time. These cleaning products cost pennies on the dollar to the name brand ones.

None of this requires me to speak a secret coupon code, or weekly organize my coupons or buy products simply because they are on sale. I don't have to drive to different stores or add particular items to my grocery list. Plus, it's all a little eco-friendly. Maybe I am an Earth Mother after all.


Miles Bonny 12 years, 1 month ago

love the entry. Im in the same boat.. still need to dive into borax though..

FYI - Im not familiar with your personal situation.. but if the mother of the child is around and able.. breast milk is great and free. RE: Diapers - we used cloth,, and just washed them. Id be happy to help if you needed ideas - tips. contact me on the site.

respect, thanks again for the info - miles

Megan Green Stuke 12 years, 1 month ago

We're done breastfeeding. Did that for awhile, then the milk ran dry. ;)

Working mom/daycare = no way to do cloth diapers. So we just do the diaper thing as economically as we can and try to save the environment in other ways.

Aufbrezeln Eschaton 12 years, 1 month ago

If you go to the formula companies' websites, you can get some pretty damn good free samples mailed to you. Enfamil will send you like 2 full-sized cans. Totally free. Wal-Mart will send you a few days' supply of their generic, as well. Unless, of course, you're scared of OMG GIVING YOUR ADDRESS OUT TO A CORPORATION.

Megan Green Stuke 12 years, 1 month ago

Ha! Misty, you crack me up. No, I'm not scared of omg giving my address out to a corporation. My address is already plastered inside the database of every corporation known to man, I presume. I have a little online shopping habit. Because shopping in stores is HARD.

Meryl Carver 12 years ago

We're big on the vinegar and water too--it's a little salad-smelling, but fortunately the smell doesn't linger over-long.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.