Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Know the cost!

So often, when our family wants, or needs, something, I buy it without thinking first about the actual cost.  We eat bananas, so I buy them.  I don't pay any attention to the cost per pound and have no idea what a good price for bananas might be.  There are a few things I pay attention to, like cheese, but even if the price is higher, I buy it anyway!

I saw a speaker once who's message was that if you knew the total cost you were paying for something, you would have less of an over spending problem.  Let's do some super simple math as an example.  I want to buy something that is a dollar.  In our province, that means I will pay $1.13 with sales tax. BUT, I have to earn $1.28, so they can deduct income taxes first, to have $1.13 to buy the item worth one dollar.  Okay, I know this is a little example, but add a few zeros and you have to earn $1280 dollars to buy a $1000 couch...adds up!

In our new way of thinking, saving even a penny at a time, I have taken the time to do a cost break down on some things I spend on without thinking.  First Laundry.  We have three kids, a mom who spills and a dad who works in a job where he often gets dirty.  I wash atleast 10 loads per week, and thats a nice round number for easy math.  I have to use a special soap because of one child's excema.  I have to drive to a different store, across town, where the laundry soap is the only item I purchase, but I'm not even figuring in that cost yet!  I buy liquid soap for my HE front loader that washes 30 loads ( MAYBE, if none of them require extra soap!).  I wash in warm water, and dry them in my dryer.  The soap costs me $9 per bottle.  That means that I spend just three dollars a week on soap, and use about 1/2 a litre of it.  Running the dryer works out to about 70 cents per load. Thats $7 a week!!  So I spend $10 a week, just washing my clothes, but not including the cost of water, and heating it.  Wow, I never realized how much we spend simply washing clothes.  I already do some things to save in this area, like running full loads, drying on medium heat etc.  After doing the math, this does seem like a good area to cut some costs in.  First, I am switching to cold wash ( I know, I should already be doing this!).  Second, I will put up a clothes line next spring.  Until then, I will set the dryer to get the clothes almost dry, instead of very dry, and have the dryer running less time.  But the biggest cost saver I am discovering is this: I am going to make my own laundry soap.  I can buy a bar of laundry soap for $2( and customize the amount in it to avoid irritating skin), and then all I need is 1 cup of washing soda (cost...maybe 50 cents), and 1/2 cup of borax (cost maybe another 50 cents).  And this will make 10 gallons of soap!!!  I'll let you know how it goes!

The second thing I have done some quick math on this week is the milk program at school.  In the past I've always just written a check and been glad that I only have one kid to pay for.  The school charges 75 cents for the small milk.  This week, my mother in law wondered out loud if that was really a good buy, and I whipped out my calculator ( I already know I'm a dork).  I can send him the same amount of milk in a thermos for under 25 cents.  So, I think I'll skip the milk program.  Plus, sending a thermos lets me mix it up a bit for him so he doesn't have the same thing everyday.  I wait for the juice in bags, Del Monte for real juice, or Kool-Aid as a treat, to go on sale for under $2.  Kool-Aid I can often find for $1.50.  Those items are only 15 cents, or 20 cents to send.

A third thing we exercised our calculator fingers on was the cost of our hot tub.  If you have a hot tub, you may already know that the first two months or so you use less chemicals to maintain water, but by the third month, you start using alot more to maintain chlorine levels and cleanliness.  Averaged over a whole year, when we use it about 5 or more times a week, year round, it costs us $40 a month to heat it, and $20 a month in chemicals.  We love the hot tub, as a family thing to do, and to keep from feeling stiff and sore.  A total of $2 a day seems well worth it to us.  We spend way more on tv each month anyway!  But surely, there has to be a way to cut down the cost, right?  We realized that the first two months or so, it likely only costs us $10 a month for the chemicals we need, and the third or subsequent months would be $30 to $40! WOW!  But what does it cost to drain and refill the tub?  We got out our water bill, did some fancy figuring and realized that for our 1500 litre tub, it costs us $20.  I think we'll just change the water more often!!

Have you ever stopped to figure out some cost breakdowns? How about how long you have to work to earn the amount you spend in a certain budget area? I'd love to hear them!


  1. One thing I often think about if I'm hoping for a quick, cheap (but it's not that cheap anymore!) supper when we're in town is that our family eating at McDonalds is like an hour's worth of work for Duane (or more, depending!)!!!!!! Makes me think in a different light then! :) Great post! I'll be curious to know how the homemade laundry soap works and does with your girls' skin too! Good luck! - Carissa

  2. Buying bulk food. I was never a huge believer in the oversize boxes or cans. We tried it with some foods and realized it does save in the end.

    Also stop falling into commericalism. Instead of buying invidual packages of snack foods, ritz crackers, fruit cups etc I buy a large can or box and use my own containers...if you figure it out (I think I did it with fruit cups) it's amazing how much we spend extra on the packaging.


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