Stretching Cents: Substitutions

One of the most fun things about saving money (yes, it can be fun) is getting creative about stuff. We live in a consumer country, where marketing would have you believe that you need one tool for each specific outcome you seek. 

Well, I'm here to tell you that one-trick-ponies, or single-use tools, are a waste of your money. Fight the system and get creative- as our forebears did, especially during times of lack and recessions- and you'll save lots of money in the long run.


Instead of shaving cream, use the bath foam/liquid soap that you already have (or make yourself).
The concept is the same: creating a lubricating barrier to protect your skin while cutting off the hair. Shaving cream does nothing special (you still need to moisturize your legs after shaving), and creates extra waste and costs you more. 
Don't use liquid soap or bath foam? You can use shampoo or conditioner!

Instead of cleansers, which can get pricey as well as toxic, use white vinegar solutions and bleach solutions. 
You don't need chemicals created in the lab to clean surfaces, and you certainly don't need different cleansers for toilets, bathtubs, surfaces, and windows. Diluted vinegar and diluted bleach (separately, NOT TOGETHER) will break down and disinfect all germs in your home. Plus, they're both affordable, even cheap in large quantities, and a little bit goes a long way.

Instead of paper towels, use scraps of old T-shirts, baby diapers, sheets, and towels. 
Those cloth items may be falling apart at the seams, but their weave is still good enough to use (again and again) with simple cleansers. They can save you money (and help save the planet) by reducing the waste accumulated by paper towels and other one-use items (like Swiffer pads). They don't even need to be thoroughly washed after use- just soak and slightly agitate them in boiling hot water and hang dry. (You can even make these into re-usable menstrual pads, saving you TONS)

Of course, substitutions are only as good as your priority of them. I, for one, can't yet transfer from disposable facial tissues to a hanky. But other things, like substituting bulk-bought lentils for ground meat in some dishes, I'm all over. Or using a toaster oven instead of our big oven or microwave for cooking things. 

What it boils down to is thinking 'outside the box'. Research, ingenuity, and rejecting the concept of using one tool for one project, will save you money. 

*Most of these images are not my images, and are used to present a visual correlation to ideas. Please don't sue me. :)

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