Measure Everything: Strange Ways To Save Money

How many times have you just dumped detergent in the washing machine, or grabbed a swig of cough medicine without measuring? This may be quick and convenient, but likely you are wasting money and product by not measuring. Some products make it easy to measure the correct amount. Detergents, for example, come with measuring cups in the caps. Other products, like food, offer serving size information, but it’s up to you to determine how much that is. Others offer suggested amounts like, “A quarter-sized dollop.” These can be confusing, so you need to do some comparisons.

The more you measure, the more aware you are of how much you are using. Armed with that information, you can make products last longer and save money on the things you use. You can also try using less than the suggested amount and determine if the results are acceptable. What products can you make last longer or reduce consumption of if you measure? Here are some ideas.

Laundry detergent and liquid fabric softener: These products have caps that double as measuring cups and instructions on how much to use for various sized loads. Rather than just filling the cap to the top, take the time to figure out exactly how much you need. You can even try using less than the recommended amount, as sometimes even that is too much.

Mouthwash: Like detergents, most mouthwashes have measuring lines in the caps. Use this guide rather than pouring the mouthwash directly into the bathroom cup or swigging from the bottle.

Electricity usage: You can measure the electricity usage of your appliances and gadgets with devices such as the Kill-A-Watt meter. You plug your device into the meter and it tells you how many kilowatts it uses. This can clue you in as to which devices are power hogs and need to be turned off when not in use, which devices might be malfunctioning, or which devices should be replaced with more efficient models.

Food: Most foods tell you how much constitutes a serving size on the nutrition label. Yet few of us heed that information. We fill our cereal bowls to the top or eat chips by the handful. But when you know what 1/2 cup of cereal or a serving of chips looks like, you use far less food. Not only does this save you money, it keeps weight gain at bay.

Medicine: Liquid medicines like cough syrups and stomach remedies have measuring lines in the caps. Follow the dosing instructions so you don’t use more than you need. Don’t be like the guy I used to work with who simply swigged Mylanta from the bottle eight times a day. Not only will you save money, you’ll prevent an accidental overdose.

Cleaning products: Some cleaning products tell you to mix a certain amount per gallon of water. Don’t just dump the product and water together. Measure it out. If you don’t need that much, use your math skills and figure out the proper reduction. For products that give no instructions, try using small amounts at first and work up if the results aren’t desirable.

Health and beauty products: Things like toothpaste or shampoo frequently offer measurements in terms of “pea sized” or “quarter sized” amounts. This is often much less than what the average person uses. Put the product next to the comparison item to see what a proper amount really looks like.

Pet food: Don’t just fill your pet’s bowl with food. All pet foods offer recommended amounts based on the weight of the animal. “Feed X cups/cans per ten pounds of body weight” is a common instruction. Know your pets’ weight and follow the feeding guidelines. Not only will you save money, but your pet will get the optimal amount of nutrition and not gain weight.

Even once you’ve become comfortable with the correct amount of product to use and you feel like you can just “eyeball” it, try to measure it again every once in a while. Manufacturers change the packaging and measuring caps get bigger and smaller, meaning your old “eyeballed” amount might be off in the new package. Invest in some good measuring cups and spoons and measure the products you use. You’ll save money and prevent other complications.

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5 Responses to Measure Everything: Strange Ways To Save Money

  1. Janet says:

    To follow up on your ideas about food: just shop the outside of a grocery: produce, fish and meat. Then you’re guaranteed to be eating healthy meals, not processed crap.

  2. Aleta says:

    Recently on Yahoo they said you could basically use just half of what the product instructs and your clothes will come just as clean.

    Another good measurement to watch out for are items in the produce section that are sold in bags, i.e. apples,carrots,etc. One day I was choosing from bags of apples and noticed that some weighed more than others. Your bags are not going to be exactly 5 lbs.

  3. Minny says:

    It is true about using less detergent. The agitation is the major cleaning factor. As an experiment I started using just over half the amout on the pack. I have not gone back, clothes are just as clean!

    Aleta is right too, I weigh in my hand then compare on the scales. The difference can be up to 50 gramms.

  4. Melanie says:

    Yep, I only use 1/2 the detergent in my washer than is recommended. My clothes still smell fresh & clean. If a particular item didn’t get as clean as I need, it will go back through with the next load. But that hardly ever happens.
    I *hate* spending money on laundry detergent and through the use of coupons & rebates, I spend very little. Even with 6 people in our house.

  5. marcella says:

    I hate paying for laundry detergent too, but my problem is the fragrance they put in the “Free” that was really free of scent. Has anyone made their own and does it save money. I also hate the price you have to pay for toilet paper. Is there a way to save on it?

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