Use Less and Save Money! 25 Things You Can Cut Your Use in Half

dollar cut in half

You are using far too much of far too many things and you probably don’t even realize it. Most of it is simply out of habit although a good portion of it has it’s roots in commercials. No matter what the cause, becoming aware that you may be needlessly wasting money by using too much gives you the opportunity to examine the way you currently use things and see if you can get the results you want without using quite so much.

The key to remember is that there is not an exact amount that is correct for many of these items. You will need to experiment a little to figure out exactly how much is needed so that they perform the task they are meant for without using too little or too much in the process. Some you may be able to cut far more than half while others mat not quite reach that point. You may even find that you don’t need to be using some of these things at all.

While many of these may seem almost inconsequential by themselves, when combined together they can add up to some serious money. Give at least some of the suggestions a try and you may find that you get the exact same results that you have been getting while spending a lot less.

Food Portions

I didn’t realize how huge the food portions are in the US until I moved to Japan. Upon return, it was hard to believe that I had once assumed that the amount served at most meals seemed normal. The truth is that most meals, especially if you go out to eat, have far more food on them than is needed. If you grew up in a household where it was expected that you clean off your plate, this can be a difficult one to adjust to but not only is it a healthy choice, it’s one that can save you quite a bit of money. Take the leftovers and use them for another meal or two saving you the cost of paying for those meals.

Printer Ink

The people who make printer ink seem to believe that it’s as valuable as gold, and they make you pay a comparable amount for it. This is especially true with color ink. The truth is that you don’t need to be using nearly as much as you probably are. The first step is to change your printer settings so it only prints in monochrome instead of color unless you specifically want to print in color. The next is to set it in draft mode for all your printing for yourself — you can then switch it to full mode when printing important letters or documents. These simple steps can make your ink last twice as long. There are also a lot of other ways to save money on printer ink.


The truth is that you probably don’t need to be taking vitamins at all (if you are eating healthy), but even if you still want to take them, you don’t need to consume nearly as many as you are. Instead of individual vitamins, you can get a good multi-vitamin and then even cut that in half. All those high dose vitamins aren’t staying in your body — you are simply ensuring that you have really expensive pee when you go to the bathroom. Here are some additional ways to save money on vitamins.


Chances are you are using a lot more water around the house than you need to be using. Simple changes such as making sure that you turn off the water while brushing your teeth or shaving instead of letting it run can save a huge amount of water. It’s also good to go around the house to see if there are any leaks or dripping faucets. Here is a list of a more actions you can take that will significantly cut your water use.

Over The Counter Medicine

The classic example of this is Alkiseltzer. The recommended dossage for Alkaseltzer was one, but when they put out their “Plop Plop Fizz Fizz” commercial, they noticed a huge increase in sales. People that were watching the commercial automatically assumed that the correct dossage was two due to the commercial and were using twice as much as they needed. While such instances are great for the finances of the medicine manufacturer, they mean you’re paying twice as much. You will notice that most over the counter medicines give you a maximum amount to take — that doesn’t mean you need to take that amount to get relief. Instead of automatically taking the maximum amount, try a lower dosage and see if that works. It’s important to note that this is for over the counter medicines — the prescriptions from your doctor should be taken exactly as advised.


We were never really meant to drink 10 apples all at once. The fact is that 100% juice is a lot stronger than you need to drink. While watering down your juice in half will taste a bit strange at first (simply because 100% juice is all you have known), if you can keep it up a couple of weeks you should become accustomed to the taste and be completely satisfied with it. Start children off with half juice and half water and they will never have an issue since they don’t know any different. Even better, quit the juice habit all together. While juice is probably better than soda, it’s still an expensive habit and water would be even better for you.


It isn’t the cutting of whiskers that dull the blades of razors, but rather corrosion from air and water. With some simple care, you should be able to make the blades last twice as long as they currently do and thus use half as many. Once you are done shaving, you want to shake out all the excess water and pat dry the blade. When storing, keep the blades face down (so that if there is any excess water, it drains out rather than sits) and then place the blade outside the bathroom where there isn’t any steam (if others use the bathroom to take showers and steam it up, and the razor is there, it will get wet again). For those interested, you can see what engineers have to say about extending razor blade life and how to save money on razors.

Shaving Cream

In addition to using more razors than you need to be using, you’re also likely using more shaving cream than you need by placing a thick layer on your face or legs. A thick layer of shaving cream doesn’t make the shave any closer. In fact, all you need is a thin layer of shaving cream. If you want a close shave, the best way you can do this is to shave twice. Shaving two times with thin layers of shaving cream will give you a much closer shave and still use half the amount of shaving cream that most people normally use.

Perfume and Cologne

Most of us want to smell good, but the use of an overabundance of perfume is a classic case of “too much of a good thing.” It really takes very little perfume or cologne to be effective. Part of the problem is that most people get used to the same smell so they put on more perfume or cologne. Wearing too much may also be a sign of depression. Instead of going by smell, put on the fragrance by amount so that you don’t put too much on. Most people, especially those with allergies, don’t want to smell you coming a mile away or to be like “way too much cologne man.”


A lot of people still don’t realize that many of their electronics consume electricity even when they are tuned off (called phantom electricity). By getting outlet strips, you can completely turn off these devises and save the electricity (and money) that was silently being thrown away.


Despite what many women obviously think, the more makeup used does not equate into making you look more beautiful. The important thing is to use the correct makeup in the proper proportions. One of the wisest investments a woman can make is to attend makeup classes to determine the correct colors and color combinations for their skin. While this may be an initial upfront cost, determining the correct makeup and colors can save thousands of dollars over a lifetime by ensuring that the makeup purchased doesn’t go to waste on makeup that doesn’t suit them. The lessons will also help you learn to place on the correct amount so that the makeup used lasts longer.


This is a tough one for many because nobody wants to smell bad. It’s actually because of the fear of smelling that you’re likely putting on much more deodorant or antiperspirant than you need. You also need to realize that you will need less during certain seasons and don’t need to always use the same amount. Figuring out how much you need probably shouldn’t be tested when you have an important meeting, but on a day when you won’t be around a lot of people. Once you find out the correct amount, you won’t have to be purchasing deodorant or antiperspirant nearly as often as you do.

Liquid Soap

There’s an impression that the more times you hit the pump on the liquid soap dispenser, the cleaner your hands will be when you wash them. The truth is that you can reduce the amount of liquid soap used by 90% or more and you will still get your hands plenty clean. All you really need is a tiny drop. Even the liquid soap manufacturers know this. You know the foaming soap? It’s nothing more than a small amount of the liquid soap mixed with water (Pour a tablespoon of liquid soap into an empty foaming soap dispenser — the spout is different so this is important — and then fill the rest with warm water leaving a bit of space at the top. Put on the lid and shake.) The foaming soap gets your hands clean showing how little of the liquid soap you really need.

Dryer Sheets

Sticking a full dryer sheet in with your clothes when turning on the dryer is simply a waste. You can cut the dryer sheets in half and should not see any difference with the clothes when they are dry. Chances are you can reduce it even more by cutting them into thirds or even quarters. Experiment to see what works best for your clothes, but chances are it’s a lot less than you are currently using. You can even eliminate them all together by making your own dryer sheets


Like many other household products, there’s an impression that the more cleaning product that you use, the cleaner whatever it is being cleaned will become. Unfortunately, this theory doesn’t hold up in practice. All you need to do is use enough to get the job done and any excess used in the process is simply wasted. There are also a lot of homemade cleaner recipes that can reduce cleaning costs even more.


This is another product where the commercials entice you to use much more than you really need to. Pay attention the next time a toothpaste commercial comes on TV. take a look at how much they swirl on the toothbrush. Even though you likely don’t use as much toothpaste as they use in the commercials when you brush your teeth, the subconscious image probably has you putting more toothpaste on your toothbrush than you really need. Experiment until you find the right amount that does the job for you and chances are it’s much less than you are currently using.

Fabric Softener

When you place fabric softener in your washing machine, chances are that you fill the measuring cap to the top. If you do this, then you’re using too much. The exact amount you need to use depends on the softness you want for your clothes, but it’s usually possible to cut the amount in half and still not notice any difference. For those who want to save even more, you can make your own fabric softener.


Most of us tip over the shampoo bottle and give a good squeeze so that we have our palm filled with shampoo. In doing so, you end up using much more shampoo than you need. Much like liquid soap, you really need only a few drops of shampoo to wash your hair. Chances are that you’re also using much more expensive shampoo than you need to be using.

Hair Conditioner

Just like shampoo, squeezing out a bunch of hair conditioner to fill the palm of your hand ends up using much more than you need. A little experimenting should quickly give you the perfect amount needed to condition your hair the way that you want so that you don’t use more than you have to in the future. As with shampoo, you are likely using conditioner that is much more expensive than you need.


Many people use a lot of mouthwash because they want their breath to smell good. The truth is that it really doesn’t take a lot to do this and using too much can have some bad consequences. The problem is that using large amounts of mouthwash can kill all the bacteria in your mouth which you don’t want to do. For those that feel that they have a bad breath problem, investing in a good tongue cleaner may be much more effective than using more mouthwash than needed.

Laundry Detergent

Many people grab the laundry detergent measuring cup and scoop out the heaping cup full when doing a load of laundry. This is a huge waste of detergent. If you look closely at many of the cups, the maximum you are supposed to use is actually less than the size of the full cup. The manufacturers know there is a tendency for people to use a full cup. so they make them bigger so that you use more (and then need to buy more of their product). Washing machines have become much more efficient over the years and most need much less detergent to get clothes clean than what you’re likely using. This is especially true if your clothes don’t get heavily soiled. Experiment to find the correct amount you really need to get your clothes clean. You will probably be surprised that it’s half of what your currently using. For those wanting to save even more money, you can make your own laundry detergent.

Dishwashing Soap

It really doesn’t take much dishwashing soap to fill a sink with bubbles, and you definitely don’t need a huge squirt of the bottle. The same is true when putting dishwashing liquid directly on a sponge. A few drops will be just as effective as a huge squirt, but end up costing a lot less over time as you save a bundle using a fraction of what you have been using .

Skin Care Creams

Anti-aging creams are a huge business and the jury is still out as to whether or not they work. There is often the assumption that using more will get better results and because these creams tend to be quite expensive, it can mean a lot of money wasted during the year. Read the directions carefully and you will likely find that you tend to use more than is needed.


In many ways, we have become a germ phobic nation and the result is that most of us use much more disinfectant than we needed. Every inch of the surface doesn’t need to be covered with a layer of disaffected to be effective. While it’s certainly worth it to keep surfaces germ free, this can be effectively done with far less disinfectant that most people use. instead of squirting away, read the directions on the bottle and you may be surprised to learn how little you need for the disinfectant to be effective.

Body Soap

For those that use liquid body soap instead of a bar of soap, chances are that you’re wasting a lot of it. Think about how little of the bar of soap you use when washing your body. It really doesn’t take much to create enough suds to wash your entire body. All you need to achieve the same cleanliness is to use the same amount of liquid body soap which is likely a lot less than the full palm full that most people use.

And One To Use More

While this article is about products that you likely use too much of, there is one product that it’s better to use more of than make the mistake of using too little. That product is sunscreen. In order to get the full SPF protection listed on the sunscreen, you need to apply 1 oz of sunscreen which is about the amount needed to fill a shot glass. Studies have shown that most people apply only a quarter to half this amount meaning that they aren’t getting the protection they think they are. The other issue is that many people apply sunscreen once believing that is all they need to put on all day. In reality, it’s necessary to reapply sunscreen every two hours or so for it to remain effective. If you need any reminder why sunscreen is so important, watch the video below:

(Photo courtesy of Images_of_Money)

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10 Responses to Use Less and Save Money! 25 Things You Can Cut Your Use in Half

  1. benny says:

    Loved the way too much cologne video. I know way too many people like that. I guess it’s time for me to suck it up and start using a bit less than I have been.

  2. trish says:

    We, as a society, use far too much. We are killing the environment as we waste, waste, waste. The issue is that the manufacturers make it far too easy for us to waste and it is in their best interest for us to do so. If we do, they earn more money. I wish people would learn to enjoy a simpler lifestyle using less and enjoying life more. Such a shame that most people will read this article and say “great idea” and then do nothing to change their habits.

  3. Americans certainly do not know when enough is enough. We always think more is better!

  4. pen says:

    good article, I will read the directions on the container to see what the recommended amount is, and tend to use that amount. As you pointed out, this is often more then is truly needed, and commercials will show people using far more then the recommended amount.

  5. frugal gal says:

    One item you didn’t mention is feminine protection. :) Landfils are filled with the by-products of women’s monthly cycle. We can cut down this waste enormously AND save money for ourselves by using reusable products such as the Diva Cup. I’ve been using a Diva Cup for over 4 years now – a one time purchase of about $27 – and I won’t need to buy another one for 5 or 6 more years! It’s really pretty easy to use and to clean – and fits in even a small purse quite easily.


  6. Pingback: Carnival of Financial Planning – Personal Finance Edition #223 - 20's Finances | 20's Finances

  7. Marianne says:

    We do a lot of these things and haven’t really noticed them. Most of them I grew up doing- my mom always had us rip the dryer sheets in half and I use much less laundry soap than the bottle tells me to. When my mom taught me to make juice, she taught me to use 4 containers of water rather than three like the instructions say. I didn’t realize any of them were ‘frugal’ things until after I moved out and saw the things others did.

  8. allison says:

    If people are actually filling their entire palm with shampoo and conditioner, I can only imagine how quickly they are going through bottles. I have a hard time thinking anybody uses that much…

  9. Mary E.S. says:

    On saving water,I save the bath water from my childs bath and use it to flush the toilet and in the summer months to water my vegtables.A added effect from the soap in the bath water deters bugs from munching on my veggies and I don’t have to buy pesticides.

  10. Rusty says:

    This is a really great post and is very though. A lot if the item I never thought of.

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