With our current financial situation, I've been forced to get creative about certain things that I would normally choose to spend a little bit more money on. Some weeks, there has been enough money for gas to get my husband to and from work, and maybe pay a bill or two and not a lot else! So certain things that I never really considered "luxuries" (but if I'm honest w/myself, just aren't "necessities") are just not do-able sometimes. What do I do? What any other woman would do: adapt. Make do. Get clever. Here are some of the things I've done to avoid having to spend money unnecessarily! And the bonus is that all of these are more natural and better for general health as well as the environment!
Some of the products I've replaced:
SHAMPOO/CONDITIONER- I used to go through a ton of shampoo and conditioner. I'd say I probably bought a bottle of each at least once a month. I was an every day shampoo-er (unnecessarily as I've come to find out). I heard about using the baking soda and apple cider vinegar method from various sites, so I had to try it. Basically, you take a couple tablespoons of baking soda, add a little water to make into a paste, then massage into wet hair and scalp, rinse well and then add a 50/50 blend of water and apple cider vinegar (I use a squeeze bottle to squirt it onto my hair). You can get a box of baking soda for 50 cents and a gallon of ACV for $4 (it will last for months and months!) I will say that my hair and scalp rebelled for the first few weeks of not being washed every day, but eventually we adapted. (This one I actually started because of was tired of dumping chemicals on my head and didn't want to spend major bucks on organic shampoos and conditioners). I've been doing this for about a year now, so it's something I definitely recommend trying.
FACE CLEANSER- I just use a bar of Castile soap. I used to use Dr Bronner's, but recently I discovered Kirk's Castile Soap which I found for around $4 for a pack of three bars (at Safeway).
FACE SCRUB- I use a mixture of honey and granulated sugar. It's about a tablespoon of honey mixed w/about a teaspoon of sugar. (You can use more or less sugar depending on how "gritty" you want it.) You could probably experiment with different textures for exfoliating different areas...maybe use raw sugar for those rougher areas, or even ground almonds or something...
BODY WASH- Again, Castile soap. It's a switch the whole family has made and it works for everyone (including my sensitive four year old and almost two year old)!
FACIAL MOISTURIZER- Extra virgin olive oil. I put some in a small spray bottle in my bathroom and spray a little into my hands, rub together and apply to my face- I typically avoid my forehead just because I tend to get oily there- but it works great everywhere else! Plus, it's one of several natural oils that have SPF (about a 4). I discovered that one day when we had gone out to the public pool. My shoulders and arms got sunburnt, but not my face at all, and I realized I had moisturized w/the EVOO that morning.
EYE MAKE-UP REMOVER- More EVOO here! I just spray a tiny bit in my hand and dip a cotton swab, and apply over the eye area. A little goes a long way, so if you try this, use sparingly.
STORE BOUGHT LAUNDRY DETERGENT- I just made my first home made batch a few days ago, and I'm really happy with the results. I tried this recipe. And I used (you guessed it) Castile soap. Works great! (I add a few squirts of dish soap and a cup of vinegar to the wash- but I usually do that anyway).
DISPOSABLE DIAPERS- We switched to cloth several months ago, and I love it! I could use more supplies to have a larger stash (I pretty much wash every day), but I started with 12 AIO (all in one) diapers that I found for a steal on Craigslist. (The lady I bought them from had ordered online, and didn't specify the gender of her child- she has two boys- so ended up with 12 girly colors/designs- she asked $30 for all 12!) It was really overwhelming when I first decided to look into using cloth, and I thought it HAD to be expensive, but that just isn't the case. There are many frugal ways to start cloth diapering. Keeping your eyes open for deals on Craigslist or other sites is one way. I have a friend who folds receiving blankets into diapers and uses a waterproof cover. That's great way to use all those receiving blankets that don't get much use after the first three months!
Bonus: After the first month of using cloth, my husband came to me and said "thank you for making me buy these (hee hee)! I'm not sure how we would've managed this month if we had to buy diapers too."
BABY WIPES- I have about a dozen baby wash cloths that I use for this task. I make my own wipe solution as well. You can make it by combining two cups of warm water, a tablespoon of olive oil and two tablespoons of baby wash (I've even grated the Castile soap and melted it on the stove with a little water in place of the baby wash since we don't use it any more).
BABY POWDER- I know this only costs a couple bucks, and is something you only buy a few times when your baby is in diapers, but we were out and I wasn't in a position to run out to the store. I had corn starch on hand in the kitchen, so I had a bright idea. I used a butter knife to pop the top off the baby powder bottle, and funneled some cornstarch into the container. Voila! Baby powder. (I tried using it without the container before that, but it was really messy).
What ways have you found to avoid spending too much money in the "health and beauty" department? I'd love to hear your solutions!
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