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As we start month four of our 2013 budget resolution, I’ve noticed a very important change has taken place.

We have gotten much better at “making do” with what we have. Particularly in terms of household items that could easily, and pretty cheaply, be replaced just because we get tired of them or go through them unnecessarily quickly.

Sure, I’ll wear a pair of shoes until there are holes in the soles, and I’ve spent more than $200 on a purse just once in my life and plan to have it for decades. But I rarely blinked when it came to smaller things like shampoo or nail polish.

Here is where we’re making some of the biggest changes:

Using up the Toiletries
How often do you end up with samples, or even full bottles, of toiletry items that get pushed to the back of the cabinet, saved for guests (you tell yourself), or thrown away? Maybe you took home the lotions from a hotel stay, but realized you prefer your standby brand at home. Or bought a new kind of face or body wash and decided you really didn’t like it.

That seemed to happen to us all the time. And when a new bottle of soap is $4, it doesn’t seem like that big of a deal to just replace it — until you’re on a budget, with $75 to spend on household-related goods each month, and it’s going to be either that soap or restocking the kitchen trash bags. As a specific example, even though I am a sworn Dove bar soap girl (and ONLY Dove) we bought a bottle of liquid body wash to take with us on our honeymoon because it’d be easier to repack and take to our different hotels. The old me would have buried it away when we got home, but instead I made my way through the full bottle before going back to the bar. We’re also using hotel toiletries for when we travel, finishing up a bathroom cleaner we bought even though we decided it’s not the best, and looking for ways to stretch those household dollars.

Oh, how I’ve missed you!

Taking Stock of my Makeup Collection
I’m not too picky about makeup, but I do have a few favorites. I’m comfortable with brands like Clinique, Maybelline and Cover Girl, and stick mainly to the basics of eyeliner + mascara and some tinted lip balm. But when cleaning off my dresser a few months ago, I realized I have accumulated SO MANY makeup items that I never used. They ranged from free samples, to gifts from friends and sisters, to things I’d purchased and forgot about. They also included about a million brands of lip gloss, which, like rabbits, do tend to reproduce at a staggering rate.

So I’m branching out and trying new kinds of makeup and brands, because I have them. I’m working those myriad shades of lip gloss into my rotation. And when my favorite eyeliner in the world runs out, I’ll try a pencil that is brand new and has been sitting in my makeup case. (Ok, in that case I did restock the eyeliner, because good eyeliner is hard to come by. But now I intersperse it with the pencil collection I’ve somehow built up). I’m also more in tune with the free samples that come in magazines, pulling them out to supplement my own stash. I’ve gotten many days worth of BB cream for free that way!

Taking Care with the Paper Goods
Another major area of improvement is that we are now much more judicious with the paper towels, and other similar household goods. We use cloth dishtowels more often to clean up spills and wipe our hands. We clean the counters and bathroom fixtures with rags and sponges. And we put our nightly cookie dessert into little bowls, instead of on napkins, to catch the crumbs. Good for the environment and our wallets.


This has been a very positive impact of our budget. I hadn’t realized how wasteful we’d been, and feel good now that we can use what we have and throw away things only when they’re empty. Waste not, want now, the cliche goes. And so far, we’ve been able to hit our household budget every month.

Please tell me I’m not the only one who uses way too many paper towels?!?!