But it's also true that wherever such small savings are found, it's highly likely that more wasteful spending can be found as well.
And I'm not just talking about indulgences here. The truth is that most of us mindlessly spend money over the course of a month on many different, minor, everyday sundries, necessities and services we often could get more cheaply.... or even do without entirely.
And the cumulative effect of these small purchases can be much greater than we realize, particularly over time.
Before you know it, you're talking hundreds of dollars in unplanned or unconsidered outlays over the course of a year. And the vast majority of the time, these purchases add absolutely nothing to our quality of life.
Soap in the Old Days
Now, in the days when I was growing up, there was no such thing as liquid soap. We only had the option of bar soap.
And in my household there was only one choice for bar soap, and it was Ivory. It was the cheapest brand available then, as it often is now, so it was Mom’s obvious preference.
Given the size of our household, she bought it in very large bricks that I don’t think are even available any more.
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I have the very strong suspicion that even if the deodorizing or moisturizing soaps had been on the scene when we were kids, she would never have bought them; they would have been too fussy and perfumey for her practical sensibilities.
The problem with the bar soap, of course, was that it would melt, leaving behind an often dirty coating of soap residue all over the dish and eventually a piece of soap too small to be any use.
Naturally, being the frugal homemaker she was, Mom would collect all the soap remnants in a jar and attempt to melt them down to make usable bars again -- with varying degrees of success, I should add. Mostly, it was just an ugly mess, but that didn't stop her from trying.
Mom was not fond of the new liquid soaps when they first came out and continued that resistance even as they became the dominant product in the hand soap market. She felt these products were simply wasteful, expensive, ineffective, and bad for the environment.
Turns out she was right -- again
The expense problem is pretty obvious of course, with liquid soaps at least 30-35% more expensive than a bar soap of the same brand, as evidenced by the Jergens soap pictured below.
And the price difference is often much more than that, without even taking into account how much longer lasting the bar soap is.
But as to the rest, when I was younger, I pooh-poohed her attitude as old-fashioned and just “being Mom”. But now I have to say that there are many instances when liquid soap simply does not do the job I need it to do, and I actually prefer a bar of soap.
One case in point is when I am trying to wash suntan lotion off my hands so that I don’t inadvertently get it into my eyes. The liquid soap just doesn’t do it for me, whereas a bar soap removes it just fine.
So I find myself using bar soaps more often than I used to for their effectiveness.
Of course Mom was right about that, too.
And she was also correct about the wastefulness and resources required for manufacture that put liquid soap “on shaky ground” from an environmental perspective. It’s not hard to see the waste and chemicals that end up going down the drain every time dollops of liquid soap end up in the sink bowl rather than on our hands.
I don’t know about your household, but that happens in mine all the time.
Where Bar Soaps Shine
This is one reason I recommend using bar soaps whenever you can.
They can be used in place of costly body washes in places like the shower and bathtub for sure. But try them in other areas of the house as well, places where you may not have given it a thought just because liquid soaps are the norm.
There's really no reason you can't just use a bar in a soap dish any place you currently use dispensers.
But the truth is that liquid soaps are likely here to stay.
While the extra expense for them may be quite minimal in a family budget, it's always a wise practice to look for painless ways to save, and this is just such a case.
So here are my money-saving hints for this small, but essential household item:
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For starters, check out the generic or store brand for liquid hand soaps. They are typically available at a much reduced price compared to the name brands, as can be seen by the pictures below.
There's no need to throw it out and buy a new one each time. Fill up the dispensers with the much more economical soap sold in large containers intended for refill purposes.
As can be seen from the prices in the pictures below, these containers are substantially cheaper than the small dispensing bottles are, so just by taking this one step, you can save quite a bit of money over time.
Skip the fancy scents that can add to the price, as you can see from the store brand soaps pictured below.
Avoid buying antibacterial soap and skip the higher cost associated with them. Ignore the hype around them, as some kind of essential,better product. Plain soap does the job of cleaning just fine --- at a much lower cost.
The antibacterial soaps have the added disadvantage of containing antimicrobial (essentially antibiotic) chemicals, such as Triclosan, and more recently, triclocarbon. The addition of these and similar chemicals to soaps and hand sanitizers has only helped to promote antibiotic resistant bacteria in our environment.
So save yourself some expense and do our health a favor by turning a blind eye to this marketing ploy. Stick with the basic stuff.
For real savings, avoid the use of products labeled exclusively as hand soaps in the first place. Instead, I recommend doing as I have done for years -- using cheap brands of dishwashing liquid to refill your soap dispensers.
I’ve been using this money-saving strategy so long that I don’t give it much thought, but obviously I’m obviously onto something, since the dishwashing liquid manufacturers are themselves now marketing their products prominently as hand soaps as well as dish soaps.
But I figure if that happens, then I always have the option of putting the trusty bar soap back to use at every sink in my house. Nothing wrong with that at all. If it was good enough for Mom, I figure it’s certainly good enough for me.