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1.13.2009

The Name of the Game- Saving Money

That's what's on everyone's big to-do list lately. With the economy hurting the way it is and no end in sight, moms in particular are looking for ways to save money for their families. I myself have been working on this ever since I decided to use cloth diapers this past spring. In order to justify using cloth to my husband I worked out how much it cost us per year to use disposables, and how much we would save using cloth. That got the wheels spinning- what other areas of my life could I save money in? For starters, I just stopped buying junk. Like many other people, I was so caught up in consumerism for it's own sake (not to mention my slight impulse control problem)- the second I thought of something I wanted I would go buy it, and, even worse, when I saw something in the store I didn't even know I wanted, I would buy it. Keeping that in check, asking the simple question "do I need this?" has saved me a good amount of money. I have also cut out many disposable items both for the sake of the environment and for the sake of our budget. Think about the following items and ask yourself, "could I live without it?" Paper towels (I use rags made from old t-shirts and kitchen towels instead), napkins (I bought some really cheap but cute dish cloths for every day use), zip top bags (I'm still working on this one), paper plates and cups (even if you only use them occasionally).

I have also stopped using almost all store-bought cleaning supplies. Recipes for cleaning just about anything can be found on ehow.com using mostly baking soda and vinegar. Some other things I keep in my cleaning cupboard- Dr. Bronner's liquid and bar soap, Borax, Bac-Out (natural enzyme cleaner- great for diapers), natural, phosphate free dishwasher liquid (I did not love the homemade recipe I found for this), and ivory soap. Here's my favorite recipes; laundry detergent and diaper detergent (DO NOT use the laundry detergent for diapers!).

Laundry Detergent:

1 Bar Dr. Bronners or Kirk's Castille
1 C. Washing Soda **
1 C. Borax

**NOT baking soda- you can either order it online from Arm and Hammer, check and see if a local store carries it because some do, or check anywhere that carries pool supplies. PH + or PH up is Washing Soda. Just to be sure make sure the active ingredient is listed as sodium carbonate.

Cut the bar of soap into chunks with a knife (serrated works best) and chop in food processor until finely chopped (alternatively you can shred it on a cheese grater, but that can be time consuming and the shavings are a little big, so they sink to the bottom of the mix). Then add the borax and washing soda and pulse to mix. Tada! You have laundry detergent. It's a low sudsing detergent, so I believe (but do not know from experience) that you can use it in an HE washer. Use 1-3 T. depending on size and soil level of wash. I have used this mix for several months and have had no complaints- however some people have issues with dingy whites. I think this is common with hard water, and it helps if you add a little Calgon (or a generic counterpart).

Diaper Detergent:

1 C. Oxyclean Free (regular oxyclean has some detergent in it, which is fine but you may have more frequent issues with smellies and need to strip more often)
1 C. Washing Soda (see ** above)
1 C. Borax

Mix, and use 2T- 1/4 C depending on soil level and size of load.

Easy and economical, gotta love it!

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