Thursday, April 10, 2008

Fighting the recession

Lately I've noticed how expensive things have gotten. I paid $8 for an average sized container of hot chocolate recently.

So meet the new Frugaltails. I've decided to at least investigate ways of trimming our cost of living. We're kind of picky and I'm sure some of these things will not work for our family but at least I'll be able to say I tried.

Experiment 1: Dog Biscuits

Sydney eats Milk-bones. Actually she eats anything, but we buy her Milk-bones as snacks. Milk-bones are pricey and she gets 3-5 a day - one every time we leave her alone, and very often, one to get her to come inside and stop yapping.
I scanned the web and found this recipe (Basic Dog Treats). The result - 250 very tasty little heart-shaped biscuits. I haven't actually calculated the cost, but I'm sure it's MUCH less than Milk-bones. (And Gavin claims that, if I added a little salt, he would eat these too.)

Experiment 2: Laundry Detergent

If you scan the web you will come across many, many "recipes" for homemade laundry soap. Some are dry mixes and some gooey stuff you have to store in LARGE buckets.
I chose to try a dry mix.
The ingredients are:
1 bar Fels Naptha soap, grated
1 c Borax
1 c Washing Soda
1/4 c OxyClean
It says to use 1 tablespoon per load, but I've been using 2.
I've only done 3 loads using this and haven't determined the long-term results yet.
I estimated the cost and it doesn't actually seem cheaper than the big Costco buckets of detergent, but I don't have the exact results yet.
Stay tuned.
(After taking the photo I put everything in the food processor because the yellow soap didn't seem to mix well with the other ingredients. It helped a little.)


  1. Dog biscuits are a great place to save money because they are pretty cheap to make and so much better for the pooch.

  2. great ideas for saving money. I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts on the laundry soap once you use it for a bit longer.

  3. Love the dog biscuit idea. And the idea of detergent... let us know how that goes!

  4. I have made laundry soap based on the recipes I found on the web as well. Being a little older, the scent reminded me of the fresh scent of clothes drying on the line, which is another thing I started doing except in very cold months. I've been very happy with the results, and I found it far cheaper than anything I could purchase anywhere else. I make the liquid soaps and use the old detergent containers. I did not add Oxyclean to mine though.

  5. I also have to wait for your experience with the detergent. After all the ingridents taht you use, doesn't that comes at the same price as a normal detergent? I'm going to stay tuned! It is amazing how everyone is starting to complain about the cost of life! Every time i go to the supermarket i can actually see the prices going up. I usualy use a list, and i just had the totals has i put things inside the trolly, so i don't have bad experiences at the end, like that i can remember that the prices are really going to the moon!!! Just tell me how it was your experience, when you've donne with your resarch, if you please :)

  6. A washing machine repair man recommended that you use LESS than the directed amount of detergent. That using more actually causes clothes to be dingier. I have cut down mine a bit and haven't noticed a difference in how clean my clothes are so I'm sticking with it.

    Also, I use fabric softener about 25% of the time. And again, I haven't noticed a difference in how soft my clothes are on the days they aren't washed with softener.

    So even if you use your own homemade soap, I don't think you need to double it.

  7. My family and I cut back when my daughter was born about 5 years ago. It can be challenging but fun too. I used to make more of my own stuff, but I never tried laundry detergent. It would be interesting to do the cost analysis, like someone else said, since I would have to buy all the ingredients. I, however, am very bad at that sort of math. I would like to hear more after you have used it for a while too.

  8. Thanks for the dog biscuit recipe link!! I've been meaning to make some too. You know what's good too? Freezing unsweetened applesauce with plain yogurt (get the kind with the live bacteria cultures and minimal sugar). I freeze them in 3 oz dixie cups and my pooch LOVES them. They're normally $5.99 for 3 in our uppity dog stores.

  9. I'm interested in seeing how the savings goes on dog biscuits...with 2 dogs here and trying to reward them for good behavior...well, suffice it to say...I can go through a few in a day!! Thanks for the link...I'm going to check that out...and I would think it has to be more healthful for them...right???


  10. Great post----so much on my mind right now. Food prices---and everything else, it seems---are skyrocketing. Ouch.

    We make dog biscuits, too. My daughter spent two summers making and selling them to raise money for the local animal shelter. The dogs loved 'em.

    I also make my own bread in my bread maker to save money on the store-bought kind---it's getting so expensive!

  11. I love the frugal thing and I could learn a bit from you. I like the old saying "use it up, wear it out, make it do". The older I get the more I am like my parents. But thats a good thing. Question though, how does the dog like the new biscuits?

  12. Many cleaning products are so expensive and can be easily replaced with homemade versions which are less chemical filled! I make my own scouring powder with a mixture of 1/2 salt to 1/2 borax. You can add a couple drops of essential oils to make it smell pretty, too. It is great for tubs and sinks. I have also made my own wipes by cutting up old t-shirts and putting them in a plastic container with water and white vinegar. I love using vinegar to clean with- great for tile floors!
    Keep us updated on your other experiments!!

  13. and no doubt gave the insides of the food processor a spring clean too :o)