Coupons

Dear Jill: Does your frugality extend to not being wasteful in life? I believe saving money means maximizing everything we have. It means getting the last bit out of the jelly jar and the last squeeze of mustard. It means running water into the shampoo bottle to get the last of it out.

For some, it means washing out reclose-able bags so you can use them again. I also would argue it is making better choices when you purchase. Less waste is generated by using bar soap instead of liquid soaps. Less environmental effect is generated with powder laundry detergent as well, which is the standard all over the world, but here, many people choose the more wasteful option of using liquids. I want to know how many of these choices you are making and using your position to lead others to make. — Ros P.

I like to think I’m frugal in many areas of life that aren’t simply financial. I aim to pay the lowest prices possible for my groceries and household items, but I’m not wasteful with them once they come home. I, too, try to get the last squeeze of ketchup out of the bottle and swipe the bottom of the peanut butter jar with a spatula.

I also am the one who stores the dish detergent bottle upside-down as it nears empty so I can use the last few drops. Empty liquid hand soap pumps either are refilled or inverted over the new soap bottle so the last drips and drops can drain out.

When it comes to pricier items, I even am more diligent about getting every last bit out of the bottle. I have several skincare products and moisturizers that, even at sale prices with coupons, still are costly from a per-ounce perspective. To make sure I’m able to use it all, I have a set of makeup spatulas created specifically for this purpose. They’re miniature versions of cooking spatulas with small, silicone tips designed to scrape and extract every bit of product.

I like a type of hand lotion that comes in a squeezable tube, and once the tube feels empty and no more will squeeze out, I cut the tube in half. You would be amazed how much more lotion still is in there — and the top of the tube functions as a “cap” to the lower portion.

Beyond that, I agree there are additional, individual choices people can make to increase their frugality, but people’s choices certainly vary. One person might wash out a disposable foil baking pan to use again, and others will toss it out after use. Some people prefer to make their pasta sauce, tending to a simmering pot for hours until it cooks down to the perfect consistency, even if the raw ingredients cost more than buying jarred sauce.

People’s preferences for what they buy and why are extremely varied, and I do not believe it’s my place to tell others to use bar soap instead of liquid or powdered detergents instead of fluid. I like using powdered laundry detergent for whites, but the reality is it often costs more per load than liquid laundry detergents do. I understand the argument buying liquid soaps of any kind means “you’re paying for water,” but the per-dose price typically is lower — especially when purchased with coupons.

I think it’s important to maintain a balance between buying what makes the best financial sense for your household and also buying the products you want and need to use. Everyone is free to make choices they feel are fiscally responsible, earth-friendly or simply select the products that best suit their needs.

No matter what it is you’ve purchased, though, make sure you use everything so you aren’t unnecessarily throwing useful products away — even if it’s only a few cents worth. I hope some of the ideas shared here will inspire you to get the most out of what you’ve bought.

Jill Cataldo, a coupon workshop instructor, writer and mother of three, never passes up a good deal. Learn more about Super-Couponing at her website, jillcataldo.com. Email your own couponing victories and questions to jill@ctwfeatures.com.