Wednesday, October 3, 2018

The Importance of Yearly Spend/Use Up Numbers

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Pantry challenge is going strong... 3 days in.  But still, I feel good about using up the food and making a plan for the rest of it.  October is just 'use it up' month in our house, I guess.  Which had me thinking about sharing some of my yearly numbers.  'Use it up' numbers.

When I say yearly spend and yearly use up, I'm talking about the consumable goods besides food that we buy, generally one at a time, and use up.  Things like paper towels and shampoo and packs of razor blades.  We never think these things cost very much, and perhaps that's because we have no idea how long it actually takes to use it up and thus how much we spend on that item in a year, or longer.  And since it gets used, rather than sits indefinitely in your home as clutter, these items are often excluding from shopping bans or other no spend endeavors.  You use it, you throw out the package, you forget about it.  You buy another one, and you don't consider how that adds up.

That $40 pot of face cream from Sephora?  Sure, $40 at one moment doesn't break the bank.  If it does a lot of great things for your skin, you might think $40 is a bargain.  But are you using it so fast that you buy it every month?  That's $480 a year.  Every 2 months?  That's still $240 in a year.  Is that really how much you want to be spending on face cream?

Maybe it is.  Maybe it's your holy grail product that's worth every penny.  But maybe it's not and you have no clue you're spending all that money on it.  Particularly if you have a few items across your makeup and skincare arsenal that are at similar price points - that's adding up to thousands you're spending in a year.  And this concept applies to things outside of skincare too, of course - how fast do you go through laundry soap?  Dishwasher detergent?  Hand soap?  A 3 pack of paper towels?  If you don't know the answer, you might want to start tracking instead of sitting around wondering why your personal care and household items budgets are so damn high.

Because you're not just going to stop using consumable items.  You have to wash your dishes and your hands and your clothes, that's life.  So the alternative, then, is using less and using something as effective but cheaper.  And you're not going to know that you need to do those things unless you start keeping track.  It's a very good place to start if you're overwhelmed by spending freezes - sometimes the awareness is more beneficial than a 'don't spend anything as long as possible' plan, because with that plan you can still go out and spend excessively and justify it as a need.  Many people buy backups of products, or just go buy the same product again when it runs out, without knowing if they have an alternative in the house, or if they really even like that item at that price point very much.  (I recommend reading Cait's book that I talked about in February.  Before she started a shopping ban, she took inventory of all the things in her house.)

Now, what I know you're really interested in - my numbers.  I'm still working on this.  I don't know all of them yet, particularly for household supplies.  I'm still tracking those (except hand soap, I quit on hand soap.  We have 3 sinks with hand soap and I think because we both work away from home so much, we don't touch them.  It's been 5 months of not changing them out, I'm done keep track.  Clearly, not a budget killer.)  But I do have my personal care items down, so here's my look at that:

Facial Oil - I'm currently using the borage seed oil from the Ordinary, which is only $4.20 a bottle.  You only need a couple drops, and I use it twice a day.  So far, it's lasted over two months and I'm still counting.  I'm estimating this yearly cost to be less than $20.  Depending on how well the borage lasts, I might next order rosehip to mix with jojoba oil and make my own.

SPF - This works well for daily sun exposure, but it's not beach-level SPF.  Which is fine, because I'm an indoor girl.  I use maybe a dime size amount daily, so I end up buying this $10 tube at the most twice a year, for a total of $20.  I often get free SPF moisturizers from a friend who works at Sephora, so I just use those.  I also have $75 on a Sephora gift card so if I run out, I'll pick up something there.  Cost for the rest of 2018 and 2019 = $0 (out of pocket, at least.)

Retinoid - The Ordinary retinoid in squalane oil does the job for $10.  I don't use it daily so it's lasting quite awhile.  I'm at a month and half on my current bottle and it's not even halfway done yet.  But it won't last a full year, so this is probably a $30 or $40 product over the course of a year.  I'm good with that number.  Cost for the rest of 2018 and 2019 = $30.

Makeup Remover - I use almond oil.  One $10 bottle lasts all year, even when I use it for other things like my body lotion, and I have a brand new bottle waiting to be used that I will probably open some time in November.  Cost for the rest of 2018 and 2019 = $0.

Face Wash - I use raw honey.  Since it's just a teaspoon or less at a time, it takes at least a year so my once yearly cost for face wash is around $10.  I also have a new container to open, which will be in November or December.  Cost for the rest of 2018 and 2019 = $0.

Body Lotion - I make my own, it's about 60% cocoa or shea butter and 40% almond oil.  The butter costs $10, and the cost of the almond oil is counted in the face wash.  So far, it appears that the butter will last a full year as well, so we're looking at $10.  Max would be $20.  I will need more butter midway through 2019, so cost for the rest of 2018 and 2019 = $10.

There's a lot to list, but I've already done that.  It's mostly the same, except I use the First Aid Beauty concealer for under my eyes.  The only thing I'll need to buy in the next year is mascara, since that does dry out and get used up regularly.  Luckily, it's $5, or $20 for the year.

Hair Care
I have cut so far back on what I use on my hair, it's pretty amazing.  And I won't need to purchase any of it before 2020.  My mom went a little crazy at her salon and got me giant containers of Aveda shampoo and conditioner which will take me 2 years or more to use (does shampoo go bad?  I better check that.)  I only use my IGK shampoo twice a month, so I have plenty left of that.  I like to use aloe vera gel as a treatment before showering, but we have a stockpile of that as well, because John burns himself so often.  At work, in the sun, all the time pretty much.  And if my hair needs a little shine or taming of fly-aways, I can use any one of my oils for that.  Of course, I will have to go get my hair done, but I'm not counting that here.  I know exactly how much that is and how often I have to go.

I don't pay for nail polish.  I ask for it for holidays from John, and only keep 4 colors at a time, plus a top coat.  If I don't have it and it's not a gift giving season, I just do without.

Nail Polish Remover - My favorite nontoxic stuff, it's basically just oils.  I love it.  And one bottle will last me a solid year for $12.  I'm about halfway through my current bottle, so I think I will add one to my Christmas list.  If I get it, then the cost for the rest of 2018 and 2019 = $0.

Deodorant - The crystal deodorant cost me $7 for 2 (I don't know why it says just 1 right now, I got 2 for sure) and just the one seems like it'll last me my entire life.  I use it daily and still, looks brand new.  Since one will last at least a year, the yearly cost is $3.50.  Cost for the rest of 2018 and 2019 = $0.

Menstrual Cup - These do need to be replaced, but they last years so I don't need to replace mine any time soon.  Mine was $25 when I got it.  But even $25 isn't the true yearly cost - more like $6-8.  Cost for the rest of 2018 and 2019 = $0.

Toothpaste - I almost never buy toothpaste because I believe in dry brushing.  So a single tube of toothpaste will last me a year, and I just get a cheap one, like $4 Tom's or $3 Brandless.  Like I mentioned in my spending recap, I don't pay for toothbrush heads either at the moment because my mom has a stock of 2,000 for some reason and just keeps giving me them.  Cost for the rest of 2018 and 2019 = $0.

Razor - I got a safety razor a few years ago, and the handle is a purchase I'll never have to make again.  Buying blades for it is ridiculously cheap, it's $10 for 100.  Even if you changed the blade every month, it would still take you 8 years to finish them.  So I'll call it $1 per year.  Also, I shave with the same almond oil I use to remove makeup, so shaving cream is a moot point.  Cost for the rest of 2018 and 2019 = $0.

Basically, I spend nothing on personal care.  I prefer it that way, and it's nice to know that, at least in this area, I'll only be spending about $80 in the next 15 monthsMaybe.  Minimalism and zero waste really has a direct and immediate impact on your finances.  But I didn't know this until I started tracking my products and numbers and really assessed whether I needed certain items at all and whether there were better, cheaper alternatives.

I do think this can be a case of missing the forest for the trees, though, so if you have big ticket items that you know are killing your budget, you need to address those first - debt, huge entertainment and eating out bills, vacations - but if your bank account just has a slow trickle you're trying to stop, start tracking your consumables and make a list of your yearly spend numbers.  Start with personal care, and write down the date you open an item and the date you finally use it all.  You're probably going to be shocked.

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