So I've learned this valuable rule as a consumer: although a product might be designed for single use, I can often get double the mileage from it and net big savings.
Why should I do this?
One of the 13 tenets for saving money at the supermarket regularly repeated by Consumer Reports is to weigh the cost of convenience. For instance, KCLs know a bag of carrots they buy in bulk and cut themselves is cheaper than a bag of pre-cut or shredded carrots. So often a product prepackaged as single-use is going to cost more. But just as you wouldn't necessarily use all the carrots in one bag at the same time, you don't need to use all the product available to you in other cases.
What can I half?
Admittedly, some items are easier to "half" than others. Nonetheless, here are some common household products I routinely half:
1. Dryer sheets
I've been cutting dryer sheets in half for over five years—and I have noticed absolutely no difference in scent or static-cling performance. My 40-count box of Snuggle turns into a value pack of 80 and lasts twice as long this way when I cut each in half.
Savings per box: Around $2
2. Disinfecting wipes
Sometimes a small square of fabric is all that's needed to clean a doorknob or disinfect a light switch. I just cut what I need from each square as I pull it from the top of the plastic container.
Savings per canister: Around $3
3. Coffee Packets and K-Cups
I like my coffee mild (think Starbucks Veranda Blend), so when I need a quick cup of coffee, I dissolve only a half packet of instant crystals in a coffee cup that's three-quarters filled. With my sugar and cream, I get my perfect strength by turning each instant packet into two cups.
In a similar vein, I can divide an expensive K-Cup I get as a free sample or on sale in two for use in a traditional brew machine—or I can just run the cup through the cycle in my Keurig a second time for a less intense flavor.
Savings per month: Anywhere from $5 to $10 (depending on how much coffee I drink that month)
4. Pre-moistened make-up towelettes
Manufacturers of these products are very generous with the sizing and product strength, so cutting these in half (or even thirds) works perfectly! There's no sacrificing performance, but there's a huge gain in savings since these products can be pricey.
Savings per bundle: Around $6
5. Paper towels
A full towel is needed for some messes, but the thickness and absorbency of some brands makes it practical to divide them up. To keep them within easy reach when needed, cut some in advance and keep them in a napkin holder.
Savings per 6-roll pack: Around $6
A common washing machine mistake for dishes and clothes is overfilling a dirty load with too much soap. So even when I buy dishwashing or laundry detergent pods on sale and with coupons, I sometimes half them when doing a light load of dishes or medium load of clothes. Kitchen shears help me make a clean cut—I simply cut it over a small Tupperware container to catch and store the excess.
Savings per pack of detergent: Anywhere from $4–12, depending on size and individual use
7. Free samples
I get lots of free samples direct from manufacturers (quite often that I learn about from KCL posts), but many meant as "one-time use" or "single use" can actually yield more. Cosmetic samples (face lotion, blush, mini lipsticks), personal use items (body wash, deodorant, mouthwash) and even some kitchen samples (spice packets, powdered drink formulas, energy bars) can be broken or divided in half and used twice.
Savings per month: Around $1
How much can I save?
In a typical month, I can save around $30 just by halving these common household items. In a year's time, it's possible for me to save close to $400! That's an impressive amount of savings—and definitely makes the mild amount of work I perform to "half" the products worthwhile!
When you spend your hard-earned money for products to use around the house, you want to make the most of them. So start looking at the products you use the most and ask yourself: can I double its life (and double my savings) by halving it?
Do you save money around the house by halving a common product? Share your tips and products in the "Comments" section below.