Thursday, June 21, 2012

Thrify Thursday: Tracking Usage

When I started couponing, as many other couponers can attest, I had to find balance.  It is really easy to get caught up and have to go after every deal out there (and there are a lot of them).  So I decided to implement three steps to assure that we are actually saving money.

1.  Use coupons to save money
2.  Make on a budget
3.  Track the usage of items

Of course, given the fact that I had to figure out these steps on my own, they took about a year between to move to the next one :)  I am giving you a heads up that it is much easier to implement the steps faster so that you don't have to wait so long between each!!

I just recently started tracking the date that I started using something and the date that it was all gone.  There are a few things that I am starting with first and then I hope to add additional items:

1.  Windex
2.  Dishwasher Detergent
3.  Dish Soap
4.  Paper Towels

I started with the Windex since this is something that we use every day to clean the counters and we went through a time when we were always out of it.  Plus it was on sale with coupons so I needed to see how many I should get.  I wrote on the first bottle with a black marker the start date of 2/14.  Later when I finished the bottle, I noted the date was 3/28.  I put the information into a spreadsheet (because I love spreadsheets but the pen and paper method works great too) and it calculated that the Windex lasted 43 days which would mean that I would need 8.5 bottles to last me a year.  With the next sale, I stocked up and got the best price that I could and bought 10 bottles so I will have enough to last me a year.  The next bottle only lasted 35 days which means that I would need over 10 to last for the year.  The number might change but overall, we will still get an average to make sure that I keep enough on hand and get it at the lowest price possible.

With only one usage period, I am starting to get a better idea for my other three consumables.  The dishwasher detergent lasted 70 days which means that we would need 5.2 bottles to last a year.  The dish soap lasted 43 days which means 8.5 bottles to last a year.  The paper towels lasted 23 days which means that we would need 15.9 rolls to last a year (plus the ones that I have to send to my son's school).  After a few more times, I should get a good idea on how much needs to be stockpiled so that I we have just enough and not too much!

Make sure you wait a little bit for your marker to dry and then do the wipe test with your finger to see if it stays on the surface.  If it doesn't like this one didn't on the top, try another spot.  Between the two, I should be able to read this when I need to :)
Okay, so everyone just read through the whole post and said that sounds like a interesting idea.  Some of the people said, I am not going to bother doing it because it takes too much time and some said.... How is that going to save me money? 

Really simply!  If you have 4 bottles of Dawn detergent in your house, you know that you don't have to bother paying $0.50 for a bottle because you don't really need it because what you have is going to last six months.  That means that you have six months to find the deal to get free Dawn somewhere and save money.  It is like buying from a price journal at the lowest price but you know exactly how long your current stockpile is going to last so you know not to worry and buy something on impulse.  Like my mother in law says "Because the coupon was burning a hole in her pocket!"

This would be something great to figure out with food products too.  The only product that I have figured out that we go through too quickly is flour because I use about 5 pounds a month.  I have been trying to make more food from scratch and it goes quickly. 

I hope to track toilet paper and laundry detergent next :)  What items around your house make you wonder how long they last??  What are you going to track first?  I hope that you decide to track some things in your house to see how long things last your family.

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