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Frugality Simplicity

Washable Puppy Pads

We live in an age where so much of what we use is disposable. We are expected to buy these items, use them once, then toss them away for new. When we do this, however, we not only contribute to the landfill problem, we also give our money to corporations that not only avoid paying taxes, but use those funds in advertising designed to mentally manipulate us into buying even more or even worse – encourage our politicians to pass laws that favor them and not the populace they are supposed to represent.

Some of these items we need, so how do we arrange our lives to reduce the amount we spend?

I encountered that challenge a while back. One of my dogs has grown quite old and has to go potty rather frequently. I had resolved the issue by purchasing puppy pads in bulk but then it occurred to me that there must be a way to not only reduce the amount of money I spent but be more environmentally responsible. I may not be a perfect example of resource conservation but I do like to reduce my environmental impact whenever it is possible.

Examining the purpose of puppy pads, I realized that there wasn’t much difference between them and the pads placed beneath the elderly or the young. There are reusable pads that are designed to be placed beneath incontinent people, pads that can be washed many times before they lose their effectiveness. I reasoned that if these pads were effective with incontinent people, then they would be an effective substitute for the disposable puppy pads in the market today.

If I could teach my dog to use them, that is.

I purchased a four-pack of these pads, selecting a size that would allow me to wash them in my tiny washing machine. It would increase the amount of laundry I had to wash, but would eliminate the need to purchase disposable pads on a regular basis. Even better, the money I spent on my water bill would go to help my local community instead of a major corporation.

I started out by placing these washable pads on top of the disposable pads that my dog was accustomed to using. As she started to select the washable pad, I slowly swapped out the disposable ones until the washable pads were all that she had available.

It worked like a charm.

I use a bit of water and electricity each day to wash the pads. Every morning I replace the used pads with a fresh set and toss the dirty ones in my washer. It takes a bit of work but in the months since I started this experiment the pads have held up well. I expect to receive a few years’ use from them before I have to consider the purchase of replacements.

The trash we generate has reduced as a result of this experiment. I no longer have to dispose of plastic-lined pads on a daily basis. The water I use is cleaned through our local water treatment plant. It isn’t perfect, but I do believe that my impact on the environment is lower due to this decision.

I especially like the fact that I have eliminated the need to give a major corporation my money on a regular basis. A single pack of these pads cost considerably less than a year’s supply of disposables; considering how they should last for several years with a bit of care I have dropped that expense by at least half.

If you have older, incontinent pets or a puppy that has yet to be housebroken. If you are one of the many who are forced to leave your dogs alone for hours at a stretch, I urge you to consider this option. It will not only allow your animals to relieve themselves in a safe place when you cannot take them out as often as they need, it will reduce your burden on the environment and allow you to save money as well.

Have you considered non-disposable options for the disposable items that you use each day? Please share your stories in the comments below.

EDIT: I have received a request for the link to the pads I purchased for this experiment. Here is the link if you are interested. They don’t have these available in local stores so I had to go with Amazon: https://amzn.to/301u5nu You may be able to make them yourself if you have the skills that I lack.


It is hypocritical to run a website about buying and living on less while begging your readers to buy your crap so I refuse to do it. That said, I live on the money I receive from book sales, so if you can find it in your heart to pitch in I would be immensely grateful.

I’ve written a lot of books sharing my odd view of life in hopes of helping others. My most notorious book is titled The Shoestring Girl: How I Live on Practically Nothing and You Can Too, but The Minimalist Cleaning Method is pretty popular as well. You can find them at the following places:

Amazon
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Smashwords (non-DRM)

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Categories
Car-Free Finances Frugality Housing

Frugality and the Pareto Principle

According to the 80/20 Principle, 20 percent of actions will provide 80 percent of results. This is especially true when it comes to frugality.

When you break it down the majority of money I personally save falls into two main categories: housing and auto. By renting a one-bedroom house in a less than ideal area, I saved $200 a month back when I first moved here in 2011. Since rental prices have went up slightly since then I’ve saved even more.

By allowing my daughter to become my roommate instead of simply encouraging her to move into her own place I increased my savings even more by halving my already low expenses. While this also has the added benefit of providing my daughter with a safe place to live at a price she can definitely afford (while teaching her how to manage money), that is simply an added bonus.

Eliminating my vehicle saved me another thousand dollars a year. While I didn’t have the burden of a car payment (or the cost of the full-coverage insurance that comes along with it), that savings has added up as well.

I manage to save $5,000 a year on just these two expenses alone. The other little frugal decisions I’ve made pale in comparision. To be blunt, I would either have to take a second job (I would need to work an additional 34 weeks a year at my current $150 a week public job income) or locate a position that paid twice the hourly wage that I currently earn if it were not for the money I save in these two areas if I didn’t want to reduce my standard of living.

If you are serious about saving money I urge you to give these numbers serious consideration. While eating out less, eliminating phone service, cancelling subscription services, and other things do save money, you will receive higher savings if you focus on just these two areas of your life.

Running the numbers has shown me that making your own laundry detergent and simply living on less is not enough if you want and need to save serious money. It’s the big expenses that really destroy your budget. However, if you are interested in paring your expenses even further, I urge you to check out my books The Shoestring Girl and The Minimalist Cleaning Method.

Have you ever analyzed where the bulk of your money goes? Please share your stories in the comments below.