Budgeting: The Principle of Half


As a bankruptcy paralegal, I often find myself looking for ways to save money.  I’ve recently started using less of some o f my household products and you know…it works!  If someone gave you a coupon for ½ off laundry detergent would you accept it?  If you could buy your favorite brand of paper towels in a roll twice the usual size but at the same price, would you buy it?

This is The Principle of Half.

In the same way that we spend more money when we have more money, we also use more household products when we have more of them.  If you only have one roll of paper towels and it has to last you for 3 weeks instead of the usual 2 weeks, you’d use less because you knew it had to last.  So…why not do that now.  Try using half the amount of a product than the amount that you would usually use and see if it works.  This won’t work for all items – it’s no good to use so little laundry detergent that you have to wash a load twice, but try cutting 25% and see how it works for you.  If it works, try using 50% less and then add back more if needed.

Some items that can usually do the job with½ of the amount the manufacturer suggests:

  • Dryer sheets:  Yep, I tear them in half and I can’t tell the difference.
  • Laundry detergent:  I stretch mine an extra 25% by using only 75% of the amount recommended.  After all, who benefits if you run out of the product faster?  Oh, the manufacturer!
  • Juice:  It can actually be more refreshing to add water and cut down the sugars.
  • Paper towels:  Tear a sheet in half, use one half and put the other half by the roll to use later.  If one sheet didn’t do it, the half is right there to use.  If a ½ sheet did the trick, congratulations because you’ve saved 50%.
  • Salad dressing:  Use half the amount as usual and toss, toss, toss.  You’ll find that each bite has just enough dressing and you won’t be cleaning dishes that have a puddle of dressing at the bottom.

…and the list goes on.

So, try The Principle of Half and see how it works for you.  Like mom always used to say, you can always go back if you want more!

Image credit: Images of Money

Lisa Starrett

I am a bankruptcy paralegal in El Cajon, California, working with my husband Carl to bring the hope of a fresh start to debtors facing mounting bills. Through this blog, I’ll share ideas about dealing with financial stress, budgeting and hopefully provide a little humor along the way.

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