mitch & char

mitch & char

Friday, July 1

Budget Vs. Detergent: Budget Wins...

Thought you would enjoy this post from our missionary friends and fellow bloggers.  The Prince family(OH how we love them).  This may help shine a little light on how to save money in a developing nation with prices set higher than developed nations…



We live on a budget. We've been doing this budget thing for years -- cash envelopes, etc. It feels pretty normal. But, in the States I could cut corners and save money by store-hopping, "couponing" when necessary, and being pretty strategic. I wasn't a "double coupon Wednesday" girl, or a major clipper, but if I came across one that would work for us, I'd use it. However, since being in Africa, I've quickly learned that we don't have a lot of leeway. There's one generally one store with one option, one astronomical price, and we need to pay it to get what we need.


If you're following along with us on this journey, you may have learned that there is virtually zero middle class. That means that prices also follow the same premise. Rice, sugar, mealie (it's a white cornmeal used for porridge), beans, and fruits and veggies at roadside stands are quite inexpensive. I can get a monster pineapple for 1 USD. That's fun. However, if it's anything that we Americans would find a necessity (that typically Africans would not), we're going to pay and pay dearly for them.


Here are some examples:


Toilet paper, nine rolls (as opposed to 12): 8-10 USD

Dental floss: 5 USD

Shampoo (your run of the mill stuff, nothing extravagant): 6 USD

Shaving cream (again, run of the mill): 6-8 USD

Mascara (Maybelline or Cover Girl -- nothing fancy!): 14 USD

Mouthwash, off-brand: 8 USD

Contact Lens Solution, one bottle: 14-16 USD

Laundry detergent, 2KG 8-10 USD


Even cleaning supplies are crazy expensive, and they aren't the quality that we're used to in the States. We don't have a dishwasher, so we go through lots of dish soap. We'll pay about 5 USD for a bottle of something that looks like dish soap, but we don't see many bubbles. It's difficult to clean (or so we think) without bubbles. We Americans like bubbles.


Nonetheless, while we're still encountering sticker shock here and there, it's also a challenge to stretch the budget -- see how far our money can go. We have an amazing team of supporters whom we are so thankful for, and it's really important that we're the best stewards of what God and the team has provided for us to be here.


So, with all that, I've been seeing what I can do as "minister of domesticity" to cut some corners when I can. For example, we no longer buy expensive window cleaner -- we have a lot of windows, glass, and little fingers, and the 5 USD I was spending was way too much for how little it lasted. We now use vinegar and water with drops of dish soap, and it cleans much better than anything I could buy -- without the chemicals!


Before we left the States, our dear Jami Shull did a little googling and made us a huge tub of the Duggars' laundry detergent. It was awesome and lasted forever. So earlier in the week I ran out of detergent and it was either shell out too much for a new pouch, or get creative. I went for the latter -- and you can, too.


You'll need:


-Bar Soap (just one bar!)

-Washing Soda or Baking Soda (one cup)

-Borax (one cup)


SOAP: For my first batch I used "Green Bar." If you've been in Africa for a period of time, you'll know what I'm referring to. The original recipe called for a laundry soap similar to Fels Naptha, but we can't get that here. Green Bar is a laundry soap that you can buy in huge quantities, and the Swazis use it for everything -- it's pretty amazing stuff. The only thing I don't care for is the smell, but thankfully I have a small stash of dryer sheets. As far as the soap, you can probably use anything -- Ivory, etc.


With this one bar of soap, you'll either need to grate it (which is exhausting!), or do something way more fun. Throw it in the microwave until it slowly puffs up and dries out. You want it completely dry, so just keep microwaving it -- mine didn't burn, and it's an awesome science experiment for you homeschooling mamas, or you bored daddies. :)


WASHING SODA: We can't get washing soda here, but thanks to my awesome friend google (I use him sooo much in Africa!), I've learned that if you bake baking soda -- it's "bicarbonate of soda" in Africa -- at about 300°F for at least an hour, something happens chemically and it becomes washing soda. I'm not a chemist, but that's awesome.


So, what you'll need next is your food processor or blender. Process the dried soap, washing soda and borax together under very, very fine -- until it looks like laundry detergent! And, here's what I got out of one batch: a little butter tub that holds 128 (!!!!) loads worth of detergent, using just one tablespoon at a time. Pennies per load, and the satisfaction is priceless. :)

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