One HUGE difficulty of living on one income is budgeting!
Without budgeting, we would not have been able to survive as long as we have.
Since we had our first child over five years ago, we have made several life adjustments to make one income work for us. While it has NEVER been easy, I am proud to say that we have made it work.
Although we were already saving a ton of money by using cloth diapers for our kids, we still wanted a little more wiggle room. So being the “master saver” that I am, (or at least that’s what my husband calls me) I went on a massive internet hunt to find more ways for families to save money.
At the top of every list was, of course, cloth diapering! But we already did that so I kept searching. Then came across several different articles about switching from paper towels to cloth towels.
(THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS HOWEVER, I WILL NEVER RECOMMEND ANYTHING THAT I DO NOT BELIEVE IN OR USE MYSELF. YOU CAN READ MORE ABOUT MY DISCLOSURE POLICY HERE)
Related: Why I Cloth Diaper?
Brilliant Right? Why didn’t I think of that?
I was spending over $6 a week on paper towels that were used once and then thrown away in the trash. That’s around $25 a month and $300 a year in the garbage. That money could be saved for Christmas or a rainy day.
It was then and there that I decided to stop buying paper towels.
But Where Do I Start?
Since I am a HUGE neat freak that gets severe anxiety when things are dirty, I knew that I would need to have several cloth towels on hand.
So with my last roll of paper towels, I figured out how many I use daily:
- 10+ sheets for everyday messes and cleaning
- 15+ sheets for drying my hands after washing them, (I do this several times a day).
- 3-4 sheets as napkins at each meal. (1 per family member)
When I looked at all of these numbers and added them up, I was shocked at how much I was throwing away each day. We were going through one whole roll of paper towels in a day. This motivated me, even more, to stop buying them.
- Because cloth kitchen towels can be used multiple times for drying my hands after washing, I could cut down how many I use.
- I realized I could also assign a napkin to each family member each day and have them use it for all 3 meals.
- Also, I could use one or two cleaning towels per day and cut my costs down dramatically.
I finally decided that I wanted to have enough kitchen towels to last me 2-3 days. That meant about 8-10 per day which was only a third of what I was using with paper towels.
What We Chose
Ideally, I wanted to find a few different types of towels for different uses and jobs.
- For everyday messes, I wanted to have something that was textured to scrub away messes, but also very absorbent. So instead of using a ton of paper towels, I now use these Terry Kitchen Dish Cloths that are extremely absorbent.
- I also needed some soft long towels that were also absorbent to keep by the sink for drying hands. So I picked up these very soft Oversized Washing, Drying, Basic Everyday Kitchen Towels. And then for Christmas, I was also given a package of Pioneer Woman Kitchen Towels. (Oh! I LOVE Pioneer Woman Products)
- Lastly, I wanted something that was soft and could be a replacement for our napkins. So once again I got these very inexpensive Dinner Napkins. They are a 12 pack which was enough for my family to use for a couple of days before needing to be washed.
After purchasing all of the cloth towels, I had to figure out where to put them so they would be easily accessible for my family. I wanted them to be out on the counter for anyone to grab them and have no problems.
I also wanted it to be easy for them so they did not look at using cloth as an inconvenience.
By using a small box with a handle, I was able to make the towels accessible to not only my husband and me but also our daughter. Since it had a handle on the side she was able to reach it and pull it closer to her.
What About the Extra Laundry?
People always ask me this question when they find out that I use cloth diapers. I guess they imagine me washing cloth diapers every single day and that it takes up all of my time. That is definitely not true for cloth diapers and the same goes for cloth towels.
By using cloth I may have to wash 1-2 loads of towels a week. To be honest, I really don’t notice because I just throw them in with my other bath towels to wash.
Don’t worry I wash them on hot!
Tell Me About the Savings!
While I may not be saving thousands of dollars like I am with cloth diapers, I still am saving something which adds up.
We estimated that in the last 6 months after we spent just $35.97 on cloth towels and we would have spent $150+ on paper towels.
That is a savings of $114.03!
But what’s even better than that is the fact that we will not have to buy cloth towels again for a while which makes the savings go even higher over time. This means that the cloth towels basically pay for themselves and more with the amazing savings.
Instead of Buying, REPURPOSE
If you are on an extremely tight budget like me, you could also try looking around your home for cloth materials that you can repurpose or even make your own.
While I did buy some of my cloth towels, I didn’t want to spend a whole lot of money right away.
That’s when it occurred to me that we had a whole pile of burp cloths / Gerber prefold diapers just sitting in my son’s room not being used.
Another option is if you are an amazing seamstress (WHICH I AM NOT) you can sew your own with some extra fabric. This way you can make your cloth towels in whatever material and sizes you want.
Benefits of Cloth Towels
Other than the savings from using cloth towels there are also more reasons to switch NOW!
- Eco-Friendliness – Paper towels are NOT environmentally friendly and also take up several quantities of paper from our trees that could be used towards other necessities.
- Reliability – Since switching from paper to cloth, I have noticed how cloth towels are so much more absorbent than paper towels. (which means using less of them at once)
- Reusability – Of course this goes in hand with the cost savings but being able to reuse cloth towels makes a huge impact on your wallet.
Have you noticed how American families buy and throw away TONS of paper products every day? I honestly did NOT until I switched to cloth.