Healthy vs. Frugal- Do I have to choose?
In a word… NO!!!
Honestly, I don’t think it has to come down to that. I believe that frugality includes the ability to be creative, to think outside of the box, to cheerfully go without certain things or substitute items for others. It includes carefully weighing quality and cost and determining what is the best value.
Allow me to share a thought process that I often go through. “Hmmm, that’s more than I wanted to pay for that natural shampoo (or fill in the blank). I could just get it cheaper if I bought a regular shampoo on sale. Would that be the best use of my money, though? In the big scheme of things, it’s an extra couple of dollars, but it means that I have to compromise my standards and use something that I consider to be dangerous for my family. Isn’t frugality also about careful management of my resources- determining what is the best value for my husband’s hard earned dollar, rather than just buying something because it is the cheapest?”
My mother-in-law has a wise saying that I have adopted as my own. When it comes to your health, either you pay now, or you pay later. It’s as simple as that.
We can focus on the pennies, and buy cheap items that are not beneficial to our health, thus compromising our stewardship of our bodies, or we can determine what a balanced approach would look like, keeping in mind that the dollar should not always be the bottom line.
That said, let me discuss what a balanced approach looks like in our home.
1) It is simple. My counter is not overflowing with lotions, makeup, hair styling goop, and the like. I do still have a few items that I am slowly phasing out, but honestly, I barely even use them anymore. We have our basics- deodorant, toothpaste, shampoo and conditioner, body lotion. I have some simple makeup that I wear occasionally, and a few perfumes that I am using up. I don’t regularly wear nail polish, except a bit on my toes in the summer.
2) It is a process. As I’ve just mentioned, we have not changed over everything. We have been doing it slowly, over the last 3 years. We’ve been gradually weeding out our toxic cleaning supplies and toiletries, and bit by bit, replacing them with better alternatives. Don’t expect to do it overnight. Make a list of priorities, and start this month with perhaps 2 items on your list. Then next month, add one more. And one more the next. And so on, until you have completely switched over.
3) It is balanced. Currently, we are purchasing a natural brand toothpaste, which has one ingredient that I do not love. However, through my co-op it is hands down cheaper than any other natural toothpaste I can get. So at the moment, it will have to do. Ultimately, I will find something else, but as Fly Lady always says, baby steps.
4) It is thrifty. I do not just go the the health food store and buy whatever is on the shelf. I research, I scour different stores, I use my co-op (excellent prices!), I look online, I stock up when items are on sale. I find the best product for the best price.
So what do we use and what kind of prices do I pay?
Here’s a basic list of what we have in the house right now:
- J/A/S/O/N shampoo and conditioner- $5 each, Walmart
- Nature’s Gate toothpaste- $2.35, Azure (Co-op)
- Dr. Bronner’s Hemp Liquid Soaps (body soap)- $3, very concentrated, Azure
- J/A/S/O/N body lotion- $7 (local grocery store)
- Weleda diaper care cream- $2.5, Azure
- Burt’s Bees hand cream- gift (lucky me)
- Ombra Mild Chamomile Dedorant- $3 (local grocery store)- it’s not perfectly natural, but no aluminum, and one of the few that works for me in summer. In winter I switch to a more natural brand, like J/A/S/O/N or Avalon, around $4 each, Azure (and my husband is still using a regular deodorant, because we stocked up at one point and want to finish using those ones first)
The next areas that I am looking to improve in are a tear-free children’s shampoo (currently I just use a few drops of the hemp soap), and some natural foundation for myself, then deodorant for my hubby. As I said, baby steps. We can’t do it all at once, and my guess is that neither can you.
But, our family’s health is so very worth it! We have been given the responsibility to steward our bodies, and to care for our children, to the glory of God! Let us use our resources wisely, remembering that frugality is about wise stewardship and management, and not always buying the cheapest of the cheap.
If you haven’t already, please go back and re-read my last two posts on the topic of non-toxic cosmetics and toiletries, here and here. And then go on over to Biblical Womanhood for Frugal Fridays!
Milehimama, thanks for the tip. Tom’s of Maine is great stuff, for all you lucky Americans who can shop at Big Lots!
Lindsay, I’ve never used the bar soap, only the liquid, but maybe I will order some next month.
Sarah, thanks for all the product info! I just recently learned that Target sells more natural products now, so on my next US trip, I will check out what they have. And thank you for the foundation tip- I will check it out, it sounds great!
Hi I have never posted here before, but came over from your link on BiblicalWomanhood. I just wanted to say be careful with the mineral makeup. It is not all the same. A LOT of brands, I believe the one mentioned above included, have an ingredient called Bismuth Dioxide in them. It is very very harmful. Similar to lead. There is a company out here in CA called Cleure that is really really natural. They take very strict care of what goes in there products. No pthalates, parabens or bismuth dioxide! It is more pricey at first to go natural in the cosemetics, but it lasts forever!! Just wanted to share. We, like you, do what we can. We have weeded out so many toxins. And still I feel like we can do so much more. Baby steps…
Here is the frugal and healthy mineral makeup I found. They even have a special right now!
I just wanted to give you a heads up that Big Lots carries a lot of natural products too, including Tom’s of Maine. I get Annie’s Organics Mac N Cheese for .80 a box; I get Back to Nature Organic cereal bars for $1.00 a box there (and still I hoard them for ’emergencies’!).
Right on Stephanie! You say it so well. Little steps are so important.
I have found Dr. Bronner’s bar soap to be excellent for all your needs. Can even be used to wash your hair. I buy the Baby Mild unscented from Azure for $2.70 a bar. It works for us and the baby. I use it on her hair and body as well. All-in-one bar!
I definitely feel it is important to keep things limited and evaluate the long term benefits or consequences. Good quote from your mom!
Great post! I’ve been working on getting the toxins out of our home in terms of cleaning products, and I just read information about the toxins in skin products on Dr. Mercola’s website yesterday so this set of posts from you is very timely!
In terms of Baby wash, I love Burt’s Bees (plus their apricot oil is fantastic – I use it myself after showers!) and have also heard great things about California Baby but haven’t used the products myself yet. You can find California Baby at Target, Whole Foods and amazon.com. I agree, though, it is SO hard not to pick up the $2 baby wash and pick up the $8 or $12 one, but if you think that he’s not only getting it on his skin, but probably drinking some of it while he plays (at least my baby seems to ingest half the bath water each time!:) then it is worth it.
For foundation, I just started using Bare Escentuals BareMinerals foundation and really like it. It’s a little bit less expensive than some department store brands but it is worth it for it’s coverage, it is VERY long lasting and even carry-on friendly since it is not liquid! Great coverage and I highly recommend it! I think that it rated a one or two on the Skin Deep website.
Thank you for the great post!
Just this morning I was grocery shopping at Superstore (at 6am to miss the rush). I took a look at some of the natural stuff there. I heard my wallet screaming….. ouch!That’s partly due to a limited budget. I will have to look at Walmart next time I go. There were a few things that are only a few dollars more then what I already buy. My plan is as I am making more food from scratch it will free up money to pay more for shampoo and lotion. Great post!I like the quote by you MIL too.
Just wanted to say that I’ve found some good deals at http://www.vitacost.com on items like shampoo/conditioner, sunscreen (Aubrey), toothpaste, Dr. Bronners ($2.29/bar), and Nutiva coconut oil in 54oz tubs (which I use extensively for cooking as well as my daily skin lotion, a little goes a long way) Shipping is only $5 no matter how much you buy. So I usually do a big order 2 times per year 🙂 Usually there’s an online coupon for 5% off your entire order (couponcabin.com or similar websites), though I can’t find one at the moment. I also use Ebates.com which gives me 5% cash back on any purchases I make at vitacost.com.
Overall, I think its better to support local stores, but if you don’t have a store near you with the products you want for an affordable price, vitacost.com is definitely worth a look. I like the convenience factor for me. The way fuel is these days I could spend $5 easily driving around to get all these items.
Yay! I totally agree with this post. 🙂
Tai and Christy, thanks for the info about the makeup!
Hi Mrs. Taft! 🙂
Thanks for the great links, Alyssa! I’m excited to check out vitacost.com!
i just spent the past 45 minutes reading tons of posts. i could seriously sit here all day…but alas i have kiddos to feed and a house to clean and oh yeh….work (booo!). but you have tons and tons of great information that i will certainly come back to as i am trying to take a more organic approach to life.
also my son has terribly sensitive skin and eczema so i am totally going to be reading all the posts on that:))))
love your blog!
@melissa, Glad you found some enjoyable reading! I understand the cleaning and kids to feed, though. 🙂 Welcome to the site, Melissa!
Did you ever find a good natural foundation? I am looking for one as well.