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Saving on disposable mop supplies

Those old-fashioned values of thrift, hard work and avoiding waste spurred our Frugal $ense winner to come up with her winning tip, "Save on disposable mop supplies."

Joan Miller, of Battle Creek, Mich., is an expert at savings and money management. She works for a credit union and writes for her employer's Web site, sharing her life lessons of thrift. She created reusable mop sleeves for her disposable mop system to save money and avoid waste.

Bankrate: How did you come up with this idea?

Joan Miller: I loved the convenience and quick use of the mop, but the cost of supplies -- the pads and the fluid -- really bothered me, in addition to the environmental aspect. They're sort of like a baby diaper, with plastic in them. I have a big kitchen and laundry room area, plus a dog who is in and out all day long. It would take about five of them to do a decent job, and then I would toss them out, obviously because they're disposable. That bothered me, the environmental and wasteful aspect of it. I got to thinking that a similar-type thing would work with the mop.

July's Frugal $ense winner: Joan Miller
Joan Miller, of Battle Creek, Mich., won $100 for submitting the following tip:

Save on disposable mop supplies
"I love my name-brand ready-to-use mop. However, the supplies (pads and solution) are very expensive. Instead of purchasing the ready-to-use pads, I have made my own washable ones. I fold an old washcloth (or buy a package of inexpensive ones) in half, sew the perimeter and a few passes through the middle. (I then) sew five small pieces of Velcro in the corners and center of one edge, and there you have it. To cut back on solution, I wet and ring out the washcloth versions at the sink before attaching, then use the solution only for the actual cleaning part, rather than the initial startup. I have made enough pads to hold off washing them in the washing machine for several weeks while I accumulate other rags and rugs to wash with them."
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  Joan Miller

Bankrate: Do you have other household tips that save money?

Joan Miller: I line dry the majority of our laundry. Even in the winter months, I have a clothesline strung in my basement. I use outdoor clotheslines during the summer months. I also garden, and I freeze some of the produce. I haven't gotten to canning, although my mother always did that. But being a full-time employee at the credit union, canning would probably require a whole lot more time than I have. But I do garden and I freeze a lot of produce and share a lot of produce out of the garden during the summer.

Bankrate: Have you always been frugal?

Joan Miller: A lot of the things I do are things my parents ingrained in me. We don't run a balance on our credit cards. We do use credit cards, but we pay them off every month. Of course, once in a blue moon we might go a couple of months, but we rarely run a balance.

My husband and I both contribute to our 401(k)s and I do set aside an amount from each paycheck in different accounts, so I save for different things like vacations.

Bankrate: You work at a credit union?

Joan Miller: I do our Web site and newsletters, and also offer some education, mainly for young people for money management issues. Especially here in Michigan. I know it's nationwide, but Michigan has really taken a beating. That seems to be on everyone's mind these days, how they can manage their money better.

Bankrate: To what do you attribute your money sense?

Joan Miller: Truly one of the biggest things is that it was how I was raised. People need to know this is a lifelong lesson. My parents had two gardens, and my three sisters and I had jobs of weeding and taking care of the gardens. My parents also explained why we did what we were doing. As teenagers, we all had jobs to pay for our school clothes and extras.

Bankrate: What do you see as the biggest obstacle to people having success in managing their money?

Joan Miller: Probably discipline. We are in a society where a lot of people feel they have to have something right now and they can't wait for it. But when they do spend the money or put something on their credit card, they have to have the discipline to say, "OK, I have to pay this off right away."'s corrections policy
-- Posted: Aug. 19, 2008
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