It’s been, literally, years since I have paid for a bottle of shampoo.
Why? Because I have to travel regularly for my job, and I always use hotel shampoo when I am on the road. I long ago realized that hotel shampoo does a perfectly satisfactory job of cleaning my hair. If it does a perfectly capable job on the road, why not use it at home? So, for years, I have taken a plastic bag with me when I travel, keep the used shampoo — because I never need more than a fifth of the little bottle — and bring it home. Now we’ve got a drawer in our bathroom that is full of little bottles of shampoo, conditioner, and hand lotion. I’ll take this bottle with me when we leave the Fairlawn Hilton today and add it to the collection.
For me, shampoo is a generic, wholly fungible product. I don’t have any special shampoo needs. So if I can avoid buying shampoo, why not save the money I would spend on a product that I can otherwise get for free? Not buying one bottle of shampoo might not be a huge amount of savings, but over the years it adds up — and in any case I’d rather keep the money than needlessly give it to some large corporation.
Shampoo is a good example of ways in which people can exercise discipline over their personal finances. Are there products that you buy that you really don’t need (or don’t even use)? Would a generic product serve just as well? Do you really read the magazines or newspapers you subscribe to, or have to have a landline phone?
Personal economic freedom is the product of many such little decisions.