The Secret of the Pump Dispenser

My hair is usually really short. When I wash my hair, I want to use just a little bit of shampoo – makes sense, right? It doesn’t take much to fully lather up my hair.

The problem is that shampoo virtually always comes in a squeeze bottle. When I grab that in the shower and turn it over to get just a little bit of shampoo, it’s incredibly easy to get way too much on my hands. I squeeze a little and nothing comes out, so I squeeze a bit harder and I wind up with four times as much shampoo on my hands as I want.

That’s simply wasteful. It means I’m going to wind up using far more shampoo than I need. If I use four times as much shampoo as I need every time I take a shower, a bottle is only going to last a quarter as long. My shampoo cost quadruples without any real additional benefit.

A while back, I noticed a nearly empty hand lotion container that was in the downstairs bathroom. There was just a tiny bit of it left. I used a small amount of it and realized that it perfectly delivered just a tiny amount of the lotion.

This made my wheels turn.

I stuck a piece of masking tape on the bottle that said “do not throw away when empty – tell me” so that it wouldn’t get chucked when it ran out. About a week later, I snagged the bottle, cleaned it out thoroughly, and took it upstairs.

There, I tried putting the lotion pump onto the shampoo bottle, but it didn’t quite fit. So, I simply dumped some of my shampoo/conditioner mix into that bottle, screwed on the lid, and gave it a couple squirts. On the third squirt, a very small amount of shampoo came out.

A perfect amount, actually.

I simply stuck this new bottle into the shower. Next time I took a shower, instead of turning over the squeeze bottle and getting far too much on my hands, I simply reached up and pressed the pump down once, dispensing a perfect amount right on my hand.

So, let’s run the math on this real quick.

Prior to this, my shampoo routine was to buy a large bottle at the warehouse club for about $3 and then use it to refill a smaller container. I did that because using the large jug in the shower meant a ludicrous amount of shampoo would come out each time I wanted to use it – a bad idea.

So, with my old bottle, I’d dispense enough shampoo/conditioner for four or so washings with a single squirt. Now, with the new dispenser, a single pump gets almost exactly the right amount for my short hair – just a few drops of it.

Using a pump dispenser makes my shampoo last four times longer, in other words.

Prior to this, I’d run through a large bottle of the shampoo in about two months, meaning my annual shampoo cost was about $18. With this pump bottle, the large bottle should take me about eight months, which means I’m using a full bottle and two-thirds of an additional bottle in a year. This reduces my annual shampoo cost to about $5.

This single simple move saves me $13 a year. It doesn’t change anything else about my routine that I was already doing except that it eliminates three out of every four shampoo purchases that I was making.

That’s the secret of the pump dispenser. It was just this one little thing that, once I changed it over, began to save me money without changing my routine at all.

This type of examination of how I use things in my life happens all the time. Almost every time, I figure out a way to spend a little less. That’s frugality at work.

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