Since I was young, it was natural to learn by watching my parents and observing what they did. My mum was a housewife for quite some years and did plenty of cooking. In all of my memories, Mama Lemon was the go-to brand when it comes to dishwashing liquid.

Of course, I grew up and got my own place. Now had to purchase my own household supplies. Naturally, I gravitated towards buying Mama Lemon without a second thought.

Being the savvy consumer I knew thought I was, the tools at my disposal were infinitely more. I can compare prices across offline (e.g. Ang Mo) stores and online (e.g. Redmart) options. With a few clicks, I can compare the cheapest $ per ml paid. I can unearth promo codes and get more for less. I can make tonnes of referrals with startups and get loads of free groceries. I can use cashback platforms (e.g. Shopback) and credit cards to utilize stackable (double or even triple dip) rebates.

And yet, there was a constant that never changes. I was still buying Mama Lemon. Of course, I thought it was a great product – cheap and effective at achieving what it needed to do, or so I thought.

That is .. until my wife commented that it doesn’t seem to work that well for greasy stuff and sometimes that required a second wash (spent more time, irritated her hands more, but inevitably still didn’t feel ‘squeaky’ clean), regardless of how much dishwashing liquid she used. (to be clear, I do the same amount of washing — just that I wasn’t that particular about it)

It wasn’t a matter of how much dishwashing liquid was used – it was how (in)effective the product was. The fact that it was cheap, made it an easy decision to use more of it in an attempt to solve the problem, but it was the wrong solution. Subconsciously, that was what I was doing.

To be honest, it never did occur to me that the root cause of the problem was a factor that I had never even considered. And I had applied all of my so-called expertise on top of a flawed foundation.

  1. What did I do? I bought the best-reviewed and most expensive dishwashing liquid I could find at that time, Fairy, a product by Procter and Gamble (UK), which probably cost 3 times as much on a per ml basis.
  2. Surprisingly, I use so little of it per wash because it was much more effective at de-greasing. Therefore, the increase in cost incurred is much lower than expected.
  3. What this translates to, is less time wasted and higher quality of life achieved .. without breaking the bank. Happy wife, happy life too.

Don’t get me started on the right type of cleaning/foaming sponge – that’s probably a different post for another day haha!

What I want to say it that I have written on this blog for a fair bit of time. The more I read about personal finance matters, the more I realized there was so much more I didn’t know. It was both amazing and humbling at the same time. Never stop to question or challenge the most basic and fundamental things we have learnt or are exposed to when we first started. Good examples are bashing statements.

  1. Unit trusts are expensive trash.
  2. Low-cost ETFs are the best.
  3. Whole-life insurance policies suck.

And yet, I know of people who have used the above three tools and achieved the exact opposite result, often with exceptional success. Does the issue lie with the products? Or the people using them? Or simply a mismatch of products to people?

Which is the lesser evil then? Acting on incomplete information (which may never, ever be complete) or inaction? I would perhaps lean towards ‘acting on incomplete information’ because learning is a lifelong process. What we can do, is to keep improving ourselves as we learn more. All I need .. is to expand my circle of competence in order to achieve what I’ve set out to do.

What I do know is that I will never buy Mama Lemon again 😛

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