So let me start out by saying I have never fully cared for a pool before. My pool care consisted of a 2 year stretch when i was 16. I opened a floater and added tabs to our 3' deep pool. My dad would dump a bag of "Shock-It" in the pool weekly.
Now i'm 30 with 2 small kids and the wife and I wanted to get a pool. The only thing stopping us was the yearly chemical costs and not wanting the pool to turn green halfway through the season like most of the pools around us. And I'll never forget 2 customers at the pool store when we were ordering our pool....."You're getting a pool? Good Luck....Its hard work and super expensive. Prepare to drop 300-400 a year on chemicals and its still going to turn green and not be swim-able for a while."
Luckily I found this site while researching pools. Then I go and tell my friends and wife that I think i can maintain the pool with bleach and nothing else. The looks on their faces was priceless. "Bleach with fade the liner", "Bleach is dangerous", "No chlorine in your pool...are you crazy?". I kept hearing things like that over and over and over again. And I myself was very skeptical as well. I didnt want to have to go "tend" to the pool every day. I see other just dropping tabs in and letting them sit for days or weeks. I didnt have time to test and add bleach daily. I had no clue about chemistry and if bleach was dangerous to my kids or pool.
After a long discussion with my wife I decided to try it the TFP way for a week or two to see how much trouble it was going to be....and also to see how expensive it was going to be. This didnt only have to be easy, it had to be cheap for me to stick with it.
Here are my results...
The first week was the toughest. After filling the pool, i had the pool store test it (with strips) and tell me what i needed because i was still skeptical. I was told my water looked pretty good and i had a CYA of 25 FC of 2 and PH of 7.5. This was straight from the garden hose. I was supposed to add 2 tabs a week and half a bottle of algecide a week. Then come back when the "starter" chemical pack ran out and they would retest and give me what i needed.
I went home and tested myself with my TF100. Of course i had a CYA of 0 and my FC was 1. I added stabilizer to bring CYA to 35 and then started adding liquid shock from Ollies. 1st day took a total of about 30 minutes to test and add chemicals.
Day 2. I rechecked FC and PH and added more shock. keeping FC between 4 and 7. Day 2...10 mins.
Day 3. Same as 2. 10 mins
This went on and on for the 2 week period and i started to see a pattern....I was adding roughly 35oz a night. And it was taking me about 5 mins a night to test...measure shock...and add to pool.
After my 2 week "trail" period was over i noticed my pool was super clear and my wife and kids were super happy. I also started testing every other day rather than every night. Kept adding 30-35oz a night. Pool maintenance time was now less than 5 mins a night.
Here is my conclusion....
The stuff you learn here is priceless. If you are skeptical like I was, dont be. This method works and is super easy.
My yearly totals....
1 bottle of stabilizer...$15
21 gallons of 12% shock....$60
And that includes bringing to shock level twice trying to close and cover the pool.
Yearly pool cost (minus the test kit).....$75
Thanks to all who helped answer my questions and thanks to all who helped me and didn't even know it.