I shave almost every day. Sometimes I skip a day on the weekends, but not usually. My beard is not particularly coarse, and if I push it I can get about 8 or 9 shaves from a blade (and I have no trouble using the CVS brand, FWIW). More often than not, I just change the blade on Sunday regardless of whether it has started to "pull" or not. Mostly I just don't want to take the time to change blades during my work-week morning routine.
As far as your razor burn is concerned, I'd be willing to bet you're using way too much pressure. As a rule, the weight of the razor is all the pressure you should need. Make multiple passes, but no pressure. The mantra is to think of it as beard reduction, not beard elimination.
Ok I'm just about fed up with this whole safety razor deal. I just got through spending the better part of an hour trying to get a good close shave and what I've got is no better than what I could have gotten with a cheap cartridge or my electric razor. I'm trying to not put any pressure on the blade at all but I'm still getting razor burn and not a close shave. This has just about gotten me to the point of just using my electric from now on.
My grandpa can't use anything but an electric with out getting razor burn and my dad uses cartridges. What am I doing wrong? I used my electric to try and cut down most of the longer whiskers and then put a how towel on my face for several minutes after washing my face with a facial soap. Then I lathered up the way I normally do with my Colonel Conk's bay rum soap and shaved the way I normally do first with the grain and then against. PLEASE HELP!
You may be using too much pressure or have the blade at too extreme of an angle. Try to grip the razor with just the thumb and forefinger at first, then just have the razor lay against your face. That is as much pressure as you want.
Shave slowly and use short strokes. Going too fast causes razor burn, and using long strokes like with a cartridge razor isn't feasible with a non-pivoting razor head.
Also, try to shave across the grain for your second pass instead of against it. Remove your beard gradually. It may take three or four passes to get completely stubble-less.
Lastly... be patient. Wetshaving is a skill. Over time your technique and touch will develop. The first week is all trial and error, and you and your face are still adjusting to a new way of doing things. Give it a month or so and your face will thank you.
I've read of people keeping a blade going for over a year.
They last longer if you keep them dry - I sometimes use medical alcohol to clean them with as this evaporates quickly. I also strop them on the palm of my hand before use like this video http://goo.gl/DmU3C. In general I get 4-6 weeks from them.
I just use soap and a cheap shaving brush with them, but it's real soap no girly weird soap. I use Bialy Jelen, a Polish soap http://domitp.com/blog/bialy-jelen-natural-soap-from-poland-at-dom-... which I find lathers up well and smells of just soap.