Saturday, December 29, 2012

Diaper Bags

Some designer diaper bags are $50 plus!  Are we nuts to pay that!  The hospital gives you one for free, you can find them at yard sales or thrift stores for a couple bucks, and you will usually get 1 or 2 at your baby shower.  Why would you pay more than a few bucks for something that just holds clothing, diapers or food?  If you look at that description of a diaper bag, an empty grocery bag will do the same thing

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Saving $10,000 in 2013

I want to save $10,000 in 2013, but not by going out of the home to work more, or encouraging my husband to work more.  I want to save $10,000 by saving more of what we already spend.  I am currently in the process of evaluating each month of last year for how much I spend in the following catagories:  gas, grocery, clothing and dining out.  It kinda goes without saying that I will begin that process of training myself to determine the difference between needs and wants (a line that I think most Americans have severely blurred).  But in the meantime, here are a few things that quickly add up to $10,000

  1. Trim $100/month from your grocery budget = $1200/yr
  2. Trim $100/month from your gasoline budget = $1200/yr
  3. Trim $200/month from your dining out budget = $2400/yr
  4. Trim $100/month from your clothing budget = $1200
  5. Cut cable/satellite = $800/yr
  6. DIY auto and home repair = $500/yr
  7. Drop internet from your cell phone = $360
  8. Dye your own hair every 8 weeks = $520
  9. Reduce home electricity use by 25% - $400
  10. Buy almost everything used, and then make it last as long as possible = $500

Now obviously some of these things won't apply to everyone.  For instance, we are not going to completely cut our cable/satellite out, but I can probably save more than the $100 for groceries and for gas (some months anyways).  And if you think about it, there are probably other areas you can cut to make big savings, so here are some other areas:

  1. Memberships to gyms, clubs, etc - do you need them, do you use them, are they saving you money?
  2. Processed foods versus convenience foods - what is the true value and true cost?
  3. Toys for the kids - how many do they need?  Do they even play with the ones they have?
  4. Internet service - do you need the super speedy gaming service, or will a more basic package work just fine?
  5. Day care - do you have to work a second job because day care for 1 kid is usually at least 6,000 annually
  6. Entertainment - going out to the movies, going to expensive parks and museums - the free ones tend to be just as good, and more plentiful, plus use the redbox for a movie (or the library where they are free)
  7. Electronics - do you need a new ipad, new computer, etc if you are really just getting and up grade?  How necessary are the up grades anyway?  My husband and I recently just backed our files up, erased our hard drives and reinstalled our OS, now they work much better, much faster and much easier - for free because we still had the old OS and other drives discs
Take some time and reevaluate last year and find areas you could have cut - make a list with the items/catagories and the amounts and post it somewhere so you can see it, add the totals up and imaging that amount either drawing interested in your savings or having used it to reduce your debt.

Thursday, November 29, 2012


I have learned to make homemade soap!  It is fun, super easy and well worth it.  Plus it does cost less per bar than than commercial (unless the commercial is free).  My next task, which I am working on, is getting the fat for free and extracting my own lye - wish me luck and I will get back to you on this one!

Wood Heat

I don't know about the rest of you, buy my electric bill keeps going up and up.  I thought all of these great energy saving appliances were supposed to save us money?

We have a split system electric heat pump for our home, and it uses way more electricity than I want to pay.  This year, we have opened up our fireplace and are starting to use it.  We get the wood for free from fallen trees in some friends' empty lots, and they appreciate it that it gets cleaned out.  We also scavange for firewood from the side of the road where people who obviously don't use it put it out for the county to pick up.  I set both thermostats to 65 and keep my fire going.  It generally stays about 71 in the house, so we are not suffering one bit.  Free heat is better than any other kind :)

BTW - in an effort to say our LP gas, instead of using the cooktop, I started using the fireplace some.  You can't do everything in it, but I have been suprised at what you CAN do!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Using the dryer when you have to

Right now we are being pelted with rain from Frankenstorm Sandy - we have had rain since yesterday and will be having rain at least through Monday - and we have a finite amount of clothing.

As much as I don't like to use my dryer, I do have to make sure we have plenty of clothes to get the job done, so I do medium sized loads and set my dryer to low .  Then they are done in about 30 minutes, which is about half the time required as large loads (plus being as low burns less energy too).  I can get by with about 1 load a day this way, sometimes 1 every other day until the rain stops, then I can catch up on sheets, blankets and towels then.

Plan your laundry, do the necessities, don't wash things that aren't actually dirty and you will be able to be a little more conservative when the dryer is your best option.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Conserving Candles

I read the Tightwad Gazette from time to time when my frugal mind is not being creative.  Lately, I was reading the part about candles, and tried the recommendation.

I took a bunch of candles that were on their wits end and melted the little bit inside and poured the little bits into a mason jar to cool in colored layers.  It looks pretty awesome, plus, with a new wick added, I have a new long lasting candle.

FYI - if you buy candles at yard sales or the thrift stores, you can use the wick that's there in a new mason jar style candle for pennies on the dollar.

No more wasted candles, and from the looks of the new candles I made, I won't have to buy anymore anytime soon either.

Happy recycling!

Load Calculations = How much energy my stuff uses!!

I will gladly thank my husband for telling me the actual title of what I was doing :)

I have been watching my power meter for awhile now, just going out and checking the number every few days and recording it.  So, after a couple of weeks I decided to figure out which appliances in my home were using the most electricity. Here is what I did . . . . . . .

I went through the house and wrote down the amps and the volts for each appliance and calulated the watts, then I multiplied the watts by 1000 to get the kilowatts (which is how your outdoor meter measure electricity usage).  I then multiplied the kilowatts by what the power company charges me per kilowatt hour (the amount of electricity used per hour).  My particular figure for this season is 11.231 cent per kWh (kilowatt hour).  Example:

My dryer (a great example of the typical power-hog)

28 amps x 240 volts = 6720 watts (6.72kWh)
6.72kWh/load (because a typical load takes 1 hour to dry) x 11.231 cent/kWh = 75.5 cent/load

Okay, let's take it out a bit further

75.5/load x 7 loads/week = $5.29/week = $274.82/year

Hmmm, with $274.82/year I could:

1 -  add more/improve insulation around the house to decrease electric bill
2 -  fill my LP tank completely full and my gas tank completely full once each
3 -  buy an entire months worth of groceries
4 -  buy an entire months worth of gas for the car
5 -  pay for 3 months worth of auto insurance
6 -  pay for our home phone for 6 months +
7 -  buy a 7"tablet (if that were on my list)
8 -  buy a large chunk of Christmas gifts for the year
9 -  put tires on my car
10- take the entire family to the dentist for cleanings

What could you do with that much money, and, more importantly, if you know how much energy your appliances use, how much more could you save by making the ones that really drain it more efficient?

I do believe that even just being aware of how much energy your appliances use helps you save money, because awareness increases likelihood of being consiously conservative of the resource. 

More on this topic later . . . . .

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Thinning with water

This is kind of a no brainer in some ways, but sometimes I need the reminder ~ Almost any personal care product can successfully be thinned out with water, shampoo, conditioner, liquid soaps, lotions, hairspray, hair gel, etc. Facial care is a little different. I have gotten my best results by wetting my face and hands a little before applying eye creams and facial moisturizer. This way my hands arre not absorbing so much, and I can evenly moisturize my face instead of having some patches more moisturized than others and having some patches feeling heavy. I find this to work excellently! There are also quite a few household products that can be thinned: dish soap, fabric softener, laundry soap, bleach, ammonia, linen water, etc. Give it a try and save some money ~

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

DIY - everything!

I used to get other people (mostly my husband) to fix things for me all the time.  But I have learned that you can learn how to do just about anything by googling it or you tube-ing it.  Even surgery - for goodness sakes even surgery is on you tube!!! That is just crazy!!

But I digress.  I have been having some minor computer problems, and taking it to someone can be very, very, VERY expensive!  So, with some uninterrupted time and a lot of diving through websites, I have managed to fix some of my computer problems.

There will always be some things I cannot fix this way, but the more you at least try it, the better at it you become.