Saving money this day and age…think outside the box

Take time to enjoy the simple things in life.
Here is Joby having a nice roll in the snow on a crisp winter morning. His barn buddy the black cat who loves him is egging him on….

Seeing the times changing….

I hear it on the news, read it in the paper, my friends and family are talking about it, and my budget is feeling it. I’m talking about the rising cost of everything from gas to food to insurance and health care.

When you live within a set income and a set savings plan by choice it becomes increasingly harder especially when you have done everything you can think of to save on these costs. What do you do, well you become more creative.

A few simple things we do. The first and think the best investment so far is when we built our house we made sure it was well insulated, put in energy star appliances, windows, doors and hot water heater. We installed a propane heating system. We keep the house and it’s systems well maintained. Drain the hot water tank and well pump twice a year, this is written in my 3 ring binder.

We have energy efficient lighting and don’t turn on the light unless it’s a small task light, like trying to cook and eat supper when it’s dark at 4:30 pm in the winter.

All appliances including the TV are unplugged when not in use. Our TV viewing is limited to when my husband comes home at night. He refuses to give up his television. During the day I limit the TV for my granddaughter to 1 hour so she can watch her favorite show and keeps her quiet long enough for me to get myself ready for the day without interruptions. Our gentleman friend also insists on his TV and I guess I don’t blame him, he is not one to entertain himself, doesn’t read and hates going outside. I do have to keep 3 night-lights plugged in for the safety of our gentleman friend.

In the winter I set the heat at 70 f and turn it down a bit at night. We put on an extra layer of clothes and wear slippers in the house. I’m talking wintertime temperatures around 0 or below. Health reasons won’t allow it any lower.

In the summer I try not to run the air conditioners or fans unless we really need it, anything over 80 f or when very humid. With a child and an elderly gentleman in the house I keep a close watch on this for their health. I have insulated drapes, which I keep open or closed depending on the season. In the winter open when the sun will shine in and closed when it doesn’t. In the summer just the opposite, closed during the day and open at night. This either helps keep the heat in or out.
I wash clothes in cold water and hang them out to dry. I also wash later at night when the over all grid energy demand is less, making the energy I do use more efficient. I used to only use the dryer in the winter when hanging clothes is difficult but have purchased drying racks I set up in the cellar. Since I have stopped using the dryer completely I saw my light bill go down $10. Per month, but every little bit helps.

I contemplated the use of our dishwasher. With the volume of dishes we have here in a day washing them by hand several times a day used more hot water that the dishwasher. I use the energy saver button, don’t use the temperature boosts options and turn off the washer when the dry cycle comes on and let the heat already in there dry them then dry them the rest of the way by hand. I wash a load when I want the heat of the elements in the house, during the day in the winter and in the evening in the summer.
I only run the vacuum cleaner once a week and use the carpet sweeper and broom the rest of the time. I don’t use my iron except to iron my husband’s dress shirt for his monthly Mason’s meeting.

I stopped using the plug in air fresheners, and keep the radio off during the day. Right now at 5pm in late summer with the windows open the sound of the peepers is very soothing and relaxing more than the radio would ever be.

I sold our big desk top model computer and out dated printer for an energy star lap top and keep it unplugged unless I’m using it. It’s also much nicer to be able to sit under a shade tree to use the computer rather than be stuck behind my desk. If I don’t like that view I can move to say where I can see my horses and enjoy their company, sounds of chewing grass and their horsy smells.

I only purchase groceries when they are on sale or from the discount store and add this is to add to my stockpile. I have written about this HERE. I try to purchase things grown locally.

I trade labor and supplies whenever I can. For example this week we helped a neighbor put in several hundred square bales of hay in exchange for some of the hay for our barn. I swap babysitting time with other’s. I need sitters for both my granddaughter and our gentleman friend.

I sell the crafts I make at local gift shops, and on line. I sell some of my baking and jellies through a friend who attends the local farmer’s market. My schedule and need of sitters doesn’t allow me easily to do this myself. In return she keeps some of the crafts and goods I bake.

Another friend of mine I swap home baked goodies for her fresh eggs. I have time to bake brownies and cookies, she works full time, her husband packs his own lunch and loves the goodies. I don’t yet have any chickens of my own. She had extra every day with 55 chickens. My husband just traded our old riding mower for some work to be done on our saw dust trailer. They guy wanted the motor for a project.
My husband and I volunteer every month to help cook a public breakfast at his Masons’ Lodge. I donate baked goods, fudge, and soap to the bake sale and put a small sticker with my name and phone number on it. To my surprise I have a couple of people who purchase additional baked goods and soap from me.

We purchased new vehicles last year. We always have bought used cars and would spend the money to keep them repaired. After researching the costs of the repairs compared with the cost of the added insurance, registration and maintenance of a new car. Decided it a good decision to go with a new car. I also have the added security of knowing I won’t be breaking down on the side of the road any more with a child. So far the past year my calculations have been correct. I have saved $600 since this time last year on repairs. I know this because I track it in my budgeting program right here on my computer. Yes my insurance went up but so did my gas mileage. My old car was at 12 mpg and the new one is 22mpg, as the cost of gas continues to go up so will my savings.

We keep the cost of our insurance down by keeping a good credit rating and driving record. And took advantage of the other discounts such as buying a car with an alarm system, anti lock breaks for example.

I try to only take one trip a week to town and do all my shopping and errands while I’m out. My husband works out everyday and he or my boys bring me any thing I might need in between time.

My neighbor and I make it a habit to call each other before we go to town to see if the other needs anything to be brought back. This works well for both of us.

I recently researched our costs for phone, cell phones, cable, and Internet. New to our area is the option on putting the phone, cable and Internet through one company. This saved us $40 a month and I gained more TV channels for my husband and elderly gentleman, and gained unlimited local and long distance phone service. We had no long distance before. I for safety reasons for our gentleman friend can’t go without both a house and cell phone. I am required to have both at my expense. Having the package deal justifies having the cable in the first place. We also like having the cell phones to help keep our family in touch with each other any time we need. Let me tell you with my husband working out during the day its nice to talk with him while we eat lunch together.

I normally don’t buy paper plates, napkins, plastic utensils, plastic wrap or paper cups. I do have them, they came from my family teasing me and bringing them over or when they come. Or from when we on the rare occasion decide to eat fast food for one reason or another or my boys eating out we bring the extras home instead of throwing them away. I have cotton towels for cleaning and cloth napkins for meals. I use glass and pottery containers for leftovers covered with an overturned salad or teacup plate.

I purchase good quality furnishings for the house. Don’t buy unnecessary things. Do the research on the quality and durability and buy the best I can afford. Don’t let the kids or pets mistreat or jump on the furniture. Last year after 25 years of use from our old sofa purchased a good quality leather one to replace it. I sew my own tablecloths, curtains and quilts. I watch the sales and purchase fabric when they go on sale at the end of each season.
Gift giving is not done on a whim. I carefully consider what that person truly needs and plan ahead for that purchase. I’m fortunate that my entire family has never fallen into the Christmas trap of giving meaningless gifts. Most are handmade or if must be purchased is done so with thought. I do watch the after season sales and if wanted make my purchases then. NEVER will you find me shopping at Christmas time. Mine is done long before then.

I keep my family healthy by feeding them good healthy wholesome home cooked, locally grown food and making sure they see the doctor regularly.

I feed my animals good quality food and keep them up to date on their veterinary care. Make sure they are exercised, kept clean, warm/cool, dry. That their nails/hooves are taken care of every 6 weeks and wormed on schedule. I also feed on a schedule.

Our clothing is non-frivolous and isn’t what ever the latest fashion is. I buy solid tops and solid pants all in colors I know will match what I have at home. If it’s a unique shade of green I don’t buy it. It also helps that I work at home and my attire consists of jeans, jean shorts or simple skirts, T-shirts or sweater. Fortunately for me our social circle has much the same out look on life and on the occasion I do need something a bit fancier I do have a couple pair of dress pants and button up shirts. My family is dressed the same way. I purchase all of our clothes new and good quality to last us a long time. But when we are done with them I resell them at the local consignment shop if there is any life left in them. If not into the ragbag they go for a new life later as a braided rug.

I don’t subscribe to magazines, go to the movies, rent movies, buy books, make-up, cleaning supplies, laundry detergent, soap, shampoo, fly spray, dog shampoo, soda, junk food, prepackaged foods, convenience foods, eat out often, buy unneeded items, or buy items on a whim. I only buy something new if I can’t use something else or make it.
My boys when they were young and now my granddaughter doesn’t have mountains of expensive toys. We find good quality toys at the consignment shops, and the “Swap it barn” at our recycling center. At our Farmer’s Market there are a couple of people who make wooden toys and I will always choose one of these over something plastic.

Always keep looking for ways to change the way you do things that will save you time and money in the long run.
If anyone else has any ideas I would love it if you shared them with me.

Posted on August 22, 2008, in Crafts, Family, Food Storage, House Budgets, Pets. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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