Friday, March 19, 2010

Frugal Tips

I have a list of things that I have been wanting to post.

I keep the heat at 65 at night and 67 during the day. We have oil heat and it stretches the time between deliveries.

This summer I would like to put a room air conditioner in our living room to cool one room since at night we have a ceiling fan in our room which keeps us cool at night. This should help keep the electric bill lower in the summer.

Keep warm soapy water in the sink to do quick dish washes during the day so that the dishwasher does not have to be run as often.

Keep all leftovers no matter how small to be used in soups or stews.

Keep away from plastics such as plates, cups, etc. Use these for special occasions only.

Use paper towels sparingly. Keep plenty of dish towels in the kitchen to grab instead.

When eating out don't order drinks. Ask for water instead. I always order water with lemon.

Share an entree. With the portions most restaurants give there is plenty of food for two.

Friday, March 5, 2010

A great find

About a year or so ago I was browsing through the book sale section of our local library. I noticed that there were two books that were first editions. One was The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemmingway and the other was a Ray Bradbury, I can't think of the name off hand. Anyway both books were 25 cents each and I figured I could sell them on Ebay. The procrastinator that I am, I put them on a shelf and told myself I would sell them in the near future. A year or more later, Nick put The Old Man and the Sea on Ebay and we wound up selling it for $46. What a great investment on my 25 cents. The first edition was a book club edition which sells for much less than a true first edition release. The Ray Bradbury is still on my shelf and I'll be selling that in the near future.

Another exciting things happened recently Our kitchen drain was clogged and I didn't realize it so I ran our dishwasher. I heard a trickling sound in the kitchen and realized that it was leaking on the kitchen floor. I stopped the dishwasher and bought some drain cleaner and later that evening the clog was cleared up. I ran the dishwasher and didn't think any more about it. A week or so later I noticed that our living room floor was feeling a little bouncy when you walked on it. I moved the carpet and realized that our wood floor was buckling. I mentioned it to Nick thinking that someone must have spilled something and we realized that the dishwasher water had seeped through the wall into the living room and under our wood floor.

There was no way we could just replace the buckled floor section so we weren't sure what we were going to do. I told my sister, Irene, and she said why don't we submit a claim to our Homeowner's policy. I thought what the heck, it can't hurt to get some money to compensate. We have a $500 deductible so I figured we would come away with a few hundred dollars. The claims rep came to our home and after looking at the damage the water caused determined that we need new bottom cabinets around the dishwasher since the water did cause some wood rot there also. Of course when you get bottom cabinets, you need top cabinets to match so when all was said and done the insurance is going pay for the floor and for new kitchen cabinets. Nick said that it should be a substantial amount of money. I'm so glad that we listened to Irene and called in the claim.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Walmart freebies

Never underestimate the usefulness of free samples. I've been going to and ordering free samples for a few years now. I have quite a basket full of them. They come in so handy when you're about to wash a load of laundry and realize that you have no laundry detergent. Just take a pouch of free sample laundry detergent and viola laundry accomplished with no interruption. There is usually a pouch of fabric softener too. There are so many other little samples that have come in handy over the years.

Also, we were having a snow storm last week and I was in need of milk. My 1% milk was almost empty so I drove over to the quick check (I had no time to shop) and bought a whole milk. I divided the whole milk in half using the empty milk container and added water to both. I got two gallons of milk for the price of one.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Getting in shape

I've been thinking alot about getting in shape for summer. What's been on my mind is joining Weight Watchers but when I think of the cost, I hesitate. I've joined in the past and it does work...if you do it. My history of sticking with it is shaky at best. In all honesty I would have no problem paying the money if I had the confidence in myself that I would stick to the program. What I wind up doing is joining and eating any way that I want and hope for a lose. I'm not sure I would stay true to the program anymore.

There is a place online that I have joined in the past called Sparkspeople. It's an online site where you can input your current weight and your goal weight and it will estimate how long it will take using a two pound a week guideline. They also have different accountability functions that, when used, work well. So, in the spirit of frugality, I'm going to be joining Sparkspeople and monitor my weight lose there. My goal over the next "however long it takes" months is approximately 85 pounds. I will be happy with any lose from where I am now, to there. This will function as my "accountability".

Next is exercise. I do have a treadmill given to me by my Mom. Actually it was given for Louis to use when I homeschooled him as gym equipment. He is the only one who still uses it. I will make a commitment to walk on the treadmill for 30 minutes at least 5 times a week. We also have On Demand on our television and they have a section on Fitness. There are many exercise selections to work on specific areas and overall physical fitness. I'm going to commit to tuning in and participating at least 4 times a week.

I've also been committed on and off to eventually running a 5K. There is a site that shows how you can go from the couch to running a 5K in two months. I'll post the site in the near future. That sounds like something Sarah, Louis and I could do together.

I'm also planning on not buying any "diet" foods. I'm going to continue to shop for my family and focus on portion control rather then spending extra money on Weight Watcher's products and low fat items. I do buy low fat snack cakes for us, since I still have my coffee in the afternoon. Other than that I'm going to watch my portion sizes at dinner, etc.

Not sure if it was last year or the year before but I was dieting and realized that my grocery bill had almost doubled for the month with buying all the special foods that where out there. The diet ice creams, muffins, even low fat bologna and cheese is so much more expensive than buying the regular items. In the end the difference in calories is minimum as you still have to watch the portion sizes.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Ideas for savings

I read recently that you can save on your electric bill if you go around your house and turn off all appliances, etc., that use electricity even though you're not using them. For instance a microwave that has a clock or your cable box when not watching TV. This morning I went around my home and unplugged all the things that were draining electricity. I did leave on all clock radios and my coffee maker which has a heating unit that must be plugged in in order for me get immmediate hot coffee or hot water for tea (husband's idea). I'm using the computer right now but when I'm finished I will be flipping the switch and turning off all the green lights that remain on 24/7. I'm excited to see how much savings there will be next month on our electric bill. Our billing period starts about the 7th of each month so I won't see the true savings until the following month but there should be some difference.

I few years ago I did not use my electric dryer for a full month and saved $30 on the next bill. However, with three children and a husband who I believe is a clothes hoarder, there is always plenty of laundry to do so I opted to use my dryer and pay the $30 a month. My sister has a gas dryer though and I do try and do laundry at her house a few times a month. I find her gas dryer dries clothes much faster than my electric one.

When I do my laundry I also use only cold water. Also, whatever the detergent amount recommendation is, I half it. I don't usually use fabric softener but I do use dryer sheets. I hear you can make them yourself but the store brands are usually very reasonable. I half them also. They come in handy if you need to freshen something up too. For instance my son wore a pair of sweat pants and they were still clean so in order to wear them again I but them in the dryer with a dryer sheet, and a few minutes later they were as good as freshly washed. I don't recommend doing this too often as a quick iron with some fresh smelling starch spray will do the same thing without using too much extra electricity.

Another saying I have about laundry is that just because it touches your skin does not make it dirty. Jeans, for instance, can be worn more then once, as well as work pants. Sweat jackets, over shirts, shirts worn for a short period of time, pajamas, these are all things that can be worn more than once.

I also recommend doing smaller loads in the winter and line dry them in your home. The same heat that heats your home is the same that will dry your clothes. I have a clothes line in my utility room and kitchen chairs are ideal for drying heavy towels. My family likes the roughness of the towels that the dryer takes away anyway.