Frugal Living - Tips And Tricks And Thrifty Ideas

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Poet
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Posts: 1892
Frugal Living - Tips And Tricks And Thrifty Ideas

INTRODUCTION
I want to start a Frugal Living thread. One where we can share tips and tricks, swap thrifty ideas.

If you got a money-saving idea, bring it on! Tell us how you:

  • Make your own laundry soap
  • Exercise your extreme coupon skills
  • Re-use bread bags and the ties or clips that come with them
  • Create your own Halloween costume
  • Make a rice and beans recipe taste good the 5th time around
  • Make use of old panty hose or orphaned socks
  • Maintain your own automobiles
  • Pick up extra packets of ketchup (why are you in a fast food place if you're thrifty?)
  • Recycle your beard trimmings (just kidding... or maybe not)

BACKGROUND
Over a decade ago, I came across Amy Dacyzyn's Tightwad Gazette, a three-part collection, each containing compilations of articles, recipes, ideas, and reader submissions geared towards frugal living and promoting thrift. I bought the complete 3-in-1 book and loved it! Beautifully illustrated, intelligently and witty and charmingly written.

She and her husband, Jim, raised six kids in New England on a modest income. They bought their clothes from yard sales and thrift stores, grew much of their own food. They found new and creative ways to do things, cheaper or for free.

The Frugal Road To Family Values (September 24, 1992)
"It's a stunning sunny afternoon on the edge of the Androscoggin River, an hour northwest of Portland. Her Frugalness, a tall, slim 37-year-old with one twin slung on a jean-clad hip, slams the screen door of their roomy 100-year-old farmhouse. Jim, who retired as a chief petty officer from the Navy a year ago at age 41 and now happily lists "homemaker" as his occupation, is mowing the lawn with a borrowed tractor while holding the other year-old twin on his lap. The rest of the six children, all under age 10 and dressed head to toe in previously owned clothing, are shooting arrows at a target made of recycled paper or painting rocks. All's well in the kitchen, where the zipper-close plastic bags have been rinsed out and left to dry on the dish rack. The scouring pad is safely put away in the freezer (to keep it from rusting). It's a typical morning at Sunny Shore Farm, where rarely a brand-name -- or brand new -- product crosses the threshold."
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/05/27/AR200505...

Amy Dacyzyn (2009?)

Amy Dacyzyn (1992)

SOME RESOURCES (to get started)

Frugal Living At About.com
http://frugalliving.about.com/

Frugal Village
http://www.frugalvillage.com/

Living On A Dime
http://www.livingonadime.com/

Poet

Full Moon's picture
Full Moon
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
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Posts: 1258
loved the tightwad gazette

 In our county we have a party line spot on the local Radio station in the mornings where you advertize  for sale items or WTB  . There is also a Facebook page to post pictures   of for sale or  give away items  and WTB  things .   This is way cheaper than thriftshop purchases.

   For Example this month I have a Son getting married  so  I just bought a truck load of Wedding decorations from a couple of  people for under $100  and got a free Photographer that is needing  the experiance  for her college class .   All the food  is to come from  the farm here  soo  We will be able to feed and dance the night away and no one will have a clue  how cheap it is done .  Under $500  for 300+ people .. It will be just as good a time and great memories as my brothers wedding that cost over 20K 

  I read the tightwad gazzette in the early nineties  it  just becomes natural to look for the cheapest things . It absolutly makes me irritated to pay full price for things that get thrown away or flushed down the drain .   Bottled Water ... WHAT!!!!      Last week I looked out the door and there were  donated 10 rainbarrels stacked in my from yard ..   I consider these things a gift , others think it is trash .  Many  call me if they want to get rid of canning jars or find them on a garage sale . People call if they do not want to pick their fruit .     Used    Musical instruments are the best buys. 

 Over the years it is how I raised  a large family  on under $100K  annual income .  Not a one of the kids has been made fun of for being poor and their friends  love to come here because they know I do not buy new furniture and do not yell at them for horsing around or breaking something .

  I do not do much in the way of couponing  because I buy in bulk  and do not buy name brands .  Most of the coupon items seem to be boxed or junk food that is not healthy   and  cleaning supplies that I make at home .  It irks me that people get freebies in the mail that are worth  25 cents but  took that much in postage to have it sent and used how much  gas ..  whoohoo 1/8 of a cup of the latest cereal .      But I hear tell many have found good things with couponing so they say  .   I have to consider the time and gas money to  get a box of 33cent  crayola's .  I plan my trips to town to be full of appointments and shopping my list  , I go on Thursday when gas is 5 cents a gallon cheaperand meet with the other homeschool moms   and sometimes Tuesday for the free movie at the theater    and it really is only 6 miles into town  but still ..

 

 Anyway looking forward to  hearing of others great finds and thrifty ways .

 FM

 

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Poet
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Posts: 1892
Make Your Own Cheap Laundry Detergent

Considering laundry detergent can be pretty expensive, here's a recipe passed on by The Urban Farming Guys... Check out their web site at:
http://theurbanfarmingguys.com/

DIY Laundry Soap 20 Cents A Gallon!

My Notes From Watching The Video

Detergent Ingredients

  • Borax (like 20 Mule Team)
  • Washing Soda (like Arm & Hammer)
  • Bar Soap (like Fels-Naptha)

Stuff Found Around The House

  • Cheese Grater (to grate the bar soap)
  • Pot (to melt the soap in)
  • Water (warm, hot, cold)
  • Ladle (for stirring)
  • Working Stove (for heating)
  • Two 5-gallon buckets (to mix the laundry detergent)
  • Funnel (for filling containers)
  • Containers with screw caps (to store the laundry detergent once made, use juice or milk jugs, laundry jugs, etc.)

Instructions

  1. Grate the soap with the cheese grater, letting the soap flakes fall into the pot.
  2. Add a few cups of water into the pot with the soap flakes.
  3. Heat the pot on the stove, using the ladle to stir continuously over medium-low heat until all the grated soap flakes have dissolved.
  4. Fill one 5-gallon bucket half full with hot water and the melted soap-and-water mix.
  5. Add half a cup of the washing soda, and a full cup of the borax into the bucket.
  6. Stir the bucket with the ladle until all the soap ingredients are dissolved.
  7. Once dissolved, fill the bucket the rest of the way with hot water.
  8. Cover the bucket (with a lid or plastic wrap) and let it sit overnight to cool.
  9. The next day, use the ladle to stir the soap mixture in the bucket until it is of a consistent (gooey) nature.
  10. Pour the detergent mixture into another 5-gallon bucket until both the original bucket and the other bucket are about even in fill level.
  11. Fill both 5-gallon buckets the rest of the way with water.
  12. Now fill the laundry detergent into containers with screw caps. Use a funnel to pour into the containers, then seal them tight with a screw cap.

Use

  • For each load of laundry, use about a cup of the detergent. If material has settled, shake before opening the container to pour.

Poet
 

 

ao's picture
ao
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Feb 4 2009
Posts: 2220
Poet wrote: Considering
Poet wrote:

Considering laundry detergent can be pretty expensive, here's a recipe passed on by The Urban Farming Guys... Check out their web site at:
http://theurbanfarmingguys.com/

DIY Laundry Soap 20 Cents A Gallon!

My Notes From Watching The Video

Detergent Ingredients

  • Borax (like 20 Mule Team)
  • Washing Soda (like Arm & Hammer)
  • Bar Soap (like Fels-Naptha)

Stuff Found Around The House

  • Cheese Grater (to grate the bar soap)
  • Pot (to melt the soap in)
  • Water (warm, hot, cold)
  • Ladle (for stirring)
  • Working Stove (for heating)
  • Two 5-gallon buckets (to mix the laundry detergent)
  • Funnel (for filling containers)
  • Containers with screw caps (to store the laundry detergent once made, use juice or milk jugs, laundry jugs, etc.)

Instructions

  1. Grate the soap with the cheese grater, letting the soap flakes fall into the pot.
  2. Add a few cups of water into the pot with the soap flakes.
  3. Heat the pot on the stove, using the ladle to stir continuously over medium-low heat until all the grated soap flakes have dissolved.
  4. Fill one 5-gallon bucket half full with hot water and the melted soap-and-water mix.
  5. Add half a cup of the washing soda, and a full cup of the borax into the bucket.
  6. Stir the bucket with the ladle until all the soap ingredients are dissolved.
  7. Once dissolved, fill the bucket the rest of the way with hot water.
  8. Cover the bucket (with a lid or plastic wrap) and let it sit overnight to cool.
  9. The next day, use the ladle to stir the soap mixture in the bucket until it is of a consistent (gooey) nature.
  10. Pour the detergent mixture into another 5-gallon bucket until both the original bucket and the other bucket are about even in fill level.
  11. Fill both 5-gallon buckets the rest of the way with water.
  12. Now fill the laundry detergent into containers with screw caps. Use a funnel to pour into the containers, then seal them tight with a screw cap.

Use

  • For each load of laundry, use about a cup of the detergent. If material has settled, shake before opening the container to pour.

Poet

Poet,

Have you made laundry detergent according to this "recipe", tested its cleaning abilities, its effect upon material, and its chemical stability?

Full Moon's picture
Full Moon
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Oct 14 2008
Posts: 1258
laundry soap

  I have used this soap for years .   Hint ..    Making your own bar  Lye soap helps boosts this recipe .     I like to add a little liquid fabric softener to it .  Some put vinegar in it for this purpose .   For a pre-treat   put a little ammonia in an old dish soapp bottle and add the soap .     For oxyclean add  peroxide.    There are many recipes on the internet .

  You are not paying for water !

  FM

Poet's picture
Poet
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Jan 21 2009
Posts: 1892
No, But It's A Common Recipe, Ao
ao wrote:

Poet,

Have you made laundry detergent according to this "recipe", tested its cleaning abilities, its effect upon material, and its chemical stability?

Ao

No, but I have come across recipes like this in books and I have friends who make their own and use it on all their clothes. I also trust the folks who made the video. They say that it's lasted them many months, they use it on all their clothes without any problems, and they love it. Full Moon seems to approve as well.

Personally, I would make our own, but my wife does most of the laundry and prefers her own brand.

Ao, how about you contribute some tips and tricks of your own? Thanks.

Poet

ao's picture
ao
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Feb 4 2009
Posts: 2220
here goes
Poet wrote:
ao wrote:

Poet,

Have you made laundry detergent according to this "recipe", tested its cleaning abilities, its effect upon material, and its chemical stability?

Ao

No, but I have come across recipes like this in books and I have friends who make their own and use it on all their clothes. I also trust the folks who made the video. They say that it's lasted them many months, they use it on all their clothes without any problems, and they love it. Full Moon seems to approve as well.

Personally, I would make our own, but my wife does most of the laundry and prefers her own brand.

Ao, how about you contribute some tips and tricks of your own? Thanks.

Poet

Just checking.;-)  We made up our first batch a few months ago and it works well and offers considerable savings. 

You sure you want this?  Here goes. 

If you buy a house, make as large a down payment as you can, get a  shorter term mortgage such as a 15 year, and pre-pay on your mortgage regularly.

Buying new cars, research, shop, and negotiate heavily.  For example, if you become a member of the American Canoe Association, you can buy a Subaru for 2% UNDER invoice.  And invoice is no longer truly invoice.  There is more negotiation wiggly room.

I would tend to buy a used car though but one still under warranty if you have maintenance concerns and are not car savvy.  Autotrader.com is a useful site where you can get the buyer to post pictures of virtually every part of a car and have a good idea if it is worth your while to go look at.  Get a Carfax vehicle history but don't trust them completely.  They have errors.

Drive smoothly and fluidly.  The best race drivers are fluid.  You'll save on gas, tires, and component wear.  Now if only I can teach my wife to be easier around corners.;-)  She typically gets much less tire life than I do because of her driving style.

Use private shops rather than dealers for automotive maintenance work.  They're cheaper.  An example of what a quality shop should look and act like is Hoover Street Auto Repair in Ann Arbor, MI.  Great guys.

Buy tires from a tire discounter like tirerack.com (although they don't carry top winter tires like Nokian).  You can buy tires and wheels mounted and balanced and with shipping, they are cheaper than any local place.

Use a good quality synthetic oil for good engine life and get an oil analysis done so you don't waste money by changing your oil too often.

Use an online site to search for the cheapest (but still good quality) gasoline in your area.  Stay away from gasolines with ethanol if you can.  You will have more maintenace problems from using it.

Buy firearms online if you are buying them new, from a gunshow or private buyer if buying them used.  Buy ammunition online or on sale at Wal-Mart.  There are sites that have search engines for the cheapest prices.

Review phone and computer services annually for the best rates.

Review all insurances annually for the best deals including health, life, disability, auto, homeowner's, etc.  Use high deductible insurance and have cash available to cover emergencies.

Review all credit cards annually for the best deals.

Check all bank statements regularly and shop around for the most customer friendly banks or credit unions.  They are surreptitiously slipping in many fees nowadays and you have to look over your statements with a fine tooth comb.

Use discount brokers but don't go too bottom of the barrel. 

Learn how to invest your own money.  You will eventually do better than with the vast majority of financial advisors.  If you use a financial advisor, use one who charges a flat rate, not a percentage of your portfolio.

Exercise regularly, eat very healthily, and use supplements (like food based vitamins, fish oil, Vitamin D, etc.) intelligently to stay as healthy as possible and lower your medical bills. 

Exercise should include some aerobic exercise (but not excessive), some resistance training, some mobility and stretching exercise, and some sensorimotor/coordination/timing activities.  The exercise categories that will keep you healthiest for the longest period of time as you get older include tai chi, hatha yoga, and Pilates but many other forms of exercise can be useful.  Think yin and yang with exercise ... hard and soft.  Combined weight training with swimming, explosive martial arts with slow motion tai chi, etc.  Balance, in exercise, eating, and every other area of life is the key.  

Grow as much of your own food as you can and learn how to hunt, fish, and forage wild foods, plants, and herbs if it is practical in your area.  The latter activities improve your marksmanship, provide recreation and relaxation, reconnect you with nature, restore your spirit, improve your awareness, and will provide you with healthy food.

Try to shop mostly on the outside aisles of stores buying vegetables, fruits, dairy, fish, meat, poultry, eggs, etc.  Stay away from processed and refined foods.  The less you eat out of jars, cans, boxes, packages, etc., the healthier you will be.  Sugar and excessive salt are two big problem areas.  Consumption of baked goods and other refined grain products are also major sources of health problems.    

Stay away from lawyers.  They will bleed you dry.

Find a good, honest, knowledgeable, meticulous accountant.  He can be worth his weight in gold.

Get books from your library to read and if your library doesn't have them, get them on interlibrary loan.  If you find a book you want to keep for your reference library, order it used from online sources or check your library's annual sales.  I've picked up many books for pennies this way.  Don't rely on your Kindle or other e-books.  They can all disappear in the blink of an EMP.

Never buy clothing unless it is on sale.  For young kids especially, buy used.  Even for adults, you can find great stuff.  My wife had a neighbor who was 20 years older than her but who was a fashion maven and would regularly give away her clothes to my wife since she liked her.  These were gorgeous designer clothes, looked fantastic on my wife, and were unaffordable to us at the time (and even in our present financial situation, we wouldn't spend the money on clothes that were this expensive).

Hang your laundry out on a line in the summer and put it on a drying rack in the winter.  You save energy and save wear and tear.  I weight 225 lbs. but I walk softly and gracefully and my shoes last twice as long as most other people.  Most people schlock along in a harsh and heavy, uncoordinated manner and wear out their shoes ... and their joints. 

Negotiate wisely but pleasantly on everything.  We just had to have emergency plumbing done last night and got our bill down by 28% from the initial amount.

Hair care.  Sounds weird but I started shaving my head years ago because it was a pain drying and combing it everytime after I went swimming.  I haven't paid for a haircut or shampoo for myself for years and save valuable time every day not fussing with hair.  Thankfully, my wife and daughter aren't as hardcore as me.;-)

Garbage disposal.  I bring mine to work every day where we have a dumpster (which I pay for but I pay a flat rate regardless of how full the dumpster is so this way, I don't have to pay extra for garbage disposal).

Buy goods such as toilet paper, paper towels, deodorant, toothpast, dental floss, soap, shampoo, etc. in bulk.  Given the inflation that is occuring in these items, it's like money in the bank (when they paid decent interest).  Think about what you buy and get the most bang for your bucket.  For example, a lot of folks use liquid bath soap but bar soap is cheaper.   

Use coupons but not for food.  Almost all the food bought with coupons is poorer quality food you really don't want to eat.

Get rid of your cable TV.  It's mind numbing trash and we don't miss it.

Don't waste electricity, don't waste heat, don't waste water, don't waste food, don't waste anything.  Care for and maintain things that you have so they last.

Find friends and acquaintances that you can share time, knowledge, and services with. 

Volunteer.  The connections and networking benefits will more than make up for your lost time.  

Give generously.  We've always tithed and we don't do it to get something back but it always works out that way.  I've heard people say they can't afford to give (when they usually can).  Truth is, they can't afford NOT to give.

Splurge on things that will give you good memories that no one can take away.  I don't think any family vacation we ever took was a waste of money.

OK, gotta run.  I've spent too much time on this already and the lake is calling me for my swim.  

 

Wendy S. Delmater's picture
Wendy S. Delmater
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Dec 13 2009
Posts: 1988
safewrite's frigal tips
  • Airline fares (and their luggage fees): Gosh, has bringing luggage gotten expensive. You need to learn to pack light and know exactly how much you can bring onboard and if a checked bag is allowed. Try Kayak.com and Southwest .com for the best deals and the reserach the individual carrier's rules on luggage. 
  • Alcohol: I want to make my own wine, and a grape arbor is high on my list of preps. But until then there is Total Wine. They have 3/$10 Double Dog Dare white Zinfandel, and lots of other things for $2.97 a bottle, and it's great. Or if there is a Trader Joe's near you you cannot go wrong with some Two Buck Chuck. Alternately, you can do what my father in law does. "Don't look at the label," he says of his table wine. "It came from a box." 5-liters for $10 to $15 dollars comes to maybe $0.40 a glass.
  • Allowances: get some chores out of the youngin's or they don't get paid. I told my sons that they did not get paid for breathing. It teaches a great lesson and once they have mastered a chore it frees you up to do other things. And teaching hard work and self-reliance will help them get on in the world. They'll eventually thank you, you old meanie.
  • Appliances: Sears Outlet has scratch and dent prices new and reconditioned appliances, on warranty. (An extended warranty is almost never a good deal - say no.) Learn to repair applicances yourself: again, I like Sears as they are great aobut having parts available. But almost any appliance has online manuals and repair guides - even used ones. The money saved on a reconditioned washer or dryer is a beautiful thing.
  • Banks and bank fees: see if a bank is at death's door by visiting Bankrate.com. When I moved I picked as solid a bank as I could, and that usually means a local, smaller bank.They are also good for checking who has the lowest interest rate. When you order checks, do NOT go through your bank. Checks in the Mail or Checks Unlimited are great, safe, online choices with lots of designs and options to choose from.
  • Batteries: get rechargables. Period. they pay for themselves many times over. Batteries Plus or Interate Batteries have them for cheap. Note that these is also the best place to get deep-cycle batteries for solar arrays.
  • Birthday & Christmas gifts: (and shower gifts for the office, and other gifts - budget busters) Just buy them all year, at places like eBay, garage sales, thrift stores, clearance racks and such. The same goes for Christmas gifts. Have a stash of things that can be used as last-minute gifts, unisex and useful. And/or make gifts yourself. We are big on baking cookies for the neighbors fo Christmas, and last year at Thanksgiving, the traditional time for our family to get together and bring home Christams gifts for later, we made everyone (50 people)  cedar sachets. This year it will be homemade, laminated bookmarks. I also made a bunch of catnip toys for a close friend last year and she is still raving about how much her cats love them. Total cost? $1 for some felt scraps plus some string, buttons and thread. And time. And effort. And love.
  • Bus fares: check if there is a Chinese bus operator in between the cities you want to visit. Yes, you read the stuff at the link correctly. $25 between NYC and Boston. 
  • Cable or satellite TV. Right now the national "deal" with Direct TFV means you are totally locked into the high second year price. It's much worse than your cable company, but you can still use satellite as a club (I'm leaving cable for satellite!) if cable tries to raise your rates through the roof. Or ditch the cable and just use online TV and Netflix. And/or get media from your local library.
  • Car insurance: Periodically check for the best deal, but read the reviews on these companies and check into their fincacial strength. If everyone says they have crappy service (or they are about to go out of business)  who cares how cheap it is? Personnally, I like GEICO for car insurance--incredible rates, especially if you have been with them three years and accident free, and word-class service--but their homeowners and renters insurance are subbed out and a bad deal.
  • Car payment: If you must have a car, and try not to since they are a constant source of financial stress, Credit Unions are the best place to get a car loan, new or used. New cars are an incredibly bad deal: the things lose at least 15% of their value the minute you drive them off the lot! But if new is how you want to go, they try to tack on things that they get a commision on. Just buy the CAR.Brand loyalty may cost you: a Honda or Nissan will be essentially the same car as a very reliable Hyundai. I love Hyundais: it was taken over by the guy who used to run Mitsubishi in 1998 and they are now on par with high-end Japaneses cars. Hyundais saved my life in two crashes and a fuel efficient. Try one and be surprised. If you buy used, try to get one owner only and have a mechanic look it over, for a fee. That mechanic can also tell you what cars are reliable and which are clunkers. Ask him. A car purchase fund is even better. We are setting aside money to replace my step-daugher's car.
  • Car repair and maintenance: change your oil regularly. Read the manual and follow the maintenence schedule. Keep all the receipts for maintenence in a file. Buy a repair manual and read it, even if someone else does the work: if you know what needs done you will be less likely to be bamboozled. And if you need a mechanic get referrals from people you trust. In a pinch, you can usually tell a good mechanic by the huge number of cars waiting to be serviced. None will be on sale because he was too expensive for the owners to get their wheels back, either.
  • Cleaning supplies: Soap scum comes off with fast with plain old rubbing alcohol. Hardwood or tile floors require less maintenance than carpets with rugs. 
  • Clothing: New? Try the clearance rack first unless it will get a lot of hard wear: for tough duty anything by Carhart is the way to go. Learn to alter and sew. Repairs are cheap if you do them at home. If you buy online, Google has a tab called Google Shopping. Tell it what you want and then sort by price, lowest to highest. I'm on the edge of plus sized, so I like One Stop Plus, especially thier clearance section. $2.99 shipping for everything in your entire order. And for Pete's sake, never buy ANYTHING online without checking for a coupon code. You can get free shipping, or up to 20% off your order (or no discount) but you have to check
  • Computer and office supplies: HP sells refurbished printers at Staples. They also have one of the best ink-to-pages ratios (the other is Epsom), making them cheaper to operate, and they have this service where you can buy all your directly ink from them at a discount with free shipping. // As to computers, I have people in the IT business in the family so I can share a bit of inside info here. Laptops are more expensive to repair than desktop computers as a rule, and laptops break more often. Hey - I have a laptop; just sayin'. But laptop or desktop, the most reliable ones come from Dell (their slightly more expensive business models, unlike their personal machines, are light-years better as they are "hardened" and break far less often) and in Dell's case, an extended warranty is actually a good deal. If not a Dell, go for a Toshiba. And buy it through Best Buy so you if it malfunctions you can get the Geek Squad to work on it (they don't do Dell). Again, once the original warranty expires, it makes sense to have an extended warranty and one of those with the Geek Squad at Best Buy is second to none. Just make very sure to do your backups, as they will gladly back up (or try to pull your info) for an amazingly high fee before working on it. (Or you could do what I did and marry a computer geek....if that's an option.) Another place to save serious money is to not pay for good antivirus and anti-malware softeare. I use free versions of AVG, and Malwarebytes. Download them at C-net. Tweak Now Power pack is also awesome. Use it to root out bad rootkits and degrag your hard drive.
  • Coupons and rebates: Remember what I said about never buying anything online without checking for a coupon code? Many of those sites will make you glad you have anti-malware software. I recommend Retailmenot.com. As to couponing and in-store specials, I generally save about 30% per week on things we love and use. Repeat after me: if it is not something you will use, it is not a good deal. Tricks I consistently save money with are to comparison shop, buys seasonal things, and take advantage of stores that combine a manufacturer's coupon with a store special. Sundaysaver.com has all the grocery circulars for the entire US of A, every week with no newspaper to purchase, and you can look to see who has the best deals for free. A local thing that may not work for your area as an example: Publix periodically runs a "buy a $50 gasoline card for $40 when you spend X amount (so far $25)" deal. If I use that gas card in conjuction with my Bi-Lo Fuel Perks, I can get up to $1 a gallon off on the already 20% off gas. 
  • Credit card payments: One hopes you are out of debt. Me, personally? I tell the debt consolidation folks that I owe nothing, but thanks for asking. But here is one of the ways I got to that point: set up an automatic minimum payment so you are never late. You can send more than the minimum, and should but if you forget... nowadays if you are late on ANYTHING, they often have the right to raise you interest rate from that teaser intro rate to "I'll break both your kneecaps if you don't pay" loanshark rates. When those fine print changes to your creditr card account come in the mail, read them, all of them. Also watch for FEES, and changes in fees, as that is the other way they can bleed you dry. I usually use a debit card, but I recommend you have a true credit card for car rentals and things you might have a dispute with the merchant on. Hubby recently bought a used Dell and it was broken, returned it and it came back broken again. If the merchant does not return his money, Visa will. 
  • Day care and babysitter fees: Daycare? Your relatives are the way to go, if possible. Or join a babysitting coop where you share: you get a night out, they get a night out, watching each other's kids. Another choice some couples use is different shifts: Mommy works days and daddy works evenings. It sure beats paying childcare. For mornings, to get my kids to the bus after I left for work, I had a grandmother across the street who let them watch cartoons for 45 minutes and shooed them out the door to the bus stop one house over. No charge, except the charge she got out of being with them. I also had a nanny for a year when my son was on half-day kindegarten: she got no cash but free room and board, and I could work. Cheap at the price.
  • Dental insurance: if you have no dental insurance you can join a coop for cheap group rates. Or if you are brave, see if a dental school is nearby. 
  • Diapers: cloth diapers are SO much cheaper in the long run.
  • Dinners out: We have a bunch of friends we get togther with for themed dinners at each other's homes. Japanese food? Italian? French food night? We've done them all, as mini pot luck dinners. It counts as "out" if it is at someone else's home, and three out of four times, it is.
  • Donations to church, non-profit or charity. Keep those receipts for tax purposes, but be aware that unless you give 10% or more it is usually cheaper to take the standard decuction, and that route is less likely to land you in an IRS audit.
  • Dry cleaning: Try not to buy things that need dry cleaned in the first place! But if you must, use Dryell. You can dry clean things in your dryer, at home. That was how I dry cleaned my wedding dress in between the two wedding receptions (one in NY, one in SC where my husband and I now are.) I saved a couple of hundred bucks. 
  • Electric bill: CFC bulbs, energy star appliances, turning off whatever you do not use... we have covered this here at CM on antother thread. What I want to emphasize is that the biggest energy hogs in your house are the cathode ray tubes, and anything that heats via electrical resistance. Ditch the CRT montior or TV as soon as you can: a flat-screen TV or monitor will pay for itself in energy savings. They are really coming down in price. 
  • Fitness center or gym membership: There were times when this is a good idea. like right after my hip replacement when they wanted me to go through long-term PT. I got a cheap gym membership with a pool instead. My son also got a membership for free by repairs a number of things. And there were times when I was on a construction site where did not walk most of the day. For those times, I got a membership at a place with a pool as well, as swimming is the only exercise I will get off my rear and go do. Also pool related (it's a theme with me) I had a membership at my High School pool after I graduated. $5 a visit and right down the street: can't beat that. But nowadays I walk and I garden, and those are free. 
  • Furniture: Thirft stores, garage sales, new (but scratch & dent), things from relatives, IKEA, Craigslist and Earthcyle or Freecycle. I'm sitting on a like-new couch given to me relatives, with an IKEA coffee table, looking at a home entertainment shelf I got for free on Earthcycle. There is an heirloom piano to my left, with an antique framed print above it (thrift store). The new (scratchand dent) table has garage sale chairs custom appolstered by my step daughter, with a gorgeous glass-topped, oak, inlaid side table we got fro $50 on Craisglist. The front porch has bamboo end tables we bought for ten bucks each at a Habitat for Humainty Re-Store. The whole house is like that. And it all works.
  • Garden supplies: Most tools are made of cheap materials. A great place to get contractor-grade gardening tools that LAST is Northern Tool. Bring a file and check the edge on shovels: it should not be made of soft metal. 
  • Graduation photos: who says you have to buy the expensive ones the school photographer sends you? Sears, JC Penny's or other photog chains will stick your kid in a cap and gown and make him or her smile for that camera so you have a pic of them in grad mode, and prints to send to relatives. You might even get a coupon to use for this purpose: Sears Photo Studios, especially, runs great deals every spring.
  • Greeting cards: I do not know why anyone pays for these any more. Hallmark has free ecards, and so do lots of other online places. As for Christmas cards, buy them on sale after the holiday is over, and save them for next year. Try to give out as many in person as you can to save money on postage. 
  • Haircuts and shaving: I like Cost Cutters for haicuts since they send you an e-coupon for $2 off when you need a trim, and they have $2 off every Tuesday, off of already reasonable rates. But if you are really thrifty you can learn to cut hair yourself. I trim my husband's hair in between cuts by shaving his neck and trimming his bangs and above his ears. I also sometimes still trim my own hair. He's an extremely thrifty guy, and he uses an old fashioned straight razor to trim his beard. Stropps it on leather and everything. He saves hundredd a year that way.
  • Hobbies: Luckily most of my hobbies are also prepper pursuits, but I also like to read. I love libraries and used book stores. I have a $29 credit for used books from ones I recycled back to the store after I read them. My sons and step-daughter (20-somethings) all play face-to face role playing games. RPGs are all the rage, and they get some of the newest ones for free because they are members of SCARAB, a company that they invested in that runs RPGs at conventions. Step-daugher also sews, and she uses a store discount on remants and sale fabrics. 
  • Holiday treats and flowers (Valentine’s Day, Easter, Halloween, etc): Anything non-perishable can be bought on sale the year before, in the after-holiday sales. If wildflowers are not your thing (in season, they should be) some supermarkets have deals on flowers: I like Trader Joe's for Valentines Day since they have forced bulbs that you can replant and enjoy over and over again. A cheap way to handle Easter and Halloween candies is to go with a friend to Sam's Club or Costoco and split a huge bag of assorted treats for trick or treaters or school parties. I like making cupcakes for holidays: from scratch the cost is negligable. 
  • Home maintenance and repair: Reader's Digest has one of the best fix it books in the universe. Worth every cent. 
  • Income taxes: accountants are great if your tax situation is not that of a renter with no deductions and one job. Tax software might be good enough in that case. For complex things like multi-state, business taxes, or deliquent taxes an accountant is not a luxury, ti is a necessity. 
  • Internet service and Landline phone: Most cable companies nowadays will lump cable, phone and internet together for a package deal. Phone providers AT&T and Verizon are entering the internet market and and putting severe caps on bandwidth useage. READ THE CONTRACTS carefully before you sign, and listen to the online reviews. Verizon, in particular, has a company history of deceptive contract language. And Comcast has a rep for the worst service EVER.
  • Legal expenses: I have a lawyer buddy who writes note on his stationery to people that are giving me a raw deal. It usually makes them think they are about to be sued, and they behave. I take Harvey my lawyer out to dinner or lunch once in a while and send him holiday cards. I think it's a good deal. 
  • Life insurance and funeral expenses: my personal opinion is that we will probably have to go back to pine boxes, and soon, but in the meantime a term life policy is always better than anything else out there (except free life insurance through your employer). Do not let the funeral director talk you into a fancy casket: the remains are a shell, the person you loved is gone. Cremation and burial at sea are options, too. I'm gonna get planted in the family cemetary for next to nothing, carrying my frugality into the final stage of my time here on earth. 
  • Medical co-pay and deductible expenses: this one has been a beast for me recently. Last year had $8000 out of pocket for my hip replacement, but the bill for the surgery and hospital was $53,000, not counting Rx and post-surgical home nursing (monitoring blood thinnners) and a month of PT. How did we keep it that low a percentage? For one thing we signed up for mail order Rx through the insurance company, got generics, and got any post surgical supplies on loan from a friend on Earthcylwe who recently has a knee replaced. The local Rotary club in a lot of towns has a surgical supply loaner service. And whenever we needed some sort of health provider or service the fiirst thing we asked was, "Do you take our insurance?" Your insurance company has a referral service, but their pick might just be the cheapest place for THEM, and it is often cheap for them since you end up paying for it. Ask the provider.
  • Mortgage: if you have decent credit and a mortgage, and have not refinanced at today's lower rates, I'm surprised. In case you have not, though, a few pointers. A lower monthly payment with a longer term almost always means an overall higher end cost. You will need a lawyer and all sorts of closing costs, and those get rolled into the new mortgage, with interest. Still, if it is a three point reduction in your interest rate (say your credit rating dramtically improved in the last ten years) you'd be silly not to do so. Try for a local bank or a credit union: the big banks have sold the mortgages to places that have been caught playing games with your payments: as in you were not late but they say you are and add fees and penalties which almost get resolved when it gets sold to another mortgage holder (who pulls the same thing.) Lather, rinse, and repeat ad infinitum.
  • Museum, park and zoo passes:  back in NY the Bronx Zoo and the Metropolitan Museum of Art had free days, once a week - I think the zoo was Tuesday and the Met was Wednesday. We did not live near either of them but those friends who did got season passes to the Zoo and all sorts of cool benefits. Hey, if it gets the kids out of the house and teaches them something, why not? One trick that works very well with little kids: buy them a stuffed penguin or a toy tiger at a dollar store and whip them out as souvenirs at the end of the trip. Bingo - you just saved mega cash at the Zoo gift shop. .
  • Newspapers, books and magazine subscriptions: Who has time to read everything we are offered? If you really need it, they probably need you, too. Example: I subscribe to ENR - the Engineering News Record, as it has vital information on my safey engineering consuting work. The darned thing cost $80 for six months. This year I told them no, it was too expensive, and threatend to cancel. They dropped it to $39 for the year. Subscription cards in WIRED tell you it is only $12 a year, 90% off the over price. I was offered it for less since I was editor of an long-term online magazine (but $12 a year is still an awesone deal as I read it cover to cover.) Check the deals on the in-magazine subscription cards.
  • Over-the-counter medications & HBA: I've had great luck buying all the generics at Walmart and Dollar General. Great selection, especially at Walmart. 
  • Parking passes and parking fees: this was a biggie when I lived in NY and commuted to NYC. If you are visiting NYC and MUST drive a vehicle, be advised that the traffic is from hell itself and parking fees vary wildly based on a variety of factors: how close you are to main attraction (like Times Square and Broadway), the size of your ride (oversized vehicles get pounded on extra fees), and the time of day or the day of the week. The best deals are on early bird specials, for up to ten hours - look for signs to that effect. 
  • Pet expenses: Petmeds is great for regular medications for cats and dogs, but Tracor Supply Company (TSC) has them, too. And TSC has the absolute best deal on cat litter around: $10 for 40 pounds of scoopable, high quality cat box filler. We have working mouser cats. I buy my dry cat food when it goes on sale and store it in our larder.
  • Photo printing and processing: Kodak online has the best prices, service and such for digital prints, and you can pick them up at your local Taget for cheap. I had my wedding photose done this way. 
  • Postage:  Need I mention Forever Stamps? And you can have FedEx pick things up at your house with a 1-800 phone call. But the best deal is a UPS store. No lines at Christmas? Excellent. 
  • Prescription medication: Walmart and Taget have a month's worth of a large number of Rx's for only $4. They want you in their store so this is a way to get you in there, Take advantage of it. 
  • Rent: I saved a bundle on rent when I fixed a bunch of things that needed fixing and they gave me a discount based on my labor. 
  • School lunches: I still have no idea why people buy those itty bitty snack bags for their kids or lunch boxes. We were techically poor, and qualified for school lunches, but the food was awful anot not all the good for them. I sent them in to school with a stuffed sandwich bag of homemade popcorn, a homemade brownie, homemade corn muffins or celery stuffed with peanut butter, or a sandwich bag full of generic snacks. My kids had cheddar and apples or carrots, and other healthy stuff. When it came to MY lunches, I always brought them.If the place had a microwave I made exrta at dinner and heated it up. Cooking from scratch is heathly, inexpensive, and can take less time than driveing somewhere for take out or ordering a pizza. I did it when I worked two jobs while raising three kids alone. Make friends with your stove!
  • Septic tank maintenance: use that bacterial additive and save a lot on pumping a septic tank, if you have one. 
  • Shoes: for new shoes, Payless Shoes has great BOGO (buy one get one, or buy one get one half off) a few times a year. If you are on your feet a lot (waitress, retail, construction), spend more and get high quality work shoes. Online, there are places like Zappos to get your shoes with free shipping and free returns if they don't fit: these are especially great if your feet are odd sizes (like mine). 
  • Snacks:  the hands down, cheapest, healthiest snack in the universe is air-popped popcorn. 
  • Textbooks: if you want to sell a used college text book, drop by the same class, next semester, first day. Arm yourself with the cost fo the used book at the school bookstore (or online) and underprice it. You will still make more than you would selling it used to the bookstore. To purchase a used text book, do the same in reverse, showing up on the last day of classes, knowing what they will get for it used and offer a bit more. In cash. 
  • Theater or concert tickets: I used to log onto the NYC Tranist intranet and get 70 % off on Broadway plays and such. But that was rare; I am too cheap to pay for much! The Long Isand Philharmonic had a free concert under the stars at a state park, and I was much more likely to go to that or a free concert at the library or high school or a local college (small fee). Here, all summer there are movies in the park once a week and the rest of the year you can see free movies at the library. Your local paper or an online source will tell you where such things are happening nrear you. 
  • Tobacco: my husband used to smoke and says he saved a bajillion by buying bulk tobacco and rollling papers and a cigarette roller. No filters that way, though, and smoking is bad for you., Bad bad bad, but if you haven't kicked the habit at least this can keep it from kicking your wallet. 
  • Trash and recycling bill: Around here, curbside trash pickup costs $150 a month. We take our garbage to the recycling center ourselves. The smelly stuff gets frozen until trash day. 
  • Tuition and class fees: Two words: AP classes. If you can get college credit for classes you take for free in high school, it's the best deal imaginable. Two more words: CLEP exams. CLEP stands for "Credit for life Experience." One $40 or $50 test can get you about a $1000 of collge credit, How cool is that? Three more words: Employer Education Plans. My last two classes for college were paid for by my employer, books and all, as long as I kept a B average. If you can get a simlar deal out of your boss, you can practically go to college for free. 
  • Turnpike and bridge tolls: In NY, the EZ-Pass gave you a discount on tolls. But the best discount was to know where the free bridges were. 
  • Vacations: my friend Charlie is coming to FL from the UK to Orlando on business and at no charge. His wife looked online and found out she could travel round trip on the cheap. If she stays with him in the business hotel it will be an incredibly cheap way to see Orlando. Last summer I went to Atlanta when my husband was there taking a required course for work. I stayed with him the second week at no extra charge, and the Courtyeard by Marriot had free breakfasts (7 days) and free dinners (M-F). Afterward, my hubby was called into his boss's office and asked, "Why did you spend 2/3 LESS than anyone else we sent?!?" They even paid for some groceries for my lunches and our one diner out. Moral of the story? Tag along on a business trip if you can. Other inexpensive vacations include visiting relatives (yes, I know that can be a drag), camping, or seeing the local sights (a staycation.)
  • Wireless phone (and all of its features): unless you get a free cell from your boss, a family plan is usually cheapest: just realize they will restart your 2-year contract every time you sign up a new family member or upgrade a phone (why do you think they give out free upgrades?) Moneysaver: you can buy a used phone online instead of a new one. 
  • Wedding plans: like CM memner Full Moon I did a wedding recently, only I was the bride. We fed 60 guests for $200, plus a $70 ice cream wedding cake. The dress was $200 online, plus $100 to alter it, and the flowers were comparison shopped for and came to $80 - one way we saved money on those was to dress up two lovely hanging plants with big white bows on the top and put them on either side of the altar. The invitions were hand-made as a gift by my daugher-in-law (a designer; she's incredible.) The photographer was a friend of the family whose photography I had admired, He was thrilled to do it for $200 bucks. As to the honeymoon? I asked him to hire a professional mover instead and we spent the week after our ceremony in my lovely waterside apartment on Long Island's north shore. *ahem* Not all of that time was spent finishing packing.
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Damnthematrix
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laundry soap

Best way to save on laundry soap.....?   STOP USING IT!

I haven't used the stuff in at least ten years.  Unless I have to wash heavily soiled clothing after working on greasy machinery etc.  It started like this: a friend of mine (who is at least as green as me) was given a set of stainless steel balls to wash with instead of detergent.  So he gave it a go, even though he was highly skeptical.  His clothes came out just nice.  So then he thought, ha ha, they can't possibly have cleaned the laundry, so he ran another load using NOTHING but water.  Same result!  Whar really cleans clothes is the action of the washing machine.... the soap is just to make you feel good and separate you from your money...

Oh and the very best stuff to get rid of grease is what is marketed in Australia as "Wool Wash" which has a strong scent of Eucalyptus Oil.  It's so good, I wash my hands with it after working on the car or mower, and it completely and effectively removes all grease....... obviously, it works well on clothing too.

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How to really use lemons

A quick tip for getting the most out of a food that many of us cannot grow, esp here in the Northeast! I've discovered that the quickest best way to use lemons, and prevent any from going bad in the vegetable bin, is to cut them in half when you buy them, and stick them in a plastic bag in the freezer. Then when you want some lemon juice, use a fine cheese grater and just grate the whole thing (watch out for seeds). It turns out that the lemon flavor permeates the whole fruit, it's not just in the juice. Alternatively, if you squeeze them while fresh, put the empty rinds in a bag in the freezer. These can be used two ways - take them out, chop them coarsely, and put them in the blender with water and sugar/honey to make great lemonade in the summer (it needs to be sieved after blending). Or, you can just use the frozen rinds for direct grating into pancakes, muffins, soups, etc. You can even use the stuff that you sieved out of the lemonade you made - just freeze it and add it directly to pancake or muffin batters. Truly frugal people will also use the seeds to create house plants. Thank God I'm not that frugal!

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ao
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Damnthematrix wrote: Best
Damnthematrix wrote:

Best way to save on laundry soap.....?   STOP USING IT!

I haven't used the stuff in at least ten years.  Unless I have to wash heavily soiled clothing after working on greasy machinery etc.  It started like this: a friend of mine (who is at least as green as me) was given a set of stainless steel balls to wash with instead of detergent.  So he gave it a go, even though he was highly skeptical.  His clothes came out just nice.  So then he thought, ha ha, they can't possibly have cleaned the laundry, so he ran another load using NOTHING but water.  Same result!  Whar really cleans clothes is the action of the washing machine.... the soap is just to make you feel good and separate you from your money...

Oh and the very best stuff to get rid of grease is what is marketed in Australia as "Wool Wash" which has a strong scent of Eucalyptus Oil.  It's so good, I wash my hands with it after working on the car or mower, and it completely and effectively removes all grease....... obviously, it works well on clothing too.

Hey Mike,

Do you use bath soap or do you just splish-splash yourself around the tub a few times?  :-)

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Shampoo
ao wrote:

Hey Mike,

Do you use bath soap or do you just splish-splash yourself around the tub a few times?  :-)

not Mike, but we all probably use more than we need as much as we lather up.

But, my comment is not about soap, it's about shampoo. You can do without that - just google no-poo. You wash your hair with a little bit of baking soda and rinse with vinegar. Depending on how frequently you shampoo now (i.e. how much your hair is used to being stripped of its natural oils on a daily basis) it can take several weeks to a month and a half for your hair to look and feel "normal," and in the meantime you may feel the need to do it every day. But after awhile you find you don't need to wash your hair as frequently.

I do this, though I admit, sometimes I use shampoo because it does feel nicer *during* the shower. But after the shower, as long as you've rinsed with vinegar (and I've used Kombucha for this too) your hair is soft, clean and easy to comb through.

~ s

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ao
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Saffron wrote: ao wrote: Hey
Saffron wrote:
ao wrote:

Hey Mike,

Do you use bath soap or do you just splish-splash yourself around the tub a few times?  :-)

not Mike, but we all probably use more than we need as much as we lather up.

But, my comment is not about soap, it's about shampoo. You can do without that - just google no-poo. You wash your hair with a little bit of baking soda and rinse with vinegar. Depending on how frequently you shampoo now (i.e. how much your hair is used to being stripped of its natural oils on a daily basis) it can take several weeks to a month and a half for your hair to look and feel "normal," and in the meantime you may feel the need to do it every day. But after awhile you find you don't need to wash your hair as frequently.

I do this, though I admit, sometimes I use shampoo because it does feel nicer *during* the shower. But after the shower, as long as you've rinsed with vinegar (and I've used Kombucha for this too) your hair is soft, clean and easy to comb through.

~ s

That's interesting Saffron, thanks.  I'm going to float that one by the other family members.  Myself, I'm of the low lather school and for my head with no hair, no shampoo, no baking soda, no vinegar, and no bother except to shave and buff to a blinding sheen;-)

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Saffron
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no shampoo
ao wrote:

 I'm going to float that one by the other family members.  

It's a hard sell ... in our family nobody else will do it and they've got it easier as they are all boys and don't have to deal with a long mass of hair.

In return, I will float the no-shave by them ;-) except I know it won't fly except maybe with the 8yo and that one mama won't let fly.

~ s

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lol

not a hard sell by my younger  teen boys .. tis the way I can tell they have their eye on a girl..  showers , brushing teeth , and deodorant  all without me  asking if they got it done .

  Just being real here

  FM

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soap
ao wrote:

Hey Mike,

Do you use bath soap or do you just splish-splash yourself around the tub a few times?  :-)

Hi ao.....  we shower here mostly, baths are for luxury times, and I absolutely do not use soap in a bath, I hate swimming in suds!  Having said that, I do use bath soap in the shower, but now I ask myself why...  I can't stand hot weather (and I live in the subtropics) and in Summer I shower maybe six times.  I don't use soap then, I just wash sweat with a quick splash of the shower.

When you think about it, sweat is not greasy, and you only need detergents to dissolve grease, so apart from the anti bacterial effects of soap on certain umentionable bits, there really is little need to use soap.  we have just become used to the stuff as surplus oil has allowed us to have surplus/luxury items for everyday life.

Mike

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The Power of Energy Efficiency

The Power of Energy Efficiency

4 09 2011

 

We recently purchased three new LED globes for the kitchen to test from here.  I was hopeful they would do the job, but they actually perform over and above all expectations.  At about the same time, our power “bill” arrived, and this led me to finally post something about just how efficiently our house runs.  Hardly anyone believes we can run a house “with everything” (except a swimming pool, I draw the line there) on virtually zero energy.  As they say, the proof’s in the pudding, so here is a scanned copy of “the bill”…… (click on the bill for an enlarged view)

There are two sections to this invoice.  One is the amount of power we consume, and the other is the amount of excess power we generate via the solar power.  As you can see, the Utility states we use 2.5 kWh/day, and we generate an excess of 7.4 kWh/day (in some of the worst solar weather I have ever had to endure – and I sure hope those numbers go up soon).  That we pay only $0.2069 for what we use, and collect $0.5200 for our solar energy certainly helps us in getting an invoice in credit.  But the point lost on many people is that the main reason we have achieved this is because of the strategies we have undertaken to reduce our consumption from some 20 kWh/day 20 years ago, to just 2.5 today.  If you notice that the chart went up from the previous quarter, it’s because we started up a second freezer when we slaughtered our pigs and ran out of freezer space.  I expect that by Christmas we will have it turned off again, especially now we have a going AGA to cook our roasts in….

I have already explained how we reduced our refrigeration cost right down with the “Cool Idea”.  But I haven’t yet disclosed how we heat our water up as successfully as we do.  As far as I am concerned, there is only one way to heat water, and that’s the solar way.  Furthermore, if you do it properly, it is possible to achieve 100% solar fraction (that’s jargon for never boosting!), a little trick I learned whilst learning all about Renewable Energy at the then Ithaca TAFE in the 90′s.

Basically, you have to tilt the collectors such that they are optimised for winter when the sun is weaker, the days shorter, and the water you want to heat is the coldest.  To calculate the best angle of tilt in the winter, take your latitude, and add 15 to 20 degrees. This will give you the angle from the horizontal at which the panel should be tilted which here on the Sunshine Coast is about 40 degrees.  Then, remove the tank from the roof, and put it inside your house somewhere warm, standing upright.  A vertical tank will not mix cold water with hot anywhere near as much as a horizontal roof mounted one.  Of late, most solar heaters are split systems like this, though most people still install them outside on verandas.

I should also mention the importance of a water saving shower head.  We bought ours twenty years ago when we first started living on tank water, and whilst I doubt it is still available, it is incredibly efficient at under 4 L/minute (about 1 US gallon for Americans).  The less hot water you draw from your tank the less you need to reheat, particularly important in cloudy weather.

You will notice our collectors are on a South facing roof, and as such need to be tilted up on a frame to face the equator at the winter angle.  This has been through destructive winds twice now…… and it hasn’t yet blown away!

To reduce one’s consumption to the level we have certainly requires commitment.  And attitude too.  You often have to spend money up front to make the gains, but I can assure you we are laughing all the way to the bank as the cost of power starts soaring.  I firmly believe that it is only a matter of time before you who read this have to pay the same rate we collect for our solar electricity for the energy you consume.  Will you be able to afford your current wants?

We did two other things in the past 18 months to lower power usage from 4 to 2.5 kWh/day.  One was to replace the 120W PC that used to live here with not one but two laptops.  They are rarely both on at once, but at just 40W each, does it matter?  And then, as digital TV becomes the norm, we replaced our aging 130W CRT TV not with a gigantic plasma screen or similar LED TV, but a same size 23″ LED backlit LCD device that barely uses 30W.  We don’t miss a big screen, because we have never owned one.  And yes I will admit that whenever we see someone else’s 42″ monster, they almost take your breath away… but then, so do our power bills!

If you have been following this site for a while, you should know we never heat nor cool this house (though of course the AGA will make the place nice and toasty in winter!) because it is passive solar designed – ie the sun shines through into the house all day long in winter, and never in summer.

And those LED lights?  Well they have certainly come a long way, ours look just like an old fashioned incandescent light bulb, except they only consume 5W a pop.  At $20 I know they are not cheap, but they will outlast me with an expected life of 50,000 hours (which at 5 hours a night is over 27 years).  Unlike CFLs (at left), they have no Mercury to ditch in landfill (there are still no recycling facilities around here) and I like them so much I will replace another three as soon as I recover from the AGA Saga!

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Love: More than blind????
Damnthematrix wrote:

 

...............and in Summer I shower maybe six times.  I don't use soap then, I just wash sweat with a quick splash of the shower.

Mike

Whoa! Six showers all summer and no soap? Your wife must really love you!

I suppose next you're gonna tell us you follow the advice of that rock 'n roll chick (wasn't it Sheryl Crow??) who, a while back, was advocating that we all use one square of toilet paper per trip.

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This reminds me of a TV

This reminds me of a TV special on PBS called The 1900 House, where they made a family live exactly as they would have in 1900 for three months.  They had access to a barber, grocer, general store, butcher, etc, but all of these outside services were also provided in strict 1900 fashion.

After three months of turn of the century living, the family returned to the modern world; they commented that modern people smelled very strongly of artificial scent from deodorants, detergents, scented shampoo, perfumes, etc.

And of all the modern conveniences that they had to give up while living in 1900, I think I recall that modern shampoo was the single hardest thing to do without.  Everything from laundry to cooking was much slower and more labor-intensive, yet it could be done just as well given sufficient time and effort.  But there simply was no 1900 product they could find that could clean hair as well as modern shampoo.

 

Arthur Robey's picture
Arthur Robey
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How I have chosen to live

How I have chosen to live frugaly.

  •  Get rid of the car
  • Avoid paying for rates and taxes, mortgage or rent. Ie get a yacht.
  • Avoid paying for electricity. ie get a yacht.
  • Avoid paying for securty Get a shark infested moat. (yacht)

But I still have to make money.

  • Manufacture Rino Horns from horse hair and glue and sell them to the Chinese as an afrodisiac.
  • Deal in drugs. Caffeine (needs a yacht)
  • Work. (Been there, done that.)

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katyan
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laundry soap, shampoo, etc.

This thread is interesting, but verging on too much personal information ; -)  A few additional thoughts:

Laundry detergent
The research appears to back up the claim that plain water works just as well as commercial detergents or homemade soap. However, it's hard to shake the feeling that you need to add something to the wash! I tried activated ceramic disks despite being skeptical. They worked OK, but seem overpriced and my PhD chemist husband put some holes in their scientific claims.

I've been using soap nuts (actually the dried hulls from the seeds of the Asian Soapberry Tree), for over a year now. The cost is only pennies per load and they are about as low on the net environmental impact scale as you can get without growing your own. My first 12-oz. package from Lehman's lasted at least a year. I recently purchased 10 lbs in bulk at a significant discount, kept out a year's worth and stored the rest.

Compare these instructions to those for making a powder laundry soap:

Step 1) Place 3 - 4 soapnuts in the little drawstring bag that usually comes with them
Step 2) Toss the bag into the washing machine and turn it on

Note that each batch can be re-used up to four times

OR, if you want to go to the trouble ; -) of making a liquid soap:

Step 1) Place 6 - 7  soapnuts in a pan of water
Step 2) Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes
Step 3) Cool and pour into a container (I use an old commercial laundry detergent jug)
Step 4) For storing more than a few days at room temperature, add a few drops of tea leaf essential oil; otherwise refrigerate

I think that I get better economy with making a liquid soap. With either method, just throw the spent soapnuts on the compost pile when you're done.

Shampoo, etc.
- I use bar shampoo handcrafted by Chagrin Valley (www.chagrinvalleysoapandcraft.com); a single bar is about $6 and lasts several months for me...long hair, shampoo 2 to 3 times per week; it comes in brown paper wrapping, no plastic! One of these days, I may learn to make my own, but for now I'm content to let someone else do it...just looking for a local source now.

- I keep a spray bottle of apple cider vinegar diluted in distilled water (from my home distiller) in the shower, which I use in place of a conditioner on my hair, and to prevent mildew...just a quick spritz on the shower surfaces after I'm done bathing

- Crystal deodorant works great and lasts nearly forever! I get the plain chunks rather than the kind that comes in a traditional plastic applicator...it looks quite nice sitting out on the counter in a decorative ceramic dish. After I dropped it a couple of times and flaked off some small chips, I crushed them and mixed them with water in a spray bottle to use as a foot/shoe deodorant. The original reason I switched was to eliminate the aluminum found in commercial products since Alzheimer's runs in my family, but I wouldn't go back even if that wasn't a factor.

 


katyan's picture
katyan
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laundry soap, shampoo, etc.

Oops! sorry for the double post!

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ao
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Good ideas, katyan! Do the

Good ideas, katyan!

Do the soapnuts work with cold water?  The recommendation said warm water so that would be an additional cost factor for us since we use cold water for most things.

Do you have a crystal deodorant recommendation?  I had tried what I think was a similar type deodorant years ago that was made in Israel.  It sure worked and was certainly economical but during the hot, humid summer on the East Coast, it wound up plugging the pores in my armpits and they became swollen and painful.  I've never used it since as a consequence. 

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Poet
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Cheap Longshot Investment Idea - Solar Calculator

I have a Texas Instruments solar-powered scientific calculator that I bought back in the 1990s. It still works!

So here's a thought for those who believe in an economic and societal collapse of such magnitude that a precision electronics manufacturing economy will no longer be possible in the world...

...What if you bought a few solar-powered scientific or financial calculator for under $20, then sealed it with moisture absorbers in a mylar bag, then put it in a dark cool (maybe even EMP-shielded) box for 20 or 30 or more years?

How much would a working solar-powered scientific calculator be worth to any engineering, accounting, business, or math folks then? I bet far more in future barter than what $20 buys now...

Poet

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Wendy S. Delmater
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Pumpkin thrift

Some quick thoughts on getting the most use out of your Halloween or Thanksgiving decoration pumpkin. We got at 22-lb one for $1.99 as a loss-leader sale at the local grocery.

  • Don't carve; decorate. The minute you carve it, it starts to rot. The skin is not edible anyhow, so paint it or draw on it to your heart's content.
  • Keep your pumpkin indoors and away from hungry squirrels and other critters. We used ours as a centerpiece on the table.
  • Save the seeds. Green pumpkin seeds are high in antioxidents; scissors are the easiest way to get them out. Or you can roast them with a little salt and oil on a baking sheet, like I did last year. This year we will save the seeds to try and plant in the garden. (Right now they are on paper towels in the kitchen.)
  • Get the meat out. Waaaay back when I was young and foolish, I about broke my hands peeling raw pumpkin. Nowadays I just bake the two halves and scoop it out when it's cooked and soft. Easy!
  • The USDA does not recommend canning pumpkin, but you can make batches of pumpkin bread in old coffee cans and freeze them for Christmas gifts, or for yourself later in the year. Or make something dried that keeps a long time, like pumpkin biscotti.
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Poet
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Great Idea! Also! One Dollar Large Pumpkins At Walmart

We were at Walmart just last night and they had large pumpkins - about 14 inches diameter - for $1 each. Sounds like a great way to buy an edible pumpkin for cheap.

Shop for them post-Halloween. :-)

Poet

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price matching

 Everyweek  get the sale adds from the newspaper or on line , Gather your coupons  and head to wal-mart .   

Examples this week 4 lbs. of C&H sugar $1.99  at the local store  Walmart honors this then stick the dollar coupon on it and you get it for $.99  .

  local store add ... 10 lb russet potatoes  for $1.88  ... walmart  is $4.29 ... you save $'s

Pumkin pies  $3.35   ... you can not cook them for this . 

canned veggies  3 for 1$ ,

  frozen veggies $. 69 a  16 oz bag ,

cream cheese $1.09

Peanut butter $1.99      you get it  ...  STOCK UP .

Childrens Summer outfits on sale now for $1    buy  three sizes   you are covered for years

 helloween candy 50% off  who cares what collor their M&M are when you are baking cookies with them ? 

 8 of the moms get together to let the kids play  while we swap coupons ..  I will never pay regular price for deodorant , razors . etc.  Buy enough for three months minimum   That is when the sale will come around again .   This will keep the prices down if no one will buy at the higher price  or they will give up and we will have to go back to the old way of hitting each store  .   

  If I am going to buy something not on sale or coupon I wil get it at the local store .   Yes it may only save you  $30  or 40   each week but it helps ..  just  stick to your list and do not impulse  buy .   I used to come out with one cart weighing in at $300 + $$  last nights was $133.

 FM 

ao's picture
ao
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canned pumpkin
safewrite wrote:

The USDA does not recommend canning pumpkin, but you can make batches of pumpkin bread in old coffee cans and freeze them for Christmas gifts, or for yourself later in the year. Or make something dried that keeps a long time, like pumpkin biscotti.

safewrite,

Why doesn't the USDA recommend canning pumpkin when these are available?

http://www.meijer.com/s/_/N-/Ns-R/Ntk-n/Ntt-pumpkin+12+cans/Ntx-ap'

Wendy S. Delmater's picture
Wendy S. Delmater
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can pumpkin?

AO - That info about the USDA not recoomending canning pumpkin is from my Ball Blue book of canning. I'd probably can it anyhow if we had a non-glass-topped stove (it will shatter with a pressure canner.) I froze mine.

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Full Moon
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canning pumpkin

 They do not recommend it because they think it is too dense .  BUT 

http://pumpkinnook.com/cookbook/canning.htm 

FM

   

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Wendy S. Delmater
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so Full Moon said, I  miss

so Full Moon said,

I  miss hearing others  daily ways to live frugal .  I  Like to learn helpful hints from others  and here we are not bothering anyone who  is not interested .

...in another thread. Here are a few more, in the actual frugal tips thread (Poet starts such great threads!) and I love it when we all share the small things that add up to a lifestyle change. Let's be seasonal and talk homemade Christmas gifts. A simpler lifestyle should involve things like making useful things.

One year my son got tired of his rock collection and we made paper weights with stained wooden bases and embellisments from a shell collection. They looked like something out of a museum store and I saw them proudly on display in relatives' homes decades later. Last year I took scrap felt and made catnip-filled cat toys for a dear friend who has several cats. I made fish outlines, added cotton fluff the inside, laced with 'nip, and sewed them up with contrasting-colored thread and sturdy button eyes. There was also a stick with a foot of twine, and a worm made of felt like the fish dangling from the "fishing pole". The cats still play with them. The four toys cost one dollar to make.

Also last year, we got a firepace popcorn popping pan with a long handle, and wrapped it in a green fabric pillow case meant for his neck pillow. Wrapping or "bows" can be part of the gift, like a set of cup or spoon measures instead of a bow on a baking mix gift. I made homemade Orange tea mixes one year - just mix iced tea mix with Tang and some cinnamon in a pretty jar. And we always bake shortbread for the family and hand it out at Thanksgiving when everyone is there: the tins are part of the gift. But they recyle them - the family members always wash and return the tins.

This year I am giving heirloom earrings from my aunt to my mother-in-law, and my goal is to give all the things I don't need to charity of someone who can use it. Example: A friend's home was broken into and they stole her laptop. I have a 1G Gateway laptop with a couple of nicks that was not powerful enough for my work, but still serviceable. My husband cleaned up the Gateway for her, filling it with freeware like a Linux opearating system, Open Office, antivirus, and various other things we know she likes. His careful reconditioning of the machine is what mades something used gift-worthy.

Nice things with a family history make great gifts,too. Last year and this year I bought several photo albums on sale and put pics of each of my sons and siblings in them, with other family members. Voila - I am free of photo clutter and they are or will be happy.

I will give e-cards to most of the people on my Christmas card list. For this, Ilike  Blue Mountain e-cards. You send some of them free, or can pay a little extra  for a year's worth of a wider selection, and will save money on cards birthdays, aniversaries, graduations and such. One great place for such tips is a blog called Wisebread.

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