Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Saving money is fun!

There are times when I wonder just exactly why people will spend so much money on things that they don't really need or even want. We will spent $20 a plate on a steak dinner when you can grill your own for less than half of that. We will spent $30,000+ on a vehicle that uses $80 worth of gas a week when you can spend $8,000 on a very good used car that gets much better gas mileage. We feel the need to have our climate controlled homes set at the perfect temperature at all times regardless of the fact that the outside air is near the same temperature. All of our appliances have to have a digital clock on them so we know how much time we don't have before the minor event in our lives.

When my husband was concerned about getting laid off in January, we went thru everything in the house looking for ways to save money. My daughter only have 1 more year of high school before she goes off to college and we didn't want to have to move her away for her senior year. We looked at every expense we have, from house payments and utilities to where we spend our money.

It became a game with me to see where I can save money in the house.

We have a clothesline so we do not have to run the clothes dryer so much. That does a couple of things. 1) you are not using the electricity to run the dryer, and 2)you are not heating up the house with the dryer and making the AC have to work harder to cool off the house. Granted there are some things I still use the dryer for, like towels. They just get too stiff out on the line. But I can dry them on the line, then run them for about 15 minutes in the dryer with a damp hand towel to soften them up. Much better than the hour-hour and a half it takes to actually dry them completely in the dryer.

We have also been changing out lightbulbs to CFLs as they burn out. I think we have gotten about 90% of them changed now. Another thing is to turn off the lights is you don't need them. Every morning I go thru the house and turn off all of the lights except the lamp that I use behind the couch. Even though the lights all have CFLs in them, I have enough sun light coming thru the windows during the day to see. I don't need any extra lights.

I don't use the furnace or the AC unless the weather outside is extreme. We have had the windows open for about 2 months now here in Arkansas and it has been just fine. The pollen had us all sneezing for a couple of weeks but the worst of that is past now. We have been having 70+ degree days and low 60s at night so it has been just great. A couple of ceiling fans and open windows on opposite sides of the house keeps a very nice airflow going. I will probably be running the air this summer because it just gets so stinking hot here, but I will have it set on 78 or so.

On the grocery side of things, I have just been getting creative.

$2 a day for the kids to eat school lunches every day was just too much, so they have been taking their lunch every day since January. Lunch meat is expensive so I have been making ham out of pork loin, salami ( see previous posting on the how) and roast beef out of , duh, a beef roast for their sandwiches. Every now and then, they will get a PB & J just to change things up. I have been buying big bags of chips from the Dollar Store and putting it in baggies for them. I can get about 6 lunches out of a $1 bag of chips for them. I will make a pan of brownies and individually wrap them in plastic wrap then freeze them. That way I can take them out one at a time for lunch or snacks. A reused plastic bottle will hold juice or water or tea, add a piece of fruit and they are good to go.

I also looked at the grocery items that we used the most. Liquid coffee creamer was way up toward the top of the list. My husband and I would go thru about 2 quarts a week. And at $3.00 a bottle, that was just too much. So I did a web search and found that it is very quick and easy to make at home. Healthier too since I can actually pronounce all of the ingredients. Powdered milk, brown sugar, and either vanilla or cocoa powder.Wow! What a difference it makes. And I already had all of that stuff in the kitchen anyway.

I have already starting canning food for the summer. Strawberries are coming in season here so I have been making jam. Yesterday, I went to the local National Chain grocery store to get marked down produce. I got 22 ears of corn for $3.75 and 4 bags of apples for half price. 3 cantaloupes for $.99 each and 6 lemons for 89 cents. I also got 4 heads of lettuce for 59 cents each. Your local grocery store can tell you when their produce trucks run. You can usually get a really good deal on the produce they mark down or pull to rotate stock. Buy in bulk and can or freeze it. You can eat healthier for a lot less.

It is really fun to find creative ways to save money. Just go thru your house and look at the way you live. Are there options to the way you do things? Living well on less money is not really that hard. It just takes a little effort to find the right way for you.

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