Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Painless Frugal Ideas

We interupt this cozy warm cabin to talk about frugal ideas. Bring them on! I'd love to hear some of your frugal and/or 'green' ideas. My Mom is the Matriarch of Frugality.

Sometimes it takes the fear of being furloughed to re-assess your finances. It's good to take an inventory every couple of years to see what you are spending your money on and how you can cut out some of those costs.

Here are some of the painless frugal things that I already do:

I'm a regular poster at a laundry room forum. I'm a bit of a freak over laundry. You could almost say that I'm into laundry voodoo....LOL I'm familiar with all sorts of concoctions to clean clothing. Ask me about STPP, TSP, vinegar, washing soda and borax. STPP and TSP contain phosphates, they are my last resort cleaners. I prefer the last 3 for all kinds of things including handwashing dishes.

I use Charlie's Soap, you'll see the link in my list of favorites on the right. I bought their 1280 load, 5 gallon container. This container will last approx. 3 years or more doing 8 loads per week. We don't do that many loads per week. I used Charlie's in my old top loader and in my new 4.7 cu. ft. front load machine. It contains no brighteners, which is perfect for hunting or military clothing. There are no scents. This is a no nonsense detergent. I would recommend trying the smaller containers to see if you like it. I've got my Mom using it now. We used to be Tide girls. This product not only cleans, it's 'green', which makes it even better.

I don't use fabric softener or dryer sheets. I will occasionally add 1/4 cup of vinegar to the rinse cycle for towels, but that is it. I set my dryer to ring when our clothes are damp dry and I pull them out. If I end up furloughed, I'll start hanging clothes outside in the summer and in the basement during winter.

Bar Towels:
As of April 15, 2008, I stopped buying paper towels. I purchased 2 - 12 pack of white bar towels for $4.56 per set. We use bar towels exclusively for everything that you use paper towel for. Since they are white, I toss them in the wash with Oxy or Bleach, if absolutely necessary. Need a napkin? We have cloth.

Dialing Down:
We have a digital thermostat. We have it set for 65F when we are awake. We have it set for 60F at night. We didn't turn on our furnace until around November 10th, it was a struggle, but we made it!

Once A Month Cooking (OAMC):
Have you heard of Dream Dinners or something similar? This is where you go to a center and put meals together and take them home to freeze them, and cook them later. Well, you can easily do this at home much cheaper and I know how clean my personal cooking utensils are. I have several OAMC meals in my freezer. If I'm furloughed, I will do even more. Here are some things that I have in my freezer ready to pull out the night before and cook. Chicken Pot Pies, Stuffed Green Peppers, Ham and Swiss Stromboli, Green Beans with Ham and Potatoes, Pot Roast, Lasagna, various homemade soups.

Compact Florescent Lamps (CFL's):
We are replacing all of our incandescent bulbs with CFL's as they burn out. This is a big money saver on electricity.

Kerosene vs. Citronella oil:
I love having outdoor torches. Have you seen the price of Citronella oil in the stores? YIKES! The Citronella doesn't work to keep the bugs away, anyway. Kerosene is half the cost. OK, so this is one of those 'wants' not 'needs'. I just love the way the cabin looks with the torches lit.

Buy store brands, use coupons:
The only thing I insist on is Heinz Ketchup, nothing else compares...LOL I am vowing to use more coupons.

Credit Card:
We only have one and we pay it off every month, but we will greatly reduce using it.

Here are some of the things that we plan on doing over the next month or two.

Get new estimates on car insurance, house insurance, cabin insurance. Our cabin insurance is outrageous, since we are 17 miles from the nearest fire department. We have no fire hydrants, they would have to draft off of our lake if there was a fire.

Reduce clutter - we will be starting a garage sale area in our basement and plan to have one in the spring when our city does a city wide garage sale. We are going to go room by room and see what items we don't use anymore and put them into the garage sale area.

Telephone - keep land line and eliminate my cell phone? Or, eliminate the house phone. Cancel long distance? I have a car phone (On-Star), so do I really need both a cell and car phone? Hmmmm....

Look at alternatives for our current basic cable. Is a satellite dish more economical? We don't have either at the cabin. Cable is not available and we are in a valley and have too many trees for satellite TV. We have 3 channels and I like it that way, Bill? Not so much.

Cancel one of our 2 internet providers. One is our DSL and the other is AOL. We are going to eliminate AOL since you can now keep your email addresses.

I know there are more things, but this is where we will start! Don't worry, we won't be getting rid of the cabin. It's our Heaven on Earth. Tomorrow, back to our regularly scheduled cabin program.


Betsy Banks Adams said...

Denise, You have already put together a great list to help you save. I seldom use my dryer since it uses so much electricity.I have a rack in the laundry room, a line in the garage and even use the shower racks in the bathroom sometimes.

I have learned that we don't need to wash clothes so much... I will wash once a week (maybe 2-3 loads max). That's a big change for me.

I am a coupon queen... It takes work--but when we compared one year's grocery costs vs. the next (when I was using coupons), we had saved about $500. I also go to Kroger's --where on Wed. they give a 5% discount to Seniors. They also double the coupons--up to 50 cents, and you can use expired coupons there. Walmart and other stores are much pickier!!!

If you have questions about couponing, email me!!!! (Maybe I'll do a blog! ha)

I wouldn't want to do this--but if you have to, could you rent out your cabin when you aren't using it????? Just a thought!

Keep up the good work... Hopefully, you won't need to cut back. BUT--if you do, you'll be ready!!!

Betsy Banks Adams said...

P.S. I forgot to mention that we switched from Comcast Cable (TV) to Direct TV (satellite). It's GREAT and much cheaper in our area.

George said...

We have quite a few trees around our house and we have no trouble with satellite TV. It's only a variation of OAMC, but when we make a meal we make it for four servings rather than two. We only have to cook half the time and it doesn't take that much more time to prepare something.

Shelley said...

I love your ideas Denise! I am hoping you don't get furloughed - but it definitely sounds like you have a plan. The hubby and I have been looking at ways to cut back too. Here's a few things - I know there is so much more I could be doing so looking forward to sharing more ideas:
1. Cancelled the newspaper (we read online now)
2. Plan our meals around coupons - if I have a coupon for it - then that's what we eat!
3. Pack hubby's lunch for work so he's not spending money to go out.
4. Reviewing all our insurance too like you!
5. We are not having a xmas exchange w/ the relatives (just buying for the kids.) But I will be making some homemade goodies for them.

I'll have to check into that Charlie's soap you mentioned. Detergent is so expensive!

Paula said...

LOL on the "laundry voodoo" comment, Denise!!
I have been doing a lot of the same things for a while.... it's amazing how frugal you can be if you want to!! (Most people don't!)

Tami Weingartner said...

The nice thing about living in a little house....is you can not be a junk collector...and by junk I mean knik-knacks. There is no room for them.

I'm really crazy frugal on clothes. I literally have two pair of dress pants and 4 pairs of jeans and when they are worn out....then I replace what goes. I try to take good care of everything. And I have a pair of barn jeans that are pretty rough that I use for mucking. I only wash when things are truly dirty. You would be surprised at what a good shake off and hanging things in fresh air will do.

I have a weird allergy to perfume and scents including those in cleaners. A friend gave me Shaklee's Basic H2...which I can not rave enough about. To clean glass you add 2 drops into 16 oz of water. General light duty cleaning...floors furniture tables you add 1/4 teaspoon into 16 oz water. And Hvy grease you add 1.5 teaspoons into 16 oz of water. The stuff is just amazing. I've been using the 16oz concentrate for a year and a half and it's still 3/4 of the way full.

I do not have a TV, internet, or land line phone service. I can play DVD's from my laptop. I use the internet at work, the library, any where there is free service.

I keep my thermostat at 62 and do not have air conditioning.

I make a big pot of soup on Sundays and we have it for lunch or a quick supper all week.

I traded down on my refrigerator. I've found that you really don't need a regular size frig for two people. I've used both the tiny 2.5 cu ft and the bigger compact that is 4.4 cu ft. And honestly to feed 2 people I can go grocery shopping once a week and have no problem with either. I do not buy anything pre-made I cook all of our food. It's health, yummy, and much cheaper. Pretty much all of my shopping is done along the outside walls of the grocery. I farmer market in the summer and go directly to the slaughter house for the meat.

I'm sure I can go on and on....but these are the biggies that spring to mind.

Alex and Alicia said...

GREAT post, Denise! I loved reading your ideas (as well as those contributed in this section by others). People continue to freak out about the economy, and although it is indeed in a sad and scary state, people just need to be smarter about where they are spending their money - as you all have pointed out.

I was sitting in Starbucks the other day and overheard two ladies discussing the same thing, drinking away at their $4.50 lattes and thought amusingly to myself, "People just do not understand how these little things add up!"

When I lived on $20 a week, I was buying food and nothing else. Being a student in Scotland though, I didn't have a car, eliminating insurance, gas, upkeep, etc. I worked part-time to pay my rent and utility bills. The $20 a week rule came in when the dollar was doing so poorly against the pound. I limited myself to a specific set of items each week (eating was VERY boring) and stuck to a lot of whole wheat pastas, canned soups, and cereals. Admittedly, it wasn't all that healthy, and I'd never even venture to do it again, but for that time and place, it definitely worked! :)

Glad to hear too that you won't be getting rid of the Cabin. It'd be such a sad day to see that go.


Cedar ... said...

First I hope that you do not have to tighten the belt and stay on the job! I was faced with some of these choices when I suddenly found myself single again. If you want a cell phone, consider tracfone. i'ts a pay ahead plan,.. I do a three month plan for approx $20. I don't use it much but it gives me the peace of mind when I'm on the road or out camping. I replaced my Verizon plan which was approx. $60/mo. Whew,-- b-i-g savings!

Anonymous said...

Check out the grocery cart Challenge. This lady feeds a family of 6 on 60 dollars a week. She is a great motivator for me and I love to see how she did each week. I currently work for GM and will be out of work until Jan 5 so we need all the savings help we can get.
Best of luck to you.
Anne from MI

ctlogcabin said...

Denise ~~ Thanks for stopping by....and thanks for all your great ideas posted here. I think we are all trying to cut back, spend smart and make good choices,there is always some fat that can be cut when you think about it. My hope is that what ever we implement now, we keep going forward when things (finger crossed) turn around, and improve.
Wishing You and Yours a Blessed Merry Christmas !!!
Hugs ~ Connie xox
PS ~~ Love the way your shed is painted !!!

Denise said...

Betsy - I'll have to get with you about couponing. The cabin is bought and paid for, we'll keep it to ourselves. I agree the dryer is pricey to run, ours is gas. :)

George - the 2 satellites available up north are through a hill, too low in the sky for us. I love leftovers, don't you? Do you cook George?

Shelley - cancel the newspaper! I need to do that. Thanks

Paula - gotta love that laundry voodoo! That's why I labeled this frugal thread as 'Painless',

Tami - you are MUCH better than I am at this frugal-ness. I agree, knick knacks need to go. That is why we are going to go room by room and going to have a garage sale. I'm getting older and like things a lot simpler. Hence, having an old log cabin.

Alicia - I don't know how you did it on $20 a week. Yeesh, that's very little money. No way, this cabin is staying right here.

Cedar - do you get wrong numbers coming in on your trac phone? I've always wondered about that.

Anne - I'll have to google the grocery cart challenge. I love a challenge. Please write back if I can't locate it. I'm from a family of retired GM employees. Keeping our fingers crossed.

Connie - thank you for stopping in, I've added you to my blogroll. Hope you stop by often.