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.
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.
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.
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.