Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Cancelling the Cable

Cable costs a pretty penny. I spend about $100/month not for the sports packages [which is a rip off if you ask me] but for the children's programming [which is also a rip off] that my toddler is addicted to.

But $100/month adds up. According to CancelCable.com, it's like buying a new 50" tv each year and tossing it in the dumpster. Yikes! But you can cancel your cable and still watch most of your favorite shows for free from various other sources which CancelCable can teach you about.

Seriously, head on over and just think about it. And think about what else that money could be doing for you instead if you invested it instead of throwing it down the drain.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

How Much Is Your Time Worth?

Do you realize how many hours it will take you to work to pay for things? Try out this handy dandy little calculator. It is really eye opening. Useful if you're going to be purchasing or financing something--it might just make you think twice about where your financial priorities are.


Here is a simplistic example. Let's say you earn $10/hr and decide to go eat out at a restaurant that costs you $20. It will cost you two hours of work just to pay for that dinner.

Now imagine if you could figure out how many hours it will cost you to buy that hot new pair of shoes, new little trinket of junk or that new car you've been eyeing. I imagine that you will start to determine that some things aren't worth your hard earned time and money.

Try it out and start thinking in terms of your time and see if it doesn't give you a different perspective too.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Frugal Food & Fitness

Has the holiday weight started creeping up on you yet? Mine has and I'm already starting to plan my post holiday workouts because being healthy is much cheaper in the long run!
So if you're like me, you might want to check out this free e-book by Squawkfox to give you some Fun Frugal Food and Fitness ideas.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Let Me Explain...

Yes, it's been a while. I honestly didn't fall off the face of the earth. I've just needed a break. A serious break. I was seriously stressed and worn out after the election season and all the economy stuff happening all at once.

So the day after the election, I disconnected.

I needed to find peace again. I haven't watched the news, read the financial blogs or listened to talk radio since. I know there is still a lot of turmoil going on in the financial arena, but honestly I'm just focusing on taking care of my own personal financial situation so that I can be sitting in the best possible scenario I can.

So here's a little update:

I've managed to cut nearly $2000 of business expenses per month. Plus I am working on whittling away more expenses on our personal finances--we have paid off a few credit cards and are currently in the process of a handy little refi that will save us $300/month--[rates are great this week!]

I have made some frugal changes that seem to be helping as well. So all in all, though I know there is still more I can be doing [and I will still be working towards this], I feel pretty good about what we've accomplished so far.

[Sorry economy, I need to do what is best for me--hope it doesn't affect you too much that I've reduced my spending].

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Joseph's Little Overcoat

This is such a cute book that really teaches an important lesson that I believe we have forgotten in our fast paced disposable product world.

The story of Joseph's Little Overcoat starts out with Joseph in an old and worn coat that he salvages and turns into a jacket, then a vest and then without giving away the whole story, a few more things. Just when I thought it couldn't be turned into anything else, it was!

Read it--it's cute and has a funny ending. Plus some great lessons in frugality we could all benefit from.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

What else?!

It just keeps getting worse! What else are we going to add to this complicated mess???

Do you ever wonder how the lens of history will look back at us during this time? Do you ever wonder if your children or grandchildren will be assigned to interview you for school about how it was?

Letting It All Hang Out

A lot of people say how much line drying their clothes can save you money. I do like the smell of line dried clothing but sometimes it is just so easy to just throw it in the dryer instead. Besides, they are a lot softer that way.

But if you're still trying to save some money in the budget, it is something to consider. There are lots of items that can help you set up the right system for yourself.

*Retractable lines
*Umbrella lines
*Pulley systems
*Racks that pull down or fold up flat
*Extra shower rods hung in the bathroom or anywhere they will fit
*Even the back of a chair will work

But if you're new to this, then the following will offer you some practical tips you won't want to miss:

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Christmas is Coming!

It may seem like Christmas is still far away, but I've learned if you're frugal, you will start way in advance and it won't break your pocket book.

Here is a fun idea if you have grade school children that want to make a present for a younger sibling. The Lowes Build and Grow Clinic has a fun little firetruck project coming up {and it's free!}. Today they had a pirate ship. So don't forget to check these free clinics out for fun little homemade gifts!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Ding! Times Up!

We've been having issues with how much time one of our kids has been spending on the computer and watching tv. Time limits have been issued but it still goes unnoticed.

So I decided we needed a timer that would physically go DING! But we don't have a portable egg timer. The kitchen timers on the microwave aren't near the computer/tv either, so I almost went out and bought one. It was even on my grocery list.

Good thing I didn't make it to the store over the weekend because I had a brilliant flash! Why, if you google "online timer" a whole host of free online options pop up! Imagine that!

I'm really glad I didn't spend my hard earned money on a timer. So before you go spend on something you think you need, first think hard if there is a better way to get it.

  • Do you have something already that would work?
  • Can you locate one on freecycle?
  • Borrow from someone?
  • Find a free version online?
  • Can you make it yourself?
  • Etc

This kind of thinking saved me money. Sure a timer wouldn't have cost me all that much, but every little bit adds up. So save a little here, save a little there a little more often and your pocketbook will be much happier.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Silly Little Quiz

What would you do with your money?

Just a silly little quiz to take on a lazy summer afternoon. Trust me when I say it gets a little silly. You'll know what I mean if you take it!

Let me know what you are!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Saving Money With Your Printer

I guess I could talk about printing coupons to save money with your printer, but that's not exactly what I had in mind. What I was thinking about were some of the things I've been doing to try and save money when printing other things.

1. Think. Do you really need to print it out? Is it something you can just read online or save as a document on your computer to retrieve {and read on your computer}later on?

2. Gray. Convert all your text from black to a gray and it will use less ink. Experiement with different shades of gray to see what works best for you. Some people may prefer to read a lighter gray while others with poorer eyesight would have a harder time reading a light shade.

3. Double-sided. If your printer has this capability, set your printer settings to print on both sides of your paper, or print half, then manually re-insert the paper to print the rest on the other side.

4. Increase the Pages Per Sheet. Some programs, like Microsoft Word, have a setting in the printer settings box that allows you to print multiple pages on one page. You can choose from 1-16 pages per sheet and it will shrink your text down and fit them onto the page.

For me personally, anything more than 4 sheets per page gets pretty tiny. But printing double-sided at the same time allows me to print 8 pages worth of material on only one sheet of paper! That saves me a lot of paper!

Sometimes if a program doesn't allow me this printing option then I will copy and paste the information into my program that does and then print from there.

How about you? Do you have other tips? If so, I'd love to hear them!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Food, food, food

My oh my! These food prices are driving me nuts! Here are a few articles I've enjoyed lately that had some good tips in them.

Phew! Did you finish all that reading? I hope you learned some new things that will help you eat better and keep your pocketbook in line a little bit better. I know I did!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Ditching Disposables #7

[via Southern Living]

Aaah! The old fashioned lawn mower. How is this ditching a disposable? Well, it's not like you have to throw away the lawn mower after each use but a disposable product is designed to keep you coming back and buying more [aka evil WetJet!]. A gas powered lawn mower is designed to keep you coming back for more gasoline. Therefore, in a sense, a lawn mower could be considered a disposable.

The gasoline you put in those things is used up pretty quickly. I about choked the other day when it cost me $12 to fill up my tiny gas can for the mower and with today's gas prices that could certainly add up over time and faster than it used to! So maybe an old fashioned or electric mower would be a better option.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Quotable Quotes

Don't stay in bed,
unless you can make money in bed.
~~George Burns~~

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Independece Solutions: The Energy Audit

The first thing I did was to get an energy audit. Check with your gas or electrical company to see if they offer anything like this.

They came out and looked at my windows, doors, appliances, water heater, pipes, faucets and insulation levels among other things. They asked about our habits like how many showers a day do we take, and how many loads of dishes or laundry do we do each week. Then they review the last 12 months of our usage and then make recommendations on what and how to improve in certain areas.

I now have a very specific list to start working with on my home. Plus a list of rebates and how to get them if I choose to implement certain items in my home.

This is a great place to start because they will give you specific solutions and ideas on how to improve your own space and not someone elses space who may have different factors to consider.

So if you're looking for your own solutions, definately start with a home energy audit.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Independece Solutions

When I first started thinking about this stuff, it was because I was concerned with the rising cost of heating fuel in my area. And I wanted something concrete to help with that for myself and for others like the elderly, or people like my dad with a condition that its imperative he keeps warm or he may lose some limbs due to frostbite like symptoms that can occur even in the warm summertime.

A lot of the solutions I was coming up with required a lot of cash outlay to get the new systems put in place. But maybe there are other things you should be doing first before going that route. Things that would help you get through a crisis without any heat or electricity if you haven't been able to afford or had time to install some of the other ideas that I will be talking about {at a later time this month} yet.

If you are in debt, don't think about trying to add big expensive systems yet. Work on getting out of debt--this will be important but at the same time try to implement some low cost items that will help see you through.

* Begin to prepare by collecting warm blankets and bedding at yard sale and thrift stores. Try to keep an eye out for down comforters that will help keep you warm, but stock up on others too.

* Begin to stock up and collect warm wool or cashmere socks, long johns, sweaters, coats and mittens/gloves. Summer is a good time to look at yard sales for these types of things, but keep an eye out in the thrift stores too. Some of them you might have to wait to catch sales or clearances later on in the year when those items come back into the stores.

* Shore up your insulation and air leaks to help keep your warm air in and cold air out {more on this to come}.

* Add thermal insulating liners to your drapes and windows~~about $5/yd at the fabric store, if you have full panel draperies, you will need approximately 5 yards per window which can add up. Maybe work on one window a month or something so it isn't a huge hit to your pocketbook all at once.

* Make or buy a solar oven so you will have a way to cook without having to worry about fuel to light up a grill etc.

* What will you use for light? Buy a few solar powered lights, or battery powered lanterns w/ solar powered recharger. Those are much cheaper than outfitting your house with a whole solar lighting system, so go with these first, plus they're great to take camping with you! Also stock up on candles, I always see them at my local thrift store, and they can make a room look and smell lovely.

A lot of these are ideas that can be used even if you rent instead of own your home. And they are more inexpensive than some of the other ideas I've been looking at. Since it is summer, definately make use of the yard sales all around, keep your eyes open at thrift stores, or even start asking for some items on places like Freecycle and you can easily {and inexpensively} begin to prepare the things you will need.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Quotable Quotes

"Spending is the forbidden apple of the financial Garden of Eden, where all our troubles begin. Spend too much and you fall into debt. Fall into debt and you can't save. Fail to save and you have nothing to invest. With nothing invested, you're up the inflation tree."

~~Money for Life by Steve Crowley~~

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Ditching Disposables #6

Let's confront the paper towel issue. Do we really need paper towels? I know some people who think it is absolutely unsanitary to wipe up some things with a cloth towel. But I say, HOT WATER and WASHING MACHINE=NO PROBLEM, folks!

All you need is a nice big stack of them. {If you need to stock up, the Dollar store will probably be your friend here, or you can cut up old towels to the size you want.} Put them in a pretty basket or drawer in your kitchen. You can keep a separate basket under the sink for your used ones. Then just take to your laundry room at the end of the day to be washed and re-used!

And they last such a long time! In fact, I am still working on the hand towels I received nearly 15 years ago when I got married.

Fifteen years ago!!!

I'd say I have definately gotten good use out of those! Anyone care to figure out the savings on that???

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Ditching Disposables #5

Disposable Dusting Rags

Disposable dusting rags seem pretty silly to me. There are a multitude of things that can easily do the job for you.

*Use cut up old tshirts, towels, etc.
*Use microfiber type fabric cut to size
*Get a feather duster ala Flylady's that I hear works pretty great!
*For the swiffer duster fans: Make your own with instructions here and here

Just take your pick and then re-use as needed!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Quotable Quotes

"If I gave the [money management] course to Ben Franklin, he'd laugh me off the stage. It's just basic, universal wisdom that we've forgotten over the generations."

~~Transforming Your Relationship With Money: The Nine-Step Program for Achieving Financial Integrity, Intelligence, and Independence by Joe Dominguez~~

Friday, June 20, 2008

What's In Your Wallet?

I just realized I have a stack of cards in my wallet that is about 1/2" thick. That's crazy! So I decided to break them down to see what I'm carrying:

1 Drivers license
1 Debit Card
1 Medical insurance card
1 Medical flex spending card
3 library cards {mine, hubs, and my childs}
2 grocery store cards
1 gift card
4 credit cards {what???}

Well, I KNOW I need to get rid of the credit cards. I want to do a really cool on air plastectomy on the Dave Ramsey show because that would just be fun. But I need to figure out a cool way to do it. I can probably get rid of the extra library cards and one of the grocery store cards {because I never shop there anymore}

Then I started to think about it:

What if my wallet was stolen, would I know what cards I had in there? Would I know which cards to cancel and which companies to notify?

Yikes! I don't think I would have known!

So your assignment, should you choose to accept it, is to streamline the amount and make a list of all the cards you carry with you, their account numbers and contact information then file them in a safe place.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Ditching Disposables #4

Bums at our house really like the nice soft Charmin and now that I'm paying attention to how much things cost, I was shocked, SHOCKED I tell you! that the two {count them, TWO} packages I bought last week came to $27 freaking dollars!

Yes they were the larger packages, double roll, super strong, bla, bla, bla. But still!

Hardcore people may elect to go with washable fabric strips for TP and femine hygiene solutions. Or even go with the bidet type solution with the perinatal spray bottles that you use after you have a baby.

That may creep out some people and I understand completely--trust me, I do! Certain bums at my house are not willing to give up the nice soft Charmin comforts either.

But some people, who are among the washable diaper crowd for instance {hey! Another disposable to ditch!} would probably have no problems with it since they already know how and are comfortable with washing soiled linens of this nature.

It may not be for everyone, or maybe its only for a few people in your house instead of all, but even if you pay attention and learn to use less, it will still help your budget.

So, just something to think about...these are just ideas and thats all I'm saying!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Ditching Disposables #3

Another easy disposable to ditch are plastic baggies. Basically I just wash and reuse them. Though I'm sure there are plenty of methods out there, here's how I do it:

1. Squirt some dish soap into the baggie.
2. Zip it shut.
3. Start rubbing, scrubbing and scrunching it together to spread the dish soap all over.
4. Open the bag and put a little bit of hot water in.
5. Zip it shut again.
6. Swish, rub and scrub it all over.
7. Open and rinse it thoroughly with hot water.

The drying part used to always throw me for a loop. I would try and prop them open on the countertop to dry, but they would always deflate and not dry very well. Then one day I found a Bag Dryer that will prop it open to air dry. Brilliant!

They run around $20 or so, but it would be easy to create your own DIY Bag Dryer with a flowerpot filled with beans and small round dowels, chopsticks or whatever you have.

I use my plastic baggies for lots of things and I don't like having to constantly be buying them. By rinsing and re-using I can prolong the life of them for a long, long time. The only ones I throw away after use are the ones that held raw meat or anything seriously bacteria prone.

It's just another simple way to save money instead of throwing it away!

Beans and Rice, Rice and Beans

If you're on the Dave Ramsey "Beans and Rice, Rice and Beans" diet, then this is the meal plan for you! Holy cow! So many beans!!!!

I am going to make it stretch into two weeks though because I can't cook all the beans at lunchtime too. Besides I'm usually eating leftovers for lunch instead. So that really makes the meal plan even more affordable at only $33.62 a week.

Once I figured out that the meal plan can last me two weeks instead of one thus making my grocery bill even cheaper, I began recalling my oh so fun poor starving college student days where I lived on only $10 a week.

I didn't know how to cook very well back then. So I usually came home with milk, cheese, rice, some ramen and a few veggies for a stirfry. If I had known how to cook with beans, I probably could have stretched my grocery budget even farther. This was way back in the early 90's when I'm sure food was much cheaper than it is today.

So I've decided, this is a good sort of meal plan for college students. Its cheap, and if you're making it feed only one person instead of a family of oh, say, four, then it will obviously last you even longer making it even cheaper!!

Quotable Quotes

"There are only four ways I know of to spend less and thereby free up more dollars to be saved: make things last longer, use smaller quantities, buy cheaper, use a cheaper substitute."

Friday, June 13, 2008

The $45 Shopping Trip That Wasn't

I was right in thinking it would cost more than $45 to buy all the supplies for Hillbilly Housewife's $45 menu. Her prices were based off 2006 figures, not today's figures.

The menu plan was also based off of stocking an empty kitchen. So if you already have flour and sugar you might not have to purchase those thus making yours a wee bit cheaper. However, I recommend buying them all because you can always start to build up your food storage that way a little at a time.

Following this plan is also a good way to learn to cook using these types of ingredients. I came home with a lot of dried beans. And last night I started a batch of overnight homemade bread. Mmm! Can't wait! But I don't bake homemade bread very often, so this is good for me to do.

But anyway, I digress...

Here's a breakdown of the ingredients, her price, then my own price:

10 lbs all purpose flour
2 5lb bags for $1.92 hers
2 5lb bags for $1.88 mine

3 pack of yeast
.62 hers
.98 mine

Baking powder
.77 hers
.88 mine

$1.77 hers
$1.92 mine

3 lbs long grain white rice
.99 hers
$2.29 mine

2 lb bag of cornmeal
.88 hers
$1.24 mine

5 lbs of sugar
$1.88 hers
$2.34 mine

Vegetable oil
$1.50 hers
$2.28 mine

2 cans frozen OJ concentrate
.88 each hers
$1.52 each mine

20 quart box of instant nonfat dry milk
8.87 hers
$14.28 mine

2 lbs lentils
$1.20 hers
$1.44 mine

2 lbs pinto beans
$1.30 hers
$1.56 mine

1 lb black beans
.60 hers
.98 mine

1 lb lima beans
.60 hers
.92 mine

3 boxes macaroni and cheese
.33 each hers
.42 each mine

3 packs of ramen noondles
.10 each hers
.16 each mine

2 dozen eggs
.69 a doz hers
1.38 a doz mine

2 lbs margarine
.48 ea hers
.68 ea mine

1 lb hot dogs
.89 hers
.67 mine

1 28 oz can tomatoes
.89 hers
.94 mine

15 oz can tomatoes
.50 hers
.46 mine

15 oz can green peas
.42 hers
.48 mine

15 oz can corn
.45 hers
.50 mine

15 oz can greens
.40 hers
.52 mine

15 oz can spinach

5 lb bag carrots

3 lb bag onions

1 bunch celery

6 oz can tuna

18 oz jar peanut butter
$1.50 hers
$1.32 mine

$1 hers
$1.08 mine

Pancake syrup
$1 hers
$1.38 mine

.50 hers
.53 mine

.50 hers
$1.12 mine

Garlic powder
.50 hers
$1.44 mine

Chili powder
.50 hers
.94 mine

salt and pepper
.75 hers
.84 mine

bouillon cubes
$1 hers
$1.78 mine

100 count tea bags
$1 hers
$1.76 mine (if I had gotten them, but I add them here for comparisons sake)

Some of my prices were cheaper than hers, but some were definately more expensive but overall, it was definately more expensive. Prices of food have gone up. Instead of the $45.16 HBHW spent for all the ingredients, I spent $67.24. That's a 49% increase in food prices.

You could always try to find the prices and ingredients on sale and stock up, but if you had to stock your empty kitchen and buy all these at once then I would plan on more like $70. I chose to shop at Walmart for my shopping trip but you may choose to shop elsewhere. If anyone else has shopped this meal plan, I would love to hear what your totals were.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Ditching Disposables #2

Well, I did it! I ditched my WetJet. At first we were going to try and do a clever hack on it to make it work with a piece of a cut up old towel and an old shoe lace like this:

With a hole drilled in the top of the solution bottle and plugged with a piece of cork like this {because they don't make the bottles so you can unscrew them}:

But in the end, though that would have been fun to do {and I still might try it since I haven't totally gotten rid of the thing yet}, I went with the oMop from the Method line at Target, with nice soft {and washable} microfiber cloths and a lovely {if you can call it that} spray bottle to wet the floor with.

Buh-bye disposable wash pads and solution bottles!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Here's an Idea!

I think I'm going to go on Hillbilly Housewife's $45-Menu Plan for a few weeks so that I can redirect some of my money towards other things. I think its a good strategy every once in a while because it frees up some of your other grocery money to go towards something else like building up your food storage, or sending some more money off to a debt payment {or a whole host of other ideas too}.

The plan looks edible enough to me. And it looks like she took great care to be sure that you are still getting proper nutrients. Though meat eaters might be a little sad that their protein is coming largely from beans.

The only thing is, the $45 dollar amount came from 2006, so I think it will really end up being more than $45. I'll let you know~~I'm going shopping today.

Prioritizing My Babysteps

I've been thinking a lot about this weeks quote. My mind gets going in so many different directions sometimes, and lately I've been doing some massive research on a bunch of different things and I get so many ideas of things I want to try, or implement, or focus on and I only have so much money {and time} to work with.

It's easy to feel overwhelmed.

So I need to decide priorities on these projects and where I want to focus my energies on first so that I will systematically be able to start knocking things off my list in "manageable increments".

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Quotable Quotes

"How do you break the spending habit? They way you break any undesirable habit: you retrain yourself in manageable increments."

~~Money for Life by Steve Crowley~~

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Ditching Disposables #1

The first thing I have ditched has been the dryer sheets for my laundry. You can get these funny looking dryer balls that will make your laundry nice and soft in the dryer and these re-usable static eliminator bags that will last a really long time.

The dryer balls can be found in all sorts of places but I haven't really noticed the static eliminators around as much. You can always add a bit of white vinegar to the rinse cycle {or I just put mine in the fabric softener holder in my washer} to help cut down on static electricity. Don't worry, it doesn't make your laundry stink. In fact, it helps keep your washing machine nice and clean too!

Ditching the dryer sheets will save you money and its an easy one to do!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Here is another fun way to use up your freebies and make an inexpensive and darling gift along the way!

Also, note at the end where she mentions places to find freebie items. Those are a lot of the same places I get my info from too. So since I've decided not to post them as much anymore, if you still want to be in the know on where to get some pretty cool stuff, then definately check them out and bookmark them!

I Want Solutions

I could not sleep last night. I was awake until at least 3:00 in the morning. My mind would just not stop thinking.

I was disturbed by a story on the news about my gas company raising their rates by 36% by this coming winter. As if this inflationary period isn't bad enough already! Most of my discretionary money I used to have is being used for the price of increasing food, gasoline and now my utilities too? I worry about the poor people who live on fixed incomes. How are they supposed to afford all the increases we've been having? How long is it before they have to choose between food to eat or whether or not to heat their homes?

You may or may not believe the whole peak oil thing, or that we could ever goto war over oil. But preparing for a life without it might not be a bad thing anyway. I've often thought about what I would need to be able to survive a prolonged power outage during the winter to be able to keep my family warm. Natural disasters do happen. Tornadoes, hurricanes, or ice storms could knock out your services for a while.

Wouldn't it be nicer to be prepared? Wouldn't it be nicer to know what to do and how to do it? And back to my original thought, wouldn't it be nicer not to have to depend on those services in the first place?

So last night I was trying to think of ways to lessen my dependence on these types of things because I don't want to just wallow in how horrible things are or could be. I want answers and I want to take action. How can I modify my home and harness more of the free power of mother nature?

I've been creating a list of changes and modifications I want to make. And if you're like me, you want to know what some of the things are on my list so that you too can get out the "theory" of all this stuff and into the nitty gritty real details and solutions. I will post about my ideas on their own since I think each one deserves more than just a slight mention on a quick little list. So you'll definately want to stay tuned.

What I like about creating my list of solutions and ideas is that it empowers me to have some control over the situation and not just let things happen to me.

The trick will be to get my cute husband on board with these projects. I think the key will be to show the savings we will receive by implementing a lot of these ideas. Sure there could be an initial outlay of money to make some of them happen, but it should pay itself off within a certain amount of time and demonstrate a real savings in our pocketbooks. And maybe along the way it will be kinder to the environment and then everyone can be happy!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Quotable Quotes

"It is much better that a plastic credit card should perish than a family dwindle and perish in debt."
~~Joseph B. Wirthlin~~

Friday, May 30, 2008

Beyond the Lemonade Stand

It's the last day of school in my neck of the woods today. So I thought it would be fun to compile a list of summer jobs for kids. Kids around here are pretty resourceful, here are just a few ideas we've had circulate the neighborhood over the years.

  • Painting house numbers on the curb so emergency vehicles can spot you better at night {black, white and silver combinations~~works especially well in new subdivisions) ~~$5
  • Washing windows~~$1-2/window
  • Power washing your house, garbage cans, etc~~$25 for the house, $10 each garbage can
  • Picking up dog doo-doo~~$2/week (I think I'd charge more than that!)
  • Walking your dog~~don't remember the price
  • Selling concessions at free family movies in the backyard (your own backyard with a projector~~you can't charge admission to the movie, but you can sell treats!)~~varies based on the concessions
  • Selling full size candy bars found super cheap on sale then resold at a profit (this one has worked well for my daughter), or smaller candies that just cost a few cents because kids will dig up money from all sorts of places to come buy candy~~varies based on the candy
  • Reading to small children~~don't remember, but my niece is doing it this summer
  • The basics: babysitting, lemonade stands, car washes and lawn mowing

What other ideas could kids do?

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Garden To Cut Food Costs

According to this NPR article, thats just what people are doing. I think its a smart idea no matter what the economy is doing.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Stop Throwing Away Your Money!

I need a new mop. I've been using the WetJet but I ran out of the disposable pads. Which has been driving me crazy for like, forever! I hate that companies make products so that you have to keep buying. It's great for them, but not necessarily for my pocketbook!

So! I've decided that instead of buying new refills, and disposable pads for my mop, I am going to buy a similar mop that uses washable cleaning pads instead and an easily refillable {by myself! not by buying a new bottle of stuff!} solution thingy. Or I could forego that altogether and just go with a mop with washable pads and just pour my own solution {by hand} on the floor instead!

And I've been thinking. What other disposable type products can I switch from to save a little bit of money?

  • Ziploc baggies can be washed and re-used {unless they've had raw meat in them}
  • Dryer balls can be used again and again instead of buying dryer sheets
  • I've even been considering trying to make my own Clorox type cleanups with washable fabric {old tshirts or towels anyone?} instead of throw away type paper towel sheets
  • Some people even go so far as using washable feminine products and toilet papers {not sure I can go that far! eek!}

So are you ready for a challenge? During the month of June I will be giving up and transferring from some of my old throw away methods and trying to switch to better methods. I challenge you to do the same. Pick one or two items you think you can switch. I will be doing a few posts throughout the month on this too to hopefully give you a few more ideas.

And during this whole process hopefully we can re-gain a little more of our hard earned cash instead of throwing it away on disposables.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Fighting Consumerism

I wouldn't say that I am an extravagant spender. I don't do it for sport or for therapy. But I'm used to going and getting whatever I want most of the time. And even that wasn't very extravagant. It was usually things to help things run a little more smoothly around the house. I even got to the point where I didn't really even check price tags a lot of the time.

So now I'm trying to be better with my money so that I can actually WIN with my money. I want a paid for house and a nice stash of money for retirement!

But changing spending habits can be hard. It's been hard on me the past week or so because I've really wanted to go out and buy some stuff that would really be helpful around here. But really, they don't fall within Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs so I'm sure I can survive without them. I just need to get some perspective here. I'm richer than I know compared to other parts of the world! I just need to remember that!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Quotable Quotes

"Money never made a man happy yet, nor will it. There is nothing in its nature to produce happines. The more a man has, the more he wants. Instead of its filling a vacuum, it makes one."

~~Benjamin Franklin~~

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

It's Snowing!

Well, not real snow, but it IS supposed to rain today but that's not really what I'm talking about to begin with anyway! What I'm talking about is the little extra payments you're sending off to your debts.

I think by now everyone has heard of the snowball method of paying off debts, right? But there are a few other terms out there floating around that I thought I would define for everyone:

*Debt Snowball = when you pay off the smallest debt first then apply that amount to the next debt, and so on and the snowball amount grows larger with each debt getting paid off and being applied to the next debt

*Snowflaking = any extra little bits of found money in your budget that you apply towards your debt

*Snowforting = building an emergency fund from little bits of money (snowflakes) from savings wherever you may find them. The more snowflakes that you add to your emergency fund, the stronger your snowfort becomes. Get a strong enough snowfort and you can shelter yourself from nearly any emergency

*Wealthstreaming = snowflaking for income; having multiple streams of income (every little bit helps!)

So let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

April's snowflake total: $102.10
Every little bit helps!
You may also enjoy reading: Get an Attitude and Stick It To The Man

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Dave Ramsey

Last weekend I got to spend two days with Dave Ramsey. First to his Business Coach Live, then the next day to The Total Money Makeover event.

At first I wondered if it would be worth the money to go hear him speak in person when I can just listen to him on the radio. But it was sooo fun!

I mean it is all common sense stuff you already know you should be doing but going to the live event really pumps you up and strengthens your resolve to win with your money!

We decided to sign up for Financial Peace University because even though we've been listening to Dave for years now on the radio, it would be nice to have a support group of like minded people we can be more accountable to.

So I highly recommend attending a live event if he ever comes to your city! It was really fun and worth spending the money to go!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Quotable Quotes

"To know you have enough, is to be rich"

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Gearing Up For Garage Sale Season

This year I'm going to try something new. Garage sales. I really don't see the fun in it like some people do. I've even been a few times with some of my friends.

But this year I've decided if I can get some of the things I'm looking for that is cheaper and helping it stay away from the landfill, then I'm all for that so bring it on!

This little tutorial so to speak by Northern Cheapskate was quite helpful to me so that I can be nice and organized when we hit the sales this summer.

Some of the things I will be on the lookout for?
  • Flintstones car (you know, the orange and yellow ones that have the steering wheel and the floor section open where the kids can make it move with their feet?)
  • Small slide play thing for the backyard
  • Booster seat for the kitchen table
  • Clothes for the Mini's (I have specifics all written down for what we need)
  • Canning jars and equipment

So there you go! Anyone else have things they're on the lookout for? I had this thought that we could swap lists (if you're Wasatch Front local) and if I find something you're looking for, and vice versa, we would be able to cover more sales (with less gas!) and get what we want! If you're interested, let me know!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Quotable Quotes

"Avoid the philosophy and excuse that yesterday’s luxuries have become today’s necessities. They aren’t necessities unless we ourselves make them such.

Many of our young couples today want to begin with multiple cars and the type of home Mother and Dad worked a lifetime to obtain. Consequently, they enter into long-term debt on the basis of two salaries. Perhaps too late they find that changes do come, women have children, sickness stalks some families, jobs are lost, natural disasters and other situations occur, and no longer can the mortgage payment, based on the income from two salaries, be made.

It is essential for us to live within our means."

~~Thomas S. Monson~~

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Free This Week

Here are the items I was able to purchase for FREE this week. Yes absolutely FREE!
*2 Kotex Lightdays pantiliners
*1 Cascade Rinse
*1 Buddies soap
*2 Glade Scented Gel Plugins
*1 Kashi Go Lean cereal
*2 Live Active cereals
That was fun! A few even gave me a little overage!

So I think I will post my Walmart, Target and Walgreens posts still since it is a way for me to collect things I plan to purchase all in one spot. The Freebie Friday however, I think I will just refer you to other places on the good ol' web for those!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

A Little Quiet

I haven't been posting much. I've been trying to figure out what my focus is. Originally I had thought this blog would be about personal finance and taking charge of your own money.

It still is. But lately all my posts seem very heavy on the frugal side of the conversation and not much about other aspects of personal finance. Not that thats a bad thing, but you can probably tell where my own personal focus is lately.

At the same time, some of the things I've been posting such as Freebie Fridays and the shopping/coupon posts are taking up a lot of my time and having to stick to a rigid schedule of posting them on time is wearing on me (already) and I haven't even been doing them for that long. Plus some of it is reinventing the wheel so to speak.

And furthermore, I'm also struggling with knowing what to post on this blog vs. my own personal blog because some of them would work equally well on either. Posting the same on both doesn't work for me as I don't necessarily want to give myself away--though I know some of you know who I am (and I hope you'll keep that info private and not give me away on this particular blog because you never know who is reading this on the wacky wide web and if I blog about my "meeelions" of dollars I don't want them to know its me, kapish?)

So I'm a little quiet while I try to figure out my focus.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Quotable Quotes

Interest never sleeps nor sickens nor dies; it never goes to the hospital; it works on Sundays and holidays; it never takes a vacation; it never visits nor travels; it takes no pleasure; it is never laid off work nor discharged from employment; it never works on reduced hours. …

Once in debt, interest is your companion every minute of the day and night; you cannot shun it or slip away from it; you cannot dismiss it; it yields neither to entreaties, demands, or orders; and whenever you get in its way or cross its course or fail to meet its demands, it crushes you.”

~~J. Reuben Clark Jr.~~

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Stupid Tax and The Audit

Ever heard of Stupid Tax? If you've ever listened to Dave Ramsey, you know that Stupid Tax = Mistakes made with dollar signs on the end. Well, in The Ultimate Cheapskate's Road Map to True Riches Jeff Yeager has a similar exercise called, "The What the H*@! Was I Thinking Audit".

The purpose is to learn from your mistakes, acknowledge them, then take corrective actions to avoid them. By analyzing your past spending habits, you might notice trends you didn't realize before--more spending in certain categories more often than others (ie-clothes, technology, eating out etc), or regrets from purchases at some stores more than others. Ask yourself if you could do it over again, would you buy that?

If at the end you can identify certain areas you have problems with, then create a "What the H*@! Was I Thinking" list to carry with you in your wallet. Just seeing it when you're trying to whip out your moolah might be enough to keep you from making another silly money mistake!

For the complete how-to steps for the audit, read The Ultimate Cheapskate's Road Map to True Riches.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Where I Shop

If you're wondering why I don't post CVS deals or Rite-Aid deals or any other store deals, its probably because I don't shop there, and most likely because we don't have them nearby.

The places I DO shop are Walmart, Target, Walgreens and then my local grocery stores depending on who is having better sales on items I like which I compare through Pinching Your Pennies which is very active in my state and has a pulse on all my local stores, (though it also covers other states).

So there you go! Now you know!

Monday, April 28, 2008

No New TV For Me

Just because tv's will be switching to digital next year doesn't mean you need to throw away all your old tv's and buy nice, shiny new flat screens or anything (though I admit, that would be nice!).

No, my tv's still have a lot of good life in them. So we will be getting a converter for ours instead. And if you hurry, you can too! Not that there is a current run on converters or that they are going to sell out quickly or anything, but if you hurry, you can get a $40 off coupon! Limit two per household.

Now I haven't priced these myself, but rumors have it they run about $50-$70 normally, so a nice little $40 off coupon is freaking awesome!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Getting Organized

Last night I was having so much fun getting my finances organized!

First I listed all my expenses, and the order they need to be paid in (I've done this one for a few months now and it has been super helpful in keeping me on track and paying on time) using these worksheets from No Credit Needed.

Then last night I made my own Net Worth Calculator, then did some comparisons with Dave Ramsey's online Gazelle Budget Lite and realized that my spending in certain categories is all out of whack and that my net worth isn't anywhere near where I want it to be.

This also helped me realize that I should probably get going on some alternate income streams sooner rather than later. Hopefully I will have a brainstorming session on that this weekend.

It will be much easier now to set goals and see my progress. And I now have some nifty spreadsheets and figures to back me up when I talk to my husband about our situation.

It feels good to get organized!

What To Do With Your Freebies

You may be wondering why you should get all these freebies? Well, because they can save you a lot of money!

If you have a stash of oh say, toothpaste freebies that you are constantly getting and replenishing, then why buy toothpaste again? Who says a trial size only has to be for traveling?

Same thing with shampoos. And if you don't like the shampoo on your hair, then what about the kids hair? Or use it as hand soap or body wash? It still cleans!

An extra diaper? Why thank you very much! I can always use those since the kids are little!

Feminine products? Much needed, thank you very much for making it so I don't have to buy them as often!

See? Very handy.

Now if you have oodles you don't know what to do with then we can do some other things with them. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

*Create a little hygiene kit for your desk at work
*Stash a small hygiene kit (toothpaste, floss, lotions etc) in your different purses so you always have them with you
*Stock your workout bag
*Put them in your 72hour emergency kits
*Create a basket for your overnight guests
*Create gift baskets (hey not all the freebies are hygiene stuff!)
*Use them as fillers with other (non-freebie) gifts
*Make hygiene kits for disaster relief organizations to donate (check their requirements though first)
*Donate to womens or homeless shelters

What other ways can you think of to use them?

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Tracking Net Worth

One of my favorite kind of posts on personal finance blogs are the ones that track net worth. It is exciting to see people take control and increase their net worth.

Tracking my net worth was something I've wanted to do too, except I didn't really know how. I'm not the best technically speaking, and I wasn't that great at math in school either, so it was with relief that Trent at The Simple Dollar posted about how to set up your own net worth calculator and it looks super simple!

Now I will be able to keep track of my financial progress! I'm so excited!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

My Goal

We have a side business that keeps me pretty busy during the day. We could probably survive just on my husbands income, but we've let ourselves get accustomed to having the extra money from the other.

Part of my focus on becoming frugal again is so that I can get our expenses down so that we are living off just my husbands income. That will leave all the rest of the money to be able to go towards our retirement and other investments.

Thats my goal anyway! And once I've met this goal then my next goal will be to create some new income streams. But that's a discussion for another day!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Small Changes Can Make A Difference

If you don't think small changes can make a difference, then read these:

How Much Does a Clothesline Save?

How Much Does Pre-Rinsing in Cold Water and the Short Dishwasher Cycle save?

How Much Can You Save By Wearing Things Out?

You'll have to read those to find out the answers! Bonus points to anyone who can give me the answers in the comments!

Monday, April 21, 2008

New Friday Night Tradition

We seem to be starting a new Friday night tradition at our house. Well, for the past two weeks anyway.

It's Pizza and Movie Night!

We splurge and go for the $5 pizzas at Little Caeser's, then run across the street to pick up a free movie from Redbox.

Did you catch that?

FREE movie from Redbox and it's totally legit! If you're new to the whole Redbox thing like I was, here is the lowdown.

Redbox lets you rent movies for $1 a day. But you have to return them by 9pm the next night. But redbox gives out free codes for movie rentals all the time. You can get current redbox codes here. {Handy tip: Take more than one redbox code with you because sometimes they don't work}

I suspect they make up the money with late fees if you don't return them on time. I'm sure it happens all the time. But still a late fee of $1 is still cheaper than a movie from Blockbuster.

The cool thing too is that you can return them to any Redbox you feel like, not just the one you rented it from. Makes it easy to go drop them off anywhere along your merry little way!

How cool is that? Dinner and a movie for $5!

They're Talking About Me!

CNN wrote an article about me. Ok, well not me in particular, but about people like me. Read Mom's New Battle: The Food Price Bulge.

I admit, rising food costs among other things are what has gotten me back into the frugal mindset. That, and retirement are my big things these days.

What about you? Are you feeling the pinch too? How are you keeping your costs in line?

It's The Small Things

We all know that small things can really add up. And I know this is true with all my heart because I see it happen at the grocery store all the time. What? Two gallons of milk, block of cheese, string cheese and ziplock baggies costs $30??? How did that happen?

As I was writing this, Trent at The Simple Dollar wrote a great post about How Little Moves Can Create Huge Effects Later that really shows how the small things can really add up. You really must go read it. Then begin thinking about some small changes you could make to better your own situation.

Click on this handy calculator if you want to see how spending a little less and saving a little more can make a difference.

What small changes can you make today?

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Book Review: The Ultimate Cheapskate's Road Map to True Riches, Chapter 2

Chapter 2

Fiscal Fasting: The First Step Down the Road to True Riches

This was a good chapter for me to re-read in The Ultimate Cheapskate's Road Map to True Riches this week because I have really been wanting to go spend some money. Books, some new clothes, a few things to organize around the house and it didn't help that I was dreaming up ways to spend my stimulus check either.

In this chapter he recommends a fiscal fast which entails denying yourself the use of money for a specified perioid of time, usually a week or longer. It is important to note that ALL SPENDING IS PROHIBITED no matter what it is for. You can however make some exemptions if clearly stated at the begining of the fast like commuting costs. But if you can, try to avoid having to spend anything. You can even pre-pay your bills in advance so you don't have to spend during the fast. If you really want to be hardcore, some people go without electriciy or other utilities during the week.

Everyone in the family should play but if someone isn't, its against the rules to make purchases on someone elses behalf or luring them into spending something. No hoarding in advance is allowed and it's a good idea to keep a notebook during the process.

The benefits of doing a fiscal fast include a clearer perspective on your spending habits and where all that money goes everyday and your perspective on life will change as you realize you already have more than enough.

So if you think it sounds hard, he suggests the following reads during your fast to help you keep your perspective {you'll have to check them out at the library, for free of course!}:

Adrift: Seventy-six Days Lost at Sea

Alive: The Story of the Andes Survivors

Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl

Children of the Great Depression

Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage

Follow the River

Into the Wild

The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio

Trail of Tears

Voices from Slavery

I was also going to check out The Greatest Generation, a story about American citizens who came of age during the Great Depression and the Second World War and went on to build modern America.

So I think I'm going to gear up for this challenge. I need a little more perspective and I can't wait to read some of these books! Chapter 2 actually has two exercises in it, but I think I will go over the next exercise next time, after I finish the fiscal fast.


Re-read Chapter 1

Friday, April 18, 2008

Stimulus Check Spending Ideas

I haven't given much thought yet to what I will do with my stimulus check when it arrives, until this morning. There are so so many things I could do with it.

My first thought was, "well, it's meant to be spent and help stimulate the economy so I should go buy some things I've been wanting for a long time, like bookshelves or a new sofa for the basement".

But then I started to wonder if that was the best idea or not. I mean, this is like some nice free money, maybe I should use it to buy things that will help us out in the long run. Things that I maybe wouldn't be able to do as easily in my normal budget, or things that are worthwhile but maybe not as high priority.

Here are a few ideas I came up with to use the money:

Food Storage: I've said before, you would be glad to have some if you needed it.

Items to Organize Your Food Storage: It's no good to have food storage if its not organized or easily accessible. I need some more shelves in my storage room, like these. I already have a few and LOVE them!

72 Hour Emergency Kits: If a disaster strikes, you need to be able to survive for a minimum of 72 hours before help arrives. It would be good to have a kit in your car, as well as in your home to grab should you need to evacuate quickly.

Things to Help Improve Energy Efficiency (and Reducing Your Energy Costs): Updating and upgrading your appliances to more energy efficient models, lining your draperies with thermal liners, putting in SolaTubes or getting Smart Powerstrips or any other ideas from this post.

Gardening and Canning Supplies: Plant some fruit trees. My parents planted a small orchard in our front yard as kids but the way they did it looks nice. Not much room? Try espalier fruit trees along a fence or the side of your house. It's an investment for food for your future. Basic canning supplies will help you preserve your bounty.

Well, those are just a few of the ideas I came up with as jumping off points. If I come up with more, then I'll add them. What are you planning on using your check for?


Still wondering when your check will arrive? Then read, Wonder No More, to find out when you can expect it.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Fighting the Urge!

I'm really fighting the urge to go buy some books I want to read. Old habits die hard. I need to goto the library instead. And read the book for free!

And if they don't have what I want then I need to request it. { Learn how here.}

I don't need to buy more books.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

My Inspiration

Kacie over at Sense to Save posted some thought provoking questions yesterday.

What inspires you to be frugal? And what keeps you in that frugal mindset long term?

I've been joking around that my changed habits are so my husband will be able to pay for my medical bills when I'm old. I kid around, but there's truth to that. I have already been an expensive patient for my husband.

I do worry about my retirement. I want to make sure we have enough to live on and to care for our medical bills and prescription needs etc.

How much does it cost for you to have sound peace of mind?

I haven't nailed down a specific dollar amount yet. I just know that once upon a time I had a huge savings account {to me} and that it can be depleted very quickly!

I'd like at least a six month emergency fund-- so the dollar amount on that should be pretty easy to figure out--I just need to sit down and do it. Sitting down to figure out what amount I need/want as my retirement savings goal seems a little trickier.

If you want to try and figure out yours as well, may I recommend the following from some of the financial blogs I enjoy reading:

*Spousal IRA's for the Stay-At-Home-Mom from Mrs. Micah

*Save and Invest for Your Retirement: Are You On Track? from The Digerati Life

*How Much Does It Cost Per Month to Fully Fund Your Retirement? from No Credit Needed

*10 Ideas On How to Retire on Less from Millionaire Mommy Next Door

Once upon a time retirement seemed a far off place. It still is, but now that I'm solidly in my 30's I realize how much time I've wasted already. Retirement isn't something I can worry about later. I need to be planning for it now. And I wish I had realized that more fully during my 20's. So that is what inspires me today to be more frugal.

Food From The Dollar Store?

Now I've seen two seperate things recently on food from the dollar store. One from the Ultimate Cheapskate that I posted recently, watch it again here, and now this ABC News Clip . And now there is a book out called The 99-cent Store Cookbook .

According to this article, the dollar store saved the authors pocketbook one particularly broke summer. At the end of the article are a few recipes for Chicken Pot Pie, Green Chile and Cheddar Scalloped Potatoes and a homemade Apple Pie. Sounds yummy!

I haven't been a big dollar store shopper in my days, and I have never seen the kind of food these people are getting at the dollar store other than a few rows of slim pickings of canned foods and snack foods. But maybe I need to start revisiting some of them?

You can check here to see if "The 99-cent Only Stores" are near you. Unfortunately there aren't any by me, but maybe there are other similar dollar stores with similar offerings.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Summer Movies

When I was little, I remember going to the summer movies at the theater. It was always fun. You can still do it today.

For $5 you can goto the Cinemark Summer Movie Clubhouse and watch ten rated G or PG movies throughout the summer. AMC theaters also have a similar program.

Check to see if there is a participating theater near you! Helps break up the summer boredom without breaking the bank, if you know what I mean!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Book Review: The Ultimate Cheapskate's Road Map to True Riches, Chapter 1

I have been reading The Ultimate Cheapskate's Road Map to True Riches. The first time I read through it I wanted to highlight a bunch of things as I was reading because I really enjoyed a lot of what he had to say. So I thought I would review it chapter by chapter and how it applies to my life.

The first chapter introduces us to two main concepts he talks about in his book frequently. The Money Steps and the Enoughasaurus.

The Money Steps refer to the default setting for most people today. The assumption that we must earn money, to spend money, to get what you want. Kind of like a dance.

The Enoughasaurus is your inner beast that must be satisfied. Slaying or at least satisfying your Enoughasaurus is a matter of deciding what's enough for you and then designing your priorities around it.

These two concepts get expounded on more and more as you go through the chapters, really helping you understand how they apply in different areas of your life.

What I really like about the book is how he helps put things in context for you. The author, Jeff Yeager, used to work in the nonprofit sector, which I think helped ground him and give him real perspective when working with the ultra-rich donors and very needy clients--both sides of the economic spectrum.

Even with our relative wealth today, we have a negative saving rate that means we spend all our disposable income and MORE. We borrow money to spend money. And on what?

He offers up this get rich quick plan at the end of the chapter:

Housing: About 1.1 billion people have inadequate housing or none at all
Food: Worldwide 840 million people are malnourished, and 6 million children under the age of five die every year as a result of hunger.
Water: Some 1.1 billion people in developing countries have inadequate access to water, and 2.6 billion lack basic sanitation.
Education: Nearly 1 billion adults in the world are unable to read a book or sign their names.
Energy: On average, 1 American uses as much energy each year as 531 Ethiopians.
Automobiles: Worldwide 8% of all people own autos; in the US, 89% of all households own one or more autos.
World resources: As much as 30% of the world's resources are consumed by Americans who represent just 5% of the world's population.

Presto! You are already rich! Compared to a lot of the rest of the world you are extremely wealthy. Transplanted into a remote, undeveloped region of the world and you would be a freaking "Rockefeller". Even the poorest 1/5 of US households would be "well healed in that imaginary scenario".

Remembering that nearly 3 billion people live on less than $2/day makes you realize just how rich you truly are. You just didn't realize it!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Get An Attitude and Stick It To The Man!

Repeat after me in your best bratty voice: You don't OWN me! You can't tell me what to do!

Now haven't you always wanted to stick it to the man?

If so, then start snowflaking! Send small deliberate payments whenever you find them in your budget to your debts in addition to your monthly payment. It doesn't matter what the size. Don't let the bank dictate to you how much you can pay at a time! And you can pay more than once, or twice, or even six times a month if you want!

YOU are in charge of your money and so if you want to pay, oh say, $27.10 because you just got a nice little rebate from somewhere, then send it off.

Got that? YOU ARE IN CHARGE of your money! YOU can be your OWN CFO!


Read here for a great Snowflaking Primer from I've Paid For This Twice Already who inspired my little rant and a $27.10 payment on something of mine.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Reducing Energy Costs: Electrical

Let's take a break from grocery shopping shall we? Another area I'd like to reduce costs in are my energy costs. Here are a few ideas.

I love the idea of daylighting. Good daylighting. And I'm intrigued with SolaTubes. I think they would be fabulous to have in my closets, bathrooms, and well basically any of my upstairs rooms. They can also act as night lights reflecting the moon into the room or you can shut them for complete darkness. I have actually seen these at the Utah House on a cloudy and rainy day and they still provided plenty of light.

Solar lighting is also an idea that can be brought indoors. You can purchase these easily at home improvement type stores. If you buy the hanging ones you can use them as decorative wall sconces. Place them by the windows to charge during the day then you can take them wherever you need to by night. If you placed them in your hallways and bathrooms, then you wouldn't need to turn any lights on during middle of the night bathroom breaks. You could also hang them outside instead of flipping on your porch lights.

CFL's .
Unless you've been living under a rock you probably know the benefits of CFL's and how they can save you money on energy costs so I won't go into that really other than its something to use in areas where you need lights that maybe daylighting or solar lighting won't work for.

Motion sensors.
This is another thought I came up with to use in areas where people tend to forget to flip the switches off, like my walk-in closet, bathrooms or the hallway. Just don't install them in bedrooms or you'll be awake all night!

Smart Power Strips.
This is something new I've just learned about recently. These aren't your ordinary power strips! These automatically switch on and off based on what one device on the strip is doing. Which is important because even if something is turned off, but still plugged in, it is using electricity (just not as much). But these smart power strips somehow cut them all off, even though the power strip is still plugged in. Don't ask me how that works, but somehow they say it does!

So for instance, a smart power strip on a desktop computer setup would be tied to the main unit, and when the main unit is off, it cuts power to the monitor, speakers, printer, or whatever else is hooked up. This would cut down tremendously on electrical usage, particularly on computer setups and home entertainment centers.

There are plenty of options out there like the SmartStrip LCG4, and most larger home improvement stores should have at least one option of power strips that are smarter than the others!

Green Switch is another product option that can power things off for you

Rechargeable batteries and charger
So if you have a lot of electronics or things that use batteries then by all means save yourself some money with rechargeable batteries and a charger! They can add up to some serious savings over time.

There are plenty of other ideas to reduce energy costs that I haven't even begun to cover yet, but we'll stop here for now.