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~~