Sunday, October 31, 2010

A Year of Living Frugally--Introduction

So I've been dabbling in this world of saving money..(what? People DO that?) and I'm rather enjoying it. November 1st starts my true Year of Living Frugally. I hope to chronicle how it goes, share the tips and tricks, and STICK WITH IT! A little backstory:

We are a one income family and have been for nearly 4 years. We could absolutely benefit from me working full time, but at this point it's not a viable option. After I paid for daycare and other work costs, the profit would not be much and having a child with Autism at home, it's an even less a viable option. You don't just put your child with special needs in just any daycare. Both boys will be in full time school within 2-3 years so we can certainly reexamine the situation then (or if a sudden opportunity comes up before then).

Right now we are blessed with me being able to stay home with Eli. However that doesn't mean we don't need to pinch pennies! It seems everywhere I turn in my life, friends are suffering from illness, job loss, and needing to save money or just weather the storm. (I'll refrain from discussing the political angle of this for now) I can't help but wonder, how long before I'm next?

So I've been experimenting for some time now with saving money. Thus far, here are some things that have worked for me in the area of running your day to day household chores.

*Making my own laundry soap. The materials are fairly inexpensive, and the costs vary. I purchase cold process soap from CosmicCleanBody and the rest of the materials from local stores. Just google "How to make laundry detergent" and you'll find a ton of resources!

*Line Drying Clothes: This is a less oft used solution for me because living in the deep south leads to great humidity which apparently does not do great for line dried clothes. But as we are FINALLY getting cooler I plan to start drying on the line again .When I do tumble dry clothes, I do several loads at once so once the dryer has heated up once, it doesn't have to work so hard at drying the next few loads.

*CrockPot Cooking: I have no data to back this up, but I highly suspect that crock pot cooking saves money. Not only do you generally make a meal that lasts for days, and gives you leftovers to freeze, you aren't running your stove/oven for hours. So I've got no actual cents on this one, but I think it saves money. It definitely saves time!!

*Planning your Menu  This seems like a no brainer to me but I am shocked to hear how many people do not plan their menu. Now this is not to say I stick to it religiously. There are plenty of days where I forget to thaw meat or something, so I shift to another days schedule..but because I have a menu and I purchased my groceries based on that, I have the items there to make the planned meals. I combine this with coupon clipping, looking at the grocery ads (that they throw in the free sample paper 1-2x a week), and basing the menu off whats already in the freezer/pantry. And while we're at it: Keep your freezer/fridge Full: This keeps the air circulating just so and your appliance doesn't have to work so hard to pump out cold air. Just don't pack it TOO full or it'll not be able to move the air freely.

*Cleaning: This is an area of our lives that people probably waste a lot of money in. Quite honestly there isn't much in this world that can't be cleaned with vinegar, baking soda and a lemon. But just assuming that's not your thing, here are some ways we save money cleaning. 
  • Reusable Cloths: I do buy paper towels for some things but for cleaning, I try to keep with reusable cloths. Now, I sew, so I have in my possession, a wide variety of fabrics. I make my own cloth flannel wipes, reusable Swiffer Wet Jet Pads, grocery bag holders, laundry bags, etc. I so firmly believe in this lifestyle change that I run Micro Mops with my fellow penny pincher, Dee :) You can keep a stack of cloths in your drawer and just throw them in with your regular laundry. Don't sew? Check out my shop or head to Sam's or another big box store and buy a giant pack of terry cloth el-cheapo towels.
  • Refilling Cleaning Solutions: Chances are you can use far less of the amount listed on cleaning solutions. Or you can refill them when you think you can't. Use a Swiffer WetJet? Well when the solution runs out, simply hold the bottle upside down so the top is submerged in very hot-boiling water for just a minute. This loosens the glue so you can remove the cap and refill with your fave cleaning solution. Continue this until the bottle is too grimy to use anymore! If you use liquid hand soap, look into buying in bulk, or the larger refill bags, you can reuse the same container and just refill with the liquid when it runs out. 
  • Washing Items in Cold Water: You REALLY don't need to wash much in Hot water unless its really dirty (like soiled towels/sheets) or the care label specifically says to wash in hot. Save your money and energy and wash in cold, with homemade laundry soap and then line dry! Laundry on the cheap! 
  •  Clean from the Top Down: Dust from the top down...wipe from the top down...pick up from the top get the idea. It's just silly to clean something you already cleaned. Let your solutions do their work by spraying and letting them drip down mirrors, tubs, etc.
  •  Stick to Cleaning Solutions You Trust: I do spend the extra bucks for some items. I personally love Mr Bubbles bathroom scrubbing bubbles cleaning sprays/solutions. I find they work extremely well, I spray, let sit for a few minutes and let it do it's magic...and viola, I can WIPE the tub/sinks/toilets/etc out without killing my back. It's beautiful.

Routines are my friend. I try to stick to routines and when I get off base from them I find myself easily distracted and things don't get done. Of course I am an easily distractable person, so routines are against my better nature, but if I don't force myself to stick to lists and routines, I'll put off EVERYTHING and then get stressed trying to do it all at once.

Of course I'm blessed that both my husband and I are realistic that we don't want or need to live in a Martha Stewart house. Children do not remember how clean the house was, how fine their things were, but they remember the time spent with them. So that is what I aim for every day, a healthy balance of kids, house, spouse, fun and time for me.

I'll be back soon to share more of my tips and tricks and some experiments. I'll conclude with an ongoing list of what I want to accomplish to save money/time.

*Cut down on paper usage: towels/napkins/paper plates
*Line dry 3-4x per week
*Cut more Coupons--while analyzing if they're really worthwhile!
*Plan menu based on the sale papers, not on what we want...perfect this plan
*Utilize the things we have memberships to: Audubon Zoo, Children's Museum, etc.
*Keep track of daily money going out that I alone spend. Strictly limit that
*NO fabric/supply purchases unless necessary for a pending order!

Do you have frugal tips? Feel free to share them!!

~~Mama Amy


Fo-Shizzle! said...

Excellent post! Looking forward to reading about your journey through frugal living!

PussDaddy said...

I just had to have a clothesline first thing after renting my first house. Why? I have never used the damn thing, lol. I had to have it though.

My friend cooks everything in a crock pot. I always tease her about it. One year at Thanksgiving I called her and said "Question-can you make jello in a crock pot?"
Her reply was "Screw you!" and then she hung up. lol.

One thing that can save money is to buy those meat bundles that stores offer and freezing it.

I know I would save a lot myself just by not going online anymore to buy stuff.


mamaslittlemonkeys said...

LOL Yes online shopping is def my downfall..I have to contain myself! I ABSOLUTELY have weaknesses (fabric, being one...) that i fall for. Plus the deals can get the best of you if you don't count up the cost literally! LOL

I def should take advantage of more meat sales but I never feel like asking the butcher to cut the large cuts of meat for me (screaming kids at my ankles and all). My friends mom once literally bought a cow! She paid for aw hole cow and got a buttload of meat for dirt cheap! Course you need a GIANT freezer for such things!

PussDaddy said...

We never bought a whole cow, we bought a half a cow and put it in our freezer chest.


PussDaddy said...

I only paid $99 for my freezer chest at J.C. Penny in 1991 and it is still working.



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