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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Earth Day Post-Frugal Living

I have whined about money. I have praised God for His amazing provisions to our family. I have shared the dramas that have brought us to living on very little money...That is out there. You know that. Through this blog, I have shown you a glimpse into our lives in hopes that it will be an encouragement to others.

I am often asked, "How do you do it?" I KNOW that it's not me. Although, I have always been very cheap. I come from cheap blood and then was raised by a couple who grew up in the depression (and thought they were still in it :) Recently I was asked, on two different occasions, for some tips. I came up totally blank...I don't "do" anything MAJOR. We do try to always, as a family, consider each need and pray. Here are a few of the little things that work for us (they are little but add up)

Buy in Bulk. Buy when it's on sale, and you have a coupon, and you get cents off of gas for purchases. Seriously. Don't ever pay full price. Figure out how often chicken goes on sale and how often you eat it. When it goes on sale, buy enough to last until it is on sale again. This will only take a chunk of money up front. Once you are eating out of your freezer and pantry, it will be cheaper in the long run. Think too about the gas savings of less trips to the grocery store. Keep a price book so you know how much you "should" pay. Sometimes warehouse stores are a good savings. Sometimes not. I buy our olives on sale at Longs Drugs store a lot cheaper than by the case at Costco. Buying in bulk also saves you the expense of going to the grocery store EVERY day. You can only go past the Starbucks kios soo many times, then there are the doughnuts, and the cost of your time and the expense of gas involved.

Has been a big help for us in several ways. No gas money. Over $25.00 ships free. There is the benefit of buying in bulk AND when they have sale codes it gets even sweeter.

Keep your freezer full. Don't pay to keep air cold. If you don't have enough money to keep food in there for a time: either completely empty it or freeze water in empty juice and milk containers.

Don't buy paper towels or paper napkins. Use washcloths, shop cloths, rags, cotton material cut into squares...It costs a lot less to run a washer and dryer full of rags and towels than it would to fill it with paper towels and napkins. I suppose it would be cheaper to use a clothes line but we haven't graduated to that yet.

I also don't use paper plates. BUT I have three chidlren over 8 who can help and a portable dishwasher. Dishes were my nemesis when my husband worked long hours, and I had three children under four years old. I would have gladly used paper plates then.

Use cloth diapers and cloth baby wipes. I acquired our diapers by finding great deals online, buying used, testing out diapers for Work At Home Moms and doing reviews. I was able to "borrow" some from here to ge started:

Pay Bills online. Pay bills on time. I barely have enough money for my bills. I don't have an "extra" 45 cents to mail them, or money for interest and late fees. I either pay through the site of the bill, through my bank or over the phone.
Don't pay for anything "unnecessary" I don't buy trash bags for bedroom or bathroom waste baskets. I use plastic grocery bags (from the places that don't accept my cloth bags or the times that I forget to bring them) I use reusable Tupperware containers to freeze food rather than pay for freezer bags. I dont reuse cheap plastic however.

Don't buy bottled water. We fill our own water bottles from our reverse osmosis system ($15.00/month) This could be purchased and not rented but we also rent our home.
We also don't buy drinks when we are out. We get cups of water at fast food places and try REALLY REALLY hard to support our coffee addiction at home. Or carry a ceramic mug around.
These are just a few suggestions that you may want to slowly work into your home, IF they work for you.

I also reccomend this book:

Miserly Moms
, Living on One Income in a Two-Income Economy by Jonni McCoy.

I learned a lot from her first book. Like how to make baby wipe solution or your own Taco Seasoning or keep a price book. Her philosophy is to get the most out of YOUR life with what money you have. If it takes a ton of your time and saves only a few pennies than it probably doesn't work for you. She has a very good balance and her books read well.

Here are some blog meme's for inspiration: