Category Archives: Savings

I didn’t plan this…but

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Almost overnight it seems I’ve become a minimalist and a DIY person.

I didn’t set out to become that person, it really wasn’t on my radar at all when I finished out the school year. Well maybe I planned on some purging…but I had no idea to what extent I would take that.

I’m now changing my house one area at a time in large sweeping ways. This month was my porch, last month my basement. I actually like my basement now. That is remarkable in itself! I have five drying racks down there that I use for all of my laundry now. It’s very rare I ever use the dryer anymore. I can easily find whatever I might need down there, camping stuff is actually together, holiday stuff easily organized, tools, painting stuff, etc. For me this is really quite exciting ๐Ÿ™‚

I’ve started using my porch again since I’ve redone it. It had honestly just become a storage room before I redid it. But yesterday I sat down on the swing with the fan on me behind my billowing curtains which made me feel like I was near an ocean and found myself laying down and falling asleep on my wooden swing. Swaying in the breeze. It was lovely. And this morning I was out on the swing again going over my sermon for this next Sunday. It’s become a place of peace.

And as far as the DIY part goes…I’ve now made laundry detergent, toothpaste and am making dish soap and hand soap this week…might even try ketchup and mustard eventually. Part of the desire is to make things more frugally and part of it is the good feeling of knowing what goes into something that you’re eating or using on your body. I’ve never considered myself to be overally worried about chemicals and organic but…I am finding that this whole DIY thing is something I enjoy.

So much so that I looked up the information on the Alton Farmers Market today and wondered if there might be something that I might start making and selling in a booth there. It’s only $5 to rent for Wed. night and $10 for Saturday. I need to give that some more thought. I love the idea of getting to know more people in the town where I live and also some extra income. I love the idea of doing something I enjoy…making something that’s good for everybody and selling it a price that makes it where some people who don’t have time or desire can enjoy it too. I’m not sure what I’ll do if anything…but I’m considering it.

I guess my first step would be to go check out the farmer’s market on Wednesday night and see what is being sold right now. Then decide on a couple of recipes of stuff and go for it. My sister in law up in Michigan already does this type of thing with her baked goods. She makes umpteen loaves of all types of bread and cookies and monkey bread and other lovely delicious baked goods. Secretly, everybody at home hopes some of it doesn’t sell so they can eat some when she comes home ๐Ÿ™‚ (Yes mom and dad…I’m telling your secret ๐Ÿ™‚

It just feels like a fun, natural, down to earth kind of thing to do.

So…any tips from those of you who do Farmers Markets? What do you think would be worth making and selling? I’m open to suggestions. I’m thinking more likely soaps or cleaning supplies or that direction over food. But open to any ideas.

While I was doing yoga this morning I had a bit of a spiritual epiphany. I realized as I was told several times to listen to my body and only do what my body was telling me to do, when it came to the yoga poses, that I haven’t been very good in the past at listening to my soul. I’ve often lived in an expected way. Predictable. Chronological. I’ve seen open doors and assumed that if the door was open it meant that I should walk through. If the door was closed that I wasn’t to go there. I’ve been dissatisfied with my life and had a general feeling of dread because I was living my life in a way where I did a good job…but not in a way where I felt alive.

For the first time…I’m listening to my soul. I’m noticing what brings me joy. I’m being aware of when I feel rested and at peace. I’m learning when to stop and when to go. I’m trying to develop more waiting in my life. I’m in tune with me. In tune with the Spirit.

I was tempted to regret and think of the previous twenty years as a whole heap of mistakes. I tend to go down those pathways in my mind, but every day before this one has brought me exactly to this place where I am now. And I like where I am today. I must make peace with the days before this one. Learn what I can. Accept what I need to. Change what I can. Embrace the good, let go of the bad.

Just because a door opens these days does not mean I need to walk through it.

Just because a door is shut doesn’t mean that I might not still find a different way to go in the same direction.

It’s a trite way of looking at things when we look at them that way and yet in Christian circles that’s often how it is. Doors opening and doors closing and us guessing at where we think God wants us to be. This morning during yoga when I was just listening to myself breathe and using muscles I’ve never used before…I was reminded again that all I need to do is listen and then just move in that general direction. I must know who I am. I must know who God is. If I know those two things…than I have the wisdom I need to move forward. No more just living life the way it’s expected of me. No more just doing the next natural step that everybody else does. I will be in tune with my mind, body, soul and spirit from here on.

For me right now that means I’m starting a boy today on piano lessons and I’m learning more about DIY recipes and thinking I might make a trip to scope out the situation to the Farmer’s Market on Wednesday night. Why not ๐Ÿ™‚

Any tips you have for those of you who have experience selling or purchasing at Farmer’s markets would be appreciated.

More efforts in living frugally.

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I keep making efforts to live more frugally, mainly so that I will have more choices a year from now and won’t have to decide to go back purely out of necessity if possible.

My Father in law gave me the tip for my air conditioning to close the vents in the bedrooms we don’t use during the day and shut the doors and then at night close the main living area vents and only open the bedroom ones. I have no idea how much it might save…but I’m giving it a shot.

I also have finally given in and started using my blinds in my living room. I’m an open window person, I don’t enjoy covering windows as I then feel like the room feels like a dark cave. But…on a hot day, shutting the blinds makes pretty good sense. I was surprised how much cooler my living room felt today even though it was darker. And when the sun passed over and was no longer shining in ย later in the day I was able to open them back up and enjoy some daylight.

I even went to Lowe’s today and purchased some drapes for my sunroom.ย I have a sunroom with 12 fairly large windows. Basically three of the walls are mostly window. I’ve had nothing on the windows…I’ve never been a big window treatment person. But honestly… in the morning, the East side of the room becomes quite warm as the sun shines in and in the evening the sun comes pouring in the West side. One of the walls doesn’t really ever have sun coming through it too bad. So…today I bought drapes (insulated ones) to hang on the East and North Windows. 6 out of the 12 will have some covering. I can still open them when I want…but will try to manage the heating and cooling better from now on.

I even learned how to anchor screws today in the process. I’m finding that I’m probably going to be doing more and more home repair things myself if at all possible…to again save money. So…today I figured out where I needed the holes to be, hammered a nail to make a small hole, pulled it out and then drilled with my little power screw driver a larger hole in the wall, I then was able to hammer the anchor in and wala I was in business. It wasn’t easy…and I haven’t quite figured out how to hang my other rod yet since it’s over a stairway, but I’m sure at some point, I’ll figure it out.

I also bought paint today for my front porch. Maybe in times past I would’ve paid for someone else to do it, especially since this would be going back to school week…but now, I have the time and it’s a whole lot cheaper for me to do it myself.

I keep making small adjustments to try and lighten our load.

So far…

Yard sales and a general clearing of all clutter and unnecessary stuff from our home.

Unplugging stuff when not in use

Downgrading phones and dropping data plans

Doing my own home remodeling

Closing air vents

Using window treatments to help.

Home made food…less eating out.

No shampoo or conditioner (honestly…it’s no big deal)

Homemade laundry soap (Seems to be working out great)

Drying racks in the basement instead of using a dryer. I don’t mind at all and stuff dries quite quickly.

Cut dryer sheets in half for the times when I have no choice but to use the dryer

No cable tv

tent camping vs. cost of a hotel on vacation (Having options for cheaper vacations…)

less gas use, no need for new clothes or dress clothes

No need for back to school shopping at all, or really any type of shopping beyond groceries and basic health supplies.

I’ve stopped wearing almost all makeup…literally all. It’s a different look for me (although I never wore a bunch anyway). But I’ve decided it can be more of a special occasion thing. By stopping…I also have cut the face cleaning stuff that I was using before… (maybe this is more than you want to know…but not buying make up supplies and face cleaning supplies is a savings for me.)

I’ve also started coloring my own hair instead of going to my regular place. (Maybe I’ll still do it once in awhile for a special treat…I do miss how it looked when Stacy did it ๐Ÿ™‚ But for $3 I can cover the gray myself…so I figured I better consider it.

We haven’t filled our hot tub now in a long time…it takes a bunch of water and takes a bunch of electricity. We didn’t use it enough to justify the cost of the chemicals to keep it going. In fact…at some point, we might just take it down and out of our home. We’ll see.

We’re learning when we do go out to eat…to share a meal so we don’t have to buy one for every person and to drink water…it’s free.

Yet to do…

Put more bills on automatic pay so I save on the stamps.

Cancel gym membership

and I found out that because I’m an Alton Public School employee I can get a further discount on my cell phone bill…(I tried not to be too frustrated that although I’ve been with A T and T for several years now they only mentioned this discount a week ago!) Better late than never I guess.

I am much more aware of small changes that might make a big difference. Or at least I’m trying.

It’s not that I was ever a big spender really…but I’m finding that with many small changes…the savings might actually start to add up. That’s what I’m hoping.

I haven’t gotten into coupons…I usually buy the cheapest stuff anyway and the main place I need savings on is the stuff that doesn’t have coupons generally speaking…but joining my local fruits and vegetables coop thing has helped.

I was planning on trying to get onto a regular health insurance plan for this year off…but I think I’m back to just buying short term, very basic stuff…admittedly it’s a bit of a risk…but one that I think I’m willing to make. Health insurance is a crazy thing to deal with for any family. Crazy rates and not much coverage for the typical family. We’ll try to cultivate healthy habits and hope that it will be enough.

My kids are already planning on probably going to our local community college first before going to a more expensive 4 year school.

And as far as gifts go…I can see some of our habits changing. Every person I know already has enough stuff anyway…I’m tired of adding to the pile.

How are you saving money these days? Admittedly with being off of work right now I have more time to try things to save money. I can go to more than one grocery store or do things in a homemade/made from scratch way. When I was working…my time was precious. These days…it’s still precious, but in a different way. I have enough time to cut spending significantly and I’m finding that I enjoy the effort to live more frugally.

This is how I grew up…I’m just returning to those childhood experiences I guess. The days when my mom used to add water to the meal or another potato to make it go further. The days when all we ever drank was water and for cereal we used powdered milk! Days of homemade bread…from scratch. Homemade everything. Days of sewing and repurposing what we had to make something new. My mom taught me well how to live on next to nothing. I may not have like it back then…but these days…I value frugality! Mom if you read this…thank you for showing me how it’s done ๐Ÿ™‚

My attempt at frugal living.

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I used to read about the life I’m living now and think it was so foreign. The way I’m going it might not be long till I have chickens in my backyard ๐Ÿ™‚

I never used to have time. So I didn’t feel compelled to make ‘homemade’ stuff. I didn’t fit in with ladies who made homemade laundry detergent and all of the other money saving things. I had no comprehension of that life. It wasn’t bad…I just couldn’t relate.

Now…I have time. But am trying to be careful with resources. My view point has changed. Dramatically. Maybe forever.

Now I sit and think how I might cut costs or do things differently to save. Not because I’m obsessed with amassing wealth. I could care less about that. But only because I know the more independent I can become the more freedom I will have in my life.

I listed a bunch of stuff in my last post in my efforts to cut costs. I had a friend who recently was talking with me and said…”Wow…I should write down some of your ideas for frugal living.” That notion was hilarious to me because I am so not the frugal, make something out of nothing person. I still don’t do yard sale or get into going to goodwill and I think those are pretty much required. I’d rather just do without I guess than hassle with that.

But…

I did go to the store and purchase drying racks. Now that my basement is completely empty (for the most part ๐Ÿ™‚ I decided that maybe if I put up drying racks instead of using my dryer…it might save some money and would surely be easier on my clothes. This is not an ingenious idea. I’ve seen people do it for years and years. Well in fact, I used to help my grandma when she would hang clothes on the clothesline. But for me it’s new. I was the type of laundry person who when it said “hand wash” on the tag I just figured it would surely be ok to throw it in ย with the rest of the clothes.

I even went through the dryer sheets I had, in case I did need to use the dryer and cut them in half. (My mom has been doing this for years.) I know it sounds ridiculous since it will probably only save pennies…but in my mind these days…any money saved is a good thing. Even my kids see money saved as a direct connection to freedom earned. I’ve probably become a little obsessive about it. (It’s not possible to be a little obsessive…but it makes me feel better to word it that way. )

I will probably be adjusting our “air” and “Heat” temperatures in our house too. Assuming that might make a difference.

And I’m still strongly considering the whole data plan thing. Right now I pay for it on three phones and my ipad. If I had never started it would probably not even be an issue…but once you cross the line and get the convenience it’s hard to cut it out. It’s on the horizon. I keep softly bringing it to my kid’s attention so when I cut it, hopefully it won’t be as big of a blow as they are anticipating.

Today I’m going to the store to buy homemade laundry soap supplies. I never dreamed that I would go there…but I am. Or at least I’m going to compare the cost and see if it is a savings or not.

I think I might even go around my house and just check on all of the stuff I have plugged in and see if it should be or not. I have no idea how that works…but assume that when you leave chargers and other various things plugged in even when nothing is charging it might still have a cost to it. And…I’m going to start learning to shut my computer off. I know it’s incredibly small… I love the convenience of having it on all the time instead of having to wait for it to turn on and load. But again…I would guess that it might save money to actually turn stuff off. Beyond the money…it might even just improve the quality of our lives, who knows ๐Ÿ™‚

I’ll probably start doing my own car washes. And no new flowers added each year. I have enough perennial stuff to be good enough at this point.

I even told my girls yesterday that it used to be people actually wore their clothes more than once before putting them in the laundry if they didn’t have a stain or smell. They are not thrilled about this, especially since they wear 2-3 shirts as it is with the whole craze of layering everything…but we’ll work on it.

I realize, I’m probably talking pennies…but it seems like some small changes might add up over time. And, I might actually find myself living a more environmentally sound life at the same time. Win-win.

If you’ve got tips I haven’t thought of, feel free to pass them along. I am a newby when it comes to this kind of thing.

I never dreamed this would be my life…but I’m glad it is.