Tuesday, February 17, 2009

slowing down

encouraged by a lack of incoming financial flow, i am working on slowing down our budget to a crawl. that means re-upping my previous commitment to 'the compact' lifestyle. a blog i recently discovered calls it a slow year/life. check out her left hand column, she's got loads of great ideas on how to get started.

i am trying to do this for 2 reasons: 1. so that we can live on the little amount of income we have at our disposal and 2. so that we can start saving up for our future plans.

so, first off, no more 'joy' trips to the thrift shops. yes, stuff is cheap, but when you drop $60-80 each time you go, it adds up pretty quickly, usually on stuff i didn't really need but couldn't pass up because it was such a bargain.

stay out of other stores: department stores, grocery stores, etc. only shop when necessary, with a list and with a budget. a set amount to go in with and no more. no exceptions.

cut that grocery bill down. make more foods from scratch. learn to make crackers so that the kids like them (i've made them in the past but they were not a hit). grow more food that we eat and learn to store it in a manner that is pleasing to the crowd. be more conscious of what is on hand and what's in the fridge to minimize waste (something that i've always justified by saying 'it's being fed to the chickens so it's not really wasting.' it is because we don't feed them any less feed when we give them the scraps. it's waste. period.)

be an electrical natzi. i used to be good at this and i've slacked off. back on the electrical meter!

when purging items, instead of just dropping them off at the thrift shop, sort through them and find items that can be sold on craigslist and ebay. for instance, we have a dvd that works fine but the remote is busted. i'm inclined to take it to the thrift shop but i bet anything i could sell it on craigslist for $25-35. not a lot but throw all these sales into a coffee can and before we know it, we've got savings!

as for gas consumption, i'm currently stuck driving at least once a week to go pick up my older kids at their dad's. that's on tuesdays. i try to combine all my other errands for the week such as the library, grocery shopping, etc. but things do crop up. when shop-n-save has their $10 off day on thursdays (but not every week), i try to jump at the chance to do my shopping then to get an additional $10 worth of groceries for free. last week, i just squeaked by, my total before taxes was around $50.25. i mentally calculate all the items as we go through the store, which i might add, is no easy task when i'm pushing those silly race car shopping carts (have you ever tried steering those things?!) with two cranky kids who want everything i'm definitely NOT buying...i consider it a way to keep me mentally fit (HA!).

although there are a few people in the house still not on the cloth wipe bandwagon, i have converted about half our household to using them. that's half the amount of toilet paper we have to use. however, everyone uses them for everything else since i don't buy paper napkins or paper towels. we have cloth napkins and cloth wipes that are larger for general use. i have a stash of old chinese prefolds that are great for mopping up spills.

i'm constantly on the look out to see how we can cut our budget. i dropped the cell phone monthly plan and switched to trac phone almost a year ago now. i love it. i use it for emergency type calls only and spend about 1/8 of what i spent before for the same purpose. we will keep a landline because of the business/farm and same for the internet. 80% of my sales are internet based so i need that access, plus to update websites and whatnot, it's important to have it close at hand, not to mention for homeschooling. it is an invaluable tool for that.

there are many other ways i am or have cut back that i haven't listed here but i still know i can do better. what are ways you are cutting back to relieve your budget?


Anonymous said...

What great ideas! I'm at a point where the only things left to cut are things I'm not ready (willing) to cut just yet for the most part. I am, however; stepping up the search for more and different income which isn't always as easy as I dream it to be.

Anonymous said...

i need to make this sort of plan, too. our electric bill is very high (and gets higher as we sprout seeds and raise chicks and dehydrate).

CatHerder said...

I can NOT believe how our electric bill dropped, by plugging everything into power strips. The kids have a TON of electronic crap (so do we)...so at night, i shut the power strips (no phantom loads), and i also shut them when we are out of the house. This way, theyre not pulling electric (which they do if the strip isnt shut)...we also stopped bottled water..we bought re-usable stainless steel water bottles and a filter for our sink...less waste, lest crap for the landfill. and yes, we try to stay out of the malls :-) good luck

David said...

If people really want to get serious about saving money then they should add Bathroom Bidet Sprayers to all their bathrooms. Available at www.bathroomsprayers.com with these you won't even need toilet paper any more, just a towel to dry off! It's cheap and can be installed without a plumber; and runs off the same water line to your toilet. You'll probably pay for it in a few months of toilet paper savings. And after using one of these you won't know how you lasted all those years with wadded up handfuls of toilet paper. Now we're talking green and helping the environment without any pain.

tansy said...

twofroghome - it is hard to cut when you're already living lean. it feels like those final cuts are huge sacrifices. i'm right there with you on that!

definitely, finding another source of income is hard to do, especially if you don't want to just go out and work at mcdonalds or pizza hut.

omelay - those heat lamps sure suck up the electricity in a hurry don't they?! ugh.

catherder - i have almost everything plugged in to power strips too. i used to be good about turning them off all the time but we've gotten complacent. i'm getting back to it. my 14yo is the hardest on this, he plugs all sorts of things in his room and doesn't unplug them so i have to remember to go and do it for him.

we too use klean kanteen bottles. i love them! i hate the way bottled water tastes and a lot of times, tap water is weird tasting too. using these bottles, i can bring my own filtered water from home and we have enough bottles in different sizes that everyone in the family has their own.

staying out of the malls is easy for me...i can't stand to shop there. my weakness is thrift shopping. on the rare occasion i can't find things there or at the grocery store, i have to venture in to target and there are all sorts of enticing things there. also, craft and fabric stores are a weakness...

david - thanks for the link! it would help me personally save any money since i'd still have to dry off in either way and i only use 1 cloth wipe regardless of what i'm wiping. however, it might help my husband. i will show it to him and see if he'd be willing to try it out. i doubt i could convince my teenage son to use it though, at least not w/o making a huge mess that he'd leave behind (no pun intended) for me to clean!

Anonymous said...

I'm slowly chipping away at all our expenses.

Love you blog!

Laura :)

Anonymous said...

An amazing list! I like the electric nazi. =) I am going to assign that job and title to my youngest daughter (13) who is notorious for leaving lights on. Perhaps she will become more conscientious.

Gina said...

I'm doing the same. I was sorting out clothes Lyndon has outgrown and was boxing them up for thrifts. I decided to box them up for a garage sale instead (I checked out the book by Dave Ramsey-I can't remember the title offhand-amd he says sell everything you can to get out of debt).

I finally am getting Sr on board. he wants to buy land somewhere more remote and I told him the only way we could ever achieve that is to reduce our expenditure (and get rid of debt and high utility bills). He seems to suddenly be really committed (we'll see how long ;)

I have the same issue with Thrift Stores and am trying to stay out of them. I keep an ongoing list on the 'fridge of wants/needs and for the most part it is mostly just wants. I also am now shopping for groceries and supplies quarterly (next one is in March) and I am shopping at a store that only takes cash/check (I am bad with the debit card). I have been OK in this dept.-lots of room to improve tho.

?Good luck and keep sharing with us your tips and progress!

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