People are always asking us how we do it. How do we pay the bills, feed a family of six, and still manage to have a little fun now and then? Well, it’s really a combination of two things: conserving and prioritizing. We try to conserve energy, water, food, and recycle or reuse anything and everything we can. If it can be stretched thin we figure out how to do just that. Details below. However, as much as you don’t want to spend loosely and freely until you’ve diminished your security blanket and fall into debt, it is equally as terrible to save so steadfastly that you become a total tightwad and lose sight of whats really important…family, not money! That is where prioritizing comes in at.
What works for us:
Leave everything UNplugged until we need it… then I plug it in. Examples: computer, game consoles, coffee pot, baby monitor, fax machine, etc. All of these devises use electric constantly throughout each day even when they are not being used except to display a red light or blink the time. It all adds up in the end!
Set laundry washer to always wash and rinse in cold water. My clothes still come out just as clean!
Make your own liquid soap (since powders do not dissolve in cold water) that is extremely easy, fast, and goes a long way. I use a 5 gallon drywall mud bucket (because these are always on hand around here lol). Fill a large container with 5 gal. hot water. Add 1 cup washing soda, 1/2 cup borax, and 3 ounces of Dr. Bronner’s Magic (liqued) soap. Stir until dissolved. Use 1 cup per load. This homemade recipe for laundry detergent is “all natural” and made with organic ingredients.
We also use this for mopping and cleaning just about everything!
Another good all purpose inexpensive cleaner: white vinegar/water solution with a little bit of lemon to cover that vinegar smell!
We buy local food for less than store-bought food that is better quality. Plus we get the satisfaction of knowing exactly who and where our money is going to. Check with your local farmer’s market. We are able to get eggs, milk, honey, beef and steaks, corn meal, flour, fruit and just about any kind of vegetable produce you could want locally for less than we pay for these same items at the grocery store!
We grow and can many garden foods as well as making our own maple syrup and jellies. You do not have to live on a farm to do this. We were renting a house on about 2 acres only. The new place is smaller yet. You can be sure that won’t slow us down.
We accept hand-me-downs from friends and family. I am always thrilled to get things we can use and pass on items we have outgrown to friends, family, or consignment stores.
We also recycle certain plastic materials, paper, and metals. I didn’t even know for the longest time that we could do this so easily for free. I just called my trash company and asked how much it was going to cost after deciding it was a good cause. The answer was nothing. They told me to set it out separately a certain day once a month and it was simply that easy. I felt terrible that I hadn’t been doing it all along. You never know ’til you check into it.
We also save certain metals just letting them pile up over time in the basement to take to the salvage yard when we get a truck load. They actually pay US to do this and it’s always enough to cover our gasoline plus some!
We keep our thermostat low in the winter months (set at 66 to be exact). It costs a lot less to put on a pair of socks than to turn up the heat!
We do not use air conditioning in the summer months. I know most of you don’t believe this to be possible but we have survived many hot summers by simply opening all the windows.
I call our insurance companies, telephone/internet providers, etc. once a year just to make sure we are still getting the best deal available.
We do not pay for cable. People pay $600 – $1200 yearly for cable and movie channels! Netflix is so inexpensive, commercial free, and you can choose what you watch. It took some time to convince my husband of this. He was surprised to learn what he could actually live without. lol
I love coupons!
I save money every month cutting everyone’s hair myself. With a good set of clippers that will last nearly forever anyone can learn to cut hair. I do go and have my own done now and then. Believe me… I’ve tried to do my own time and time again unsuccessfully!
Just because we are hoping this move to our own home will eventually put more money in our pockets in the long run doesn’t mean that we will stop trying to save money the usual ways that we always have. I hate waste and will always strive to conserve, recycle, and reuse. I hope that some of these tips helped you think of ways to do the same.