One of the categories for this blog is saving money, however it is my most hesitant category to write about because there have been so many exhilarating things going on in the garden! I am currently waiting for harvest so I thought now would be a fine time to pay awareness to this area. We have found quite a few ways to spend less, but still have more toiling to do. There are so many great blogs out there to assist with this and to see what others are doing to combat waste, poverty, and frivolous spending. One site that is particularly helpful is http://slowdownslowly.wordpress.com/. She really has a no-nonsense, happy-go-lucky approach to making it not only a responsible thing to do, but a fun thing to do as well!
Here are some ways we have spent less:
Food: We always try and buy in bulk, and look for things that are marked down because they are about to expire. We invested in a chest freezer because it means less trips to the store (less gasoline) and we can stock up when things are a bargain. We rarely eat out anymore. I buy a lot of dried goods for making soups, stews, and casseroles. I have stopped eating meat and am still trying to get my family to cut back a bit. I am hoping that we are now growing enough tomatoes to have spaghetti sauce, pizza sauce, ketchup, and tomato soup for the entire year.
Clothing: Thrift stores, garage sales, eBay, and freecycle! You can read more on my post (Being frugal is not being cheap!)
Shelter: I am happy to say that we have paid off our mortgage and now own our home outright. When we were first married we paid $500 a month for rent. When we bought our first home in 1998 we made too many mistakes to count! Our credit was bad and we were paying $700 a month at close to 15% interest! When the economy started collapsing we downsized once again, purchasing a handy-man special. We barely made any profit at all on our first home and escaped by the skin of our teeth!
The home we decided on was twice the sq. footage in a very rural country area. (We neglected to think about how we would afford to heat the place and what kind of jobs would be available in the area.) However, we managed to pay the house off in just less then 6 years and the taxes are less then $600 a year!
We went with a wood stove to offset heating costs. (See post: Heating with wood.) We have done many improvements and we feel our home is now worth at least twice what we paid for it.
Some quick things to remember when buying a home:
-Make sure that your mortgage does not impose a penalty for prepayment.
-A fixed-rate mortgage provides the predictability of a steady interest rate, and it can always be refinanced if rates fall.
-Never agree to the asking price of the home. It can always be haggled down…we haggled close to $9,000 off the asking price.
Entertainment: Do more cheap/free stuff! Fishing, hiking, window shopping, free museum days, free movies in the park, at-home barbeques, or the library! We were considering taking the whole family to the movies last week until we realized it would cost $50.00 for two hours of entertainment! This will be reserved for special occasions or when the kids just want to go with a friend and help pay their own way! We also got rid of satellite and rely now on our antenna for local channels and netflix for movies.
Long term investments: I’m not talking about the stock market! Major purchases require some degree of planning. You have to look at it as saving money in the long term and make a really educated decision on whether or not the purchase is warranted. The freezer, our wood stove, and our home were all like this. We recently bought a cheap gas-saver car for commuting back and forth to town as opposed to our big family minivan. (This will also be our daughters Beauty college graduation gift down the road.)
Other long term money saving items include the log splitter, the slow cooker (much better then having the oven on all day!), potting soil for planting, new windows for better insulation, and much more. We also quit paying for trash pick-up by the week and now use a small dumpster with once a month emptying.
Credit cards: We have destroyed all of our credit cards! We keep a bank card with a credit option for reserving hotel rooms for weddings and things of that nature. I am proud of myself for this because I am a former credit junkie! We also got rid of contract cell phones and save a ton with the pay as you go plan.
Make your own stuff: The possibilities really are endless. We can make our own laundry soap, dish soap, shampoo, conditioner, fertilizer, insecticide, suntan lotion, moisture cream, drain cleaner, planters, and much more! Plus it feels good to “createityourself!”
You have to live a little: We recently purchased a new boat motor for our boat that has been sitting for over a year. I figure it is still going to be a cheaper (and more fun!) form of entertainment then doing things like going to the bar or the movies! Plus all the yummy free fish that we are going to catch in those hard to reach fishing spots!
On our to-do list:
Make a lettuce planter out of old gutters.
Research more home remedies for Japanese beetle problems.
Make something out of my rotary tool that I got for Christmas last year and haven’t used.
Haircuts at the beauty school.
Install the awesome (craigslist) stained glass window outside our kitchen.
Research initial investment of bee hiving.
Make and freeze a bunch of cheese.
Find a way to make DIY rain barrels for watering the gardens.
Wrap pipes and hot water heater before winter
Find good and healthy dog and hamster food recipes.