In my bid to seriously change up my life I have embarked on a series of small changes, hoping they will ultimately lead to a better life and lifestyle for me and my family. Micro changes. Several are ongoing but it is time to address our financial situation. I am a stay at home parent and see the value in that. My son has had some challenges in the past few years, he’s a talented, sensitive teenager and although he is very mature for his age in some ways (he just got himself his first job with no input from me at all) he still needs some supervision. So going back to work is out of the question for now.
I earn a small amount on mTurk and have amped that up somewhat but now it is time to address saving money. Frugality can be a dirty word in some circles I have found. Tightwad, skinflint, money grabbing, cheap, many of the words used are negative but I see saving money as being responsible, smart and creative. So below is a list of things I currently do or are thinking of doing to save some cash/wonga/ackers/benjamins etc. Feel free to comment on my list or add suggestions of your own, I will try almost anything. But first I need to check that the lights are turned off in the house.
1. Cook at home. I already do this as I said in previous posts. I cook almost everything, I love the challenge of learning new ways to be creative with cheap ingredients. I actually prefer bean burgers to the meat kind and have realized that soup is my favorite part of any meal – or just a meal in itself.
2. Grow food in the back garden. This I also do, my cucumbers are my pride and joy! My results are erratic, can anyone say Tomato Hornworm? But producing food is the stuff of life and I love it.
3. Make cleaning products at home. I do make some cleaning products already, for example laundry detergent which saves a fair chunk of change, and I also tried my hand at liquid soap. Next up will be cleaning spray (I usually use 409) made with vinegar or lemon juice.
4. Couponing. Now this is a thorny topic for me because I have tried couponing in the past and found it to be almost a complete waste of time. The trick, I have found is to only clip coupons for items you actually use. Thing is, most of those coupons are for things like scented candles or boxed food which I absolutely never use. So sorting the wheat from the chaff can be a total time suck. I stick to a few basics – I use the coupons I get mailed from the grocery store, they are targeted to what I use anyway, I go onto coupons.com and print any coupons that I actually want, you can print these out three times so I do that, then I wait for a sale and use them in conjunction with a store sale. I am also trying out a coupon rebate site called Checkout 51 where you upload your receipt and get rebates for certain products, again mostly products I just don’t use so we’ll see if it is worth it. I will usually go with a generic product too if I can, I have zero customer loyalty (unless it’s ketchup or cornflakes my family just won’t eat the cheap versions of them!).
5. Phones. Our family have three iphones. I know that is a bit excessive but I just won’t swap. My phone has saved my time, gas costs and my sanity. I love it and will not give it up, neither will my husband and although my son is not allowed his full time he will be getting it back when he starts his job. But our plan is expensive – we pay $205 a month for three lines. There might be a saving there somehow, needs some investigation.
6. We have two cars. One is paid for, one is still being paid off. My husband has checked out the credit union at work and they are offering car loans at 1.69% so he is going to refinance the rest of the loan. It was tempting to him, to extend the term of the loan and make the monthly payments even lower but after I pointed out that we would end up paying more he saw the light. We will save $24 a month on this. It’s not a lot but it’s $650 or so in total.
7. The trash company have smaller rolling trash carts which cost less per month. As I recycle most of our waste – compost and the recycle bin and we don’t buy a lot of pre-packaged foods, the smaller bin is plenty big enough for the three of us. Again, it’s only saving $4 a month but that’s $48 a year I don’t have to pay and I’m helping the environment.
8. I pay all my bills online. Can’t remember the last time I ordered a check book – oh wait yes I can it was when we moved house and we needed to update the address. I also buy very few stamps, only really for cards which I think are much nicer than e-cards.
9. We pay about $60 a month for internet and $80 a month for DirecTV. I could look at getting this cheaper. We survived before without cable TV and could do so again I suppose. There is a point at which frugality and quality of life collide though and this could be it! No Dance Moms? Sigh…
10. We switched our back lawn to a water wise garden and although we are having to water to establish it, we will be able to cut it down next year. Another way we save water is by putting a bucket in our shower, in the morning the bucket fills up with run off water and we either use it to water the plants in the garden or flush the toilet. If everyone did this, think how much water the state would save!
Okay, that’s 10 items with a couple for me to look into, anyone else got ideas? I’d love to hear them.
Below is a iPhone case I designed, the text reads :”In the future phones will play music, take photos and fit in your pocket” I should have also put, given you directions, played a movie and allowed you to read the entire world’s newspapers, but it was too long! Sometimes I feel very old.