What I saved today

How I saved money, time or the environment today or recently. Relevant comments or questions are appreciated.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

10 Clothing Fixes That Everyone Should Know

Monday, July 19, 2010

take batteries out of unused items

Its important not to leave batteries in items you won't be using for a week or so. Not only does this slow down the loss of battery power, but it keeps the batteries from corroding. I've had a couple of items ruined by battery acid because I forgot to take the batteries out and the items were unused for over a month. Rechargeable batteries are better than non-rechargeables for the environment and your wallet. Remember to unplug the charger once the batteries are charged for even more savings.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

rubber scrapers

A rubber scraper is a must-have when baking. When using a rubber scraper to get the last of the batter out of a mixing bowl, you can often squeeze out an extra cupcake or a couple of cookies which would otherwise go to waste. I hate to have my rubber scrapers stained, so I bought one red one to use when scraping tomato sauce out of cans.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

saving money when moving

Boxes: you can often get discarded boxes from stores. Also try freecycle.com and craigslist.com for people giving away boxes from their own moves. For wardrobe and other large boxes, search online for the best price.

Packing materials: Save space and avoid buying expensive packing materials by using clean pillowcases, sheets, towels and even workbooks and pads of paper to cushion and wrap dishes or other breakable objects.

Moving from one place to another: If you don't want a totally do-it-yourself move, see if you can get a moving company in your home state to pack a Pod or other huge storage container with your furniture, then have friends and family move boxes in. Arrange to have the container delivered to your new address, move the boxes out, and pay professionals to unload and put together the furniture.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

online bill pay -save time and postage costs

For me a big time-saver has been setting up bill payments from my bank online. Saving 40 cents per payment is a nice plus.  I typically let a few bills pile up in my "in" box and then go to my bank's online payment center to schedule payments.  I generally time the payments to arrive one day before they are due.

There are plenty of money management programs which can help keep finances in order, but I'm happy with the spreadsheet I've created which allows me to keep track of when bills are coming due and how much they should be.  At the same time I pay the bills, I take whatever credit card receipts have accumulated and enter the amounts under the appropriate card's due date.  I come from a family that was very disciplined in the use of credit cards and by forecasting the bills at least several months in advance, I can make sure we'll have enough to pay off the cards in full when the payments are due and earn rewards.  I also mark any unusual expenses which will be coming up so we can be prepared for them.  For example, major car servicing and yearly county taxes.

Friday, July 9, 2010

hire a kid

Sometimes I save money over hiring a service by hiring a kid.  For example, I paid my teenage son to steam clean the carpets today. Sometimes my daughter cleans or handles the dishwasher.  Occasionally my 10-year-old is desperate enough for money that he will vacuum our downstairs for $2.  He thinks $5 is fair.  I told him there's no way I'm paying him the equivalent of $30 an hour! Maybe a neighbor teen would mow your lawn or take care of your pets when you're on vacation.  Depending on your comfort level and availability of willing laborers, you could be getting out of a lot of grunt work and helping a kid get some fun money at the same time.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

When is it worth it to pay someone else to do the work?

Deciding when to pay someone else to do something for you is a very personal decision.  I don't mind paying to have my husband's shirts laundered because I hate to do it and have never gotten the hang of getting wrinkles out of the sleeves.  I'll pay to have the gutters cleaned because my husband and are both afraid of falling off the roof.  I'll pay to have my hair and that of one of my sons cut because I can't cut hair well, but I use the clippers on my husband and the younger boys.  I'll pay for inexpensive breakfast cereals because we get bored of the few breakfast items I can make well or I just haven't gotten around to making up a big batch of something.
I'm a stay-at-home mother, so my income is generally zero.  So, it makes sense for me to do a lot of cost-cutting things that it wouldn't make sense for someone working full time to do.  I thinks its important to decide how much time and labor you're saving by doing a task yourself, as well as how much you enjoy or dislike a task.  I know people who consider housework therapeutic and would never hire someone to do it.  I will never be in that bunch, but I do feel that since I am at home, the cost of having someone else clean the house is too high.

Monday, July 5, 2010

frugality isn't about deprivation

This blog isn't meant to sound like life is all about deprivation.  Its meant to be a help to others in managing time, money and resources well.  I'd like to help people realize the true cost of their actions.  For example, buying convenience foods may save time in cooking, but is that time saving worth the extra cost?  What about the cost to the environment?  Hopefully you're not at the point where every penny you take in has to be spent on necessities, so choose wisely where you want to spend what's left over from the necessities.  For myself, I tend to deny myself things in order to be able to give to charity and to the rest of my family. 

Saturday, July 3, 2010

carpet steamers

Once I had a child, I knew I needed to get a carpet steamer.  Spot treatments are just not enough when you are dealing with the messes children and pets make of carpets and upholstery.  Professional carpet and upholstery cleaning will save you money over prematurely replacing your carpet or upholstery, but one cleaning is likely to cost you less than the cost of buying a carpet steamer.  A steamer is also handy for sucking up big spills of beverages.

Friday, July 2, 2010

research before you buy

There have been many times when I have bought something and regretted the purchase, not because I didn't want the item, but because it turned out to be poorly designed.  This is rarely a problem anymore as there are all kinds of reviews on all kinds of products available for free via the Internet.  Whenever I am considering purchasing an item new, I check several sites for reviews of the product.  Many times husband and I  have wound up purchasing the least expensive option because it also get the best reviews.  Other times, we have seen why certain features would be well worth the extra cost.  We've also done price comparisons between stores when we are shopping for big ticket items.  An hour of research can save dozens of dollars.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

buy in bulk, sometimes

Generally I buy snack foods, mozzarella cheese and chicken tenders.  Unless I can combine a sale and a coupon to do better on a comparable item.  On these items in particular, it seems the smaller the package, the greater the price per pound.  I am not going to pay $8 a pound for individual size snack bags when I can pay $2.50 a pound and break up the bag as needed into individual servings at home or in reusable containers for school.  Sometimes I even get ambitious and bake healthy snacks.  Cutting down on packaging is good for the environment and easier on the wallet.  It takes more time to divvy up the big package or bake from scratch, but its often worth the trade.