Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Cutting Expenses on the homestead

I was asked about how we are cutting expenses.

Well, so far, it's slow-moving. But, I plug along and I am filled with ideas to put into action...just gotta put them in action. I'm a list-maker. I am a great list-maker, if I do say so myself. I can plan and organize the world (just about) on paper. Then I have to start putting action to that list and that's where I usually trip myself up. But, I know I have this tendency and I'm working toward limiting myself in that lack of complete action process.

Ok, money savers:
Turn off the lights. Don't whine to me about not having natural lighting during the day -- I live in a trailer. There isn't what you'd call 'well-placed' windows in here by any stretch of the imagination. I may as well live in a cave for all the natural light I get. It's a given that we have some kind of light on during even the brightest, sunniest day. But do you have to have a light in every room? Do your children need to be scattered about during the day with every light in the house on? Look seriously at just the lights you use during the day.

Cut back, even a little, on heating and air conditioning. I know -- that's funny coming from me, but I did work this year to cut back the central air this summer. I am not a summer person. Never have been. I absolutely can't stand being hot and muggy. I'd just as soon have icicles hanging off my walls all summer long. But try it -- cutting back a few degrees, setting up the automatic temperature control when you aren't home, when you're sleeping, etc. can save some money on the power bill. Turn down your hot water heater while you're at it. Some are hard-wired in and you'll use more electricity to cut them on and off, so just turn it down so the water isn't so hot.

Look hard and serious at your monthly expenses. Have you ever tracked your outflow of monies for at least a full month? I mean every penny accounted for, on paper, and in ink? Don't round off expenses at the store...keep it real and list it honestly. Then look at your receipts.
I spent $7.44 on 5 doz eggs at our Wal-Mart. Yes, I needed eggs, but...I also paid $17.65 on a bag of layer pellets and cracked corn for the stupid chickens who aren't producing eggs here on the homestead. And, to boot, I paid $7.99 for a bag of chicken breasts. See a problem here? I could have saved my budget $25.64 plus some tax if I had just butchered the dumb birds who aren't laying eggs. No, not everyone out there has chickens, but can you see a point here? I'm wasting money. Maybe you waste it in another area. My mom spends money each week on those checkout line tabloid papers...

How much store-bought food do you have in your house? What could you make yourself instead of buying every month? I can bake bread and buns. Last month, we didn't buy any store bread until Dewey came home for the weekend. He likes store-bread for sandwiches -- says the homemade just can't be cut thin enough to make a truly good sandwich without feeling you are getting all bread. I'm working on that, but for now, I buy a loaf for him when needed. With him in Arkansas, it's not needed.
What about other food stuffs? There is so much I could be doing, but I'm not. I'd like to say it's because I don't know how, or I don't have this or that, but honestly, I'd be lying. It's laziness most often than not. I can make pasta. I don't all the time because it's a long process to make spaghetti and to make enough for at least 2 meals and be worth the time spent...I'd be out here all day long, sun up to sun down. Time-wise, it's easier to buy it.
Then again, what do I need to save TIME for? I need to save MONEY, not TIME.
I have wheat berries. I have a grinder. I could grind my own flour -- fresh and much healthier. I don't always do this, but I could. My carpal tunnel kills me to grind by hand, but I do have 8 eager and willing sets of grinding hands here who could do it for me.
I could butcher these chickens and not buy anymore for a while. I don't because...well, um, because I'm a baby when it comes to killing off my livestock. Did I tell you it took me 3 years to finally talk Dewey into allowing me chickens in the first place? Yep. He knew I'd have elaborate plans in mind to have funerals and burial plots in the back pasture rather than having butchering season for the freezer. I'm much better now at that kind of thing, but still...there's a big city girl in me that prefers to stay in the house and allow the menfolk to butcher whatever...just bring it in ready to be washed and bagged up.

What can you buy in bulk? Why not go to Sam's or Costco and buy a case of TP instead of a small 12 pack, or worse...those useless 4 packs? It's TP -- you're gonna use it sooner or later. By buying in bulk -- anything you use regularly, not just the TP -- you are saving all over the place. You save in gas -- if you buy in bulk, you don't need to go into town weekly so you can save on gas. You don't need to replenish the supply as often. Storage could present some issues, but there is always a place to put things if you really want them. How do you think we all ended up with far too many things in our homes as it is? We wanted them and we made space whether it was there or not. Lack of space is no excuse for not buying in bulk.

How much gas do you use each week? Do you have to go where you go or do you just want to go there? Look at me today -- I was all over the big city yesterday, passed countless grocery stores dollar stores, etc. -- and today, I drove 13 miles one way, into town for 2 cans of spicy tomatoes and some tea bags. UGH. Yes...don't even say it. I already know. I spent how much in gas to go buy tea bags and tomatoes? Let's not even think about it. It's stupid, it's a lack of organization and preplanning, and I did it anyway. I have no excuses. Just stupidity.
What are you doing in town? Debi was going into town for a needful thing and she came out of the store with $60 some dollars of stuff. She only needed to spend maybe $12, however, once in that store, she thought about needing this or that, got some unnecessary things she could have lived yogurt, tortilla shells, coffee creamer, cat toys (cat toys??!! Debi!!!) and some flannel sheets.
She went in for $12 and spent $60.
So, what are you doing in town? Do you have to be there? Why can't you go to town once a week and do all you need then? Could you, seriously, go into town twice a month instead? What about once a month? That is our goal here -- hit town once a month. Ideally, I'd like to shop for about 4 months at a time, but I'm a ways off of that.

I homeschool. Not that I necessarily save any money doing it, but I am working on it. We are buying all of our curriculum so it's here. I use Rod & Staff -- hardcover texts, easily reused by each one coming up the line here. Very little consumable, which I like. But, I could go cheaper. I'd have to be more on top of things like planning and gathering, but I could go dirt cheap, rock bottom prices. Old Fashioned Education is totally free and downloadable online. Charlotte Mason style education using real books from the library. A lot of homeschoolers down here in our area use Bob Jones -- wow, pricey. Good, but pricey, I think. I can't see spending upwards of $900 per grade level. I'm just too cheap. There are all kinds of ways to save money on education and still get a superior education. You have to be deeply involved and committed to it, but it can be done easily enough.

Washing clothes can be done many loads a week do you do? Personally, I do way way too much around here, but I have untrained children in that respect and we are going to change that. We have at least 4 outfits each, plus church clothes. I don't need to wash daily. I could plan one day for all laundry and that's it. Savings on electricity and water. I have nothing but sun and air out here -- it's Mississippi. I can realistically hang out laundry all year round. No dryer usage, saving on electricity there as well. I am just about ready for hand-washing just to prove a point about unnecessary laundry piles here.

Bottom line, stay home, learn to bake and cook from scratch, turn off your lights and organize your laundry better. I'm working on all of this myself. I honestly don't see us, as a society on a whole, lasting on much more the way we live. Life is changing. I don't have stocks and bonds, I don't have a credit card and I don't have much in the bank...pretty soon, no one else will either. What are you able to do to be prepared for what life will become? Dewey isn't not interested in saving money -- he just isn't ready to throw away the comforts of life and go off-grid just yet. Being an electrician, I suppose it presents a sort of conflict of interest for him.

We have $560 a month to one loan, and $420 to another. Everything else coming and going from this house is totally within our control. I have a high electric bill because of the trailer being what it is, our county has the highest kwh rates in the state, and we don't do all we can to cut back. Our water usage can be controlled much more than it is. I have a cell phone and a landline and this internet. I lived without the cell and the internet for years, I could live without it again. You notice I don't, but I could.

Monthly, our bills include the 2 loans, payments on the fridge we bought (and it wasn't pricey, just didn't pinch it in the budget), Netfix monthly (definitely not a need there), landline phone and cell phone, electric and water. That's it for bills. Of course there is gas and animal feed and groceries added to that, but bill-wise, that's all we have. The loans are the problem in our lives and they are getting attention above the other stuff. I could fill my tank once and be good for about 3 weeks or maybe the month. Longer if I truly kept it to honest NEEDS and not just wants in town. Church is 2 miles up the mountain, round-about.

I am in a better position for saving money here because Dewey isn't here. I can turn off the house and unplug from everything but the full freezers and heat pump and he won't care because he isn't here. With him home, I probably couldn't cut back quite as much. His heart of saving is in other areas that don't involve daily 'comfort measures' like being lit by oil lamps and eating simply, wholesome meals really. I need to really dig deeper and make these pennies scream for Momma while I can.

It's all about lifestyle change and how bad you truly want to save money. Where there's a will, there's a way. We always manage to get what we want if we really want it bad enough :o)

What do you do to save?


Aimee Kieffer, aka "Momzoo" said...

Great ideas, I agree 100% with you and I have been trying to pretty much everything you suggested.

I laughed when you mentioned the air conditioning, I am the same way...I think my body just shuts down in the heat! I don't even have the humidity to deal with here in the desert.

This last year I have been line-drying all my laundry. Know what I realised, on a hot summer day my clothes dry in about half the time it takes my fancy High Efficency dryer to do it...and the big is all free, beautiful G-d given sunshine that is doing the work.

I know this is off the subject of this post, but how is your boot camp doing? I am very interested to hear how it is working.

Deborah said...

Oh I could not do with the AC in FL. NO WAY!!!!
We use cloth diapers that I make myself ,we hang clothes out when we can,buy when things are on sale.
My DH is an electrican as well and he will not hear of going off grid.
It is hard.

HomeschoolingMomto3 said...

I just found your blog and I'm really enjoying it. I think we live in the same area. If so, I saw in one of your posts you were looking for Kirk's Castile Soap. Our local Cracker Barrel sells it. I'm thinking you can email me through my comment if you want. (?)

Mrs Dewey Smith said...

I'll have to check our Cracker Barrel...shhh, don't tell Dewey I'm going to Cracker Barrel to walk around their gift shop section :o)

sara said...

Thanks so much for sharing this. We are pretty much implementing everything here to an extent. I, like you, could live without much more of the comforts than my husband can.

God love him, but my husband is about as spoiled as they come. He will eat the homemade bread for sandwiches, and whatever else I attempt to make from scratch, but like Dewey prefers storebought, but in other areas like television and internet, that boy is hopeless.

He's also about as handy as a barrel of monkeys, so when it comes to doing things around the house, it's me that does it. Picture me, 8 months pregnant, last weekend digging holes for posts to put up a clothesline. lol. It wasn't pretty. But in all honesty, I don't mind, he works hard to provide for us, and would hold down 2-3 jobs if he had to so that I could stay home and take care of things, and for that I am truly thankful.

I do see some hope in him as the economy makes a downward slide to wherever it's going, that he is slowly leaning my way and looking a little deeper at my silly little notions to help us save money. I guess at least one of us is prepared for the worst. lol.

Well, I've gone on long enough. Don't spend too much time in cracker barrel now. But if you do, think of me, I'm not allowed in there, at least when my hubby knows about it.

Blessings, sara

Barb J. said...

Wow, great post! These are all things that I've thought about, but never practiced. You have given me motivation.

That's funny about the chickens because Hubby and I were just talking about that today. We have two small flocks that are housed seperatly. The smallest flock of five hens hasn't laid a single egg in over a month. At first I thought they were molting, but how long does that take? We were just talking about how much we are spending on feed for chickens that aren't giving any eggs in return, so I know exactly how you feel. Did I mention that I bought chicken today at the grocery store?


Jeremiah 6:16
Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls.

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