Frugal Wednesdays – And We’re Back!

After taking a Wednesday off (for March Break fun) we’re back with another installment of frugal ideas that can work for everyone (nothing extreme, no recommendations of cloth toilet paper or taking one meal a week made primarily of cat food).  Money is on everyone’s minds these days.  Who has it, how to get it, how to keep it, how to spend it and how to save it are the five hot personal finance topics out there right now and while I can’t tell you who has it or how to get it, I can offer tons of ideas about how to keep it, save it and spend it – wisely, frugally and responsibly.  I think it’s Dave Ramsey who fancies sayings “Live like no one else now so that you can LIVE like no one else later.”  I’m not a big DR fan, but he does come up with some excellent ideas and sound bites on occasion.

And now, like sands through the hourglass, there are:

Honey Badger’s Frugal  (and maybe fun?) Wednesday Suggestions

1.  Roll your feet to warm and happy.  No, no, I am the last person who is going to suggest that you take up rollerblading, worry thee not!  No, I’m talking about taking one of those 1 or 2L pop bottles you normally fold up and put in your Blue Box (un, you DO recycle, right?) and re-purposing them to make your feet happier.  Fill the bottle with hot water.  Take a seat.  Roll the bottle back and forth under your feet.  Feel your tension ease.  Feel your feet send you lots of foot love.  Rinse and repeat as often as necessary/desired/awake.

2.  Learn how to cook at home. Even a sub-par fast food meal costs exponentially more than anything you prepare at home.  Let alone fancier restaurant food – the mark up is crazy and the food is often disappointing.  Not to mention potentially full of additives and preservatives that if you prepared it yourself, you could decide to add or avoid.  Either way, I’m not telling anyone what to eat or how to eat it, but it should be a conscious decision that you make as to what you put in your body and what you do not.  I am not the picture of health and fitness, so believe me, this ain’t no skinny chick telling the fatties what to eat, but I am aware of the choice I’m making when I order pizza instead of making it at home.  And that’s all I’m advocating for you too.  Oh, and a simple dinner out at Swiss Chalet for 2 adults and 4 kids, with the kids sharing a meal and two milks, is over $50 plus tip.  To put it in perspective, I feed everyone every meal, for a week for $150.00 or less.  1/3 of what a single meal out costs us.  Say what?!?!?

3.  Get honest about your spending habits.  “Thinking” that you only spend $x.xx on stuff is very different than actually tracking your spending and knowing that you spent $x.xx on stuff.  Want to ‘find’ $20.00 a month?  Track everything, I bet you end up finding a lot more than $20 that you’ve been literally throwing away each and every month.  Try it.  It’s a real eye opener and I won’t lie, it can be very painful to see it all in black and white.  Stop giving your hard-earned money away for little-to-no value in return.

4.  Follow the rules.  Yes, I know that you’re in a hurry and that where you need to be is far more important than where I need to be and more important than something so arbitrary as a speed limit but is the fine worth the extra two minutes you make in time?  And, come to think of it, the 15 or more minutes you sit by the side of the road waiting for your lecture and your pricey ticket costs you much more time that actually following the posted speed limit would have. And the wear and tear on your vehicle and the costly repairs will only hit your wallet and send your mechanic and his family on a European vacation on your dime.  If you’re in a hurry, leave earlier.  Stop terrorizing everyone on the road and beating your car into the ground.  It’s not rocket science and for the sake of not paying ‘Stupid tax’ for your haste, by way of fines, repair bills, your obviously very valuable time, and insurance premiums, are the costs and potential risks really worth it?  Follow the rules, be considerate of other drivers – and their cars, their time, and most importantly, their safety.  It is never the wrong choice and it will save you time, money and good karma points!

5.  Take the time to praise, not just to complain.  When you get really great service, a really wonderful deal, have a noteworthy experience, praise those responsible.  If your cashier at the grocery store was friendly and professional, smiled and said hello and thank you, stop for a second and tell the manager that she made you trip to his store better that day.  You would make the time to find the manager if the cashier had been rude and surly, so make the time to point out the good stuff too.   The horror stories of deals gone wrong and poor service and it’s important that bad experiences be shared, of course it is, but it is equally important to share the good stuff too.  When a business or a person goes out of their way to make your day or experience a little better, pay it forward by giving credit where credit is due.  It builds good will and good energy that will attract more positive, good experiences to come your way. 🙂

What are your favourite frugal or resource saving tips or tricks?  Share, share!

Frugal Wednesdays – Random Collection of Ideas With Attitude

Life is about to get very, very interesting around here.  We have our moving date and it’s only 8 weeks away!  Freaking out, yes, yes I am.  Excited?  Oh yes!  But moving isn’t a frugal activity, so moving right along here are 10 random frugal ideas (Honey Badger style) from all over the place and all over the alphabet. 😉

Honey Badger’s Frugal Wednesday Randomness 

1.  Scrubbing the dishes?  When you are using soap-filled scrubbing pads like SOS, wet the object to be scrubbed instead of the pad. The pad lasts a lot longer and doesn’t rust as quickly.  Also, unless you have a tonne of pots and pans to scrub at one time, cut the pad in two pieces before using. This will stretch the pads AND sharpens your kitchen shears at the same time.  If you just used it for a smaller job, store it in a Ziploc bag and stash it in your freezer.  This will help the pad last practically forever.  When you remove it from the freezer, a quick run under hot water will defrost the pad and make it ready to use again.

2.  You will save lots of money and prolong the life of your clothes if you use less soap and wash exclusively in COLD water.  Try it, you’ll be amazed.  Remember, the more soap you use, the more you have to buy, the more you buy, the happier the manufacturers are, the happier they are, the more they want to sell, the more they want to sell, the more they tell you to use.  The more loads you wash in HOT, the more you spend on electricity or gas (depending on your water heater).  The more you spend on utilities, the happier and fatter the utility companies get.  The fatter they get, the bigger their pensions get.  The bigger their pensions get, the bigger they want them.  The bigger they want them the more they raise the price of utilities.  It’s insanity.  It’s a vicious, dirty laundry conspiracy – choose to NOT participate.  Just say NO!  Less Soap, Cold Water!

3.  Read your weekly fliers.  Stores other than Wal-Mart price match.  I don’t visit more than two stores in any given week, so I’m not spending a ton in gas to save .20 on a tin of beans.  BUT, by just shopping the sales, and without accounting for coupon use (which would more than double my savings), I have saved over $400 this year alone, just by taking 20 minutes a week to go through the flyers and make a list.  So, over a period of seven weeks, I have spent a total of 2.33 hours of my time to save over $400 on groceries and household items that I would have needed to buy in any event (these kids, they sure do get cranky if you don’t feed ’em!).  So, if my math is right, that means the value in that 20 minutes a week is the equivalent of $172 per hour.  Holy sugarsnacks!  I’m making bank *grin*

4.  Freeze your leftovers.  Stop throwing out a spoon full of corn here, a few florets of broccoli there, half a cup of soup there.  Repurpose them in another meal later on.  One tiny cooked pork chop and three pieces of broccoli and a lonely baby carrot, together do not a meal make, but freeze them, pull them out and add them to a stir fry or soup and presto magic – no food wasted and even better, no money wasted!  It sounds weird, I know.  We’re so used to just tossing everything into the bin and washing up but next time, take a second, stop and really see what’s in front of you and think to your self “can I use this in another meal?”  More often than not, the answer will be a resounding, “YES!”

5.  Research and really know what is a legit opportunity and what is a scam when you are trying to make some extra money online.  For me, I’m all about the Swagbucks.  I use the SB toolbar (powered by Google) and search as I normally would and poof!  I earn SBs at random.  They, when I have enough (usually at least once a month), I redeem my SBs for Amazon.ca gift cards.  I have ‘earned’ over $90 without doing anything more than I would do usually online.  Oh, and I did spend some of that Amazon gift card money on a new lens filter kit and a remote control for my beloved Rebel T2i ;).  But, I’ll be posting a more complete and in-depth post on Swagbucks in the near future.

And, just because posts without pictures are kind of bland, here’s one from quite a few years back now:

A very early, failed attempt at, I think, potato-cheese bread. It tasted great, but looked so weird! UFO, anyone?

6.  Rehydrate your own beans.  One pound of dried beans makes the equivalent of 3-4 tins. Make it as you need it, or bag and freeze a whole batch for crazy days.  Always boiled red kidney beans for 10 minute or more before eating.  Make your own “instant rice”- when you’re making rice anyways, double or triple what you actually need, then freeze the extra. You just need to heat it through when you need it – such a time and money saver and is great for brown rice too.  (and in keeping with item #4, freeze your leftover rice and add it to later dishes as well) 😉

7.  Stop buying expensive laundry pre-treatments.  Make your own laundry pre-treater that gets the grease out of your clothes every time.  In a clear spray bottle fill 1/2 of the bottle with Dawn dishwashing liquid (purchased on sale with a coupon, of course *grin*).  Then fill the rest of the way up with water, leaving a bit of room to shake the bottle for proper mixing. It works really well on grease and food stains alike (and, say it with me,” it saves you lots of money and stops making the fat cats even fatter”).

8.  Have beautiful skin and money in your purse at the same time.  If you struggle with oily skin, add a little regular salt or sea salt to your regular cleanser.  It acts as an exfoliator.  If you have ‘regular’ (as opposed to elephant?) skin or suffer with dry skin, add a teaspoon of sugar to your cleanser instead.  Next time you have the time and privacy to take a bath by yourself (no kids pounding on the door or trying to “keep you company” – uh huh, as if!),  put some oatmeal into a piece of clean, old pantyhose (make sure that it is tied off at both ends) and put in your bath.  Once it has soaked in the water for a while, squeeze it and the oatmeal milk will help to make your skin so soft and also reduce any redness.  This is also non-toxic and helpful if you have a rash.  Once your bath is finished, just toss out the stocking. Quick and easy clean up – LOVE IT!

9.  Wherever and whenever you can – hang your wet laundry up to dry!  I have five kids and one husband (no husband-brothers or sister wives here *grin*) and I hang all our laundry from April through to November (in Canada, no less) and when I am forced to use the dryer, I use it at night during ‘off peak’ hours, so the electricity is less than half the cost as ‘high demand or medium demand’ times.  TOU electricity is not fun, don’t be shackled to your drier.  Your clothes will last longer and smell nicer if you hang dry them 🙂

10. Nobody likes the ends of the loaf of bread.  I don’t understand it, I certainly don’t endorse this behaviour, but it’s true.  Many people are prejudiced against bread ends.  So many people just bypass the first piece in a brand new bag of bread and skip back two or three slices.  The bag will have a couple of slices left in it but you’ll hear “we don’t have any bread!” and they open yet another bag and look to toss the (for some reason) offensive ends out.  But stop!  Freeze them.  Save them up and use them for stuffing, make bread crumbs, or other things with them.  It doesn’t matter if they’re frozen, and no one will know or care that they ARE eating the ends 😉  Or, you could save a BUNDLE and bake your own bread, but baby steps are the best place to start 🙂

What are your favourite frugal or resource saving tips or tricks?  Share, share!

Frugal Wednesdays with The Keswick Blogger (or with Honey Badger, depending on who shows up that day!)

In an effort to actually organize this blog, for the time being, I’m going to have designated days to write about specific things that interest me or that I do and want to share or areas of frugality that I want or need to learn more about. Hence, the Frugal Wednesday title 😉 Each Wednesday, I’ll post something related to frugality, be it family budgeting, couponing, shopping tips and tricks, household tips and tricks, or even ethical or moral issues that come up while surfing the frugal wave.

For today, and then periodically on Wednesdays in the future, I’ll pick a letter of the alphabet and find something most people have around the house and list five alternative uses for it. Because really, if I can do at least five different jobs with one item, I’m saving valuable real estate in my cupboards and drawers and keeping the money in my pocket, buying one item instead of five!

A to Z tips and tricks with everyday household items

Aluminum foil

1. Soften brown sugar – wrap a rock-hard lump of brown sugar in aluminum foil and bake it at 300 degrees Fahrenheit for 5 minutes.
2. Polish your silver – Ion molecular reaction will shine it right up. Line a pan with a sheet of foil, fill it with cold water and add two teaspoons of salt. Let tarnished silverware sit in the solution for two to three minutes then rinse and dry off.
3. Scrub your pots – out of SOS pads? No problem. Crumple up a handful of aluminum foil and scrub away the grime!
4. Sharpen your scissors – use any leftover foil that is otherwise headed for the Blue Box . Smooth out and fold into several layers and start cutting. Seven or eight passes should sharpen your scissors right up.
5. Fix loose batteries – place as thick of a piece of foil as needed between the battery and a ‘relaxed’ spring to help tighten up the connection again.

What, other than covering food in the oven or wrapping up leftovers, do you use aluminum foil for?