This morning, while I was putting dinner in the crockpot, my mind turned to ways we, like the rest of the United States, have been economizing. We probably should have been economizing all along but we haven't been. We've been living "high on the hog" for many years - at least until the prices of things, like gasoline and milk, have started jumping higher and higher. With the expenses of our recent move and other expense-incurring happenings, it has been necessary for me to either go back to work or find ways to save money at home. It has almost become like a game. Here are the ways that we've been saving money.....
1. Inconvenience Foods - This is what prompted me to think about the ways we economize. I was peeling and cutting carrots. I probably have not done that in YEARS - there was just no need. I always purchased baby carrots. They were quick, easy, but certainly not cheap! A bag of baby carrots in our neck of the woods is close to $3. A bag of regular carrots only $1.44. That's a savings of more than 50%. Combine that with a roast I found on sale at WalMart and five potatoes and you've got a great dinner! (Recipe - Put the roast, peeled and cut carrots and potatoes in the crockpot with a package of dry onion soup mix and a cup or two of water. Cook on high for six hours or so.)
I have also started buying a full head of green leaf lettuce instead of the bagged lettuce. Again, it's usually half the price. I *hate* to make salad but this game of economizing has made a believer out of me.
2. Recycle Clothing - The other day my DH and I were in the basement sorting through some things (okay, we were trying to make a pathway through all the totes and boxes that we have carted all over the country but have rarely opened). We found a box of clothes marked "Boys - 4T". Guess what!!! I have a boy who is size 4T and he was in desperate need of winter clothes. Like most parents, I have saved clothes from the older children to use on the younger ones. My problem has been that I haven't always been good about sorting and marking them correctly or digging them out when I do know where they are. It's just easier to pick up a pair of this or a larger size of that when I'm at WalMart. However, I estimate that I saved close to $50 by opening the 4T tote and puting the sweatshirts, long-sleeved shirts, jeans, socks and shoes in Tuff's drawers. I was lucky that the sizes and season were correct.
3. Recycle Halloween Costumes - The above picture is of a friend's children. Batman and the witch costumes are borrowed. The large jack-o-lantern was made last-minute when another costume didn't work out (idea courtesy of familyfun.com; vines courtesy of the fake houseplants). The baby pumpkin is a costume that all four children have worn their first Halloween - a fun family tradition. (I just talked to my friend and she said the total cost of the Halloween costumes was less than $5 - and that was for the face paint and the brown pipe cleaners on top of the jack-o-lantern. My friend is all for borrowing and exchanging costumes with friends. You don't have to give them away - just lend them. Really, what else are they going to do - sit in the dress-up box over the holiday? They might as well be enjoyed!)
4. Garage Sales and Goodwill - Two more great sources for inexpensive clothing are garage sales and thrift stores. My mom and sister are great thrift store shoppers. They are always dressed to the nines and have rarely spent a lot on their outfits. I am not as good at finding things for myself but frequently I can find fabulous things for my kids - most of them so close to new-looking that it's impossible to tell that I bought them at the thrift store.
5. Ebay - I totally love ebay. I have been an ebay purchaser for many years but have only recently discovered the massive amounts of clothing on ebay. I recently purchased this white dress for my daughter for $15 plus shipping. The trim alone would have much more than $15 if I had attempted to make it. I have also bought brand new ties, skirts, piano books and birkenstock sandals (off season to get the best price). I am just in love with ebay!
6. Boys Haircuts - I bought a set of hairclippers years ago and have pulled them out to start using them again. I can save $20 every six weeks by cutting my boys' hair. Sometimes it looks better, I'll admit, but in my defense, the youngest is a moving target. I had my mom do it last time they were here to visit so the boys will look great for the next few weeks. If you don't know how to cut hair, take your son to the barber and watch how he does it. Ask questions and learn how to do it. I used to trade babysitting for haircuts when we lived in Fargo. She was a hairdresser so we traded three hours of babysitting for one haircut. I knew I was going to end up watching her kids periodically anyway so it was great to get a free haircut out of the deal!
7. School pictures are soooo expensive. It would cost be more than $90 to have all three kids' pictures taken at school. Instead I can have their pictures taken at JCPenney, Target or even WalMart for less than $10 a child. That's a savings of $60.
8. When we moved into this house the previous renters had two garbage cans. We only need one so I canceled the second one - save us $7 each month.
9. When we first signed up for the internet here, we opted for the middle-of-the-road speed. Our computer isn't that fast so the internet didn't seem fast even on the second speed. I downgraded to the lowest speed (of the high-speeds) and haven't noticed a difference at all. A savings of $10/month.
10. Our house phone has an answering machine attached to it. While I like that voicemail will take messages while I'm on the phone, I'm really not all that popular or all that important. It's not like phone is ringing off the hook and I need to have that feature. For a $5/month savings, I disconnected the voicemail and we are back to using the answering machine on the phone.
11. If we connect a phone cord from the satellite dish box to the phone jack we will save $6/month on our bill. I have the phone cord sitting next to me on the desk, I just don't know where to plug it in. I'll call the company in the morning and have them walk me through it.
12. When I make a pasta dinner I add extra pasta to stretch it a little. This lets DH have a good lunch the next day that 1) doesn't cost a lot extra and 2) is more filling than a sandwich.
13. My kids take home lunch instead of eating a school lunch. School lunch costs $2 here and I can make it for a lot cheaper than that. My kids still eat lunch at school but it's usually only a couple times a month now.
14. I love, LOVE, L.O.V.E that I made dessert on Friday night without having to go to the store. I forgot that I didn't have a dessert in mind to make for when company came over that night for dinner. I ran down to the basement and saw all the bottles of apple pie filling that I canned last year. I called my friend and she gave me her yummy apple crisp recipe. Luckily I had all the ingredients for it in my food storage. Woohoo!!! Gotta love that year supply! (And it was a dang good apple crisp. I even had some for breakfast the next morning. Oh come on, it was apples an oatmeal. Totally breakfast foods!)
I'm only about halfway through my list of economizing tips, but I think I'll go to bed now and post the rest another day.