Wednesday, August 17, 2011

getting ready for winter and saving yourself money

Even though I am a flybaby ( I still do fall and spring cleaning.I just no longer try to do it in a weekend or even a week.

I do my weatherization along with my fall cleaning. While wiping down the woodwork I see where there are cracks for air to come through so I caulk. I check window seals when I wash the windows. Dirt will destroy anything if it's on it very long.

Wipe off switch plates and outlet covers, check to make sure you have foam insulators behind them, especially if they are on outside walls.

Check your attics especially if you have a chimney or attic fan.Not only for air but water leaking in.

Check your basement and crawl spaces for air and water leaks, deal with them now before winter or before you have a major expense due to damage.

In the winter,on bare floors I add throw rugs or area rugs, layer the curtains/drapes at the windows even if the drapes are insulated or lined.Move furniture to inside walls including the bed.

SEE guys, we do move the furniture around for a reason.

Add flannel sheets to the bed, layer on the blankets( preferable thermal) and thick comforter.Pull out the flannel or brushed cotton pjs.

Use the oven for entire meals to warm the kitchen.

Open curtains when the sun is shining( where the sun is shining in) to help warm the house.

Program the thermostat. Right now even though it's cool outside and the house drops to mid 60s thru the night.I don't have the furnace on yet.We changed the filter and kicked it on to make sure it worked. I cleaned out the vents while doing the fall cleaning.

Covered the central air conditioning unit and took the window AC out.

Storm door is back on the front door (we get most of the wind from that direction).I will wait awhile before I remove the back screen door.One because when it's warm the kitchen bakes and two, the dog has a opening in the screen(we put it there when Sammy came to live with us) to let herself in and out in to the mudroom.

put on a sweater, long sleeve shirt, long pants etc. instead of running around your home in warm weather clothes and complaining about being cold or cranking the heat up.Yes, daughter of mine I am thinking of you. Put on socks and shoes that are not sandels or crocs or mules and your feet will stay warmer.

If you want more ideas, just ask your parents or grandparents (or some one of those age brackets) how they kept warm in the winter.You will most likely get an ear full.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Saving money as a habit

I do it with out much thought for they have became habits through time.Others I am working on.Saving money is a habit that any one can learn. Takes more practice with some of us than others but still is doable.

It's late summer right now, the garden is producing ( not as much as I would like but every tomato counts) and the sun is starting to rise a bit later each day and set earlier.Walking the garden daily to make sure the ripe produce is picked and dealt with is a habit that I get into easily enough. Washing the produce...okay I struggle to remember to wash the onions , everything else is automatic, but to use the peelings for veggie broth, you need to wash those onion skins, they turn your veggie broth into a nice golden color.

I have a calendar that has when my bills are due.I move the due date up by 7 days so nothing is paid late thus saving late charges( and your credit score). I also put on the calendar when my library books are due a few days ahead of time, once again saving late charges. I round up in my check book register any bills paid automatically, when I balance my register with the bank, I transfer the difference to my savings.I also have an automatic transfer ever month from my checking to my savings on a certain date. This practice also saves me the cost of the checking account. I don't order my checks from the bank. So far I have found them else where for about half the price.

I only clip coupons for things I use. Not something just because it sounds or looks good.

I go to Dollar General, then Save-A-Lot, then Aldi's, then Walmart, then Kroger's and ONLY after I have looked at fliers, checked the coupons and looked on line. This line up of stores is good also for my gas mileage even though I actually pass by Kroger's and Walmart to get to Aldi's. It's not enough, a parking lot of Walmart, to make enough difference.

During the Farmer's markets I shop for veggies and fruit there. Usually cheaper, a lot healthier and keeps my money in my community.

When I shop I use a list. Okay I use 2 lists. One for food only and the other is for non-food. It isn't unusual for me to do the shopping on separate days.I only shop for non-food once a month sometimes it's 6 wks or more apart. my big shopping for food is once a month and I fill end then when I am already in town or hubby is once a week or every other week. The less you are in the store, the less you will spend.

I don't cook from boxes ( most the time that is, I do have some for hubby for when I am not there). It's simple to toss cooked ground beef with noodles or rice and a sauce with seasoning instead of hamburger helper with it's high sodium and preservatives. Or even use a can of soup instead of a sauce.Gravy is nothing more than fat ( of any kind except margarine ) and flour,salt and pepper and then water, milk or broth.I skim my fats from my meats when I am cooking and freeze it in ice cube trays I use only for this.Then bag them. One good cube of fat is enough to make 1/2 cup of gravy. If there is only 2 of you like there is of us...this is enough gravy for a meal, unless you LOVE gravy and use mash potatoes for the excuse of having gravy.

Soups and casseroles are easy and can be made out of leftovers. I make a couple soups that you can make the basic soup and then pull out a little of it each day, add a couple things and change what it is.Casseroles can start with a strained soup or can have water,broth or milk to turn into soup.

I don't by name brand because it's name brand nor do I buy cheap because it's cheap. I buy the BEST for my DOLLAR.

I don't keep the house lit up, I turn down the thermostat( use a programmable one) for the furnace and only use a window AC (instead of the central air) in the bedroom during the day when Hubby is sleeping. I use ceiling fans yr around and other fans when I am in the room except the front room, that is where the dog lays a lot when she is in the house so I keep a fan running on low for her.I have computers, stereos and the televisions and all it's gadgets like the cable box, dvd player etc on power strips that I turn OFF when they are not in use.

I checked the insulation, duct work should be insulated, you can lose 10-30 % of your heat or cooling through your duct work. Pipes and water heater should be insulated right along with caulking windows and doors.Before you even think to yourself, I rent and its the landlords problem...yes he should do it and pay for it but it's YOUR MONEY that is being wasted.Would you throw 1/3 rd of your heat bill in cash out the door or window? NO. You can take steps yourself to save YOUR money even when the landlord won't. I am lucky my landlord ( heaven Bless him) cares about his property and about us.

next ...getting ready for winter and saving yourself money.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Needing a pantry

Most say they don't need a pantry because they can go to the store or call for take out or go to a restaurant...reality does hit occasionally and then those options go away very fast.Ice storms, blizzards and tornados just to name a couple.

I always strongly suggest (my children will tell you I threaten)you to have at least 7 days of meals in your pantry. Complete meals,including breakfast, lunch, dinner and 2 snacks for each day. Have some that you can cook and some that needs nothing more than to be opened.

Cold cereal can be eaten with or without milk for a meal or a snack.

I keep popcorn that I can pop on the stove or over a grill (microwave popcorn is high in triglycerides).

I have dried fruit.Some I buy and some I dehydrate myself.

I keep assorted nuts in the freezer and we usually have sunflower seeds because I make granola bars for hubby's lunch.

I always have eggs,beans,flour,corn meal, yeast,evaporate milk, dried milk,assorted pasta and rice and some cans of meat such as tuna,chicken etc.Potatoes if you eat them regularly is also good. With these items you can make dumplings, noodles, bread,biscuits, gravy, cream sauce for pasta or rice.

My parents ate bean soup 2-3 times a day most of their childhoods.Both are in their 80s and can give the MY grandkids a run for their money on being active,I won't mention they put me to shame also.

To survive a time without income or the ability to go to the store or fast food joint you first have to have a pantry.

Next post....meals from the pantry

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Great Depression II What is there left to do?

You have no cable, no phone, no internet and no gas for the car. If you are in the city you can still walk the city and window shop or to friends or family or both and visit...yes really, visit in person, talk face to's amazing...snicker.

If you are in the country, it's harder, family might not be close (we are an hour away from everyone due to hubby's work) and neighbors might be a couple miles and you might not even know them.It can be very lonely.

I still write letters and send them by mail.I still read and reread books ( I buy a lot of books at thrift shops and rotate them through my girls). I play solitaire with a deck of cards. I walk around the edge of the yard and play with the dog.If you have electric you can still play games already loaded on your computer if you have one. I do crafts with things around the house or spend time reading cookbooks (I read them like a regular book especially if they are old).

Do I get "cabin fever"? Yes, but not often.Do I get lonely? Sometimes,but since I like myself and enjoy my own company it's not so bad.

Can you survive a Great Depression???

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Great Depression II Utilities

A parents fear is not having enough money to keep the heat on or water. Basic utilities is something a lot of us take for granted. Lack of running water, electric and heat is quite common in other countries.Sometimes even in this country when jobs disappeared and benefits ran out.

I've been there, might be there again some day. I can offer this advice only.

Keep the roof over your head as long as you can without going under.BEFORE you get to that point, ask for help, moving in with friends, family, even strangers was common during the Great Depression.

You don't have to have internet, most libraries now have this service if it's your only way of connecting to family and friends. You can also apply from jobs there if needed.

You don't have to have cable(satellite) television.You can go digital or even without completely and just borrow DVDs/videos (yes I just showed my age). I didn't have a television for over a year when my children were young,drove my parents and brother nuts over it , later in years they realized a side effect of this. My children love to read and they can use their imaginations. If your children need to watch something on television for school(let their teacher know you don't have cable, believe me you are not alone) then ask a schoolmate or friend, family member if they can watch it at their place.

You don't have to have a cell phone and you can get a house(or a cell) phone for 911 calls only for very cheap.There are a few cell phone companies now offering limited services for very affordable prices so if you are spend $$$ you should check in to this now.We cut our cell phone bill by 2/3rds and have the same things we were using with the old service.

You do have to have water and sewage.You do have to have refuse (trash) hauled away. You do have to have electric (especially if you are in the country and have a well that uses a electric pump).You do have to have heat, not necessarily propane, nature gas or electric...but some kind of heat that is SAFE. Using your oven or toaster oven for heat is NOT SAFE.I will admit I have used the a point, cook a meal in the oven and leave the door cracked open to cool down in the morning or night or both.I have also cooked on top of a kerosene heater (with a window cracked at all times).

One of the running jokes (which regretfully did happen) in our family is there is no sense paying the cable/internet or the heat bill if you don't pay the electric to run the items( like the computer,television or furnace in the winter) to begin with. There is no sense planning on flushing the toilet or taking a shower if you don't pay the water bill. Try cooking without water for a couple days and you will understand.

Want to understand better what I am talking about, turn your main breaker off and go a few hours.I have done this once every season to make sure I am prepared for outages or storms that can wipe the basic utilities out.

Next..what is there left to do?

Monday, August 1, 2011

Meals from the pantry

You can find recipes in books, magazines and on the internet. So I won't go that route with you. I will offer suggestions

Meat patties using canned salmon or mackerel or tuna or mashed beans( toss in a tortilla wrap and you have a burrito)

Corned beef hash (you can put an egg in the middle of it) and serve it with bread ( I prefer toast)I've made hamburger hash and added carrots and celery to the mix.

I also use canned corn beef topped with 1,000 salad dressing, kraut and Swiss cheese in my crock pot for a good casserole (it can be nuked instead) that the left overs is served the next day on sub buns with more Swiss cheese.

Couscous, risotto, paella,pastas,fried rice.

Beans over rice, beans and pasta( pasta e fagioli) or as my Nonna did, beans( a pound of beans for each person) soup on Monday.Add mixed veggies on Tuesday and more water.Add small pasta on Wed and more water. Add stale bread or serve over the stale bread on Thursday and more water. Friday bake bread and have fried bread instead of the soup and be grateful. Saturday was pizza night and Sunday was always pasta and some kind of roast most times it was a chicken.

Dried beef (Or any canned meat) and milk gravy over bread/biscuits( remember that flour and yeast I mentioned...okay go ahead and get the bisquick ALSO)

Cornmeal can make porridge, polenta(when you add cheese) fried mush(which is porridge that has cooled)corn bread and tamales.

Hand me a can of green beans and a can of potatoes and I will toss it together for a one pot meal.Add corn bread or other bread to fill you up and you have a meal.

Cabbage, potatoes and some bacon or ham (or just their grease...sorry but it doesn't raise our cholesterol)

I usually have some squashes and cabbages in my basement during the late fall, winter into early spring. Usually some apples also. Crisps are good keepers if you keep them dry and cool. Cook them together add pasta, rice or bread and you will fill those tummy's up

Toss canned meat with your pasta or rice and make a white sauce with your evaporated milk . Or serve rice with red sauce(commonly called spaghetti sauce)

Casseroles are forgiving and easy. You can even nuke them and make them quickly.
I have tossed stale bread, odds and ends of cheese and diced up veggies together with an egg or even just milk and baked for a casserole.Sometimes I will serve it with gravy I make from the leftover meat grease I keep when cooking meat and freeze it.

Stuffing or dressing combined with meat and or with veggies is easy also.Whether you start with fresh bread or boxed mixes.

Go look in your cabinets and pull out what you could make your next 2 meals from. You might even get carried away and find out you have more meals than you think you do shoved in those cabinets.

Next: saving money as a habit

Great Depression II Clothes

I can sew. I can take a pattern, cut material and sew it on my machine...or by hand.

More...I can make a pattern either from laying another item down and tracing it or the person I am sewing for on paper and make the pattern.

I can mend,alter and remake old clothes.

I haven't had to spin my own thread or weave my own fabric.It's time consuming and hard work but I could do it.

I keep buttons,snaps and zippers off of clothes that are to the point of being used for rags.I have used old clothes for patches of clothes still being worn and my girls have all had jean purses made from jeans their own children couldn't wear and was no longer "worth" passing down.

I've made dresses, night gowns, shirts etc from cotton sheets. Towels, old blankets etc have gone into quilts instead of buying batting.

I have had shoes repaired, repaired them myself (glue, sew, are duct tape)or stuffed card board in them to keep them going.

Add it on, take it off,turn it inside out, tear it apart and put it back together. Anything to keep clothes on the body, keep warm( or in this hot weather cool) and still look good.

Next Utilities