Monday, December 26, 2011

Man it's been a long time

Well I am back, and it is good to be back. I've had some crazy stuff to happen over the past few years, and I am not going to get into all that right now. Right now all I have time to say is sorry for the long time without a post, but I will start back in the next few days.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Oh No, Where Do We Turn Now? Part 2

In my last post (part 1), I put 3 suggestions of how to change your lifestyle in order to meet the challenges of the economic downturn. I have some more that will make up this current post. I will probably even have more in future posts, so stay tuned.

So lets get started....

Suggestion #4 Save Energy, Gas, and Water

Besides your food budget, your utility budget is probably the most adjustable area you have in your overall financial picture. Like your food budget, this is based solely on your behavior. Ways to do this are: drive slower, make sure your tires are properly inflated, and your engine is properly tuned. In the house, turn of lights when not in use, when in use use compact florescent bulbs, hang clothes on a clothesline instead of using the dryer, open windows instead of using the air conditioning, turn down the temperature on the water heater, and weather proof your home. To save water, do not let it constantly run while shaving or brushing teeth, take showers instead of tub baths (and make sure to have a low flow shower head.), and make sure any leaks get fixed as soon as possible. (Even the smallest leak can waste a substantial amount of water over time.

Suggestion #5 Shop at Thrift Stores, and Yard Sales.

On one hand, this is the source of some of the greatest deals around, and on the other embarrasses a lot of people. Second hand never hurt anyone. There is no need to be embarrassed about buying second hand, you know you are doing the right thing by being frugal. It doesn't matter what anyone else thinks. Many a person has been embarrassed right to the poor house. Don't be one of them.

Suggestion #6 Clean Cheaper

You don't need all the expensive spray cleaners in the chemical section of the supermarket to get your house clean. All you really need is washing powder, borax, baking soda, vinegar, ammonia, bleach, and a vegetable oil based soap (such as Murphy's oil soap). There is much information available about mixing these things to get various homemade cleaners. One warning, even though I know you have heard it many of times before: Always use ammonia in a well ventilated area, and never, ever, ever, under any circumstances mix ammonia and bleach. This will end badly.

Suggestion #7 Do It Yourself

Yes, I said it. Do it yourself. Mow your own lawn, clean your own car, mop your own floor, do whatever repairs are needed that match your skill level, and tools available. If you do it yourself you don't have to pay someone else, and that adds up to big savings. There is plenty of information for various DIY projects online, and in books at your local library.

Oh No, Where Do We Turn Now?

“Give a man a fish; you have fed him for today. Teach a man to fish; and you have fed him for a lifetime”—Author unknown

Wealth can only be accumulated by the earnings of industry and the savings of frugality. -John Tyler

I hold it the duty of the executive to insist upon frugality in the expenditure, and a sparing economy is itself a great national source. -Andrew Johnson

It is no longer news that the U S economy is terrible right now, it is history. I think (along with many others) that it is going to get worse before it gets better. We the people have become very irresponsible with money, in fact so irresponsible, that our depression era parents and grandparents would shudder to think of all the waste that we have in our lives. This post is geared to the new convert to frugality, that because of the economic downturn something has happened in their lives that might have been unexpected, but presented a reality check.

Over the past week and a half, our government has turned down a bailout bill, and then turned around and pushed a worse one into law. It seems like most people are wondering how the government is going to fix this. Well I don't think they are, due to the inefficiency of government that has been well demonstrated on the news. The idea that I would like to propose is that each person depend on him/herself. This crisis was caused by all of us, including government, Wall Street, Main Street, and everyone who has been living above their means. The economy is nothing but a whole bunch of little family economies. In other words, you are the true indicators of the economy. If the majority of families are in economic trouble, then the entire economy suffers. If the majority of families are prosperous then the economy is great. That is the way the leading economist need to look at it.

So back to the title question, where do we turn now? I am going to make suggestions that aren't going to improve the situation overnight, but in the situation we are in every little bit helps. We as a nation have forgotten how to live frugally, and these items are directed to the people who are now forced to live more frugally, but maybe don't know how to.

Suggestion #1 Get Plastic Surgery
No I am not talking about a face lift, nose job, or breast implants. I am talking about taking all those plastic credit cards, and cutting them into little pieces with a pair of scissors. The credit crisis was caused by too many borrowing and not enough paying. Quit borrowing, save for what you want. Pay down this debt the very best you can, making sure you pay all of it. This will get the lending money back to the banks, bailout or no bailout. Credit is a good thing if used right. We as a society have not been using it right, and have been abusing the system therefore abusing our budgets, with interest, and sometimes late fees. Credit is not a never ending supply of free money as we have seen. The money can run out.

Suggestion # 2 Decide what is important.
I normally don't do this but, I am going to ask you a question, and I am going to answer it too. What is most important to you. I am going to go out on a limb here and say your family. The crisis that America is in is not just financial it is societal. And just like the economy is made up of little family economies, society is made up of little family societies. Love is not handing our kids Barbies, playstations, X-boxes, cell phones, TV, DVD players. We have turned our children into little consumers, backed with Dad, and Moms credit. I even know of a few nine year olds that are carrying credit cards themselves. What are we doing? We are teaching our kids to make the same mistakes as we have made. We need to show our kids actual love, it costs nothing to sit and talk, find out what is on their mind. This communicates love. It doesn't take a lot of money to create memories, go to the park, take them fishing. In fact my most cherished memory of my father is when he said to me "I love you and I am proud of you no matter what, as he lay on his death bed." Nothing that he had ever given me materially impacted me as much as those words coming from his mouth. This is how we want to impact our children, with love, character, values, and emotion.
Suggestion #3 Plan your meals
Each week take an inventory of all the foodstuffs you have on hand in the refrigerator, and the pantry, and make a menu surrounding these foods. Make a list of all the other ingredients you need, and go shopping and stick to the list. Think nutrition. Squeeze the most nutrition you can out of every dollar. Some ways to do this is to substitute dried beans and brown rice for meats a few times of the week, oatmeal for breakfast, and stocking up on commonly used items when on sale. Another way to cheaply supplement your food bill is by gardening. Whatever space you have available, use it. Your victory garden can be no more than a few large pots holding a "salad garden" of lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and herbs. Remember every little bit helps. Also you want to bring food waste to a minimum. An excellent way of doing this is the "leftover soup". The leftover soup was passed down the family by my depression era grandmother. Simply take whatever vegetables, pastas, rices, and meats you have left over after eating, and put them into a large airtight container you keep in the freezer. When the container is full, empty it into a pot with a little water, and a couple of cans of stewed tomatoes. Serve with grilled cheese sandwiches.

I will probably have to continue this in my next post. I try to keep the posts small, to avoid overwhelm for the reader, and so I don't completely kill my tight schedule. I do realize that for the frugality major league, what I am going over is nothing novel or new, but as I have said twice before, this is geared at the beginner, the more people we can win over to our lifestyle, the better our lifestyle will impact our nation, and world. So I am putting out the call to all the cheapskates of the world, be proud of yourself, and mentor someone in need.
The photos used above of the great depression are copyright free, and in the public domain and were found here

Friday, September 26, 2008

Vermicomposting for an Excellent Harvest

Worms are the intestines of the soil -Aristotle

Do you want a garden, but don't have much space to put it in? Well try making a raised bed, add some organic matter, from the kitchen and yard, add some worms, and see how well you do. Worms make excellent fertilizer, by eating the organic matter you add and processing it and releasing it back into the bed. (In other words they poop, and worm poop is called castings). They also loosen the soil in their bed by crawling around and living their daily lives. (No till convenience.)

I made my bed really simply by making the border with cinder blocks, and adding a little soil to fill the bed up half way and on top of that I put my grass clipping, and leaves. Every now and again I go out and mix it up in places, after I make sure the little guys have migrated out of the area.

Worms migrate when the there are too many castings around, they tend to go from one side of the bed to the other. A lot of people like to raise their worms in small bins and remove the worms, and harvest the compost, and get very beautiful compost from that. But I prefer this method because it is less invasive on the worms, rather than relocating them every 30 days to six weeks from one bin to another, and I plant right in the worm bed.

I mentioned above that worms eat organic matter. That means your trash. They will eat rotten leftovers, coffee grounds, tea leaves, potatoes, and anything else you can think of. Some folks advise against meat products, but I give mine small amounts of meat, because meat provides nitrogen. Just be sure you don't overdo the meat, because decomposing meat stinks. I also add a large bag of composted cow manure about twice a year. Another good thing to keep in mind is crushed egg shells provide calcium for reproduction.

The best type of worms to use is the red wiggler worm, also called the manure worm. Along with your kitchen and yard waste they love manure. These types of worms are especially good because they transform a large amount of garbage into compost, reproduce quickly, and is very adaptable to a worm bed. As a matter of fact red worms can produce young every seven days. As a side note these worms are also the very best fish bait around, bream just can't leave them alone.
As I said above, I have had excellent results from planting directly into the bed. I sprout the seeds, and transplant into the bed. I usually space plants 1/2 the distance recommended on the seed package. When a harvest is complete, I clean up all the plants add more organic matter, and replant, using plants that are appropriate for the season. (Living in the deep south I have plenty of warm weather.) The holes in the cinder blocks were excellent for strawberries this past summer. I just put one plant per hole, and it worked really well.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Spice Rack Smell-Goods

Since I had done an article on cleaning solutions, I thought about another tip that I use to freshen the air in the home. I know it has nothing to do with vinegar, but I like it nonetheless. Fill up a potpourri simmering pot that uses a tea light candle with water, to this add one cinnamon stick and six whole cloves, and 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla flavoring. Light the candle, sit back and enjoy the smell of apple pie.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Vinegar Couldn't Be any Sweeter

Two of the very best ways to be frugal are to buy items that have a multitude of uses, and produce everything you can at home. Vinegar has an endless list of uses in the kitchen, as a cleaner, and even in the home and garden, all at a price that is very easy on the budget.

Here I will give a few ways that I use vinegar to clean. First is a citrus cleaner, and the second is a general purpose cleaner that was made famous in the old home economics classes, and third is a window cleaner. All formulas use plain white vinegar. Using vinegar for cleaning has a few pluses, such as it is completely non-toxic and will not poison the kids or the pets, it is excellent for cutting grease, and is very inexpensive

Vinegar Citrus Cleaner

For the vinegar citrus cleaner all you need is a few citrus peels (any will work whether orange, grapefruit, lemon, lemon or lime. Or you can live a little, and mix all the peels.) I usually use the peels from two fruits, whether the same or different. Put the peels into a quart sized jar and fill the jar up with vinegar. Let this soak for three weeks, shaking mixture one to two times per day. After the three weeks are over strain the peels from the vinegar, and store mixture in the same jar you used to make it. Two use put one cup of vinegar mixture in a 24 oz spray bottle, and fill the rest with water.

All-Purpose Cleaner

Mix 1/2 cup ammonia, 1/3 cup vinegar, 2TBSP baking soda, and 1 gallon water. Use either straight from the bucket or put in a spray bottle and use like the store bought stuff.

Vinegar Window Cleaner

Put 1/3 cup vinegar in a spray bottle and fill the remainder with water. Spray on and squeegee, or wipe off with newspaper or a microfiber rag (or paper towels if you just want to spend money and throw something away). And if you want to "supercharge" the window cleaner try adding 1/4 cup rubbing alcohol. This also helps prevent streaking.

This is just the tip of the iceberg concerning uses of vinegar, for example you can soften fabrics in the laundry by adding 1/4 to 1/2 cup baking soda to your wash load, and in the final rinse cycle, add 1/2 cup vinegar. You can use vinegar to disinfect and deodorize pet stains if Fido hasn't figured out not to use the floor yet. And of course many more uses.

I hope this post will save you a little money in the supermarket, when buying cleaners. Just remember to go to the vinegar isle and leave the expensive stuff alone.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Wow a follower!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Last night after I finished with my posts in my new blogs, I started searching through other blogs to see what was out there. The most interesting blog I found was one called "The Crazy Green Cheapskate" , by April. The post I found was about a potato scrubber she made at the spur of the moment, because she is in the middle of a move and could not find hers. She made it out of an onion bag. Now that is creative. I love it. When I got done I emptied my onion bag, and I made one too LOL.

I would recommend April's blog to anyone. It is very good. Even though she and I have very different reasons for what we do, our methods are the same. April also has a crock pot recipe blog that seems to be as excellent as the cheapskate blog. I am a follower of her blogs, so to see them please click on the blogs I follow.
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