Thursday, February 28, 2008

Prepare for a tighter economy

It's hardly news that prices keep going up and up and up... Food prices have continued to rise over the last few months, and gasoline to fuel vehicles and natural gas to fuel home heating systems share in higher prices.

As the prices on other products rise along with them, we may find ourselves in a money crunch. The cost of just living is going up...

One thing feeds on another in a free economy. When it costs more to transport goods, that cost is passed on so the goods cost more. When they cost more, fewer sales are made. When fewer sales are made, there is less demand for production. When there is less demand, some workers will lose their jobs. They will have less money to buy products. And the wheel keeps turning.

It's such a huge wheel that individuals or even groups can't do much to slow it down. The best defense is to find ways to protect ourselves.

Just how to do that is the problem. Gardening and finding other ways to provide food for ourselves, insulating and developing methods of saving on heating, lighting and cooking fuels, being more selective in buying or making clothing and household linens all help.

I'm going to repeat myself: Get out of debt. Now. That's the number one thing you can do to prepare for the "future" economy - which is upon us at this moment.

Friday, February 22, 2008

The price of food

Ack! Arghh... oh, my... and all that. I've been trying to get a new laptop with a new to me operating system in shape so I can actually use it! And I'm getting behind on everything else!

Anyway, today I used the last of a Christmas gift card and bought a few things at the grocer's... my goodness, the prices are still going up. That means we have to be even wiser about the way we spend our money on food.

A few quick tips that have helped me:
Don't go hungry
Don't go without a list
Don't go with someone else

Do watch closely for sales and be ready to adjust your list when you find them.
Keep an eye out for mark downs - ready to expire, dented cans or just tired products. Only grab them if you'll use them, though.

It could be the single most money saving move of all: Don't waste food. Make use of all leftovers one way or another. Don't serve more than your family will eat. If you make the plates, cut back on serving size. They can always come back for more, but if they have too much and leave it on their plate, it's wasted food.

Hang tight... I don't think this thing is over yet.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Perfect Couple: Baking Soda and Vinegar

Baking soda and vinegar are the two cleaners I keep on hand all the time. Besides being cheap, they're a lot safer to use than commercial cleaners and can be used for a lot of different things.

As an example, I clean the bathroom sink with baking soda, then rinse and spray vinegar/water mixture over it to leave a gorgeous shine. The vinegar removes water spots from the faucet, too. I use the same vinegar mix to wash the vanity mirror and clean the floor, using baking soda if there are scuff marks. I put baking soda in the bottom of the trash can to eliminate odors and I pour vinegar into the toilet bowl at night to deodorize, clean and disinfect - it also loosens buildup in the pipes. Baking soda cleans the tub, too, and vinegar keeps the shower walls free from soap scum and water deposits.

And that's just the bathroom.

I would hate to have to buy and store all of the commercial products necessary to do that.

Thursday, February 14, 2008


Sorting through some old files, I came across a small ebook I'd downloaded from the Gutenberg Project called "The Simple Life" by Charles Wagner. Skimming through it, this phrase caught my eye: "It is not the woman with one dress who asks most insistently how she shall be clothed, nor is it those reduced to the strictly necessary who make most question of what they shall eat to-morrow."

Food for thought, isn't it?

If you want to download Gutenberg Project's books, it's fast to do in text form - you don't need a reader or a browser. If you can't read it all at one setting in a text editor, make your own bookmark simply by typing a few characters that you'll remember, then finding them next time by using the built in find function. I use ?!? because it's quick, easy to type and you hardly ever find it in the text of a book otherwise.

There are other free sources of books online - notably the Internet Public Library. IPL has links to some very good reading, well organized so you can find your interests quickly.

While reading on a monitor can be tiresome, it's the next best thing to a trip to the library. If you haven't looked for free books online, you'l be pleasantly surprised at the quantity and variety available.

You just can't get much more frugal than free.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Shop when you're happy?

I first saw this notion at: Wallet Pop and followed the link to Fox Business .

I wasn't sure about the idea because personally I tend to not shop when I'm feeling down but when I have to, I get what I need and get out of there.

Maybe it has to do with some basic feelings toward shopping and "things" in general?

This also brings up another question. Are Americans that unhappy?? Because it seems like there's always a whole lotta shopping going on!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

When a list is more than a list

How much is enough? It always seems to be just a little bit more than we have, doesn't it?

That's been bugging me for awhile. At the beginning of each year, I make a list of things I want to do, things I want to make and things I want to buy or otherwise obtain during the year. It's meant to keep me on track, to remind me that a dollar or two here and there is that much less I'll have for the things I really want.

This year, as it has in the past, the list is growing instead of shrinking, although I'm plugging away at marking things off.

Why is that, do you suppose?

I think it's because I see a "can have" list instead of a "need" or "want this year" list. It's a peculiar twist of the human mind.

Once, long ago, I set up a budget for the first time. The only mistake I made was telling my husband and then teenage daughter. As soon as I mentioned that we had X amount of dollars in the clothing category, both immediately came up with things they "needed" that cost just about that much!

Lesson learned? Maybe not.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Catching up

Busy, busy, busy... I feel like a bee!

Taxes are being finished up, though. Insurance has been reviewed and paid. This old computer took more than its fair share of my time the last few days, so it's due some down time as soon as I can decide upon and find a laptop to work with. Seeds for the garden have been ordered. I'm looking to set up the old table in the basement to start plants on. Found a humidifier on sale, so that's done.

I even went back and tagged all the Extremely Frugal tips so you can find matching posts. Not that there are too many to read through right now, but there soon will be!

Now, if I can get the house cleaned and the grocery shopping finished, I might have time to catch up on the mending and finish knitting the second sock of a pair.

If you haven't visited the Community at Dollar Stretcher lately, you're probably missing something! :) It's growing all the time. If you don't find the topic you'd like to discuss, jump in and ask. Others are sure to be interested in it, too.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Lower the cost of checks

I don't do much check writing any more, since I can pay many of my bills for free online. With the price of postage plus the cost of checks, it only makes sense. A lot of folks use debit cards when shopping, so that helps eliminate the cost of checks, too.

However, checks are still handy to have. To help control the cost, don't buy them from your bank! That's the most expensive way to get them, because banks order them from printing companies just the way you can - then they tack on fees to pass them on to you. That makes good business sense for them, but for you, it makes more sense to go to the source.

There are a lot of check printing companies online. Current may be the best known, but there are several others: Promise Checks, Artistic Checks, and Designer Checks among others.

Look around and save a few more dollars. Why not?