Gas or Electric?

We had a shock from last moth with our utilities. You know how I have been on this quest to save money? Well, when we got our electric bill, I thought I was on the right track. But when I got our gas bill, I almost fainted.

I thought our heater was only electric so I had no problem using it. We kept it low at 65 degrees but still used it at night. Looks like I was wrong because our gas bill was double our electric bill! Our electric was $43 and our gas was $86. I couldn’t believe it. I know that people pay a lot more than that but what got me was that the previous month out electric bull was $52 and out gas was $13. So that was the surprising factor. Our power company is the lowest in the area and our gas provider is the most expensive. Why our power provider doesn’t do gas too? I have no idea.

So now we are having to really adjust our gas usage. Off the heater went and now we are being more mindful of the hot water we use. We tried turning the hot water heater down but it didn’t quite get hot enough and we were running it more so we put it back to hot and now fill up our sink half way when we wash dishes.

We know the house we are renting has horrible windows which don’t offer any help. They are all single pane so the hot air just goes right through them which we knew would be a problem. If we owned this place, that would be the first thing changes out. Because not only is having an energy efficient home good for your pocket book, but also the environment. The more energy lost with something like bad windows, the less that will be available for other people later. So for now we are having to make adjustments.

We have an electric heater for my daughter in her room, since we can bundle up, and keep it at 65 degrees. We will see what that does to our electric bill since w only have it on when she is sleeping or taking a nap. Otherwise we will utilize things like out oven with other things like I baked cookies last night while I baked the meatloaf for dinner. That way maybe we won’t spend twice the amount again.

When You Have to Say “Pass”

I am now starting to get into this whole thrifting thing. I have found some great deals and am always on the look out now for a special bargain. But of course there will be times when you to pass up a bargain no matter how good it is.

In order to be thrifty, I have found, that the ability to say “no” to something is just as powerful as saying “yes”. Hopefully you have a budget of some sort. This is a great place to start. The blogger hasn’t posted much lately but what the blogger has put up is rather interesting. It is a video tutorial about a product called Every Dollar and it is powered by Dave Ramsey. If you don’t know who that is, I would suggest googling him 🙂 Any way, with a budget comes restrictions on how much someone can actually spend at one time so that savings can accrue to spend at a later time. This means that even though I saw some yarn on a yard sale page, I had to pass because I had already bought a huge bag full already and that needed to go into the budget. It was no fun but next month, when we have a new budget, I can set aside more money perhaps to spend on things like thrifting finds and yarn. (I love to sew and crochet so that why I am always looking for yarn and fabric at a decent price.)

This is not to make people feel tied down to their finances but rather to be empowered by them. Having a budget isn’t a bad thing. It has made it that next year, my husband will be able to pay off his student loans. If we had not kept track of what we spent and what we saved, who knows what more debt we could possibly have? So I would encourage you today to, if you haven’t, start a budget, and learn to say “no”. I know for me it is not easy. I would rather charge it to a credit card sometimes, but I have been shown how making a budget and sticking to it will be the best thrifting tool of all.

 

Using Social Media for Thrifting

It is so cool that today we have so many options to communicate with each other through social media. I know there is a lot of controversy over it but this is one area that it is nice and that is finding good deals.

On Facebook today there are sites for “Yard Sales” in your area. So instead of having to wait for yard sale season or donating your items, you can sell them one at a time on these Facebook pages. I am a part of three pages so far and I have been able to find things that I would have not found otherwise. Because lets get technical, how many of you really enjoy yard sales? I know I am not the greatest fan of waking up early, and driving around for hours for just a couple of finds. I know people who this is pretty much their hobby so they are really good at it, but that is not me.So these pages are perfect for me. I may have to wait a little bit for the item I want to be posted but it normally is.

The next thing is actually buying it. Since there are thousands of followers on these sites, the competition can be fierce. I know there was one item that had been up for an hour and have 32 comments on it. It had sold with the first person interested but still people were getting in line in case that one fell through. So if you are looking for something, the key is that you have be on the page on a regular basis. Once you acquire your find, you then set up a time to go pick it up in the next 24 hours on the seller’s front porch. It is that simple.

Now selling on these pages is a little more tricky because you have to wait for the right person to want your stuff. To me buying is easier than selling. I put some items on the page and one of them sold right away. There others I am still waiting for someone to nibble on them. But when items sell, they go really fast.

One thing you have be careful of is that you can buy off any of the pages but you can usually only sell off the area page you live in. Check all the rules on the pages to make sure what areas are allowed to sell in what areas not due to distance. For example, when I lived in the country, I couldn’t really use the pages to sell anything because I lived too far out of the areas being posted. But when I moved down to the city, I could since I was right in the middle of the selling area. So just check and see how far the page will allow you to live away so that your viewing audience for your stuff can have the greatest impact.

This little thrifting tool is something that couldn’t be done 10 years ago. Now social media has made it more possible for people to connect and for you to be able to find those treasures you have been looking for.

Air it All Out

Have you ever heard of the term “hanging out your dirty laundry for all to see”? Well in our house now we are doing just that except at least it clean. One of the big money savers that the author of the Thightwad Gazette uses is aired dried laundry.

I know I used to do this at my parent’s home since there were quite a few things that I couldn’t dry any way and also in our first small apartment since it was directly facing west and I figured that was a good use of the blasting sun coming in our slider window. It worked great then but when we moved to our second apartment, it was great since it was south facing (so now I could actually use my balcony after 12pm) but it meant that air drying clothes was close to impossible. Since there was no direct sunlight, it got very musty smelling in our place and things just smelt mildewy all the time. It was no fun.

After that I just forgot that it could be done and was afraid that it would make my house smell musty again. Well now I am in a east facing place where we get the morning sun through our slider window but our backyard gets the rest of the afternoon sun. Also our house is much bigger and we have really great cross breezes we can use to help keep the air moving. So now it can work again.

Oh boy, that was a long way to explain that but there wasn’t much I could do about that. All I am trying to say is that it was a good reminder to try to save energy by air drying my clothes instead of putting them in the dryer. Now I still put our jeans and towels in the dryer because they take so long to dry but the rest of the clothes are normally dry indoors in a day. This spring and summer I am looking forward to putting up a clothes line so that I can get the clothes out of the house.

I was thinking of even going the step farther than just air drying my clothes to save money on energy costs but also hand washing them in the bathtub. It sounds not too hard and great workout. It maybe sound excessive but I tired to calculate how much energy my washing machine uses and it was like $4.00 a month and my dryer was $5.00. I know $9 doesn’t sound like much but that is $110.00 a year just to run the washer and dryer a couple times a week. I know I could find other uses for that money.

Another thing we don’t use is a dish washer and wash all our dishes by hand. I calculated the cost savings of that (since we pay a flat rate in our rent for water so that part doesn’t get added into the factor for us) is $6.00 and month and $70.00 a year. Just something to think about.

Just for kicks I found out that my vacuum cleaner if I cleaned once a week only costs $1.50 a month to run. That is something that is worth the money though since bending over and picking up crumbs from my daughter isn’t worth the backache. 😉

Any way, I feel like more and more I am going back to do things how the women in the “good old days” did stuff. Talk about coming full circle. If you decide to give air drying your laundry or doing “bathtub washing” a try, there are some resources below for products and links to how to do so.

Other blogs about it:

Green America

Green Living Ideas

Products for air drying:

Outsunny Outdoor Deluxe Rotary Clothesline Clothes Dryer

iSuperb Pack of 2 Clotheslines 5m Portable Windproof Clothesline for Outdoor Indoor Home Travel Drying

Whitney Designs 847-R-400 Retractable Clotheslin, Sunline Single

Honey-Can-Do DRY-01375 Wood Clothespins with Spring

Foldable Drying Rack

Honey-Can-Do DRY-01610 Heavy Duty Gullwing Drying Rack

Household Essentials Collapsible Indoor Tripod Clothes Dryer (This is one of my favorites! I use this one all the time along with the first posted folding rack.)

Products for hand washing:

Breathing Mobile Washer

Round Galvanized Steel Tub (Or you can just use the bathtub)

I thought these couple of links might help you get started. Have fun washing and drying! 🙂

A Free Scrubbie?

I have been going through the tightwad book that I have mentioned in my last two posts and she had the craziest suggestion I have ever heard of. She uses a potato bag as a dishes scrubber. I thought, “Ok. that is too much”, but I wanted to really give her suggestions a try so I still had some sweet potatoes , emptied the bag, and wrapped a rubber band around it.

To my surprise, it works great! I think better than a store bought brush for sure. It retains the soap better so you use less and cleans everything pretty much in one swipe. I thought she was crazy but turns out that I had little faith in her. So if you are looking a cheap dish scrubber idea (actually a free idea) see if you have a potato or onion bag and wrap it into a ball. You just might be as surprised as I was.

I know this is a sort of a silly post compared to the ones I normally do but I had to share this find with all my readers. So I will continue through the book and use her suggestions. I will let you know how it all goes 🙂

 

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It looks kind of like a gold fish but it works really well 🙂

A Thrifting Find

I don’t know about you. but I have always been one that hated to go thrift store shopping. Being a heavier person they never have my size and I would always leave in despair. Well after reading the Tightwad Gazette I have given the thrift stores another chance.

This year I got some money for my birthday ($75 which I am very grateful for) and decided to first go to the thrift store to see if they had what I wanted before I went to a department store. So far the only thing I can’t find is a certain potato masher that I think I will have to buy brand new. Otherwise I have found everything at a thrift store. A few things I did buy on Amazon and Target in the dollar part but the most expensive thing I purchased were two movies for $10 a piece.

With $75 I have gotten:

A rolling pin (TS)

A floor steamer (TS)

2 cookie cutters (T)

A crochet hook case (A)

A new set of crochet hooks (A)

Breaking Dawn Part 1 &2 (A)

A mint plant (T)

A pie plate (TS)

A pitcher (TS)

A colander (TS)

2 bread pans (TS)

An 8X8 pan (TS)

And I still have money to spend. I have never had money last this long!

The only thing  that I got that was a bust was a bike rack (TS). It was $7 and I didn’t notice until I got home that one of the legs were bent. So I will have to find someone to fix it or I just have to take the loss. Not all finds are good ones.

Any way, the point is that the thrift stores are still a good place to check out when you need something. The clothes part will take a little bit but, for house wares and gifts, I have had some great success already. I can’t wait to go again. Maybe I will still come across the certain potato masher I want.