Today's Quote

“If people let government decide what foods they eat and what medicines they take, their bodies will soon be in as sorry a state as are the souls of those who live under tyranny.” Thomas Jefferson

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

I Hate to Complain...but...I'm sick of Winter

Ok, really....I know I have no right to complain. Many are suffering much worse than I am. If you live up north you expect winter to be cold, or you should. That is the tradition isn't it? Bitter cold up north for long periods of time, some cold down south for short periods of time. By this time of year I should be able to feel spring coming. Cold nights, with afternoons in the 60s or so. This thing of highs in the 30s and 40s is for polar bears, and I am not one. I want to get in my garden, but with the temps in the 40s and the wind blowing like mad it is cold. I know, I know many out there are laughing at me. I just don't do well with cold weather. I just can't get warm, no matter what I do or how much I put on. My thyroid has something to do with that, but I think part of it is just me. My hubby is from southwest Florida and right about now he is ready to move to Mexico and his thyroid is just fine. I am ready to get in my garden and I am ready to feel some sunshine and I am ready to open the windows in the house for fresh air. If I did that now, I would be a popsicle and the air certainly would not feel refreshing. Of course, this is our third day of cold wet rain which doesn't help the situation at all. I hear the birds so I know spring will come eventually. I just hope it isn't one of those years where we go from cold winter temps, to a week of spring temps, to 6 months of hot and humid summer temps. I just don't handle being cooped up inside the house for too long. Please, please spring come soon because...well....I want to go outside and play! That is my whine for the day, hope all of you up north get a break soon from this awful winter weather. Blessings, Kat

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Tightwad Accomplishments February 22

So this past week has been really busy around here working on our biggest way to save money right now....our electric bill. Our bill has been going up this past year. I didn't really sweat it much because I knew that quite a bit of it was simply because I didn't feel good. When you don't feel good you get lazy. But when our power bill jumped an astronomical amount, I sat up and paid attention because we can't pay super high power bills. So, after checking all the appliances and having the power company come out to check that the meter is working properly we found that our two worst areas are the central heat in the den and the freezer door seal (at least we think it might be the seal). Our wood stove insert is in that room so why are we using that heater? Because maintaining a wood burning fire is hard work and some days I just don't feel like I have it in me. So yes, not feeling all that great leads to laziness. So here is what we have been doing and what we are implementing now that I have become the electricity Nazi.

1. We are heating only the room that we are in at the moment. We currently spend most of our time in the den, and I have discovered over the last couple of days that if I close the doors to that room that I can maintain a fire in the woodstove much more easily because it doesn't have to be a big roaring fire to keep just that room comfortable. A small blaze on a bed of hot coals keeps us comfortable. This allows us to turn off the electric heat in that room (it is a large room) and turn off the propane heaters in the rest of the house until we need them at night. Already we can see a difference in electricity useage on the meter. A big difference.

2. We have been doing some more caulking. This is an ongoing all year job on this old house. Just when we think we have all the caulking done the house moves or we just simply find more places. I am sure we aren't done yet, but we have gotten a lot more caulking done.

3. We have ordered a new seal for the freezer door, it is an old freezer and I am sure the seal doesn't work as well as it once did. Power company guy said it was pulling 10 kilowatts every time compressor came on. If it is cycling enough then that is a considerable amount of power. Meanwhile, it is cold enough that the freezer can be turned off at night and then turned back on again in the morning. We plan to replace the freezer at some point but simply can't do that right now.

4. The water heater is being turned off at night when we don't need it and then we turn it back on about mid day so that I can do any warm water laundry that needs doing and everyone can take showers. After the last shower of the evening it goes back off.

5. We had the refrigerator set at the factory recommended setting, but we turned it up a notch (warmer) so that the compressor cycles less. So far so good, everything is staying cold enough.

6. I have used the dryer much less. I have still had to use it because jeans just don't dry well in such cold temps and my husbands uniforms look better coming out of the dryer. But shirts and such have done just fine on the line with just a quick 10 minutes on air dry in the dryer.

7. I have been hanging window quilts made from old blankets and comforters for the past several years in the winter. I really have never gotten around to making them look decent. It really has been just a down and dirty quick thing. So, I have been not only making them look nice, but some are thin, so I am making them thicker, making them hang better ( like normal curtains), putting white on the outside so they can be used in the summer, and installing a rod and pulley system so they can be opened and closed like blinds. This way they will be able to stay up all year, will reflect the summer sun as well as keep the temp. in the house comfortable all year. The plus is that I won't have to dread putting them up anymore and trying to figure out which ones went over which windows. This should help on year round electricity useage now. The comforters and quilts I got for free from friends and family or very cheap at goodwill several years ago. And remember I said that I am always taking sheets that family members are going to throw away. Well, all those white sheets (some I got at yard sales) have come in handy for lining the curtains. The colored sheets have come in handy for the interior of the curtains. So, the fabric that I am using has cost next to nothing. Maybe 3.00 for the sheets that I bought at a yard sale.

8. I bought some boneless pork roasts on sale and brought them home and ground them up myself at less than half the cost of ground beef.

So, that has been our week of savings. Most of it centered around getting our electric useage under control again. Hope you have a great and frugal week. Kat

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Window Quilts Really do Make a Huge difference

Normally, every fall I get out my window blankets and my bubble wrap and my large sheets of plastic and get to covering the windows in this old worn out house that we live in. I then spend days bubble wrapping, hanging, etc. It is a lot of effort to putting up the window coverings in a house with a lot of windows. Our bedroom alone has 9 large windows. I didn't feel good this past year and just didn't have a lot of energy. I got a few windows covered and then gave out. I really didn't think it would make that much of a difference. I guess I was wrong. Our heating bill is astronomical. I mentioned the 9 windows in our bedroom. They leak like sieves. You can feel the cold air blowing in. The propane heat doesn't get all the way back to our room. Most years it is no big deal because we have an electric blanket and we like the room cold anyway. But this year it has been frigid because the windows didn't get covered and the air blows in all night, no matter how tight you think those windows are shut. They just are old, beyond old...ancient. So we have been running a small electric heater set on low when the temps outside are really cold. Well, I discovered in my search for why our power useage has gone up so badly that those window covering really do make a difference. We thought it could be the water heater. So last night at 9:30 pm, I shut off the breaker to the water heater and went to bed. The little electric heater was running in our room. This morning at 6:15 am we had used 160kw overnight. The only thing different was that the water heater was off and that electric heater was on. So anytime we use that heater we use 160kw a night. That is a lot of power over the course of a month, when over half the nights are cold enough to need it. Last year we rarely used it because the windows were covered. This year we have used it a lot because of lack of covering. This past month and the month before are our coldest months so our power bill jumped dramatically. I did it to myself and I will never not put up my winter window coverings again. Spring please hurry, we are going broke trying to keep warm. Blessings, Kat

Friday, February 13, 2015

Tightwad Tips Week of February 13

Well this week hasn't been all that frugal since we purchased a new to us car. Our old 1996 Buick was developing electrical issues.
so we decided it was time to get something else before repair bills got to be more than a car payment. The buick had been a great car, lasted a long time without any major issues or repairs. Just normal routine stuff that all cars need. However, we have done a few things.

I washed some more Ziploc bags from the freezer to re-use.

I cleaned the microfiber couch with a cheap bottle of rubbing alcohol.

I made a new batch of shower cleaner with white vinegar and a small amount of Dawn dish soap.

I made some more t-shirt yarn and scraps for household projects. I have been saving t-shirts for awhile so this might be an ongoing project for some time.

I paid the last cable bill. We will officially be cable free March 1, which will save us over 50 dollars a month. We would save more but our Netflix and Amazon prime subscriptions cost a little bit. Much less than the cable.

I cooked a pork roast this week that I had gotten discounted for 3.00. No not 3.00 a pound, I paid that for the whole pork roast. We had it with mashed potatoes and green beans from last year's garden. Then I made chili with the rest. I made a large batch of chili so half went into the freezer for a future meal. 1.00 a meal from one roast...not bad if I do say so myself.

So that is about it for this week. Remember it is the little things that really do add up over time. My goal is everywhere I don't spend a dollar then that dollar goes into our savings. It really does add up.

Blessings, Kat

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Frugal Living Week of February 7

So, this week hasn't been quite as frugal as I would like it to have been. However, we really didn't go anywhere much so I suppose staying home is very frugal in gas savings. However, we have done a few things to keep a tight budget.

1. Washed some Ziploc bags to re-use for putting things in the freezer.

2. Made soap from some goat fat that I had saved in the freezer. We now have enough soap to last for the rest of the year. I have another bag of fat to render and then I will make another batch. I will then mill some of the soap and make French milled milk soap for Christmas presents.

3. My husband and I used my grocery store fuel rewards to fill both cars up and the gas cans for the farm equipment. We saved 55 cents off of every gallon purchased. Not bad.

4. I made some Swiffer dusters from an old flannel robe that was really worn out, torn, etc. The sleeves were still in pretty good shape and were perfect to do this with. It took about an hour to make 4 of them.

So that has been about it for us this week. Not a huge savings with the exception of the gas, but every little bit helps. This week I will be making pepper jelly from the peppers in the freezer. This will be for us as well as Christmas gifts this coming year. We also like to use things like jellies and soap for thank you gifts when needed. Hope you have all had a good week. Blessings, Kat

Friday, February 6, 2015

The Frustrations of "New" Car Buying

We have a Buick that is close to its end. It has been a good car and really hasn't cost us much in excess repairs. We paid 2200.00 for it 5 years ago. At the time it had 70,000 miles on it. It now has 175,000 miles on it. We wouldn't be considering getting rid of it yet, except for the fact that you can no longer get parts for this car. It has been out of production for some time and Buick no longer has or makes parts for the car. So the last time we had some work done it our mechanic had to make some parts. These were little things so at the time it was no big deal, but we got to thinking that it eventually would be a big deal. We decided to make it through 2014 and then start looking for something newer with fewer miles that might be a little better on gas. My husband drives 100 miles a day round trip to work. So we started looking this week. Well, let me tell you...the price of cars is ridiculous these days. I mean really...they want 9000.00 for a car with close to 200,000 miles on it. Really!? I just can't see paying that much for a car that is close to the end of its life. There are not many cars out there that will make it to 300,000 miles without major work. I had 2 saturns that did and then my third Saturn kicked the bucket at 75,000 miles by blowing a serpentine belt. What should be fun...who doesn't love something new and a royal pain in the neck. I just don't get where car dealers and even private sellers think these old well used cars are worth so much money. Is it a scam to keep you paying financing over and over? You know, just as you get the car paid for, it is worn out and dies so then you have no break from a car payment and have to finance again. I guess we have been blessed in that we have not had to finance a car since 1994. I don't want to finance now, but I don't have 10,000 grand sitting in our bank account. We have a reasonable amount that can be used as a down payment or preferably pay in full. I have even seen vehicles advertised with close to 300,000 miles for over 5000.00. Seriously?! Will somebody really pay that for something that is just about ready for the junkyard? It just amazes me at what people are selling cars for and apparently they are selling at these ridiculous prices otherwise they wouldn't be advertised at those prices. So, pray that we find a reasonably priced car in decent condition. Well, that is my rant for the day. Everything is going up and up and paychecks are staying stagnant. Our state just announced that they are pushing for tax increases so they can keep paying for Medicaid and welfare, yet my husband works for the state and hasn't gotten a pay increase in 5 years. Why should those who do nothing get more than those that work?! That is a rant for another day. But when I see folks that I know are on welfare driving Cadillac escalades and we can't afford a Honda civic, I get really really angry. I know, I know...I am not the only one. I'll get off my soap box and get back to car shopping. Blessings, Kat

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Tightwad Tips- Week of February 1

We are trying to get back on track towards our goal in life of living deliberately and not haphazardly. Last year was a nightmare and money just bled out everywhere. So, this year I will try to post a weekly tightwad tip column. Here is the first week's column of what we have done the past week to hold on to our little bit of money.

Groceries-We had a soup night, a veggie night (veggies came out of the freezer), and a breakfast night. We are also making sure that one day is leftover day in which all leftovers are eaten. This can mean an interesting combination for a meal, but everyone is fed and nothing is going to waste. We are also drinking more water during the day and saving tea for mealtimes only.

Household-We had two sets of sheets that had developed rips in them. Grant we haven't bought sheets in years, but the fabric was still actually in very good shape. They just had those annoying tears. I really didn't want to have to buy new sheets this year, as we buy high quality sheets and they tend to be very pricey. So, I have mended both sets this week. They should last at least another year now if the mending holds well. Like I said the overall sheet was in really good shape. Mending the sheets saved me about 200.00. Not bad.

Other- I trimmed Little Britches hair and my hair this week, which saved about 40.00. Also, my car is staying parked as much as possible. Right now I only go somewhere one day a week and do everything I need to do. If there is something I need or my mom needs then my husband will pick it up on his way home from work. I get a gas discount from one of the grocery stores I shop at so that has become my main grocery store. Last month we filled up both cars at the same time and received 25 cents off every gallon of gas. Pretty good savings. When we do this the money saved goes straight into the savings.

So that is about it for this week. Blessings, Kat