Wednesday, August 20, 2014

21 Things I Do to Save Money

I saw a list like this over at Brown Thumb Mama and thought it would be fun to make my own list!

1) We have a Nest thermostat, so I can control it with my phone. If we are away from home for long it goes into an Auto Away energy savings mode. It also has a cycle where it keeps running the fan after the compressor turns off, to increase cooling without using as much energy. In summer we set it to 82° unless it is a Save Power Day (then we set it higher or turn it off).

2) I get up at 5:30AM, so on cool mornings I open every window in the house, turn on the A/C fan (not the compressor, just the fan which uses very little electricity) and watch the temperature in the house drop by as much as 8°!

3) I make all of our bread and baked goods, saving as much as $100 per month.

4) I wash my hair with baking soda and condition with an apple cider vinegar rinse on the ends. The only other toiletries I use are a natural deodorant, toothpaste and floss, lip balm, oil to wash my face, homemade balms, and the occasional bar of soap or swipe of mascara. I don't buy or use shampoo, conditioner, hair spray, hair gel, hair mousse, pomade, hair serums, nail polishes or removers, makeup (other than very occasional mascara use), body lotions (now that I gave up soap I don't get so dried out and if I do I use almond oil), facial cleansers, toners, serums, moisturizers or pretty much anything else from your typical drugstore toiletries department.

5) I (and my entire family) follow a plant based diet. Not eating meat is a big money saver (but that isn't why we do it).

6) As a general rule I don't buy processed foods. Not cookies, not bread, not ice cream, not crackers, not anything that has ingredients that I can't pronounce or source myself. The only real exceptions are the occasional fake meat product like Gardein or Boca, and those only to help my kids feel normal when we go to BBQs. I do buy canned beans, jarred salsa, and jarred spaghetti sauce as a convenience foods, but I could make them (about 95% of the beans we do eat regularly are made from dried beans). Mostly I just cook and bake from scratch.

7) I make our main meal at lunch time and Papa comes home everyday. It is incredible to me how much some people spend on work lunches out and I am glad that we are able to do this.

8) We choose to live where Papa works; he has a 5 minute commute by car or foot. No money lost on gasoline for a car commute.

9) We carry water bottles with us everywhere we go. My kids never ask for a drive thru soda or a bottle of water at the store.

10) Actually, we don't drink soda. We drink water 90% of the time (some of it sparkled with a Soda Stream because Papa is hooked on sparking water), plus tea, hot or iced.

11) I am an avid thrift store shopper, and over the years more than 75% of my boys' wardrobes (not including socks and underwear) has been purchased second hand or given to us. As for me, I'm not into brands or expensive clothing; I buy the basics (new or used) and wear them out. Including shoes and work clothes we spend under $600 per year (and shoes are half of that).

12) We pack food when we will be gone over a meal time. PB&J on homemade bread is cheap, filling, and good, and has the added bonus of not requiring refrigeration. I toss some fruit into the cooler, and a few muffins, and call it good.

13) I bake for my freezer and keep it stocked with individually wrapped muffins, scones, and cinnamon rolls, ready to pull out if we need to pack a quick meal or for when the boys ride. They also make nice bribe foods, as in, come with me and do two hours of errands, being helpful, and I will let you have a cinnamon roll when we get home.

14) I hang almost all of my laundry to dry, year round. Clearly, my climate helps with this, but I also have systems in place to make it easier, such as washing more frequently when it is cooler so that I don't get behind when I can only air dry one load per day. The only load I put in the dryer regularly is the socks and underwear load that I wash every 7 - 10 days. That is also the only load I wash on hot.

15) I use my local library system to request books we want to read, and we practice patience rather than instant gratification as we are not always first in line.

16) Papa and I sit on our front porch with homemade cinnamon rolls and mugs of tea rather than going to the local coffee house or neighborhood hangout. I keep it clean and tidy, and since we have two little bistro sets out there it is really cute.

17) Our favorite date is to go for a walk! Really, it is the best quality time we can find away from the house. On date night I would much rather cook a quick meal at home and then go for a long walk than pay a restaurant to cook and clean up for me. In summer we can walk downtown and hear free concerts, which is a bonus.

18) When we vacation we either camp, taking all of our own food, or we try to stay at a vacation condo or a hotel with a kitchenette. This saves a lot of money as restaurant meals for four people three times a day really adds up! Then if we are vacationing someplace that has a great vegan restaurant we will go out once to try it and it feels really special, rather than being one more meal eaten out on vacation. For example, we were in Monterey for a race last spring, and for Mother's Day (there was no way Papa and the boys were letting me cook Mother's Day dinner after having worked a race all day) we found a completely vegan Mexican restaurant that had the best intentionally vegan Mexican food we have ever eaten out. (Deep fried potato tacos! Vegan posole!). We could enjoy it fully because we weren't worrying about how much money we'd spent eating at restaurants all weekend or even how unhealthy that might have been.

19) I make my own essential oil and/or herbal blends, oils, and salves, to use in supporting our health naturally.

20) I ask for what I need and want. When people make noise about my birthday or another holiday I give them good ideas. Because I sew I ask for a gift card to a fabric store. There is a vegan restaurant we love so I will ask for a gift card as a family gift. I will mention a book I would love to read but can't find at the library. Last year my dad bought me a waffle maker that I asked for, a very practical gift that has been declared by my children to be the best gift of the holidays (and that is saying a lot since they received a game system). I find that people want to give gifts that you really want, so I don't pretend that I don't want anything. That is how you end up with a zebra striped plush shorty robe!

21) I believe in a whole-istic view of health, and we take no supplements of any kind, preferring to meet our bodies needs by eating nutritious whole foods (including copious amounts of produce), staying properly hydrated with clean water, providing for judicious sun exposure, engaging in physical activity, spending time outside and in nature, reducing/eliminating stress, and getting early and sufficient sleep. We see regular doctors rarely and use a chiropractor and massage therapist for most muscular and skeletal issues. We also take no medications (natural, allopathic, or prescribed) on a regular basis, reserving OTC pain medications for significant pain and antihistamines for severe allergic reactions. Our medication outlay per year is under $10.

I think this last one is really important for my family (and maybe not for yours and that is okay). I spent too many years with a chronic illness (which I still have), being treated in ways that didn't support my overall health. Once upon a time I was popping 12 (!) pills and capsules every night before bed, and those weren't even my only daily medications. We have insurance, but even so the copays added up every month. I decided that I wanted to be vibrantly healthy and took my health into my own hands, and truly, I have never felt better. Papa and the boys almost never need a doctor for illness, just for the types of injuries that I can't treat at home, such as stitching up a wound or taking an X-ray. We go once a year for checkups and blood work and that is about it.

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