4.22.2012

Downsizing

I really really want you guys to read this one. I need you to! In a matter of weeks, I will be unemployed, and pursuing my education. I have been doing as many classes as I can while being on the road, and lets just say that it isn't fun. I have a midterm staring me in the face actually. I can't keep up a full time job and expect to finish my degree in any reasonable amount of time.

The point is that I need to figure out how to spend less money. I want to reach out and ask you all what your best money saving tips are. I will tell you what I am already doing, and feel free to correct me or add to my list.

~Garden and Food Preservation~ I really really really am putting forth a ton of energy trying to make everything stay alive so that we have tons of produce. I don't want to screw up the garden this year. I want to put up as much stuff as I can. We are even planting down at the farm this year so we can have tons of squash and pumpkins for the winter. What do you all think of planting potatoes down there? Keep in mind, it is an hour away, so we will only be down there every couple of weeks. I know the animals will eat some of my squashes, but some sort of loss is to be expected. We will also have corn down there. Everything else will be at home. I also plan on going to UPick places to get berries and fruits for jams and preserves. As for meat, I get my beef for free as a Christmas present, and I get chicken from the market. The chicken is not cheap, but I try to use it sparingly. And from the bones, I get stock, so I won't stop buying it. Sorry. And we also have the Golden Girls, so we basically don't have to pay for eggs.

~Part Time Job~ I hear that Starbucks offers health benefits for part time workers, so I have already submitted my application. They haven't called me, so I intend to walk into the store and just talk to someone about it. I also submitted my application to the new local urban farm store. They haven't called me back either, but I know the owner is there in the afternoons, so I will approach him as well.

~Cable~ This may be the hardest one. We are thinking we will give up cable. I can watch most of the stuff I regularly watch  online, but Hubby is a cable-news addict. He can watch his football live online, but that news... It may be the deal breaker. Any tips on that one? All the stuff I can't watch online, I will just have to become more social and go to friend's houses and watch along. If only I had more friends.....

~Cars~ We took the plunge and purchased a Prius for Hubby. It was a lot of money up front, but I can already feel us getting it back. He drives soooo much for work, its insane. Seriously, he was spending like, 500 a month in gas alone. So he now has over 3000 miles on his new car, and has only filled up like, 4 times. AMAZING. I will be biking everywhere I can in order to not drive my SUV. I only go to the same 4 places, all within a 5 mile radius pretty much, so it isn't that big of a deal for me to switch to biking. Except for big trips, like to get cat food and cat litter. Earth friendly, budget friendly, and waist line friendly.

~Eating Out and Entertainment~ We (I) am trying to cook more at home in advance so that when I don't feel like cooking, dinner is already done. Crock pot meals, stuff in the freezer, etc. The other day, I made 2 gallon bags of stuffed shells for the freezer, so all I have to do it put some in a pan and throw some sauce on top and pop it in the oven. Stuff like that. Any ideas to help there? As for entertainment, we aren't big "go out for a night on the town" type people, we mostly just rent movies. Although with my unlimited internet streaming from Netflix and free Hulu.com, we can watch almost any move we want.


~Spending in General~ I like to shop. There, I said it. But not for the normal girl stuff like clothes and makeup. I like to shop at the farmers market, garden stores, hardware stores, kitchen supply, books... Really, I have a problem. I have to stop. Plain and simple. HAVE TO STOP.

The general things that people spend too much money on (coffee out, dinner out, lunch out, etc) we already have a decent handle on. Neither of us are fancy coffee drinkers, so no problem there. Hubby eats lunch out a lot, so I will have to try and figure out how to get that down... So, any tips that I haven't thought of????

21 comments:

  1. Looks like you have a pretty good handle on this already. I would plant alot of potatos because you really don't have to do much with them - you plant and then after they sprout and about 8" tall (about a month after planting) you hill them once and then harvest. Plant as many things that you can preserve - making your own tomato sauces, pickles, cabages for winter (they keep great in cold cellars) etc. I make my hubby's lunch each day and keep changing things on his so it's not going to be borring, but once a week he'll eat out with the boys in the office. I also love farmer markets so have to stay out of it because I know I'll buy something so I just don't go there. Cable is easy - cut it out. Your hubby can watch it on cnn.com - most of those channels do streaming video now. Good luck!

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    1. Thanks for the potato tip! The only thing I am nervous about are the deer... I wonder if they would eat the potato tops??

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    2. with 20 acres of other food deer are not likely to go for potatoes, but even if they snip some bulbs are under ground and just keep growing. you can check your local freecycle group if anyone has extra potatoes that sprouted and can't be used in cooking - this is spring and most people will have them tossing out. I took a full bed in my garden for them because i know they store well for winter and there will be no chemicals sprayed on them (check potato facts to see what you're getting in a store)

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  2. It is a hard adjustment at first. I became a stay at home mom/full time student about three years ago. We cut our income in half. We did most of what you are planning to do. The main money saver for us was making a monthly menu. I know when I go to the store what I need to buy and what I have in the pantry. It keeps me from buying things we don't need and I use everything I have on hand. I also love to make meals that build on each other. I am cooking a whole chicken in the crockpot today. We wil have chicken with roasted veggies tonight. Tomorrow we will have chicken enchiladas, and on Tuesday I will make a chicken pot pie. Three meals from one large chicken. I hope your transition goes smoothly.

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    1. That's an awesome tip. I have never been much of a menu planner, so that will take some practice. I have a couple months to get used to it, so I will definitely start.

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  3. You have a lot on your plate! I really admire anyone who works so hard to further their education, so hang in there!
    Some things I've learned about frugal living-1)Don't plant anything you can buy cheap. For instance, I can buy sweet corn for next to nothing in the summertime. So I save that garden space for something that would be harder to get. 2)Don't pay for monthly entertainment. So bye-bye cable! I saved $90 a month by having my satellite unhooked! We still occasionally splurge-but we aren't tied to that bill. 3)Never go into any store without a list. Even if there is only one item on the list. and last) make a commitment to write down every penny you spend for at least 2 months. Even if it's just for a pack of gum. You will see all kinds of ways to cut back, then! Sorry this is so long but all of those things really helped me!

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    1. I agree, space is important. Down at the farm, we have 20 acres, so planting stuff that takes up space isn't a big deal unless I am talking about home (home is only a small city lot). The list thing is a big deal, and a great tip. I can't tell you how many times I have gone somewhere without a list, and forgotten things, and come back with stuff I didn't intend on getting and not gotten the stuff I was supposed to! Thanks for the tip!

      I hope the cable thing goes smoothly... I feel a lot more reading and radio in my future...

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  4. I don't want to knock your wanting to plant potatoes off the list, but besides the obvious "better for you" reason of planting your own, is there a reason you want to do potatoes? I don't know how much seed taters cost and really can't tell you the work involved, but here I decided that I can buy a crapload of potatoes very cheap and they keep a long time if stored correctly. I would rather put my gardening labor into something that we eat a lot of but costs more at the grocery store.

    And other gardening tips; are there other friends that garden? Say, one that always has a crapload of cucumbers that you could trade a carton of eggs for? I try to trade as much as we can here, although I suppose it's a little easier where we are in the country.

    As for grocery shopping, I'm the exact opposite. I don't make a list. I go in with my budgeted amount and get as MUCH stuff as I can and make my meals around that. Obviously in-season produce is cheaper. And in the winter, we may not eat a green pepper for months on end because I refuse to pay a buck a pepper.

    Do you have to book, The Tightwad Gazette?

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    1. I just like potatoes :) They seem easy and efficient. I have never done it, but I have read and heard of people just cutting their own seed potatoes from ones they already have. I don't think I would spend money on seed taters, but make it more of an experiment.

      The friends being gardeners thing is hard to come by. Most of my friends already think I am nuts for growing as much as I do (the word weird hippie comes to mind) and then those I know that are serious gardeners put up most of their own stuff. Great Idea, but I don't know how plausible it would be. Although, joing some sort of co-op or CSA might be to my benefit.... Mental note, check out CSA'.

      As for that book, I will have to check and see if my library has it :)

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  5. Congrats on setting your priorities, as just getting there can be tough!!! I take the summer's off instead of finding a "summer job" (I work at a school). I find we save money if I stay home, and do things to save money- like hit thrift stores all summer for work clothes for the fall, very rarley drive anywhere. We downsized cable to a cheap satelite package. I would cut way down on the lunches out as that can add up fast, stay out of the garden stores for a while (I know it's tough), prioritize your home/garden projects, I agree- "Don't plant anything you can buy cheap". I use my garden space for the great stuff like tomatos, peppers that I eat all summer. Have you thought about selling your SUV? I know that's always a tough call. What about your insurance- home, life, car- can you cut those back? Menu planning is great too- I'm roasting 2 chickens tonite for a greek chicken salad, will use the rest over multiple lunches/dinners. I'm sure you'll be fine! And you have a huge advantage of having the "farm" available to you...

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    1. Getting a job at school is a great idea, but I have been searching, and honestly, they really just don't pay well at all. But I won't give up hope! I kind of don't want to work this summer. I want to be able to spend some time with my niece and nephew before they start going to big kid school and become too cool for their aunt.

      I have really been trying to stay out of the garden stores. I have just one more project that needs doing, but hopefully it will pay for itself after awhile... We are building another bed for the back yard, so that means more garden space! I am hoping to use leftover lumber we have laying around, so I just have to get out there and get on it. And I am also trying to plant only heirloom veggies so that I can save seed :)

      I have thought about getting rid of the SUV, but it really is nice having around. For as little as I truly do drive, the gas isn't an issue. I probably only fill up once a month. And once I don't have to drive to the airport, I will drive it even less.

      As for the insurance, that was a great idea. I just talked to hubby about that, and he informed me that he had already transferred our car ins to the same company as our home and life, and we got a package deal and money saved.

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  6. And see if there's a part time job at your college? You're going there anyway...

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  7. Have you also looked at your heating/cooling costs? Use a library instead of buying books/videos, etc? I do spend money on good quality shoes, but get a lot more mileage out of them :) Cell bill and internet, cut those back, or consolidate? We have cut back on our cell phone twice and didn't miss those extra minutes we never used anyway, and always get a "free" phone...

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    1. Nancy, you are full of awesome ideas!!! We took care of our heating problem this last fall and installed a pellet stove. It is sooo much more efficient cost wise than using our furnace. As for cooling, we don't have A/C, so that isn't a big deal. When it gets too hot, I go to the library to work, and Hubby goes to his office.

      As for the cell, we are waiting just TEN more days until our contract expires, and then we will go onto a business cell plan that is WAY cheaper than what we pay for now. I am SUPER DUPER excited about that!!!

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  8. We are trying hard to live a simple life by growing, making, or trading for what we need. We cut off our cable and got a outdoor antenna for free off Craigs List. We get 25 channels for free and if its a program we don't get then we can watch online. We have a wireless card for our laptop. Your husband can get fox news and all local news with antenna. We sell our extra eggs. I also make soaps, cheese, lotions from our goats milk. I now shop once a month for groceries so I want be tempted to purchase extra or things I don't really need by going weekly, etc. I think you are going to do great and will keep finding ways to be frugal as you get your degree.

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    1. That is freaking awesome! I will most definitely have to check craigs list to see if I can find an antenna. Should I be looking for anything in particular???

      I wish we had extra eggs to sell, but only 2 of our hens actually lay eggs, and it seems to be just the right amount for us. I wish I had space to keep goats for milking, but in the city I just don't have space for that.

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  9. Once you actually quit your job, make sure you check your school and state to see if you qualify for any grants or scholarships with your different income amount. And just make sure you are up to date on all the grants/scholarships offered in general. Good luck :)

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    1. THanks Laura! I didn't even think about altering that. Thanks for the tip!

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  10. One of our big challenges is being willing to do whatever it takes. But with school tuition for the kids on our horizon, necessity has been twisting our arm to do it. We've stopped asking do we need it (that's a privileged question), our finances more and more are requiring us now to ask, can we have it? In other words we're asking, if we want to pay for tuition, then can we really have that? Spending has become an either or proposition. As a result, this year we've stopped using our dryer, we didn't use the A/C last summer except for guests and occasionally in the evening to help the kids go to sleep. We kept the heat at 62 degrees all winter. We've stopped driving our mini-van. Belle gives me rides to work in our tiny pick-up with the kids in the extra-cab. It's crowded, but saves us tons of money. We're not asking "do we need" cable. We simply "cannot have" cable. We also save $40 a month by using a DSL connection instead of cable for the internet. That cable connections are faster is a myth. The cable people don't tell you this, but you share the "11 meg" uploading speed with the entire neighborhood. We have less trouble with a private DSL line than we had with cable. The list goes on and on. I applaud your efforts! From where I'm sitting, your commitment to frugal living now will be a huge blessing later.

    Oh yea, I like to think of saving money on food by weight volume and usage. Potatoes will put lots of vegetable poundage in your cupboard and they are a staple that goes with any meal. You can cook them a thousand ways. Next to spaghetti squash, and tomatoes they can't be beat for saving on the food bill!

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  11. I know Lowe's also offers health care benefits for part time work. And they might like that you are so garden orient! And, try giving up on cable. I'll bet you it will be the easiest cut you have to make. You'll realize how much more time you have to spend doing quality things, PLUS after all, most of what is on TV is total crap. Trade it in for a netflix streaming subscription and a ROKU. I haven't had cable in 3 years and don't miss it. At all.

    Here's the best advice I can give you on stopping frivolous spending. Set yourself an amount, in a specific account, that reloads automatically each month. Spend it all all purchase that are not basic living bills. Once you reach the end of that money each month, thats it. Period. No more. Make the amount reasonable, but then stick with it. You will quickly adjust your spending to suit the actual amount of money you have to spend on extras, and will be able to make the choices that mean most to you. It won't take you long to realize what it is that is important to you and what can go, if push comes to shove. Good luck!

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  12. * That would be "spend it ON all purchases"...

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