Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Frugal Tips from Readers

I did say this would be anonymous, so if you left your name, I didn't include it because I wasn't sure if you wanted it posted on here or not.

  1. You can use any older looking vegetables, carrot peels, onion peels, celery tops, potato peels, etc when making soup stock.  I love making stock because nothing goes to waste! Many times I will store a bag of peelings in the freezer from other dishes that can be thrown in for the stock.    Have stale bread?  Make bread crumbs, croutons, or ribollita (a Tuscon style soup using veggie scraps and stale bread).  Turn a bar of soap into liquid hand soap.  Make your own cleaners and laundry detergent.  Use your local library for books, newspapers, magazines, DVDs, games, and even some educational toys.  Do a clothing and toy swap with friends for your children.  Find free entertainment: library, local colleges, community events/festivals, church functions, invite friends over for a meal and games.  Eat less meat.  Every 6 months I do a pantry challenge where I refuse to go grocery shopping for 2-4 weeks.  All meals must be made from food we already have.  This helps eliminate expired or freezer burned food and it saves us money too.  My biggest ones:  stay at home, make and stick to my budget, and be thankful for what I have.
  2. Hi Bev, Here are some things I do to save money around our home.  I try to only use the dryer for bedding and towels.  The rest I hang dry in our upstairs office.  It saves us money and adds water to the air when the house is dry in the winter.  I also try really hard to not use paper towels in the kitchen.  I use white wash cloths I keep in a basket on the counter and encourage my family to use one of them before reaching for a paper towel.  I make our laundry detergent as well and use vinegar as a fabric softener for our towels.  I also make some household cleaners, such as an all purpose cleaner (vinegar, water and tea tree oil) and a glass cleaner (vinegar, rubbing alcohol and water).  It took me a while to get used to the vinegar smell and fortunately the smell dissipates quickly!  I also make dishwasher detergent from Borax and baking soda. I am a former Starbucks fan.  I buy flavored creamers and add it to my own coffee and take it in a commuter mug.  Speaking of coffee, I do brew more than once a day.  I save the grounds in the filter and when I make another serving, I add 1 tablespoon of fresh grounds to the old and brew with fresh cold water.  It saves money on coffee and filters and I notice absolutely NO difference in taste reusing the grounds.   Another way I save money is by giving home haircuts to my hubby, son and daughter.  Last year alone we saved over $400.00 on haircuts!  It was intimidating at first, especially cutting my hubby's hair (he is protective of his locks, lol), but once I got the hang of it, it was easy! My hubby's dress shirts were $1.75 each to send to the dry cleaner.  I wash them here at home and press them while the kids are playing.  It feels good to know I'm saving my hubby money on this! I try to make homemade bread as often as I can.  Sometimes it is not always possible when our schedule is especially hectic, but it makes the house smell so yummy and I know it is cheaper, not to mention healthier than store bought.  That's all I can think of right now.  I look forward to seeing what other ladies say, especially about saving at the grocery store!
  3. save the ends of your fresh veggies, egg shells, onion papers (the brown papery stuff on the outside) and most other "scraps" you'd normally throw out in the freezer in a gallon sized freezer bag.  Once full, boil in a pot with some salt, garlic, pepper and onion powder.  Makes a SUPER nutritious vegetable stock.   You can even add some unflavored gelatin to this to give it a little heavier "mouth feel".  When cleaning, the only things that are truly needed are a good scrub brush, good dishsoap, baking soda and vinegar.  You can get almost anything out by mixing a combination of ingredients.    Diapering costs around $4000 from birth to potty training  (more if you have a "slow learner"!) and the best way is to learn to sew or have a friend who sews make you cloth diapers.  A free pattern can be downloaded called Rita's Rump Pattern and the cloth can be washed repeatedly!    there are times when spending a little more money will save you much more in the long run.  Realizing how to decipher that is the key.  If you can make it yourself, do it (IF it'll be cheaper).  If it'll be smart to invest slightly more to reap better benefits then do that.  For example, spending an extra $20 per tire will run you more expensive in the short-term but tends to save you money in the long-run.  Same concept with the "green" lightbulbs.    Collecting rain water (if your space allows) will help your garden and your pocketbook!  You'll collect water that would otherwise be "wasted" causing you to have to spend money to water your garden.  Instead, get a food-grade barrel and collect rain water and roof run-off water in it.  You can even make a compost tea to help feed and nourish your garden!  (compost is another issue that will help you save money AND recycle!)  There are various free videos on youtube that will help with both issues.
  4. I save bits and pieces from meals to make soup. I keep a plastic container in my freezer and if I have spoonful of veggies I would use in soup(corn,beans,corrots,peas,etc) or a small piece meat I will put it in the container.After a few weeks there is a pretty good mixture.When the container gets full it's time for soup.All I need to add is maybe a couple of cans of tomatoes. It's almost like a free meal. It's alot better than throwing it in the trash.  
  5. My frugal tip is have a plan. Plan for you meals, and shopping lists.  This is the most helpful tip I have. If I don't have a plan and list for my weekly shopping then I will spend twice as much and wander around a store putting things in my cart that I don't need.  We didn't get to garden this year and Farmer's Markets are hard for us to go to. So, I stock up on fresh produce that is easy to be frozen. I wash it up and cut and freeze all sorts of things. I love pullinf out strawberries, bluberries, and fresh peppers in the middle of winter to snack on.
  6. During my lunch hour at work, I go to a site that matches coupons to the sale ad from our local grocery store.  I copy and paste the whole list to a word document and delete all the entries I am not interested in.  I print this out and then write in any other items I need to get (or type) and also write out my meal plan for that week that corresponds to what I can get cheap that week.  This way I can get my shopping list and meal plan done quickly.
  7. Instead of using baby wipes each nappy change, you can use paper towels and water, (i use the recycled paper ones), not only is it cheaper to use paper towels but its better for nappy rash than using wipes with fragrances and chemicals.

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Friday, October 7, 2011

Dear House and Child

Dear House and Child,

Do I take more joy in keeping you dear house
Or do I take more joy in putting you aside for you dear child
Do you dear house and your cleanness so clean
Shine better to all of what is really seen
A child neglected
A dish not in the sink
Which do I want more what is seen or unseen

On the floor with you dear child making memories to last
Or do I choose you dear house to remember from my past
Another book to read to you dear child helps you feel a mother's love
Another day forsaking you dear house to help my child make it above

Oh what do I choose
Oh who do I love most
You dear house or you dear child
I can't place first you both

I've made my choice
For this I know
A dirty house will only show
You dear child who I want to know
I have priorities - God, husband, child, and then the rest
And you dear house are not the best

*I just started writing down feelings from my heart today as my house is dirty but my child is not neglected.  In the course I'm taking for homeschooling, one of the disadvantages is a messy house.  This year I choose my child over the house.  I won't regret the time with her and my house won't regret time without me!  I remember my mom cleaning and cleaning in her time off work but she had hardly anytime for me.  She regrets that and so do I.  I would have much rather had a dirty home and a mother that was there!  

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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Children and Sleep

I've gotten a lot of questions over the years ranging from parents wondering why their child has behavior problems, doesn't perform well in school or seems agitated and unable to concentrate a lot.  One of the first things I ask is how much do they sleep?  A lot of times that is the problem - the child doesn't get enough sleep. Sleep is so vital for children and adults.  If I don't get past 7 hours of sleep, I don't perform well or feel well and I get sick more.  I've found that when I have good sleep habits, I don't get sick as often, I feel great and accomplish a lot and I'm not grumpy.  The same goes for our children.

I was reading an article on Dr. Weil today about this and then saw the National Sleep Foundation has a list of how many hours children need.  You can find it here:

When my daughter was 3 months old, she was sleeping 12 hours every night and then 2-3 hours of naps throughout the day.  I did something similar to the Ferber method and it taught her to self-soothe to return to sleep and not be dependent on us to fall back asleep.  It worked within 5 days and from then on, she never has had sleep problems and didn't cry when I put her in the crib at bedtime and she didn't wake up during the night crying.  She also didn't get sick at all until she was 2 years old.  I contribute that to her getting enough sleep every night.  When a lot of other parents were having sick babies and dealing with ear infections and babies up at all hours of the night, I wasn't.  Looking back now, I really believe it was mostly because she was getting the sleep she needed.

Naps generally are not needed for children from age 4 and on and that is about the time Katie stopped needing naps as well.  She continued to sleep 12 hours a night until she was about 5 and now only needs 10-11 hours of sleep a night, which is the recommended sleep for children ages 5-12.

If you have a child with learning or behavioral problems or is sickly more than average, first look at how much sleep they are getting.  It does make a difference!

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