Prices are going up, up, up. Gas prices of course. Food prices. Utility prices. I know lately I've been seeing on the news where the economy is "supposed" to be "improving". I'm beginning to think they live in an alternate reality from mine, or perhaps they're painting a pretty picture in hopes if they wish hard enough it will happen. So how is everyone coping? If you have any tips on making the dollar stretch further, please share, I'm sure everyone can benefit. Gas is a big ouch for me, but not as big as it could be because I do an awful lot of car pooling with easy child. I average filling up the tank about once a month.......actually about every 6-8 wks.....and I use my kroger points which usually gives me about 40 cents off per gallon by the time I'm ready to fill up. And no, I don't actually spend 400.00 every 8 wks at kroger......I'm using their sales and coupons so what I actually spend is nowhere near that amount (I average about 20-30 bucks a wk), but I still get the points. If our kroger ever stops doubling coupons I'm in big trouble. Our electric company for some odd reason got a wild hair (I'm sure they had an excuse) to double our electric rates. Now honestly I was hurting paying the old rates.....double nearly made me faint. Paying 200.00 per month in winter on electric is outrageous! I never paid that much having 3 window unit air conditioners in during summer!!! So I started unplugging every single thing not in use. It's not an easy habit to get into, but I'm getting better. I was already good about turning off lights when not needed. I dunno if they read my meter wrong or if it really made this huge a change (cuz I've also only been using lights when I have to in order to see and going to bed much earlier) but it was down to 100.00 this time. OMG a whole 100.00 difference! The state is "looking into" this drastic rate change.........mainly because most people just can't afford it which means more people will be looking at state programs to help them out, and honestly the state itself probably can't afford that either. My gas bill, oddly enough, has been very cheap all winter. I've rarely had it above 65 degrees, and was comfortable, much of the time it has been off. So that saved me some money to put elsewhere. (one bonus to the odd winter) It's only been running me 30-40.00 per month, totally unheard of in the winter. Our water rates are ridiculous. We pay twice as much for sewage as the water itself. I've managed to get this bill down to below 50.00 per month, not so easy to do. But unlike husband, Travis will stick to the 1 towel a week rule, as do I, so I don't have tons of towels to wash. We wear most outfits more than once if they're not actually "dirty". I have very little actual laundry with the two of us. My kitchen sink always has to run forever before the hot water comes through. It's always driven me nuts. Now? I have a 1 1/2 gallon jug I use for dog water......and when I'm going to use the hot water, I fill the jug with the cold that comes out first. And it makes me mad that it actually FILLS the jug each time. By darn if I'm not only paying the water, but double for the sewage on that 1 1/2 gallon......someone is gonna use it! I'm buying a outside garbage can (so it's clean) for rain water for the garden. Food prices are climbing steadily, some items faster than others. I find myself thanking God each day for my stockpile. I dunno where I'd be without it......uh, nix that, I'd be in a heap of trouble without it. It's pretty much taken over my laundry room, pantry is full......to overflowing as now I have a corner of the kitchen occupied too. This is after putting non perishables into huge rubbermaid tubs. I am still doing the couponing, only now I really really go over the ads with a fine tooth comb & compare them to the coupons I have......comparing each store, and if I don't get it for next to nothing, I don't buy it. IF I can get it for next to nothing, or if I'm really lucky get it for free or make money on it......I get as much as I can. Like the 3 cases of canned veggies I got several weeks back for about .25 cents a can or less with a kroger sale and coupon combo. Freezer is full of a wide variety of meats.......added to when I spot sales like chicken breast for .99 lb or whole chicken for .68 cents lb. Milk I stock up at either aldi's or sav a lot at 1.99 cents a gallon and freeze them. Personal hygiene stuff I no longer buy unless sale/coupon makes it under a dollar or free...........household cleaners, well I pretty much ONLY buy Awesome from the dollar store. You just can't beat a buck for a cleaner that cleans basically everything. lol So......my "food" budget per week has dropped significantly unless there is a huge sale I can stock up with. But I've noticed this is not happening like it was either. And today Nichole and I are starting in on the back yard to start prepping for the garden. There will be a huge garden. What doesn't get eaten fresh will be canned and put up. Other little ways I'm cutting back to reduce the pinch of the economy: Washboard and galvanized metal tubs for laundry and will be hanging them on the line to dry soon as the weather allows. This may sound silly to some I suppose. But it will save money.....and I get a workout while I'm at it. I have a push mower of the old fashion type that only requires manpower, or rather woman power. Reminds me I need to order the blade sharpener. I will be picking up yard tools that don't require either electric or gas. Again the bonus is using them will be a workout. Same for garden tools. I already have a tiller that only requires handpower. It works awfully well too. I plan to do much more walking to places once the weather stablizes a bit.........like downtown to pay bills and such. I plan to do a lot of grilling out. So expect a LOT of questions. I have no idea how to grill anything, not even how much charcoal to use. But by darn I'm going to learn so that cooking doesn't heat up the house this summer. With those high electric rates it's highly doubtful I'll be able to afford AC this year. I was considering seriously raising chickens. But I'm holding off for the time being. I'm not so eager to build a coop......and I'd have to have enough fencing for them to keep the cats away from the chicks until they were big enough to peck the heck out of them. easy child will be letting Darrin raise rabbits for 4H, we'll both benefit from the fertilizer. lol Other than these things.........I can't think of anything else. I know easy child is learning to make her own soap/laundry soap, but honestly I'm not so sure that is cheaper than getting it on a good sale with coupons, at least at this point in the game. I get them awfully darn cheap. But I know she'll keep track of expenses so we'll see. Oh, diving into my kidney diet books for more beans/rice recipes........but I've noticed the major price jump for both of those. ugh (which is sort of weird as those usually stay cheap while everything else goes up) So c'mon, ladies, let's share tips. I'm sure there are probably things I'm missing or have overlooked and God knows I need to save every penny. I've yet to get the darn things to reproduce.