On gas & food prices....

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by timer lady, Jun 3, 2008.

  1. timer lady

    timer lady Queen of Hearts

    As I watch the gas & food prices continue to rise, with that the services & such that are supporting those industries & my medical bills things are getting quite tight.

    I've always been good at budgeting & cutting back on things. We rarely go out to eat, or order in anymore; I've taken to buying lots of store brand items. Buying in bulk helps; flour, sugar, nuts, sweet treats, etc.

    We no longer buy DVDs (no room for storage, they need to be dusted & generally only get watched once, if that); if we want to watch something we rent ~ better yet (& cheaper) we rent from our cable company & enjoy. No late fees.

    husband insists I continue to order in groceries though he's going to start picking up produce & meats on the weekends. He also insists that I continue to buy my coffee beans - I had considered going back to Folgers. The rest of deliverable groceries are pretty much in line price wise.

    Leftovers get used religiously. I freeze vegies, rice, meats, & other leftovers that won't make an entire meal in a freezer bag & make a batch of soup on a monthly basis (even in summer). Throwing those items in a vegetable broth with seasonings makes a darned good soup; served with a salad & freshly baked bread or biscuits is a good meal.

    We've always insisted on buying only what we can afford about here ~ husband & I have one credit card that is paid down monthly. It mostly isn't used; have it for emergency purposes (airline tickets for family emergencies, car repairs, etc.). That's the accountant in me. Our home mortgage has always always been based on one income so we aren't in trouble with that. We don't have a huge gorgeous home but we have an affordable payment. Again, the accountant in me.

    As we combine errands, we spend little time running about from place to place; the biggest thing I noted was the savings in "impulse" spending. It's amazing how much we spend on items we wouldn't normally buy, isn't on a list anywhere or even in our radar but buy because it's on an aisle someplace when we're out & about. Especially if we have a tweedle along.

    I refuse to buy an HD television set, or upgrade cell phones anymore. There is no need with cable; nor is there a need unless our cell phone company changes something with the network. I can't imagine how many perfectly good tv's are going to be trashed because of the switch to HD broadcasting - what a waste ~ what a crime environmentally.

    I've begun mixing my own cleaning supplies ~ much cheaper & better for the environment. Amazing what a bit if baking soda, lemon juice, white vinegar, salt, borax & a touch of dish soap will clean.

    These are things that take little time or energy for me personally. The next step I'm hoping with the time I have is to start baking bread again. The same with making granola & bar cookies. It doesn't take much time to throw these things together & even with the cost of basic baking supplies going up, it's still cheaper than purchasing ready made.

    Again, I have the time as many of you working mums do not.

    Just wondering what you're doing to save money? I'm sure we've had threads of this nature in the past - just wanted to revisit this topic.

    Wondering minds want to know.....:shopping:

  2. hearts and roses

    hearts and roses Mind Reader

    TL, I too am appalled on a daily basis with the rise in cost of everyday items, from groceries, to health/beauty products to gas, clothing - everything.

    I have been using vinegar and baking soda as cleaning agents also. I've cut out fabric softener as well - now it's just laundy soap and an occasional scoop of OxyClean in our whites. I also have begun to hang out certain items to dry. H refuses to put up a clothes line for me, but I really want one, at least for the summer.

    Aside from buying a more cost effective economical car, I try to conserve gas by doing my weekly errands on Saturday mornings in one fell swoop. We live about 8 miles away from any real stores, so I try to make a circle and do them all at once. H and I have decided that Friday night pizza is something we can live with, though he occasionally gets a hankering from something different.

    Since switching to a vegetarian diet, I am making more meals at home. I made our own whole grain pizza dough yesterday and added all the leftover veggies in the fridge - yum.

    I also freeze everything to be used in a stew or soup or side dish later. Sometimes H will go in and throw out stuff, but lately he's been good about leaving it all be so I can use it later.

    I've become a light miser. I used to keep the front light on all night, and often forget to turn it off come morning, but now I turn out all lights at bedtime except a small nightlight in the kitchen.

    We belong to Netflix, also no late fees or postage - it works for us. We want to watch movies, but we don' thave digital cable and we're too lazy to drive to the store and pick one out and then return it on time. We used RedBox for a while, but switched to NetFlix because it's just so easy and they have everything! For $13/month, we can watch up to 8-10 movies a month if we watch them and mail them back asap.

    I shop for all my canned/jarred items at Job Lot or Odd Lot - I get fabulous deals. We're not buying any meat except cold cuts for H, so that's a savings. However, have you seen the cost of produce lately?? I will be using the organic farmer down the street throughout the summer and buying as much clearance veggies as possible for canning and freezing.

    I planted a HUGE garden so we can cut back on produce purchases in the summer, plus I am hoping to have more to can/freeze come harvest season. I want to plant a few berries shrubs in late summer for next year also.

    I water my gardens late at night or early morning to avoid fast evaporation. Watering in the sunshine is almost useless I've found.

    I planted my flowers, which are basically just for color, far apart so I didn't have to buy as many.

    We're opening our pool two weeks later than usual this year to save on energy running the filter.
    And we're investing in a solar heater panel so we can get a longer season. That, along with the cost of H's second floor addition, is the big expenditure this year.

    I want to trade our gas powered mower for a rotary mower instead - save on gas, easier to push, comes with a bag for mulching. But H is having none of that business.

    More later...
  3. Abbey

    Abbey Spork Queen

    I do silly things, but maybe it adds up. I barely dry my clothes when I wash. I hang them up wet.

    I'm CONSTANTLY turning off lights in the house. No AC...and it's getting hot.

    easy child is now riding his bike to work. (Oh, he LOVES that!!)

    I'm a crockpot person, so I make one meal and eat it for the next two days. It also helps with me working in the grocery store as I see the REALLY good deals they put out only for a few hours.

    We have an old-school push mower, so that is not a problem.

  4. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    Good thread.

    Regarding lights, husband never met a lightbulb that he could turn off by himself. The one that kills me is the garage. Two 200 Watt bulbs that can be left on for days on a weekend! So, we have motion detectors on the problem ones. (The kitchen, the garage, and the walk-in closet.) It seems weird to others at first, but it's really nice to not have to worry about that stuff.

    I program in my multi-stop shopping trips into the GPS so that I will have the quickest route, and won't forget to stop someplace and have to make a second trip.

    I'm making sure to turn off the tv when I am not watching, and trying really hard to not leave the computer on for hours when I'm not on it.
  5. Star*

    Star* call 911........call 911


    This is a FANTASTIC thread. Thank you for starting it. I am going to enjoy reading all the ideas and things everyone is doing to cut back even more.

    I have started looking and using Freecycle and Free items on Craigs list or barter services on cragislist. I've been AMAZED at the clutter in my house that has disappeared with Df saying "No one will want that." and then get 20 emails and meet in a neutral place to save gas and make someone else happy. I even got my friend a real basset hound (2) and that in turn got her am much needed divorce. - It was him or the hounds - and the dogs didn't pack a bag.

    I am growing a garden this year all naturale with no pesticides and started all from seed - tomatos, beans, and cucumbers. I've been using sugar and vinegar to kill weeds and cutting the lawn on a higher setting to avoid using weed killers that pollute.

    We have also started saving and rinsing EVERY plastic bottle, jug, etc in our house and take them ON the way to town - it is ASTONISHING how much plastic we use. We've been breaking down the boxes also and take them to the recycler, and got on line directions for making a food-scrap compost heap. It's my goal in a year to eliminate our sanitation bill. A savings of 175.00

    We've done all the things natural to the grass to eliminate the need for mass watering. We've suffered from drought the last few years - so we use barrels to catch rain water, and use that for plants and flowers.

    We too have planned meals but cook double - and then freeze. It's really been nice to come home some nights and think I wish I could have peppers and Just go to the freezer without the fuss of blanching and cooking.

    I've stopped doing the deposits to the business every day - I go 1x a week - if the boss wants more we find out who is going by the bank that day and get the receipts. I'm the only one not getting a gas card.

    I'm having a blast too - reading about making my own cleaning supplies - I have stuff to use up but have bought vinegar in bulk and my home feels and smells cleaner.

    WE've also installed a water saver in the commode, and are going to get one for the shower.....since I dont' need to use the shower for a retreat from Dude anymore.

    We burn soy candles a lot and I have picked up TONS of candles at yard sales.

    but the biggest saver so far has been to put the computer on a power bar and all the office equipment on a power bar and turn it off EVERY night. I can NOT believe the savings in my electric bill from turning allthat stuff off and not - nearly 25 a month.!!!!

    Thanks again for this awesome post!
  6. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    Great thread, TL!

    I need to break out my bread machine -- thanks for reminding me :)

    I am definitely not out roaming the stores or malls when bored or running unnecessary errands any more. So I'm spending less on impulse buys and saving gas to boot :) I'll often ask husband to pick up stuff at the store on his way home from work so I don't have to make an extra trip. And although difficult child 1 starts school later than the other two, I make him leave when I take them and I drop him off near their school and he just walks the rest of the way -- just enough time for him to get there without having to rush, and I only have to make one trip down the hill :) Wish their pickup times weren't an hour apart. Next year we'll have three separate schedules, so we may look harder at busing or carpooling.

    As for shopping, even though husband has been doing most of it after work, I wish I could say we are saving money -- but husband tends to buy on impulse and doesn't price compare :( He's getting a wee bit better, though (medications are helping that).

    We've always recycled our cans and bottles. Usually pays for a fastfood lunch, although we could do better to just cut out the bottled drinks, in my opinion!

    Our yard is 99% organic -- I'll occasionally use ant spray or specific fertilizer for roses and citrus. I've got three composte bins and a worm bin, so I've started using the worm "tea" and castings for fertilizer. And of course, now we've got Herbert to roam the yard and deposit her own brand of fertilizer :D

    We've got a large back yard and small front. About 75% of the back is planted with drought-tolerant natives so we don't need to irrigate them. I do a lot of hand watering too -- lets me see what's going on in the yard and tailor the amount of water we use. I turn off the automatic sprinklers periodically, especially if the weather is cool. They really only need to be on every day when the weather's hot -- and even then, they are set to go off early in the day to prevent evaporative loss.

    The yard only gets mowed once or twice a month (if husband remembers), and it's on the highest setting (helps prevent weeds, too). I prefer to hand weed than use herbicides -- thus my lousy manicure! We planted the yard with lady bugs and praying mantids a few years ago, and since it's virtually organic back there, they've multiplied and given us great natural pest control.

    We are eating at home more often and the kids rarely buy lunch at school, so that helps.

    I still splurge to have husband's shirts laundered and pressed (I can never get them looking as good as they do) since he needs to look polished for work.

    husband has only been to a casino ONCE this year, and THAT ALONE saves us tons of money in gas and wasted money (he blew about $10K last year which put us into debt). Again, another blessing from medication.

    I've held off on buying a new car and am limping along in my gas-guzzling Astro van with 120,000 miles, a bad electrical system, a borderline rear end (well, yeah, mine's in pretty bad shape too), and multiple "little" things that are broken. husband's truck pays off in July, so we'll be able to swing a new payment then. I'm torn between getting him a Prius (which he doesn't want -- he likes his Explorer) for the gas savings or a minivan for me (which would probably get better mileage than my full-size van).

    We already utilize his company's medical flex spending account which saves us money by setting up to $5,000 pre-tax aside for use on co-pays, deductibles and other qualified expenses. It's almost all used up already because of all our medical issues this year.

    I'm paying cash for everything and questioning everything I put in my basket -- Do I REALLY need this? Do I really need this NOW or can it wait? Can I find it for LESS somewhere else? Helps cut down those impulse buys.

    I really, really wanted to get periodic help with the housework earlier this year because of husband's surgery, difficult child issues and me just feeling overwhelmed. I never did do it and decided to just lower my standards and accept that things will never ever be perfect around here. So I guess I spared us an additional expense by choosing apathy!
  7. Abbey

    Abbey Spork Queen

    Oh, the light on the garage thing really irks me. Why on Earth do you need a light on when you're SLEEPING???

    I also wash and reuse water bottles. I'm not opposed to drinking tap water. Tastes fine to me!

    husband's new addiction is Craig's list. But, he's yet to put anything on it. (Imagine that.) I find it too hard to navigate, nor have the time to do it. Trust me...we have LOTS that could go on it. And, we hugely downsized in this last move.

    10K? Ouch. I live in Vegas and couldn't do that.

  8. hearts and roses

    hearts and roses Mind Reader

    Oh yeah, the light in the garage, stairs, and bathroom thing! That's H.

    I bought a heavy duty plastic water bottle that I can reuse and refill - it's great, has a foldover snap lid that doesn't leak at all and a straw. Camelbak - check it out.

    We also compost, which is great because by next spring I have nice rich soil to put into my veggie garden.

    And I've slowly been getting rid of stuff through Freecycle and Craigslist as well - both are great sites and much easier than eBay in my opinion.

    Another way to keep pests out of your garden is to put a combination of dish soap and water in a spray bottle - make it just slimy enough that aphids and other bugs can't stick to the leaves of your tomatoes! Excellent stuff and virtually free and harmless too. Also, to keep slugs off your low lying veggies, put a bowl of beer in each corner of your garden - they slugs love the beer and will go to that instead of you delicious veggies. We divvy up the grass clippings between our compost heap and the garden to be used as mulch. I enjoy weeding, but my garden is too big to keep up with, so the clippings help. In the fall, you just turn them over into the earth - great compost.
  9. muttmeister

    muttmeister Well-Known Member

    It sounds like you all have great ideas. Some of those things I've been doing for years (I'm just naturally cheap but that's a good thing) but I did hear some new ones here. I did switch out almost all of my lightbulbs for the new flourescent ones. They are more expensive to start with but they last a long time and I really did notice a difference on my electric bill. Also, I bought some cheap timers to turn some of my stuff off and on. It's not as good as having it off altogether (the timer takes some electricity) but it's better than just leaving them on.
    The big problem here is the price of gas. I"ve definitely been making fewer trips but when you live in a rural area, everything is a lot of miles away and there is no public transportation and very little chance of finding somebody to share rides with (not enough people all going the same place. The nearest place to do big shopping is about 75 miles away. We used to go about once a week; now I try to keep it to once a month. And the nearest place any shopping at all (groceries, medications, etc,) is 8 miles. I've been riding my bike every day, trying to work up to the place where I can ride it to town (8 miles there and 8 miles back) but we are approaching summer and I don't know that that is do-able when the temps get up in the high 90s and above. We'll see.
  10. timer lady

    timer lady Queen of Hearts

    The lights thing is an issue for me as well.....

    The police have encourage every neighborhood to use outside lighting especially in the allies. I (by myself) installed day/dusk lights on the front of my house on on the garage. The lights go on & off with the level of light. It's helped a great deal.

    husband put a timer on the light in the garage because the tweedles left the lights on incessantly.
  11. muttmeister

    muttmeister Well-Known Member

    I have quite a bit of landscape lighting but it is all solar. It's not real bright but it would definitely discourage somebody from lurking. Again, the initial cost is not cheap but at least it doesn't add to your electric bill.
  12. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    Aren't the flourescent lights ugly though? I don't care how much energy they save, I'd sit in the dark before I'd sit in green light. I have boxes of them from when I tried them in the '90's and got rid of them all because I couldn't stand they way everything looked in that awful light. If I want to look that bad I'll go hang out at K-Mart without any makeup on.

    Our exterior lights are all dusk til dawn AND motion activated. We had a neighborhood safety meeting with the sherriff's office, and they told us that if the lights are on all of the time, oftentimes it just gives crooks and druggies light to work by. But if the light comes on when they walk into your area, it startles them and gets your attention so that you will look out the window and see what it is that made the lights go on.

    My neighbor's back porch lights shine in my bedroom window just so, between the shades and right into my eyes. If the lights went on when someone would walk by, I'd know it for sure and check it out. As it is, they have great light to break into their shed by.
  13. flutterbee

    flutterbee Guest

    The new fluorescents are great and aren't like the old ones at all. But, they have mercury in them so if you break one you have to do a special clean up and you really shouldn't just toss them in the trash. Imagine in 10 years 100 million mercury light bulbs sitting in landfills. The other problem is most areas don't have recycling places for them, but some stores that sell them have bins where you can drop them off.

    I pull weeds by hand. I only used pesticide on the monster anthill out by the tree. I am getting ready to switch over to vinegar and baking soda type things for cleaning. You can do anything with baking soda. :D It works really well in the litter boxes for odor control. Much better than even the Arm and Hammer litter box products and cheaper. We buy the big box of baking soda and mix it into the litter when we fill the boxes and add some every time we scoop them. Then leave the opened container sitting just behind them to absorb any other odors. Huge difference. Kitty litter is the one thing I won't skimp on. I always buy the same brand and it's one of the more expensive ones, but it works the best and I have a super sensitive sense of smell.

    I always price compare, buy store brand when I can (some products I just really don't like the store brand) and using coupons. Often the stores will have sales on the items that are also in the coupon section of the paper the same week so you can really save.

    My son used to come home from school at 3pm and turn both overhead lights on in the kitchen plus the overhead light in the living room. These are all ceiling fans so it's 4 bulbs each. And both of these rooms have huge picture windows in them. You don't need the lights on. I rarely use the overhead light in the living room anyway. I use the small lamp. So, I handed him the electric bill and told him to pay it. He's stopped doing that. Same with water.

    I've been watering lately around 8:50...just light enough to see. And the birds and one of the bunnies comes out and watch me. They'll gradually get closer until they're about 10 feet from me. It's very peaceful.

    There was an article recently on msnbc on when to buy organic when you're on a budget and can't afford to buy all of your produce organic. It tells which products you really should make the switch to. I'll see if I can find it.

    As far as the gas. Well, I have a 16 year old kid. He now has a job and will pay for his own gas. Cause he was killing me with that. I'll also be happy when he gets his own car (if his dad ever comes through) because mine has 90,000+ miles on it and it has to last.
  14. flutterbee

    flutterbee Guest

  15. crazymama30

    crazymama30 Active Member

    I use the second day bread store, or bread thrift store to get bread, bagels and buns at. I can get quite a bit there for much less than other places. I also shop the adds, and we use what is on sale
  16. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    We have been tightwads for years. i go to Wild Oats when I am in the city with husband and buy my spices in bulk. They are MUCH cheaper this way. I also by TVP, which I sub for meat in all our soups/tacos etc... Usuallly for about 1/2 the meat.

    Our electric coop is supposed to send out enough bulbs for EVERY fixture int he house next month. We haven't bought the new flourescents because this. They will even DELIVER them.

    We are running MUCH fewer errands.

    I need to redo the flooring in the hallways, the dog had accidents on them. I am going to buy carpet flooring squares tehy pulled out of our library when redoing the floors = it will be $1 for and 18 inch square of industrial, barely used flooring. Then I only need the contact adhesive (like post it glue!) to put them down. they can be pulled up at any time if something happens. And they look very nice.

    I strongly encourage you to haunt the used bookstores, or ebay or wherever for The Tightwad Gazette. There are 3 indiv volumes, or a book that has ALL of every one of the 3 volumes in one. It retailed for $19.99 4 years ago. I had to replace 2 of the books due to long hard use.

    This book has hints/tips for most everything. And the best granola recipe (with my adjustments, of course!!).

    The Make a Mix cookbook by Eliason, et al is also a great resource. The bread mix is wonderful in the bread maker, and saves SOOO much $$$.

    I usually take 1 day every 2 or 3 weeks, health permitting, and go to the city with husband. I can run my errands there, avoid the small town pricing (they KNOW you don't have many choices) and we would spend the gas to get there anyway. AND all but our primary docs are there. The kids love to just curl up in the library, so any extra time is no problem - there is one just a mile from the office.
  17. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    We haven't bought spices in a jar in decades! Why pay $5 for something you can get for 40 cents and put in the jar yourself?
  18. Wiped Out

    Wiped Out Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Lots of great ideas. We need to start implementing lots of these. I wish we had better public transportation in our city because the gas is killing us. We are paying well over $100.00 a week in gas. I've seriously thought about transferring to a school closer to home but it won't really be an option for awhile!
  19. hearts and roses

    hearts and roses Mind Reader

    Excellent book!!!
  20. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member

    Hmmm...let's see.

    - We buy old books from the library, when they're doing their annual clearance sale.
    - Planted a vegetable garden, so that we don't have to spend so much on produce
    - I'm continuing to work at home as much as possible, to avoid driving that giant truck around any more than we have to.
    - Use baking soda and vinegar for a lot of household cleaning.
    - For that matter, use baking soda as a tooth whitener rather than getting those expensive kits

    I saw on TV a while ago about a group of friends organizing a clothing swap. Everyone goes through their closet and fills up a bag with clothes they don't wear anymore, for whatever reason (don't fit, bored with the style, or whatever). Everyone meets at a central location, clothes are spread out neatly (on hangers if possible). And then everyone goes "shopping". Everyone has the opportunity to take a certain number of items, and there is no charge. A great way to freshen up your wardrobe, and free.