I said I would post more about saving money so here we go. There are lots of painless ways to save a little here and a little there but it all adds up fairly quickly. I know a bunch of ya'll already do most of this stuff but just because I feel like it I'll list off a few things here.
Never ever use the 'recommended' amount of anything. I can buy a bottle of fabric softener and make it last at least twice as many loads (usually a bunch more) than the bottle says it will. We were on a downy kick there for awhile, the bottle said it would last for 52 loads....long about the 4th bottle the kids decided to turn it into a game and made a mark on the jug every time I used it....we ended up getting 247 loads out of that bottle. Laundry detergent is the same way....I use a little less than 1/4 of the recommended amount.
Wash the clothes in cold water and rinse in cold water.....the colors won't fade as much and they really do get just as clean as they do in the warm water. The only reason for washing clothes in warm is to get the soap to dissolve....I just keep a quart jar by the washer and fill it half full of hot water and throw my soap in there then dump that into the washer.
If you can bear to do it you can save a gob of money by hanging your clothes out on the line to dry instead of running the dryer. If you really think that it is just a grotesque amount of manual labor you can still save a bit of money by running the clothes through an extra spin in the washer before you toss them into the 220 volt energy bill murderer.
Don't waste your money on fancy schmancy stain removers either. I took an empty spray bottle and added 1/4 cup of dish soap (use a clear one or dawn, some of the others stain) you can use laundry soap instead of dish liquid but I've had better results with the dish liquid, 1/4 cup of alcohol and filled it the rest of the way with water. When someone here takes off something that has a potential stain we spray it with that, rub a little and toss it in the laundry bucket til wash day.
When I get a bunch of stuff that just looks extra grungy, dingy, or has a stain that I think I might have a really hard time with I splurge on a washer full of hot water (if the fabric can take it) a full amount of Biz bleach and a full amount of laundry soap.....let that all sit in the washer overnight or in a bucket up to two days then wash as usual and dry. The only stain I have ever had that not work on was this really weird kind of paint that Troy used to work with....and I've never had it to fade the colors either.
The same principle applies to kitchen cleaning products as laundry. The people who make up those instructions are in it for the money....it benefits them to tell you to use more than you actually need ( think shampoo, rinse, repeat....did they really think no one would ever catch on?) I used to use a hand soap pump dispenser for the kids to add dish soap to the sink, otherwise they would just stand there with the bottle upside down and squeeze until they got bored. I use alot less dishwasher soap than they say to....I only fill one cup about 3/4 full and put a couple of tablespoons of baking soda in the other one.
You can use a pump spray bottle and put oil in it to oil pans with. You will use less oil and save yourself the money and chemical exposure over the nasty stuff in the can.
Use your leftovers!!!! It might take a little creative thinking but that is still good food. If you have an aversion to eating what you have already served one time, then turn it into something else. Leftover veggies can be frozen for soups or to put in pot pies or casseroles.....I'll post some recipes soon but just envision those leftover peas and carrots as nickels and dimes as you see them going into the garbage....maybe that will at least make some folks pause before they throw out perfectly good food. Leftover almost anything can be turned into something else good to eat. We don't buy lunchmeat or other lunch type stuff, we all eat leftovers for lunch. I do occasionally make a lunch dish for us but it is always something that I can cook for less than $2 and feed us all plenty...today I made stir fried rice with peas and carrots (the rice and veggies were leftover) I added a can of tuna and lots of butter....we ate it for lunch and the two servings that were left will go to work with Troy for him to eat this week, so for 50 cents I fed all of us more than once.
When you turn the oven on to bake something make it worth the money and bake an oven full of stuff all at the same time. When I have meat in the oven I also have rolls and a cake or cobbler and more often than not I'll have a loaf or two of bread to go in too. This summer the kids and I are going to experiment with a solar oven....there are plenty of plans for building them to be had for free on the web and you can't beat free for cooking energy.
One of the biggest money wasters on the grocery bill is ready to eat cereal....I may as well paint myself green and go by grinch for saying it but it is truly a horrible waste. ( I secretly am in love with Lucky Charms but shhhhh) It is best reserved on the grocery budget for a snack food or treat. My three kids can easily eat an entire box of cereal for breakfast and I just thought it was plain crazy to spend $2 or $3 a day for 3 people to eat one meal and then come crying hungry an hour later because their sugar buzz was shot and they needed something real to fill up on. We started making our own version of instant oatmeal and that seems to work out really well..... in a big canister mix up a container of the quick cooking oats, 1 to 1 1/2 cups of brown sugar, 1 cup of instant milk powder and shake til it's mixed up. Leave a measuring cup in the canister for the kids to use and it's one cup of mix to 3/4 cup of boiling water from the tea kettle (more water for creamier oats or less if you like it lumpy)....the kids can add raisins or apple chunks, or a small amount of syrup or cinnamon, Jared has even been known to throw a glob of peanut butter in his but then he's kind of weird in the mornings. They are rarely hungry before lunch and mornings go a lot smoother now....not to mention that we don't have fights over who gets the last bowl of the sugary junk or the special toy surprise anymore either. Sometimes me and Tae will spend an afternoon cooking pancakes or waffles too and they can heat those up for breakfast really easily. Jared will make himself a nuclear scrambled egg and turn that into a breakfast sandwich sometimes but no one else is that energetic before food in the morning.
Odds and ends:
You can save yourself a lot of money shopping by using the pantry principle....make a list of the things you need to have on hand all the time. Include everything from cleaning supplies to cold medicines to toilet paper and shampoo and groceries. Print out a master list of these things and before your shopping trips or trips out of the house to do errands take that extra minute or two and check the cabinets and closets and diaper bags and school supplies and all that jazz and make sure you get what you need when you are out an about. You'll save not only the extra money that gets dropped at the store just because you had to make the unexpected unplanned trip but you'll save the gas money you would have spent running back and forth for the one or two little items that would only have cost a buck or two on their own. You'll also save yourself the time and frustration of having to drag out all the kids and buckle everyone in and make sure they all have on shoes and matching socks and hair combed and respectable looking when they would all have been just as content playing at home in their mismatched socks.
Turn the heat down at night. Most of us sleep better if the room is a bit cooler than it is during the day because our body temperatures naturally drop when we are sleeping. I'm fortunate enough to have a hubby who doesn't mind getting up and turning the heater up a bit and then waking up the rest of the family but once upon a time we had wood heat and hubby wasn't home at wake up time so I had to drag my sleepy self out of my warm cozy comforter covered bed and trudge down to the freezing cold basement to start a fire before I woke the kids up so I really appreciate him getting up and warming up the house for us. It will save a bunch of money for you though to turn your heat down at night even if it's only a few degrees.
Combine trips to save on gas money. If you shop on Wednesday try to do your banking and all the rest of your errands on that day too. Fewer trips mean less gas, but also less wear and tear on the vehicle which means that tires need replaced less often, oil changes are less frequent (don't buy into the every three months no matter what nonsense) etc. It also means that you are less likely to run out of time to cook a meal and cave in to the urge to splurge on take out or delivery.
Give up soda!!!! A bottle of pop will cost you about a buck, but when you stop and think of what the phosphoric acid in the soda is doing to your teeth and bones that buck multiplies really quickly. Diet soda is every bit as bad for you as regular if not worse....the sugar is the least of the enemies in that can or bottle.
There, I promised to post more about saving money and I did. I also dared everyone to do at least 5 things this week to save money and then to give half of what they saved to missions this Sunday. Now I dare you to let me know what you are doing to save money!! Either email me or leave a comment (if blogger will let you). My curiosity will be killing me. I'll post this week about what new stuff we are going to do to save money around here.