Friday, July 25, 2008

Ten Random Things We Do on the Cheap

Sorry if this bores you to tears. There aren't any earth-shaking new tricks here, I am just jotting these down as motivation for myself to stay on track with our budget. Today is payday, and normally I would go out and buy whatever I've been coveting for the last week. I can't do that anymore, as our priorities have realigned. You get to read about it.

1. We don't buy (very many) commercial cleaning products. It's been said before, but vinegar and baking soda make perfectly reasonable scrubbers and disinfectants. Also, your 7 year old could make a volcano out of them if he wants! We add lavender or tea tree essential oils when we're cleaning the bathroom for the extra disinfectant power, and the delicious smell. The best part is that none of these things are carcinogens.

2. We (try really hard to) create a weekly menu, based on the food we have hoarded in our pantry, and stick to it. Lucky for us, I'm a complete freak about having a trillion different grains on hand, so at any given time we could cook up a barley pilaf, falafel, spanish rice, couscous, split pea soup, tabbouleh, polenta, or any combination thereof.

3. Lawnboy always packs leftovers for his lunch the next day. And sometimes the day after that. And the day after that, too. We have a big freezer, so when I cook for an army, we freeze the leftovers. I, on the other hand, get totally bored with food and can't eat the same thing day in and day out, and I usually resort to buying Lean Cuisines. I'm embarassed to admit that, but it's true. I get them on sale and use coupons.

4. We garden. A lot. There are fruit trees and bushes in our yard, too. We have pears, apples and blueberries. Next year, I'm hoping to add hardy kiwi to that mix. Oh, and most importantly, we eat the stuff we grow. And if we grow too much, we share with our friends. I'm bringing two heads of lettuce to work today for that reason. I should really bring kale too, but we seem to be the only ones who eat that weird stuff.

5. You might infer from the last post, we don't use our clothes dryer in the summer. Our clothes last longer, we don't use nearly as much electricity, and the sheets smell so good. Crunchy towels aren't my favorite thing, but you get used to it after a while.

6. Speaking of towels, we reuse ours instead of washing them after every bath. I go through 2 or 3 towels a week, which saves on laundry, time as well as money.

7. We wash and reuse our plastic ziplock bags until they have holes in them. I've been known to rescue bags that belong to friends/family, before they hit the trash. I draw the line there though. No dumpster diving for baggies for me.

8. We don't have cable t.v. We have the cheapest Netflix subscription, which stands in nicely for the shows we miss by not buying cable. Bonus - we only watch the shows we really want to see, skip the commercials, and best yet, we don't spend nearly as much time watching t.v. anymore.

9. We used to eat out at least once per week. We've whittled this down to once or twice a month. I'm not gonna lie to you - this is my least favorite strategy. It is fun to have friends over and cook for them, though. Having friends over means we're motivated to really clean our house, too.

10. We prioritize, and the things we really want get bumped to the top of the list, so we don't feel deprived all the time.

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