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What do you reuse?

March 8th, 2020 at 08:04 pm

I really like the show "Home Town" on HGTV. I guess one reason is the hosts seem like nice people. But another reason is they work with a variety of budgets. And both Erin and Ben seem to be the kind to not only use new stuff, but reuse and repurpose other things. I like watching that kind of thing and it seems I am spending a lot of time looking for ways to do just that.

As many of you know, I belong to a knitting group at my church where we loom knit hats and scarves and give to schools and other non profits in our area. We gave to 4 schools last year as well as the hospital for the preemies, and then a bunch of baby hats for one of the clinics here in town as well as a social services group and a woman's shelter. One of the things I do with the smaller bits of yarn is crochet dish cloths and I made and donated 125 of them to a local food pantry.

Besides that, I've been making those market bags and giving those away to my friends as a way to use up bigger pieces of yarn that there isn't enough for a scarf or hat. It keeps me busy (and off the streets LOL). Seriously, I just like making sure I can use up the things we have.

I saw on Pinterest how to fold newspapers and make bags so I've made a few of those too. Our comics section is printed on heavier paper and I'm thinking these would make great "gift" bags for thinner things.

I recycle what I can, but I also reuse as much stuff as I can. I seem to have a fetish for glass jars; I have all different shapes and sizes. I like them for storage as well as for leftovers. Plus we won't even mention my love affair with canning jars.

I make my own laundry detergent and have been using the same plastic jug to store it in. I figure I'm saving money as well as not contributing to using more plastic bottles. I also have smaller glass jars with some of the extra laundry detergent in it.

We eat a lot of chicken around here and one thing I do is pound the chicken breasts to tenderize them and then flour them. I hate using a new bag each time, and read a suggestion about using a bread bag. What a great idea. Granted, it is still using plastic, but I figure using them for something else helps.

I'm collecting those mesh bags that fruit and vegetables come in to make a scrubby. I don't have enough yet to make a decent one.

I reuse envelopes that mail comes in. Some I make lists on, and some I just use to store things in. We collect cancelled postage stamps for a mission at my church so I keep an envelope with those in it. We also collect coupons from the paper inserts to send to some military folks and I use one of those reply envelopes for those.

For years I've used cloth napkins and I go through a ton of kitchen towels. I do use paper towels for stuff like raw meat, but I have cut down on the paper towel use a lot. Most of my friends as well as my hubby know if they want to give me something for Christmas or birthday, a kitchen towel is appreciated.

I continue to search for ways to reuse things. We shop at thrift stores a lot for things. Most of my kitchen dishes and plates were bought preowned. I figure I'm saving money not only by doing that, but also by not using one use items like paper plates. I have a couple of cast iron skillets that I use frequently. I have one of those splatter ware lidded pans that is oblong that I use for a lot of baking and cooking. It was my grandmother's.

So, what do you you reuse or repurpose to help save money as well as our environment?

Doing What I Can

March 1st, 2020 at 11:30 pm

A friend and I recently were discussing ways we could cut more of our plastic consumption. I know we will never be able to totally forego it, but we figure anything we can do to help the environment helps. In an earlier post I talked about making bags. I have sewn a bunch of grocery bags for us and I even made some for some friends to use as well. And recently I have been knit looming some "market bags" that I will use for produce as well as gift bags.

I was thinking about my coffee maker. I use paper filters. Now, I know I'm going to offend some coffee experts, but I don't use a new filter each time. I'm the only one who drinks the stuff and I don't make a full pot each time. I put the coffee grounds on our garden, but throw away the filter. I thought, I wonder if there is such a thing as a reusable coffee filter out there for my machine.

There is and I bought one yesterday. I thought about sewing some, but I didn't have any muslin, so I figured maybe this would be the best bet and I can rinse it out without having to run it through a washer and dryer.

Speaking of which, I make my own laundry detergent. I've been using the same old vinegar bottle for years. It's scary how much water is really in laundry detergent. I also make my own knock off of Febreze.

I try to reuse any jars I get besides my canning ones. I use a ton of canning jars not only for canning but for other food storage. I have some Pyrex that is probably older than I am and cook and store things in them.

My friend wants to learn how to make bags. We are challenging each other to come up with ways to reduce our plastic. I was very careful with a plastic bag I had in the freezer with tomatoes. I washed it out and it looks like I can use it again. Hopefully my doing what I can will also save me some money!

Using up, making do

February 23rd, 2020 at 09:17 pm

I've been trying to use up stuff from the freezer and pantry and only buying things we use each week like milk, eggs, fresh fruit, and bread. I know it has made a big difference in our past few grocery bills plus we are using what we already had. Once a week it is what I call buffet night where we have a little of this and little of that from previous meals. I just hate to see food go to waste so it's a good way to clean out the fridge.

Although we don't live in a flood plain, we bought flood insurance last year and this year's premium came due. So, I'm trying to cut back on spending a little bit on other stuff so it doesn't make our checkbook balance go down far too much. DH read that so many places have had floods that have never had the problem before and regular home owner's insurance doesn't cover it. I really feel insurance poor some days, but hopefully we will never have to use any of it.

I continue to work on hats and scarves for my church's knitting group. We haven't been able to meet for the past couple of months because every time we have a meeting planned, we've gotten snow or ice. So, I work on stuff at home. Another church gave us a bunch of crochet cotton so a couple of us are also making dish cloths. I made 125 of them last year to donate to a local food pantry for them to put on their line for people to take if they wanted them. I used leftover yarn for them and someone had given me some crochet cotton too. Hopefully with the three of us making them, we can have about 300 made for Christmas baskets this year. I know it isn't a big thing, but a new dishcloth is kind of nice.

I had purchased some yarn and it is very thin. My fault -- I didn't look closely. It would take three strands to make a hat or scarf. So, I've sort of put it to the side. Well, I was browsing Pinterest which I swear is dangerous. I saw a knitting loom pattern to make a market bag which is one that isn't totally solid. So, I followed the pattern and have made two, using up this thinner yarn. I am thinking maybe I can make these for gifts to add to packages for Christmas. They go quickly and don't take a lot of storage so maybe this is something someone could use. Plus, another use for the yarn.

I did crochet myself a doily out of some crochet thread I had purchased a few years ago at at thrift store. I have made 4 book marks out of the remainder of the thread. One more thing I used up.

And an update: A couple of weekends ago I talked about the neighbor girl and her mom letting her play sports with a 103.5 fever. Sadly, the girl wound up in the hospital for almost a week not only because of the fever, but she couldn't move her arms and legs and ached all over. She's home now, but I can't even imagine the pain and expense that caused. Plus, the fact she could have infected everyone else she came in contact with.

Are there new and improved ways to save money?

January 19th, 2020 at 08:34 pm

Every so often, I try to find different ways to save money. Not that I'm an expert, but after awhile, so many articles seem to say the same thing over and over. I do many of them. There are a couple I won't. One is we don't plan to give up cable. My husband doesn't drink, smoke, golf, gamble, or do any of these things that cost lots of money. He enjoys television and the shows that are on cable. I figure that is is entertainment and we can afford it. We rarely if ever go to a movie or sports event. So, we aren't spending money on those things.

But getting back to my original thought, every so often I type into Pinterest and Google and read the articles. I do a lot of the things.

So, is saving money just doing the same things? Yeah, I know, it is a rhetorical question. For everyone it is a different thing on how they save. I'm certainly not going to do some of the extreme things that were on shows a couple of years back.

So, what do you think? Is there really nothing new about finding ways to save money?

$7.16

January 16th, 2020 at 09:57 pm

Drum roll please... that's the big total of the pennies I just counted. We will be taking them to the credit union at some point and stashing them in the vacation fund.

On its own, it wouldn't take us very far, but little drips and drabs all add up. I did find three wheat pennies in the total and I looked them up. They might be worth a little more than face value and you can bet I'll be walking over to the pawn shop when we go someplace near it for something else and see what they give me. I won't be making a separate trip, but hey, even if they give us 15 cents for each one, that's a pretty decent return. I looked them up on line and they said 15 cents to $4. I figure the $4 is for mint condition. Believe me, they are not mint condition. This is not included in the total.

I remember reading stories where people would save their change for years and then make a big purchase. I remember locally one guy bought his new pick up truck with quarters...he had them saved in buckets at home. Now days, I'd be afraid to keep that kind of money at home sitting out. People tend to think it is OK to break in and steal stuff, although lugging around buckets of quarters wouldn't be easy. Perhaps that's a deterrent.

I realize most of society prefers using credit cards and their phones for purchasing stuff. I bought a prescription today and my copay was $6.01. I paid cash simply because I didn't want to put that on my credit card. Guess I'm old fashioned.

As I was sitting there putting the pennies in stacks of ten, I thought most kids won't have the pleasure of counting out pennies, estimating how much they have before, and realizing what they counted. This amount isn't going to make or break us, but it is just a simple way to save a few bucks here and there and then put it in a designated account.

We are fortunate to have a credit union that accepts coins. We don't have to roll them, just bring them in. I guess I'm weird because I want an idea of how much we have.

After all, Ben Franklin would be proud of us.

Birthday Musings and Benefits

January 5th, 2020 at 07:58 pm

Today is my birthday. I"m 59. I'm sitting here thinking I had no idea what my life would turn out to be and how incredibly blessed I am.

DH is going to treat me to a supper tonight at a restaurant we rarely frequent. I'm looking forward to it. Yesterday we went shopping. Clothes shopping is not something I enjoy, but did find a few things that fit that I liked. That was my birthday.

I don't go into detail about our investments and such, but growing up, we didn't have much. My folks worked hard, but most of the jobs didn't pay squat. When I started out, I worked two or three jobs to make ends meet until I could resort to one. My dad constantly drilled into me, get an education and if someone offers to teach you something, learn it gladly. All these things paid off for me. I look at some of the people I went to high school with and they had better opportunities and many didn't take advantage of them. I don't want that to sound like a snob, because I don't mean for it to be that way. Just that some had parents who would have paid for them to go to college and they didn't, and now complain they don't make enough money or that life is unfair. Anyway, we are comfortable. I can basically buy whatever I want and as I grow older, there isn't really a whole lot I honestly want because I have so much now.

One of my friends gave me water color pencils and a book to journal and color in as I read the Psalms daily. Neither of these things I would have purchased for myself, but I'm sitting here thinking, what a thoughtful gift and I'm going to enjoy using these items.

Amber was talking about her credit cash back and I recently had $150 credit cash back on my credit card. I was waiting to get it up to a decent amount and then applied it to the bill. I'm getting ready to use some Ibotta credit at Kohls to buy some new sheets to replace some that have worn out. I was thinking about how old these sheets were and I know one set has to be at least 10 years old. I think we got our money's worth out of them. The other set I'm not sure and I've mended them a couple of times, but the stuff keeps ripping out. I'm using one of the sheets as a cover for DH's chair when he comes in all dirty and sweaty from working in the yard so he can sit and rest before going back out. There' something exciting about cashing in these items that are found money. Like CB I pay off our credit cards each month so we don't owe any interest. I prefer making money instead of giving it to credit card companies.

Having read LivingAlmostLarge's entry about Saving Advice folks being friends as we share our ups and downs, how exactly correct that is. I feel like I have shared many things with so many of you. What a blessing.

Well, I've probably written more than I should, so I think you'll find me coloring!

It's been awhile

December 15th, 2019 at 09:54 pm

I haven't blogged too much lately. I guess I haven't had much to share. I've tried to keep up with reading the blogs.

Like many of you have posted, my Christmas shopping is finished. In fact, I have purchased some craft kits to start on things for next Christmas. I gave a lot of canned items away as well. My Christmas cards have been sent. I do have a little more baking to do, but not a great amount. I always give some sweet breads to some of DH's former coworkers and I'd like to do that this week. For my birthday last January, a friend gave me some holiday ceramic loaf pans because she knows I like to do that.

We had our Christmas bazaar at my church last weekend. I baked lots of cookies and some sweet breads for it as well as made a few things to donate to sell. This one of two fundraisers for our ladies' guild and after expenses, profits are used for missions both locally and worldwide. I do the publicity and I think I have figured out the best ways to get free PR.

On the financial front, we seem to be doing OK. We have a Christmas Club account that we put money in each month and then in November, draw it out and use it for Christmas. So, Christmas is paid for and we won't owe. I was glad to see our investments showed an improvement for the month of November. Like Disney Steve wrote when he said theirs reached over a million, it doesn't change anything. Same with us. We continue our frugal ways. We had a CD come due and our financial guy called us and wanted to know if we wanted some of the money to spend and I said that I knew he had to ask us, but no, what did we need? He laughed and said he wished more of his clients were like us. He doesn't get rich off of us, but I'm sure every little bit helps. He finds better interest rates than what we can get around here and at this point, we aren't ready to do online investing. We prefer brick and mortar banks.

Just about every Friday we hit the thrift stores. We don't usually buy a lot. I have a couple of people who have given me wish lists of things to look for and that's something we do. Well, just want to report I was the big spender last Friday. My total was $1.62 and tax beating DH's total of 40 cents.

It has started snowing and the weather forecast is calling for 4-7 inches. I'm not thrilled. I hate shoveling snow and in a subdivision full of kids, apparently none of them want to make any extra money. We keep some cash on hand just in case we would find someone to shovel when it gets deep.

Hope you all have a wonderful full week before Christmas.

111 Books and counting

October 4th, 2019 at 07:59 pm

I just finished John Grisham's "The Reckoning" and it is the 111th book I've read so far this year. I enjoy Grisham's court novels and this one did not disappoint. I am not going to spoil the story, but it showed how some people's decisions can effect others even when they don't think it will.

I think that is true in real life as well. How many of us had been involved in an auto accident through no fault of our own?

I joined Goodreads awhile ago and it suggests you set a goal for the year. I have to chuckle about it. My goal was 100 and I met it. They sent me an email last week and said I should check some of my friends' posts for encouragement. Really?!? I surpassed my goal.

Not a whole lot to report money wise. We did hit the thrift stores and I found 4 blouses that were like new and a new kitchen towel. The blouses were marked $4, $5, $5, and $6 and they were name brand, and when I took it to the cashier, she recognized us since we come in about every week, and said, I'm marking them all $4. That was a nice surprise. The kitchen towel has a goofy looking turkey on it and although I didn't need it, I wanted it to hang on my stove's handle. It amused me and cost a buck and tax. This thrift store is kind of high end so I imagine the towel was probably more expensive than what I paid for it.

I will be happy when the city finishes the parking lot at the library. Right now it is a pain to get in because there is little to no parking. I will be happy to get more books and not struggle to find a parking place. I see where John Grisham has a new one coming out. I liked his page on Facebook and I see where he left one of his books in one of those "free little libraries" in one of the cities he was traveling to. I bet someone got a nice surprise. Do you have a favorite author? He is one of mine, but I also like some of the cozy mystery authors like Laura Childs, Amanda Fluke, and Diana Mott Davidson.

Potpourri

March 18th, 2019 at 02:58 pm

First, I want to thank everyone who responded about my last entry. I appreciate the support. I guess I'm sensitive, but it really bothers me when someone posts hurtful comments. One thing I wonder is, does this person or persons realize that those of us who wrote the blog can see their email? And if so, do they know you can research who they are by the email? Anyway, I appreciate the support of those of you who kindly responded.

It was an expensive week last week. My headlight went out and knowing how car places work, we made an appointment to get it replaced. I guess with modern cars, you almost have to take the darn thing apart to get to the headlight. It was high density and the cost was $455 for the very expensive bulb and the hour and a half it took to replace it. Yikes! We had the money in savings so that wasn't the case, but it sure is hard to part with it. A friend teased me I could have just opened the car window and used a flashlight. Now, that would have been a sight, and I'm sure the police would not have found that a bit amusing.

Also in the expenses was the home care insurance policy for DH. Fortunately we have not had to use it, but It seems the spring is fraught with lots of insurance since we have homeowner's, home care, flood, and then both car insurances coming due. Again, we have the money, but it is tough seeing it go out at such a fast pace.

We did get our taxes done. We didn't have to pay either the feds or the state, but not sure about next year. I say this every year, but I honestly feel like if you live below your means and you save and are honest, the tax laws really zing you.

One thing that wasn't as expensive was groceries. We bought some fresh fruit and vegetables and some milk, but we ate from the freezer and pantry which helped a lot. We tend to have a couple of weeks of large grocery bills and then a couple of weeks of cheaper ones. I like it when Kroger has a buy one get one free when it comes to meat because I take advantage of it and then freeze one for later consumption. Guess it evens out. Tonight I'm going to use some chicken and I'm going to trim it and use it and some chicken I have in the freezer that I did the same with and make some chicken broth. I like keeping it on hand to make chicken and noodles as well as soups.

DH and I continue to make good use of the library. I have read 24 books so far in 2019. According to the library receipt, I have "saved" $855.27 by using the library. It looks good at least. I know we get our tax money's worth out of the library anyway.

It looks like spring is finally coming here in Central Illinois. It has been a harsh winter. DH spent part of the weekend working in the yard cutting back stuff that he didn't get to in the fall. He said all the garlic he planted is starting to come up and some of the herbs that come back each year are showing they want to come back. Yay! I'm ready for homegrown stuff. I know we have enjoyed using the stuff I canned this winter.

Hope you have a delightful week and can find some economical ways in your days!