Archive for the ‘Saving money’ Tag

That is all well and good but how does one save money?   Leave a comment

So, last week “how does a stay at home mum stay at home” came up.

As it so happens I’ve been dirt poor most of my life, so I know a few things about saving money. I’ll share a few now. Don’t worry, there are more.

  • Research. Don’t just read my blog. Read everyone’s blog.
  • Budget. Know where your money is going and how much you have to spend. If you have trouble staying on budget in the supermarket, take cash only. Then you won’t have a choice.
  • Budget with what you already have where possible, not what you expect to have.
  • Credit cards are for a credit rating. Only spend what you have in your bank account or on your person. Pay it off ASAP. Carried balance does not increase your rating. On time payments do.
  • Put up curtains; energy saving blackout curtains. In the summer they keep the heat of the day out, and in the winter they keep the warmth of your home in. No money? Hang summer sheets up in the winter. They’re light and they’ll help.
  • Keep summer temperatures as high as you can and winter temps as low.
  • Maintain these temps; don’t have them just when you are around. The energy it takes to maintain is far less than it is to create.
  • Always cook multiple things in the oven if you can; it takes a lot of energy to get it hot – but again, not as much to maintain that heat. Might as well only heat it up once.In fact not just in the oven; whenever possible cook things together.
  • It is cheaper to steam veg over pasta than cook it separately. So invest in a steam basket.
  • Keep your hot water a 140F/60C or just above. It’s the lowest you can go and still sanitize.
  • Cool wash when possible if you own your washing machine. It saves a lot of hot water, and most things will come out in a cool (40C) wash.
  • Line dry. Use a clothes horse inside in winter. It is cheaper than your dryer.
  • Walking is very low cost, and good for you. 20 minutes is not a long walk if you have a healthy body.
  • Second hand holds no shame; boot sales, garage sales, second hand shops, craigslistgumtree and freecycle are all good resources. Use them!
  • Plan your meals out.
    • Know how many calories you and your family need – this will take some time to tweek correctly because everyone is different – and plan your meals around this, sufficient protein, and 5 portions of fruit and veg AT LEAST. Erring on the side of veg, but fruit still matters. 1/2 cup is a portion.
    • Based on age and activity levels and age, younger needs more  calories and protein as do more active people, and nursing mothers. My husband needs about 4000 calories and umpteen thousand proteins because of his job, or his ribs start showing. I need closer to 2000 calories and 50g of protein.
    • Do not force anyone to finish their plate. I know it seems wasteful but you encourage overeating and excess hunger by overstretching the stomach.
    • Use smaller plates to control portion size better.
    • Slightly too much is better than too little; as long as no-one is overeating on any one meal you can slowly reduce your amounts.
    • Keep some meals you made in the freezer; that way on days where you can’t or don’t want to cook you have a microwavable out.
  • Buy your meals with this in mind. Calculate price based on what you want the items for – weight, grams of protein, calories. Freeze what you are not going to use.
  • Freeze what you didn’t use: leftovers are food, too.
  • If fact, even fat is leftovers – you can cook with it. Keep it refrigerated and be aware that chicken fat can carry salmonella.
  • Organic is out of your price range, make peace with it.
  • Eating out and ordering in are not a thing anymore. Make peace with that, too. If you need to create or buy microwave meals to have for sick days. Tinned soup also fills this roll. Beware the BPA.
  • Eggs are good for you.
  • Protein is usually your highest food cost. You can cut it by couponing, sales, bulk buying, or showing up when the daily switching out of old stock happens and buying the freshly marked down food.
  • Dried beans are, sadly (for us meat lovers, anyway), cheaper than meat.
  • Stock is made by simmering your off cuts with a little white vinegar. It makes good flavouring, soup base, and gravy. Do not use tomato stems or rhubarb leaves.
  • Peas pudding is made by boiling dried split peas in  a cloth in stock; traditionally ham or bacon water, but any stock works. It is quite good.
  • If you have pets, costco memberships pay for themselves in cat litter or dog food.
  • Always be on the lookout for cheaper versions. Name brand medicines, for instance, do not work better than generics. Check out the ingredients lists on your food and decide how much cheaper you can live with.
  • If you can make it instead of buying it, do so.
  • Consider whether or not everything on your list is *really* a necessity.
  • Write down what you spend. Electronic updates on your cards will *not* instantly update.
  • Something to know about sell by, use by, and expiry dates: No health body governs them. They are set by manufacturers. Often with good reason, but often a little earlier than they need to be. Bread is, for instance, only good for a few days. Honey, however, lasts forever. Check items before you throw them out…. and before you use them.
  • Unplug or switch off at the mains any electronics not in use.
  • Switch off lights.
  • Use energy saving bulbs; LEDs if you can afford them – traditional energy savers release mercury if broken.
  • Use your laptop or phone instead of your desktop when you can. They use less power.
  • Netflix is cheaper than cable.
    • Amazon prime is cheaper than netflix.
    • Hulu is free (or BBC Iplayer, if you happen to be in the UK)
  • Your library has a lot of resources for entertainment… Use them! An audiobook can be a great family activity.
  • Take a look at your phone plan. How much are you using, how much do you need to use? Skype, for instance, offers excellent flat rate internet calling subscriptions. Would that make it cheaper?
  • You do not need a smart phone if the data plan is hurting you. I know. I know. It hurts.
  • Magazine subs and newspaper subs aren’t worth what they cost unless you are extreme couponing, and your magazine allows for this.
  • Speaking of which: Unless it’s free, only buy it if you were going to buy it anyway, stock up on when it is on sale, or it can replace something you would already buy. Even if you have a coupon.
  • You would be amazed what you can make at home; google ‘baking soda shampoo‘ and ‘home made deodorant‘.
  • You can also make a great cleaner from vinegar with citrus peels left in it for two weeks.
  • Failing that, hydrogen peroxide is near as effective as bleach on surfaces – and you can get it in the dollar store! It’s also safe for use around children, which bleach is not.
  • If you have babies, use cloth nappies. I recomend also using a specific detergent like ‘rockin’ green’, but otherwise they’re STILL cheaper. $25 size changing daiper good from 7lbs to 30lbs +washing… or $25 for what, a few days? It really does stack in your favour quickly. The name brand rule? That does not apply here. Some off brands are good – individual etsy sellers can be great… but cut price on eBay will cost you in the long run.
  • On this subject, with babies, breastfeed! Don’t just breastfeed, *full term breastfeed*. Your milk is virtually free, and milk has something like a 98% energy transfer. It’s the most efficient food known to man. Your gut works better than your child’s will until quite late in their development. The milk top-up will save you a lot in groceries *and* they will be healthier. Don’t worry, they won’t breastfeed in to college – most children stop breastfeeding on their own between 2 1/2 and 4.
  • Babywearing is cheaper than a stroller, and allows you to use a trolley or stroller to carry shopping if your local stores are within walking distance. Ergonomic devices start around $30 for an infanto mei tai, and many ring slings are available at a similar price form individual sellers…  there are also lots of different kinds of carriers you can make quite cheaply if you would rather. Personally I also find it easier to travel with a baby strapped to my chest than lugging around a stroller.
  • Baby led weaning. It’s a thing. It’s a thing in which you don’t feed your baby expensive mush, you give them little-finger chunks of whole food to eat as best they can. The goal of early weaning is not to get the calories of the food – it is to get your infant used to taste, texture, and chewing. Yes, even toothless infants. Breastmilk provides everything an infant needs, and formula is still better than whole foods at this stage. Just let them play with the food and feed themselves. No purees required. Just make sure the food is small and soft (steamed carrot, ripe pear) enough that they don’t choke! Gagging is normal. Know how to react to an infant choking, regardless of how you wean.
  • A final point on children. You don’t need fancy gear, and you don’t need to get them fancy toys. Children are creative, and so too can you be. Who needs a highchair, you can have a picnic on the floor with a towel. Who needs an electronic car, you’ve got a box and markers! They won’t always love this, especially as they get older, but there are far, far worse things. Also, cardboard toys can be pretty cool if you plan well.

Well, that was today’s info-dump. Nothing too out there, I am sure, but there’s the basics. There are two more points, however, that will help you be successful.

Do not spend windfall money as soon as you get it. If you NEED things, get them. Otherwise SAVE THE MONEY. Having money in a savings account means the difference between freaking out when your microwave breaks and saying ‘it’s ok, we can handle this’. It’s unpaid sick leave. It’s peace of mind. You want at least 3 months rent and food if you can save it.

That said… keep a slush fund in your budget. Have money for small things. For silly things. Not much. But if you don’t, you’re going to start feeling trapped. It needn’t be much. A bar of chocolate a month if it’s all you can afford. A microwave meal. $10. Some little thing built in to the rules that it is ok to have. Your discretion. But when it’s gone, it’s gone. I strongly recommend keeping such  fund in cash form so it is physically present and impossible to overspend. Should you wish to spend it online, it can be deposited back in the bank or used on a shopping trip first so the money is converted back to digital. A personal house rule with us is we are aloud to save up our slush fund if was wish to, as well. We try to base our spending on what was made last month, rather than anticipated paychecks.

Posted 9 August, 2013 by erynnsilver in Advice, Financial, SAHM, Saving money

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