Thursday, March 16, 2006

On Becoming More Thrifty

While I am thrifty in comparison with a majority of Americans, I still feel that I could do better. And, recently am convicted to make the effort to work harder at it. So, I'll be posting regularly on what I'm going to change (this motivates me amazingly!) and how it works.

* First of all, I'm going to reinstate something I used to do and got lazy about when we had a little baby in the house and that is washing out ziplocs and minimizing the use of disposables like plastic wrap, aluminum foil, etc... If I can put it in something washable to save or freeze, that is a savings. Or, if I wash out the ziploc and re-use it, that is also a savings.

* The next thing I am going to do is switch all of our aut0-pay bills to be paid on our Discover Card. I know, you are wondering how this will save us money - here's how:

- We are absolutely committed to pay off our credit card every month, so we will not pay a penny in interest on any of these bills. We simply deduct the amount from our check book and then know the money is spent, when I write one check for the Discover card, I don't have to deduct it from the balance left. I am in no way encouraging the misuse of a credit card to pay bills!

- We get a bonus from our Discover Card that will allow us to receive cash back. So, my plan is to save this all year and use the money to do Christmas and gift shopping throughout the year. This will not only make gift giving more fun, it will also essentially make the gifts free.

- We will watch for special bonuses available from our Discover card. For example, through the end of March, they were offering a special 5% rebate on any medical expenses or health related expenses. So, I paid our entire global payment for the coming baby and we got a great bonus on that.

I know that there are tons of ways I could become more thrifty - but I'm going to start with these. When we were first married, I had just finished reading The Tightwad Gazette books and was extremely motivated to try lots of new ideas. I thought I would try a new idea each month. However, then I found out I was pregnant and did not feel like doing much of anything. So, now I am hoping to get back to this and try to implement at least one new money-saving idea each month.

Please feel free to join in or pass on ideas you have implemented in your home for making the money stretch further!

Update: Well, as nice as the idea was to put our bills on the Discover, it is not working out. The electric and mortgage companies do not accept credit cards for auto pay and the water company does not accept Discover. The only one that is going to work is the phone/internet bill, so I'll just be satisfied with that and keep using the card for everything else that I can.


Monica Wilkinson said...

I know, I totally thought of you on the ziplocs! But - I decided that while I had such an abundance, was a good time to implement this idea! :)

Kathryn said...

Here's a few ideas:
*I try not to let any food go to waste, so I plan for leftovers and cook from scratch.
*I cut my husband's hair every month, since before we got married. A clipper was paid for in 2 1/2 hair cuts.
*We live right outside city limits, so instead of paying for trash service, we drop it off at the dump.
*I yard sale for baby clothes and items.
*We try to turn off lights and turn the heat/AC down.
*We got a Tracfone, instead of a reg. cellphone to carry in the car for emergency. It averages about 10 dollars a month, instead of 30.
*We have one car--there are extra trips and creative scheduling, but the gas $$ would be the same(just spread out over two cars), and we don't have taxes or insurance to pay on a 2nd car.
*I pay all the bills online instead of mailing them or driving to the company.
*Not eating out saves a lot of money, so does not having cable TV.
*I can use half the laundry detergent that the bottle calls for since we don't have hard water.

I find that the little things do matter. And I try to stay out of the stores as much as possible.
Great ideas, Monica.

Monica Wilkinson said...

Kathryn, you had some great ideas and I do some of them too:
I take our trash and recycling to the local dump, it is very close and that is a big savings. I cut my hair and David's which you are right saves a great amount. We do not have cable either and I have most of our bills set up on auto-pay from our checking acct. I do cook from scratch - though would like to be better at things not going to waste: leftovers or produce that is just too much for two people. That will be a future project.

Kathryn said...

My main thing is veggies going to waste...I can't eat enough of the fresh ones to make a dent in them. I buy just a tiny amount of Salad stuff because Shawn doesn't eat any of it. (Spinach lasts longer than lettuce, I've found out) I still end up throwing stuff out. I eat mainly frozen veggies at meals for that reason. I just take out the amount that I can eat and cook it. I also make desserts that freeze well, because we can't eat them fast enough before they go stale. I've learned to keep bread in the I'm still learning. I don't think my sister throws a bit of food away, and there are some inside jokes on that too. ;-)

Kathryn said...

I meant to say that I keep the bread in the freezer and just take out the slices I need. I keep getting interrupted.

Mary Ann said...

This is an interesting discussion! We use trash pickup, since it isn't optional where we live, so even if we didn't use it, we would still pay for it! But it is nice, because I can put trash, recycling, lawn debris and old or broken appliances and furniture out and they will take everything away for us. We have a cell phone with free long-distance and our home phone has no long-distance so the price evens out that way. I only re-use ziplocs if they are for cookies for my husband's lunch or something. I don't use very many and I buy the cheap ones. I try to limit the amount of disposable items we use for frugal and enviromental reasons. We use cloth napkins from yard sales and I just throw them in with the towels each week. It makes no extra laundry. I do use paper towels for certain things, but not for drying hands on a regular basis! I am fortunate to have a husband who eats pretty much anything except for ranch dressing and black beans, so I can experiment a lot with leftovers. For veggies like carrots, celery, green peppers and onions, I will chop them up(shred the carrots) and freeze them for soups and casseroles and the carrots for carrot cake and muffins. That has helped me to eliminate a lot of waste in the veggie bin. Bananas can be peeled and frozen and put into smoothies and muffins/bread/cake. I save the veggie broth from when I steam my veggies and put it in a large container in the freezer with bits of leftover veggies and stuff. When I get enough, I make soup. I have a list for yard sales to keep me focused and help me to truly save money by staying focused. I don't cut our hair. My husband says I ahve to learn on someone else first! We go to a friend from church who is very reasonable. I get my hair cut maybe once or twice a year, so it really isn't that much money. I mostly stay home. I am very creative with gift-giving, since I don't have a lot of extra money for that. I do like to sew some of my own clothes, but I rarely buy fabric in the stores anymore- mostly yard sales or use up scraps that I have. People often give me fabric and stuff since they know I will find a way to use it. Anyways, I will have to write a post on this subject, since I am so long-winded here!

Monica Wilkinson said...

Looks like we all need to make this a regular feature! :) A popular topic indeed!

Mary Ann, thanks for the ideas on produce. We also use cloth napkins - personally I just like them better, but the benefits are also great! I have frozen things like fresh broccoli partly cooked, red and green pepper diced and ready for recipes, etc... But, need to keep expanding on that to save even more! I am excited to keep adding posts on thriftiness!

Anonymous said...

Dear Monica:

I'm interested to see such a big response to this entry! Maybe you remember me saying that I consider it a "game" -- trying to get the most value for our money! During my years as a stay-at-home mom, Dad and I both considered that to be my "contribution" to the family income -- instead of making more money by working outside our home, I made the money we had go further by being thrifty.

Colorado Springs Utilities is now charging a handling fee to pay by credit card, so I've quit doing that.

Keep up the good work!

Love, Mom :)

Anonymous said...

Hey Monika it's Paige, have you all talked about getting a wood burning insert w/ blower to go into your fireplace? That would heat the entire home to a VERY TOASTY temp and you could cut off the heat and save oodles. The insterts are high if you buy them new but check out the papers and craigslist and see if you can't get one for 3-500 dollars. We have a fireplace in our new home and that's the plan for us before the NEXT winter comes....