Monday, October 24, 2016

Making Do With What You Already Have

The ultimate in green living is to use up what you already have rather than buying new "stuff" all the time. Often, just by taking a closer look at what you already own, you can find ways to recycle it, or reuse it in some ingenious new fashion. 

Stop treating everything you use or own as disposable. We are the first humans on the planet to ever do this. For hundreds of generations before us people reused or recycled everything that they had until there was no further wear in it, or use for it. 

We are becoming painfully aware of how this throw it away attitude, and then packing our landfills with perfectly good items, things that can and should be recycled, has led us to the brink of ecological disaster. Not to mention how incredibly insensitive this throw-away attitude is to the remaining people on the planet who are not so blessed with material goods as we have been.

Seek out old-time ways, ideas, recipes, crafts, and recycling ideas and learn how to make do by following in the footsteps of the people who went through hard times before us. 
The people who lived through the great depression and World War 11 have a lot to teach us about making do. 

Back then, times were hard, goods and foods were rationed, and money and jobs were scarce or nonexistent for many. They left records, journals, cookbooks, and diaries about how they did it. This information can be found on the internet, in books and magazines, and in the minds and memories of the old-timers who lived through it, and who are still around. Pick their brains, read their cookbooks and journals, etc. Learn all you can from the past.

Get creative. Learn to look at everything you own without preconceived notions of its use, value, or possibilities for reusing or recycling.
When you need something, instead of going to the store and buying it, see if you might already have something that could be used or adapted for the thing you need.

Do things for yourself instead of paying someone else to do them for you. Cut your own grass, change the oil in your car, cut your kids hair, or your own. These things aren't rocket science. You can do far more for yourself than you currently do.

Learn to grow your own food, can and otherwise preserve the food you grow, and then learn to cook most, if not all, of the foods you eat from scratch. 
In the past, people made do with the ingredients they could grow, raise, or hunt or fish for. Neighbors worked together, and shared the food they had with each other. 

Cook from scratch, at home, with foods you keep in your pantry. Omit expensive ingredients, pick berries and share garden tools, canning supplies, etc. with family members, friends and neighbors. 

Stock your kitchen pantry with home grown and home canned food, as much as possible. Stock it with what food you can afford, enough to last for several months, just like our ancestors did. Many a family has been saved from hunger by a huge pantry. 

Simple but filling foods are healthier and usually cheaper, so avoid all the prepared and fast foods that take so much of your hard-earned money and give so little nourishment in return. 
It really isn't that hard, or time consuming, to prepare meals from scratch and it's a vital aspect in the making do lifestyle that can really pay off in savings and in health.

Try new things. Learn simple skills to make it do, like sewing by hand or machine and, again, cooking from scratch.

Don't throw perfectly good things in the trash. Pass them on or donate to charity, if you just can't find any use for them yourself.Stop wasting food. Use it all up. Throwing food away is just like throwing money away.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Downsizing Your Lifestyle


A great article from Miranda Marquit of  Check out her blog for dozens of ways to live a more frugal life, without sacrificing quality of life.

One of the reasons that so many of us end up falling behind with our finances is due to lifestyle inflation. It’s so easy for wants to be seen as needs after a while. Plus, as you make a little more money, or pay down a little more of that debt, it seems as though it’s easy to add a little more spending to your monthly budget.

At first, it seems like you’re just adding $5 a month here, or $10 a month there. Pretty soon, though, it adds up, and you are looking around, wondering why you have spent so much money, and have so little to show for it. If you aren’t sure of how you got to where you are, it might be time to take a hard look at your expenses and consider downgrading your lifestyle.

What Expenses Have Been Creeping Up On You?

I do like to eat out. However, a couple of months ago, I realized that things were going a bit overboard. Somehow, we had got to the point where we were eating three or four meals a week from a restaurant. While it was technically “affordable”, I realized that things were getting a little out of hand. Not only is eating out expensive, but it can also be terribly unhealthy. My husband and I decided that we needed a to get back to the meal planning we used to do, and “downgrade” from eating out so much.
It’s easy to let some expenses creep up on you, from buying a few extra toys each month, to increasing your cable package. Take a look at your spending, and figure out where you might be seeing some expenses creep up — especially in areas that aren’t that important to you. I may not be known for being the most frugal person in the world, but I don’t like spending on things that aren’t important to me.
Match your spending with your priorities. If you find that you are spending on things that don’t matter to you, just because you feel like you “should”, or because you’ve got in the habit, maybe it’s time to downgrade a little bit. Sometimes, spending more money isn’t really a lifestyle upgrade.

Could Downgrading Your Lifestyle Be an Upgrade?

In some cases, downgrading your lifestyle can actually be an upgrade. I don’t like clutter, and I have little use for stuff. “Downgrading” by getting rid of things my family doesn’t use anymore wouldn’t feel like a true downgrade; it would feel like an upgrade. My husband sometimes laments that our modest home is “too small”. But why is it too small? It actually has to do with how much stuff we have, and not actual square footage. Our four-bedroom home is just fine for our three-person family.
Getting rid of a lot of the stuff would free up space, and make the home feel much more open. There are other ways that downgrading your lifestyle can actually be an upgrade. Instead of needing to spend money to be entertained, you could begin using your creativity to make lasting memories with your family. You don’t need a lot of money to play board games with your kids, or go on picnics.
It can be easy to get caught up in appearances, and think that you need to buy certain things, or do certain things as a family in order to be seen as living a lifestyle that others think of as “normal”. This kind of upgrading can get expensive, and lead to keeping up with the Joneses — and their debt. A little simplicity in the form of a lifestyle downgrade can help you free up money for things that you find more important, while possibly improving your quality of life.
This doesn’t mean that you can’t spend any money, of course. I still eat out — just not multiple times a week. I do the things that are most important to me, and let the other things slide. My lifestyle may not seem glamorous, but it’s one I’m mostly happy with, and I’m glad to be back on track after slipping a bit into the practice of spending money on things I don’t really care

Finding a Side Hustle: Discovering Ways to Earn Extra Money

Karma Releasing Guided Meditation with Doreen Virtue

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Make the Most of Your Small Space Home

Living in a small house or apartment, or even in a studio or a dorm room, is a challenge in many ways but that doesn't mean you can't maximize the space you do have and create a beautiful home for yourself.

Leave some open space and a wall or two bare in your home. This will give your home a more spacious open feeling, plus it's restful for the eyes. Crowding every inch of floor or wall space is counter-productive when you're trying to create a beautiful home.

  • Declutter and down size. Get rid of the excess stuff you don't need. A small space looks junky when you pile on the knick-knacks, have an excessive amount of books, or you hang too many pictures on the walls. If you just can't get rid of your excess stuff, then put the best on display, a few at a time, and rotate them.

    Don't hang lots of magnets, photos, or kids papers on your refrigerator  either. It never looks good. Hang a few special kids art projects, and photos at a time if you must. That's enough.

  • Create storage where there was none. If you're handy you can create DIY storage units. Use multi-purpose furniture, like storage benches in your dining area, or ottomans that with a storage compartment inside. You can also use wicker trunks as a coffee table or bedside table.

    If your bathroom or kitchen areas are lacking in storage space, try to find room for at least one bookcase. Bookcases can hold so much more than just books and are often slim enough to fit in spaces that larger furniture won't.

    Add wall shelves wherever feasible including hallways. Hallways are a great place to put narrow dressers or bookcases too.

  • Add a touch of luxury or beauty to your space with rich fabrics, a special picture on the wall, terrific lighting, or an antique mirror hung in the perfect spot to make the room look larger.

  • Choose comfortable furniture that not only looks good but feels good to sit or lounge on. Buy smaller sized furniture and less of it, but get what you love. A small home means you see your stuff a lot more often than you would in a huge home
  • Meet the neighbors and get out and explore the neighborhood. You may not be living in your ideal home yet but this small space is home for now. Getting comfortable with your surroundings and the people around you can make living in your small space a whole lot more enjoyable. 

  • How to Find and Keep a Survival Job

    A survival job is any job you take, often on a temporary or part-time basis, that is not in your field or pays considerably less than you're used to. A survival job, while not a perfect solution, pays the bills, helps you avoid financial disaster, and allows you to hold your head up until you find the better paying job you were trained for.

    Adjust your attitude. Arrogance or misplaced ego or pride has no place in any job search. Employers know if you think you're above doing any job and consequently will not hire you. Remember any job is worthy, and your goal is not to make this your permanent position but rather to survive financially until you can get a better job.

  • Prepare for the survival job hunt just like you would for any other job. Dress well, be well groomed, update your resume, and slant it to the job you're applying for. Show up on time for interviews, and research the companies you're applying to so you know what they are looking for.

  • Once you get a survival job, work hard, work smart, show up on time, and sign up for any training programs that will make you more employable. Never talk the job, or your employers or fellow workers down to anyone, anywhere.
  • Apply for more than one survival job at a time if you can work two jobs at a time. Sometimes two survival jobs will be enough income to almost equal your old pay. 
    • You'll be competing with many people, even for a survival job, these days so prepare for your job hunt as well as you would for any other job.
    • Prepare a good resume and tweak it for each job.
    • Dress well, have good grooming, and be prepared for any questions that might come up about why someone with your qualifications would want such a lowly job.
    • Avoid getting depressed.
    • Try not to work so many hours that you have no time to continue your job hunt for a better job in your field.

    Tuesday, October 18, 2016

    17 Ways to Save Money on Groceries

    I love to cook and I enjoy being frugal and I've learned through the years that you don't have to spend a lot to make delicious meals.

    How to Save Money on Groceries 17 Ways

    Food is one of the few things in a family budget that a person can control. It's not a fixed expense like rent or car payments. Instead you determine how much you spend on food and how that grocery money is spent. There are ways you can learn to spend less on food each month.

    1. Set up a food budget and determine to stick to it, no matter what. A good suggestion is to start by spending 20% less than you currently do on food.

    2. Make a detailed grocery list of all you need to buy before you ever leave the house. Include all the items you normally buy, all the items you've run out of, and any items that you know you'll be needing soon.
    3. Eat something before you go shopping. Studies have shown that grocery shoppers average between 10% to 25% more money spent on groceries when they shop hungry.

    4. Make arrangements to leave the kids at home. Again studies show you'll spend more when you bring the kids with you to the supermarket

    5. Clip coupons only for items you normally buy.

    6. Join a food co-op with your friends, family, neighbors, or co-workers, and purchase some of your food that way. You can save a lot by buying in bulk, and with a food co-op the expense is shared.

    7. Pick a quiet, less-busy, time of the week to do your grocery shopping. You'll be less stressed and have more time to search out bargains and compare prices.

    8. Grow a garden. Use what you grow. Eat what you can freshly picked, and then can, dehydrate, or freeze the rest.

    9. Shop less. This is an old trick but it's a very effective one. You aren't spending money if you aren't in the grocery store. Shop twice a month, or once a week, or even once a month if you can manage that.

    10. Bring only the exact amount of cash with you that you plan to spend on groceries this week. Leave your checkbook, credit cards, and debit cards at home. Again, this is effective because you can't spend money you haven't brought with you.

    11. Determine to buy most, or all, of your personal items at the dollar store rather than the supermarkets. It's much cheaper. Or, make your own. This applies to household cleaners too, either make your own natural cleaners, or buy them cheaply at the dollar store.

    12. Buy bread at a bakery thrift store, and shop at a salvage grocery store for real bargains on food. Also check out ethnic grocery stores for bargains on produce and spices, as well as other foods. You can even check out the food at the dollar store, or places like Walgreen for bargains.

    13. Cut down on or eliminate paper products, soda, and empty calorie foods, (especially chemically-laden and sugary breakfast cereals for children), as well as all prepared foods. Buy real food, and make your own meals. By the same token, cut down on meat, dairy, and milk. We eat more of these products than is healthy as a rule anyway.

    14. Buy the generic, or house brand, whenever you can. You'll save a lot with this tip alone.

    15. Buy bulk foods and stock up, so you'll always have plenty of good, wholesome food in your house. Eat more beans and legumes, as well as fresh fruits and vegetables. Eat ethnic more often, these dishes are often inexpensive, healthier for you, and delicious.

    16, Use the smaller size grocery cart whenever you can. The temptation to add items to the bigger carts can be huge. Grocery stores know this and are making their carts bigger all the time, just to trick you into buying more every shopping trip. Keep your eyes firmly pointed away from the "impulse items" located near the checkouts. And watch the register when your groceries are being checked out for errors. Sale items especially are often rung up incorrectly. Produce is too, as the codes for each kind are different and clerks make mistakes every day.

    17. Don't waste or throw away any of the foods you buy. Try to avoid running out of items between shopping trips, but if you do, learn to substitute for whatever you're out of instead of making an unplanned trip to the store where, chances are, you'll buy more than just the item you ran out of. By careful planning and substitution you can avoid blowing your food budget this way.