Life on a little urban homestead in the making, with ideas for self-sufficiency, DIYing, organic gardening, food preservation, chicken keeping, cookery, crafts, thrifting, vintage stuff,
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Jan 4, 2014

How We Accidentally Saved Lots of Money & Supported Our Local Community Services, DIY-Indoor Hanging Herb Garden

How We Accidentally Saved Lots of Money-
After I read this blog How I Accidentally Saved $200,000. I started thinking about all the ways we've saved money too. Sometimes we've intentionally saved money, but sometimes it comes from a voluntary simplicity mode. Do we really need more stuff? Am I (or we) shopping to make me feel better emotionally (this may be more of a chick thing)? I used to follow some blogs that were all about decorating. I realized that's not that important to me. While I love a beautiful home (I get lots of compliments) I'm not obsessed with the newest trend. Like OWLS- get over it already! Is this how I want to spend my time? Is this what I want to support? Shopping all the time, and owning more STUFF? It's easy to get sucked into the "Look what I just found for 80% off!" But do you really need it? Is there a void we're trying to fill?

And Supported Our Local Community Services- While I do buy some items at retail stores, I shop more at Thrift Stores. There's always stuff "on sale" there :)  They are non-profits who provide community services. Your retail stores don't do that!!! One local thrift store I go to a lot also employed two of our kids, as college students. It's Idaho Youth Ranch They provide lots of great services to at-risk kids, and their families. Try to think about that before you go shopping for "bargains" next time. Who are you really supporting? There are some things I only (usually) buy new- shoes and underwear. That's what works for me. I also usually find better deals online for new shoes like The Clog Outlet (great for Danskos, Sanitas, etc.), eBay is great too, if you're sure of your size, and they are new. I also buy various things from from Craig's List, yard sales, and estate sales. That supports local folks too.

It's hard to track all of it, but here's my shot at it... What we've saved on and how-

*Mortgage- we pay every 2 weeks, instead of once a month. You make 13 monthly payments per year, instead of 12. The 13th one, in total, goes to the principal. You pay it down much faster. It's easy to set up, but nobody PUSHES IT! The lenders make more $$$ that way. Wise up and save more money! That's pushed 1000's $ more towards paying off our house.

*Every year we check on our home and car insurance to make sure we have the best deals.

*What kind of Housing?- We downsized our large 4 bedroom, 3 bath house, as the kids started going off to college. Some people don't do that, and complain their housing costs are too high. Downsize folks! If your house is paid for, it may still cost more money to maintain, not to mention labor. It's a interesting process to go thru- stay or sell. We hit it just right before the housing market crashed. We're not upside down in our home and it's value has come up the last 2 years. While I still want to live in a rural area, for now, we're here.

*Learn how to take care of your place- I can caulk, replace screens, replace broken glass in windows, replace the glazing, paint, tear off roofing, turn off the water/gas mains, install a wood fence, set fence posts, use baling wire (love the stuff), do all kinds of home repairs. Learn what NOT to do yourself, like complicated plumbing or electrical.

*Utilities-  we insulated our home, put in new windows, newer doors (used), and bought insulated curtains for our west side windows. It all adds up. We try to save water usage, watch the lighting, etc.

*Water- We have water barrels, 2 x 55 gallon ones. I use those for the garden. We removed some of our turf for food production and buy low water shrubs, and perennials. We've save 1000's, there's less work, and watering all that landscaping! Less mowing too, think low maintenance!

*Cars- We have one car we bought used, with low miles thru a car rental place. It's our trusty Subaru Outback. It's paid for, has low insurance and runs great. We chose both of our cars for regular, every day use. We didn't buy a Suburban for a twice a year camping trip, for instance. We chose to invest in one new car, 3 years ago. Our other sedan was falling apart so we went with a new car. We bought a Mazda 3 hatchback (boy can I cram a lot in there!), after I researched thru Consumer Reports online. $4.00 a month subscription, then you cancel. It saved a huge amount of time, money and worry. We got down to 3 very reliable, well reviewed cars, then got the best deal. Three years later the Mazda has had 0 problems! We also watch the gas, and combine trips. Get regular oil changes, tire rotations (free), etc. to keep them running well.

*Expensive Toys- We don't have a RV, sailboat (I wish), camper, boat, snowmobile, jet ski, etc. Unless you use them year round, you have to store them off-season. You also have to pay for the fuel involved, either using it or towing it. Then there's repairs and upkeep. We'll pass. I'd love to get a canoe someday. That would be easy to store in the garage and easy to move. No fuel, very simple.

*Clothing- probably save $100-s- $1,000s a year, depending on the year. Some years I buy coats, etc. I buy from thrift stores, and a lot on eBay, other from various online places. Some like new, rarely used, for 89-90% off. Even with shipping it's much cheaper. I love classic lambswool sweaters, the better made, thicker kind. I've gotten those off eBay as a lot of places don't even make/sell them anymore. Great for winter, and they last forever, if you take care of them. Today I got 2 pairs of jeans, and a dressy cord shirt for $10.00.

*Household decor- lots saved. I also donate too, so we don't get cluttered or have to store a lot.

* Furniture- We have a used solid wood coffee table, 2 living room cabinets, dining table, and 2 used dining chairs. We did invest in a new Flexsteel couch after wearing out several cheap, new couches. We will do the same sometime with our two overstuffed chairs. Lesson learned- with couches (unless they're well made and used) pay the extra for new and well made. Fabric covers are cheap, once the frame and base goes, you're done.

*Cell phones- I have a discount thru my employer, and recently AT&T went ever lower. It was already cheaper, or the same, as the other plans. I just changed our plan last week and saved $30.00 a month! That's $360.00 a year. we've saved 1000's of $ over the years with my discount. Now it's even better!

*TV- Re-think if you get cable, or not? We do have Dish, since we rarely go to movies. Some don't want TV period. I get it. This works for us. We have a "low" level package. I also get a lot of DVDs thru our local library to watch.

*Shop at local grocery outlets, and buy bulk at other stores. Spices alone would be $100+ yearly otherwise, they're fresher too. I also grow my own. I have saved 100s of dollars just last year.

*Beverages- I rarely buy soda, including at work. I drink water, almond milk, a lot of iced teas, and hot teas. Dave drinks coffee, teas and a rare beer. We don't drink hard alcohol, ever. That's good for your health. That's saved 1000's of $.

*Smoking- we don't smoke, never had. That's saved tens of 1000's of dollars, and our health.

*Eat out less- We do go out more than we should (still working on that), BUT I do use coupons some also. Last night we saved $8.00 on our Baja Fresh dinner out. Pretty healthy too. We choose not to go to fast food places.

*Buy less packaged foods- Except for emergency! No cake mixes (talk about nasty stuff in there), pasta mixes, etc. I make it scratch as much as possible. I do buy some soups and Annie's Organic frozen lunches, for fast work lunches. I don't like to eat out at work, as there's only fast food nearby. It's a cheaper, healthier trade off. Lots saved there! I made a home grown nectarine cobbler a couple of days ago. Fast, easy and wonderful flavor. I had it made and in the oven in 15 minutes or less. My palate has changed over the years to less sugar and salt.

*Grow your own food- As much as you can. That varies, based on climate, if you have a home, apartment, condo, etc. Raise some other things too, like chickens. When I decided to buy chickens I did a LOT of research first. Housing, feed, predators, county rules? We've planted 3 fruit trees already, in 5 years. We garden for food, have eggs, buy some local produce. If we go rural some day my first purchase will be 2 milking goats. After a LOT of research! Goats and chickens, I'd be all set!

*Make your own- Clothing, cheeses, soaps, lotions, etc. Sew, knit, crochet!

*Buy a good sewing machine- Learn how to use it. I have sewn, repaired and altered all kinds of things. Even my mother of the bride outfit, which was way too long. Came out great!

*Health- that's a big one, especially when things crop up. I'm using more alternative stuff all the time. Acupuncture for my back, and soon I'll start on Kombucha and Water Kefir. Good for asthma, allergies, and other things. I plan on getting more exercise and losing weight. With my chronic foot pain, and then surgery, I really got slammed. Gained some weight back. That sucks.

*Pets- When we decided to get another pet, after losing ours, we went with a cat. Lower cost, easy to keep if you travel once in a while. Feed good quality food, and lots of fresh water. Help them play and enjoy! No walking, scooping poop, etc. with dogs. Dogs don't mix well with chickens- your chickens are more likely to get worms, from what I've read, if they share a space/yard with dogs. I learned that the hard way, after 2 dead hens.

*Hair care- I go to the same place as I did 15 years ago for cuts- $18.00 every 3 months. That's a really good deal locally. Sorry, I won't cut my own, and I color at home :)  Too much gray!

*Medical- I have wised up the hard way on this. Doctors DON'T CARE about what you have to pay out of pocket. Sad, but true. I recently was told "you need an MRI since your white count is high", for my lower back. They didn't bother to ask me if I had a cold? Duh. I declined, since I had- a cold. Ka ching. I go to a more "expensive" place for my glasses because they will take our double insurance. I purchase vision insurance, cheap thru my employer. My hubby has his that also covers me. Ka ching, much cheaper than the "cheap" places. Sometime it pays to do your research with that too!

*Sell your excess stuff and make money- I have sold thru eBay, and Craig's List. Everything from clothing, purses, jewelry, furniture, bikes, to sports equipment. Why not make some $$$ on stuff you're no longer using. Can't sell it? Donate it and get a tax write off. Or barter.

There's lots of things I'm probably forgetting. The basic thing is- what do you really want? Do you want more $$$ to save, in an IRA, etc.? Fix up your house so it's more energy efficient? Buy land? Travel? Wear the latest fashion? Be healthy? Feel like you're involved in your community, in a ethical way? Think about it the next time you want to go shopping.... and save some money. I hope you found some useful tips here!

                                                                 Images From  Persephone Magazine

DIY-Indoor Hanging Herb Garden-
What a great idea! I found this blog The 104 Homestead, then found this link DIY Hanging Herb Garden  What a wonderful way to recycle, and grow herbs in a small space, thru the winter. I will try this next fall by either bringing my herbs in, or buying more. Over my kitchen sink would work well. How smart!!!

I love the fabric, or you could paint.


Kristina said...

I am grateful that Hubby knows plumbing and electrical (and cars/trucks). He saves us a ton of money on so many repairs. However, the tile floor needs a professional, and I've even told him that. It's the one thing they (he and his family) has not mastered.

Little Homestead In Boise said...

Yes, it's good to know what NOT to do! We can repair a lot around the house, but when we re-do the big bathroom, we'll work with a contractor. We don't want to pay for any mistakes later...

Debbie said...

Lots of ideas in your post. We DIY as much as we can and have picked up a ton of skills over the years - added a sunroom, landscaped, refinished, refurbished, tiled, plumbed, etc. I'm intrigued with chickens, but since we travel a good bit, think I'll forgo that for now. Thanks for the link to the intriguing upside down herbs - I've been thinking of trying to grow some tomatoes upside down this summer - maybe I'll do the entire garden that way!

Little Homestead In Boise said...

Thanks Debbie!

Anna@stuffedveggies said...

I love this post! Thanks so much for the link to my post - It makes me feel good to see it there : ) You have lots of great ideas here that I didn't mention in my post - I would love it if you shared the link to this post in the comments section of my post! I also love the hanging herb garden - that might work well in our place - we have no land - my little girl is craving something green & growing in the house.

Little Homestead In Boise said...

Thanks Anna! I added one....

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