Monthly Archives: April 2009

Savings of a Healthy Lifestyle

In my quest to tighten our belt a bit, I am looking at areas where I can cut the budget.  It has lead to some new motivators for a healthier lifestyle.

Portion Sizes: Obviously the more appropriate our portion sizes, the less it costs to feed a family.

Beverages: We serve water most of the time at supper.  I keep an eye on my kids dairy servings and if they have their recommended amount of dairy already, we switch to water.  The adults in this family automatically drink water for at least one meal a day.  This has dropped our milk consumption by at least a gallon a week.

Snacks: When I plan snacks in advance I find two things.  That my kids get more variety and often another serving of fruit/vegetable, and that it is less expensive.  Carrot sticks and dip costs far less than sitting down to a bag of chips.

Menu Planning: Obviously menu planning is a frugal endeavor for many reasons.  Less food waste, less temptation to eat out and greater chance of buying food on sale are just a few.

Active Family Fun: Going for a bike ride or family hike is a healthy alternative to sitting down to a family movie night with rented or new movies.  We spend roughly $30 per year for an annual State Park sticker for our vehicle…this gives us many many days or evenings of hiking and special programs put on in the park.  We have 3 State Parks nearby.  But even a trip to the local park encourages good health and is FREE!

Health Club Benefits: If you have health insurance (and I really hope you do) you likely have a health club incentive program tied to it.  In our case, if we attend our community center 12 times a month the insurance company will pay us $20.  Each.  Up to 2 adults.  Our membership is $44.13 a month.  If Dan and I each work out or take the kids to swim or play ball a dozen times a month…our membership becomes an expense of just $4.13.

So as I try to stay motivated to set the good, healthy example for my kids I discover the potential impact to my budget’s bottom line.  Money can be a good motivator.

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Filed under Family, Frugal Fun

The Power of Delete

I think it’s easier to talk about a simple life than it is to live one.  Especially when you have two growing kids, a busy husband and all the other things going on that this season of life brings.

I always have good intentions.  I plan to read the newsletters filling my inbox and send great replys to email from family and friends.  I do ok for awhile…then I end up with a back log of 1700 emails.  So for a while I delude myself into thinking I’ll “catch up”…yeah, right.

Today I did something about it.  My email account isn’t perfect now, but there are 1500 less items in it.  Delete, delete, delete.  So liberating.

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Spring?

Yesterday it was in the 80’s!  We hadn’t even had a 70 degree day yet.  What a wonderful blast of warmth.  Today?  Back in the mid-40s with a cold wind and the threat of rain/snow mix.  I tried to reassure the kids that the snow wouldn’t STICK, that we’d just probably see some falling, mixed in with the rain.  I hope.  Here is a photo from this same weekend last year…Spring Snow '08

We are not forecast to get THIS…thank goodness!

I did a lot of outside yard work yesterday.  I hung out a lot of laundry…including winter coats so they could go to storage.

My plan for the weekend is to work on projects inside.  And I’ll still call it SPRING cleaning, thank-you-very-much!

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Contrasts in Frugal Living

As I analyze my budget and think about the ways we spend money, I am struck by a mix of contrasts.  Have you ever noticed this?

Sometimes in order to save money one must act quickly when a good deal presents itself.  At times one must wait for the right time to save a bundle on a purchase.

There are instances where buying the least expensive item is the good choice.  Other times it pays to spend more.

Saving things for future use can be very frugal, while other times it is frugal to just purge things.

What do you think?  Do you see contrasts in the ways you save money?

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Earth Day

On this Earth Day I thought I’d share some ways we Reduce, Reuse & Recycle.

Reduce:

  • We put shampoo and conditioner in pump containers so the children here can’t dump too much in their wet little hands.  Stanley knows to take one squirt, while Grace uses two.  BIG savings.
  • I now print receipts from online shopping and bill payment to my computer…no more paper printouts.  Saves some paper that way.
  • We use cloth napkins.  With this switch we have reduced the paper napkin purchases to ZERO!
  • We often use rags instead of paper towels.
  • There are low-flow shower heads on both showers

Reuse:

  • I use the back of the kids’ school work for computer printing that is for personal use, saving the “good” paper for important print jobs.  Dan brings home office paper to recycle in this way too.
  • Saving the return mailing envelopes that come in junk mail means that I always have an envelope for things that won’t go through the US postal service.  Lunch money, field trip forms being returned, the garbage payment that gets dropped off…that kind of thing.
  • Small food containers are reused for snack containers for the daily snacks the kids take to school.
  • Various glass jars have become canisters in my kitchen once the lids were spray painted to give a uniform look.

Recycle:

  • We donate our old clothes to local thrift stores.  The tax deduction is nice too.
  • We recycle everything that our town lets us, and that we haven’t re purposed.
  • Items we no longer need that can be of use to someone else are given to them.
  • We buy many items, including clothing, from thrift stores and garage sales.

On another note…my son also enjoys picking up any odd thing he finds while out walking or riding his bike.  A single dirty work glove.  Some metal tubing from something or other, all bent up of course.  On the funny side, he always has some strange notion of KEEPING all this.

And Dan?  He makes a living helping our planet.  He plants tens of thousands of trees per year and helps restore wildlife areas and wetlands in our neck of the woods.

They sort of make us girls look like slackers.

So, here is a sampling of the ways we help this Earth of ours…what are your favorite ways to reduce, reuse & recycle?

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Are all needs equal?

Everywhere there are articles and blog posts about evaluating needs vs. wants.  I have no doubt we’ve all convinced ourselves that a want was REALLY a need.  But are all needs equal?

When I lived in HomeTown, it wasn’t unusual to go out to the store for one or two things right when I realized I needed them.  Sometimes this led to shopping an extra time or two each week.  And, of course you’ve read the statistics on the extras that wind up in the cart when out shopping.

In SmallTown, there are few low cost options locally.  Often prices are 20-50% higher than the discount store 20 miles away.  I’ve found that in waiting to go to the discount store I have crossed things off my list, deciding I no longer needed them. Sort of like the old advice of waiting 24 hours to buy that impulse item…only I wait a week or two to buy what seemed to be necessities.

A good example is a mop.  Maybe you have never owned a mop and won’t understand this, but I grew up in a mop family.  I can count on one hand the times I saw anybody scrub a floor on hands and knees.  I could count on one hand the number of times I had scrubbed a floor…that is, before my mop broke one day.

I was so frustrated.  I was in a hurry to clean the floor when the part that squeezes the water out just quit working.  Now what?  I finished up the best I could and threw the broken mop in the garage.  Dan loves it when I do that.

A mop is not a high ticket item so I wasn’t even considering making a special trip for one. Before I got out of town again, the floor needed cleaned.  I remember thinking that just this once I’d scrub the floor with a rag and bucket.  I was amazed.  By the time I had finished the large floor the first part was dry…and clean?  WOW…I couldn’t believe the difference!

I still don’t have a mop.  I think it amazes my mother a bit.  And my sister thinks I’m crazy.  They just don’t realize that it really isn’t any more work and the end result is so much better.

There have been other things too…a table cloth (I realized there was one tucked away in a closet), kitchen tongs, a lint brush, seasoning blends and many others.

So next time you have that big list of things you NEED, think it over for a couple of extra days…you might be surprised at what you can cross off.

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Filed under Doing Without, In the Kitchen, Lists, Making Do

They Just Assume

Tonight I did a little mending while watching TV with my husband.  Snow pants and gloves.  Because we got over a foot of snow on Tuesday.  Yep, that’s MN.  And it is April.  Some day we’ll see the ground again.

Stanley is rough on his stuff…much like I expect many active boys are.  He loves that I can patch up his rips and tears.  I’m not a beautiful seamstress, but I do alright with utilitarian sewing.  As early as kindergarten and first grade he would leave pants on my table with a note: “pleez so”  How cute is that?

So I don’t mind at all that my family just assumes that this mom can mend it all up.

The winter gear is patched up and ready to jump off snow piles again tomorrow.  A good nights work.

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Filed under Family, Making Do, Wearing It Out