Friday, January 15, 2010

A Year of Learning

I read Susanna's post the other day about saving money and it made me think of the things that I have learned within this past year~ ways to cut back and make-do with what we have.

This past year has proven to be a tough year financially for many of us and it has prompted us to look for any and all ideas to reduce our spending. Some reductions have come easy while others have been a little harder to swallow.

Here are just a few ways that I have been able to cut back and reduce our costs.

1. From-Scratch Cooking ~ I have always cooked "homemade" but I have added many basic recipes to my files this year like canned milk, bread, biscuits, syrup, Play-Doh, pizza dough, chocolate syrup, etc.) It doesn't seem like a lot but when you add it all up then I HAVE saved money as well as cut back on the "garbage" additives that we consume from store-bought products.

2. Reduce electricity by hanging laundry out to dry, turning the heat back a notch and shutting TV's and lights off when not in use. ( The last one applies mainly to the kids who will just walk away leaving everything on.)

3. As I said above, I hang as much laundry as I can outdoors to dry.

4. Using homemade cleaning products that work as well if not better than the store-bought. (You'll have to click on the link and then scroll down to see the recipes I use.)

One other store-product that I have really cut back on is fabric softener. With a family of five our laundry costs can be a big expense (water bill, electricity, detergent & softner) but I've been able to cut back again by diluting fabric softeners. (I'll have to let you know just how many months this one bottle of softener lasts me when it's all gone.)
This photo is the corner where I keep my homemade laundry detergent stored (in bottom bucket) and my diluted fabric softener ( in Folger's can) along with a towel for any clean-up.

Normally during the summer months I don't even use any softener in my laundry. I just let the wind beat the wrinkles and stiffness away. (Though a few fabrics do get brought back in and fluffed for a few minutes in the dryer.) During the winter months though, STATIC is my main battle so I do use a softener. I have shared this tip before but I'm going to share it again because I've been using it for a good while and really like it.

Items Needed:

~Plastic coffee can or other container with a lid
~Liquid fabric softener
~1 Old washcloth
~1 hand towel

Place 1/2 of liquid fabric softener in coffee can.
Fill coffee can the rest of the way up with water.
Cut wash cloth in 1/2 & place in coffee can.
When drying a load of clothes in the dryer I take one of the washcloth pieces & wring it out well. I then toss it in the dryer with my clothes and start the dryer. ( This can be messy so I leave a handtowel near to wipe my hands on.)
When the clothes are dry I toss the dried washcloth piece back in the softener can till I need for the next load.
My clothes come out soft and without static.

As I use up the softener in my can and it reaches the 1/2 way mark I simply refill it to the top with water again.

Like I said, I have been using this method for a good while and am still on the original bottle of store-bought softener.

I really hope our economy begins to improve this year and we can begin to live a little easier. However, I plan to continue using the lessons I've learned this past year to live a little greener, healthier and simpler and hopefully to save a little more "green".

Enjoy your Weekend!


Olde Dame Penniwig said...

I love your softener idea, as the undiluted (or the whole sheet in the sheet-style) puts TOO MUCH on the clothes. Static is our big problem out in the desert, too. Even COTTON clothes get affected, it's crazy. I will try your wonderful idea!

NorthWoods Country said...

well said... i will have to try the fabric softner idea... i love downey but the price is high.



NorthWoods Country said...

BTW... Jessica i see your in WV i have lots of relatives in spencer and surrounding area... My great aunt wrote the books Legend of Mammie Jane... Ashes of Roses and there is one more i can't remember the name right now..Also Anna Jarvis is a great great cousin down the line she started MOTHERS DAY we go to Grafton WV for reunions at the Anna Jarvis museum...if you have never gone there you need to is a really neat place lots of antiques and history!

Carmen C. said...

Great tips and forgot to tell you earlier (fibro-fog moment) that I made your cranberry cream cheese bars and OH MY......While the crust was baking me and my spoon were into the filling and topping mix!!!! YUMMMMMMMM-YYYYYY!

Granny Sue said...

Good ideas, Jessica. I need to look at your recipes again for detergent. I was going to try it but haven't done it yet.

I've tried vinegar in the rinse water, but I didn't see much resulting softness and honestly vinegar if more expensive than fabric softener. I wonder if putting a washcloth soaked with it would work? My water seems to make clothes and towels stiff after they dry,; the stiffness leaves pretty quickly when I put them on or use them, but I would like to find a way to prevent it when I'm air-drying clothes.

Granny Sue said...

Northwoods, I live not far from Spencer, and know the area where the books are set pretty well. Sybil's Legend of Mammy Jane is one of my favorites.

NorthWoods Country said...

Hi Granny woods i love the books my aunt Sibyl wrote they keep you going nothing boring.. the third book is called Matches at midnight... My aunt passed away about 2 yrs ago they had a big page on her in the news paper with a pic of the Jarvis home ,, also my dads cousin wrote the book Mountaineers Honor by John Michael Jarvis i have had the book for awhile but have not gone far sorry to say i thought that one was boring but mom says to keep reading it gets better

Take care Denise fron Ohio

NorthWoods Country said...

oops i meant Granny Sue sorry LOL i have woods on the mind LOL

Andora said...

I have been trying to cut back on spending to,thanks for the ideas,some I already do like hanging my clothes out side,It is nice for all of us to help one another with ideas and what works for us...thanks again...

Nancy M. said...

We could all stand to save some money! I really need to try the fabric softener idea! I try to make most things from scratch and turn the power down too.