Thursday, November 4, 2010

time to cut back

Winter is here, ewes are coming, hay, heat and safe cars are on my mind: all these things mean hunkering down on my wallet. I'd like to ask you guys out there, the experts in frugality that you are: how do you make your money stretch and save it? I am looking for common sense hints, tips, links, suggestions and such.

105 Comments:

Blogger Jonzie said...

I dont know if you can do that in the States but I gas-converted my car (methan gas). A LOT cheaper. I've heard of lots of folks there going for home made biodiesel. Look into it!
Don't know if you are already vegetarian but cutting on the meat helps too. Needless to say, prepare everything from scratch in bulks and avoid ready made foods. Adopt a carb based diet (rice, potatoes, grains etc), they are cheap and nutritious together with legumes and contrary to what they tell you in the states they dont make you fat unless you eat them with (surprise!) FATS.
Heating is another big saver but you don't want to get sick :) so don't save on it too much!

November 4, 2010 at 6:49 AM  
Blogger farmgirljen said...

Buy a chest freezer if you don't already have one. I haven't read your blog long enough to know if you do this or not, but canning is always a great road to frugality (of course, that would have to stay in the plans for next year). Load up at the library. As a book junkie, I know my biggest weakness is my indie bookstore because I always feel I need to help contribute to their well being by feeding my own beast. :) Living on our farm here in Iowa, we pretty much do the frugal thing every day anyway, so it's hard to know what to tell you specifically.

November 4, 2010 at 6:50 AM  
Blogger Kate said...

For nitty-gritty frugality tips, no book beats the Complete Tightwad Gazette. Get it from the library, through inter-library loan if you have to. You've already got many of the skills useful for cutting a food budget way down. Some people find it useful to pay for everything in cash, if you're not already doing that. Makes the spending hurt a bit more at the point of sale. Some also use the envelope method: after developing your budget, you put the monthly cash for each category (groceries, clothing, entertainment, etc.) in separate envelopes. When the envelope's empty, there's no more money to spend in that category that month. It works for some, not all. But definitely find that book!

November 4, 2010 at 7:10 AM  
Blogger Phiddy said...

Buy fruits and veggies in bulk when in season and freeze, dehydrate or can the excess. Cook from scratch. Get the chest freezer as one poster has already suggested (check out freecycle, craigslist or, kijiji online for free or, low cost items) Buy a couple of turkeys (cranberries will be cheap also)during the annual Thanksgiving sales and freeze for later use. Pay in cash... destroy those credit cards. Turn off all the those electrical power bars at night which are using "phantom power". We were too old to think about replacing our oil sucking furnace with a wood stove but, what we did was went and purchased a pellet stove. Surprise! The cost of the new pellet stove plus the pellets for fuel for a full winter cost us what all the oil for our furnace cost us last year. Staying in is the new going out. Get rid of cable tv... use the computer to watch free movies and tv online. Good luck Jenna!

November 4, 2010 at 7:28 AM  
Blogger Cindy said...

Think about EVERY, and I do mean every, purchase. Is it necessary, is it really worth the hours it took to earn that much money? Even little things like potted mums (see, I do read your posts!)cost money that could go towards your farm. The other posts are great ideas, too, although I think you've got the food side pretty well covered.

November 4, 2010 at 7:35 AM  
Blogger PansWife said...

Can't agree with Jonzie on diet. I lost 20lbs when I went back to eating fats and go rid of the carbs, plus you are harvesting your own meat which can be cost effective.
Farming is an expensive passion and you don't seem wasteful or materialistic. Sometimes the dollars are already stretched as thin as they can go. You might want to consider looking at ways to earn more money. Maybe use your website skills to teach a class or take on a couple of private clients. Your other option is to find a person who is also interested in living a rural life and do a house/farm share. You can check groups like NOFA for people looking to do this.
I know little things add up, but you could also shop for better insurance rates, look into tax breaks for farmers (NY has them) and see if your utility company offers power audits to help you save on heat and electric.

November 4, 2010 at 7:47 AM  
Blogger farmwifetwo said...

Take your bills from the last couple of months and put them in a spreadsheet. Gives you a better idea of what "stuff" you are spending. It's the "stuff", that's got to go.

No buying books - library.
No buying toys - for knitting etc - you have enough for now.
No buying knick knacks.

Every month you put a certain amount in a jar or savings account... when it reaches X amount you get to buy...

In other words.... you learn to stop, look at something and say 'do I truly need that', if it's iffy, walk away... I bet you won't rush back to buy it.

November 4, 2010 at 7:54 AM  
Blogger Flartus said...

Can you barter? I mean, riding lessons are expensive, but you may feel they are necessary for your mental health. Then you're shelling out cash for Gibson's lessons too--also necessary. So can you offer anything besides money in return, perhaps to get a discount? Work at the barn once a week, or pay in meat or beer? (Rumor is you make a mean stout...)

November 4, 2010 at 8:15 AM  
Blogger Tara said...

You don't strike me as much of a TV watcher, but we gave up cable in favor of Netflix about a year ago and went from spending about $100 a month to $18. Great decision! Also, I don't know if this is an option for you, but I ditched my mobile phone contract for a prepaid. I wasn't using any where CLOSE to my allotted minutes each month, and was paying a lot. After the cost of the phone, I spend about $100 for a whole year for minutes. WAY cheaper.

As far as farm expenses go, our mantra for winter is Minimize. We unburden ourselves of excess animals at this time (butcher or sell) so we don't have to feed them. We look for bulk quantities of hay, feed and straw too, to keep expenses down. I don't know about where you are, but around here it's easy to find hay and straw on craigslist for much cheaper than the feed store sells it for.

November 4, 2010 at 8:15 AM  
Blogger Jenna said...

Riding and herding lessons are a necessity right now: they are teaching me to work with animals I will have in the future of my farm and my riding lessons are basically therapy in a crazy life...so I don't want to lose them.

however: I don't have cable, a car payment, I don't eat out or travel, my weaknesses are yarn/books/and currently homebrewing and they are all KNICK KNACKS! I need to stop consuming things like this when I could easily use my own yarn stash, needles, books galore in the house, and such.

I think I am wise with food, but could stand to buy more in bulk. I also think over-eating is throwing money down the drain. Most of my meals could easily be two.

November 4, 2010 at 8:23 AM  
Blogger Building A Better Life said...

DON'T BUY NEW!! Borrow books, don't buy them; don't buy new clothes unless you ABSOLUTELY can't do without them. Take your lunch to work. Use the winter for: Looking through catalogs and planning for next year - make a wish list of what you want and how much it will cost; then sell off stuff you have but don't need/use anymore and use that money to purchase things from your list; save for the rest. Although, you seem to be decent with money so more frugal living tips:

The Tightwad Gazette Kate mentioned is AWESOME! That series really offers great suggestions.

But mostly, don't buy anything new. It's the single best piece of advice I can give you: borrow if possible, or purchase used. Good luck!

November 4, 2010 at 8:29 AM  
Blogger Erika said...

Maybe we could do a knick knack trade because I love knick knacks too! We could sort through different stuff and do a trade. I recently did a clothing swap party with some friends and it felt like I went shopping even though I didn't spend a dime.

November 4, 2010 at 8:41 AM  
Blogger Nikki said...

And on a truly mundane, everyday note: quit buying washing powder/liquid and all shampoo/hair stuff. Make it. It's fast, easy, very cheap, and does a Great job. My hair has never been healthier since I quit using expensive shampoos and conditioners and switched to a half teaspoon of baking powder in a cup of water (pour over head and rub in), and a spoonful of cider vinegar in a cup of water as a rinse. Amazing difference! Even the DH has converted.
Washing powder: 1 bar Ivory soap (or other plain and simple soap - but Ivory is cheap and easy to come by), finely grated; half a cup of borax; half a cup of soda ash (washing soda - not baking soda - can be found as Ph-Up in the pool supply area if your neighborhood doesn't stock washing soda, and mine doesn't). Mix together, and use one teaspoon (yes, really!) per full load of washing. 2 tsp, if you've got grease all over something. And of course, all other household cleaning can be done with vinegar and baking powder.
It may seem like an insignificant change, but it really adds up over a few months. You can add a drop or two of essential oil, if you want nice smells - and you get to choose your own, instead of all those weird chemical versions.
Added bonus: shopping trips get to be much faster, and there's the internal smug factor to make you smile.

November 4, 2010 at 8:55 AM  
Blogger Aydan said...

Thrift stores for clothes, library/used bookstores/used online for books unless you particularly want to support an author. Thrift stores also have weird pieces of stuff and often some really useful housewares.

Make a list of how much you spend on food in a week and see if there's any ingredient or food you buy a lot that you could make more cheaply yourself. Find lots of oatmeal recipes and lots of legume recipes.

Go through your stuff, purge what you don't need or want if you have anything, and sell it or give it to someone else who needs it. Even if you just give it away, it'll help you realize what you actually need and resist buying more stuff of dubious usefulness in the future.

The baking soda/vinegar for cleaning, menstrual cup/cloth pads, and ditching shampoo semi-standard hippie stuff will save you money eventually, though cups and pads are an initial outlay.

November 4, 2010 at 9:07 AM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

budget!
take one month and don't really change anything you're doing, just observe yourself. account for every single dime coming in and going out.
then look at it and see what changes you can/need to make. things like mortgage and bills may be nonnegotiable (although sometimes things like internet and cell phone bills ARE negotiable with the right strategy to the company)
make a goal to save X% every month and take that off the top so that you're not tempted to spend it - put it in a high yield savings account and leave it.
set spending limits in each of your main spending categories and don't go over them. but don't be too stingy - give yourself a wild card category to satisfy (in moderation) your "knick knack" desires. then you never feel completely deprived but you know and can track where every dollar goes. makes you think twice about whipping out the credit card when you know its the 15th of the month and you're already 2/3 through a certain budget category

November 4, 2010 at 9:11 AM  
Blogger Heather said...

I work a full time job in addition to running our little homestead. My husband works too. We have used all these tips for food others are posting and they work really well, but I have to say in our time crunched lives our best investment was a big heavy $80 Crock Pot. I can dump in cans and cook the toughest meat cut all day without even being here! Brilliant! We eat a lot of leftovers, so we never really stop for fast food and drinks anywhere (work or anything).
We also barter a lot, with my parents and people we work with, for car repair, food, etc. I trade homemade bread pretty regularly for honey with a lady at work, and, while the bees do most of the work for her, flour is a hell of a lot cheaper than honey.
Small, incremental things and time have made the biggest difference for us. We are visual people too, so if $ is saved in cash, it goes into this HUGE empty water jug we walk by every night before bed (my daughter too). When we were house hunting, we taped a picture to it of a random house. The picture kept our goal fresh in our minds while we struggled to reach it, and made it into more of a game than work or sacrifice.
You seem to do a lot of this already, and I am sure the saving will be easier once you are more settled there.
Another idea would be to telecommute if/when you can, or sell farm fresh eggs to co-workers and use that $ right for the farm. People where I work are nuts about free range eggs right now!
Best of luck Jenna! You will be just fine...no idea what you have there, but here you have thousands of internet friends rooting for you! Go CAF!

November 4, 2010 at 9:16 AM  
Blogger spinnersaw said...

no more coffe out, only home brew!

November 4, 2010 at 9:24 AM  
Blogger treehuggers kitchen said...

Most everything that I can think of, has already been covered. Bartering for a discount on the lessons, as Flartus mentioned is a great idea. That way, you can still do the lessons, but possibly cheaper. What about selling some things that you might be able to get rid of (ie books, knick knacks, antiques)? You could post them right here on your blog (or even to the FB group), and sell them that way. You said that most of the meals you make could be enough for two meals; before you sit down to eat, put half of the meal in a container to take to work for lunch the next day.

November 4, 2010 at 9:24 AM  
Blogger katiegirl said...

We also make our laundry soap. Just google "Duggard family laundry soap recipe" and you'll find it. It definitely saves money.

My sister uses the envelope method for spending and loves it. Set aside some money each month for "fun" money, and when it's gone it's gone. My biggest tip is to just not spend. I know it seems silly, but I saved a good chunk of change when I quit going to stores (like Walmart) because I was so tempted to buy things I didn't need. Just stop looking for yarn. If you want to knit something, look at your yarn in your stash first and then decide what you can make with what you have. Or, save up for that particular yarn you want. Good luck. We're all in the same boat I think! Trying to pinch pennies...

November 4, 2010 at 9:24 AM  
Blogger caracastson said...

Hi Jenna - I'm no expert, but Gail Vaz Oxlade (from Debt Do Us Part)is. She has down to earth and smart suggestions for saving, debt repayment, and real life financial health. gailvazoxlade dot com. She posts about once a day on a topic and maybe you'll find her useful too.

November 4, 2010 at 9:37 AM  
Blogger South Brunswick Public Library Blog said...

There was a well-known women did the talk show circuits some years ago called the "frugal zealot" and did several books on the topic - I think you would like her - google that nickname and I bet you find her.

November 4, 2010 at 9:47 AM  
Blogger Sarah said...

One thing I do is determine where the "zones" for heat are in my house (I have three zones). I then curtain off the areas where I'd like to keep the heat near the register.
I get a heavy-ish curtain (got mine at Ikea) and a tension rod (I find the heavy duty shower curtain rods work well) and hang curtains in the doorways.
Zone 3 is the upstairs bedroom. Because I want my pooch to have access to the room, but I want to keep the heat in, it gets a curtain. He can move around the house, but I'm not unnecessarily heating areas that really don't need it.

November 4, 2010 at 9:55 AM  
Blogger South Brunswick Public Library Blog said...

Here - I checked it out myself and copied you a nice little video clip with Amy the (frugal zealot)- http://yardsalequeen.blogspot.com/2010/01/tightwad-gazette-amy-dacyczyn-frugal.html. enjoy!

November 4, 2010 at 9:57 AM  
Blogger Erin said...

Totally agree with the comments about personal & household cleaning products. That stuff is EXPENSIVE and full of crap you don't need or want in your water table. I make laundry detergent three or four times a year at the cost of about a dollar a batch. It is lovely to waltz past the cleaning products aisle in the grocery store. The only thing we haven't been able to find a satisfactory DIY substitute for is automatic dishwasher detergent (but who needs an automatic dishwasher?).

November 4, 2010 at 10:02 AM  
Blogger Meredith A said...

venison venison venison. between your eggs, chickens, and donated venison (barter with a hunting budy or kill it yourself) you won't have to purchase protein.

also, look through some of your pictures...mums? an expensive luxury item. purchased pumpkins, beer kit, wine, etc. cut out all luxury items, at this point having your own farm is a luxury! appreciate the mums you drive by on your travels, enjoy other peoples pumpkins, etc. if you are trying to cut costs these aren't things you need right now, and it will make it all that more special in the future when you can have them on your property.

also, what food do you feed your dogs? higher quality grain free dog food is more bang for your buck. dogs get more nutrients and you feed less than other commercial foods (also poop less which is a plus).

you can purchase frontline in the largest dose possible and split it evenly among the dogs. go off heartworm in the colder months. run titers on your dogs rather than revaccinating. if you still want to vaccinate yearly do it yourself, 5 way distemper/parvo costs about $7 at a local farm store.

do you look to craigslist first for building/fencing/farm materials before buying new?

can you raise your own chicks rather than purchasing?

sell your rabbits?

you can consign clothes you no longer use (or donate them at the very least).

and the BIG one which i'm not sure you're up for, but in the right situation could be an amazing fit is a roommate. $400 a month easy to rent a room with house privledges (almost $5,000 a year!). assuming this individual is up for it, there's your farm sitter. you could exchange farm help when you're out of town for a reduction in rent...so you really wouldn't be "paying" for it.

yes it would be a transition, but for a year with the right person if could be a great experience.

you could also exchange a few hours of barn work a week for lessons. stalls, watering, cleaning tack, grooming, clipping etc.

also, donating plasma is popular among college kids and if done regularly can be mutually beneficial.

book wise, purchase used on amazon.

one biggie that adds up is individual drink purchases at gas stations etc. when you get gas...only get gas. im not sure if you do that but that is a huge one.

do you have a costco or sams club membership?

November 4, 2010 at 10:10 AM  
Blogger roni said...

http://myfrugalfunlife.com/

http://www.pennilessparenting.com/

http://www.towards-sustainability.com/

Those are just a couple of my favorite blogs...Im sure if you started crusin through theirs and other blogrolls, you can find more that suit your lifestyle...

November 4, 2010 at 10:11 AM  
Blogger Carissa said...

Have you heard of the book Your Money or Your Life by Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez? It is great!! Helps you look at all your financial transactions in the light of your personal values and life fulfillment. Most people are able to cut back on their expenses significantly without feeling deprived.
I checked a copy of this book out of my library, but I'll probably look for a used copy online because I'd like to own it. (That's another one of my best tips. Go to the library first!)

November 4, 2010 at 10:35 AM  
Blogger jpark22 said...

Read Rhonda's Down-To-Earth Blog...all you need to know.
Do you still have two vehicles? If so, can you get by with just one?

November 4, 2010 at 10:37 AM  
Blogger Kathy said...

Without question, read Your Money or Your Life by Joe Dominguez & Vicki Robin. And then read it again. It is the bible for frugal and simplicity folks. Also, track every penny you spend. Seriously. I know it sounds like a lot of work, but once you have it set up (Quicken, a spreadsheet, YNAB, whatever your preference) it takes minutes a day. By tracking you will become hyperaware of the many small leaks and your spending will slow down automatically. If you don't track, you'll never get control. And I second the advice to get the entire Tightwad Gazette collection of books by Amy Dacyczyn.

November 4, 2010 at 10:48 AM  
Blogger Kathy said...

Short video interview of Amy Dacyczyn (Tightwad Gazette):
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AUFyD-FTf-E

November 4, 2010 at 10:51 AM  
Blogger Tara said...

I forgot to mention bartering! We barter for and with all sorts of things and it really cuts down on things we have to pay cash for. It won't pay your mortgage or electric bill, but it could free up cash for those things. If you like yarn, needles, etc., how about putting up a c-list or freecycle ad and offer to barter farm goods for those things? Could work for books too. You probably have a lot to offer for barter. Don't rule anything out.

Also, someone mentioned higher quality dog food - I would say this: You have a farm. Supplement your dogs' diet from it, if you don't already. They can eat eggs, rabbit and chicken (including the offal and raw bones). I know how expensive it can get to feed multiple large dogs - that stuff really helps cut down on the kibble bill, and since we started giving our dogs extra eggs, meat and milk, they've never been healthier.

* A side note: we actually keep our farm projects scaled up just enough to provide *slightly* more than we need for ourselves (eggs, milk, meat, etc.) so we always have a bit extra for barter, or for the dogs. It helps, and as long as you don't go nuts, isn't really much of a bump on the expense side.

November 4, 2010 at 11:00 AM  
Blogger Flartus said...

Wow, I'm learning a lot here, too! Definitely gonna try the baking soda shampoo.

Jenna, I think the roommate idea is an intriguing one, IF you can find the right person. (I'll bet there are a few of your readers who would want to apply for that position.)

November 4, 2010 at 11:01 AM  
Blogger google@westvon.com said...

I love how everyone thinks that saving a dollar or two with homemade soap or no mums will make or break her... Shesh, I hope she's not doing that badly that those $5 or $10 will cause the whole situation to collapse! Yeah they are good things, but I really like some of those other ideas... like a roommate (kaching!) or selling the extra vehicle... (kaching! (insurance and the cost of the vehicle) or something like a freezer cheap on Craigslist to stock up on things... (another kaching (because the less you stay outta stores, the more you will save on impulse buying as well as convience food etc)

Getting rid or adding (like the roommate) of some of these big ticket things will REALLY make a serious dent in the budget (IMHO) $500 a month? Yeah!

Checking out what you can sell on ebay is another good thing if you're up to it, and also love the idea of closing off areas of the house and limiting the space heated. We do that with our moby home and boy, does that makes some serious difference in the heating bills.

And doing some serious looking at insurances, etc., a good insurance agent and a review can save you hundreds a year...

A person needs some treats in life... riding lessons, herding lessons, yeah, even mums... knick knacks and books... she can spread them out a bit, use the library, ebay, etc. Buying used is a great mantra, and I ALWAYS look at ebay for just about anything. It's a huge saver. People sell stuff for really silly low prices. From packing tape to household items to brew kits (haha) to farm supplies, garden needs, unbelievable.

Eating simple, canning, freezing, we do all that and enjoy it a great deal. Cutting back on the times you are actually in a store, really saves money in the long run! Can't spend if you ain't in there! (Of course, the internet can get me at times... )

These are a few things that keep us debt free, home owning and happy urban homesteaders...

November 4, 2010 at 11:05 AM  
Blogger Joleen said...

I now only use cloth napkins and rags instead of paper towels and paper napkins. It's a small change, but the savings add up AND it's friendly to the environment since you're cutting back on a few pieces of trash you throw out each week. I figure it doesn't use a lot more energy in laundry because they're small and you just slip them in your weekly wash - it doesn't generate an extra load.

November 4, 2010 at 11:06 AM  
Blogger Ann said...

All of my spare change from every transaction gets thrown into my coin jar(s). On payday, I put any cash I have in my wallet in my coin jars, too. It's a painless way to save a little. Almost three years ago, I bought my first sheepdog with my spare change. At the end of this month, I'm buying my second sheepdog (also a Riggs daughter!), in part with my spare change (haven't counted it up, yet).

November 4, 2010 at 11:08 AM  
Blogger Coop said...

I have to agree with Jennifer here. Start first with your budget. Use an Excel spreadsheet and place income at the top. Then a line item for savings - you have to save first-, then bills, then start tracking your expenditures.

The quickest way to increase your income is to decrease your expenses. So obviously cut out the little stuff. Check out Early Retirement Extreme Blog. It's EXTREME but very effective even if you only use a few things. His goal was to be financially independent but don't we all? One idea I like of his is to multiply every thing you want to buy by 400. That's how much money you would need in the bank to be able to purchase that item every year for the rest of your life. EX: $2 cup of coffee once a year would mean you need $800 in the bank so you could be financially independent of that cost for the rest of your life. Now multiply that by 365!!!

Then look at the things you are buying that you could make yourself. Another post talks of laundry detergent. I do the same, what a bargain.

Finally, start chipping away at the bills. Cut the heat down, get a prepaid phone. One thing we do is when we heat up the shower or wash veggies we capture the water and use that to water our plants. That way we only get hit once for the water but get 2 uses. Tons of that stuff is around the house.

Check out bankrate.com to find the best high yield savings accounts. Back when the rates were 5 and 6% I would monthly go on there monthly and open up an acct online to get that extra .5% . Now with rates pretty low I use Capital One. It takes about 20 minutes of your time to open it up and then the best part is it takes a couple of days (usually 5) to transfer back into your account when you want to spend it. So you have to really think about your big purchases!

The most important thing is that you have to change your paradigm. If you think of this as tightening your belt or sacrificing then you'll fall off the wagon. That's why a lot of diets fail. You have to find out what is important to you and incorporate that into your saving mantra. Good luck! I know you'll succeed.

November 4, 2010 at 11:11 AM  
Blogger Coop said...

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November 4, 2010 at 11:11 AM  
Blogger Coop said...

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November 4, 2010 at 11:11 AM  
Blogger Coop said...

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November 4, 2010 at 11:12 AM  
Blogger Coop said...

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November 4, 2010 at 11:12 AM  
Blogger taylorgirl6 said...

I work in downtown Seattle, and the temptation to buy snacks at the local coffee shop or bakery are sometimes really hard to pass up. As I force myself to walk past, I take the $5 I would have spend on a scone and slip it into a separate pocket. It then goes into my later spending fund when I get home at night. You might be shocked to see how quickly that play money will add up, and then you can spend it on something you really want, something that will give you more joy than a scone you'll snarf up in two minutes. (Say, like the ingredients for a homemade batch of scones that will take you a whole day to snarf up.)

November 4, 2010 at 11:13 AM  
Blogger Gelfling said...

We keep buckets in our shower that fill with the water that would have otherwise been wasted during our bathing, we then use that grey water to flush our toilet. Doesn't sound like much, but it adds up. We make our own laundry soap and it costs maybe $5 per 2.5 gallon bucket, must save me a ton of money and now my skin doesn't react to all the crap in commercial detergents. Check the air in your tires, change your oil regularly, and drive at or below the speed limit. Try to use your oven for multiple things at one time... while you're baking a pizza, why not throw a fritatta in a cast iron skillet and make tomorrow's breakfast while you're at it? Little energy saving things like this make a difference in your budget and your environmental footprint.

November 4, 2010 at 11:14 AM  
Blogger bee*in*the*balm said...

don't pay for tv period. libraries are great and there are sites like hulu and others where you can watch all kinds of new shows, movies, and older stuff online for free.

each week plan a pasta night, soup night and bean night. put aside a serving for lunch the next day.

buy local in bulk and can, dry, and freeze for later. use every little bit in broths.

make your own soap for regular use. one batch of unscented olive oil soap will last a LONG time. grate a bar down with the end bits and melt in water for liquid hand and dish soap.

don't buy anything new. make quilts, scrap rugs, and many other thrifty, useful crafts for fun. use your stash. learn advanced color work knitting techniques with your leftover bits of wool or just make some crazy striped socks. allow yarn to find you and it will.

if you do have to buy something new buy for quality, dependability, and price from companies that will stand behind their products. llbean sells good stuff on sale for the same as regular walmart prices on crap and they often do deals on shipping and other incentives.

November 4, 2010 at 11:15 AM  
Blogger kandy Gray said...

i always ask " do i need it or do i want it?" if i need it, ok; if i want it, i dont buy it. i have saved ALOT of $ that way. i also make my own laundry soap. that saves 20$ (we are a family of 3) a month that i now put into a savings account which i will give to my son at age 16 (15 years and 10 months from now) for a car.

November 4, 2010 at 11:22 AM  
Blogger Tara said...

The one thing we did that had BY FAR the single biggest positive impact on our budget was to go debt-free. We got really hardcore about it, for as long as it took, and paid off every credit card, every loan, every everything. All we have left is the mortgage, and we're accelerating those payments so we can pay it off in 10 years rather than the 15 set forth in our note. We built up some decent savings, and pay cash for everything, NO EXCEPTIONS. (and by "cash", I mean cash/check/debit). Once you're out, you'll rather die than get back in, so you end up being more careful about purchases overall. End result - more discretionary money, more savings, no angst, no slavery to the debt machine.

I don't know what your situation is in this regard, and it isn't any of my business, but I thought I'd mention this because it really gave us more of our hard-earned money back than any other thing we've done.

November 4, 2010 at 11:25 AM  
Blogger thedoza said...

The only thing I would add is keeping a notebook with you to write down your daily spending. It gets to the point, at least it did for me, that I didn't want to have to write down the $1 I spent on M & M's. It was like a sense of pride in not spending so I didn't have to write silly spending items down. It served as a constant reminder to be mindful.

November 4, 2010 at 11:41 AM  
Blogger thedoza said...

carry a notebook to write down what you spend on every item you buy. When I did this, the candy bar I wanted started to sound pretty silly when I had to write it down and own up to it when I looked at the end of the day. It ended up being a pride thing when I resisted spending the money, and at the end of the month, I could look back and see the items I had paid for and scrutinize how lasting the effect was by the end of the month.

November 4, 2010 at 11:43 AM  
Blogger jkizmann said...

Set up an account on Mint.com. It's free and it helps me stay on top of my monthly budgets, spending, saving, etc. It's a little slow to update sometimes (depending on your bank, if you choose to import the info) -- but it's got great tools for working out your spending. :)

November 4, 2010 at 11:48 AM  
Blogger kringsrud said...

Could you convert your blog into a full-blown website and "monetize" it with advertising a la chickensintheroad.com?

Check out Ramit Sethi's iwillteachyoutoberich.com. He has LOTS of great ideas for not only decreasing expenses, but also for increasing personal revenue.

Ask for a raise at work.

Renegotiate your car insurance. Shop around -- it's amazing how much you can save. If your vehicle(s) are older, drop comprehensive and collision coverage and carry liability only.

Learn to can. It can be expensive to get started, buying canning jars, etc. Post a call for canning jars/supplies on craigslist. If you buy a pressure canner, you can can vegetables, meats, just about anything that will fit into a jar. The nice thing about canning vs. freezing is that if the power goes out, you don't have to worry about your food stores. And you don't have to pay for the electricity to run the freezer. ALWAYS follow UDSA food safety guidelines VERY CAREFULLY -- there is no room for excess creativity in canning: you can poison yourself with botulism if you're careless.

Do you need beer/stout right now? Starbucks? How much could you save if you stopped making/drinking it?

I know you're a sheep farm, but could you be a contract grower of heirloom turkeys, rabbits, chickens, etc., like a CSA for meat animals?

The more food you can make from scratch, the smaller your food bill will be.

Hope one of these suggestions sparks some ideas.

November 4, 2010 at 11:53 AM  
Blogger E said...

I agree with google@westvon.com. Saving one dollar at a time isn't going to do it if you don't look at the big picture.
Can you mortgage costs be lowered? What about insurance - if you have no claims maybe you can shop for cheaper insurance. Bulk food is cheaper if you can make it work.
What about earning extra income? In the winter would you be able to give talks?

November 4, 2010 at 11:54 AM  
Blogger jen said...

Two words - Direct Deposit!

If your company offers it, take it! You can have your bank take $20 or whatever amount you choose and put it directly into a separate savings account. You never see it, you don't miss it. Don't touch it until you need to make a larger purchase. You'd be surprised how well it works!

November 4, 2010 at 12:00 PM  
Blogger m said...

We live in the city, so are able to be carless (and have been since 2001!) and that makes a huge difference. I know you need your vehicle, but like a previous poster, I believe you may have two. Even if you feel like you can't sell one of them, can you at least just get by with one over the winter? Just pay insurance on one.

I used to spend hundred on books every year. As a writer, it was a very hard habit to give up. If I wasn't buying books, why would I expect anyone else to? But it simply had to go. I still buy occasionally, but they are wise purchases--books of friends. I usually test drive books from the library. We get all our books and DVDs from the library. We don't even do Netflix because of the price.

I started buying dried beans a couple of years ago. I make big batches and freeze them. I now eat beans much more often and it's way, way cheaper than canned. Win-win!

We also live in an old house in a cold part of the country. Weeks of -40C each year. We plastic our windows. It's ugly, but it surprised me how much a difference it has made.

You're smart and already do so many things.

November 4, 2010 at 12:02 PM  
Blogger becky3086 said...

Humm, some of these sound like really big changes and some of them might not be. My first suggestion would be to do make sure that your windows and doors don't leak air. Chalk where you can and add those little stuffed things for windows and door cracks. You can easily make them from scrap material. (When we were little my parents completely plastic-ed over all the windows each winter).
Slowly buy all flourescent bulbs (that dropped my light bill $20-30). Don't buy what you don't really need(which is hard to do sometimes) but once in a while get a little something for yourself or you won't be happy enough to keep up with your spending anymore.
I agree with the person who said buy an extra turkey and whatever is on sale in season.
I tried making laundry soap. It didn't get the clothes clean but with most store bought laundry soaps you only need about half of what they recommend to get a wash clean.
Don't waste leftovers. If you have leftover chicken and don't think you are going to eat it, pull the chicken off the bone and freeze it for a soup later. If you have leftover veggies put them in a bag together and freeze them for that soup as well.
Save your cans and metals and turn them in for money if you have somewhere buy you that takes them.
Shop at thrift stores whenever possible.

November 4, 2010 at 12:21 PM  
Blogger Sara said...

I second the suggestion to start an account with mint.com. It has really helped me keep on track with my budget because it automatically tracks all my debit card transactions. Switching over to doing everything with paper money wasn't a plan I could stick to, so instead of fighting it I found a better way to keep track of the spending I do with my debit card. The little green bars (when I am under budget) are enough positive reinforcement to keep me from overspending.

November 4, 2010 at 12:29 PM  
Blogger Debi said...

Along with all of the above mentioned, you could try using more wood than fuel oil /kero /propane, When I was still in N.Y we would turn the furnace to about 50 degrees, and use it just as a back up. We also ordered whole logs and cut & split them ourselves, it's much cheaper that way. Maybe you could barter with one(or more) of your guy friends to come and help you with next years logs. I know it's not much help this year, just something to think about for the future.

November 4, 2010 at 12:32 PM  
OpenID urbanadaptation said...

I'm trying to tighten up my budget (again) too, and I have to admit that there are times when it feels like there's not a lot left to do. Some things have really helped, though.

First, I track everything. I have pretty much the same vices as you it sounds like - books, yarn, and food - but looking at how much I was spending over a month, it was a bit of a surprise how much it was overall, especially when extrapolated to a year, which helped me cut down.

I also decided I couldn't get more of something until I'd finished something I already had. No new knitting project materials until one was completed. No new books until I'd read one. It kept things a bit more manageable.

That said, if a really awesome sale came up on something that I would use, a bought a bunch at a time.

I don't know how possible it is for you, but I arranged to have 10 percent of my income deposited directly into savings at the start of the month. I work with what's left, try to save a bit of that too, and since I know that's all I have I make it work.

Honestly, I don't know all of the ways you've already made a move to spend less and save more, but there are some really good ones here, I think. I imagine one big one and a few small ones would probably be enough, if you swing it, but even cutting down just some of the wants (you deserve a treat every now and again) can go a surprisingly long way depending on where you're started from.

November 4, 2010 at 12:34 PM  
Blogger Denise said...

Insulating your windows with plastic and caulking them, closing off rooms you dont need to heat, turning off unnecessary items to save electricity. Make big batches of food to freeze for later, buy staples in big quantities. I bought beans in big quantities and then canned them in my pressure cooker. This makes it easy to use them in soups and casseroles later and saves time because you dont have to soak them the night before. Buying your yarn, needles, etc from yard sales, auctions can save you big but then you have to store it. Remember you can always get bookshelves to store your yarn against an outside wall - insulation LOL. At least that's what I tell my husband...;) I actually think you are doing great with the cutting back so far. You might also want to make all your Christmas gifts. It really saves on that aspect. I would have to disagree with getting a Costco or Sam's membership though because unless you have an extra 50-60 bucks laying around and can go to the store more than once a month it wouldnt pay you to go. Where you live the nearest store is probably a ways away. We belonged to Costco and it wasnt paying us to belong since we dont buy all the brand name stuff and are watching out for all the chemicals in products. If you had a bigger family though it would pay for you to belong but with just the two of us it was just a wasted membership. We buy rice at a local Indian store. If you look around there are surprisingly a lot of ethnic stores that stock large quantities of staples and they arent bad on the prices either. Plus learning new recipes is never a bad thing! Good luck on cutting back - hurts at first but then gets better...

November 4, 2010 at 12:39 PM  
Blogger Stargazer 2 said...

JENNA,
HEAT LOSS THROUGH THOSE WINDOWS CAN BE CUT WAY DOWN BY USING BUBBLEWRAP WHICH IS USED FOR PACKAGING, & IT IS SOOO EASY TO IN
STALL!!! JUST MIST THOSE WINDOWNS,
& INSTALL!!! AND EASY TO REMOVE IN
THE SPRING BY SIMPLY REMOVING!!!
YOU HAVE GOTTEN A TON OF ADVISE ABOUT THINGS WE ALL NEED
TO DO SO "THANKS" FOR THE BUDGET
LESSONS FROM THE CAF BLOG WHICH I WOULD HAVE READ ANYWAY!!!
CHEERS WITH A HEALTH DRINK!!!
RONNIE A VERY HAPPY SEAT WEAVER!!!
http://www.chaircaningdirectory.com










CHEERS WITH A HEALTH DRINK!!!
RONNIE A VERY HAPPY CHAIR CANER, *
SEAT WEAVER!!!
http://www.chaircaningdirectory.com

November 4, 2010 at 12:40 PM  
Blogger Amy Timberlake said...

If you have internet -- Skype. I'm using it on DSL over AT&T. You can get a phone number. Free calls to landline phones in US and Canada for $30/year (I think). Free calls to anyone with skype. Video calls and conference calls (just today).

No need for cable either -- not with the streaming options available.

I always try to avoid monthly fees and try to figure which of those I can get rid of by paying say, one fee. For instance (not a perfect example but), investing in a Skype phone that rings in the house when my computer is turned off.

Mostly I find that there's a lot of free services on the internet and if you Google properly they show up.

And I've loved the Tightwad Gazette for years.

November 4, 2010 at 12:43 PM  
Blogger Debi said...

I also wanted to throw my 2 cents in about small luxuries, and how fast they can add up. We found that for our weekly trip to the grocery (about and hour away) we were spending $1.40 on a bag of ice for the cooler. It didn't seem like much until we figured up a year's worth at nearly $73! Again, that alone won't make or break you, but when you add up all the small stuff, you could be saving hundreds if not thousands a year!

November 4, 2010 at 12:49 PM  
Blogger Colorado Girl said...

I just read all of these posts and realize...I do all of that! The previous readers took all of my ideas! =)
I completely agree with these suggestions:
*read all of the Tightwad Gazette books.
*make a written budget and stick to it
*write down all purchases in a budget and/or a spreadsheet
*use vinegar and baking soda to clean, or make other solutions
*make a big pot of coffee at home, keep extras in the fridge for the time that you want a quick cup, instead of going to the coffee shop.
*keep making those yummy pancakes and freeze some, to reheat in a pinch. (when you are too tired to cook) Also double your meals, when cooking, and freeze in single portions.
*always take a lunch with you, when going to town, instead of buying a meal.
Good luck!

November 4, 2010 at 12:51 PM  
Blogger bookjunky said...

When I was going to school I lived on about $700 a month, half of which went for rent. I used the envelope method which someone else mentioned. Figure your budget and deposit all money in the bank. Then, every week, take out in cash what you have to spend on food and sundries and put it in your wallet or an envelope. When the cash is gone, don't spend any more. No debit, no credit.

That's pretty well it.

As far as saving money, don't buy alcohol, clothes, books, or movies...those are probably your biggest money sinks. Use the library or look for free entertainment. Avoid impulse purchases (the envelope method helps with this as there is usually very little cash to start with.) Eat vegetarian often (I know you already do.)

Save on heating by bundling up, closing unused rooms, and insulating where possible. Use energy-efficient bulbs. etc.

I'm sure everyone else has already suggested most of this. It's really pretty basic. The hard part is being happy to be frugal. Rather than feeling sorry for yourself and feeling deprived and ending up spending on impulse purchases.

November 4, 2010 at 1:09 PM  
Blogger Boyles Family Farms said...

So many good ideas here. A small thing I'm doing is making some cloth bags to replace the ziplocs I use in the kids lunches. I've also used them to freeze veggies and stock in the past, so I'm trying to find something that will work to replace them there without taking up a ton of freezer space. That's harder. Any suggestions?

November 4, 2010 at 1:16 PM  
Blogger Betsy said...

I second the pre-paid cell phone plan! I switched to Page Plus, and I pay $30 a month (total, including taxes) for 1200 minutes and 1200 texts. It's even less if you use less. But only $50/month for unlimited.

I do all the "standard hippie things" Ayden mentioned. All great savers (and my hair has never looked better)...I'd add - stop using all paper products. No paper napkins/towels/even toilet paper (rinse instead).

I don't remember how you heat your house, but for every 1 degree F you turn down your heat, you'll save approximately 3% on your annual heating bill. How do you feel about wearing a hat inside?

Also - what temperature do you have your water heater set to? Can you bring it down? Do you have a hot water tank? Does it need to be insulated? Insulate pipes, too. And buy a caulk gun and a can of caulk and have fun airsealing. Anywhere cold air can get in, or hot air can get out = dollars flying through holes in your walls.

Put all your electronics on a power strip, and turn the strip off when you're not using them - easy way to avoid those vampire losses.

Good luck! I'm looking forward to posts about which of all these suggestions you find easy to do and useful towards your savings goals. There are a bunch of ideas here that I'm looking forward to trying.

November 4, 2010 at 1:22 PM  
Blogger Stephanie said...

Lots of good stuff here - I've tried much of it over the years!!!

If you have an Aldi it's just as cheap as Sam's club without the quantity. I keep pretty careful track of per pound prices on staples such as flour, honey, etc. Produce, if it's fresh, is a steal, at Aldi too. We eat a ton of oatmeal and beans and rice in the winter. I also make lots of mixes to have around (like instant cream soups, cocoa, biscuit mix) instead of buying them. "Family Feasts for $75 a week" by Mary Ostyn is a great resource for these.

I use the library a LOT! I wonder if you have a good library system. Since I love to visit the bookstores for the atmosphere, etc., I usually take a pen and paper with me. If I am tempted by something I write it down and either reserve it at the library or save it for when someone wants to know what to get me for my birthday.

I swear by the following for a general spray on/wipe off cleaner:
40% isopropyl alcohol
40% water
10% ammonia
Use like Fantastic or Windex on anything but rubber (alcohol with degrade rubber)

Good luck. I'm glad you posted this: I've learned a lot.

November 4, 2010 at 1:34 PM  
Blogger jenomnibus said...

Wow - there's some really great ideas here. I think the one that will make the most impact is the roommate idea. You have the space, so you could easily monetize it. If you're not hot on the idea of a full-time housemate, you could get, say, a student that would only stay a semester, or even someone just for the winter break. I went to college in upstate NY and they would close the campus for 6 weeks during the winter - a lot of those students don't want to go home, so this might be a good alternative.

Another thing you could do is rent one of your extra bedrooms to a writer as a writing space/office- someone who would only be there during the day while you're at work. That way you'd be able to maintain your privacy but still have some extra income.

November 4, 2010 at 1:43 PM  
Blogger bookjunky said...

I totally disagree with the comments about small purchases being unimportant. Most of your big items are more or less set - mortgage, utilities, etc. What you have control over is the smaller items. And it all adds up. If you spend an extra $25 a week on miscellaneous stuff, you've spent over $100 extra on non-essentials for the month. That can make the difference between getting into debt and staying out of it, or having some extra money in the bank for emergency car repairs.

To quote Charles Dickens:
"Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen six, result: happiness.

Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result: misery."

November 4, 2010 at 1:44 PM  
Blogger jenniferINvancouver said...

Hi Jenna,

I've read your books and your blog for a long time now but have never commented but I really wanted to share a frugality trick that knitters like myself and my mother have found invaluble.
If you like to knit but don't like paying for the expensive natural fibre yarns, try going to second hand stores and looking at their sweater selection. Very often you'll find hardly used, very cheap sweaters done up in good quality yarn (the tags will of course tell you the fibre content). These can be very easily taken apart and made into something more to your own taste. I've found many men's sweaters in beautiful emerald greens or chocolate browns and made them into boleros, shawls and cardigans for myself at a fraction of the price of buying the yarn new! You can get your knitting and making your own clothes fix in while still keeping the costs down. My mother got herself a second hand yarn winder for $10 which makes taking the sweaters apart even easier and tidier - I go to her house to unwind mine.

Someone else mentioned Gail vaz Oxlade and Her Til' Debt Do Us Part show/blog/website. I agree, this woman is a paragon of living frugally and not suffering for it. Her tips and tools are incredibly easy to use and her advice is wonderfully no nonsense and useful. I highly recommend her interactive budget worksheet.

Thanks for sharing your life, your trials and your successes with us. Your blog is a daily joy for me to read with my coffee in the morning and you continue to inspire me to make things at home and by hand.

Cheers,

Jennifer

November 4, 2010 at 2:36 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

As long as you are saving money each and every month for an emergency fund, you are fine; just cut back where you can. Most financial experts recommend a goal of three to six months net income put aside for emergencies. If you don't have this yet, then it should be your first priority, or any serious problem on your farm could be the end of the whole enterprise. Until you have that, then ALL optional expenses should really be looked at with a hard lens. I know you consider riding lessons to be "therapy" but sometimes even therapy has to be put on hold until there's more in the bank! But if you're already saving, then continue on with what you're doing and cut back on some of the things listed above.

November 4, 2010 at 2:48 PM  
Blogger Paula said...

Jenna- I have to disagree with people who advise you to cut up your credit cards.

Credit is a tool, that managed correctly, can make or save you money.

The trick is to make sure your credit card pays you something for using it and has no fees, and then use it like cash. Save up for the large stuff prior to buying it with your credit card, and then pay off the bill every month. We recently bought a refrigerator, but didn't even think about until we had the cash in the checking account.

Why do this? Because we earn 1% on everything that we put on the card, and that one percent rebate is automatically credited against the principal on our mortgage. The few dollars we make every month this way will save us thousands of dollars on the back end of our mortgage.

So cutting up the credit cards is not always the answer. Just make sure they're working for you, and pay them off every month. If you're in a pickle and have outstanding balances on several cards, pay off the one with the lowest balance first, even if it has a lower percentage on it. That flies in the face of conventional wisdom, but psychologically, it feels better to get something accomplished rather than tilt at windmills for months and years. Once the first card is paid off, take that money and work on the next one, until you get them all paid off. Try not to use them until you get them all paid off, and then use them like cash as I mentioned before. I've been there, and I've done this. Good luck!

November 4, 2010 at 2:51 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Wow some great ideas there. Another that we do is to save all the freebie newspspers that we get here, and recycle em into paper logs, machine cost about $12 on ebay and has saved us loads

November 4, 2010 at 4:38 PM  
Blogger Jenn said...

When you have livestock feeding them through the winter becomes your first priority. Every dollar you spend is potentially a dollar that could go towards hay or lay mash.

The spreadsheet idea is great. I use Quick Books and it allows me to see just where my money is going. But, I would also add that you list the expenses that are causing you concern, like the car repairs, feed, heat, etc. Then you can work on reducing category’s in order to cover an expense.

In the meantime, I would close off the heat vents and doors to rooms you don’t use or seldom use, especially one’s upstairs.

Check with your company’s insurance person and see if there is a way to reduce any part you have to pay. Think about temporarily canceling dental and vision until the next open enrollment period.

You said your weaknesses are: yarn/books/and currently homebrewing…

A friend of mine recycles yarn form clearance sweaters at the thrift store. Books can be purchased second hand at thrift stores, library book sales and on-line. My daughter always finds great titles for under a dollar on Amazon, but you have to watch the shipping. To keep your homebrewing alive how about Mead also called Honey Wine. You produce the major ingredient – honey – on your farm.

Items you want could be a holiday wish list for family and friends that need ideas.

On the food front, don’t let anything go to waste. That baked chicken you think is all used up has plenty of meat when cooked down for soup. It’s amazing how filling soup, salad and bread is. Fruit that’s past its prime can be used to flavor meat dishes. Where ever you go, from work to running errands, bring your beverage and food along. This will help keep you from running for quickies. It’s easy to cook a big batch of soup, stew, tagine in a crockpot and freeze the rest. Try to cook hearty dishes that are filling.

Check stores in your area for the best pricing. I have an ethnic market nearby that has great prices on produce - like 5 pounds of beets for a buck.

Don’t renew subscriptions until you get your feet back under you. There’s always a local paper or two in the staff room at work.

To keep your sanity search out free entertainment – lectures, concerts, movies at the library, anything that strikes your fancy and is free. If nothing appeals to you grab the dogs and go on a walk.

Hold off buying any new livestock until spring. This will help with the feed bill and heating if animals are too young to weather your winter.

Decide how you are going to handle holiday gifting – small token, homemade, IOU for a CAF made wool cap with next years wool crop or a heartfelt card. Send free electronic cards and save the cost of the card and postage.

That’s all I can think of at the moment. It might be helpful if you gave us specific areas of concern. We could give you more specific ideas.

Keep your chin up we’ve all been in your place at some point in our lives, and we’ve all worked our way out of it.

November 4, 2010 at 5:03 PM  
Blogger Jenn said...

When you have livestock feeding them through the winter becomes your first priority. Every dollar you spend is potentially a dollar that could go towards hay or lay mash.

The spreadsheet idea is great. I use Quick Books and it allows me to see just where my money is going. But, I would also add that you list the expenses that are causing you concern. Then you can work on reducing category’s in order to cover an expense.

In the meantime, I would close off the heat vents and doors to rooms you don’t use or seldom use, especially one’s upstairs.

Check with your company’s insurance person and see if there is a way to reduce any part you have to pay. Think about temporarily canceling dental and vision until the next open enrollment.

A friend of mine recycles yarn form clearance sweaters at the thrift store. Books can be purchased second hand at thrift stores, library book sales and on-line. To keep your homebrewing alive how about Mead also called Honey Wine. You produce the major ingredient – honey – on your farm.

Items you want could be a holiday wish list for family and friends that need ideas.

On the food front, don’t let anything go to waste. Baked chicken has plenty of meat when cooked down for soup. It’s amazing how filling soup, salad and bread is. Fruit that’s past its prime can be used to flavor meat dishes. Where ever you go, from work to running errands, bring your beverage and food along. This will help keep you from running for quickies. It’s easy to cook a big batch of soup, stew, tagine in a crockpot and freeze the rest. Try to cook hearty dishes that are filling.

Check stores in your area for the best pricing. I have an ethnic market nearby that has great prices on produce - like 5 pounds of beets for a buck.

Don’t renew subscriptions until you get your feet back under you. There’s always a local paper or two in the staff room at work.

To keep your sanity search out free entertainment – lectures, concerts, movies at the library, anything that strikes your fancy and is free. If nothing appeals to you grab the dogs and go on a walk.

Hold off buying any new livestock until spring.

Decide how you are going to handle holiday gifting – small token, homemade, IOU for a CAF made wool cap with next years wool crop or a heartfelt card.

That’s all I can think of at the moment. It might be helpful if you gave us specific areas of concern. We could give you more specific ideas.

Keep your chin up we’ve all been in your place at some point in our lives, and we’ve all worked our way out of it.

November 4, 2010 at 5:06 PM  
Blogger Jenn said...

When you have livestock feeding them through the winter becomes your first priority. Every dollar you spend is potentially a dollar that could go towards hay or lay mash.

The spreadsheet idea is great. But, I would also list the expenses that are causing you concern. Then you can work on reducing category’s in order to cover an expense.

In the meantime, I would close off the heat vents and doors to rooms you don’t use, especially one’s upstairs.

Check with your company’s insurance person to see if there is a way to reduce any part you have to pay. Think about temporarily canceling dental and vision until the next open enrollment.

To keep your homebrewing alive how about Mead also called Honey Wine. You produce the major ingredient – honey – on your farm.

Items you want could be a holiday wish list for family and friends that need ideas.

On the food front, don’t let anything go to waste. Baked chicken has plenty of meat when cooked down for soup. It’s amazing how filling soup, salad and bread is. Fruit that’s past its prime can be used to flavor meat dishes. Where ever you go, from work to running errands, bring your beverage and food along. This will help keep you from running for quickies. It’s easy to cook a big batch of soup, stew, tagine in a crockpot and freeze the rest. Try to cook hearty dishes that are filling.

Check stores in your area for the best pricing. I have an ethnic market nearby that has great prices on produce - like 5 pounds of beets for a buck.

Don’t renew subscriptions until you get your feet back under you. There’s always a local paper or two in the staff room at work.

To keep your sanity search out free entertainment – lectures, concerts, movies at the library, anything that strikes your fancy and is free. If nothing appeals to you grab the dogs and go on a walk.

Hold off buying any new livestock until spring.

Decide how you are going to handle holiday gifting – small token, homemade, IOU for a CAF made wool cap with next years wool crop or a heartfelt card.

That’s all I can think of at the moment. It might be helpful if you gave us specific areas of concern. We could give you more specific ideas.

Keep your chin up we’ve all been in your place at some point in our lives, and we’ve all worked our way out of it.

November 4, 2010 at 5:11 PM  
Blogger Jenn said...

When you have livestock feeding them through the winter becomes your first priority. Every dollar you spend is potentially a dollar that could go towards hay or lay mash.

The spreadsheet idea is great. I use Quick Books and it allows me to see just where my money is going. But, I would also add that you list the expenses that are causing you concern. Then you can work on reducing category’s in order to cover an expense.

In the meantime, I would close off the heat vents and doors to rooms you don’t use or seldom use, especially one’s upstairs.

Check with your company’s insurance person and see if there is a way to reduce any part you have to pay. Think about temporarily canceling dental and vision until the next open enrollment.

A friend of mine recycles yarn form clearance sweaters at the thrift store. Books can be purchased second hand at thrift stores, library book sales and on-line. To keep your homebrewing alive how about Mead also called Honey Wine. You produce the major ingredient – honey – on your farm.

Items you want could be a holiday wish list for family and friends that need ideas.

On the food front, don’t let anything go to waste. Baked chicken has plenty of meat when cooked down for soup. It’s amazing how filling soup, salad and bread is. Fruit that’s past its prime can be used to flavor meat dishes. Where ever you go, from work to running errands, bring your beverage and food along. This will help keep you from running for quickies. It’s easy to cook a big batch of soup, stew, tagine in a crockpot and freeze the rest. Try to cook hearty dishes that are filling.

Check stores in your area for the best pricing. I have an ethnic market nearby that has great prices on produce - like 5 pounds of beets for a buck.

Don’t renew subscriptions until you get your feet back under you. There’s always a local paper or two in the staff room at work.

To keep your sanity search out free entertainment – lectures, concerts, movies at the library, anything that strikes your fancy and is free. If nothing appeals to you grab the dogs and go on a walk.

Hold off buying any new livestock until spring.

Decide how you are going to handle holiday gifting – small token, homemade, IOU for a CAF made wool cap with next years wool crop or a heartfelt card.

That’s all I can think of at the moment. It might be helpful if you gave us specific areas of concern. We could give you more specific ideas.

Keep your chin up we’ve all been in your place at some point in our lives, and we’ve all worked our way out of it.

November 4, 2010 at 5:12 PM  
Blogger Jenn said...

When you have livestock feeding them through the winter becomes your first priority. Every dollar you spend is potentially a dollar that could go towards hay or lay mash.

The spreadsheet idea is great. I use Quick Books and it allows me to see just where my money is going. But, I would also add that you list the expenses that are causing you concern. Then you can work on reducing category’s in order to cover an expense.

In the meantime, I would close off the heat vents and doors to rooms you don’t use or seldom use, especially one’s upstairs.

Check with your company’s insurance person and see if there is a way to reduce any part you have to pay. Think about temporarily canceling dental and vision until the next open enrollment.

A friend of mine recycles yarn form clearance sweaters at the thrift store. Books can be purchased second hand at thrift stores, library book sales and on-line. To keep your homebrewing alive how about Mead also called Honey Wine. You produce the major ingredient – honey – on your farm.

Items you want could be a holiday wish list for family and friends that need ideas.

On the food front, don’t let anything go to waste. Baked chicken has plenty of meat when cooked down for soup. It’s amazing how filling soup, salad and bread is. Fruit that’s past its prime can be used to flavor meat dishes. Where ever you go, from work to running errands, bring your beverage and food along. This will help keep you from running for quickies. It’s easy to cook a big batch of soup, stew, tagine in a crockpot and freeze the rest. Try to cook hearty dishes that are filling.

Check stores in your area for the best pricing. I have an ethnic market nearby that has great prices on produce - like 5 pounds of beets for a buck.

Don’t renew subscriptions until you get your feet back under you. There’s always a local paper or two in the staff room at work.

To keep your sanity search out free entertainment – lectures, concerts, movies at the library, anything that strikes your fancy and is free. If nothing appeals to you grab the dogs and go on a walk.

Hold off buying any new livestock until spring.

Decide how you are going to handle holiday gifting – small token, homemade, IOU for a CAF made wool cap with next years wool crop or a heartfelt card.

Keep your chin up, we’ve all been in your place at some point in our lives, and we’ve all worked our way out of it.

November 4, 2010 at 5:13 PM  
Blogger Jenn said...

OMG!!!! sooo sorry. It said they didn't go through. Delete, delete, delete:)

November 4, 2010 at 5:15 PM  
Blogger Rachael said...

Dont know if anyone mentioned reading Your Money or Your Life, very helpful

November 4, 2010 at 5:58 PM  
Blogger Amy McPherson Sirk said...

We don't have a big freezer because I don't want the big electric bill. I have a water bath canner and a pressure canner. Everything possible goes in jars, even soup and meat. One good exercise is to keep a spending diary. Write down every penny you spend for 30 days. Then you can see your habits clearly and can decide which purchases are most important to you. You may decide to keep the visit to the coffee shop and let go of the magazines. Whatever habit is important to you is what you keep.

November 4, 2010 at 6:11 PM  
Blogger Amy Timberlake said...

One more thing: One thing I did this last year was keep track of every single expenditure -- kept the receipts on a bank stake -- just to see where I was spending more than I wanted. I honestly don't think you have to do a year, but I wanted to do it . . . But bank stakes are great for keeping receipts handy.

About cell phones: Most people probably need them. But I don't have one, except for a prepaid Tracphone for emergencies/car trips. Skype is VOIP on a computer. My computer and internet is where I want to spend my communication dollar -- it's what I use the most.

November 4, 2010 at 7:25 PM  
Blogger Helena said...

I got tired of paying for things that just ended up in the trash, so we now use cloth napkins and I use rags rather than paper towels for almost everything (when the cat gets sick, I use a paper towel--that's really the only exception). I'm planning on switching to cloth feminine products, and I'm trying to convince my husband that hankies might be the way to go over paper tissues. It seems like a small thing, but I've notices that we've definitely saved since we haven't been buying the huge packs of paper goods at Sam's Club.

Also, use containers instead of foil/wax paper/plastic wrap. There again, you're paying for something that gets used once, then goes in the trash. We do use some ziplock bags, but I wash and reuse them, and I'm trying to phase those out as well.

November 4, 2010 at 11:11 PM  
Blogger Amy said...

There are a ton of great comments and I didn't get through all of them so I apologize if someone already said this. We, like you, live on the nitty gritty so it's hard to find ways to cut costs. I started writing a menu for monthly dinners and this helped significantly on our food bill. After writing the menu I determine I need to purchase 3 ham hocks, 2 bacons, etc. I do our major shopping once a month and then I go to the store only for milk and cheese (until I get my goat!)after that. The Tightwade Gazette suggests price comparisons and I did that and discovered my local Safeway is hugely overpriced. A 14mile drive saves me alot of money and since I go that way for other bulk foods I'm not having to go out of the way.

I saw that someone mentioned using homemade menstrual pads. Store bought is so expensive! My skin can't handle store bought so I had to switch to homemade. Luckily I don't need T's but I did make P's for myself by tracing a store bought version, using old flannel shirts, a PUL liner (any outdoor fabric would work) and some velcro. Make sure to either round the velcro edges or stitch them down entirely because they are sharp. My skin is much happier and so is my wallet - and the earth! Your costs for the outdoor fabric and velcro is only a few bucks for something that will last a year. Beats spending 10bucks a month.

November 5, 2010 at 12:59 AM  
Blogger Scott said...

I haven't taken the time to read all the comments, so my apologies if I am being repetitive. First - a programmable thermostat. They cost about $40 and saved my over 100 gallons of oil last year. Second, those halogen lightbulbs. Third, if you aren;t already doing so, tun off your computer at night and during the day when you are at work. If you happen to be using an old style CRT monitor, replace it with a flat screen.
You strike me as a frugal type anyway, but these are just a couple of thoughts

November 5, 2010 at 5:02 AM  
Blogger Green said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

November 5, 2010 at 10:37 AM  
Blogger Green said...

Do you belong to a Local Exchange and Barter System?

I'm sure with your background you are aware of these, but they are like a bank account for community favours.

You give someone some wool, that person fixes someones car, the person with the now fixed car drives someones's mom to town for clinic visits, someone in that family does someone's taxes, and THAT person gives you some chickens!

The thing is, it does't have to be one to one. If they need wool but you don't need car repair, it's okay, within the community it all works out. Every member has a kind of bankbook for what they have put in and out of the system.

Here is a boring Wikipedia link, but if you start looking there is a lot of great information out there on the topic.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Local_Exchange_Trading_Systems

oh, and I said in facebook, and other people here have mentioned - Your Money or Your Life by Robin and Dominguez

November 5, 2010 at 10:41 AM  
Blogger Jasmine said...

Jenna, there's lots of great ideas herein (above), but DO NOT sell the "extra" vehicle. Neither of your vehicles are "extra." You do not need to justify keeping them both. You need them both. I was reading when you were hauling hay in the subaru. You're saving gas and time using the truck. Also, you'll have more fences, sheds, barns, incubators, home repairs, what have you to haul supplies for... you need the workhorse-ability of the truck.
You also work a full time job, driving back roads in upstate new york. Your subaru is quite likely saving your life.
I grew up in southern maine, and now live in alaska. I know what 4 wheel or all wheel drive means. You absolutely need it. And I drove a 2 wheel ford truck in the winter in suburban connecticut... add ice and it was SCARY.

That said, see if your insurance will let you insure the truck as an "occasional" use vehicle... costs less.

November 5, 2010 at 1:02 PM  
Blogger Jasmine said...

oh. the other thing I was going to say is WOODSTOVE.

Growing up in southern maine, we lived in an old farmhouse where the wind literally blew through the walls the first winter. After some repair work, we heated the entire place primarily by woodstove. Here in Alaska its our primary heat source too. The extremes of the house can get chilly with the heat turned down, but you get a warm warm glowing center to the home to cuddle up or hunker down with the dogs, a brew, and some yarn! There's nothing like wood heat, seeps into your bones!
If you don't already have a woodstove in the house, its worth buying a really good one (BlazeKing is the absolute best, my mother just got one, and my inlaws -who live really rural- use theirs with amazing results) is really really worth it. Which means saving up for it.
Also, long term planning for wood. Buy it green. Build a shed, or even just make a spot to keep it with a tarp over it. Then let it sit, and burn it the second or third year (depending on the type of wood). It will really save you ALOT. Also, wood cutters tend (though not always) to be the type of person who would be up for bartering!

November 5, 2010 at 1:09 PM  
Blogger Christine said...

Consider selling some of your yarn you may not need now on ravelry. Or do a swap if there's a project you'd like to knit, offer a yarn swap with someone that's got yarn you like in their stash.

Hang in there!

November 5, 2010 at 1:34 PM  
Blogger Christine said...

Also, whatever yarn or fiber doesn't sell in your club, consider putting it on etsy. Put a link on your blog and I know lots of us knitters would love to buy some! You can also destash on etsy, but I find beter results as I posted earlier on ravelry.com. It's almost shameful to admit, but when I spilt a cold cup of old hot tea on my macbook, I was able to almost entirely purchase a new one with money made from selling my yarn stash on ravelry. No fees too!

November 5, 2010 at 1:37 PM  
Blogger Sarah said...

Another thing I just thought of - And I'm not sure if it works the same in NY as MA - I know we have the dump and pickup truck on "farm plates" - I think it effects the insurance differently. The cars are plain old commercial vehicles.
Might knock a few bucks off insurance if there's a difference.
- S.

November 5, 2010 at 1:58 PM  
Blogger Chicky said...

Another thought...
Your hunter's safety class will go a LONG way. You've already tried out bird hunting. Maybe your friend that took you (or another friend) can show you the ropes for big game hunting - mainly deer, but elk, antelope, whatever you have in NY. My husband hunts the "standard" big game here in WY - elk, deer, & antelope (along with birds). The tags for in-state hunters are fairly cheap & one animal provides plenty of meat. This year he brought home a buck deer, buck antelope, & bull elk...we had so much extra meat leftover from last year & with the new addition, we donated an entire antelope to the local Food Bank. But the point I'm getting at...we don't buy ANY red meat from the store. To save money, we process all our own meat, which can be time consuming, but with a grinder & a bit of pork fat, we have ground meat year-round. Or you can go a bit farther & get a stuffer, a hand-me-down smoker, & make sausages too (which we do). On occasion, we might buy whole free-range chickens for meat & stock, but that's b/c we're not yet at the point where we have meat chickens for food (we have four young "dual purpose" hens, but they're still laying & we use the eggs more :)). I digress...hunting is a wonderful way to save money. And done safely, lawfully, & properly, it's a humane, natural form of existence.

November 5, 2010 at 10:14 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

You are always asking for Something!!! First it was the House! Then the Barn!!!Then the next episode of Jenna's Online Drama: oh,who will watch the farm over the holidays (despite her self proclamation of wanting to be a full time farmer) and now ...How do I budget? Are you kidding me and everyone else, master of getting what I want right NOW Manipulator. You may write and you may wield a pretty pen but in the end you are FOR SALE

November 6, 2010 at 12:31 AM  
OpenID thatsthelife said...

Chris, it looks like it's time to find a new blog to follow, buddy. You're being rude and patronizing, and you're embarrassing yourself.

Jenna, K & I enjoy a game called "the money challenge!"

Every time we get a pay, we put $50 in an envelope and seal it. We have a crazy-tight budget at the moment, so this is $50 coming right out of our grocery budget. Then the challenge ensues! We try to get through the following two weeks without using that $50. It's comforting that it's there in case of a true emergency, but having it be a game to challenge our creativity, rather than an arduous discipline, motivates us to *want* to save that money and do without the ben & jerry's ice cream.

We make meals that stretch like big pots of soup, chili or roasts and then divide it into single portions and fill our freezer.

When we make it to the end of the month and the rent cheque clears, we're allowed to open the envelope - we won the challenge!

Right now, the money is going right back into the envelope because we want to be able to take a trip to the hot springs this winter.

November 6, 2010 at 2:59 AM  
Blogger Cindy said...

There are many good tips here. Definitely turn off the water heater when you are not home. It it second to heat in energy use. Unplug the power strip,don't just turn it off when not in use, if you want surge protection. When you are in a larger town, look for discount stores like Ross and TJ Max for clothes and household goods. The clothes are sometimes less expensive than I can make them, and there are some things (underwear, pillows,etc) that I would not buy used. Make your own dog treats. Lots of recipes on the net. I totally understand wanting to buy the yarn, but buy only after you finish a project and need more. I have stuff that I have had for 25 years that I still have't used.

November 6, 2010 at 10:25 AM  
Blogger Vasha said...

mint.com

it's a free online budgeting website. it takes an hour(ish) to get all set up but then it's just checking it here and there. you don't have to bother with an excel spreadsheet or notebook. it will also send you an email if there is unusual spending in a certain category or if you've exceeded your budget for the month.

November 6, 2010 at 12:49 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

These are great!

I am trying my best to use a lot of them, mostly buying used and not spending money I don't have to. Things like making coffee at home instead of buying any, eating in and bringing lunches, and bartering are all things I could do more of. I can't do them all, like sell a vehicle (no way) but I can be smarter about everything I spend and I will start tracking it all.

I thank everyone who suggested! I'll get on mint.com for certain.

November 6, 2010 at 3:54 PM  
Blogger greendria said...

Why do people feel the need to submit mean posts here? Geez, I'm going to try not to let him be a kill-joy and just be glad the rest of us are having a good time pondering the topic at hand. Do not buy garbage bags, ziplocs, foil, saran, etc. Save the bags from cracker and cereal boxes, you will use those instead. Don't buy paper towels or kleenex, use old shirts. Don't buy snacks. Drive less. Take some seemingly small amount from each pay check, $10, $20, literally withdraw it from the bank in cash, hide it in an envelope. I know people will say keep it in an interest-bearing account. Only if you're very disciplined and really won't touch it. Reuse computer paper until both sides are filled, and still try not to print much. Clean with baking soda and vinegar. Add 1/2 the laundry soap you normally use, you don't need hardly any at all - try it, you'll see.

November 8, 2010 at 1:09 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

People can comment however they want. I just wish the people with something to get off their chest would just email me.

November 8, 2010 at 1:18 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

You have probably heard of "thegrocerygame.com. I started using this data base to save money on groceries. The last to shopping trips I save 57% and 81%. It is a great way to stock up. I buy 5 papers at the dollar store and cut, cut.cut. there is a learning curve, but once you get the hang of it, you save bundles.

November 9, 2010 at 9:00 AM  
Blogger Mimi said...

WELL!! there are a huge number of excellent suggestions here. I might as well weigh in :-) First, let me say, I am definitely going to try some of these. However, I am not going to use homemade feminine products. I'm sure there are so many other ways that I can save without going that far. No disrespect meant to those who are doing this. I can food, and have for years, people have said what about all the electricity you use for hours as you can--well, that is a good point, but I feel I am gaining in knowledge that the food I'm canning doesn't have pesticides and everything about the process is impeccable. I'll make that sacrifice of the cost of electricity. It's not terrible to belong to a big box club like Sam's or Costco--the cost of being a member was made up for me in almost no time because of the volume of milk my kids drank. And, they are truly bargains, I know that from people who work there and have told me about how they work to keep prices competitive. Or check unit prices, that will show you and anything that is priced with a 1 at the end of the price like $9.71 indicates that the item is rock bottom and being discontinued or sold out as fast as possible to make room for new merchandise. For me, when I buy bulk flour and sugar, for example--it lasts me for many months and some items for almost a year--I save gas and avoid price fluctuations over that period of time. It also ensures I'm not stuck in bad weather without things I need--foil, saran, flour, sugar, coffee, tea, toothpaste, toilet tissue, soap, and so on. And the expensive shampoos are much less expensive there and I buy big bottles that last a very long time. Frugality doesn't have to be living poorly, just smartly. I agree with unplugging things, I'm the queen of that, and weatherizing your house. You already save a lot by planting a garden, your own eggs, a lot of your own meat and even wool. And, yes, I agree with all those who said that while you need to watch the huge expenditures like mortgage and cars, it really, really does help to keep an eye on daily small spending, just do the math. I don't like to borrow from the library, tho I still do sometimes; I often don't like the time I have to read a book because I might be too busy to get it done in time--I go to community or church book sales and they are so inexpensive, it's unbelievable. Or my co-workers swap books around the office. You are such a good writer and I'm inspired by you and those who comment, except maybe Chris--dude, you're just rude and kinda mean. Thanks for asking such an excellent question, Jenna, I've appreciated reading all the good ideas so you did all of us a favor. Mimi

November 9, 2010 at 2:40 PM  
OpenID ahhhndrea said...

Just another suggestion, but my boyfriend and I recently moved across country and consigned a TON of stuff (clothing, furniture, picture frames, yarn, kitchen stuff, books, etc) and made a decent chunk of change doing so. I'm guessing you're pretty far from the nearest consignment store, and since you recently moved you probably gave/donated a lot of your things anyway, but it's still something to consider. You could take a weekend day and haul up a load. Or possibly doing a CAF yard/bake sale (might be better off in the the spring for this).

November 9, 2010 at 5:59 PM  
Blogger beccaWA said...

In response to Tara's idea about feeding your dogs off the farm, yes! It really is good for them. I'd like to add, though, that you can feed them raw bones if you wish. Raw bones have been part of canine diet for thousands of years. Raw bones are pliable and digestible (just make sure they are not too large as to be a choking hazard) as opposed to COOKED bones. NEVER feed an animal cooked bones -- they are brittle and splinter.

December 21, 2010 at 11:32 AM  
Blogger beccaWA said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

December 21, 2010 at 11:32 AM  
Blogger beccaWA said...

In response to Tara's idea about feeding your dogs off the farm, yes! It really is good for them. I'd like to add, though, that you can feed them raw bones if you wish. Raw bones have been part of canine diet for thousands of years. Raw bones are pliable and digestible (just make sure they are not too large as to be a choking hazard) as opposed to COOKED bones. NEVER feed an animal cooked bones -- they are brittle and splinter.

December 21, 2010 at 6:11 PM  
Blogger beccaWA said...

In response to Tara's idea about feeding your dogs off the farm, yes! It really is good for them. I'd like to add, though, that you can feed them raw bones if you wish. Raw bones have been part of canine diet for thousands of years. Raw bones are pliable and digestible (just make sure they are not too large as to be a choking hazard) as opposed to COOKED bones. NEVER feed an animal cooked bones -- they are brittle and splinter.

December 21, 2010 at 6:11 PM  

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