There are many ways to lose money and with modern technology now there are more than ever before. Here are a few money sinkholes and how to combat them.
No joke. Don’t go on the internet when you are ill. You will end up going to your doctor over nothing. What makes us go running to our doctor when we try to diagnose ourselves based on website information? It’s the fact that there are a thousand things that share the same symptoms. The most popular symptom sharers right now are the flu and ebola. One means two days in bed and plenty of fluids. The other means medical isolation. While your internet hypochondria may not be so severe, there are many diseases that share the same symptoms and our minds naturally gravitate towards the worse case scenario.
Keep your family doctor’s number or your ask a nurse number handy. They can tell you what sickness is running through your community, if you need to go to a doctor, and what steps you can take at home when a doctor isn’t needed. They can also tell you a time frame that the symptoms you are experiencing should subside and what to do if they don’t.
Goodness knows how much money has been wasted on social games. There is a sense of obligation to play when your friends are playing. Then there is the desire to build up your city, farm, or cafe. Next you are running out of time for a certain quest, a quest item won’t drop for you, or you have to have that new bunny. And every last one costs money. So you spend money on your non existent establishment.
Limit your time playing social games. Just limiting your time can reduce the chances of you spending money and getting caught up in keeping up with the Jones’ imaginary farm. That being said, social games can become a time wasting addiction. It’s because it’s social interaction that is passive and on everyone’s schedule eventually. Be more socially aggressive. Make a phone call. Write a Facebook comment. Have a party. You’ll feel more socially fulfilled. I promise.
Trying To Make Money
We have all seen the get rich quick schemes that the internet has to offer. They start out with the word free and end with a credit card number request. Some of us have tried them. There are web hosting sites that turn out to be useless to us. There are sites that promise to help us make money, but end up only being a platform to sell us other people’s merchandise. Some of these sites gum up your computer in the process of trying to use them.
Check each site, product, or company with the Better Business Bureau. If the BBB won’t approve it, don’t use its services. Check to see how long your company or service has been in business. Usually the longer a service or business has been around the better the chances are that it’s legitimate. Last, ask around. Ask friends or look for reviews of the company or service on the web. If a service is shady people are more than happy to let the world know.
There are many ways to cut corners when it comes to household costs. My favorites are finding a use for something that I already have. I don’t need to buy an extra item and I get more use out of the items I have. It reduces clutter and increases the room in my shopping cart.
The Fridge Instead of Dry Erase Boards
If you have a standard white fridge don’t buy a dry erase board. Dry erase crayon and marker comes off of your standard white fridge just fine. It’s also a high traffic area so it’s very likely that if you leave a message for a family member on it, they will get the message. For our shorter family members it’s a treat to be able to write on the fridge and only takes a wet cloth to wipe away. You can draw a calendar on your freezer door or write down emergency numbers for the babysitter. It’s a great way to get more use out of your fridge.
The Cleaning Sponge Instead of Wash Cloths and Loofahs
Sponges were made for cleaning and that includes your body. They absorb more than enough soap and water to get your skin clean. If you want to exfoliate use the ones (lightly and gently) that have a the green scrubbing pad on one side. They come in a variety of colors so that you can tell each family member’s sponge from another. If the color system doesn’t appeal to you, you could just get a six pack of sponges and cut them into different shapes for a useful kids crafts. They will love their custom sponge and you will love using the leftovers as cleaning supplies.
Cook Wear Instead of Mixing Bowls
This is a great tip for those with limited cupboard space in their kitchen. Don’t get mixing bowls. Instead use pots to mix up your cookie dough, or mix ingredients for your latest casserole recipe. Your cookware will work just as well as mixing bowls and using them saves both money and space.
There is more to preparation than having food, water, and climate control (we covered that in Frugal Prepper – Part 1). There is the problem of where to put it all once you have it. What will you do for laundry or cooking without electricity? What good is a generator without fuel? For apartment dwellers these issues are compounded with our lack of room for storage. Luckily there are ways around all of these issues if you want to be a prepper.
I know of people who build sheds in their backyard to keep all their preparation supplies. This doesn’t fit into the budget for everyone. Also some of us are apartment dwellers and as a result have no backyard. For those of us that are in the latter living situation, there are still places we can store our supplies. Canned goods can be stored in entertainment centers, under beds and sofas, and in closets. You could also go vertical by putting your canned goods on book shelves bought cheap at thrift stores. Just make sure you distribute it across your home in a manner that the weight of your storage won’t cause it to crash through your downstairs neighbors ceiling.
If you’re crafty, you can also create bean bag chairs that will hold your packages of beans, peas, lentils, rice, or other bagged dry goods. These can be anywhere in your home and serve a purpose other than storage.
Check Out Youtube
Youtube is a great resource when it comes to frugal preparation. So far our family has found videos showing how to make a homemade swamp cooler inexpensively that we could run on our homemade generator that requires exercise instead of fuel. The generator can also be made inexpensively and be used to charge a 12 volt car battery which our camp stove can run off. You can even learn how to make a camp toilet, which will be very much needed should the worst happen to your plumbing.
Electricity Free Items
I have already mentioned the camp stove that runs off a car battery. It costs about thirty dollars on Amazon last time I checked. Another thirty dollar purchase is a hand cranked washer for laundry. If you add a few drying racks you have a laundry system that didn’t cost too much and doesn’t rely on electricity. It can also save you money during non emergency life if you are looking for ways to keep more money in your wallet. It may cost a bit under one hundred dollars for these items, but that’s much less than a generator and the fuel required to run it.
Buy In Bulk
Get a card for Costco or Sam’s Club and buy your canned and dry goods in bulk. It will cost less and give you a good jump on having an actual surplus. Make sure you buy food that your family will actually eat. Your toddler still won’t like canned asparagus in a crisis. Don’t forget things like toilet paper. As your gain your surplus, use what you have and replace it regularly so that it doesn’t go bad.
As we head in to cold and flu season (and are cautiously watching the Ebola story unfold), our family has begun working on building up our immunity. One of the ways we are doing that is by including elderberry syrup as part of our daily regimen. Did you know that elderberries in the form of elderberry syrup have been shown to boost immunity, decrease mucous production during colds, and fight the flu? If you already know that, then you may also know that buying a good elderberry syrup is not cheap. I looked around online only to find that I could easily spend anywhere from $12 to $15 for four ounces!
So, I decided to make my own. It was very simple. I used only five ingredients, not including the water, and the whole process took about one hour. Here’s the recipe.
3 1/2 cups water
2/3 cup organic dried black elderberries
2 Tbsp. fresh ginger (I grated it, but you could use ground ginger.)
1 tsp organic cinnamon (I used one cinnamon stick because it’s what I had)
1/2 tsp organic cloves (you may use clove powder)
1/3 organic raw honey
1. Put all the ingredients, except the honey, into a pot and bring to a boil.
2. When it begins to boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer for about 45 minutes.
3. At the end of the 45 minutes, the liquid will have been reduced by about half. Pour through a strainer to remove the elderberries, cloves and ginger (if you didn’t use ground cloves and ginger).
4. Pour into a glass container (like a mason jar) and mix in the honey.
5. Once it has cooled, cover it and store it in the refrigerator.
We each take about a teaspoon a day. The children love it so much that they ask if they can have some “medicine.” Sometimes I just put the teaspoon into their juice. Either way, I feel great about this easy way to help boost their immunity.
What do you do to prepare for cold and flu season?
Most of the time to save money means to not spend it on frivolous items and getting rid of clutter. Other times it means to invest in very useful items and keeping things on file. Here are a few helpful tips in line with the latter school of thought.
Fire and smoke detectors don’t cost very much, but are often over looked when it comes to being prepared. They not only can save lives, they can save money. The more your family is prepared the less likely your insurance will deny your claim should the worst happen. Make sure your detector is functioning properly and has batteries. Also consider getting a carbon monoxide detector. Check on Amazon. There are various CO detectors for any budget. They can save your family’s life and save on medical expenses.
Last but not least, if it’s in your budget, consider getting a security system. The sign in your yard by itself has been known to deter those who would break in. For those extra bold individuals who would break into your home it notifies your security company who will in turn notify the police. It will cost less than replacing things in your home that have been broken or stolen.
Phone numbers are the first numbers that come to mind when it comes to saving money. Calling a store or company with a question is far more cost effective than making a trip across town to do the same thing. Even if you end up needing to go to their location, your time will be saved because the details of your visit have been taken care of over the phone. Also keep medical numbers, roadside assistance numbers, and family numbers on hand. These will save you money in emergency situations.
Confirmation numbers are the second numbers to keep around. When you pay a bill over the phone always write down your confirmation number of that payment on the bill and then file it. If you ever need to prove you have already paid a bill, your bill and confirmation number will be at your fingertips. You could also use your bank statements in a pinch if you need to. Without proof of payment, however, you may end up paying the same bill more than once.
Contracts of Service
Another item you need to keep on file are service agreements. Did you agree to a data limit on your internet? Are you stuck in the contract for a specified amount of time? Are you entitled to free maintenance? All these questions can be answered in your service contract. The same goes with your lease. Will you be fined for hanging things off your balcony? Your lease should be able to tell you.
Some of us have the goal to be prepared for anything. We are ready should a zombie invasion take place, that’s how prepared we are. Being that prepared can be costly. After all we are preparing for a future time without paychecks to go along with a month to years worth of resources on hand. Never fear though, because as a creative, frugal mastermind your lofty prepping goals are still within your reach.
Having water is something that we take for granted. It comes out of the faucet and we use it for everything. We use it for cooking, sanitation, and drinking. It’s necessary to reconstitute baby formula and some types of medications. If, for some reason, we lost our access to clean water if would be a disaster. It would be off the store shelves faster than you could blink.
That’s why preppers look for ways to store water. Forget water beds and pools that you have to add chemicals to the water that wouldn’t be ideal for drinking. Some of us don’t have those potential water storing items anyway. Instead, use liquid containers that you already get from the store. Soda bottles are ideal. You won’t be spending more money because you already have bought the container. Just wash it out and fill it at the tap. Don’t use milk jugs that may leak and cause your family a personal little water crisis. And don’t use old juice bottles because those aren’t safe from bacteria growth from even the slightest bit of fruit juice residue left in the container. No matter how much you wash those you’re at risk. But soda bottles work fine because there’s nothing really organic enough in soda to develop into bacteria growth. (Which makes you think… but that’s a whole other topic.)
Dollar stores are the ideal place to find candles, soap, and some first aid supplies. If you are preparing seventy two hour kits (which you should because it takes FEMA at least 72 hours to arrive to help after a disaster, or if you have to evacuate you need to be prepared to take care of yourself at a shelter for at least 3 days, just in case) the dollar store is a great place to find your children activities that will pass the time in a shelter or at home with the power out. It’s also a good place to find food substances that will fit into a back pack if you need to travel. Dollar stores will keep your costs down and still meet many of your family’s prepping needs.
It doesn’t matter if it’s the middle of summer or the middle of winter. The outside climate can cause issues when the power goes out. It’s more severe in some places than it is in others, but being used to climate control we need to be able to control our climate when the power goes out. One way to do this is to put tin foil on our windows. It keeps cold air from seeping through the windows, or a least slows the pace of which it seeps. In the summer it reflects sunlight and heat away from your home.
Cloth solutions are also a good part of preparation in regards to climate control. Use curtains to add extra insulation to your home. A good curtain can keep both heat and cold at bay. Also, you can never have enough blankets. For some family fun during a black out build a blanket fort in the living room and have a family living room camping trip. It will allow your family to share body heat which will be contained by the fort. That aside, it will be a good diversion for your children.
Seasonal decor is a wonderful way to brighten up your home and autumn is one of the most beautiful seasons to decorate for. There are plenty of rich oranges, reds, yellows, and browns. There are even the darker greens to work with. It’s a celebration of nature and the beauty that comes with harvest time and change. Decorating for autumn can however get very expensive, but it doesn’t have to be.
Buy Pie Pumpkins
When you buy a pie pumpkin, as suggested buy the name, you can turn it into a pie. Paint a face on it for Halloween rather than carve into it. It can sit in the center of your kitchen table or on your counter. When Halloween is over you can use it for a pumpkin pies in November. It’s fresher than canned pumpkin and has served a purpose for two different but close holidays.
When you press a colored leaf in a book it will retain its color. You could also laminate your leaves if you feel so inclined. Make sure your leaves are pest free and dry. Freshly fallen leaves work best. Laminated they can be made into autumn place mats. Or you can use them to garnish your main autumn decorations. They can even be used in children crafts. After you’re done with them, many of your crafts and decorations can be disassembled and made into mulch for your spring garden instead of taking up space in your storage areas.
Family Picture Switch Up
Change out the pictures in your picture frames with last year’s pictures taken in autumn. Same old frames and only the cost of getting your pictures printed. Each year you will have a new set of pictures to work with and be able to remember the fun family time you had. Take the old photos and put them in scrapbooks and albums. This helps add to your family photo collection and also helps getting the pictures on your walls past baby pictures.
I didn’t realize it until very recently that my dear little toddler was helping me to save money. Part of it, I admit is my own paranoia, but a big part of it is the activities he chooses to engage in all by himself. Here’s what I mean.
The last thing I want around my house with my little guy running around is a bunch of harmful chemicals he could get into. So now I swear by vinegar, baking soda, and lemon juice. Since I cook with these three ingredients anyway they already were kept in stock at my house, but now I’m not buying their toxic cleaning counterparts.
Dry erase crayons can be used on (you guessed it) dry erase boards over and over again. Saving me money on coloring books and printer paper. That isn’t all. They come off walls, furniture, and fabric much easier than regular crayon or even marker. While I am still trying to teach my little guy not to write on my laptop I can still get his artwork off my screen quite easily.
My child has little need for brand name stacking toys. What need does he have for those boring things when he can reach my canned goods. There is little need for the music toys when he can shake an oatmeal container with some dry rice in it for a rain stick and then set it down and beat on it like a drum with a wooden spoon.
I no longer need to be motivated to run up and down the stairs nor do I pay a gym membership that allows me to use a machine to simulate such an action. Now one minute of silence is all I need to motivate me to do those stairs. This doesn’t include tickle time, the sporting event that is bath time, or the great ab workout I get when I watch my little one mimic my efforts at yoga. I laugh that hard.
How do your kids HELP you save money?