Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Cutting The Household Budget Down To Size


It's no secret that California is in a financial crisis, and well as the rest of the nation. In fact, it seems to be a global epidemic right now. I wish I could say that it's just a small bump in the road, but I'm afraid it's more like a mountain on the path ahead of us. 

Photo Credit: M Skaffari

I was visiting with a friend today and we were discussing family budgets. Seems she has already tightened the family belt as much as she can, but it's still not enough to keep their head above water. Just to be sure she was doing all she could, she asked two different financial counselors to take a look at her figures. Both told her they couldn't find anything else to trim. Sometimes our best efforts just aren't enough - the income is too little for the out-go.

This isn't the first time Americans have had to go through tough times. But it is new for this generation. Glenn Beck recently commented that we have been fortunate to live at the zenith of civilization with the best of technology, wealth, education, entertainment,... you name it. But he also stated that he believed the era of "having it all" was coming to a close. The only thing now was to find out if we, as a nation, can endure hardships as well as times of plenty.

Photo Credit: stopnlook

When times are tough, it isn't always a bad thing if you are willing to be flexible and make changes, work together as a family, and get back to basics. Financial hardship can cause us to re-evaluate what is truly important and of eternal value. And it can force us to trim away those things that are actually a distraction. 

My friend needs help, and truthfully, many other readers do, too. Would you be willing to help by answering this question?

What are your best two or three tips for trimming the family budget and getting it down to size? 

Here are some things I'm in the process of cutting out...

1. Did you know that you can put your Direct TV service on vacation for several months? This is a good way to see if you can actually live with out it (in case you're hesitant to ax it entirely). 

2. I had my girls grow their hair out long so that they didn't need haircuts as often. I think I'm going to learn how to cut it myself to save even more. If I can really get brave, I may stop coloring my hair as well. Yes, I just made a confession! As health conscious as I am, I still color my locks (short as they are), but I'm going to really try to make the transition. 

3. Eliminate the grocery basics by making them myself. I bake my own bread (and mill my own flour from bulk grain), make my own cereal (and purchase ingredients in bulk), raise my own eggs, and a friend blesses me with goat milk. I hope to get our own goats someday soon!

4. Grow as much food as I can. This is a big jump for us and it may take a year or two to get there, but I'm working toward veggie independence! 

5. When my husband can do so, he's trying to hunt or fish. 

6. By utilizing more cloth items, I'm trying to eliminate the need to purchase as much paper products.

Okay, I just scratched the surface. I know you're a frugal group, so give me your best!



39 comments:

  1. we just spent some of our tax refund on making sure our house was "energy wise"..in the long run it will make a big difference..also check with your state for rebates. We got a $200 credit on our electric bill by just making small changes in our home to make it more "energy wise". Electric companies have rebates, too. Make sure your windows are also sealed correctly. As far as food, stock up on dried beans. They are a cheap, lean source of protein and very food storage friendly.

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  2. One of the things I do, is make my own cleaning products. I stared out by using vinegar for a lot of things: cleaning the bathroom, using it instead of softener, cleaning and sanitizing the kitchen sink... Then I started to make my own laundry detergent, scouring powder, even glass cleaner. I have not bought any cleaning products in several month and it has made a big difference in our monthly grocery bill.

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  3. Pack your lunches! Bring your own coffee! $5-$10 a day for lunch and coffee adds up very quickly!

    Shop discount grocery chains. I shop at Aldi's any chance I can as most their prices are 25-50% cheaper than anywhere else in town. They don't have the same selection as say Walmart, but if I can buy the bulk of the groceries there, it helps out.

    Cancel magazine/newspaper subscriptions and read them online.

    Find free entertainment. We go to the playground a lot and have picnics. There's a 'Concert in the Park' series offered in our area; free music at a beautiful park! And the Air Force Museum in our area is also a free treat. We also pack a cooler and go fishing at 'Uncle Joe's' pond. Good times on the cheap!

    Shop yard sales/tag sales/Goodwill/consignment shops. There are great deals to be had.

    Use the Sears Kidvantage club and buy your kids' shoes and blue jeans there. It saved me $50 yesterday when they exchanged shoes that the kids had worn out before they outgrew them. I did the happy dance all the way through the store!

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  4. Mrs. Walker:

    Talked to Mom this morning and found out that she went along with you to butcher those chickens! Wow! It was fun to hear about from her. I also want you to know that I've been reading your blog as I can. I tried your granola recipe (simpler than the one I've used in the past), and Austin and I both love it.

    My frugal tip: Make a meal plan and eat more vegetarian meals. I actually did a post about this on my blog recently. Not exactly what I'm used to posting about, but something I'm thinking through.

    Heather

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  5. I am sure you are much better are being frugal than I am. I used to shop when I needed entertainment, but I have found that taking that time to read a book or other simple free activities leave me more relaxed without the buyers remorse.
    I just want to say that I was glad to see you refer to Glenn Beck. I have found his outlook to be refreshingly realistic but find that many of my friends believe the media-generated picture of him as a "right-wing crazy".

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  6. We save going out to eat for very special occasions, consign whatever clothes, toys and housewares we don't use regularly, dress our kids (and us when possible!) in hand-me-downs and give gifts of experiences instead of things.

    While these times are causing us to cut back, I wonder what the world could be like if even when things improve financially, we lived frugally and gave our surplus to charities, people less fortunate than us.

    A girl can dream, right?

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  7. I have a VERY serious tip about #2, cutting hair. I purchased a WAHL clippers for about $45 and now use it to cut my husband and son's hair. In fact, my 6yo son has NEVER been to a barber! I also have daughters with long hair, which I trim. I have added layers and bangs, even lemon juice for highlights.

    How did I learn to do all this, you ask? And no, I did not go to Cosmetology School. I went to YouTube. Seriously. I searched for 'how to cut boy's hair', 'how to use a clipper', how to cut layers in long hair', how to cut side-swept bangs' .... etc.

    Sure you have to wade through lots of not-so-great videos, but when you land on a winner, it is fabulosity.

    My hair is long as well, and I am proud to say we have spent $0 in hair care in 2 years. Well, not really 'proud' to say it. I REALLY need a haircut, but I am trying to grow it out long enough for Locks for Love. THEN I am going to go pay someone to cut my hair ....... because I may be frugal but I am not crazy! ;)

    Great, sound and wonderful post, btw. We got rid of DirecTV all-together and have lived to speak about it. I have 3 kiddos who only miss it every once in a while.

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  8. -We limit our trips or make our trips count. Saving a bunch of money in fuel.
    -We grow our own veggies and fruits. ( note as the kids grow so does the gardens)
    - we limit alot of pay trips - we now would rather spend a day at a local park or take a fishing trip to our local lake. Food and fun all in one!

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  9. Hi Amy; My grandparents lived through the Depression in the 1930s here in SW Ontario, Canada. Both sets of grandparents had large families (6 kids each family). When my parents were kids there was usually just enough food to go around, clothes were hand-me-downs, toys were for wealthy families, a cake was a treat, and so was an orange at Christmas. They live comfortably now, but they have never bought anything on credit except a house and a car when they were young. They still shop at the no-frills grocery stores, they wouldn't dream of owning a cell phone, my mom is a library patron instead of buying books, and she still loves a good bargain from the second-hand shops. Times have certainly changed - everyone wants a bigger house, a bigger car, the latest fashions, the latest toys and gadgets, and we don't seem to mind going into debt to get it all now.
    My advice for those who are finding it tough financially is to decrease your expectations. Learn how to wait and save for something you think you need/want. If things are that bad then sell the big house and move to a smaller more affordable one; sell the second car and/or use public transit; shop the thrift stores for clothing and don't make "going shopping" your recreational pursuit; borrow books, DVDs, CDs, from the library; picnic in the park; make your own - don't buy processed food; "make do" with what you have - you don't need the latest fashion/shoes/computer/cell phone/concert tickets/SUV/the list is endless.
    Live simply; reduce, reuse, recycle.
    Karen (Ontario Rural Revival's Mom)

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  10. Amy, I just read this aloud to my husband. We're sitting here on his week off, to help fascilitate our move, quite literally to a simpler lifestyle. We are renting for 6 mos to find the right place, hopefully a cost effective house we can live in for a long time, perhaps our permanent home. Not everyone is in this point of transition, but we are working together talking out loud together about what it will take to save our dollars. The rental house we chose looks extravagant with the porch, but it's not cooled all day long with a/c. I've been sweating. alot. but I'm trying to plan my day so I'm not irritable in the afternoon, and can complete activities that will generate heat early in the day.
    The house we chose is in a location that doesn't frequently pass a mall or major shopping. On a bad day, one who has been likely to utilize retail therapy to overcome, it might be a big temptation to just 'go look'. and then have a major $ accident in the budget.
    If you don't see it, you won't know it's there. and you won't want it. a person will be less likely to want things that aren't marketed to them.
    TV. we hooked up a house line(phone) our first in 4 years, but we're in the boonies, and cell reception can be sketchy. we may consolidate back again when we move in 6 months. but we didn't hook up cable television. I actually had to refuse the 'dish' service. say no out loud.
    But I haven't regretted it. We 've watched some dvds & vhs movies, but no commercials, & limits what we've seen to family viewing. it would have been 59 more dollars to add it. that's alot of dough.
    Hair color. Ouch. my roots aren't there because I like them. I'm working to go back to original color. You've seen my blond look, in pictures on my blog, and this will be no small thing. but I'm going for it. It's toooo much money to get it looking right. it's painful. it's like the 'only' thing I still hang on to. I may even grow it back out. I do cut my boys hair, and occasionally let the barber clean it up.
    I'll see if I can't come up with some new money savers,,, these are all either what you said or just my spin, perhaps to affirm what you're saying. I think this is a real recession that will impact us in ways we know, but also in ways we hadn't expected in modern times.
    Thanks for this post.

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  11. 1. If we need something, I'll look at a 2nd hand store before buying new.
    2. I cut all the men/boys hair in our home (which is 3 right now that need cut.)
    3.We don't have TV...at all.
    4.I shop around on the best prices for food. Since I am not willing to buy ANYTHING conventional, I want to get the best price on items that can be spendy.
    5.We joined a food co-op.
    6.We grow a large garden and I spend weeks in the fall canning.
    7.We LOVE hand-me-downs! (We have actually never owned a new couch!)
    8.We do not eat out or get take out. But that's a food issue and a money issue.
    9.We burn and recylce as much as possible so that our dump bill is lower.
    10.We build more fires to warm the house instead of using electricity.
    11.We subsribe to one magazine, not 4 or 5. (That also helps with waste.) We don't get the newspaper either.
    12.We turn the lights off whenever possible.
    13. Hubby hunts every dear season and fishes the ocean and rivers.

    I could go on and on! :) A few other good ideas... wash all your clothes in cold water, with only one rinse. We have a well but if you PAY for water, this would help even more.
    Dry your clothes outside.
    Drive less, walk more- if that's a possibility. If you live miles from town, then it's not.
    Find free, or inexpensive, fun things to do together as a family instead of things like going to the movies or on an expensive vacation. Hiking, camping, the beach, the river, the park, games at home, etc.
    Grow a winter and a summer garden.
    Eat seasonally. Foods not in season here in the USA need to be shipped in from other countries- that usually drives the price up.
    O.k.. I'll stop there!
    GREAT topic Amy! What an encouragement to be able to share tips and ideas with other homesteaders!

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  12. Being a large family, our main vehicle is a 15 passenger gas hog. Being as we need a 4wd vehicle and truck for hauling hay and other things to our property, our 2nd vehicle is a diesel F-350 truck. But we live 17 miles from the nearest little town and 45-60 miles from most of our work sites. Our gasoline expenditure was killing our budget.

    We just purchased an $500 20 yo Honda to help conserve on our huge gasoline bill. Spending $500 on the Honda is giving us 12-15 more mpg as well as cutting our insurance bill by $300/year because now we have a non-comp/collision vehicle for our boys to be the main drivers. It will pay for itself in just a month or two.

    We're keeping our eyes open for another similar deal so we have 2 good mpg vehicle and only use the larger vehicles when necessary.

    Food is our second biggest expenditure. We bulk buy and cook from scratch already. The first way I know to cut that budget is more beans and rice and less variety. The second way would be to have more emergency and take with us foods prepared ahead of time to help curb the "I'm caught in town w/o food and need to eat so I'm picking up a burrito and won't need dinner when I get home" syndrome. The third way is to get our garden fenced and raised beds installed and ready to go and get a fall garden planted. Too late for a spring garden here in STX.

    I know some who are not using their a/c's here in STX, but I don't think I'm there yet! Its supposed to be 95 degrees today.

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  13. Awesome post Amy! I don't honestly think I could add anything to it. Thanks for the encouragement today!

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  14. I think it's funny we find room in the budget for our vanity items. Somehow I find room to see my aesthetician for my eyebrow wax!!

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  15. Mommaof10, having lived in S. TX most of my life, let me say that the a/c is the necessity item!! I really don't know how my ancestors (some who came with S. Austin's first 300) made it all those years without it! I guess you could not run it at night and read my post on the sleeping porch!

    On a serious note, I really like how you are targeting your own budget by looking at what is eating up most of the dollars. We, too, live far from town and the gasoline is a killer. I love your solution. We've found that staying home as much as possible is another help when cutting gas.

    Your comment about purchasing food in bulk is excellent. I purchase from a co-op, but I find few of my friends want to make this part of their lives. I feel a post on the subject forming in my head! Thanks for some fabulous ideas!!

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  16. Laura, I just have to commend and hopefully encourage you as you make this major transition in your life. YOU GO GIRL!! It will be tough at first, but SO worth it! When we lived in north TX right before moving to CA, we only had one window unit to cool our bedroom in the entire house. It was HOT. I ended up taking a nap each afternoon until things cooled down a bit, but on the other hand, I stayed up later at night. Because of school, I'd have to get up before six each AM and get moving. So you can see that the nap was not just to rest in the heat, but to get a little sleep that I was lacking ( I believe in at least 7-8 hours/day).

    We may have to start a "no more hair color" club. This will definitely be the hardest thing for me to give up! I wouldn't mind if I could be completely snow white - that would actually look pretty good. No, I'll have that tired salt/pepper look forever. I'm thinking an even shorter haircut might at least help me look younger.

    MHQ - great list! You obviously are way ahead of a lot of us... we need friends like you who practice these things regularly to help us! Thanks for weighing in!

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  17. Some things we've done are..
    1. Eliminate cable (Savings of $40/mo.)
    2. Switch to pay as you go cell phones/Net 10(We pay $45 mo for 3 phones).
    3. Use a cash rebate credit card (American Express Blue Cash) that is paid off monthly. (Last year we received an approx $750 rebate.)
    4. Older children who get a little income from small jobs, etc. pay for their own piano lessons and extra activities, clothes, etc.

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  18. I'm wanting to comment on all these "comments". You gals have such great ideas!!

    Amy, thanks for the tip on the You Tube videos. That's a great idea!

    I am so ready to cut the TV. A couple of years ago, I actually prayed they would all go out so that the temptation would not be there. Truth is... we are down to watching only two things: My husband likes to see a good game once a week, and I like to watch Glenn Beck. How ridiculous is it to pay that bill for two shows! It's gotta end and we're finally both there.

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  19. Wow, so many great ideas! I didn't think I could add any, but remembered this. A few months ago I was looking for more ways of cutting money from the budget. I already do most, if not all of the things already mentioned. I wash clothes in cold water;
    dry most by hanging up and not using the dryer; buy food in bulk, grow my own and cook from scratch; we don't eat out; I could go on and on. Then it occurred to me that I was still using my automatic dishwasher. Every day I would run my dishwasher and fill a sink with water to wash the pots and pans. What if I used the sink water for all of the dishes? I was totally shocked and amazed when I realized that doing so saved me over $40.00 on my utility bill for the month! The next thing we did was to start timing showers (one of my last luxuries!)for the whole family and again was amazed at the savings! The time limit is ten minutes, but I try (TRY!) to cut mine shorter and I now only take my beloved bubble baths once in a great while. All told we are saving about $75.00-$100.00 each month! And I also have decided to grow my hair longer, so no need for frequent cuts! The things we do to be frugal and wise stewards!
    Blessings,
    Debbie

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  20. Heather - so glad you are stopping by when you can and reading! Other readers don' t know that you're living over seas, but I would love to hear more about how other cultures are living frugal lives. I'm under the impression that America is very RICH and quite the consumer nation. We could probably learn a thing or two from other cultures.

    THHP - Realities often start as dreams! Our family goal is to TRY and increase the PERCENTAGE of our giving each year. We started out at 10% and have been working our way up. Some years, it's been half a percent, but other years, an additional 1%. It may sound like a drop in the bucket, but over time it adds up! Funny thing is... the further we get into it, the more exciting it becomes!

    Jennine - that phone tip is really good. You shared it with me before and I hadn't forgotten. Because of my husbands work (and use of minutes related to that), I've been hesitant to make the switch, but I'm seriously considering it. Thanks for sharing it with all the readers!

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  21. Karen, MANY years ago as a teen I thought all those people who lived through the depression were a bit weird. Funny how time and circumstances changes one's perspective. If we only respected our elderly more, our young people might learn a thing or two from them!

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  22. Lisa and Anke - Wonderful tips! I calculated that I could cut my cleaning supply bill in at LEAST half by making my own. Has anyone else calculated this out?

    Andrea, one of our biggest cash hogs is getting caught away from home at mealtime. It's killing us! I think a family meeting is in order to curb this or eliminate it all together! Thanks for the suggestions!

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  23. What a great idea! Someone else always has an idea you've never thought of.

    Ours are:
    No TV hookup at all - no cable, no dish. We watch DVDs only...and very few of those.

    We cut each other's hair. (I used to be a hairstylist years ago, so that helps.)

    I sew & quilt, so I make our bed coverings, window coverings, pajamas, some clothing, bags, etc.

    We use very little paper products. We use cloth napkins, rags, real dishes, glasses, etc.

    Cook from scratch!

    Thanks for the great ideas!

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  24. May I also add that, if you have babies, cloth diapers and breastfeeding are super $ savers!
    And if you can't raise animals, buying them already raised to slaughter from your local farmer can be a $ saver as well. We buy a hog every 6 months and after the purchase and having it cut and wrapped, it works out to about $2.40/lb. Try and find organic pork chops, bacon, sausage or roasts for that cheap!

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  25. I don't think I could add anything, but confirm what's already been said. I learned in Jan. to cut my husband and son's hair and am letting mine grow out (I swore it'd be short for the rest of my life!)
    I made my own laundry soap last July and still have some of that batch left. If I spent a whole dollar on the ingredients that went into it, I'd be surprised.
    I LOVE my dishwasher and unless things get bad, won't give it up! My sanity is worth the few bucks it takes to run it. We have a time of day rate plan with our electric bill. Rates are really cheap from 7PM to noon the next day, so all of my hot water use, cooking and anything on a 220 outlet gets done during that time. Don't know if other companies offer that, but it's worth asking.
    We've also challenged ourselves to increase our giving, and I think we're up to 20%. The saying that you can't outgive God is so true! We don't miss the money and we don't go without.
    I'm not an extremist with frugality. I save when and where I can, but we enjoy going out to eat and things like that too. I see it as money saved over here can be spent on something more fun over there!

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  26. Gosh ... we cut out $10K from out budget: making our own cleaning supplies, food from scratch, rationing food supplies, baking bread, shopping once a month for the majority of food, budgeting a certain amount for groceries, no more trips to the salon for a cover-up-the-gray and stylish cut for me, axed the cable TV, switched internet providers, no more newspapers or magazines, do a Christmas gift exchange instead of purchasing individual gifts for our family, switching insurance premium payments to annual instead of quarterly .. and upping the deductible to $1,000, watching our trips to town, making daughter pay her own car insurance/phone, putting on a sweater instead of turning up the heat, growing a garden to can and freeze foods for winter .. visiting our local u-pick to stock up in large quantities as well. One thing leads to another when becoming more frugal.

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  27. Recurring expenses are budget killers.

    1. We don't have cell phones.
    2. We don't have cable.
    3. We were a one car family for 8 years with little kids. My spouse worked a half hour away and we made it work. If you are worried about not having a car during an emergency - honestly that is what 911 is for!
    4. We don't have comprehensive coverage on our automobiles. I have a savings account to replace our cars. Since we buy used vehicles with 100k miles on them it makes no sense to have comprehensive coverage, costing hundreds per year.
    5. We don't borrow money period - tons of savings on the interest.
    6. Thermostat is set to 83 in the summer when temps exceed 110 in AZ.
    7. I don't turn the heater on till its 63.
    8. We use the library for movies and books and only go once a week to save up on gas. Admitedly we can check out 10 movies at a time.

    When times were bad for my neighbors they cancelled their garbage service and took it to the dump themselves.

    Sometimes its an income problem. Can one of them work nights stocking shelves for awhile just to get some breathing room?

    Marie

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  28. Kelly, I' think that our electric co here in CA offers a similar program. I've hesitated to sign up because I didn't want to have to work within their margins, HOWEVER, when things get tight, one must make LIFESTYLE changes, so it may be in our future! I'm also currently looking into a solar panel program (which I'll post with more info when I get it).

    Mrs. Mac - that's a lot of dough you cut out!! Seriously? You get the prize!! Way to go!

    Marie, great tips! I think you're tip on one car is excellent even if not everyone can do this. So many young families think they need a "new" car every 3-4 years. We were a one car family most of our first 14 or 15 years of marriage. Thankfully, both our cars are paid for at this point and we hang on to them for a minimum of 10 years (except one lemon we got) and try to go 13-15. I keep trying to start an account to save for a replacement car should we ever need one, but with the budget being so tight right now it's tough. We are seriously considering a pre-1960's or 70's truck for my husband's next vehicle so that he can make his own repairs. They do use more gas, but he seldom takes it out of town.

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  29. Wow, all these comments are great..I am just starting the country lifestyle again...
    great blog, enjoyed it immensely.
    glenda

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  30. One of the things I do that saves me the most money is not buying prepackaged food. Especially breakfast. We eat muffins, oatmeal, HM english muffins from the 5 minutes a day for fresh bread basic boule recipe. Also, repurposing those leftovers or freezing for later. Why buy more food when you have a little bit of something that can be turned into a lot. Also, making my own laundry soap (the recipe using fels naptha soap), and hanging out my laundry. That cut lots out of my utility bill. I also make sure everything not in use is unplugged and use the windows for light and only use lights if I have to. Navy showers - only turning the water on when you are wetting down/rinsing. Growing a great garden, canning what I can (jars from garage sales), and making everything I can from scratch. Most of the "convenience" items we are used to using are costing us a bunch. Cutting that out and making those cleaning supplies accomplishes great things!

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  31. Learn to fix your own car. Seriously. We are lucky enough to know a mechanic who tells us what is wrong and how to fix it. We have save THOUSADS of dollars doing this. Of course some things just can't be avoid, but we (and I actually mean my husband and ME) fixed all kinds of things with the truck and van. One example is we had a fuse that blew and the truck wouldn't start. The first time this happened we had no idea what was wrong with it and took it to the dealer because it was only a block away. After the tow and the repair, we spent over $300. It happened again recently and it cost the price of the fuse, a couple of bucks. Buy a repair manual and get the advice of a mechanic. You won't regret it.

    It sounds like your friend though doesn’t need to know how to spend less. If I understand you post, she is already spending the bare minimum. Now it sounds like it is time to earn some money. Staying at home with your kids and trying to balance a job is a very hard thing to do. I would suggest doing things that are conducive to the life you already have like babysitting/day care. Do some before and after school care. Babysit on the weekends and evenings. Find out what the rules of your state are so that you don't get in trouble for having too many kids without being licensed.

    Rent out a space in your home if you have the room. This doesn't have to be a stranger from the street. If you live near a college or university, you might take on a border. Maybe there is an elderly family member who lives alone and would like to be a part of a family again. There is nothing wrong with asking for a modest rent from them.

    If she is gardening, to sell at a farmers market. This is a fantastic way to teach your children about business. If she is using all she has for her family, this might be a good year to put in an extra garden just for selling.

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  32. May I also add...prayer. Sometimes we get so wrapped up and cannot see the answer. Or it may be an answer that we don't want to admit would help because of the possible hardship. Our heavenly Father loves us more than we can even imagine and wants to bless us...all we have to do is ask and listen (yes, no, wait). While my husband has been in Iraq I have tried to slash our budget, pay off huge amounts our debt and still find funds to make a trip back home to see family we have not seen in at least five years...and do it with cash. I was at a point where there was nothing more I could see to do more. While talking with my husband a man came to our house inquiring about one of the cars and if it was for sale (we were not even thinking about selling). We knew we were going to have to put several thousand into it after his return because of its condition so after some prayer and negotiating long distance with me as the "middle man" the car was sold. It never occured to us that we could be a one car family for a season in our life and think of that knock on the door as alight being shed on possibilities.
    I just love all the ideas. I want to add NO TV is not as hard as I thought it would be. It has been almost a year and my kidos have not mutinied. We have also gone "no poo"...shampoo that is. It was more for health reasons, but the cost savings are good too. We use baking soda and 1cup water to wash. Then, apple cider vin. and 1cup water to rinse. It has been a month and the kids love it. I love it. And, we kept it a secret and are starting to get questions about what we are using...my hair was frizzy and now the curls are ringlets and shines.

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  33. andylea, my friend has been trying to get a job, but so has nearly everyone else. She is currently cleaning a dental office as trade for her children's orthodontics - which I thought is clever. But she probably needs something else.

    Jenny, your comment on prayer is right on! Without the Lord providing, all our efforts to be "frugal" would be in vain. And since He owns the cattle on a thousand hills, He can provide where we can't see a way. Thanks for reminding everyone!

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  34. Let me encourage you in the haircut department. I was so scared the first time I cut Zai's hair, but thankfully it's very forgiving. I now cut all my children's hairs as well as my hubbys - which means that I'm the only one who goes to the hairdresser & since my hair is long it's only $25 for the year!

    I was also going to say grow as much food as possible - also for us we need to get a cow for meat. (Plenty of lamb!! - sick of lamb - LOL)

    If only there was a way to cut down on electricity - actually what I need to do is look into the solar as we have a lot of roof space & sun here.

    Great post - when I have time I'm going to come back & read other's ideas ( I enjoy reading your commenters ideas - so I often pop back) Thanks for a wonderful blog!
    Renata :)

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  35. Since my husband had only sporadic employment for many years, and has spent the past two years in college (working on the side making toys for our Etsy shop), we have had to REALLY learn to live on a tight budget. Some things we have done and are doing to be able to pay the bills:
    1. We own a 14 year old car, which looks terrible because it needs a paint job and doesn't have any hubcaps! But it works, and we're not too proud to drive it. We'll never own a new car, or even a car that's fairly new.

    2. We stopped cable service several years ago, and we only have the most basic landline for phone with no extra features. We also don't have any cell phones.

    3. For entertainment, we use the library. I think a lot of people don't realize how much free material is available at the library, even newer release movies and CDs.

    4. I have not paid for a haircut in about a decade! I keep my hair long, as does my husband. When the kids need a trim, I take them to my sister, who is a hairdresser. We give her wooden toys (which my husband makes) in exchange for haircuts.

    5. I wear mostly second-hand clothes, I don't dye my hair or wear much makeup or jewelry. Some people would call me plain but my husband likes the natural look. :)

    6. This year we are trying to grow as many vegetables from seed as we can in the city.

    7. This year, we're going to go to pick-your-own farms and buy a large quantity of strawberries and blueberries and I am going to try making jam, since we go through a lot of it here and it's expensive to buy at the store.

    8. We eat a lot of simple food, like oatmeal or eggs and toast for breakfast. Processed food is expensive and unhealthy so I try to avoid it.

    9. Instead of buying garbage bags just to throw out, I reuse other plastic bags to dispose of garbage. We always seem to have enough!

    10. We use cloth rags instead of paper towels, cloth diapers instead of disposable, etc. This saves a lot of money in the long run!

    There are more, but this post is getting long so I'll end there!

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  36. I just stumbled upon your blog and LOVE it! Just today, I cancelled our land line phone service, and soon will change the internet service to a free one. Direct TV is being axed as well. We mostly watch documentaries, movies and sports, and don't need 700 channels, with nothing but garbage on! I give my son his haircuts and we also raise our own chickens and turkeys and purchase a quarter side of grass fed beef from a neighbor every year. We have 11 hens that provide fresh eggs daily as well. We grow a variety of vegetables and do the best with the short season we have here in the Rockies. I'll be back soon to visit! Thanks for a great post!

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  37. I have been "lurking" on your page for a few weeks and am totally inspired. Didn't even know what homestead really meant... fascinating!! Cutting long hair is so easy!! Mine is below my shoulders and I do not have bangs. I have been doing mine for about 2 years. While wet, flip your head/hair upside down and brush it all down. Cut across in a straight line. That's all! When you flip it back up, it will be layered naturally around your face. I go back and snip vertically on the ends (not sure how to describe this)to give it a move textured, less cut-straight-across-the-bottom-look. Truly amazing! The first time I tried, I only took off about 1/2 inch because I was so nervous. I get compliments all the time and people are shocked to find out I cut it myself. From the looks of your girls' pictures, it will be extremely easy for you to do... they are beautiful, by the way!

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  38. Great tip! Thanks for sharing how you do it!

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  39. What my Mom did was get rid of Directv completely and now if she wants to watch something she just goes to the library they have tons of movies and series you can check out for free.

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