Showing posts with label frugal living. Show all posts
Showing posts with label frugal living. Show all posts

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

20 Must-Have Items For Vehicle Maintenance and Repairs


Learning how to maintain and perform simple repairs is a critical skill to learn. Most people at this time do not know how to do this. Unless you take a shop class in a high school geared towards vehicle care and repair, it is not a skill that is taught. Fathers used to teach it to their sons and daughters in order for them to know what to do, but that is becoming a lost skill too.

Now, you need to teach yourselves. Lucky for us, there is a plethora of videos and websites that show us how to do this. If you are fortunate enough to find someone who knows how to maintain and repair a vehicle, please ask them to teach you. While I used to be able to do a lot of my own repairs and maintenance, I find that my skills are getting rusty. I need to learn how to do this again too.

Some of you have new or newer vehicles that you may not be able to work on due to the computer or how much has changed in cars and trucks. I would look for a Haynes Repair Manual specific to your vehicle. I would recommend you pick one up no matter what year your vehicle is. However, newer vehicles can be difficult to repair, but you should still learn to maintain them to the best of your abilities.

This list of must-have items can look different for everyone. It can be difficult to have and keep all these things, but I have learned from others that they are very important to have on hand. Once you acquire these things, please learn how to use them. They can save you a lot of money in labor costs from the mechanic. You may also need to repair your car on the road and will need to know how to use these things.

20 Must-Have Items For Vehicle Maintenance and Repairs

1. Oil Filter Wrench

2. Oil and Filters

3. Antifreeze

4. Air Filter

5. Power Steering Fluid and Transmission Fluid

6. Wipers

7. Wiper Fluid

8. Tools like a screwdriver set and a metric and standard socket set

9. Fuses

10. Battery tester and charger

11. Tire Pressure Gauge

12. Tire Repair Kit

13. Brake Fluid

14. Oil Drain Pan to catch oil and other fluids

15. Code Reader (make sure it works for your year of vehicle)

16. Full-Size Spare Tire

17. Tire Iron and Jack (usually comes with most vehicles)

18. Air Compressor and Chuck

19. Replacement Bulbs for Headlights, Taillights, and Blinkers

20. Battery Jumper Cables

Another thing I would recommend getting is a Vehicle Emergency Kit. If you are broken down on the side of the road, these kits can be invaluable. There are two different kinds of kits - one is for roadside emergencies and the other is for when you are stuck in your vehicle. Both are good things to have in your vehicle.

What else would you add to the list? What items do you find crucial to have for your vehicles?

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Thursday, May 31, 2018

Think Long Term With Perennials When Planting Your Garden and Yard


Gardening can be a lot of fun especially when you start reaping the benefits from all that work. Some of the hardest work, but greatest reward when planting your garden is planting perennials. Perennials come in several forms, but what you are looking for are plants, bushes, and trees that will produce food every year.

From a prepping standpoint, you want a constant food source. Most perennials are not easy to kill or hard to establish. However, if you are thinking long-term, you want to start these perennials now to get them established. There are perennials can take 1-3 years to produce food. Trees can take even longer to produce food. You want to get them in the ground this summer and fall.

From a homesteading standpoint, growing your food is always a delight. There is always a satisfaction in providing your food and reducing your independence on the grocery store. Planting perennials are always rewarding in that you reap what you sow every year.

From a frugal living standpoint, growing your food means less money you spend on groceries. Win-win! Shopping from your garden is always better than shopping at the store.

Now, I have nothing against annuals. You will see a lot of annuals in my garden. However, I want to know I have a constant source of food every year. It will not be enough to sustain us but will be enough to add to a meal. I can also expand my perennials and plant more using cutting from the original plants. A lot of perennials will do their own spreading of roots and start new plants on their own.

What perennials should you be planting?

1. Raspberries. They are some of the easiest perennials to grow. Their root system will cause them to start new plants and can double or triple within a year of planting. They are easy to maintain and easy to transplant. You should have fruit in 1-2 years.

2. Rhubarb. Again, very easy to grow in most areas. They do like a lot of sunshine so find a good sunny spot for them. Every couple of years, I like to feed my plants with composted manure in the fall to keep producing well. They will spread a little so give them some space. You can start harvesting them in the second year, but it is best to wait until the third year to harvest.

3. Blackberries. Pretty easy to grow. Keep them trimmed back to three feet so they become bushy and will produce better fruit. You should have fruit in 1-2 years.

4. Blueberries. These can be difficult to establish. You will want to make sure you have acidic soil or that you mend your soil to be acidic when you plant them. If you know you want to plant them next Spring, I would work on that blueberry bed now so the soil is good for them. They will need some pruning as they get bigger. They will fruit in 2-3 years.

5. Elderberries, strawberries, and other berry plants. There are many different kinds of berry plants and I encourage you to look into them. They are all delicious! Most of them will take 1-3 years to get establish and start producing fruit.

6. Asparagus. These plants will need a little work to start growing, but they are worth it! They come as crowns that you will need to plant 8-12 inches deep. I would also add a good layer of compost in the hole before you plant them. You will be able to harvest asparagus in the third year. Asparagus can last as long as 20-30 years in one spot.

7. Herbs like lovage, sorrel, mint, thyme, sage, and more. Most perennial herbs will come back every year if they are cut back in the fall. Herbs are so multi-dimensional that you do not want to be without them. Some herbs can be difficult to start from seed so investing a plant or getting a transplant may be worth your while. Check your gardening zone to see what herbs will grow best in your area.

8. Garlic and walking onions. Both plants produce bulbs that you can plant again in the fall for a crop next summer. Both are easy to grow and need very little tending besides a good layer of mulch in the fall to protect them from winter.

9. Fruit trees. These will take a few years to grow and produce. Realistically you will not see any production from fruit trees for at least three years, but more than likely it will be 5-7 years before any fruit falls. Like any other planted tree, you will need to water the trees well for the first year to get them established. You may also need to protect them in the winter from the elements, deer, and rabbits.

10. Nut trees. These are similar to fruit trees. They will take a few years to grow and produce. You will need to water them well in the first year to establish them. And you will need to protect them.

11. Greens like kale, radicchio, watercress, and stinging nettles. Many people think that greens are just an annual, but there are varieties that are actually perennials. I know from experience that kale will come back a second year if you forget to pull the plants in the fall. I was still harvesting kale in December that year!

12. Dandelions. Okay, I realize 99% of you will never have to plant dandelions because they grow rampant around you. However, they are overlooked for their benefits. The greens are good in a salad. The flowers make jelly, wine, teas, and salves.

This is a general list, but there are many other perennials you can plant. Some people are able to plant artichokes which can be a perennial, but artichokes in northern Iowa do not always work out. Look up your gardening zone and figure out what would be best for you to grow! Growing perennials helps you to be more self-sufficient, save money, and gives you a continual food source. What is not to love about perennials?

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Thursday, April 26, 2018

Sewing & Mending Kit Essentials For Preppers (And Everyone Else!)


One of those basic skills everyone should know how to do is to sew and mend their own clothes. It is still a skill I am learning, but one that I feel strongly about improving when I can. We have saved a lot of shirts by sewing the seams back up so my kids could wear them again. I have sown more buttons on than I care to think about. 

However, those small little kits sold in the stores are good in a pinch, they will not cut for most sewing and mending. You need better kits than that! 


Since I still have the basic sewing kit that my mother put together when I got married, I thought I would ask her what should be in a sewing and mending kit! She has been sewing her own clothes, sewing items for other people, altering clothes, and mending clothes most of her life. She has altered prom dresses, made doll and Barbie clothes, and still does some of my hemmings! She has got experience! 


I asked her what she would have in a sewing kit and a mending kit and what she couldn't live without. To her, these kits would probably be one and the same. You will notice some crossover between the two kits. I asked her what she would have if she had to be off-grid also. As you can see, she would use a lot of hand sewing and mending. There is nothing on this list that couldn't be done by hand. 


A basic sewing kit (with her recommendations) should include:
  • Needles – asst. lengths and needle eyes
  • Thread – asst. colors [or can do just the basic color hues]
  • Straight Pins – I like the big-headed long or quilters pins, but sometimes the smaller shorter ones are necessary
  • A pin box(es) or pincushion or magnetic tray [easy to make – glue magnets to the bottom of a pretty saucer]
  • Safety pins – asst. sizes
  • Tape Measure – I prefer cloth, but plastic works – do not use metal
  • Small ruler – 6 inches’ long
  • Scissors – Pinking Shears; Material cutting – long blade; material cutting -standard; snips
  • Rotary Blade cutter and mats of various sizes
  • Seam Ripper – with a sturdy handle
  • Thimbles – to fit at least two fingers
  • Beeswax – to coat difficult thread
  • Material marking pencils or pens that wash out

A basic mending kit (with her recommendations) should include:
  • Needles – asst. lengths and needle eyes
  • Upholstery Needles – can get them by the packs that have long and curved needles
  • Thread – asst. colors [or can do just the basic color hues]
  • Heavy Duty Thread – Black and/or Brown
  • Straight Pins – I like the big-headed long or quilters pins, but sometimes the smaller shorter ones are necessary
  • A pin box(es) or pincushion or magnetic tray [easy to make – glue magnets to the bottom of a pretty saucer]
  • Safety pins – asst. sizes
  • Small ruler – 6 inches’ long
  • Scissors – Material cutting - standard; snips
  • Seam Ripper – sturdy handle
  • Thimbles – to fit at least two fingers
  • Beeswax – to coat thread
  • Material marking pencils or pens that wash out
  • Patches – asst. sizes and material [can also use iron patches or tape
  • Buttons – asst. sizes and colors
  • Snaps – asst. sizes
  • Hook & Eyes – asst. sizes
  • Zippers – Jean size, Jacket size, skirt size
  • Repair parts for zippers

While sewing by hand is a great skill, most people would still like to have a sewing machine. Learning to use a sewing machine is a great skill to learn. I asked her about sewing machines in an off-grid or no power situation. If you are interested in an off-grid sewing machine, you need to find a treadle-powered sewing machine (using foot-powered pedal). Lehman's carries one that is a treadle powered modern sewing machine. (not an affiliate link) Most modern electric sewing machines cannot be converted to treadle power. Older sewing machines may be able to be converted to treadle power, but you will need to check on that. 


If you have these sewing and mending kits already, I would check them over for anything you might have missed or have used up. If you do not have anything for these kits, I would start at the top of these lists, find a good container to hold the items, and start buying! 


Thanks for reading,

Erica (with a lot of help from my mom!)




Sunday, April 15, 2018

What Place Does Extreme Frugality Have In Your Life? How Can You Live In Extreme Frugality?


One of the ideas that have been on my mind has been extreme frugality. I am currently in saving money mode (which is normal) while trying to amp up my frugality game. I am back to using paper coupons, digital coupons, Ibotta, SavingStar, and much more. I'm paying a lot more attention to sale flyers and really deciding if I need any of that which, by the way, is in direct conflict with the stockpiler in me!

However, along with being frugal, I want to have a bigger impact on my savings and my spending game. To save more money and spend less money, you have to make more meaningful decisions about where your money goes and how your money is being spent. In short, you have to become more extreme in your frugal living game.

Frugal living has several aspects. One of the biggest aspects of frugal living and practicing extreme frugality is daily living. You have to examine every decision you make every day. Because being frugal is not just saving money on just big purchases, but being consciously aware of the money being spent on small daily purchases and how you are using the items you already have or purchased.

For whatever reason you decide to practice extreme frugality, you need to know and understand your reasons. Those reasons will be your motivation. The reasons can be many, but not limited to:


  • To rein in your spending
  • To pay down debt
  • To purchase a car or home
  • To save money for college
  • To save money for retirement
  • To save money for emergencies
  • To make a conscious effort to not spend money
  • To make frugality a part of your life

Whatever reason(s) you decide to practice extreme frugality, you need to know why you are doing it. Write down those reasons and place them everywhere you need to see them (office, computer, wallet, kitchen, etc.).

Now, that you know your reason for being extreme in your frugality, you need to find ways to tighten your spending. Some ideas to tighten up your frugal game could be:


  • Asking yourself to wait 3-7 days before purchasing anything besides necessities
  • Asking yourself if you have something already on hand before purchasing anything
  • Making a conscious decision to purchase used if at all possible
  • Eliminating food waste and examining if food scraps have another use
  • Using reusable items before purchasing single-use items like water bottles and drinks
  • Only purchasing clothes when something needs to be replaced and can't be repaired
  • Using washcloths and rags for paper towels, napkins, facial tissues, and more
  • Eliminating electrical use when possible and using solar or hand power instead
  • Walking or biking instead of driving the car
  • Making your own cleaners and beauty products
  • No more eating out and tightening the grocery budget
  • And so much more...

Every decision you make in a day should be examined for frugal reasons. There are always ways to save more money.

There may not be things you are willing to do to save more money. That is okay, but ask yourself why you are not willing to go that far to save money or not spend money. If saving/not spending money will hurt yourself or harm your family, then you shouldn't be doing it. There is a fine line in extreme frugality and withholding a critical necessity or service to not spend money is crossing the line.

Extreme frugality may bring on extreme cheapness. In some cases, being cheap is not a bad thing. People may view you are cheap just because you are not willing to buy something, go to a "party" for the sole purchase of buying something or will not go out bar hopping. That is not being cheap, that is being frugal. Being cheap is only spending what you have to without thought to others or yourself and potentially causing harm. Being cheap is also spending the least amount of money possible even though what you are purchasing is pure crap and you will be buying a new one when that item breaks easily. Being cheap is also taking advantage of a situation to get something free or get the upper hand over someone just so you don't have to spend anything. I could go on about being cheap and sometimes it is a good thing, but not usually.

You want to be fair in your extreme frugality. You are doing this for yourself and your family. Being cheap is not always being fair to yourself or others. However, in your frugality, look for the free things you can get. Being extremely frugal does not mean your life is over with or that you can not have any fun. Take advantage of these free things:


  • Look for free things you can do or take home. 
  • Take advantage of your library for books and movies. 
  • Look for events around the area that do not cost you anything but maybe gas money. 
  • Look for things that people are giving away for free. 
  • Be a curb shopper, dumpster diver, free garage sale box looker. 
  • Be creative with what you have and what you find.
  • Have staycations often and keep them as frugal as possible.
  • Learn new skills with items you already have.
  • Don't say no when someone wants to treat you or your family.

You can still live a full life even though you have your nose to the extremely frugal grindstone. You can still have fun. You can still be involved in things you love, but just be conscious of what it is asking of you financially. Some groups and things are fun, but if you are constantly bleeding money to be in while trying to actively save money, something is wrong. You may have to let those things go for a time while you are being extremely frugal.

While being extremely frugal is a very good thing, you still have some things to keep in mind. Being an extreme frugalister can make your mind think some funny things. Like you shouldn't throw anything away or give anything away. Like you should be a hoarder. That couldn't be farther from the truth! Yes, by all means, keep what you can use or think of a use for. However, if you have things you cannot use at all, you should give them away, sell them, donate them, or responsibly recycle them. Please don't be an episode of one of those shows! If you have stuff not serving you, do something with it. Your home shouldn't be a fire hazard because of the stuff you own.

Lastly, you have to be intentional in your extreme frugal game. You have to be content with what you already have. If you are used to shopping a lot, you need to figure out why and stop. You have to be happy with what you have and not use shopping as stress relief. You have to be content with what you have and not be envious of what the neighbors have. You do not need to have the latest, greatest things. That is not being contented. You need to be content with the ten-year-old car and a house without a pool.  You need to be happy with wearing out your clothes without buying this season's newest fashions. You need to be okay with bringing your own lunch and not going out to lunch every day or every week. You have to be content with what you have and your decisions to save money so you can achieve your goals. Otherwise, being extremely frugal will not be an easy process for you.

Extreme frugality is not for everyone, but everyone can do it. You can try it for a short amount of time or the rest of your life. You never know when you will need to be extremely frugal so being extremely frugal now will only serve you later. I would encourage you to give it a try and make it work for you!

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Other articles on frugality:
Are You Frugal? 
50 Ways You Are Not Being Frugal
Is It A Need Or A Want? What Should You Spend Your Money On?


Monday, April 9, 2018

Improving Soil with Chicken Litter


(In March, I wrote an article for the Rootsy Network where I am a guest contributor. I love what they are doing over there! If you are into homesteading, self-reliance, and do-it-yourself, you must check them out!)


Most homesteaders struggle to find ways to dispose of all the waste that livestock can produce. One of the easiest ways to dispose of the waste is to add it to the garden. Gardening is fun, but gardening is a lot less fun when you are fighting your soil to grow a decent crop. Most gardens need soil amendments. Used bedding from your chickens and other livestock is a great way to amend your soil.
Where I live, we have heavy black clay soil. It doesn’t till well, hold a lot of moisture in the spring and early summer dries out during the summer into a hard brick and can be impossible to weed unless it is wet. On top of that, this soil doesn’t seem to grow good produce because root crops are fighting for space in the soil and plants struggle to establish good roots. The garden needs a good dose of fertilizer every year. I also find this kind of soil needs some acidity to balance the alkaline although the alkaline doesn’t seem to affect the growth of most plants.
Thanks for reading,
Erica


Tuesday, March 6, 2018

The 12 Hand Tools You Need To Have In Your Tool Box


Everyone should have a good selection of tools on hand to be able to fix almost anything. Whether you are a prepper or a homesteader, you will rely on these tools to build and fix most things. If you are into frugal living, you want these tools to help you extend the life of your items and be able to fix them.

This is a basic list that we came up with. These are the tools we cannot live without because we use them so much. You will see them in our house and shop toolboxes. Yes, that's right. We have two separate tool boxes and we keep multiples of these tools. That is how important they are to us!

With this list of tools, you should be able to fix almost anything:

1. Hammer for pounding nails, removing nails, to pry things apart, and to "gently" coax something in or out of place.

2. Set of screwdrivers - Phillips and standard to loosen or unloosen screws.

3. Socket Set - standard and metric sockets for working on household projects and vehicle maintenance.

4. Wrenches - standard and metric. Also, a set of crescent (adjustable) wrenches for working on household projects and vehicle maintenance.

5. Pliers - regular, needle nose, and side cutters for holding things in place while you work on them, for twisting things into or out of place, and to cut wires or zip ties.

6. Visegrips (locking) pliers for clamping things in place or to get a better grip to loosen up items that seem to be stuck.

7. Hand Saw for cutting boards. A Hack Saw is also very handy to have to cut styrofoam, to shorten screws. and to cut some plastics like hose or PVC.

8. Utility Knife for making straight cuts, to cut something off, to scrape away caulk or glue, and can be used in place of scissors.

9. Tape Measure to measure items and rooms as well as where to cut a board.

10. Carpenter L Square for measuring accurate corners for cutting and to make certain your corners/walls are square.

11. Level to make sure you are attaching something to the wall right and level. You also use this for making walls, stairs, and much more to make sure everything is straight.

12.Carpenters Pencil and/or a Permanent Marker for making the mark to know where to attach something or screw something in as well as knowing where to cut.

You need to get yourself a good toolbox to store these in. The number of tools may be too much to store in a portable toolbox, but these standalone toolboxes are great for storage and organization.

We know some of you will argue that if the grid goes down, you will need more including a hand drill. We get it. However, this is a basic 'everyone should have these tools' kind of list. You should have these tools on hand whether you live in a van, apartment, or house, single or married, college student or older, and urban or rural dweller. 

Fixing your own things will save you so much money. Nowadays, if you don't know how to fix something, there is probably a video online that will teach you! The Family Handyman website is also a great source of do it yourself and fix it yourself information!

Thanks for reading,
Erica and Rob


Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Yes, You Can Live Without A Clothes Dryer!


There are some modern conveniences I would not want to live without: running water and a washing machine for starters. There are some modern conveniences that are not really necessary, but they make life easier. I lived without a microwave for over four months until someone took mercy on my children and bought one. I was fine without it.

Another appliance I lived without is a clothes dryer. I lived for over two years without a clothes dryer and I really didn't miss it! The clothes dryer would no longer dry the clothes. I didn't want to hire an appliance repair person to come out to my place. I knew it was a minimum $85 for them to come out, plus parts, and any additional labor. I don't like spending my money like that because sometimes I am cheap (not frugal).

I didn't fix the clothes dryer myself because I was slightly baffled by my clothes dryer. I don't always have faith in myself when it comes to fixing things. So I lived without it while having four kids (two in sports and dance) in the house. How?

1. Get yourself a large clothes drying rack. I know this is an investment and I had mine long before my clothes dryer broke. I hang up a lot of clothes anyway to keep clothes lasting longer. I suggest getting a heavy-duty, wooden clothes drying rack. Buying a cheap, small, flimsy clothes drying rack is not going to serve you well. I broke two of them before getting this one. One of these large ones typically holds 1-2 loads of laundry.

2. Find a way to hang clothes outside. You can have a clothesline or an umbrella drying rack. There are so many options for clothesline outside! I have an old-fashioned one that was rebuilt two years. I love it! However, you can get one that pulls out from the house and attaches to a post. You can use a pulley system. Also, invest in some good quality clothespins.


3. Be creative. I strung up lines in my business to hang even more clothes, but I wish I would have known about this pull-out clothesline! I used hangers to hang shirts. I used back of chairs for other items. If you have an outdoor balcony, use that to lay clothes over (clean it first)!

4. Create a system for laundry. I was already in the habit of washing 1-2 loads every day which is perfect for living without a clothes dryer. I could wash and hang a load before I went to work every day or at night before I went to bed. In the summer, hanging clothes outside means they dried very quickly unless the humidity was high. Then I didn't bother. In the winter, clothes dried fairly quickly in the house because the air was dry and sucked away the moisture. Also, I am one of those people who like to wash, dry, and fold the clothes in one day so this system was actually perfect for me.

5. What do you do about crunchy clothes? You can cut back a little on laundry detergent. You do not need as much as the manufacturer says. You can add vinegar to the rinse cycle on the washer to help with this. You can add liquid fabric softener. Or you can just deal with it. Crunchy clothes and towels did not honestly bother me. I would give them a good shake after taking them off the line to loosen them up. In the summer, pick a windy day to hang jeans and towels. They won't be crunchy!

After a little over two years, we decided the clothes dryer needed to be fixed for various reasons. I started doing some research on the internet and YouTube. I found out the two biggest reasons my clothes dryer wasn't probably working. I ordered two parts for a grand total of $13.00. One of those parts was a thermal fuse which solved the problem. Crazy, right?

Fixing the clothes dryer wasn't bad at all. The worst part was getting the dryer moved away from the wall enough to take the back panel off. While we had it off, we cleaned the dryer and replaced the dryer hose and vent.

Still, I enjoyed living without the clothes dryer and never really considered it an inconvenience. The clothes lasted longer, didn't shrink, and didn't fade. The only time I went to the laundromat was when I washed quilts and large comforters. Truth be told, they didn't really fit in my washer or dryer so this was going to happen anyway.

What modern convenience could you live without?

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Top Ten Posts for 2017

Sunday, December 31, 2017

10 Frugal Living Goals You Should Be Making This Year


While everyone should be a frugal lifer, a lot of people struggle to do so. Life happens and you end up spending more money than you want to. You are busy and money just flies out the window. A good deal of living frugally is planning ahead and having goals. What do you want to accomplish financially? In what areas do you want to save money? How can you simply your life to spend less money? Only you can answer those questions, but let me help you set some frugal living goals for the next year!

10 Frugal Living Goals You Should Be Making This Year

1. Learn new things to cook from scratch. You can save so much money on your grocery bill by cooking from scratch. Processed food and eating out is so expensive even with a good deal or a special. Learn to make things from scratch and you will also improve your own health as well.


2. Find new ways to save money. When you are a frugal lifer, this can be hard. You think you already know and have found all the ways to save money, but I can almost guarantee you that you can find more. It can be tough, but I am sure you already know of more ways to save money.


3. Have a no-spend week each month or a no-spend month twice a year. I think these are really healthy for a frugal living lifestyle because they force you to really think about if you need something or you just want it. You also are forced to eat what you have at home, be less wasteful, and make do with what you have.


4. Ask yourself if you really need to buy something. Do you really need it or do you have something that will do? How long can you wait before you buy it? Implement a 3, 7, or 14 day waiting period before buying something other than groceries and household necessities. Sometimes you can find something at home that works just as well or you will find out that you don't really need it.


5. Challenge yourself to buy all your clothes used. You can make exceptions like underwear and socks if you want to, but honestly I have found those brand new, in package or store tags still on, at the thrift store too.


6. Limit your monetary pleasures. Are you eating out a lot more than once a week or once a month? Are you getting massages, manicures, or pedicures every month? Do you shop just to shop? Do you stop at the convenience store for a candy bar everyday. We all have something that we waste money on in the name of treating ourselves. A little pleasure is always a good thing, but is there a way you can do that and not spend money?


7. Do you have an emergency fund? If not, you should start one. Everyone should have an emergency fund of at least $1000 to cover those kind of expenses. If you have one already, what can you do to double it? Ideally, your emergency fund should be able to cover 3-6 months of your normal income in case you lose your job or get injured for some reason.


8. Are you out of debt? If you are, great! If not, what can you do this year to get out of debt or lessen the burden? Can you cut back on your expenses more to pay down your debt? Can you find other ways to make money to pay down your debt?


9. Organize your things and make an inventory of what you have. Seriously, so much money is wasted because we don't know what we have. We have food in the kitchen and in our pantries that goes to waste. We have more things in our closets than we will ever use. We buy batteries because we can't find the package bought a month ago (for example). Take stock of what you have and organize your things.


10. Make a budget or review your budget. This can be the hardest things about being a frugal lifer. I really have trouble sticking to a budget because of unplanned expenses. After something upsets my budget, I lose hope and focus. However, this is the year I need to start. I want you to start your budget too if you don't have one. If you do have one, this is a great time to sit down and review your budget. Are there any increased expenses? Can you save more? Can you pay down more debt? Can you put more in retirement? Work on your budget today!


What frugal living goals do you have for this upcoming year?

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Sunday, December 10, 2017

12 Reasons Why You Should Be Thrift Shopping!


Long before thrift shopping was cool, I was doing it to stretch my budget and because I just couldn't afford new things. In fact, my parents did the same thing! I grew up on hand-me-downs until I outgrew my cousin's clothes. Almost all my books came from used bookstores and the library. We went to auctions and garage sales. My parents needed to stretch their pennies too!

Now thrift shopping is cool. Thrift stores are gaining popularity as are the "for sale" or "garage sale" groups on Facebook. Craigslist is still going strong and eBay is still a great place to unload your used but still in great condition goods. Consignment shops are still a good place to buy and unload your good condition goods (and make a little extra money!). Garage sales are still fun places to shop!

I have a lot of fun thrift shopping as long as I don't go overboard. I want you all to be thrift shoppers too. If you are, but know someone who should be, show them this post!

12 Reasons Why You Should Be Thrift Shopping!

1. Thrift shopping is sustainable. If you are even a little bit concerned about our planet, you know there are way too many goods being produced today. More than can be used actually, but people still demand and buy them. By buying used, you are breaking that cycle and keeping perfectly good things from going to the landfill. To keep the sustainability cycle going, you should use those used goods until they are completely worn out or pass them on to someone who can use it. 

2. You are a non-consumer. As stated in #1, you are breaking the consumerism cycle. When you purchase something used, you are a non-consumer. You are not buying something new. You are not supporting the mass merchandisers. You are not succumbing to advertising telling you need something new. You are using what someone doesn't need anymore and you are not supporting people who have no interest in your local economy.

3. Thrift shopping supports your local economy! Whether you buy something from a used goods store or a person, your money stays right in that area. Your money isn't going to some big corporation who cares very little about you. Your money is going to a local organization (except Goodwill) or people who will in turn spend that money locally. 

4. Why buy new when used will do? This phrase is attributed to a certain person, but honestly it has been around awhile. Why? Because it is true! Used is just as good as new in most situations. Most of my clothes and my kids' clothes were used growing up. We got new things for gifts at birthdays and holidays, but otherwise they were used. Even when they were in high school, we regularly found almost new and new clothes for them at the thrift store. I still buy almost all of my clothes used because you can't beat the prices!

5. You save money! Doesn't everyone like to save money? You can outfit an apartment or a house for hundreds of dollars cheaper than buying new. Does buying used things gross you out? Wash them once and get over it. You are saving money! 

6. If you have kids, you are teaching them frugality. My kids liked to go to the thrift stores and garage sales growing up. They still do even as teenagers and young adults. They also have found a lot of great things there. They learned one way of being frugal and they learned that used things were not gross. The younger they learn that, the better.

7. You will find brand new things while thrift shopping. Honestly, this is the best. People are often too lazy to return something to the store or cannot return it so they will just donate it to the thrift store or sell on a garage sale. Their loss is your gain because, most of the time, you will get it for only a few dollars. Score!

8. Anyone can thrift shop! And I do mean anyone. Some of the most financially stable people I know are avid used goods shoppers. They love a good deal and refuse to pay full price. Let's take some tips from those people, shall we? You can be a prepper, homesteader, parent, retiree, single, married, young, old, rich, poor, and anything else you can identify with. Anyone can be a thrift shopper!

9. You can find really good presents while thrift shopping. I have found a lot of presents while thrift shopping. Books that look brand new. Clothes with tags still on them. Sets of dishes still in the original sealed box. Candle sticks and vases because I know people that collect them. You get the hint. Start your gift shopping at the thrift store or online consignment sites and go from there. 

10. Once you start, you won't be able to stop. I know that sounds pompous, but it is true. The idea you will be saving money and scoring some really good stuff is addicting. When you realize you can do this all the time, you will be hooked!

11. The inventory is always changing. If you can't find what you are looking for one day, wait a few days and come back to the store/check again online. More than likely, you will find what you want at a price that is reasonable or cheap. 

12. Thrift stores have sales too. They get a lot of things donated or consigned to them. They often do not have the storage for these things so they run sales. Our local stores often run a buy 1 get 1 free or buy 2 get one free sales. They also have bag sales where a bag of goods is five dollars no matter what you have in the bag. I know other thrift stores will have 50% off sales and more. Keep your eyes open and you will find even better deals at the thrift stores. 

Thrift shopping is fun! The pursuit can be challenging at times, but the results are usually worth it. Just know, even with thrift shopping, you need to be mindful of your budget and not get crazy while shopping. Sometimes, people will buy whatever they want because it is a good deal, but they still overspend. 

What is your favorite thing to buy in the thrift store?

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Friday, November 17, 2017

Plan Your Retirement Now and Secure Your Future!


Plan Your Retirement Now and Secure Your Future!

This is an unpaid sponsored post. I believe strongly in saving for retirement as social security will not likely be enough to cover your expenses in retirement. Please check out this website and the cool tools they have to help you save for retirement!
As we grow closer to the end of yet another year many begin to take stock of our financial situations. It is tough being pulled in so many directions - children’s college funds, vacation and family outings, home ownership and more. But it’s important not to neglect long-term savings for your retirement years. I didn’t really take retirement savings seriously until I turned 40. Now I feel like I am having to catch up on my contributions to my retirement fund.  

Understanding retirement needs can be confusing sometimes and may feel like an overwhelming and impossible task. That’s why I am sharing these simple tips for helping you get started with easy-to-understand resources at AceYourRetirement.org. Here are seven things to consider to help you maximize your retirement savings.

  1. Minimize debt - but not at the expense of paying into your 401k or other retirement accounts. The less debt-load you have during your retirement, the more you’ll be able to make your retirement dollars stretch.
  2. Don’t rely solely on Social Security - in fact people are often recommended to wait until up to age 70 to collect Social Security to allow benefits to grow more.
  3. Consider whether downsizing your living quarters makes sense once children are grown and out of the house.
  4. Make sure your beneficiary designations are up-to-date and talk to your spouse/partner to make sure everyone is on the same page.
  5. If you’ve been divorced but not remarried you may be eligible to Social Security benefits from your ex-spouse.
  6. Enroll in a retirement savings plan. Even a little bit held out from each paycheck can really add up.
  7. Never contribute less to your 401k account than your employer matches if they offer a matching program. Save more if possible and increase your savings by 1% per year whenever possible.


As we approach a new year it’s important to take stock of your current situation, and make adjustments where needed. Pop over to AceYourRetirement.org and get personalized, simple tips on how to jumpstart your retirement savings. It was so helpful to me to see a couple areas that I could adjust to help improve the financial situation of our family. I need to increase my contributions to my 401K that is offered at my work. I currently contribute 2% and will be increasing it to 3-5% in January. I also need to get my student loans paid off to so I can put that money in savings.
I wasn’t surprised to find out that I was the only one struggling with what to do with our finances. I double-checked to make sure that we were maxing out what my employer will match and we found out we needed to adjust our contributions slightly. Today, many Americans households have virtually no retirement savings. This shortfall is especially critical for people in their late 40s and older, who are only years away from retirement.  Americans know they should be focused on the long-term, with nearly 6 in 10 (58%) preferring to save for retirement over something more short-term, a vacation (40%).  But approximately 2 in 5 households headed by people age 55-64—over 9 million households—have no retirement assets saved at all. Among workers with access to an employer-sponsored retirement plan, more than 7 million don’t participate. 28% of people with access to an employer-sponsored plan do not contribute enough money to reach their company match, meaning they are essentially leaving free money on the table.
Taking steps to take control of your retirement planning could have a positive impact in many areas of your life. More than half of people in their 40s and 50s say that feeling more confident about saving for retirement would help them feel less stressed (54%). And 46% would be happier knowing they are taking care of their family’s future. I know I feel better after working through the AARP website AceYourRetirement.org. We’ve been savvy with our money - paid off car loans ahead of schedule, lived almost debt free for awhile...I know we are capable of achieving large financial goals. But I just wasn’t sure where to start. Now I feel much more confident and you can too.

Where will you start with your retirement planning? What’s your biggest challenge today?

Thanks for reading,
Erica

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