Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Shop Small Businesses This Holidays!


The day after Black Friday is Small Business Saturday. Why do corporate businesses come before small businesses? Because they have the money for advertising and mind control. They have bigger budgets, more staff, and more time to infiltrate your consciousness and convince you to spend your hard earned money on them.

However, small businesses should be taking precedence this holiday season and all year round. Why? Because small businesses are the backbone of this country. We couldn't live without them. All corporate businesses started out as small businesses and grew to be bigger than they should have been. Now a lot of them are failing to leave small businesses to pick up the slack.

Small businesses provide quality products and personal customer service. Small businesses provide attention to detail that corporate stores don't take the trouble to provide. The biggest reason of all to support a small business is because that money is going directly to the person providing the product or service which in turn helps support their families.

How can you support small businesses? By being a customer and becoming a loyal customer. By telling your friends and family about them. By providing top reviews on social media sites to draw more people to their business. By doing what you can to help them flourish.

I am going to provide several small business links below. If you know of any others that would be of interest, please provide a link and a name in the comments so we can all check them out! Thanks!

1. The Organic Prepper Bookstore - Daisy has her own printable and downloadable books in this collection of books as well as a book by yours truly, Selco Begovic, and Lisa Egan.

2. My Amazon Store - While Amazon is a big corporate company, they support a lot of authors, small business owners, and bloggers. They provide a place for them to sell their products on a much larger scale to provide a better income. My store has links to a lot of these people as well as some items that I find invaluable. (If you sell items on Amazon, please let me know so I can link to them!)

3. Customized Food Storage Plans by The Merrill Project - Charisse will help you put together a food storage suited to your family needs and tastes. She has a seven, fourteen, and twenty-one recipe plan that can help anyone!

4. Build Your 72-Hour Kit for $95 by The Merrill Project - This $7 PDF will give you a complete list that you can take to the store to purchase items for your 72-Hour Kit. This is an excellent resource to have on hand and to be more prepared!

5. Electronic Emergency Binders by The Merrill Project - These electronic binders would be a great addition to anyone's preps. You can customize them for one person or six people. They can be stored on an SD card for easy transportation or printed out if you wish.

6. eBay stores - honestly, most eBay stores are small businesses. Most of them are supporting families or are a side hustle to make some extra money. A lot of the sellers sell things that are brand new or are in excellent used condition. Consider them in your holiday shopping this year. The link to my eBay store is https://www.ebay.com/str/ericasbooksandmore. Another great eBay store is https://www.ebay.com/sch/farmhousefavorites.

7. Never Buy Bread Again by Laurie Neverman - The woman behind Common Sense Home has a great cookbook on baking bread with twenty in-depth recipes to make you a more confident bread baker. Pair this with a loaf pan and a bread knife and you would have an excellent gift!

8. By Robin - Robin is an excellent artist and designer who makes one of a kind cards, jewelry, glass etchings, and anything else you may want to be designed. Take a look through her pictures for samples of what she can do.

9. Abby's Elderberry - Want to really support a small business and a family? Abby's Elderberry Syrup is the business of a young lady who dreams of buying a horse! Elderberry syrup is a powerful immunity booster for colds and cases of flu and would be a great present for anyone!

10. Madelyns Wreaths - Madelyns Wreaths makes wreaths, quilts, and other crafts. They make some very neat one-of-a-kind items that would be lovely gifts for anyone!

11. Simplicity Soaps - Everything is made by hand in her own kitchen. Soaps and lotions make an easy present for almost everyone on your list. They also make great additions to stockings and gift baskets!

12. Nomadic Knot Designs - She makes crochet items that are always appreciated. You can purchase crochets stocking hats as well as the popular messy bun hats!

13. From Dirt to Dollars: A Guide to Selling at the Farmers Market by Annie Coombe - Know someone who may be interested in selling their products? This very informative book would be a great gift for someone who gardens a lot or always seems to have extra produce. Selling at the farmers market should not be scary and Annie helps you do it the right way!

14. Joyful Aprons - An apron is a delightful present for almost everyone! Joyful Aprons makes really cute, really fun aprons at a reasonable price. They even offer maternity aprons!

15. 4 Cross Stitch Needle Minders/Needle Keepers - Do you have someone who loves to sew on your list? These are great for keeping the needle from getting lost! These would also make a great stocking stuffer or part of a gift basket.

16. Scott Family Farms Honey Bees and Christmas Trees - You really need to check this site out! They have honey products, bath and body products, homemade soaps, home items and more. So many products! If you live in Georgia or near their farm, they also have Christmas trees for sale.

17. River Botanicals - They also have some great bath and body products that would make great presents. You definitely could purchase one of each and have a very cool gift basket for a loved one.

18. Busy Hands Quiet Hearts Knitting Patterns - Pia has six wonderful knitting patterns for any knitter to try. With yarn and needles, you could have a lovely present for the knitter in your life.

19. 3 Children's Books by Kat Mendenhall - These excellent children's book by Kat would be a fun gift to give to a child and nurture their minds with books. They are stories about her goats and her dog. The titles are Moo Moo Sue, Howdy Howdy My Name is Rowdy, and How Buddy Found His Bark. They are $10 each or $28 for all three plus postage if mailed. You can contact Kat at katmartywrite@gmail.com for ordering or any questions.

20. Lilla Rose - Leah Terry - If you are looking for well-made, cute hair clips, pins, and headbands, this is the place for you! They have some really good deals and a lot to choose from. From thin hair to thick hair, they have you covered!

21. The Productive Gardener E-Course - Dana from Piwakawaka Valley has developed a great e-course to help you or be a great gift for a gardening friend. This is a twelve-month course that gives tips, tricks, and lots of advice to become a better, more productive gardener.

22. Artisan Bread - The Art of Sourdough Ebook - Dana from Piwakawaka Valley has also written a wonderful book about starting and making sourdough bread that also features a troubleshooting section. This would be a good present for the baker in your life!

23. Artsy Inspirations by Tina Tompkins Ames - She has a delightful collection of cards, adult coloring books and pages, gift boxes, soaps, and more. There are neatly boxed sets to give to friends or something small for stockings and gift baskets!

24. Ready Gardens - Ready Gardens has a variety of garden items and seeds for the gardener on your list. You can get seed kits, survival seed banks, seeds, and free growing guides. They also have a Little Gardeners Starter Kit for the child on your list to get started on the wonders of growing a garden!

This is just the tip of the iceberg for small businesses and authors. There are so many more out there. Like I mentioned earlier if you have a small business or have a product you want others to know about, drop the link and a description in the comments below. (If it appears to be spam or just plain nasty, I will delete the comment.)

(This post contains some affiliate links, but mostly just direct links to the businesses. I am only profiting from three of these links which help to support this blog and my family. The rest of the links is supporting their own businesses and their families.) 

Thanks for reading,

Erica

Related Posts:
Stay Home on Black Friday. Shop Small. Shop Local. 
20 Books To Give To Your Favorite Prepper (And Non-Prepper) For The Holidays!

Friday, November 23, 2018

Stay Home on Black Friday. Shop Small. Shop Local.


(Originally posted in 2013. Revised and expanded for 2018. The views of the author haven't changed!)

Black Friday shopping can be crazy. Stores opening at midnight if they even closed at all. Standing in line and getting a ticket to buy an item at significant savings. Most of the time people are buying things they don't really need. They are missing out on time with family and friends to go shopping. Employees are missing out on time with family and friends on a holiday to satisfy a corporation's greediness.

No, I don't agree with stores being open so early on Black Friday and even on Thanksgiving Day. It is a holiday after all!  Just because someone works retail doesn't mean they need to pay the price of missing out on sleep and time with loved ones. I don't agree with stores opening at ungodly hours to satisfy their bottom lines while offering deals that are supposedly irresistible to shoppers. I don't like the whole craziness of these shopping days and what they stand for. I personally try to never participate if I can help it. A few years back, I got one thing online and regretted it because, despite the reviews, it was cheaply made and only lasted three months.

The problem with Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday shopping is that the public is feeding the problem. The stores are offering these deals and opening at ungodly hours. The public flocks to these sales forsaking their families, work and sleep. The workers are scheduled and, in a lot of cases, forced to work on the holiday because they are told they cannot take those days off or call in sick.

Quite frankly, the public is a huge part of this problem. If they would not shop at the sales, the stores would not feel the need to be open. Standing in lines for hours, collecting a ticket, rushing the doors, and rioting just brings out the ugliness of the whole situation. Stores make everyone stand in line if they want the item and get a ticket so they can purchase it. When did honor and morals go out the window while shopping? Just ridiculous.

Trust me, I understand the lure of the sale. I understand why shoppers do go to get a good deal on an item. If the shopper really needs the item, it would be very difficult to pass up the good deal. I usually advocate saving money any way you can, but for some reason, I can not condone Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday shopping. I see a lot of people going in debt and using credit cards to pay for items they cannot afford. People buy gifts for their families and friends that will be played with or used a few times and discarded. They bought the item for that person just because they were able to get that gift at such a "great" price.

Do yourself and your family a favor. Stay home on Black Friday. If you feel the need to be out on Black Friday, do so at a reasonable hour. Camping out at a store, battling others for the sale items, and spending you do not have is not the way to make great memories. Send the stores a message that their early sales and being open on a holiday is just not what consumers want. Send an even bigger message that they can run these sales on a reasonable timetable and stop the craziness of Black Friday.


Better yet, shop small business owners and local businesses. Shop your friends' items for sale. Shop on Etsy. Even on eBay, most of the sellers are selling for a side hustle and could use the extra love. 

Take the money away from corporate greed and give to someone who needs the money for their family, home, and business. There is a lot of excellent products available and always something for everyone. You may spend a little more money, but you will be knowing where your money is going and you will have a quality item to give to your loved ones. Most people love a good story behind the gift and would love to know that the item came from a small business or a local artisan.

In the next few posts, I hope to give you ideas and promote products from other small business owners and bloggers. We all have great products and items that will be a lovely and thoughtful gift to give others. I also hope to give you a list of ideas that you can make yourself (Yes, you still have time!). A handmade gift says a lot about the people giving it as well as the person receiving it.  

I will also be posting links in social media to my Amazon store. While this may seem contradictory, I hope to promote primarily other bloggers and other small business owners' products who happen to sell their items on Amazon. Sometimes, Amazon is the only viable place to sell most of their products. I will add items that I find to be very beneficial in my life, but not many as of right now.

This holiday season, please be conscious of how your money is spent and where it is spent. Keep it away from corporate greediness as much as possible and keep it small and local. 

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Related Posts:
20 Books To Give Your Favorite Preppers (And Non-Preppers) For The Holidays!

10 Money Saving Hacks for a Happier (and Cheaper) Holidays!

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

20 Books To Give Your Favorite Preppers (and Non-Preppers) For The Holidays!


One of my favorite gifts to give and receive for any holiday is books! Almost everyone reads books. Beyond that, reading increases knowledge, brings pleasure, and is generally a good way to relax. 

These are my favorite prepping fiction and non-fiction books to read and to give. You can give most of them as an e-book, but I recommend a hard copy to keep in the home library. If you can give the e-books as a downloadable book, this would be good too so the recipient can download and print the book. 

You will see fiction and non-fiction on this list. While most preppers like non-fiction, non-preppers will enjoy fiction books more. Sometimes the fiction books do more for opening the eyes of non-preppers than any talking to them will do! 

20 Books To Give Your Favorite Preppers (and Non-Preppers) For The Holidays!

1. How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It: Tactics, Techniques, and Technologies for Uncertain Times by James Wesley, Rawles. (This is my favorite prepping book ever!)

2. Survivors: A Novel of the Coming Collapse by James Wesley, Rawles (Fiction and the first book in a fantastic series!)

3. Going Home: A Novel (The Survivalists Series Book 1) by A. American (Fiction and another great series.)

4. One Second After by William R. Forstchen (Fiction and the first book of another great series)

5. CyberStorm by Matthew Mather (Fiction and being developed for a movie)

6. 36 Hours (The Blackout Series Book 1) by Bobby Akart (Fiction and an author with at least four great series)

7. The Longest Walk by Ron Foster and Pat Lambert (Fiction and very eye-opening!)

8. Prepper's Long-Term Survival Guide: Food, Shelter, Security, Off-the-Grid Power and More Live-Savings Strategies for Self-Sufficient Living by Jim Cobb (Non-fiction and another fantastic resource to get better prepared)

9. Lights Out: A Cyberattack, A Nation Unprepared, Surviving the Aftermath by Ted Koppel (Non-fiction)

10. The Prepper's Pocket Guide: 101 Easy Things You Can Do to Ready Your Home for a Disaster by Bernie Carr (Non-fiction and this would make a great stocking stuffer!)

11. Survival Mom: How to Prepare Your Family for Everyday Disasters and Worst-Case Scenarios by Lisa Bedford  (Non-fiction)

12. A Year Without The Grocery Store: A Step by Step Guide to Acquiring, Organizing, and Cooking Food Storage by Karen Morris (Non-fiction)

13. Just in Case: How to be Self-Sufficient When The Unexpected Happens by Kathy Harrison (Non-fiction)

14. Prepper Supplies Checklist: A Simple Guide to Emergency Preparedness by Nettie David (Non-fiction)

15. The Prepper's Canning Guide: Affordably Stockpile a Lifesaving Supply of Nutritious, Delicious, Shelf-Stable Foods by Daisy Luther (Non-fiction)

16. Holding Their Own: A Story of Survival  Book 1 by Joe Nobody  (Fiction)

17. Going Off The Grid: The How-To Book of Simple Living and Happiness by Gary Collins (Non-fiction)

18. Prepare Your Family for Survival: How to Be Ready for Any Emergency or Disaster Situation by Linda Loosli (Non-fiction)

19. Making the Best of Basics: Family Preparedness Handbook by James Talmage Stevens (Non-fiction)

20. The Prepper's Yearbook: Prepare for Emergencies Large and Small with 5 Budget Friendly Tasks Per Month by Erica Nygaard (Yours truly! Download and print!)

There should be something for everyone on this list. From the non-prepper to the experienced prepper, you should be able to find something for the special people on your list! 

(This post is riddled with affiliate links that support many authors who also happen to be friends and associates of mine! Please consider supporting one of these fine people who do this for a living and with the purpose of wanting you to be better prepared. Thanks!)

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Related Posts: 
Prepper's Total Grid Failure Handbook: Book Review
The Survival Savvy Family: Book Review 

Friday, November 16, 2018

Prepping Is About The Little Things


Prepping can seem like such an expensive adventure. Many people think that in order to be a good prepper you need the big things: a whole house generator, a safe room, a bug out shelter in a hidden location, every gun known to man with several hundred rounds for each gun, and more. With that thought, we scare away more people from prepping or feeling like they are prepared because they don't have the biggest prepping ticket items.

In fact, I don't have any of those things. I wish I had a generator. Truth be told, a couple of different guns too. However, I don't have them and I still am considering myself a prepper.

You will hear plenty of "experts" tell you that you need to be able to be off-grid and be able to completely unplug from the grid if you can at a moments' notice. That can be very expensive also considering most people either need to purchase a new house, build a home, or retrofit their current dwelling. Most of those experts do not exactly admit to the fact that it took them years to become off-grid and the amount of work it takes to be off-grid.

Admittingly, I would love to have an off-grid home with solar panels and a wood stove/boiler system. However, again, I don't and I still consider myself a prepper.

You will also hear a lot of preppers telling you that you need to be homesteading in addition to preparedness. The reasoning behind this is so that you are not suffering much when the food supply is interrupted and you can be self-sufficient. You need to be growing your own food, raising livestock, and living on an acreage somewhere.

This one I am guilty of. I have been homesteading and do so in addition to my preparedness. However, this may not be a possibility for a lot of people who want to prepare. While it is a great addition to my preps, I have no illusions that I can supply all my food needs with what I raise and the eggs my chickens lay. I would need to grow a lot more and get a rooster so I can repopulate my chickens.

Having the big ticket prepper items is not what preparedness is all about. Being off-grid or being a  homesteader is not what prepping is about. Being a survivalist who can live in the woods for weeks at a time is not what prepping is about. They are nice things to learn, practice, and live because they are things that will enhance your preparedness. 

Prepping is about the little things. Prepping is about the skills you learn, the items you need to have in an emergency, the knowledge of what to do in most situations, the daily habits, and the life you live in general. 

Prepping is about having plenty of food and water on hand to take care of your basic needs. Prepping is about having a shelter, being warm, and having some light to see by. Prepping is about being able to fix and mend most things. Prepping is about being to thrive and survive with what you have and making the most of what you have.

The reality for most preppers is that they cannot afford the big things. They cannot afford to move. They can not afford to build or renovate a home. Most of us are still living our normal lives with our regular bills, family expenses, and other daily living expenses. We cannot afford the big things. We can try to save up for them, but we also need that savings for any emergencies that may come up (which is prepping, by the way).

Prepping is 100% personal effort. You get to make prepping as big or as little as you want it. You get to explore what interests you and you get to do what is best for you and your family. If you are happy and comfortable with having two weeks worth of supplies on hand to withstand most emergencies, great. You are still way ahead of most people when it comes to crisis time. If you want to go further and prepare for more, you have the right to do.

However, prepping is about making sure the basics are covered. We may call it little things, but they are the things that will save your life and keep you out of the FEMA/Red Cross lines.

So they aren't so little really. They are more important than having all those big-ticket items that most prepping "experts" will tell you need to have.

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Related Posts:
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10 Prepping Goals You Should Be Setting For The New Year


Sunday, November 11, 2018

Is It Time For A Financial Reset? 15 Tips For You To Reset Your Finances


Sometimes you go through life like you own it. You have your priorities right, your life in order, and everything going well.

Then, wham! You get hit with a medical emergency. You lose your spouse. You get divorced or separated. You have to suddenly move. You are faced with bills you did not realize you owed and now are in collections.

Life happens. You can control a lot of what happens in your life, but there is a lot you cannot control. You always hope you have enough in savings and/or insurance to cover whatever can happen, but sometimes you just don't have enough.

So what do you do? You can do several things to scale back and correct your finances. Below are some tips to get your financial life back in order and do what you can to get back on your feet again. None of these are quick fixes. Some of these tips will look like they are from Dave Ramsey and they are. He is definitely worth listening to when it comes to finances!

15 Tips For You To Reset Your Finances

1. Start a spending freeze or at least stop all unnecessary spending. This is one tip you can implement right away. No unnecessary spending for at least a week, but a month would be more ideal. You should sit down and make a list of necessary purchases. Be severe and strict about the spending freeze.

2. Start a budget or rework the budget you have. Sometimes our budgets work until they don't. Sometimes our finances change so much that we just need to rework the budget or start over with a new budget. That happens. You need to sit down and write down all income and expenses and make a workable budget. You might have to tweak the budget for a few months until you get it right. You also need to remember to plan for future expenses so you are saving for them.

3. Say no to yourself and your kids. The budget doesn't work if you do not practice self-control and self-discipline. Sit down with your family and discuss what is going on with your finances. You will not need to tell your kids all the details. Just let them know that you will not be spending money on anything unnecessary. However, you also need to tell them that they can come to you with any requests or concerns because they may need something necessary and you don't want them to be scared to ask.

4. Watch and read anything and everything you can find on extreme frugality. You are going to need the tips from it. There may be some things you don't think you can do, but you can save a lot of money if you need to.

5. Take inventory of what food you have. If you are finding your finances to be really tight, now is the time to dip into your food storage. One area of your budget you can really skimp and save on is your grocery budget. Start using your food storage, eating more from the garden, cooking from scratch and stretch your food as far as possible.

6. Comb over your bills. Where exactly is your money going? Are you paying for multiple same or like things? Do you really need satellite/cable television along with streaming services? Are you paying for things you are not using? Are you paying for unlimited data on your phones and internet at home? Make the necessary eliminations and move forward with the saved money.

7. Buy used before new. Your kid needs black pants for a school event? Go to the thrift store first or ask friends. There is no reason for you to run out and buy a new pair when you can buy used. You need to develop that mentality for this financial reset. Be sure you borrow or buy used anything you can in order to save or not spend money at all.

8. Sell what you don't need. You need the money back into your budget. You probably have debts that need to disappear. What do you have that you don't need? A lot of people have more vehicles than they do drivers. Sell the extra vehicles or, if you can, reduce down to one vehicle. You will save money on insurance and maintenance that way. What do you have that you can sell otherwise? This would be a good time to declutter and sell off the excess.

9. Shop around for insurance and other services. More often than not, you are paying for more insurance than you need. You are also probably paying higher premiums. Insurance companies rarely reward customers for loyalty anymore. Shop around for a cheaper rate. You can do this yourself or use an experienced independent agent to get the job for you. If you are driving a vehicle older than ten years, consider dropping down to minimum insurance.

10. Are you renting or purchasing your home? Are you paying for way more space than you need? Sometimes we do want the nicer things in life and our housing situations are no different. However, by moving to a less expensive place, you could be saving a lot of money and helping your budget significantly. There is no reason to be impressing the Jones at this point in the game. Don't think your home will sell or you can get out of your lease? You could move and rent your home for the cost of your mortgage payment or sublease your rental for the same cost. Just a thought.

11. Now is a good time to re-examine what gives you joy in life. Many people have expensive hobbies which cost money to do and to maintain. If you can't hardly afford your bills and groceries, the motorcycles, boats, trips, and more need to go. Selling them would help to pay more debt and build up your savings. You also need to think about how much you drink, smoke, gamble, and other addictions. They all cost a lot of money over time and your budget (and you!) would be better off without them.

12. Unsubscribe and delete anything that will derail your restructured budget. I do mean anything that will tempt you. You think you can look and resist. Then comes the rabbit hole. Throw away any flyers that aren't grocery flyers. If you really need to look at them, you can always look them up on the internet. Immediately delete and unsubscribe from all the sites that tempt you to look. Your budget will thank you!

13. Even though you have set a strict budget, it is hard to stick to it for a while. Many people have success with the cash envelope system. You put a set amount of money into the cash envelopes and you stick to that amount. When the cash is gone, you are done. If you find yourself absolutely needing more cash, you probably need to re-examine how much money you have put away for that category. Your budget probably needs to be adjusted.

14. Use the 7-day rule. If you really think you need to purchase something, commit to waiting seven days. After seven days, ask yourself if you really need that item especially if it will derail your budget. Most often than not, you do not need the item. Some people take this further and wait 14 or 30 days before deciding to make the purchase.

15. Do not let your lifestyle define your budget and your finances. Too many people think they need to keep up appearances or maintain a certain lifestyle. This doesn't work when you are trying to reset your finances. More than likely, your "lifestyle" is what got you into the mess you are in, but you are blaming it on other things. Now is the time to let go of the life you thought you had to live so you can get right with your finances.

Resetting your finances can be hard. You may have to make some hard decisions to keep the wolves away from the door. However, you can do it!

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Related Posts:
10 Frugal Living Goals You Should Be Making This Year
Is it A Need or Want? What Should You Spend Your Money On?


Friday, November 2, 2018

55 Ways To Save Money on Your Utility and Water Bills


The single biggest expense most households have are their utility and water bills. Sometimes those two bills combined are more expensive than the mortgage. Sometimes those two bills are the same as the mortgage and monthly groceries. In other words, they are just expensive.

In the twenty plus years of paying for a utility bill and growing up in a house that was very conscious of its water and electrical use, I have learned some tips and tricks to drive down the costs of those bills. Some of these tips will not cost you a thing and will provide immediate results. Some results will not be immediately seen. For some of these tips, you will need to pay to save. You will need to purchase items will that will pay for themselves in the future.

I realize some towns/cities/companies have minimum usages for utilities and water. If you are above the minimum usages, you want to get down to those if you can. You can also call and try to negotiate the minimum usage amount, but most places do not allow that.

55 Ways To Save Money on Your Utility and Water Bills

1. Shut off the lights. Most houses are lit up like they are a light show. If you are not in the room, shut off the lights. Use lamps, oil lamps, or candles instead of overhead lights to save money. During the day, use natural lighting.

2. Unplug the small appliance especially the ones with lights or a display. They draw power even though they are not in use.

3. Hang your laundry instead of using the clothes dryer. You can hang inside or outside depending on your weather. Hanging inside during the winter also provides some needed humidity too if you live where it is cold.

4. Plant trees to shade your home. Tree shade keeps a home cooler and is better for the environment.

5. Fix your leaking faucets. You lose a lot of water with a leaking faucet. If you have well water, you are losing electricity too by keeping the well pump running.

6. Use low flow showerheads. These also help save money and you still have good water pressure for a great shower.

7. Clean or replace the faucet aerators (screen on the end of your faucet) to use less water.

8. Replace old dying appliances with new (or newer) energy efficient ones.

9. Use your grill or firepit to cook a meal instead of the stove.

10. Have a no television, no electronic times of the day. Extend this further by having a no television week every month. Not having the television on will save money and using electronics less will save on charging times.

11. Plastic on the windows during the winter to cut down on drafts and keep the house warmer.

12. Set the thermostat lower in the winter and higher in the summer when you are gone from the home.

13. Set the thermostat two degrees lower than usual in the winter and two degrees higher than usual in the summer to save money.

14. Get an energy audit done by your local utility company. They will tell you where you can make changes and often you get a free kit for the having the audit done. The audit isn't always free though.

15. Turn down the water heater to 120 degrees or lower yet. You can still take a hot shower with 120-degree water.

16. Set a timer for showers. Most people do not need more than ten minutes for a shower. Teenagers seem to forget this so set a timer.

17. Only flush your toilet every 2-3 trips. You know the saying, "If it is yellow, let it mellow. If it is brown, flush it down." You do not need to flush the toilet every time you pee. Worried about pets or toddlers? Use a toilet lid lock so they can not get into the toilet.

18. Put a brick covered in plastic wrap in the toilet tank to reduce the amount of water needed to flush.

19. Have a leaky toilet? Replace the seal, replace the float, and/or replace the toilet. If you are replacing the toilet, definitely spend the money for the low flow toilets. Most of those toilets use less than two gallons of water per flush.

20. Save the warm-up water from your showers. You can use this normally wasted water for flushing toilets (shut off the water to the toilet first) or watering plants.

21. Check your water heater. Have the water heater serviced or learn how to service it yourself. Flush the water heater out once a year to remove sentiment. If it is over 20 years old, consider replacing it with a tankless water heater or something much more energy efficient.

22. Warm your water heater with an insulated blanket if it is in an unheated basement or room to reduce heat loss from the tank. You can also wrap the pipes coming from the water heater to prevent heat loss further which causes your water heater to work harder.

23. Set up a rain catchment system. Catching rainwater to use for watering lawns and plants is certainly going to save you a lot of money. Some cities/townships/counties/states do not allow for this practice so check your local laws. You may need to have it flow into hidden tanks if you want to do this.

24. Check the seals on your doors. You can lose a lot of hear/air from doors that are not properly sealed. Replace the seals if you can. If they are doors you do not use, seal them off completely.

25. Close off rooms you do not use. Unless there are pipes in those rooms, you can shut off those rooms. Close off the heat vents and close the door. You can always open them back up and turn the vent on again if you need to use those rooms.

26. Switch out any old electrical plug-ins and light switches. Most of them become weak over time and do not securely hold the plugs in right.

27. Use thermal lined or insulated curtains to keep rooms cool or warm depending on the season.

28. Use solar power whenever possible. You may not be able to purchase a large system, but you can take advantage of solar chargers or small solar panels to run small appliances.

29. Use a wood stove or a wood cookstove instead of electric or gas to keep your home warm and cook your meals. Some insurances do not allow wood stoves so you will need to check into this and maybe switch insurance companies.

30. Fill your sink with water when washing dishes. Fill one side or a tub with wash water and the other side with rinse water. You waste more water by running the faucet than you do with just filling the sink.

31. Use draft stoppers on doors. If you do have a bad seal on a door or an inside door leading to an unheated area, you can make or purchase a draft stopper to seal off the door better.

32. Wear more clothes in the winter and fewer clothes in the summer. Most people do not want to be uncomfortable. However, you can add layers of clothes in the winter to keep the heat bill down. There is also nothing wrong with wearing a fleece jacket, stocking cap, and fingerless gloves inside the house in the winter.

33. Add more blankets to beds in the winter to keep the heat down overnight.

34. Only shower every other day if you can. A good deal of people do not need to shower every day. Most kids under the age of twelve only need to shower or bath 2-3 times a week. Most people just do not get dirty enough or gross enough to shower every day. However, if you do get really dirty and/or sweaty every day, shower. If you have an illness in the house, please shower or bath as often as possible.

35. You do not need to wash your bedding every week. Save your water bill and wash your bedding every 2-3 weeks. If you are worried about the sheets being gross, shower before bedtime or sleep on a towel.

36. Only run full loads of dishes in the dishwasher and full loads of laundry in the washing machine. With most washing machines, you can at least adjust the level load to keep the water usage down. However, you will save money on your electrical bill by only running these machines with full loads.

37. Kids do not need a full bathtub to get cleaned. Save your water bill some more by only using no more than five inches of water in the bathtub. If they are toddlers or preschoolers, you can use even less water.

38. Keep rooms clean and uncluttered. If the rooms are dirty and cluttered, they will take more energy to heat because they are trying to heat your stuff too.

39. If you are using the oven, try cooking multiple things in the oven at the same time to conserve power. If you are baking a casserole, plan to bake bread or bars at the same time. You can also put potatoes or vegetables into roast for another meal.

40. Have blankets available to use and cover-up. You can keep the heat lower while everyone is just sitting in the living room watching television.

41. Wear clothes more than once to keep your laundry down and use less water. Most of our clothing can be worn more than once (yes, undergarments are the exception). Unless you get gross and dirty, you can wear clothes at least twice if not more. You can wear the same pair of pajamas all week.

42. Open your windows instead of using the air conditioner. Most people need to air out their homes on a regular basis anyway. Unless you live in a really dirty area or have severe allergies, you should be opening your windows to save money.

43. Look for opportunities to shut off your heat or air conditioning. Unless it is really humid or hot (over 85 degrees), I keep the air conditioner shut off and will open the windows if I can. The heater gets shut off if the outside temp is over 60 degrees during the fall, winter, and spring. Most of the time, the heater will not run anyway because the inside temp will stay over 65 degrees during the day, but I like to shut it off and see how long we can go before turning it on. Once the inside temp drops below 58 degrees, I will turn it back on.

44. Are you using a small appliance for something you can do easily by hand? You can really nit-pick here, but you could use a manual can opener inside of an electric one. You can use a whisk instead of an electric mixer. The list goes on, but you are trying to save money. The little savings add up too.

45. If it is winter, keep moving. In the winter, we tend to get colder because we sit more. We naturally want to hibernate or do as little as possible. However, to keep your body heat up and the thermostat turned down, you need to keep moving. You can deep clean a room, clean house daily, and more. Just keep moving around.

46. If it is summer, consider energy conservation for yourself. In the summer, we tend to do things that make us hot and sweaty which causes us to turn the thermostat lower to stay cooler. Keep the heavy work for morning or late afternoon/evening. If you feel the need to heavy, sweaty work during the day, consider a cool shower or even an outdoor solar shower bag to cool off instead.

47. In the summer, cook outside or eat cool meals. Heating up the house will make us want to adjust the thermostat. Keep the cooking outside if you can. If you are a canner or caterer, consider installing an outdoor kitchen to keep the heat outside.

48. Unplug electronic devices after they are done charging. Most chargers still keep drawing power after they are done charging. Unplug them or put them on a power strip you can shut off so they are not drawing power anymore.

49. Use slow cookers, toaster ovens, and electric skillets instead of using your stovetop or oven. They use considerably less energy than a stovetop or oven.

50. Replace your standard light bulbs with a CFL or a LED bulb. Some bulbs are better than others, but all of them will save you money over the incandescent bulbs. I will say this: from experience, it is far better to invest money in the LED bulbs and get a better quality for better lighting. Going with cheap bulbs will more than likely result in less quality lighting.

51. Consider changing your outdoor lighting to LED or solar lights. We also use dusk to dawn lights and motion sensor lights. We replaced and added a good deal of our outdoor lights last year with no impact on the utility bill because we choose LED and solar lights.

52. If your furnace or central unit is over 20-25 years old, consider replacing it. The newer systems use considerably less energy and have many more options to make them a better fit for your home.

53. Insulate your attic. A contractor friend told me one time that most people could save a lot of money if they would just insulate their attics. A lot of homes have uninsulated attics and lose a lot of heat through those attics. Make sure you have at least 8-12 inches of insulation on your attic floor to keep the heat escaping through your roof. Be sure to check your insulation every few years because it can settle and collapse.

54. Borrow and use a kill a watt monitor and find out if you have any appliance or electronics that are sucking power without you being aware of how much. You would be surprised how much aquariums and dishwashers use.

55. Consider replacing your thermostats. After a time, they become unreliable and could be heating your house or rooms warmer than they should be. We replaced one a year ago after realizing that the room seemed very warm. Using a thermometer, we discovered the room was really almost 80 degrees instead of the 65 degrees the thermostat was set at. Every year, you should be checking to see if they are accurate by using a thermometer and checking the temperature.

This is just some of the ways you can save money on your utility and water bills. Some of these may be too extreme for some of you and that is okay. Some of these may cost too much money for you now to implement them. That is okay too. Just take care of them when you have some money saved up.

There are many, many more ways to save money on your utility and water bills too. I plan to have a part 2 coming, but I would love to hear your ideas! Please leave them in the comments below!

Thanks for reading,
Erica

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


Wednesday, October 31, 2018

10 Ways You Can Be A Self-Reliant Prepper


When you first start prepping, you think you have to spend a lot of money to be prepared. And in some ways, you do need to spend money to build up your food storage and purchase some necessary goods. However, at some point, spending money will not continue to make you a better prepper.

Being a good prepper is about learning the skills and using your knowledge to cope and survive in any situation or crisis that you are faced with. While being prepared for a large-scale disaster is a good thing, being prepared for the everyday situations and your own personal potential crisis takes more skills and knowledge than you could ever think possible. You need to become a self-reliant prepper.

Being able to rely on your own self is so important in prepping. A lot of preppers have groups or people that they can rely on and that is great. However, being a self-reliant prepper can bring a lot to the group too. So if you are a lone wolf or apart of a prepper group, being a self-reliant prepper is important.

10 Ways To Be A Self-Reliant Prepper

1. Buy used goods. This may not seem like a self-reliant skill, but it is. You are doing your part to stop the cycle of consumerism and keep perfectly good items out of the landfill. Beyond that, buying used goods helps the person or business you are purchasing them from. Usually, the person or business selling the used goods is a local person or a small business owner. By purchasing their items, you are helping to support the local economy and increasing someone else's self-reliance.

Here's the thing about prepping and being self-reliant: You may be able to produce most of your own goods and make things stretch for a very long time. However, at some point, you will need to purchase/trade/barter for some goods. You will need your local economy and you need to get to know your local economy. If you establish these relationships now, you will have a better chance of doing business after a crisis or an SHTF situation.

2. Mend your own clothes and other broken items. Fixing and mending items is a skill that most self-reliant preppers treasure and seek to grow every chance they are presented with. By fixing and mending your own things, you are decreasing your dependence on the economy. You should be fixing your own things instead of buying new every time something breaks.

3. Learn new skills - learn to be self-reliant. Self-reliance is not something you are born with. Some people may be more naturally inclined to be self-reliant, but most people have to learn how to be self-reliant. If you were raised in a self-reliant family, you are a step ahead of most people. However, not all is lost. You can learn skills and become self-reliant. Self-reliance is a conscious choice that you make every day. Learning new skills only increases your self-reliance.

4. Grow your own food and supplies. This is one of the most important things for being self-reliant. You need to be able to grow your food, have the ability to grow your own food and be actively practicing how to grow your own food. If you are able to, you should be raising your meat too whether that be just rabbits and chickens or even larger livestock. You should also be trying to grow herbs, medicinal plants, and more to provide for your needs.

5. Make your own things. We have already talked about mending and fixing your own things, but you also need to know how to make things too. Whether you are building a fence, building a shed, sewing new clothes, making salves and remedies, and more, you should be learning how and actively practicing these skills as much as you can to be self-reliant.

6. Cook from scratch. This may seem like a no-brainer, but a lot of people have no idea how to cook from scratch. They don't know how to take vegetables from the garden and make a meal from them. They still buy a lot of junk and/or processed foods from the store. Learn to cook from scratch now and actively use these skills every day. There may be some ingredients that you can not produce yourself like baking powder or baking soda. However, being the good prepper you are, you will have a good stockpile of those ingredients you cannot produce yourself!

7. Use your own power instead of gas or electric. In the case of a crisis or an SHTF, you will need to learn how to do a lot of things yourself because of fuel shortages or a lack of power. Being a good self-reliant prepper, you will understand that you may need to use your own strength and muscles to get the job done. Now would be a good time to start thinking of ways to do things yourself and getting into shape so you can. You can also set up solar and wind power solutions to produce your own power, but sometimes you will need to conserve those too. I would make sure you have hand tools to fix things and be purchasing or building non-electric/non-fuel powered items to do the work.

8. Read  - increase your knowledge. Learning and doing is some of the best ways to increase your knowledge, but having a library of books will give you the knowledge you need to start learning and doing. I would encourage you to build up a physical library with several good reference books. You can find a lot of books used through eBay, Amazon, thrift stores, and garage sales. Then you should sit down and read at least 1-2 chapters of a book a day to help you in your quest for self-reliant living.

9. Learn to make your own medicines, cures, and remedies. I also know this has been brought up already to learn how to do, but this needs its own discussion. We talked about growing your ingredients and making your own salves and remedies. However, you need to be growing your knowledge of how to treat simple ailments and injuries. You should be making and using things to help boost your immunity, help with colds and coughs, treat ear infections naturally, and more.

You should be lessening your dependence on conventional medicines and doctors if you can. You should be eating well and being active as well which helps your overall health tremendously. Too many people run to the doctor for things that could be dealt with at home because they want a quick fix. Most illnesses cannot be treated with a quick fix, but with home remedies and time.

Resources: 
Prepper's Natural Medicine: Life-Saving Herbs, Essential Oils, and Natural Remedies for When There is No Doctor by Cat Ellis
The Survival Medicine Handbook: A Guide for When Help is Not On The Way by Joseph and Amy Alton

*I am not a medical professional. If you have serious ailments and injuries, you should be seeking medical intervention. Some things cannot be cured at home and even the pioneers sought medical attention when necessary.

10. Simply life - want less, need less. We are so accustomed to giving what we want when we want it. We often buy or procure a lot of things we don't actually need. We own a lot of things we don't use. We see the latest prepping (or other) gadget and think we need to have it to be prepared. The truth is we don't need nearly as much as we think we do.

Being self-reliant does not mean you need buildings and a basement full of junk. The two things you need most in your journey to be a self-reliant prepper is your brain and your hands. The rest of the things you need to be self-reliant are tools and things that will help you be self-reliant. There will be tools and things you need. You need jars for canning. You need tools to fix things. You need candles, lamps, and flashlights for lighting.

I could keep going on, but you need to distinguish between your needs and wants. Then, to be self-reliant, you need to want less and try to need less.

This all being said, you want to be a self-reliant prepper. However, this has its limitations too. You shouldn't be so self-reliant that you cannot or will not ask for help if you need it. Sometimes the costs of doing something yourself is far more expensive than just buying the item or hiring the work done. Only you will be able to know the difference and act accordingly. Sometimes you may not have the knowledge on how to do something and need to learn. You should not be so prideful and into your self-reliance that you cannot ask someone to show you how to do that particular skill. You should not be afraid to ask for help.

What ways do you practice being a self-reliant prepper?

Thanks for reading,
Erica

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