New Mexico Urban Homesteader

Hello, I am A 50 Something, Prepper ;-}; former 60's Flower Child, don't believe in taxpayer subsidized special interest groups (political parties), DO believe in the Constitution and Bill of Rights (1st 10). Long time Independent & Informed Voter. Lover of the outdoors and firm believer that History Teaches - if only we will listen!

(No longer Urban or in NM. Now Rural in the mountains of Maine.)

This blog was started at the request of some dear friends that wish to become Preppers.

“No man who is not willing to help himself has any right to apply to his friends, or to the gods.”

Demosthenes (384–322 BC, Greek statesman and orator of ancient Athens)

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Frugality - A Homesteading Preppers Way - Part 2

Frugality - Continued

Below is a list of items I have done over the years that have become second nature. As you get farther along the list you are moving thru time with some of the newer technological advancements. Many of these ideas and suggestions are geared towards the Urbanite; however a lot will apply to suburban and rural people too. At the very least these should spark an idea or two that will work in your living environment. All of these items, when put into practice, will save you money and that is what counts most.

• Before you purchase anything ask yourself “Will I die if I don’t have this?” and “When, what, where will I use this?” This will reduce impulse buying.

• Here is a blast from the past: If you have a mud room, take better advantage of what it was made for. Put a coat rack and bench there that can house boots and shoes. Take off your boots or shoes when you enter. This will stop the mud from being tracked through the home, less cleaning, less labor, less costs. My grandparent’s mud room was actually part of the laundry room with a ¾ bath there. When one came in from the fields, boots were removed, clean cloths picked up and granddad went right to the shower. When he came out his cloths were in the laundry basket to be washed and he was clean as a whistle. The floor also had a drain in it so if the mud was really bad, you just hosed it down or if the washer flooded; you swished the water down the drain.

• Plan errands so the trip takes the least amount of mileage as possible. To facilitate this have an Errand/Shopping List on the frig that you can add to as you notice you need an item. Limit shopping trips to no more than once a week, once every two weeks or more is even better.

• Car pool if possible. I organized a monthly car pool for shopping in my neighborhood. We take turns taking everyone around all the warehouse stores, malls, home improvement stores, farmers and flea markets and such. We make one circle around town to hit each one of these places. It is almost a full day event. We regularly shop the used book and furniture stores too. A side benefit is getting to know and networking with your neighbors.

• Walk, ride a bus or train, bike instead of drive whenever possible. I have purchased an adult tricycle that has a folding basket and rear axle and is lightweight enough that I can get it on the bike racks on the busses in town. I often walk to the grocery store with a folding cart when I do my shopping. Much cheaper than driving your vehicle and you get the added bonus of some exercise. Remember a healthier you means your medical expenses will be less too.

• When you grocery shop, eat before you go, be sure to read the labels and take a calculator. Figure out the price per serving. What looks like a bargain probably is not; it will either be a higher cost per serving or contain some kind of filler or ingredient that you don’t need.

• Bring your own bags to stores, particularly the grocery store. Right now, our 2010 NM Legislature is looking at taxing plastic grocery bags so being a cloth bagger or bringing your own plastic bags could potentially save money depending on the tax rate if this bill is passed.

• Save your grocery bags from stores and use around your home for small trash can liners. Or use them to hang and store extension, other electrical cords, rope and other items. Take them with you when go back to the store.

• Utilize local produce and products where possible. The quality is usually much better, your local merchants and farmers get the money instead of a big corporation and (how’s this for you greenies) the shorter the distribution to point of sale, the lower the carbon footprint and gasoline used.

• Save items like toilet paper, vitamins, over the counter health products, pet food and cleaning products for the warehouse or big box and overstock stores (Target, Wal-Mart, Big Lots). Because they buy in larger quantities, these are usually cheaper there.

• Look for Dollar and discount grocery stores. Again these are usually overstocked items or almost expired sell by items, but you can usually save at least $5.00 on the products you can purchase from there.

• Find the local “day old bakery” outlets in your area. You can often get bread and treats at half price. Sure they are just at or past their “sell by” dates, but you take them home and freeze them and save a small bundle in the process. I do this with tortillas too; they freeze great with some wax paper between each.

• Buy bulk where possible, redistribute to containers for immediate use and store or freeze the remainder. I buy spices, cereal, grain and rice in bulk. Put what I need in the kitchen in smaller reusable containers and store or freeze the rest. Re-filling the immediate use containers as needed. This works really well for any food storage needs as it facilitates rotation of food stuffs. Join with family, friends or neighbors and purchase a whole steer or bulk quantities and divide between you, this is cheaper than each of you purchasing in the small size for just your individual families or over stocking an item that will not get used in time.

• Study your eating habits and get a Country, Amish or Fannie Farmer’s cookbook. We Americans tend to have a greater portion of meat in our meals than any other country. Yet we really can get a better balanced meal with less meat if we prepare and serve it more effectively. This is not only good for health it saves us dollars to boot! I’m not talking No meat, just less meat. In most countries meat is only about ¼ to 1/3rd the total meal content. In the U.S. this is more along the lines of ½ our meal content.

• Avoid processed foods. You are paying almost double the price for the convenience. Is the money spent really worth the time it saves? Not to mention that processed and convenience foods tend to have more salt, sugar and other un-pronounceable additives which usually are not all that good for you and have very little nutrition.

• Look for products with the least amount of packaging. This means a lot of my meat, poultry, sea food, fruits and vegetables are purchased from local vegetable stands, farmers markets and the butcher section rather than the pre-packaged sections of the supermarket. It also means I have less trash to put on the curb and be charged for. In one local grocery chain I found out the bacon from the butcher section was cheaper per pound than getting the exact same bacon pre-package in the breakfast section.

• Plan your meals in advance and then prepare them on the weekend to have handy during the busy time of the work week. This saves time, energy and money. Think about it: If you are putting together leftover roast into a stew or making a large batch of bread or soup, the energy needed to cook these items is less, when done back to back with no cool down, than it would be to make each meal all through the week. Plus you can use this time as family quality time by making it a weekly event. Your children not only learn something from you that they will need in the future, but you get to talk and discuss the week with your family too.

• If you have the time, bake your own bread, rolls and buns instead of purchasing at the store. Set aside a day to do this and freeze for the rest of the week or month. I have found that many of the breads I like to bake I can make batches of dough in advance, wrap in wax paper, then place in Ziploc bags and freeze, so when I need to during the week I thaw, let rise and bake.

• Be open to store or generic brands. I don’t like too many store brands as they either have too much salt or some other imitation food item, but in a lot of cases they are great and just as good as the name brand at ¼ to 1/3 the cost. Purchase small quantities for taste testing to determine if it is worth it for you and your family to switch. I have usually found that dairy products, cereals, canned goods, paper products, spices and other staple baking needs are a good buy without sacrificing quality.

• Save the vegetable scraps from preparing salads etc. Put them in a zip lock bag and freeze them or dehydrate them. Use this for soup and stew stocks. You put them in cheese cloth and cook or boil with the item you are making. Then compost it.

• Use the cardboard tubes from toilet paper, paper towels and wrapping paper for seedling plant protectors. By the time the seedling is big enough not to need them they have decomposed. Or use these as “toys” for small rodent, lizard and bird pets. Many love the paper for nesting material after they are done hiding and playing with them.

• If you have a paper spreader, use the shredded paper (paper only not plastic) for pet bedding or packing material when shipping gifts. Once paper is shredded and if the dyes used in the ink are not caustic, this can go in your compost pile too (avoid glossy colored paper). And don’t forget, shredded paper is still paper that can be recycled.

• Buy used instead of new where possible. You might even luck out and end up with a valuable collectible. A little elbow grease can save you a small fortune. Most of my bookcases, dressers, ottomans and a table or two were purchased this way. I have purchased used dining chairs from several sources. Then I just sand and re-paint or stain and make new seat covers. The chairs don’t match in style but everyone loves them. I think this kind of reuse is now called “shabby sheik”. If I had purchased these new I would have spent over $1000, instead I spent about $150 and that includes the make-over supplies. I don’t know how many work jeans and sweaters I have purchased at Goodwill or the like for a few dollars each. When you know something is going to be used for “hard labor” why pay the big bucks?

• Try to purchase multi-functional appliances and furniture. The less clutter, the cheaper and easier it is to heat to cool your rooms and for someone as lazy as me, the less cleaning is needed. Under bed dresser platform beds or storage bins. Folding tables that can be a sofa or Huntsman table until unfolded and it stores the chairs to boot. Futon or Murphy sofa beds with drawers. The drawers can hold the bedding. A can opener that is also a bottle or plastic bag opener or knife sharpener. I am still hanging onto my old (from the early 80’s and no longer sold the last time I looked) Sunbeam multi-functional kitchen center. It is a mixer, dough maker, blender, food processor and meat grinder all in one appliance.

• Reduce clutter. Your heating/cooling systems are doing their job based on the CUBIC feet in a room. (Yep ceiling height is a factor.) That includes cabinets, drawers, bookcases, hutches, closets AND their contents. If you haven't used something in the last year or two and it is not a collectible or sentimental – find another use for it or get rid of it. You are paying to heat and cool items you are not utilizing. Not to mention cleaning them. I have turned most of my T-shirt collection, that is too small for me now, into throw pillow covers and donated the rest of my seldom to never used/worn items. My heating bill was reduced by $3.75 the first month. When I went through my kitchen I found two good sized boxes of kitchen gadgets that I used once and never again. Sold them in a garage sale. Wow, all the space in my kitchen cupboards was new!!!!

• Turn off faucets when brushing your teeth or shaving and use a cup of water or washrag or sink only partially full of water instead. This may only amount to a $.15 per use but 15 cents a day times 365 days is $54.75 a year, now triple that for three times a day and you save $164.25 per year!

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