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 4

Frugality - Continued

• Low water use commodes or devices. The ones with assisted power flushes are worth every penny. The one I purchased only uses 2 cups for regular flushes and 4 for what I call 'sticky pooh' flushes. These new commodes take up less space in the bathroom to boot. If you can't afford a new commode add a brick or other weighted object to the tank to displace more water. Or get a toilet tank insert. My daughter found one in Canada. It fits inside the existing tank like a plastic tank. It only holds about a quart or two of water and you hook the flusher/damper thing to it. Hers also has a battery pack (9V). When she flushes this power flushes using only a few cups of water instead of the whole tank and only cost her about 50 Canadian bucks.

• Eliminate all drips - indoors and out. Washers are a cheap investment that saves lots of money in water bills. One summer when I replaced all of mine, my water bill was $3.00 lower each of the following months. I knew one indoor faucet dripped but I never realized I had other hidden drips until I did this.

• Take advantage of crock pots, pressure cookers and cast iron Dutch ovens. IE: Avoid major appliance use like ovens if at all possible, especially in the hot months. Plan oven use so you are making more items and freezing or canning for later use. Start with the lowest temperature foods first and work up to the highest. By reducing the pre-heat time you are saving energy and thus money. Using the oven less in summer decreases the times the AC compressor will come on, saving more money.

• Reduce the use of disposable items. Swifter, paper dust rags, towels, napkins, placemats, plates, utensils, cups, bowls, etc. If cold water washing, it is cheaper to wash these and reuse than it is to use and throw away. Remember in my city we are charged by the amount and weight of trash we put on the curb each month.

• I have made my own “Swifter” dusters and mop rags from some of those miracle micro fiber cloths. These I can use and wash instead of use and toss. Great money saver.

• Filter your drinking/cooking water instead of buying bottled water. It is much cheaper to wash containers or replace filters than it is to use bottled water. If you have several 2 liter to 1 gallon reusable containers for in the house frig and larger 5-10 gallon containers for storage, you can facilitate your water storage rotation by filling the smaller containers from the larger ones.

• Reuse whatever possible. I reuse Ziploc bags among other things. I turn them inside out and put thru the dishwasher or soak them in a bowl of water with a little bleach then reuse them. If the bag was used for a food item that I don't trust the cleaning of for reuse with another food item - I use the bags for storing thread, buttons, hooks, nuts, bolts, nails, zippers, game pieces, etc. Multiple uses before it is recycled. You can reuse dryer sheets by soaking them in diluted liquid fabric softener, letting dry and using in the dryer again. I get about six uses out of each dryer sheet. I have even used them on my Swifter dusters!!!. You can also put some diluted fabric softener in a spray bottle and then spray the used dryer sheet before reuse. They work great. Or use them as the stuffing for stuffed animals and pillows, etc.

• Recycle whatever possible. A friend of mine built me a small Recycle Center. It has 4 drawers. The bottom holds paper, and then comes glass, then metal, then plastic. Each drawer holds one of those plastic grocery store bags. So ALL gets recycled and each is small enough that even my 3 year old grandson can take out the recyclables. Newspapers are great for cleaning windows!!!! Then recycle them. Or use the newspapers in the garden. Lay on top of the soil and anchor with some small object, punch a hole for the seed, plant and leave. The paper will decompose and protect the young seedling until it does. Boy do I really miss the 80’s when Wal-Mart had a recycle collection bin in their parking lot that gave you credits to their store when you deposited recycle materials.

• If clothes are too worn to be useful as clothes. Find a craft club that turns these into other useful items like rugs, cushions, carryalls, etc. or keep them for your own washable utility rags. Old jeans, shorts and sweatshirts make great carryalls or hanging storage organizers. Material scraps make great stuffing for cushions and pillows or for decoupage craft projects.

• Avid reader? I am. To save money I take my used books to a book swap or a used book store. Then purchase my new reading material there at the same time. Many hospitals, dentists and doctor offices will take your old magazines for their waiting rooms. This saves money on the actual purchase as well as on my trash collection bill.

• Old CD's and DVD's even old LP's that are no longer usable but still have their shape can be made into coasters or hotplates. You glue a same size piece of cardboard to it and then cover with scrap fabric and or paint. For hot plates I usually add some bunting as well to the top and some crumbled up cork from wine bottles. Or you can string them together to make window dressings, kinda like those 70’s bead curtains.

• Not many big fat catalogs out there now days, but in the past I used to take the old Sears, Montgomery Ward or JC Penny catalog and turn it into a door stop. You fold half of each page down from the top at an angle. Fold then glue or staple the front cover to the back, with a piece of knotted rope thru the middle and paint. There ya go a door stop.

• Old computer equipment can be recycled now days. Some manufacturers actually offer rebate and discount programs if you trade in your old computer and purchase a new one of theirs. Try to find an organization that takes them if still workable. They “clean” them up and give to low income children. No these kids don't end up with the latest, greatest or fastest but they do get to hit the internet, write and print reports and make graphs. So yes that old word processing and spreadsheet software is reusable too. Community centers in low income neighborhoods or churches that do work in 3rd world countries often take these usable older computers as well. Many even offer a tax credit for the donation. I will grant you the money savings, if there, is minimal but since you are replacing the thing anyway , why not help someone else who is not as well off as you are.

• As flowers start to wilt, take a used dryer sheet and wrap the flower heads in it. Then tie a scrap of fabric around it with a ribbon. These make great scented sachet for drawers, closets and suitcases.

• Turn old ceiling fan blades and pine cones into decorative fireplace fans.

• Turn the tops of old TV trays into fancy plant coasters or boot trays for those wet and muddy shoes and boots by the door.

• Old flower pots (glass, plaster, plastic or ceramic) can be broken up and used in the bottom of new flower pots or as mosaic pieces for table tops and plaster walls, etc.

• Use microwaveable containers and plates instead of plastic wrap for keeping splatters and such from going all over the inside of your microwave. Plastic wrap is expensive and the cost is only going to climb since it is a by-product of oil and in my case adds to the trash expense since most are not recyclable.

• Change outdoor lighting to motion and or dusk to dawn lighting so they are only On when needed and you don’t have to remember to turn them on and off. Many of these are solar powered which even in Alaska get enough sun to power the lights.

• Have a water well? Instead of an electric pump, get one of the new fangled kind that mix yesterday’s technology with today’s a “wind turbine” electric pump. The wind charges a battery that powers your water pump.

• To save money, good quality aluminum foil can be rinsed and re-used before it becomes a health hazard or too brittle and must be recycled.

• When it is time to thin closets or storage areas or you are replacing some piece of furniture in your home have a garage sale. Or if that is too much work for you use places like Goodwill, Salvation Army, DAV, Freecycle, CriagsList, Vincent De Paul Society and other similar organizations or internet sites. Even if some repair needs to be done, many of these places will take the item anyway; some even pick them up from your home. My neighbors and I plan a block garage sale once every two years. We all help to set up and man the sales tables and then split the profits. Or if the item is still in good condition look for consignment and other like type stores that give a credit to their shop or percentage of sale in exchange for the item.

• Compost instead of garbage disposal. There is even a new product for in-house composting. My friend has one, it doesn't smell and it looks like a trash compactor. Once the compost is complete - out to the garden. Compost yard waste instead of sending it to the landfill. There are many new composters that look nice and don't stink. There is even a product for composting doggie do-do. I am told it works for used cat litter too. Another friend of mine uses an old plastic container and adds all his meat and bone scraps. Then when it is full he “nukes” it in the microwave until it is ash and dumps it in his outdoor compost bin.

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