Where did the time go…..because week three is here. So I am back sharing about our journey towards learning to be frugal and cutting back on our bills and daily expenses in the following areas. I hope if you are reading this you will feel free to share as well.
1. Everyday Items:
Saving By Growing My Own Herbs/Spices Indoors and Outdoors
Lowering Our Cooling Bill
Lowering Our Heating Bill
Lowering Our Water Bill “Old Navy Showers”
1. Everyday Items
A. On Using Our Water Filter
For as far back as I can remember I never ever drank water from any type of faucet nor cooked with water directly from a faucet unless it was filtered. So we use to spend about $350 (three hundred and fifty dollars) a year on bottled drinking water (spring or distilled water) alone which was used for drinking and cooking.
Now add that to the mountains of bottles of mineral waters like Pellegrino and Perrier, (still my favorite) seltzer, club soda, diet soda and various carbonated drinks. Containers of fresh and frozen juices like orange juice, grape juice, apple juice, Snapple, V-8 and various types of hot or iced coffee drinks, various herbal and black teas, hot coco, hot chocolate, eggnog, virgin pina colada’s, spritzes, alcoholic beverage mixes, drink mixers like bottled lime and grenadine.
About Our Mini Bar
We always liked to have at home some sort of a mini bar (and still do but not much now, we need to restock) which we kept well stocked with all sorts of alcoholic beverages like various types of beers, Red Wine (sweet or non-sweet, most people like sweet better like one of my older sister’s she says bring sweet red wines whenever we visit lol!) and Dry White Wines, Dry or sweet Vermouth, Gin, Rum (Barcardi), Vodka, Whiskey (Johnnie Walker Red Label Scotch), Liqueur (Southern Comfort), Brandy or Cognac (Hennessy), Tequila (Jose Cuervo Especial), Bourbon (Jack Daniels), Triple Sec, Champagne, wine breezers, coolers and drink mixers. Along with buying every now and then the right glasses (like brandy balloon glasses or stemmed cocktail glasses, Collins glasses, ect) to go along with the right mixes. I love teaching myself bartending and knowing how to mix drinks and test tasting them. So I experiment on my husband, some family and some friends.
When I look back on it all, I’d say we spent a pretty penny just in the beverage department alone each year. But of course a lot of money spent in this area was not just on daily use but it was purchased mostly during the different holidays, (Christmas, Thanksgiving) celebrations, birthdays, weddings, visitors stopping in for a little sip and the dinner parties we sometimes gave and the ones we attended in which we would always bring a small sweet dish or a couple of beverages, or a couple of bottles of wine with us to a back yard barbecue, social and occasional get together’s. I believe it really is so nice to offer drinks because it helps people to unwind and relax and not be so uptight all the time.
But lately we have cut back drastically due to the fact that we are no longer city dwellers and we have turned up the frugal living thing a notch or two. LOL! So now instead of buying bottled drinking water (spring or distilled) we have converted to using filtered water.
So our initial cost for a Seychelles water filter pitcher was about $50 (fifty dollars) to $60 (sixty dollars) along with buying a few replacement filters for $25 (twenty five dollars) a piece to be used years down the road. What is amazing is that one filter can last a family of two for almost 2 years. So with the Seychelles water filter pitchers and replacement filters we save that $350 (three hundred and fifty dollars) a year and put it right back into our pockets or channel it……….. to spend on something else instead. So I’d say this is amazing savings!
B. On Growing My Own Herbs/Spices Indoors and Outdoors
I love curry in my chicken and Garam Marsala in my eggplant………
It’s so amazing how huge the world of herbs and spices can be. Just imagine how bland food would taste if there were none! So I love it when I can save myself a few bucks by growing some of my own herbs and it’s so nice to buy some in bulk getting them at a cheaper price and still get all the healthy benefits of growing fresh herbs and the mixing and matching different spices.
I also enjoy growing herbs indoors either on my kitchen counter or in the kitchen window sill with a few cute tiny clay pots, but last year for the very first time I was blessed with the chance to grow a few herbs outdoors in our little kitchen garden. So as they grew you could just smell the aroma of the herbs while picking them fresh, drying them and storing them in small little labeled jars. Even today I still have a tiny bit of those herbs and spices from last year and they are still smelling just as strong, fresh and taste so delicious. But what I like most is the hands on aspect and that I know they were not sprayed with any chemical pesticides.
So this year we plan to do it again but to try one or two others. Last year some did well such as basil, which took over the spot where we planted it and the red chili peppers did well too, but then some of the others did not like the parsley, I just could not get it to grow at all. But it’s OK because I am still learning. One day I am going to try my hand at growing turmeric.
I like to buy in bulk the spices we use a whole lot more such as cinnamon powder, cinnamon sticks, garlic powder and turmeric and I save a lot by doing it that way too.
There are just so many kinds of spices and herbs that I still have not tasted and would like to try so I plan to try and buy those in tiny portions.
So here’s a list of the types of spices I already adore…….basil, fennel seed, bay leaf, cloves, paprika, red pepper, green cardamon, allspice, black pepper, anise, cilantro, sage, fenugreek, garlic, ginger, oregano, rosemary, saffron, thyme, celery seed, coriander, cumin, black salt, nutmeg, adobo, sazon, sofrito and many others still to try.
I love to put lots of fennel seed in my scalloped potatoes. It gives the potatoes such a lift from the ordinary.
There is one thing I would love to try in the future and that is growing herbs with an AeroGarden kit (http://www.aerogarden.com/seed-kits.html) I understand the herbs are grown within pods and it’s a clean environment….no bugs or dirt. What I like is that it makes it possible to have fresh herbs growing even when its snowing outside. LOL!
C. On Lowering Our Cooling Bill
When it’s 80 and 90 degrees outside our electric bill sky rockets to $300 – $350 per month due to the frequent running of our air conditioner.
We decided to continue doing what we did during this past winter which is to no longer set the temperature on the thermostat to control how often the air conditioner comes on, for how long and when it shut’s it’s self off, but instead to control it ourselves at one hour intervals because then we run it less frequently and we also unplug it when not in use.
So we turn it on and let the house get comfortably cool then shut it off and most importantly unplug the air conditioner, letting ourselves be the judge as to how long and often we need it to be turned on again.
So far we have had to turn the air on for only 2 or 3 hours a day and then we unplug it and the house remains cool. We noticed that when the air conditioner remains plugged up even when it’s not running our bill is extremely high. In addition we make sure the doors and windows are closed to keep the heat out.
So far so good because last year we had installed insulation in the ceiling on the poor insulated side of the house but the walls aren’t properly insulated. So because of that we covered all the windows on that side with thick clear plastic sheeting then with light weight fleece blankets and then with insulated curtains to hide the blankets.
Now that we implemented those two things #1 insulating the ceiling and #2 covering the windows on that side of the house it stays 50% warmer there in the winter and cooler in the summer and the rest of the house stays 75-80% warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer than it had before. Which adds up to savings and not needing to keep the air on all of the time. So we are so glad about this. Hooray!
Also the other end of the house stays nicely shaded due to the angle of the house and all of the windows are tinted, so during summertime we can remove all of the curtains on that side and let shaded sunlight in and yet it stays cool.
Our next plan is to purchase a couple of dehumidifiers to dry the air which will aid in making it even cooler longer.
We also keep on our persons spray bottles filled with cold water to mist ourselves and neck ice packs as an extreme measure as well.
Also just sitting around naked helps too..LOL! I think streaking around the house can be lots of fun….and who’s looking…no one but you. I love walking around the house when its extra hot out in my birthday suit or just a half slip. It’s sort of like being like Adam and Eve in the garden. Or Tarzan and me Jane…..ha..ha..ha!
So just doing the few things above seems to be working well. But the ultimate test will come when the scorching heat still ahead of us comes.
4. Gas Heat
D. On Lowering Our Heating Bill
Our heating costs sky rocketed in the past and the house was always very cold so you had to keep the heat going 24/7.
So in order to lower our heating bills while not risking freezing ourselves to death, we stopped setting the temperature on the thermostat which was usually set around 70 degrees. Instead we control it ourselves and decide when it’s best to turn it on or shut it off at one hour intervals and because it’s being run less frequently and the furnace is unplugged when not in use so our gas and electric bills are lower.
We let the house get comfortably warm and toasty then shut the furnace off and most importantly unplug it, letting ourselves be the judge as to how long and often we need it to be turned on.
So far we have had to turn the heat on for only 3 or 4 hours a day and the house remains warm for some time. Plus we take care that all the doors and all windows are sealed and closed to keep the heat in.
As I stated this past winter we had installed insulation to the ceiling in one poorly insulated area of the house but the walls are not properly insulated in that area so we covered all the windows with a thick clear plastic sheeting and then covered the plastic with light beige fleece blankets and then covered the blankets with insulated curtains.
Well this was the first winter that the house actually stayed warmer and stayed warmer longer saving us money on heating our heating and electric bills this go around. We only had to fill the gas tank up once the entire year. So it seems to be working well now.
Also at bedtime we use the energy saving electric heat blankets all night (my husband has one and I have one because I am the cold one and I turn mine up on high, he sweats winter and summer) and so stay nice and warm. We also wear woolen or cotton sleep caps because that’s where the heat leaves your body at the crown of your head. (my sleep caps are pastel colors cotton candy pink and baby blue, I love these colors and my husband’s hats are grey but he looks so cute when he wears his, lol!) So once we are tucked in bed for the night the hats go on our heads and the heat stays turned off all night.
If by chance we wake up in the middle of the night to make a restroom run or to get a glass of water, we have very thick and warm robes to slip into and toasty warm fluffy slippers for our feet. Well my slippers are fluffy lol!
E. On Lowering Our Water Bills “Old Navy Showers”
Just like most folks my husband and I love taking long showers every single day using delicious smelling soaps and shower gels. But a 20 minute or more daily shower can run up your water bill drastically and when it comes to paying it you wonder how you can do things differently so that your bill is much lower the next time around.
So one day we started talking about this thing and whether we could do something to lower our bill just a little bit and whether it is possible or not. Well that’s around the time I over heard someone saying something about taking an “Old Navy Shower” and so I was curious after that. So I asked my husband what is an Old Navy Shower? Because with him being a man I just knew he had to know and so he told me what it meant. So since I decided to write about this on my blog I went ahead to see what I could find online and this is what I found and read on it. Old Navy Shower: (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Navy_shower)
So we started taking them every other day and noticed our water bill was down by $10 dollars. So now we have turned this into a game and so we want to cut our water bill down by at least half of what we are paying now so we have started taking old navy showers 5-6 days a week. We allow one day to linger and soak up all that hot steamy water, LOL!
So it hasn’t been a month since we started implementing the new plan so we will have to wait and see what our bill looks like on the next cycle and I will be the first one to jump up and down with joy at saving us a few more bucks. LOL!