TGIF! Saving Money the Old Fashioned Way

Well it is Friday, and you know what that means….time to either show you how to make or save some money!! The other day, as a standard courtesy, we got our annual electric use audit. Basically, the electric company says your household use is better or worse than many of your neighbors. As you know, Mr. Maker works from home, and works on computers, so there is some accountability for all that electric use. There was no where near the justification for the use though. With that one simple notice in the mail, we have been focused on making some money saving tweaks. I will get to more of those later, but for now an oldie but goodie.

From the beginning, I have said that you won’t have to give up your lattes and pedicures, that we are just going to show you other options. I stand by that. We are a family of 4 and one of the things we do a lot of in our house with runners and teenagers is laundry. I am talking like 9-10 loads per week. We have long since made the teenagers do their own laundry.  To me 9-10 loads seems like a ridiculously large amount. Here’s the thing, we only dry about 4 loads.

The laundry drying rack. A few years back, I got turned on to a blog called Mr. Money Mustache. The whole concept of not wasting, investing, and retiring early came to me at a time in my life when I hated my job, was reckless with spending, and even more reckless with my eco footprint. The blog is still very appealing to me and I practice or modify a lot of the tips and tricks on the site. The coolest part about the drying rack since we live in the suburbs, with strict homeowner association rules,  is that it is indoors and can set up in the laundry room.

This drying rack concept tackles TWO of our main goals- Saving money and Doing something good for the planet.

  • Save energy and curb emissions
    In many households, the dryer is the third-most energy-hungry appliance, after the refrigerator and washer. Air-drying your clothes can reduce the average household’s carbon footprint by a whopping 2,400 pounds a year.
  • Save Money
    Not many people can afford to spend any more than necessary on energy bills, and many households pay more than $100 a year on the electricity claimed by their dryer. Most households will likely have less than a year of payback time for purchases that enable air drying.
  • Save your clothes
    The lint you find in your dryer is evidence of your wardrobe literally wearing away. When you stop using your dryer, you’re conserving your favorite clothes longer and saving the cost of replacing them before their time.
  • It’s safer
    It eliminates the risk that your dryer could ever start a dangerous fire. According to a report by FEMA, clothes dryer vents can become clogged with lint, causing more than 15,000 house fires every year. Not to mention NO dryer sheet use required. Dryer Sheets can put a lot of carcinogens into the air. With a family that is concerned about anything that could be cancer causing, this is HUGE for us.

I still dry towels, sheets, and underwear. I use fabric softener but NO dryer sheets for this.  The rest is hung up on the rack to dry, usually in 12-24 hours.

I encourage you to look at your own household energy consumption. What can you do to save a few bucks? The savings of $100 a year is enough with Swagbucks to pay for two months of our SUBSCRIBE and SAVE order.  Essentially paying for two months of our Non-Grocery Essentials for the cost of a drying rack.

Have you done anything to cut down or eliminate the use of an energy sucker like the dryer? We would love the details.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls

Hi friends- This will become a family favorite for sure. Super easy to make and so delish!

Print
Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls

Love Cabbage rolls but hate the process of making them?

Ingredients
  • 1 pound ground turkey or beef
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 can tomato soup
  • 1/4 diced onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp cummin
  • 2 cups mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 head cabbage
  • 2 cups white minute rice
Instructions
  1. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil, add 2 cups of white minute rice, cover and remove from heat. In a skillet, cook ground turkey, diced onion, garlic to brown. Then add 1 can of tomato soup, 1 can of diced tomatoes, 1 can of tomato paste, salt, pepper, and cumin. stir. Simmer for 5 minutes. 

    Combine skillet mixture with rice and stir. 

    In a baking dish layer strips of cabbage along bottom, add half of the skillet mixture, and 1 cup of cheese. Layer cabbage strips, remaining half of skillet mixture and remaining cup of cheese. 

    Bake 350 degrees for 20 minutes. 

Preserve Tooth Brush

Hi Mrs. Maker here, after yesterday’s post on Recycling, I thought it only perfection to follow up with what I will call the BEST TOOTH BRUSH EVER!!!

Preserve has made a wonderful toothbrush.

Why We Love This Product

  • Ultra soft nylon bristles that are gentle on gums
  • All plastic is 100% recycled from yogurt cups
  • Curved handle for an easy grip

You heard right! It is made from recycled yogurt cups!!! As if that wasn’t enough of a HOMESPUN motivator… The toothbrush is completely recyclable in the Preserve mail back system. The lightweight package doubles as a return envelope for recycling the toothbrush. To send your Preserve toothbrushes to us for recycling, you will need to pay for the postage.

Please send your Preserve toothbrush recycling shipments to:

Preserve Gimme 5
823 State Route 13
Cortland, NY 13045-6574

OR

I looked online and there is a bin to recycle at all of our local Whole Foods stores.

So great you are doing something great for the planet, but what about for your teeth. My toothbrush just came yesterday and I LOVE IT already! I was previously using a Crest Spin Brush, no more. The bristles and the movement were hurting my teeth. This toothbrush had the reach, the softness, and just overall my mouth feels cleaner.  I ordered mine through Grove Collaborative to try to get to my $10 to get free shipping, but this will become my new toothbrush of choice. I can do something good for me and good for the planet, not a bad way to start a Wednesday!

 

RECYCLE

Without exception, recycling is the top action society can do to simultaneously improve: the environment, the economy, sustainable manufacturing and to prevent waste from going into oceans.

Good morning, today is trash day, the reason The Maker family is so excited about trash day is because for two weeks in a row, we have filled our recycling bin and used less than 2 bags of regular trash!! For a family of 4, that’s pretty great.

So how did this start?

Mrs. Maker was going through the bills and looking for ways to cut cost and save money. We were paying $6 a quarter for our recycling trash can, which up until recent was used for boxes from Amazon and maybe something that could be recycled but was too big for the other trash can. We were not good at making any sort of effort to recycle. We were paying for something that we weren’t using, and we were wasting so many things. This goes against everything we have been trying to do over the past few years.

You may have noticed, we like a challenge in our house.  The great thing about our local trash service is that they show you right on the can what you can recycle and how to recycle it. Things like removing the lids on plastic bottles or breaking down boxes. Our city offers free recycling bins but they are small and do not have a lid, so we opted to pay $2/month for what we have. Check out your own  cities recycling bin options if you aren’t already aware.

The first few days, I wore rubber gloves and dug through the bag each night to pull out anything overlooked that could go into the green bin. We talked as a family about things that can be recycled. For instance, you can recycle a pizza box, but not the greasy cardboard circle inside of it or Kcup recycling which we found out a lot of information about.  Everyone in our house was on board.

If you need to know exactly how this impacts our world here are some facts for you: *Facts are from conserve energy future.com 

  • Most people produce 4.4 pounds of trash per day that results in about 1.5 tons of solid waste per year.
  • Recycling one glass bottle saves enough energy to power a 100-watt bulb for four hours.
  • Recycling an aluminium can help to save a great deal of energy, in fact, enough to run your home television for about three hours!
  •  Aluminium cans can actually be recycled and put back onto the shelf at your local grocery store in just about 2 months.

Well I am happy to say that our household was down to one bag the first week and two bags this past week.  Both weeks our green bin was full to the brim.  Later post will show more about ways to reduce waste or make a greener version of something but for now, where we are and how we live this is a HUGE deal. The Maker family is changed for good.

What can you do in your house to get better or get started on recycling? We would love to hear your stories and insights below.

 

 

Non-Grocery Quarterly Budget

By now, if you are following along, we have only begun to work on the budget, but you should have a basic budget with your income and expenses and you should know what you have left each month. That is where this journey begins. 

From our previous post, you should have everything included in your budget and those non- necessities highlighted.  What does that leave you?  In our budget this month, we have about $670 left over for gasoline, food, and entertainment. Keep in mind that is one income and doesn’t include savings, or extras.   Your number will be more or less depending on your situation. Whatever that number is let’s break down those numbers.

Mr. Maker uses 1 tank of gas per month and on average it is $40 to fill. Mrs. Maker will go through about 2.5 per month and it will cost about $80 to fill 2.5 times. We need to set out $120 in the budget for gasoline.

This leaves us with about $480 for food and household items.  As I mentioned before my grocery budget is $70/week, so this month it will be $280 and I add $20 cushion in there. Leaving $180 for household items and extras.

You might have noticed that my grocery list and menus do not include paper products, cleaners, shampoo and so on…..that is because we order those items quarterly on Subscribe and Save 

To maximize the savings you want to make sure you are ordering 5 items per order to get the 15% savings.  To do this, I stagger our order so that things like dish soap (which comes in a pack of three)  don’t ship every month.

We won’t use all three dish soaps in a month, we use about one per month, so we stagger this out to every three months.

Dog Food is a monthly delivery, same with K-cups. We have toilet paper, kitchen cleaner, toilet bowl cleaner, and fabric softener all staggered so that there is always 5 items each month, but not so that we are stock piling things.

Including cat litter, cat food, and dog food ($20) we spend about $60/month with Subscribe and Save.

I am sure there is room to improve and if we were being super strict, we could make adjustments here.

I priced shopped, so that you didn’t have to. Using the dish soap from above. Subscribe and Save offered three bottles for $9.41.  Similar stores were $11.37 and $11.67.  The savings on this one product is $2.26. Every item we ordered offered this same type of savings. Assuming 5 items each month with a savings of around $2-$3.  That’s $10-$15 savings.

To sweeten the deal, Mr. Maker has an Amazon Store Card which offers 3% cash back on purchases.

Our Subscribe and Save monthly order of $60 gives us 3% cash back or  $1.80

We save on average $20/month for shopping non- food items this way rather than at the grocery store.  They also offer coupons you can clip on site for your first order. 

Once we get into the specific grocery budget you will see that I do not have any line items for dog food, toilet paper or the like. If you don’t have pets, or your pets aren’t divas like ours you will have room to save here as well.

On our tally of things we USED to waste money on: ADD $240.

I will say, I am not a brand name snob, I am a chemical gluten free product snob. I also won’t switch to generic or no name toilet paper regardless of the savings.

We would love to hear about your tips and tricks for this type of thing. Our household just started using Subscribe and Save, prior to this we bought everything at the grocery weekly or hoarded it if we found a sale that we couldn’t pass up. I can think of better ways to spend my time than shopping for toilet paper 🙂

 

 

 

 

Summer Pops

 

Print
Summer Pops
Prep Time
5 mins
Total Time
5 mins
 

Well it's just about the time when the kids are bored of Summer, it's brutally hot outside, and everyone starts to get on each others nerves.  I always find that when that begins, it's best to fill their loud-whiny mouths with HomeSpun Summer Pops. 

Servings: 6 people
Ingredients
  • 1/4 cup coconut water
  • 1 strawberry sliced
  • 3-6 blueberries
  • 1 leaf mint
Instructions
  1. Start with these Summer Pop Molds , they make 6. Super easy to use.  Combine ingredients and let freeze for at least 3 hours. * If having trouble removing the plastic casing, run under hot water for a few seconds. 

  2. Combine ingredients and let freeze for at least 3 hours. 

Recipe Notes

If having trouble removing the plastic casing, run under hot water for a few seconds. 

SWAGBUCKS

It’s Friday and you know what that means, we are either making or saving money!!!

This week we are going to build off of the EBates post and show you how to make even more money doing what you already do.

As you will learn later this week, I am a huge promoter of Walmart Grocery Pick Up. 

Walmart grocery pick up is excluded from Ebates, however it is not excluded from swagbucks.

The current promo is 3 swagbucks per $1 spent.  My current Walmart Grocery Pick Up  order is $91  meaning I could get 273 swagbucks for this week.

For the month of July if I spent that amount every week at the grocery store. I would have around 1100 swagbucks.

With the swagbucks, I can redeem for Amazon gift cards. 1,000 swagbucks would get me a $10 gift card.  They also have current promos for Dollar Shave Club 

That’s $120 in Amazon cards a year, just for groceries I was ordering anyway.  That’s two months of Amazon Subscribe and Save.

I really hope this all makes sense for you. Services like this are easy to use and require very little effort to help you live you best HOMESPUN life.

I would love to hear about other services like this that you are using!! Comment below.

A Shot Of Wonderful

Last year sometime in August, we had a plan to take the girls out back to school shopping. The thing about Fibromyalgia or any chronic pain is that it never flares at the right time, as if there would ever be a right time. Here I am barely able to walk with two teenagers who want to go go go.

While getting shoes, we decided to stop into Whole Foods for lunch.  In the center isle by the checkouts, there it was. KOR Turmeric Shots, know now in my house as the “shot of wonderful.”

We forked over the $2.50 and within 10 minutes I was able to tackle the mall, carrying bags, and feeling like my normal self.  No more sitting on the bench and hoping that the day would end soon.

With that, I did what anyone would do and went back in and bought a weeks worth. Almost $20.  Now, I am not saying that my health isn’t worth $20 a week, but like everything in my life, there had to be a way I could do this myself.

So with a little trial and error and the help of the smoothie counter clerk at Whole Foods, I created my own DIY Turmeric Shot….renamed A Shot Of Wonderful.

If you suffer or know someone who suffers with chronic pain, try it.

Recipe:

  • Grated Turmeric Root, approx 1 TBSP (if not available in produce section you can buy at most organic smoothie stores or use turmeric powder which is very similar.
  • 1 Whole Carrot Grated
  • 16oz of Coconut Water 
  • 1 Squirt of Honey
  • Strain to remove pulp

*optional orange or tangerine slices. (We used cucumber)

Blend until drinkable. I used our Nutribullet 

Makes enough Juice to fill 6 of the dressing sized Tupperware containers.

I will say it stains, so put something down on your counters and do not use the “guest towels” to clean up.

HomeSpun Food Wrap

Good morning Mrs. Maker again…by now you’ve probably learned or assumed that I love a project and a challenge. This next piece was a bit of both. The project itself was super easy, but making a video…that is a work in progress. We went for it, more to show a different spin on how to do this, but being a work in progress I would appreciate feedback.

Now, onto the good stuff.

Between BBQ s, Meal-prep, and Leftovers we use a lot of plastic wrap. If you’re like me, there’s probably no love lost between you and plastic. Most food-related plastics – including cling wrap and so-called “BPA-free” containers – can release chemicals that act like the sex hormone estrogen. Plastic wrap can take up to 500 years to decompose!

In our effort to create less waste and do better at green living, this HomeSpun idea was perfect for this.

Bees Wrap is the BEES KNEES!

Bees Wrap is an eco-friendly, reusable alternative to plastic wrap that hugs bowls and pans with just the right amount of cling. You can buy ready made or Homespin it yourself.

It’s perfect for wrapping snacks, fruit, veggies, cheese, bread and even bowls.

To use, just place over a bowl or container, wrap around food like cheese, or fold into a snack bag. The warmth from your hands will mold the wrap into the desired shape.

They can be washed with cold water and a mild soap

*Since they cannot be washed with hot water they are not recommended for meat or the dishwasher.

Depending on how frequently they’re used, they can last for up to a year. After that all you need to do is re-wax them in order to keep using them.

Let’s get this party started!!

Stuff you will need.

Step 1

Using scissors to reduce fraying, cut several squares from your cotton material.  I cut several different sizes you just need enough to have a bit of overhang on your bowl or pan.

Step 2

Choose a large flat work surface and make sure to cover it with something that can withstand heat. (I used an old giant cutting board.) Tear off two square sheets of parchment paper, both bigger than your largest pre-cut cloth square.

Step 3

Place one pre-cut cloth square on top of your  parchment paper. Sprinkle beeswax beads evenly over cloth square, making sure to cover all the way to edges.

Step 4

Place second sheet of parchment paper over the top. With a hot iron on the “cotton” setting, gently iron over the top of the parchment paper, going back and forth a few times.

Step 5

Remove the top sheet of parchment paper and take a look at the fabric. Areas that did not get enough beeswax will be lighter in color. Simply sprinkle a small amount of wax on those areas, cover with parchment paper, and iron again.

Step 6

Carefully remove the hot fabric from your work surface and hang to dry. Fabric will stiffen as it dries.

Viola’ you are making a difference and creating less waste. 

This project worked out very well for me, but I am curious to see how it went for you. Let me know in the comments. Please include pictures if you would like.

Monthly Budgeting-Your Next Moves

Good morning, Mrs. Maker here- I hope that you are enjoying the budget tools we have provided so far.  By now you should have about half of your monthly receipts saved up and a good idea of what money is coming in and going out of your house each month.  We suggested that you highlight those areas on your budget or even with the receipts that you collected that weren’t necessities. For Mr. Maker and I that would include:

  • Netflix and Hulu subscriptions. $12
  • Cello lessons. $60
  • Ice cream $15
  • Daily Growler/Food Truck $22

As I mentioned previously, we aren’t asking you to give up lattes or anything. We do want you to be aware of where your money is being spent. If you have a month where the electric bill is higher than usual, you had to get  new brakes, or you had a lot of friends getting married or having babies like Mrs. Maker did last year,  you need to be able to cover those expenses and NOT on credit.

Mr. Maker and I look at our household budget using only one income.  After all the bills are paid, the remaining money is divided between the above items and groceries since these are variable or non-necessity items.

Last month for example: After all bills were paid- The Maker family had $460 left in the budget.  Based on my menu planning and meal prep,  groceries were going to take up approximately $80 a week or $320 for the month. That would leave $140 for the remaining items above. That is where we begin to pick and choose what we want to pay for and what we need to do without or find another way to make it happen for less.

To give you some ideas of ways we could save just based on the above mentioned.

  • We could walk to the United Dairy Farmer, pick up a gallon of ice cream and bring it home to enjoy on the patio. Spending about $5 and saving us $10.
  • We could forgo the food truck at the growler and just have a pint of beer. The Daily Growler does not serve food so we would have the ability to bring our own in. I could make some sandwiches and a veggie tray at home and save us about $12 – or since Mr. Maker is a home brewer, we could forgo the trip all together and have a beer on our patio saving the entire $22.
  • It is summer and our daughter doesn’t take cello lessons in the summer, that would put an extra $60 back in the budget for the three months of summer.
  • With Netflix and Hulu while I put these in the non-necessity areas. With a lot of our favorite shows like, Game of Thrones premiering over the summer, we don’t want to do away with these services. I can do without ice cream but not without Jon Snow.

I would invite you to sit down as a family and look at your own budget. Kids have the best ideas  of ways that you can still spend time together without spending money.

Menus, Grocery Budget, and Meal Prep are coming soon- but the basics the foundation for knowing what you have to work with is where you begin. We would love to hear some of your creative ways of saving a buck or two so please message or comment.