Save Energy and Money—Hang Your Laundry Out to Dry

MP900255612In this age of high speed everything it is hard to imagine how people did the most mundane tasks as little as 100 years ago. When it comes to doing laundry, we in the developed countries can’t really fathom life without access to a dryer. But folks managed. It was labor intensive, but it worked.

Why would anyone want to go back to those days? For one thing, Americans use the entire output of several power plants just on drying laundry in a machine. We could close several large nuclear plants and cut our carbon emissions substantially just by hanging our laundry. For another, on a more personal note, using a dryer is running up your utility bill. Hanging your clothes is one way to reap the benefits of solar energy without any upfront costs. Just a clothesline and some clothes pins.

There are places that frown on hanging your clothes. In some neighborhoods it is considered unsightly. If you live in a place like that, but are intrigued by the idea, maybe you can work to get enough people interested and change the rule. As the energy profile of the country changes, so will the attitudes about line drying.

So—how do you do it? I am going to assume you are washing in a machine with a spin cycle. (The washing machine is another story…)

  1. Wait for a sunny day with a breeze. The sun is more important than the wind though.
  2. Hang your line. Make sure it is far enough from the ground that nothing will drag, but low enough that you can easily reach with the pins. Make sure it is well secured between two posts, or a fence and a post, or two trees. The line should be taut.
  3. Set a bucket of clothes pins nearby.
  4. Put your wet laundry in a basket and set down near the line.
  5. Take one item at a time and secure it with two pins to the line. Make sure the item isn’t doubled over or you will have wet spots.
  6. Come back in a couple of hours and check. If you are working around the house anyhow you can take your time.
  7. Fold as usual.
  8. Enjoy the fresh scent of air dried laundry.

You may notice that your items are stiffer and less soft than when you use a dryer. They will soften up with use. And besides, this is more than made up for in freshness and savings.

Here are some links for supplies:

Clothespins: http://www.amazon.com/Honey-Can-Do-DRY-01376-Clothespins-Spring-100-Pack/dp/B002CGV57M/ref=sr_1_1?s=home-garden&ie=UTF8&qid=1367431614&sr=1-1&keywords=clothespins

Clothesline: http://www.amazon.com/Household-Essentials-Cotton-Clothesline-Natural/dp/B0002E35X8/ref=sr_1_10?s=home-garden&ie=UTF8&qid=1367431709&sr=1-10&keywords=clothesline

And—if you have no place to anchor the line try this:  http://www.amazon.com/Household-Essentials-Portable-Umbrella-Style-Clothes/dp/B001H1GUXW/ref=sr_1_5?s=home-garden&ie=UTF8&qid=1367432035&sr=1-5&keywords=umbrella+clothes+lines

Frugal Furniture-Don’t Buy It When You Can Find It!

Get Your Furniture Free of Charge

If you live in a decent sized city, you have a frugal decorating tool in your belt that you country cousin doesn’t. If you need furniture, try scrounging first. I am not saying that this sort of gift NEVER happens in the country, just that the quality is a lot more likely to be compromised when something has been left by the roadside for quite some time. In the country you get people’s “outdoor” couch left sitting by a back road in the rain. In the city there are more finds, and of higher quality.

But—if you see something good, be prepared to get hang out with your find until you can get help moving it. If you leave it you likely lose it. There is also more competition in the city.

There are also things you should pass on, no matter how tasty a deal you think it is. Things like mattresses, pillows, or other bedding. With chairs and couches check for fleas or other undesirable qualities. Also pass on bloodstains or anything nasty like that, not that I need to tell you that. But lesser stains can be dealt with. As for tables, chairs, bookcases, and other “hard” items, there is no downside.

If you see something that has the right profile (size, etc.) but is a hideous color or has a few holes or some other defect, grab it anyhow. You can refinish or paint wooden items, and reupholster fabric furniture. Or just throw a colorful sheet or blanket over it.

For more helpful information:

http://www.thefrugalgoddess.com/2011/09/19/frugal-home-decorating-how-to-make-your-home-comfortable-and-beautiful-without-breaking-the-bank/

Spring Cleaning is Frugal and Fun

It's Spring! Time for a Clean Sweep!

Today is the first day of spring! So what does spring cleaning have to do with frugality, and how can it possibly be fun?

Frugality is all about old-fashioned values, and requires that we maintain what we have. A little over a half century ago we were all much more affected by the natural changes that came with the seasons. Spring was a time to open up the house and sweep out all the mustiness that came with being stuck indoors all winter. Now we have advanced ways to make the indoors comfortable all year round. We control our environments with technology. We can almost ignore the seasons. But there is a natural exuberance to the spring that it would be a shame to ignore.

Our stuff may not need to be “aired out”, but it does still need to be maintained. Starting the new season by deep cleaning will prolong the life of our interiors and furniture, and create a sense of order necessary for a frugal life. Spring cleaning means knocking down the cob-webs on the outside which then knocks out the internal cob-webs.

But how can this be fun? Some of the actual work may be a pain in the neck. That is why we only do it a couple of times a year. But if you do it as a family it is a team-building, self-esteem building activity. And when you are done it is fun to see the results. So go ahead, order a pizza and get out the cleaning rags.

Here are a few things you may want to include:

  • The windows, at least the insides. Save the outsides for later if you expect more foul weather.
  • The kitchen cupboards should be emptied and wiped down. This is a good opportunity to reorganize as well.
  • The stove and refrigerator should be cleaned inside and out.
  • The furniture should be pulled back from the walls so you can clean under and behind where it usually is.
  • All rooms should be cobwebbed and dusted.
  • The carpets and drapes should be cleaned.
  • As you clean make a list of anything broken so it can be repaired.
  • The laundry room should be cleared out and scrubbed down.
  • Any other obvious messes should be cleaned up.
  • The winter things should be put away, and the summer things taken out and repaired as needed.
Just try it and see how great it feels. Happy spring, my frugalistas!!

Here is a link on frugal and green cleaning to help you get the job done: http://www.thefrugalgoddess.com/2010/09/30/clean-it-up-cheap-and-green/

Frugal Skills-Sewing Can Brighten up Your Life

 

Sewing is Frugal Fun

If you haven’t been bit by the sewing bug yet, now is a good time to give it a try. Sewing is a basic frugal skill, whether you are mending a rip in your old jeans or creating a whole new wardrobe. It may seem complicated at first, especially if you get mired down buying equipment.  That is why I suggest getting a simple used machine at first, and only upgrade if it becomes necessary. To find a good used machine, try asking around, and if that fails, keep an eye out at garage sales or try Craigslist. Until you are proficient you don’t need bells and whistles, just a few basic features.

Once you have your machine, you will need fabric and a pattern. And probably a lesson or two. Going to the fabric store may well prove to be a lot of fun. Try making something really simple like a gathered skirt to begin with. It is just two seams and a waistband with elastic in it. This way you will have an early success and not get bogged down. As for lessons, if you know a seamtress they might answer a few questions or even show you a thing or two. After that try your local adult education facility or Junior College. Almost every community has some inexpensive sewing classes available. After you enroll your teacher will guide you in picking good projects.

If you are the type that does well with books try the local library. There are many great how to books in the sewing and fiber crafts area. Pick an easy one and work your way up. Also look at the magazine section in your local book store. If you see a pattern you like it may be worth the price of the magazine.

Though the sewing industry has changed and it is harder to find a real old-fashioned fabric store there are still a few if you are willing to hunt them down.

The other alternative is the “crafts store”. Go only if you must. Hang out, ask questions, and see what patterns are out there. There are thousands available for clothing, home decorating, and costumes. Even if you have never sewed before you will be able to find what you need.

Once you learn this valuable skill you will be able to enhance your wardrobe, beautify your home, and maybe even make some money if you stay with it. Once you start it could become a wonderful obsession.

Frugal Home Decorating-How to Make Your Home Comfortable and Beautiful without Breaking the Bank

Home Sweet Home!

To have a good life it is necessary to have a comfortable and inviting living space. Even travelers have to come home sooner or later. But the things that make a home into a haven can be expensive if you aren’t willing to invest the time. This is one of those things where the tradeoff of time and effort for money is most apparent. If you are willing to do the work of figuring out exactly what you want and then take the time to find alternatives to throwing money at the project, you will wake up one morning in love with your home.

Interior decoration, like fashion, is a place to really let your personality and spirit shine through. But, unlike clothes choices that are a relatively small expense and change with the seasons, your choice of home décor will stay with you for a long time. So take the time to really learn what you like. Go to the library and look at a bunch of magazines to see if your tastes run more to the antique, the modern, or something else. Take out a decorating book or two while you are there. Peruse the online home furnishing sites. You aren’t going to actually buy from these sources; that would be way too expensive. This is just to learn about your own tastes.

Once you get an idea what really makes your heart sing, it is time to start looking—in second hand stores, discount outlets, on Craigslist, even in the odd antique store for something really special. If there are built-in elements to the design you are looking for, such as cabinets, try a local cabinet maker. Sometimes they are really reasonable, and most would be happy to have your business. The same goes for all the fabric elements. If you fall in love with the comfort and style of an older chair, see about having it re-upholstered. A seamstress can also make window treatments, throw pillows, and much more. You may be able to trade with a skillful friend or join a time bank and trade that way. Of course if you are handy at either carpentry or sewing you could certainly do it yourself.

Paint is another really inexpensive way to add style to a room. Don’t be afraid of a little color. You would be amazed at how the right shade can change your mood. If you can paint at all do it yourself, otherwise have a paint party and buy everyone pizza.

By the time you have all the fabric and wooden elements created and installed you should have a stash of nice pieces from your second hand shopping expeditions. Try to get the bread and butter pieces for as little as possible to have some left over for a couple of really special things where it counts. Every room should have a focal point. You may want to save your splurge for that, or, if you can create an effect with something relatively inexpensive like paint, or if you can use something already in the room like a fireplace as your focal point that will free you up to get that great lamp or slightly pricy desk.

All of these ideas can be adjusted up or down to suit your budget. If you are voluntarily frugal and your environment is an important value don’t be afraid to spend a bit to get what you want. This is one area where spending is not wasting as long as you think it through.

If you are forcibly frugal, don’t give up hope. As long as you have a home at all you will be able to slowly improve it, as long as you keep focusing and looking for the things you need. You might have to rely on friends with too much stuff, curbside foraging, Craigslist freebies and freecycle.com. But if you persist you will eventually be able to create tranquility, functionality, and beauty in your home no matter what you circumstances.

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