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

The Frugal Goddess Goes LIVE with a Workshop on Food Waste!

Careful Planning is the Key!

The Frugal Goddess will give her first live workshop—Stop Food Waste Now with the fugal Goddess, in Santa Rosa CA on October 15, 2012.

The workshop will cover how we make bad choices that lead to food waste, how to plan a week’s meals that will really be eaten without waste, how to store what you buy so it lasts, and how to handle special problems with the flow of food through your household and your life.

If you regularly dump your money into the waste bin through wasted food, if you have great intentions on shopping day that lead to nothing but expensive compost, if you have “science experiments in you vegetable bin instead of edible veggies, this might be for you!

The first Frugal Goddess book on the same subject is in the works. There will be an announcement on this blog when it comes out.

If you live in the bay area please go to this link for tickets: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/258266 and here is a link to the original post that started the whole project: http://www.thefrugalgoddess.com/2011/03/10/food-waste-why-we-do-it-and-how-we-can-stop/

The Frugal Bride—Are You Getting Married? Save Money and Still Have a Great Wedding!

A Lovely Wedding Can Be Frugal!

A wedding is one of the biggest events most of us will ever be involved in. It is also one of the most emotional. And of course we want our guests to have a wonderful time, and we want to create happy memories that will last forever. But—we may not have enough money to go around. What is the frugal bride to do?

When I got married in 2000 I only spent $1200 dollars. I recycled the rings from a pawn shop (after we smudged them with sage, that is.) I used a dress that I had bought awhile before but never worn, a frothy shell pink number with lots of lace. We got married in the empty field next door. We served homemade food to our guests, and my friend who is a baker made the cake. The minister cost $250, so we had to pay that. The only thing I splurged on was the flowers—the bouquet and one big beautiful arrangement.

The first thing you need to do to plan a frugal wedding is break down all the components. Venue, food, drinks, music, flowers, other decorations, officiant, wedding attire, rings, and whatever else you want to include. Then think each element through, with one question in mind—“How can I get this taken care of for little or no money?”

Do you have a dress in the family that would suit you? Wearing a family heirloom at your wedding could be very charming. Does someone you know have a lovely cutting garden? Maybe they would donate the flowers. Know a baker? Perhaps they would do as my friend did and make you a pretty wedding cake. Is someone in your family a remarkable cook? Let them run the lunch or dinner plans. Do you belong to a church, temple, or other congregation? Many times the group will provide the space for the wedding and the minister or rabbi will officiate free of charge for members. Why not ask?

Go through the list and dig up every source of help you can. When you have run out of free or discounted helpers it is time to take stock of the things you must pay for. This is one of the reasons planning ahead is so important. You can’t get good deals at the last minute unless you are very lucky, and who wants to rely on luck at a time like this?

Because it is your wedding, and that is a most important occasion, it is totally with-in the frugal plan to splurge on one or two elements. The only requirement is that you give due consideration to every detail before you open your wallet. It may be the wine or the dress or the rings. Whatever it is, think it through carefully, spend what you need joyously and without regret, and whatever else—enjoy your day!

 

Here are a few resources:

http://www.amazon.com/Getting-Married-While-Spending-Little/dp/1453821473/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1348855965&sr=1-3&keywords=Getting+Married+on+a+budget

 

http://www.amazon.com/Money-Still-Fabulous-Wedding-ebook/dp/B005PYVUEG/ref=sr_1_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1348856029&sr=1-4&keywords=Getting+Married+on+a+budget

http://www.projectwedding.com/wedding-ideas/diy-wedding

 

If You Want to Save Money Take Safety Seriously

Safety is Frugal

The other day I read an article about frugality where a young woman told a story in which her tires were bald and unsafe, but she didn’t want to spend the $400 to get them replaced. She seemed to believe that this was the frugal approach, but she couldn’t be more wrong.

Safety violations waste money whether they are at home, at work, or on the road. Every year millions or maybe billions of dollars are wasted cleaning up messes that could have been avoided with some simple safety precautions that were skimped on. Remember the gulf oil spill? If regular maintenance is good for the wallet, then taking safety precautions is mandatory to keeping you finances in good order.

It is not hard to imagine all the ways that skimping and procrastinating on safety measures can bring hardship. It might even cause death or serious injury to you aor someone you care about. Those bald tires might cost you an accident that totals the car. Or they could cause a deadly accident. Taking care that your equipment is in order isn’t just frugal, it is essential to good citizenship.

So don’t stint on tires, checkups, fire protection, or proper gear for your activities, such as helmets for bicycling. Whatever it cost in money or time to stay save is actually a bargain. So take some time to evaluate in the next couple of days. Make a few lists: home, car, work, hobbies, and any other place you spend time. Write down all safety issues and make sure that everything is in order. Check the batteries in things. Check the fire extinguisher. If there are items that aren’t up to snuff—fix them now. And breathe a little easier.

Don’t Throw Your Old Clothes Away—Mend Them!

 

We all have them—a little pile of cloths that are still it great shape except for that missing button or stuck zipper. You could go out and get a new one. Or, you could spend five or ten minutes doing a quick repair and save the money for something else. Like everything else, some repairs are easier than others. Sewing on a button is at the extremely easy end of the spectrum. Replacing a zipper is one of the hardest.

The first step is to create a sewing kit. Get a small box, about the size of the old cigar boxes. Gather several colors of plain thread, needles, straight pins and safety pins. Also get small pair of scissors, a thimble, and a very small box for stray buttons. The clear boxes that straight pins come in work well.

Then it is time to sort through and get the things that need repair into a pile, and put them into some sort of container. A basket is nice but a cardboard box will do. Pick out the most important item and decide what it needs. If it is missing a button, do you still have the old button? Get out the sewing kit and find out. You may need to buy a new button. Take the item along if you need a new button, so you can match it to the old ones. Then thread a needle with thread to match the garment and tie a knot at the end. Go through the little holes in the button over and over. When it is on tight, clip the thread and tie another little knot.

If the problem is a straight tear at the seam, turn it inside out and re-sew in matching thread using small stitches along the same place where the seam came out. Don’t make the stitches too big or they will gape when you turn it right side out.

Those two repairs are very simple. But what if the tear isn’t along a seam? You may have to use a patch. This is where some judgment comes in. If the item in question is a pair of comfy jeans, by all means patch away. But if it is a silk business blouse you should realize that you won’t likely be able to use it again for its intended purpose. You may have to replace it. But—don’t throw the old one away just yet. Drop it into yet another container. This last container is the patch and scrap bag.

To do a patch, find a fabric that is about the same weight as the target fabric. Cut a piece that will fit over the tear or hole generously. Fold under the edges of the patch and pin down with the straight pins. Then sew a seam all the way around the very outside edge of the patch.

If the trouble is a misbehaving zipper the whole thing is going to take a bit more thought. I am including a link to show you exactly what to do. But you may be better off paying a seamstress to do it for you. It won’t cost that much and may save you a lot of trouble.

While you are at it you should check out your shoe wardrobe. It is always a good idea to repair your shoes for as long as you can. This is generally a job for a professional. Even if you pay someone you will save hundreds of dollars over time.

So next time you are tempted to blow your clothes budget over a little tear, think again, and bust out the sewing kit instead.

Here are some helpful links:

http://www.thefrugalgoddess.com/2011/09/20/frugal-skills-sewing-can-brighten-up-your-life/ General Sewing Post

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8SKGa4St10I Zippers

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hrSs_DiJ-ZA Buttons

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CALifgXuP_8 Patches

Reduce-Reuse-Recycle: The Art of Repurposing

Today’s post is on the second item in the Holy Grail of sustainability—reusing. For many Americans the default action for fulfilling needs has been “buy it new”. For some, it has been look for it used, which is an improvement. But—it may be unnecessary to buy anything at all. Why not look around at what you already have and repurpose something?

In the home it may be using empty jars for food storage, a rock as a doorstop, or a wheelbarrow as a planter.

In clothing it could be cutting a dress in half and making a skirt, or using a big scarf as a beach cover-up. There are things all around us everyday that could be used for something else if the need arises. All it takes is some ingenuity and a desire to live frugal and green. What have you repurposed? How did you get the idea? Share your stories here!

As inspiration I suggest the following links:

http://www.stampington.com/greencraft/

http://www.amazon.com/Restore-Recycle-Repurpose-Beautiful-Country/dp/1588167690/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1346364207&sr=8-1&keywords=recycle+restore

 

She’s Frugal and He Isn’t—How to Handle It

 

Another Money Fight!

Handling money wisely can be hard enough when there is only one person involved. Frugality, though very rewarding, takes work. But, as a single person your own needs and desires are the only concern. This becomes much more complicated when another person with their own viewpoints and needs comes into the mix. It is complicated even if the two of you are as alike as can be. So we can just imagine has difficult it becomes when the two of you have radically different ideas about spending and saving.

Fights about money are very high on the list of things that cause trouble in relationships and marriages. Money fights can even lead to divorce.  And even if there is no fighting, having a real spendthrift as a partner can lower your quality of life, or even leave you in a very difficult financial predicament if they should die before you. So getting this right is serious business.

If you are just starting out in a relationship with someone that you suspect has a wildly different idea about spending you have plenty of options, and no real obligations. Just keep the money separate until you are sure that any problems have been worked out-which may be forever. And don’t let your self be forced to spend more than you are comfortable with for any joint activities.

If you are living with your spendy partner already but are not married, now is the time to separate the money. They might get mad, but this is better than you getting broke. One thing that works is the three-account plan. One account for you, one for your sweetie, and one for the house. You are then able to control your money while still contributing to the household. There are differing views on figuring the household contribution. Some say it should be equal, but the Frugal Goddess prefers to have each contribute a share commensurate with their income.

To figure this out, add both incomes together. Then divide the by smaller of the two incomes by the combined total. This will be the percentage of household expenses paid by the person with the smaller income.

For example: If she makes $2500 a month, and he makes $1500 a month, the total income is $4000. So, divide $1500 by $4000. The result is .375. Now let us imagine that the total household expenses are $2000. He would pay $750 a month, and she would pay $1350. Each would retain control of the rest of their own money.

The household account should cover housing, food, home insurance, and anything else that is shared. Personal phone bills, and individual car expenses if each has their own car would not be included. Each couple has to decide for themselves what should be shared.

If you are thinking of marrying a spendy person when you are frugal, I would recommend a pre-nup that details the extent of your financial involvement before the fact, and, if you are in a community property state will serve as a protection on your future earnings. It may not be romantic, but neither is being poor when you didn’t have to be and it wasn’t your fault.

If you are already married you are in a bit of a predicament. Have you had a heart to heart with your spouse? If so, and no agreement was reached, or agreements have been broken, you may have to take stronger action. It may be good to consult a lawyer and find out if you can protect yourself and remain married. If this is your situation I wish you the best of luck. For the rest of us—romance is much more satisfying when our financial boundaries are not being violated. So take action now to make sure that being in love is not the same as being subject to the whims of another.

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