Part II: Practical “Penny Pinching” Tips toward Preparedness

Thank you for joining me once again on our two-part series of practical penny pinching tips toward preparedness. With a little wisdom, ingenuity and hard work, we can save big and foster greater purchasing power for the things that matter most. Here are your next four penny pinching tips:

Penny pinching tip #6: Learn the value of new skills while brushing up on old ones.

Image by Extreme How To
Whoever said a woman can’t hammer a nail, install a light fixture or change the oil in her car? So often women assume that anything that has to do with home projects, car maintenance and other similar tasks are a man’s job only. They would rather hire someone and spend the extra money than roll up their sleeves and do it themselves. There is a great deal of satisfaction in overcoming ignorance on a subject matter and learning a new skill. We undermine our God-given gifts when we do not at least explore what we are truly capable of.

Drywall use to intimidate me, especially when I’d see drywall finishers out and about covered from head to toe with a powdery, white dust. I took one look at them, and thought that is not me! Then the time came for remodeling. It didn’t take long to decide I could save thousands by taking on the project myself. Of course it didn’t hurt having a husband who used to be a building contractor in Florida who also possessed these skills. I learned quickly that prep work, patience and a “can do” attitude are necessary components to learning and executing a new skill. I can’t say that hanging, mudding and sanding drywall is my favorite pastime, but it saved me money. And nobody said that penny pinching preparedness would come easy, but the outcome is out of this world!  

Penny Pinching Tip #7: Stop buying high priced, toxic household cleaning supplies and start making your own both naturally and affordably.

Image by Green Bean Cleaning
The other day I was misting my dining room table with olive oil and polishing it to a  sparkling shine when I realized how duped I’d been all these years. I thought to myself, these furniture polish companies must’ve been making a fortune on my ignorance and laughing their way to the bank! How could I not know that something as simple as olive oil works more effectively than the leading store-bought kind without all the caustic chemicals? Though I just use straight, cold-pressed olive oil in a pump spray bottle along with a soft cloth, there are other natural remedies I found online. Some use the addition of pure essential lemon oil and white vinegar. Here’s one of many sites: http://www.ehow.com/how_4584239_own-furniture-polish-frugal-green.html

Recently, my friend - who launders mountains of clothes for her large family - told me with enthusiasm how she makes her own laundry detergent from scratch and that it works just as good as other leading brands. She said it was fun, easy and cheap – three key words it took to motivate me! With a little online research, I discovered that homemade laundry detergent is about 1/10 the cost of store bought! This time, I bought the supplies with a sense that I didn’t have to be a sucker any longer to wasteful spending on something as simple as laundry detergent. I found a cheap, all-natural solution – and my friend was right: It worked! My clothes were clean and freshly scented – two things I expect from laundry soap. The basic ingredients are water, borax, washing soda, a bar of soap (like Pure & Natural or Dr. Bronners) and essential oil (like eucalyptus or lavender). With a little frugal savvy, one can compare pricing and get the best bang for the buck. I did and I’m happy to say I will never go back!

Here’s a great blog that I follow regularly – The Simple Dollar – and a link to one of the best recipes I found for making your own laundry soap. You will also find an article for making your own dishwasher detergent – the next on my list for homemade, all-natural household supplies: http://www.thesimpledollar.com/2008/04/09/making-your-own-laundry-detergent-a-detailed-visual-guide/

Penny Pinching Tip #8: Take an inventory of your home’s energy efficiency and make a point to repair or replace anything that is an energy drain.

Sometimes I feel like I’m not the person to be writing this section - and the sad thing is my husband would agree! I have a bad habit of leaving lights on, not to mention that just the other day I inadvertently left the refrigerator door slightly ajar after making a midnight snack. Yes, I have feet of clay and it’s quite embarrassing. God uses these incidences to keep me humble and to remind me that I am an aspiring ready woman - I’m not there yet! But at least I do know what I should be doing, and hopefully you can grasp this better than me. Here's my first tip on embracing energy efficiency:

#1. When you leave a room, turn out the lights!

Image by Compass for Change
Seems elementary enough, but how often do we fail on this one point. Let the facts speak for themselves – and something to get you thinking: If each light bulb burns 60 watts an hour, 8 hours a day over a 30 day period, how much would that cost on your electric bill? Here’s the math:
8 hours a day x 30 days = 240 Hours
240 hours x 60 watts = 14,400 Watt Hours
14,400 watt hours ÷ 1000 watts = 14.4 Kilowatt Hours (kWh)
Note: A kilowatt (kW) = 1000 Watts

Your electric bill will reflect kilowatt hours or kWh consumed. For the sake of figuring how much that light bulb cost, let’s assume your cost per kWh is .10 cents: That burning, light bulb just cost you $1.44 a month to run. Now add up all the lights you use in your home. Different story. I have 20 light bulbs in my master bedroom alone! Boy, this is getting quite expensive! Though light bulbs can add up, some of the biggest power drains on your utility bill are your heating and air conditioning, hot water heater and appliances – especially the ones that create or remove heat.

#2. Consider gas or wood heat over electric. And if you really want to save big, go solar! 
Image by Inhabitat
Most are aware that electric heat & air are more expensive than gas. But what if you don’t want to go through the initial expense of replacing your HAVC unit? Though you can opt to purchase portable gas heaters along with the replaceable propane cylinders, I recommend buying the conversion kit to fit a 20 lbs. propane tank – a $17 dollar value. This is by far the most economical way to go, especially if you can lease the tank and just pay for the propane. Of course the most cost effective way to slash your power bill in half during the winter months is wood heat. Just compare the cost over time of installing a wood stove or fireplace and discover how fast the pennies add up.  

Air conditioning is far more difficult to remedy cost wise, unless you take on the expense of a gas HAVC unit or set up a solar system. Solar affords you not only the ability to save big over the long haul, but moves you toward the goal of self sufficiency. In addition, congress enacted the Solar Federal Tax Credit  in 2009, which allows you to claim up to 30% of the solar installation costs for a new system. Existing (primary) homes, secondary homes and new construction qualify. Rentals do not qualify. There is also an tax credit for most EnergyStar appliances. These federal tax credits reduces the amount of tax you owe. The credit is a reduction of total income tax at the bottom of your tax return. There is even an added benefit when coupled with certain state rebate programs (CA, CT, NJ, NY) Also look for city solar incentive programs.

#3. Check for possible leaks. 

Image by Sesshudesign
My brain has an uncanny way of calculating the cost of what something should be – and if it looks off, it is off. When my utility bill arrived, I took one glance at it and immediately called the water department. Sure enough, we later discovered a water leak underneath the house – hence the higher bill. Thankfully, the water department negotiated some and we fixed the piping relatively cheap. Something as simple as fixing a leaky pipe can save over time. In addition, check for other things like a dripping faucet or a toilet that constantly refills – these also can be a slow drain (no pun intended) on your finances. 

#4: Consider these other practical ways of cutting costs while maintaining energy efficiency:

·         Use the cold water setting on your washing machine
·         Line dry your clothes rather than using your dryer (who said we can’t do it the old-fashioned way!)
·         Air dry rather than heat dry your dishes in the dishwasher
·         Adjust frig and freezer to the highest, safe setting (while keeping the door closed!)                       
·         Replace standard light bulbs with fluorescent lighting
·         Replace weather stripping around doors and windows
·         Plant trees around house with the most sun exposure
·         Open windows and utilize fans more often

So we see that penny pinching preparedness requires work, but is worth every penny saved – for truly a penny saved is a penny earned. The more of them we save, the more we have to spend on the things that truly matter. Soon we will discover money we thought we never had, and will not only feel a great sense of accomplishment, but will have more to give, gain and go places we never dreamed of. Here’s to all you “penny pinchers” out there: May you prosper well one penny at a time – and may it add up quick!

By Roxanne L. Griswold
Ready Woman Blog


Anonymous said...

I employ the tip you gave about putting your change in a jar. The last time we took ours to the bank, we had well over $100.00. Surprised us. That is just the change from dimes and below. I have quarters stashed in a different jug. I haven't taken that one in yet! :-)

Roxanne said...

Anonymous, it is a great way to save money quick and easy! Most people forget about their change as soon as it hits the jar! It's just nice when the day comes to cash it in and use toward some unexpected expense, birthdays or the Christmas holiday. Thank you for reading my article. Hope it helped toward more frugal choices! ~ Roxanne Griswold

Anonymous said...

thanks so much . i just found your blog and it's already a joy for me :) im always interested in such things esp in the natural remedies and recipes :)

Roxanne L. Griswold said...

I'm glad you found my blog and that the "Penny Pitching" tip article was helpful. You may have noticed that it's been a while since I've posted, as I was also completing my ND (Naturopathic Doctor). Last year I finished, and am in the process of building a new website: sunriseholisticsolutions.com: Here you will find all natural products stamped by the approval of someone who understands nutrition and it's effect on the body. Currently, I'm also seeing clients as well as interacting with others from other states. Hopefully we can connect! If you email me at sunriseholisticsolutions@gmail.com, I can forward you an info pack as well as the link to my website (when it's finished). Again, I am so glad you stumbled across my blog. I'm seeking to connect with like-minded people, and it sounds like you are one of them! Ps. Stay tuned for additional blog posts. Once the website is complete (a huge task), I will be posting again! ~ Roxanne L. Griswold, ND, CNHP

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