Money-Saving Resolutions

New Year’s Resolution Time!

It’s starting to get a bad flavor, isn’t it?  It’s starting to be synonymous with guilt-ridden and unrealistic commitments that are broken within a month, and are a burden on your friends and family until you do break them.  I resolve to lose 50lbs in 30 days.  I resolve to get back into the jeans I wore when I was 13.  I resolve to reverse my Type A personality, maybe reorganize my whole thought process.

I’m reluctant to even use the word “resolution.”

I’m even reluctant to voice my goals, after watching this video:

But I know that this recession isn’t going to go away in 2012.  Maybe it’ll get better, maybe it’ll get worse.  But I will not get to live the lifestyle I enjoyed five years ago.  And so far, we haven’t had much more than a skiff of snow in Reno.  Which means that food will be very expensive next year.  Whether we buy it out of California or pay for water to grow it ourselves, it won’t be cheap.

So I’ve thought long and hard about what changes I can make (and impose on my family) to save a few dollars.

Stop drinking soda.

We all have vices.  Admit it, so do you.  And even if you don’t have that morning latte from Starbucks, or that half-pack of cigarettes a day, there is probably still something that you can do without.  For us, it’s a Super Big Gulp of fountain diet soda from the 7-11 down the street.  But… $1.28 for over 2 liters of soda is such a deal!  Sure… if it’s something my body can metabolize for my benefit.  $1.28 times two adults, times… maybe 20 days out of the month?  That equals the internet bill PLUS the Netflix account.

And then there’s that awkward moment where the grocery cashier watches me unload a half-cart of produce, a few gallons of milk, some wholegrain flour… and five 2-liter bottles of soda.

 

Build a graywater system.

I’m not talking about a big, fancy pipe system that collects used shower water and filters it.  I’m talking about 55-gallon reservoir, and a few buckets fitted with a dripline.  How much money can we save with that?  I really don’t know.  But I DO know that I spend $75 more per month on water when I have a vegetable garden.  Last year, I set a 5-gallon bucket in the shower.  Family members allowed the warm-up water to run into that bucket, then they lifted the bucket out while they bathed.  A shower a day per adult, plus at least one a week per child COMPLETELY provided the water needs of a 20-unit bucket garden in all months except for July.  If I also make the family wash the dishes in dishpans, then pour the water on the garden, and if I channel the laundry water (without bleach) into the reservoir, could I possibly water my entire garden?

Here’s the link to make a dripline irrigation system with recycled buckets.

 

Concentrate on food storage.

Produce is rather cheap in the summer, especially if you grow it yourself.  In the winter… it’s pretty much broccoli, carrots, and navel oranges.  But think about this when you buy potatoes or onions… Potatoes are a nightshade plant, which dies back during the frost.  Supermarket potatoes are primarily grown in Idaho or Maine.  I’ve never lived in Maine, but in Idaho, the last frost can be as late as June 15th, with the first frost in early September.  That leaves 3-4 months to grow potatoes.  And these are not a hothouse crop.  So when you buy a bag of Idaho potatoes in May, when do you think those were dug up?  This is the same with onions, sweet potatoes, and winter squash… and why they are so cheap (and low-quality) right before the harvest is due to come in.

What I’m saying here is that certain foods store VERY well in a dark, cool closet.  Other foods store great in the freezer, or in home canning.  Stored properly, they can last you all the way until produce is cheap again.

This year, we plan to grow corn, green beans, shelling beans, onions, early-season winter squash, and a lot of spinach.  All of these either freeze well or store well in a cool, dry environment.  If I go out and pick green beans, and have more than I need for my family that day, I can blanch the rest and stuff them in a freezer bag.  Easy!  And though I really love my fresh lettuce, it’s just not something I’m going to look kindly on after a month in the freezer.

If you don’t have a garden, you can still buy your food when it’s OUTRAGEOUSLY cheap.  And store it.  Because you just can’t find sweet corn for 8 ears/$1 during the winter.

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Never stored your food before?  Don’t know how long it lasts in the freezer?  This site is great.

Don’t waste my food money.

You hear this argument all the time… “Junk food is cheaper!”  And, if you want to follow the latest health trends, it is.  A value-menu burger can be $1, the same price as half of a red bell pepper in the winter.  But do you really need to compare burgers to peppers when determining your health?  I could start an entire post on why eating healthier is NOT more expensive.  Those posts are all over the internet, from other authors.  If you want the information, I can help you find it.  But here’s the digest of it:

Healthy foods don’t have to be red bell peppers and acai berries.  You can also have radishes (currently 4 bunches for $1 at my neighborhood supermarket) or pinto beans (currently 59 cents a pound.)  You can buy heartier bread, and use fewer slices.  You can go meatless for a few days a week, and use the money you saved to buy your grass-fed beef.  Or take a few minutes to read up on entire cultures where the cuisine revolves around local, affordable, and healthy food grown in that area.

And those unhealthy foods that get me a few macronutrients, maybe my protein and carbohydrate counts for the day?  That’s about all they provide.  And though I can get a package of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups for 59 cents at the dollar store, the peanut butter in those babies isn’t going to keep me satisfied for very long.  A chocolate bar isn’t going to get me anywhere.

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If you want more information, start with this great link I found.  20 simple ways to eat healthier on a budget!

Limit my internet time.

No, I don’t pay by the hour for internet.  But I’m also not out working in the garden if I’m on Facebook.  And, each month, my darling family spends a weekend helping me catch up on the housecleaning, the gardening, the yard work… everything that has fallen WAY behind because I just don’t have time for it after I’m done with my paid work.

How much time can you possibly spend on the internet, even if you are a “productive member of society?”  What would you do if you had three more hours a day to catch up on work, or maybe start that new hobby that you’ve been considering for so long?

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I’m not the artist here!  But this picture cracked me up.

Use less gas.

We drive a 1997 GMC Yukon.  Do I need to explain further?  Our bikes work great, and so do our feet.  Alternative transportation is trendy right now.  Plus, if I wear enough holes in my shoes, I have a good excuse to buy another cute pair.

Drop a size.

Wait, wait.  Don’t crucify me yet.  It has nothing to do with body image.  (Ok, maybe it does, a little.  More than a little.)

But here’s my reasoning, and this is MY reasoning for my special situation.  I have a complete and very nice wardrobe in my closet, all size 14.  Probably worth at least $1,000 if it was brand new.  And I’m a size 16.  See the obvious solution?  Lose a size, save $1,000.

And how will I lose it?  Maybe if I stop drinking soda, spend all my food money on the high-nutrition items, spend less time on the internet, and vow to use less gas, I’ll just find that I also have a like-new wardrobe.

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