27 Frugal Ideas: Which Ones Stayed, Which Ones Didn’t?

Image Credit
Image Credit

Since it’s still more or less still the “New Year” I figured it would be interesting to look back and reflect on those frugal ideas I’ve tried in the past, keeping in mind those which have stuck as well as those that didn’t. I can say that changing your way of live is hard, particularly, when you feel like you “must” do so… seems that can be said for many areas in life the older I get. 😉

In no particular order:

  1. In Say Goodbye to Paper Goods we gave up on using paper plates, napkins, paper towels and the like. By and large we’ve done fairly well here. We rarely use paper plates, napkins or silverware unless there’s a really special reason. Paper towels have begun to creep back into our lives but really only to clean things like mirrors. Seeing as though we wash dish towels almost everyday I’d say we’re still minimizing our use of paper towels. We still use facial tissue and toilet paper… I can’t find a good reason to stop using those. 😉
  2. In 5 Body Lotion Alternatives I attempted to find something to replace our body lotion. I settled on coconut oil but, to be honest, we’ve reverted back to using the body lotion we’ve used for years. That said, coconut oil would certainly work but even that’s getting rather expensive so I’m not very interested in trying it again.
  3. Plastics, Difficult to Live Without was about giving up things like garbage bags, ziploc bags, disposable water bottles, and straws. We rarely use straws–though the kids get into them on occasion–and we only use reusable water bottles like the Kleen Kanteen (our favorite reusable water bottle by far) and though we don’t use ziplocs too often we are still using them for things like storing homemade bread. I can say that I attempt to wash out our ziploc bags when they’re not too gross and we certainly use plenty of tupperware for leftovers and whatnot; one of these days I’ll start trying to use mason jars in place of tupperware but haven’t done so yet. Garbage bags are still something we use regularly.
  4. The article 5 Silly Things I’ve Stopped Doing Now That I’m Broke was one of my first frugal Friday articles. In it, I talked about not letting the water run or reaching for the hot tap water, both of which have seemed to creep back into my habits. I also talked about running full dishwasher and laundry loads both of which we do, as well as using only cold water for laundry which, by and large, we do as well. Last, I spoke about turning off lights and the television when not in use and, sadly, we’re still bad about this… these days it’s the computers that get left on, especially overnight, which drives me a little nuts.
  5. Saving 70% or More on Printer Ink was solely about buying printer in online. It’s easy to do and something I’ve stuck with. If you’re still buying ink at the local store you’re getting screwed… stop doing that!
  6. In 10 Ways to Use Less of Stuff We Use Everyday I was really into making my own homemade supplies, particularly for the laundry and dishes but also toothpaste, lotions, and shaving cream to name a few others. While some of these homemade ideas lasted longer than others, for the most part we’ve gone back to store-bought supplies. Some of this had to do with the homemade versions purportedly (according to my wife) not working as well such as the laundry detergent and dishwasher soaps. I felt they worked “good enough” but she has veto power so back we went.
  7. When I wrote Maximizing the Use of Local Library Resources I tried to offer solutions for those who didn’t have other options. Personally, we still use the library for books, occasionally for digital books, but rarely for anything else. Mostly we just use the internet to learn most everything else.
  8. When I wrote I’ve Recently Re-Discovered The Frugality of Using a Washrag With Soap I was REALLY trying to be frugal! This idea has generally stuck and I do feel it’s helped reduce the amount of soap I use each day in the shower but I haven’t done any sort of testing.
  9. In How I Saved a Thousand Dollars or More Buying a Car I offered up a way to buy a vehicle for less. For the most part I’d say this is still good advice but I haven’t purchased any more vehicles so I can’t speak to the advice working a second time.
  10. Just Because They Send You a New Credit or Debit Card Doesn’t Mean You Have to Use It is, obviously, about NOT using those tempting credit card offers they like to send you in the mail. And I’m willing to bet that nearly every American is (or soon will be) receiving plenty of offers in the mail now that the Holiday season is over. My advice? Don’t do it! Shred them and tighten the belt.
  11. DIY Dishwasher Detergent Tabs or Powder at HALF the Cost of Store-Bought stuck for a while but, as I said before, we went back to store-bought liquid detergent. Honestly, I didn’t really like making them so I’m not that sad about it.
  12. Let Dishes Air Dry to Save Even More Money? didn’t stick either…. what’s my problem? There’s really no reason NOT do this seeing as though the dishwasher tends to run after dinner most of the time. I’ll have to get back to this one.
  13. 3 Ingredient Homemade Deodorant My Wife Approves Of did stick. In fact, “the boss” prefers it and so do I.
  14. How to Make 4-Ingredient DIY Sink Scrub has also stuck with us and I think it works just fine.
  15. Regrettably, The Easiest DIY Toilet Bowl Cleaner did NOT stick, even though it’s the same recipe as the sink scrub. I think it worked fine, my wife preferred something else.
  16. Ditch the Gym Membership, Save $1000 a Year or More! is still a great idea. If you recently started going to the local gym like everyone else in America, stop! Workout at home. Personally, I’m far more likely to do get my workout in when I don’t have to spend time and effort going somewhere else to workout.
  17. We still Use Discount Cards to Buy Gas. It doesn’t save a ton of money but why not when you’re already at Costco or Safeway?
  18. Be Your Own Handyman… When You Can is always a good idea if you’re capable (and safe). I always prefer to tackle a project on my own not just to save money but to get experience too. Of course, there are things I can’t or won’t do but at least I can say… “I really thought about doing it.” 🙂
  19. The Homemade Goo Gone Recipe, Only TWO Ingredients is fine if you’re trying to remove residue from surfaces that won’t scratch easily but I rarely find need for it and since the liquid goo gone I have seems to last forever… I’m sticking with the store-bought.
  20. Get Fewer Haircuts, Cut Your Own… Potentially Save $1000 per Year Seeing as though I shave my head–I surely wouldn’t pay anyone to do this to me–and that my niece still cuts my kids hair once a month… this one’s a keeper.
  21. Collect Pocket Change… You’d be Surprised at How Much You Can Collect I still do this but I think my kids “borrow” my change more than I realize because it tends to disappear.
  22. When I wrote Cancel Monthly, Yearly Subscriptions: Save Hundreds to Thousands of Dollars I was really trying to cut back on bills, everything from television to cell service was on the table. Things haven’t changed much since then. We don’t have cable as the over-the-air is good enough considering that we still use Netflix and Hulu. I almost dropped Amazon Prime and probably should have since I despise their television offerings and we don’t seem to order as much as we used to. Nothing else on the list in the article has changed
  23. 3-Ingredient DIY Liquid Laundry Soap That Works was a winner for quite a long while but my felt it didn’t do quite as good a job as the store-bought so we’ve recently gone away from it… but I am waiting… for the return of my homemade laundry soap. Personally, if you’re just washing clothes because you wore them that day but they’re not super dirty or smell then this stuff works fine…. maybe you don’t even need laundry soap in that case? I can say that we’ve been adding distilled white vinegar to our laundry and that helps too.
  24. We’ve recently revisited Turn Down That Thermostat… Put on Some Darn Clothing here at home and my wife and I are at a stalemate. She prefers it warmer (high 60’s to low 70’s) whereas I’d prefer lower (upper 50’s to low 60’s); we’ve compromised and settled on mid 60’s which, if I’m honest, is about as low as I’m comfortable but since we’re on electric heat the bills really add up when we’re also running electric blankets and the occasional space heater.
  25. Enter Giveaways Regularly: Win Big, Save Money was an attempt to “win” free stuff. I’ve occasionally looked for giveaways online but I really don’t like entering them, it seems.
  26. Trick Your Kids and Stockpile Their Candy… I think my kids at all their candy this past Halloween so I didn’t even have a chance to steal it!
  27. Free Admission Spots – we still look for places nearby that are free or relatively cheap, even visiting the same places again but this is getting “old hat” if you will.

When I first started writing this I “felt” like we were doing relatively well but looking back on it all I’d say we’re NOT doing quite as well as I had expected. I can see, too, that there are some areas we can work on and get back to (such as letting dishes air dry) but most frugal ideas I tried which we’ve gone away from seem to be preferences…. preferences that we’re probably not going to go away from if we don’t absolutely have to.

Anyway, how about you? What frugal ideas have you stuck with? Or those that you didn’t stick with and why?

I’d be grateful to hear them.

I’ve Recently Re-Discovered The Frugality of Using a Washrag With Soap

washrag-soapI know this may sound super simple but, as the title points out, I’ve recently re-discovered the frugality of using a washrag with soap in the shower. Now, I may occasionally use a washrag to wash my face outside of the shower but rarely do I use one while showering or bathing.

You see, I’ve ALWAYS choosen to lather up by getting the bar wet and using the bar to lather up, later rinsing off.

Sure, that may be a bit too much information for you but I figured I should be thorough in my explanation. 😉

Recently, however, I’ve been choosing to lather up a single washrag one time only and then using that to lather my face, head, and body… in that order.

Why does it matter?

Well, if you’re trying to be frugal then it should because I swear this method (of soaping the washrag only) is guaranteed to save quite a bit of the bar soap over time. When not using the washrag it seems to me that the bar soap is continually being exposed to running water thereby eroding the bar faster. It happens slowly enough, however, that it’s imperceptible at that time.

Obviously, I haven’t tried to verify this with some sort of controlled study but my subjective opinion is that this is the case.

During an emergency then this is a wise idea (to save both soap and water) but if you’re trying to save money too then consider adding a simple washrag to your showering routine if you’ve never done so.

Free Admission Spots

Yesterday, since we home school our children, we decided to switch it up from a boring typical day and do a few field trips instead. The thing is that we didn’t want to spend a bunch of money and choose to visit two local spots that offer free admission to the general public.

The first place we visited was the Naval Undersea Museum…

free-admission-1

That’s my kids outside the place standing in front of the top part of a submarine. We’ve actually been here before but my youngest didn’t seem to remember much of the place so we went again.

It’s a rather neat exhibit and covers a lot of the Navy’s undersea adventures, from diving suits and the history of diving to torpedoes (including several neat examples) and plenty about submarines. We spent about two hours there which was enough to hopefully “sink” something into my kid’s heads!

The second place was a local aquarium, the Poulsbo Marine Science Center…

free-admission-2

That’s my kids standing in front of some jellyfish. I’d never been here before but my kids have. This place must have been far more interesting to my youngest because he knew exactly what he was doing here.

It seems that they actually let you touch some of the sea life which is a big hit with all the kids. They were able to see crabs and touch creatures like sea anemones, sea cucumbers, starfish, and more. I didn’t do it… they looked too slimy. 🙂

Besides that, they had a few fish tanks with various colorful fish, more crabs, and other small sea life. It’s rather a sight to see. They usually have an octopus as well but the one they had was recently they let go because it got too big.

Anyway, the point was that we had a good time, didn’t spend a dime, and hopefully the kids learned something useful. It sure beat reading, writing, and math everyday.

Of course, these places are local but I’m sure there are interesting places nearby to you that offer free or low cost admission, including a wide variety of museums. Obviously, libraries are free. A walk in the park is free too. Camping may not be free but it sure can be an education to youngsters. Many times places offer free admission specifically to kids. Beyond that, some dates (like national holidays) can be free to the public or local residents.

Just do some searching online and I’m sure you’ll be able to find plenty to do that won’t cost too much and be an interesting trip for both children and for you.

Let Dishes Air Dry to Save Even More Money?

I know people who never use their dishwasher. Yes, that’s right… they NEVER use it. I think that’s insane! We literally use our dishwasher everyday. Yes, everyday. As such, it’s a significant energy user in our household. Perhaps we’re the “insane” ones?

Regardless, according to some estimates not using the heated dry setting on your dishwasher can save anywhere from 15-50% of the dishwasher power consumption. Certainly, that’s a wide range and I’d imagine it depends on the make, model, and energy star ratings, among other factors I’m not aware of.

The point is that there’s almost NO point in drying dishing using the heated cycle… unless you’re in a hurry. Recently, however, we’ve been air drying our dishes and with good success.

No doubt there’s not much to it: use the heated setting or don’t. 🙂

I say don’t.

So long as you can opt to run the dishwasher and then let it sit overnight to dry there’s honestly no reason not to, especially if you’re a heavy dishwasher user like we are.

The ONE step I would suggest is to run the dishwasher early enough before you go to bed to check for overturned cups and bowls that are now filled with water. Just dump the water that collected into the sink, return the cups/bowls to their correct position, and then close the dishwasher to let it finish drying overnight.

Of course, you could do this in the morning and let them dry during the day instead… do whatever works best for you.

Last, there is the belief that you can save even more money by not using the dishwasher whatsoever opting, instead, to wash all the dishes by hand but that seems like far too much work to me!

Shop Around for Insurance Rates and Services to Save BIG Money!

I used to drive my wife nuts because–according to her–I would switch home phone providers as often as I changed my underwear. 😉 Ok, maybe not quite that often but I did tend to change providers often. I was always looking for a better deal. After all, if one company is offering the same services for a lesser price why wouldn’t I try to save the MOST amount of money that I could for the same thing? Of course I would, duh!

Phone service wasn’t the only thing I tried to save money on. Insurance rates were another big one for me. Just recently, for example, when we moved to Washington we had to get automobile insurance and I was shocked at how different the rates were to the tune of hundreds of dollars over the course of six months (what we usually pay on) for the one vehicle we were insuring at the time. That’s a lot of money. The same can more or less be said for the renter’s insurance we had to get. Just a bit of time can save quite a bit of money.

I’m sure you have similar experiences and the sky’s the limit when it comes to services you might pay for where you can potentially save money by simply switching providers. Granted, there are some providers that would be difficult to switch from, including public utilities (e.g., water, electricity, natural gas, etc) as well as television/internet providers to name a few.

Regardless, you can certainly save money by looking for different providers of the following services:

  • mortgage lien rates
  • auto lien rates
  • home/renters insurance
  • life insurance
  • automobile repair
  • home phone
  • cell phone
  • cable/internet (if other providers exist)
  • health care providers (if health plan allows)
  • dental providers
  • orthodontics
  • pharmacies
  • any home/repair service you may need (e.g., automobile repairs, appliance repairs, landscaping)

Obviously, the list can go on and on depending on what it is specifically that you need done and this list doesn’t even touch upon general shopping needs, from groceries to clothing and more.

It’s just a matter of taking the time to shop around! I’ve even heard that bothering to call and tell your current service company that you’re going to switch from them to somebody else can save money. Personally, I haven’t tried this method but I’ve heard it *can* work. Of course, you’d need to be willing, ready, and able to switch providers should they ever say no.

What about you? What have YOU done to save money on services?

Use Discount Cards to Buy Gas?

Be honest, you have a few of these “discount” shopping cards, don’t you? Besides probably being a violation of your privacy since the company has a complete history of everything you purchase, they can help you save money on a variety of in-store purchases, but the part I want to focus on is the possibility of saving money on gasoline.

A few weeks ago I mentioned that gasoline was getting rather inexpensive and that you should do your best to stockpile gasoline for emergencies. That said, most of us have to buy gasoline much more often than for emergencies, often once or twice a week or even more. Over the course of a year that adds up to many dozens or hundreds of times we fill up. Monetarily, that’s a rather large sum of money. As such, it behooves us to attempt to save as much money as possible on gasoline if we can.

Now, though I tend to avoid such discount cards, I do have both a COSTCO card and a Safeway card. I assume there are others. Each of these cards allows me to possibly save money on gasoline so long as I fill up at their service stations… well, sort of.

While COSTCO allows me to fill up whenever I like so long as I have a membership, Safeway requires me to have made purchases which relate to some amount of gasoline savings. Obviously, I prefer COSTCO’S deal but that doesn’t mean Safeway’s gasoline savings can’t work so long as you regularly purchase from Safeway. Despite the technicalities, I can easily save about ten cents per gallon if I’m able to fill up at either COSTCO or Safeway.

As an example, if I were to fill up once a week (perhaps when I went grocery shopping) and got a mere five gallons each time–because I always ensured I filled up before my gas tank was half empty–I would conceivably purchase 260 gallons of gas (5 gallons x 52 weeks) and save $26 total (at ten cents per gallon saved). Honestly, that’s not a lot!

But the above example isn’t quite realistic. Most gas tanks take at least 11-13 gallons for sedans and upwards of 20 gallons for SUVs. Add in the fact that most of us are 2+ car families with active lives and chances are we buy gas a lot more often than once a week. When you start to add in “real life” math then it’s quite possibly–if you’re diligent–that you can save a substantial amount of money so long as you ONLY purchase using discount cards.

Personally, we’re not that determined but we do fill up at these places when it’s relatively convenient. If you’re “daring” then you may purposely wait to fill up whenever you know you’re going shopping at COSTCO, for example, and therefore let your gas tank get near empty. Honestly, I don’t advise this strategy whatsoever. Ensuring my gas tank is at least half full is far more important than saving a dollar when I fill up.

You could, however, do something like purposely allow your vehicle’s gas to get near empty and when it does rotate gasoline from a 5-gallon container and then fill up both your vehicle and gas can when you go shopping. Unfortunately, this strategy requires a bit of timing and some planning to work out. Again, it’s not the best of ideas.

What else can you do?

Well, you can use the internet and, in particular, apps to help you save money. For example, an app called Gas Buddy can help you find the lowest prices right now on gas. Searching on the app right now I see prices that range from about $2.20 to $2.60 which amounts to a $0.40 difference and is nothing to turn your nose up at. Granted, you might be willing to drive across town to get the deal which probably doesn’t make sense but at least you’re aware if there are any nearby gas stations that have relatively cheap prices.

What about you? What do YOU do to save money on gasoline?

Image Credit
Image Credit

Get Fewer Haircuts, Cut Your Own… Potentially Save $1000 per Year!

I’ve been fortunate that many years ago I started to lose my hair. Yes, I said fortunately. Most people would probably disagree with me seeing as though they want to keep their hair. I don’t. In fact, I’m plenty happy having a bald head for many reasons.

First, I make it look good:

DB-bald

Alright, making it look good is awfully subjective. 😉 By the way, my wife HATES this photo and really wants me to change it but it’s who I am.

Anyway, the point is that I’m sure I’ve saved hundreds if not thousands of dollars over the years choosing to shave my head instead of getting monthly (or perhaps bi-monthly) haircuts. At $15-20 for a basic haircut that’s hundreds of dollars per year. You can do the rest of the math. Granted, it’s not like razor blades are free but ever sine I learned to use a doubled edged safety razor I’ve saved a lot of money NOT purchasing disposable Mach 3 blades! That said, we still do buy some Mach 3 blades but not nearly as many as we did.

If you have young children–especially boys–you can shave their heads with an inexpensive set of hair clippers and save the cost of haircuts too. In fact, I’m lucky in that my niece lives with us and she willfully shaves my kids’ heads about once a month easily saving us money we would have otherwise spent on haircuts… or I would have just tried to shave their heads like mine…. so long as my wife wasn’t looking! Certainly, most men’s hair can be cut relatively well with a pair of hair clippers depending on the style. And if you’re so daring then perhaps a little education in hair cutting is in order.

As for the ladies’ hair, I’m at a loss there. My wife wouldn’t let me within ten feet of her hair if I dared to cut it, and I wouldn’t blame her either. 🙂 Unless your a confident person perhaps the best strategy is to simply let a ladies hair grow out longer than usual and purposefully not get it cut as often, especially since most women’s cuts tend to cost more than men’s… what a sham!

When you add it up for a family of four, let’s say, a typical month of haircuts could quickly add up to nearly a hundred dollars or more. Multiplied over a year, well, that’s quite a sum of money that maybe didn’t have to be spent but only YOU can decide that.

What say you? What have you done to save money on haircuts?

Time to Get Realistic About Your Credit Cards

Now that the holiday season is over, we’re into a New Year, and you’ve bought more than you should have from your Black Friday purchases it’s time to get realistic about your credit cards. Yes, those “magical” little cards that let you live beyond your means. I tried to point out a few months ago that Just Because They Send You a New Credit or Debit Card Doesn’t Mean You Have to Use It! but maybe you weren’t listening?

Credit cards seem to have a magical aura about them as if… some how… you don’t have to worry about what you buy using them because, after all, you won’t see the bill until next month; that’s like an eternity. 😉 Debit cards, however, aren’t quite as bad because the money comes out of your bank account rather fast and your bank will happily let you know if you’re overdrawn.

If you’re like most Americans then you likely have quite a bit of credit card debt–to the tune of about $15K and counting–and I’m willing to bet that the past month or so hasn’t helped this staggering number.

The sad truth is that the vast majority of our addition to credit card debt has very little to do with things we NEED but far more to do with things we WANT. No doubt if the car breaks down and you have to get it fixed then that’s probably considered a need and if you didn’t have a “rainy day fund” then it’s acceptable to use a credit card. There are legitimate uses for them, after all.

On the other hand, credit cards make it easy to purchase all sorts of potentially unnecessary things such as snack foods and other convenience items at the grocery store, Starbucks lattes, snacks and toys to appease whiny children, fast food for any reason, nearly anything while “window shopping,” and even big ticket items like jewelry because, well… you’re in the “dog house” to clothing and shoes and even various electronics like a new television or video games. Hence, the problem with overindulgence over the holidays.

Anyway, all that’s in the past. What’s done is done, right?

Great! Let’s try to do something different for next year…

Probably the best advice I’m aware of is that of Dave Ramsey who is vehemently opposed to credit cards. For the most part you can get away with NOT having them. If a vendor won’t accept cash or check then I’m positive they’ll accept a debit card. Every vendor that I can imagine accepts one of the aforementioned options. In other words, there’s nobody that will ONLY accept credit cards.

As Ramsey would likely say, you should work to rid yourself of your credit cards no matter what. Certainly that’s easier said than done but once you decide that it’s going to happen–perhaps like losing ten pounds–then you CAN do it. You can read up on how he recommends getting out of debt but the moral of the story is that once you get rid of it keep it that way. Once you get out of debt don’t fall into the same bad habits.

Personally, we keep only two credit cards active at any one time. We use one as the main credit card–mostly for purchases of things we need like groceries and gasoline–and the other purely as a backup. Now, I can hear you saying “but you just said you shouldn’t use them!” which is generally true UNLESS you actually have the willpower to pay them off each month… which is precisely the willpower that my wife has. 😉

She absolutely despises credit card debt and I’m positive she would have me sell off a kidney before we had to pay interest charges!

Obviously, that’s not a good option for any of us mostly importantly for me. The best option is to not use credit cards at all, particularly if you know you’re not the type of person who will pay them off each month. C’mon, you know who you are… you can’t hide from yourself.

But what if you’re too deep in debt and don’t honestly feel like you can pay them off? Thankfully, I’ve never been in that position so I can’t offer first-hand advice but it is possible to do things like use 0% balance transfers to defer the debt while you pay it off–there are almost always credit card companies willing to do this–or, if you’re in serious trouble, to contact creditors directly to see if you can work out a better payment plan (they would rather have you pay something than to have you default) or to try debt settlement agencies which can lower your bills/rates but that can cause your credit score to take a dive so beware.

Ultimately, the best plan is to own it. Stop using your darn credit cards right now. Cut up all of them if you have to. Work the debt snowball plan that Dave Ramsey suggests. Last, vow to never do this to yourself again once you get out of that hole!!

Image Credit
Image Credit

Be Your Own Handyman… When You Can

It seems to me that one of the MANY skills we’ve lost as a culture–especially as a result of our “disposable” goods mentality–is the ability to fix things and otherwise to make do with what we have.

Don’t get me wrong, if I could honestly afford to always call a repairman to fix things for me I probably would. But these days we can’t afford to spend hundreds of dollars to fix something that we can likely fix ourselves.

In this case, we had to repair our Maytag clothes dryer. After a brief Google search using something like “Maytag [model#] dryer not heating” I was quickly presented with a wonderful website: RepairClinic.com.

This is actually a really neat website that offers repair advice (and parts) for any number of appliances that could go belly-up, from your washer and dryer to a refrigerator or stove. Beyond appliances, they also offer advice for outdoor equipment (such as the lawnmower or chainsaw) as well as for HVAC systems and other things I wouldn’t attempt to touch.

In our case, a clothes dryer is among the easiest appliances to repair–or so they say–and as such I decided (with prompting from my wife) to follow the RepairClinic.com advice and wound up figuring out that the heating coil was broken as shown here (I exaggerated the break in the photo to make it obvious):

repair-dryer-1

No problem. RepairClinic.com provides useful repair video tutorials and, of course, sells these parts and for relatively reasonable prices, I’d say. The thing is that we wanted to save as much money as possible and so I did a brief Google product search for the particular Whirlpool product number (Maytag is a subsidiary) and I was able to save about $10 buying from a website that seemed a little shady but ultimately delivered. After about a week and a half of waiting for the new element to arrive we got to work, here’s the new element… isn’t she pretty?

repair-dryer-2

An easy repair, no doubt. RepairClinic.com actually offers quite an array of advice, from testing and replacement videos (meant for your particular appliance) to troubleshooting tutorials, the correct parts to purchase, and probably more that I haven’t even seen yet. The videos even warn you of potential safety hazards and even the anticipated difficulty (from easy to DIY to hire somebody).

Well, at least an hour later and possibly a beer or two we wound up replacing the heating coil. I’ll spare you the gory details and perhaps a few swear words during the process. 😉

The point is simply that we were able to save ourselves quite a bit of money by NOT calling a repairman to fix something that we (I) can do ourselves. Granted, I’m not “Mr. Fix-it” by any means but I’m not completely useless either… and I can follow instructions at times too.

The best part is that with such useful advice as can be readily found online at sites like RepairClinic.com and others there’s no excuse to NOT save yourself plenty of money and maybe even learn a useful skill at the same time.

Of course, if you’re not comfortable attempting such repairs then by all means get some help or hire somebody. After all, the last thing I’d want is for you to seriously injure yourself or others doing something you shouldn’t or repairing an appliance incorrectly.

At the very least there’s no harm in looking into what type of repair may be needed as well as the potential costs and parts involved so that, at minimum, you don’t get “taken” when you call somebody to repair your broken stuff.

That said, it may be useful to also include various [easyazon_link cloaking=”default” keywords=”home repair” localization=”default” locale=”US” nofollow=”default” new_window=”default” tag=”rethinksurviv-20″]home repair[/easyazon_link] books in your library for a rainy day.

Collect Pocket Change… You’d be Surprised at How Much You Can Collect!

pocket-changeSeeing as though most people (I assume) tend to use credit and debit cards for most purchases these days, cash tends to be far less “valuable” to have on-hand and, oh boy, let’s not consider keeping loose change around… talk about useless these days. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth.

In recent weeks–since our dryer broke–I found a new use for my change: to feed the local laundromat dryer! Until then I tended to just collect change whenever I used my cash and if I did anything with it I usually gave it to my kids so they could occasionally purchase treats at the store. Since they’re still young their eyes tend to “light up” when given such a gift. Fast forward a few more years and they’ll question me why it’s not twenty dollar bills. 😉

Before that my mother-in-law always wound up requisitioning my pocket change for the homeless or whatever she did with it. That’s fine. At least it went somewhere useful instead of the plastic cup I collect it in.

The question is, what else can loose change actually be useful for?

Well, for starters, you might consider stockpiling your nickels as they’re apparently more valuable than the face value and perhaps even more so for barter during SHTF.

You could, of course, save it up and years later do something positive with it like buy some useful preps, a new knife, adding to your food storage, or dare I say… start a college fund, buy a bond, or invest in the stock market… yikes!

Granted, there are more fun ways to use it from buying movie tickets or snacks at the movies to actually keeping track of how much you save and when you hit a certain amount (such as $60 dollars) go out to lunch or dinner. Maybe make it a treat time and take the family out for ice cream or yogurt or they prefer.

If your kids are young enough you might even be able to use it as bribery money (to do useful chores, of course) or other incentives such as to wash the car, clean the kitchen, bathe the dog, re-shingle the roof, or whatever works for you.

Of course, if you’d prefer to have dollar bills in your hand you can always take it to your bank or one of those change machines and for a price you can convert that “useless” change into likely even more useless dollar bills. 😉

The moral of the story is to NOT discount how useful loose pocket change can be and if you’re patient enough you can actually do something positive with it no matter what you choose that to be.

What about you? For what reasons have you kept and used pocket change?