I was awakened early this morning so I’ll post an update
on the things I do to make life simpler and use less.
Instead of renting or having a house payment, I live in a
paid-for older mobile home with a lot rent of $100 each month. This
enables me to save money toward a piece of land of my own.
I work at home, so my commute is from the bedroom at one
end of my home to the laptop sitting in the kitchen. This saves gas, dress
clothing, eating out, etc.
My coffee this morning was brewed
three days ago this
morning in a metal stovetop percolator. I brew a pot at a time then
reheat for my daily cup of caffeine. I gave up on automatic coffee makers
after spending years replacing them every few months to a year (failed
hardware, dropped carafe, etc.). I paid $15 for this percolator new 3-4 years
ago for faultless, loyal service. It heats the coffee on the stovetop. so it has
no fancy parts to fail.
I take my used coffee grounds, dry them and place them in
old socks as hidden sachets to absorb odors around the house and in the
refrigerator and freezer.
Breakfast is generally late, and is actually more like
brunch. This enables me to get away with preparing only 2 meals a day
instead of three. This morning I will eat a bowl of Grape Nuts, but sometimes I
fix a breakfast hash with a potato, a piece of bacon and some eggs. Big
breakfasts are homemade biscuits with sausage gravy, all made from scratch. We
very rarely buy things like Pop Tarts or instant breakfasts—those are treats in
I use Fels Naptha, Octagon Soap, ammonia, Bon Ami, vinegar, baking soda and bleach to clean with. I am using up some products purchased before I realized that I could clean just as well with simpler products—and save a lot of money in the process. I wash dishes by hand using Octagon soap that I pay 79 cents a bar for. It cleans just as well as those fancy dishwashing liquids that cost several dollars for a small bottle (and lasts a lot longer). I tried using Ivory Soap to wash dishes, but that didn’t work out.
Instead of going to the expense of painting, wallpapering,
etc. I wash the walls and woodwork. If the walls get in sad shape I will
eventually paint some of them but I would rather set that money aside for a
piece of land than concern myself with buying paint and paper right now.
In my opinion a paid-for piece of land is much more important that the color of
We no longer use paper towels here. I have several
rolls left over from the case I purchased a year or so ago that get used
occasionally to wipe up things that would stain the cloth towels we have.
Kitchen towels get soaked in a sanitizer solution until wash day to help keep
any stains from setting. Cloth towels are also used instead of sponges to
wash dishes, and changed after each use for sanitary reasons. I may be
interested in conservation, but I refuse to risk the health of my family.
Instead of paper napkins we use bandannas coordinated with
our casual kitchen.
We use family cloths instead of bathroom tissue, though we
keep bathroom tissue around for guests or
on for the occasion
when we decide to use paper instead of family cloths. We have only been
experimenting with family cloths since late January after a frozen pipe ruined
most of our stock of bathroom tissue. Of the six rolls of tissue that
were spared water damage we still have five 4.5 left.
This amazes me because in this house of females we normally went through 1 or 2
rolls of bathroom tissue a week.
When our last box of kleenex ran out we decided to use
bandannas instead of buying another box. I have a small collection of
bandannas that I have used for tying up my hair on bad hair days, etc. so we
are able to rotate bandannas regularly while being able to identify which cloth
belongs to whom. I’m not sure how much this has saved us since we used a
combination of kleenex and bathroom tissue for our noses. I normally go
through the bulk of the tissue so I’m going to hazard that we have saved at
least a couple of dollars so far. It was definitely a big mental change for me
personally—even more so than trying the family cloths to my surprise!
I have been working to conserve electric use, but I am far
from perfect. Instead of multiple electric clocks we use our cellphones
and my Palm Lifedrive as timepieces and alarm clocks. Amazingly it has made life
calmer not having a clock in every room. I do have a battery operated
wall clock in the kitchen, but it rarely gets referred to these days. We
have had it for several years, but if it dies I am not sure if we will bother
replacing it. We didn’t bother replacing the one in the bathroom with it
With the exception of the lights in the living room that
are on a dimmer switch, all of our lightbulbs are either florescent or led. I
try to use the led ones more than even the florescent, especially since they
only use 1.5 watts of electricity compared to the 13 or 14 watts per florescent
The microwave and toaster oven are unplugged when not in
use to avoid a phantom power load. The same goes for the chargers used on
the small electronics.
We don’t have a stereo, television, vcr, dvd or game
machines. I’m sure this saves us not only the money that would be used to
purchase them and care for them but also in the energy used to power them both
on and off. Our computers replace all of these devices.
Instead of a land line phone I use a Magicjack attached to my laptop which
is connected to a cordless phone. I decided that a cordless phone was a
worthwhile investment compared to a corded phone for simple mobility. The
Magicjack costs $20 a year for unlimited calls in the United States (and I
think Canada but I’ve never had a reason to call there to try). I use that
whenever I’m home or around a high-speed internet connection to save on cellphone
My daughter and I both have AT&T prepaid
cellphones. She has the $1 mobile-to-mobile plan which only costs if she
uses it, and
while the expense is being shouldered by
me currently I believe her father is going to start putting money on it being
split by her father and myself.
My cellphone has the $3 unlimited plan on it, so it costs
me $3 on the rare days I use it but I don’t have to worry about how long I stay
on the phone or what number I call that way. I keep a texting plan on it
as well which helps to greatly control the expense on that phone. I tell
people to text me instead of calling me when I’m out and about to avoid that $3
charge. As a result I still have to put $25 on it every three months but
I have a balance accumulating on it for those times when I need to use it
several days in a row.
We have multiple computers here—that is our one big
splurge. I work on computers so I am forced to keep up with the most
current Windows operating system (which gives me the perfect excuse to feed my
computer habit). I also use linux instead of Windows for a lot of things
because of the stability and the wealth of free software available.
I used to keep multiple computers running at all times for
various tasks but have managed to reduce that to a single laptop running when I
am awake. This laptop is placed on my kitchen table to enable me to get
lots of light without having to use electric and is connected to a usb hub that
basically converts this puppy into a desktop.
I use an external keyboard and mouse to save wear and tear
on the laptop when I am at home, especially since I do so much keyboarding on
the computer. It is much cheaper to replace an external mouse and
keyboard than it is to replace them on a laptop. This enables me to have an energy-efficient
machine with a built-in battery backup portable enough to move through the home
easily when I want to watch a movie in my bedroom or take it with me when I
travel to visit or work .
My daughter has my old laptop that she uses to watch shows
and play games. I already had the laptop when I upgraded to this new one
so I just gave it (my old one) to her.
To save on heating expense I keep the thermostat to the
furnace turned down or off on warmer days and use a kerosene heater near me in
the kitchen to provide heat without having to heat the whole house to a higher
temperature. This kerosene heater has belonged to my mother when she died
almost 20 years ago and is still going strong. It also serves as backup
heat in power outages. We also wear sweatshirts and sweaters as well.
I have a printer/scanner/copier but it stays unplugged and
disconnected when not in use to save energy. The occasional short fax is
sent using Faxzero which is
free for up to 2 faxes a day of up to 2 pages in length. You can send
longer faxes more often (or avoid the ad on the cover page) by giving them
$1.99 via Paypal but I don’t
mind the advertisements for what faxes I send.
I also have the capability to send and receive faxes
through my MagicJack but I generally tell everyone to just email me things to
avoid hooking the modem to the phone and waiting! I have yet to locate a
free fax receiving service online that does not force you to install some type
I have a desktop computer that I use as a movie converter,
file server and backup, but I try to keep it turned off unless I need
something. I keep my commonly used music, photos, books, etc. copied on
an external drive for quick access without having to fire up the desktop, with
stuff I use daily copied onto the laptop.
I convert movies to Xvid format and place the discs in
storage to save wear and tear on them. That way when we want to watch a
movie we just click on a file instead of digging out a disc. We also
watch television shows and movies online.
One thing I have not clamped down on is laundry. I wear things more than once if they are not dirty, but if it is dirty I don’t hesitate to toss it in the wash. Laundry detergent is homemade. For a couple of dollars I can make 10 gallons of liquid laundry detergent that lasts us a really long time. Compare that to what you pay in the store.
I have discovered that ammonia works better than bleach for whitening clothes, so I use that instead of bleach these days. It costs less than bleach so that saves as well. It is also safer on clothes and towels so they last longer. I even put a half cup in with my colored clothes. It really seems to help with dinginess on older garments, so I consider that my color-safe bleach these days!
I use cold water to wash almost all of my clothes and
always try to have a full load to wash. I make sure the clothes have room
to agitate in the water which seems to help them get cleaner. I hang them
out on the line on pretty days but if the weather is cold, rainy or overcast I
just use the dryer.
Dishes are washed by hand in 2 dishpans. One has hot
soapy water to wash and the other is even hotter water to rinse and
sanitize. I air dry all dishes for convenience and sanitation reasons. Using
this method I may use three to four gallons of water at most compared to
whatever a dishwasher would use, plus I don’t have a dishwasher to purchase,
care for, maintain, repair and otherwise be in my way besides suck up all of
I am still a sucker for a hot soak in the tub, but I try
to limit that to once or twice a week to conserve water. The rest of the
time I either shower or take old-fashioned sponge baths.
If I have missed some aspect of my life you are curious
about, please comment and I will address it in another post. I am not
interested in saving money just to be saving it. I do want to make a
statement that we don’t have to use as much or spend as much to live
comfortably as big businesses would have us believe, but I also don’t want to
cramp my lifestyle just to save a couple of dollars.
For instance we don’t use bottled water, but I do keep a
pitcher filter for drinking water because we prefer the taste, despite the fact
that municipal water is safe to drink. I am a sucker for soft drinks so I
drink about a 2-liter a week, but I am working on cutting that down.
If we are out and want a bite to eat occasionally, we get
that bite to eat. Living simpler has enabled us to have more
discretionary income so that we can do that without worry.
I enjoy finding new, less expensive ways to do things so
it is a bit of a game—and the less I spend, the more I can either save or the
less I have to work to pay the bills. Both are good.
Have a nice day!