What does a Garden Gnome do when she is not gardening, in the kitchen or doing genealogy? Well the answer might just surprise you so read the entries to find out more. This blog focuses on everything we do to make our house a home. There will be a strong emphasis on home energy efficiency and do-it-yourself (DIY) projects. At the same time there will also be crafts, knitting and crocheting projects along with any other little tips we do to create that down to earth, I want to be here home. Please enjoy your visit :)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Cutting Household Expenses

Yesterday I discussed how working outside the home ends up being a myth for many Moms.  The reason being is and especially true if working for minimum wage your net earnings after all expenses for the week will come in at about $40 if you are very lucky.  The fact is many Canadians are living above their means, struggling to keep all their toys while falling into the myth that a second income is the answer.  They could not be more incorrect!  The reality is a second job may not be cost effective.  The first in household finances should always be finding ways to not spend money.  How do you do that?

First off before giving you a few tips to help you save money lets consider one small expense.  A cup of coffee costs $1.25 or $6.25 per week or $325.00 per year.  Now the $1.25 doesn't sound like much until you put it into the big picture of the annual costs.  On the other hand adding a $5 movie option to your television subscription would cost $60 per year but is considerably less expensive than two movie nights out per year for two people.    That is what you should be doing for each and every expenditure.

There are a lot of ways to save on household expenses.  Here are a few tips to get you going but there are so many more things you can do to effectively save money:

  • cook from scratch - It goes without saying that in most cases cooking from scratch is one of the most cost effective things you can do.  Here a McDonald's happy meal goes for $5 for one person yet with a bit of careful planning a meal for four will come in at about $4 if not less.  Make your own convenience foods for the freezer or pantry shelves.  At best a cake mix will cost 99¢ on sale but can be made at home for under 20¢ so make up several for the pantry for days you don't feel like doing all the measuring.  Similar savings can be had by making your own seasoning blends, meat coatings and
  • grow what you can - This is one of the mantras of frugal living.  Some complain about growing their own but right now food costs are soaring which means soon there isn't going to be a choice.  Grow whatever garden you can then add rabbits and if possible backyard chickens.
  • eliminate fast food - By far one of the worst values for your dollars is fast food.  Currently Taco Bell has a lawsuit filed against them because even the USDA doesn't consider their meat product (36% beef) as beef.  McDonlald's burger buns are about as far away from a bread product as you can get according to some sources.  Fast foods are laden with salt, sugars, fats and preservatives so while that $5 meal may look somewhat tempting it is nutritional junk food. 
  • buy in bulk - We have bulk food stores here but there are other ways of buying in bulk as well.  The rule is only buy in bulk those foods you know you will use EXCEPT herbs/spice/seasonings then buy at the bulk food store but only the amount you need.
  • wear a sweater and turn down the indoor temperature 3ºC - Today is National Wear a Sweater Day in Canada.  The simple action of consistently reducing indoor heating temperatures by at least 2ºC will make a noticeable difference on your heating costs.  Many in Canada despite the cold winter temperatures fail to dress appropriately indoors.  Years ago when I was young, under shirts and long johns were a must in the Canadian winters but folks seem to have forgotten that as they sit dressed in summer garb watching television while turing the thermostat up instead of down.
  • use your affiliations - Alumni associations, memberships and unions can save you a great deal of money and yet in many cases they are overlooked.  We switched our vehicle insurance to one under my alumni association that saved us $1200 per year!  Other memberships can save on the cost of entertainment like theme parks.
  • reduce traveling - Here in Ontario the price of gas continues to soar meaning for those of us living in rural areas, the cost of living continues to rise.  The solution to this is to do less driving.  If one works out of the home and the other is at home have the one working outside of the home do whatever shopping is necessary on the way home rather than make a special trip.  If a special shopping trip is planned then make multiple stops to cover as many things as you need to do while out.
  • telecommunications - In Ontario, telecommunications are horribly priced!  Between telephone, cell phone, television and internet we come in close to $400 per month.  Than's to Dalton McGuinty's HST all of these services raised by 8% last July just in taxes alone.  We have pared down where we could even stripping our phone service down to only caller ID and an inexpensive long distance plan ($30 per month savings).  This still costs us $70 per month so we may do like the kids and eliminate the land line entirely.  So far two of our kids have done this and really like it.  We are on the cheapest satellite internet service possible with the only other available choice of dial-up which with a second phone line works out to be more expensive.  If we ever sell our house we can cut the internet cost by $25 per month so that will be a nice savings for real high speed.  We moved my cell phone to the cheapest plan possible ($25 per month savings) and tightened up my husband's plan saving about $10 per month.  If going to a bare bones budget though, all telecommunications other than a basic phone line can be eliminated.  In a pinch you can use one phone line and dial-up service for online work.  It would be slow and when online the phone line would be busy but it is about the cheapest way to go. 

Garden Gnome