Tag Archives: saving

Find a Penny..

     You should have guessed by now that I’m the kind of person who picks up every penny I see on the ground. And from the last post, you should know that I accept any and all things people are getting rid of. If I can’t use it, I find someone who can or donate it to goodwill where the donation keeps on giving.

     The other day I’d found a dime on the floor while running to the office during my planning period. I held it up to the Janitor (a fellow frugalist) and he said, Big deal! I pick up all kinds of money all day long in these hallways.  Kids are notorious for not paying attention to what falls out of their pockets.

     I don’t know what he does with his change, but mine gets added to my own money and plowed back into my classroom. Last week, for instance, I bought the strategy-based computer game called “Age of Empires” for use in my classroom (more about that later….); and bought fortune cookies for our discussion of Confucianism and Ancient China.

     What got me thinking of “found coins” was this wonderful blog post by the nonconsumeradvocate. I’ve read it before and it makes me smile each time.

     Along these lines, I have a teacher friend with a large family. Because she is one of seven siblings herself, she knows the value of a dollar! As soon as her children were the age to play sports, I asked if she would like some athletic equipment and shoes my kids had grown out of. “Boy, would I!” came her enthusiastic response. That expanded to passing down clothing and it has had the unexpected benefit of my reliving many enjoyable memories with my own children when I see them wearing a certain dress (worn to a special occasion while carrying a blankie and sucking a thumb) or outfit (worn to a family trip to the mountains where we rode horses up and down nearly vertical terrain in the mud—yikes!)

     Since it’s my blog, I’m allowed to ramble and tell stories here. This same lady is also a teacher. Her own children complain that they have no TV. I should explain: they do not choose to pay for cable or satellite TV and we live in a rural, mountainous area with zero TV reception. As a result, her kids, who I teach, complain that their mother only allows them to watch math videos. I know she is previewing them for her classes and she is a great multitasker. It makes me smile to think of what’s going on. I should mention, however, that her kids are VERY well-read, artistic and are scarey-smart! Since she teaches MY children, I get to hear about these math videos twice.:)

     So, to review: look for pennies and free things—they add up and turn into things you never imagined.

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Filed under cheap, classroom, education, frugal living, Frugality, penny pinching, personal finance, saving, teacher, teaching

Fifteen Frugal Things I do

 

1.   I buy in bulk when I can and store things like dried beans in my pantry.  I put a bay leaf in the container to keep out the pantry moths.

 

2.   I freeze bags of beans, flour, cornmeal, cereal, etc. in the freezer before storing to kill any pantry moths that may be already in the packaging. I don’t mean to gross you out, but that is how you bring them into the house.

 

3.   If I find pantry moths in dried beans, I don’t throw them out. I freeze for a day, then put aside for planting in the garden. Yes, dried beans are just seeds that will grow plants.

 

4.   I try not to use paper towels very much. Clothes that are too worn for donation are cut in to rags and stored in those cloth containers that are sold for keeping plastic bags ( I made my own).  The buttons, snaps, elastic and zippers are removed and stored for future use.  I store the buttons in an blue antique canning jar and use it as a decoration.  No buying $5 buttons because you want to keep a shirt.

 

5.   We eat what is in season or what is growing in our garden.  For this reason, I am always adding perennial vegetables and fruits so that there is always something to eat here. By the time we retire, I want this to be our Garden of Eden.

 

6.   If potatoes aren’t currently growing in our garden and are very high cost in the stores (as they are now) we eat a lot of pasta and rice.  I google recipes that use the ingredients I have.

 

7.   I save all bacon grease and use this for seasoning cast iron.  With cooking oil so high, this has saved much money.  I’m even using it instead of oil or margarine to flavor dishes.  I believe the benefits of natural products like butter or grease are better than those for man-made products like margarine or partially hydrogenated oils. (but that’s a whole ‘nother essay!) No, I’m not overweight, don’t have diabetes or high cholesterol.

 

8.   Speaking of cast iron—I’m a big fan. All of mine has been found at yard sales and thrift stores. Usually it looks rusted, and I have cleaned them up and seasoned them and they work great. Once seasoned, you don’t have to use oil to keep things from sticking. I use my pans to make stir fry several times a week. I don’t allow any “nonstick” pans in my home after reading about EPA’s studies. Did you know that pet birds often die when these pans are used in the same room? That’s enough evidence for me that they are not worth their “non-stickiness”.

 

9.   Another reason I use cast iron is to add iron into our diets. It’s one of the best ways to do it. It’s free and a better way to get iron.

 

10.    Because we eat a very healthy diet that includes freshly picked fruits and vegetables, we don’t buy vitamins. Nutritionists will tell you that nature has made the vitamins in our food in the most appropriate way for us to absorb the nutrients. No pill is better than eating fruits and vegetables.

 

11.   Unless the skin is thick and unsightly, I don’t peel potatoes. Mostly we grow our own and these have thin skins so it’s not a problem. Why do I do this?  Because many of the nutrients of potatoes are found in the skins (see # 10 above.)

 

12.    When bananas get a little brown (or a lot brown!) I pop them in the freezer (whole) and defrost later to add to muffins and other dishes. Why throw away nutrients?

 

13.    We must haul our own garbage, so it makes you think twice (or three times) about your carbon footprint, as they say.  All paper products are recycled at home. Even the glossy colored paper is reused—that goes in the bottom of my refrigerator vegetable drawers topped with a paper towel. This makes it easy to clean up messy things that have leaked.

 

14.   I only buy plain yogurt and we flavor it as we use it with fruit, jam, or cinnamon and sugar. In this way, we eat a lot less preservatives and sugar. Store bought flavored yogurt is WAY too sweet.  Also, we are able to use the yogurt in place of sour cream—way healthier. Yogurt is important to the health of your gut.  You don’t need to buy the more expensive “probiotic” brands. Any yogurt with active culture will do. If antibiotics make your tummy feel badly, have some yogurt to restore the good bacteria that the antibiotics destroyed (while killing the bad bacteria.)

 

15.   Last but not least, we put our hot water heaters on a timer so that we are not heating it through the night. This has saved us a lot of money over the years. Hot water is approximately 40% of your electric bill, so it’s a significant savings! The water stays hot for an hour or so after it’s turned off. Ours turns off at 10p.m. and turns on at 6a.m.. We turn it totally off when we are away for more than a day.

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Filed under breakfast, cheap, cooking, frugal living, Frugality, gardening, personal finance, tightwad

How I Started My Intensively Planted, Organic, No-Till Garden on Hard Clay Soil With Weeds (or “Diary-of-Someone-Who- Saves-Tons-of-Money-by-Growing-Their-Own-Food”)

 

I started by laying cardboard down on top of the grass where I wanted my garden.  Then I threw all kinds of leaves, grass clippings etc. on top.  After a few months, I cut holes in the cardboard, dug a hole and planted a plant with some good compost (spread the poor soil over the compost on the cardboard). The first year I didn’t attempt planting seeds.

 

(NOTE: You don’t have to PURCHASE a tiller!)

  

Thereafter I just kept adding leaves, paper, and cardboard to keep the weeds out.  We don’t have trash pickup so all paper products, boxes, etc. go to the garden.  This is a great way to get rid of juWhy put compostables in the landfill? 

 

My compost pile is constantly moving. When I need space to plant, I shove it over. Or plant in it!  Cover with grass clippings if you don’t want to see carrot peelings and such.  If a weed comes through, I pull it and throw it on top of the compost/mulch.  If it has seed heads, it goes to our free-range chickens.

 

I use a deep composting method in my chicken coop (all free, I’ll mention that later) so I drop composted chicken manure near the base of the plants for extra fertilizer.

 

The first year I didn’t garden at all in the winter (I am able to garden nearly year round in our mild climate).  I simply lay cardboard down so it would be easy to plant (no weeds) in the spring. Then I pulled it aside to my paths.  I kept the boxes from blowing around by weighing them down with uncomposted cow manure or chicken manure (whatever you have on hand).  You don’t want to put uncomposted manure on plants, it will “burn” them.

 

This reminds me why I don’t like raised beds in boxes–it’s a pain to pull the weeds at the outside and inside edges of the boxes.  I can easily put newspaper to the edge of what is growing. Plus, I’m too cheap and lazy to build boxes. And too impatient:)

 

I started with rows, but have now made wide beds that the middle can be reached from each side easily.  When I plant spinach for instance, I fill the entire bed for a foot or so in the bed, then put something else next to it. You might say my rows look striped. I try to confuse the bugs.  It is far easier for them to traverse a straight row of something they love to eat.  They get confused if they have to jump over garlic, say to get to something they love.

 

I use all manner of boxes for my paths. Just stick your thumb on the seam of a cereal box and you will split it.  I put the colored side up on the paths–last longer.

 

I sprinkle egg shells around my tender seedlings to protect them from slugs and cutworms.  I dump my coffee grounds around the base of the plants once they are strong and this fertilizes them and keeps the weeds down at the base where it’s hard to pull weeds.

 

(NOTE: You don’t have to PURCHASE good fertilizer!)

 

 

The first year I started with easy things to grow: beans, squash, garlic.  At the beginning I was not strong enough to dig the holes–I had to rely on my DH!  Now the soil is very workable and almost black.

 

(NOTE: You don’t have to PURCHASE good soil!)

 

When planting, I look for a big weed that needs to be pulled.  I just plant in that hole. A twofer!  When you plant intensively, the good plants crowd out the bad weeds.  You don’t want ANY exposed soil.  So plant lettuce between your cabbages and broccoli in the spring.  Until cabbage and broccoli gets big (and it gets too hot for lettuce) your lettuce will be something to eat while keeping that space from getting weedy.  By the time it’s too hot for lettuce, the cabbage and broccoli leaves have filled in the space.

 

Announcement of soon-to-come-post: You don’t have to purchase seeds! Tune in next time…..

 

 

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