Friday, September 26, 2014

Immediate ways to save money

  1. Reuse the aluminum foil. Wash and dry flat.
  2. Save the milk jug for other uses. 
  3. Take extra napkins from fast food restaurants to use at home (But not for company. They get the good stuff).
  4. Use smaller amounts of paper towels. Try 1 first, then get another.
  5. Make your own liquid soap or laundry detergent. Recipe are online or write me for free recipes. 
  6. Walk don't drive whenever possible.
  7. Free live music is the cheapest way to great entertainment. Check out a local pub for bands and events!
  8. Unplug everything. Put it all on power strips and pull one plug for all.
  9. Open windows at night, and turn off AC. 
  10. Don't keep pets. Use that $$ for vacation or pay off debt.
  11. Invite friends over for low budget entertainment. Let them bring their favorites! More to share.
  12. Cook in the crock pot. It's a no brainer.
  13. If it's yellow (#1) let it mellow, if it's brown(#2) flush it down saving water.
  14. Fill your car only when it's near empty to get the full value of your MPG gas consumption.
  15. Keep your car clean to use less gas.
  16. Camp instead of hotel stays.
  17. Don't eat out.
  18. Drink water at bars, drink alcohol at home.
  19. Don't buy bread. Make bread in a bread machine.
  20. Buy in bulk.
  21. Decant your bulk dry goods and mark with dates of purchase.
  22. Dye your own hair, but pay for hair cuts. You'll look like crap if you cut it yourself.
  23. Buy staple clothing. Solid colors bring out your jewelry!  Jeans, button down shirts, blazers, 1 set of pearls, and 1 set of silver or gold jewelry. Classic! Mix n match.
  24. Hand wash delicates right after you wear them, and line dry.
  25. Line dry most all clothing outside or on hanger in laundry room and hang on racks. Clothes last longer. 
  26. Only run the washer when you have a full load.
  27. Freeze uneaten food for another meal or make soup from it.
  28. Plan your menus and only but the ingredients you need.
  29. Try the $6 wine in the liquor store. 
  30. Have a side job just in case you loose the main one.
  31. Save 10% of your earnings before you pay bills.
  32. If you use credit, pay it off in large chunks.
  33. Reuse as much as you can before tossing in the trash.
  34. Make homemade gifts that are meaningful not just fashionable. 
  35. Grow and cut your own flowers.
  36. Grow a veggie patch. Try container gardening.
  37. Take all metals that you would have thrown out to a recycling center. You may get $$.
  38. Paint your own nails.
  39. Use baby oil for skin moisture after shower, and makeup removal. Forget expensive creams.
  40. Finally!  Visit with family for vacation and get closer to those who are so important to us all. Meaningful relationships are worth so much more than money, or things. If you don't have special people you can visit, volunteer. They'll appreciate you.       (C) suztheadvicelady  Suzanne Richards, 2014 all rights reserved. :)

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Self Sufficient

Hello Friends,

I am happy to report my garden is doing well.  I can see changes in the rate of growth. The tomatoes are done, the peppers are there but small, and the sunflowers are almost ready to harvest.  With the cooler weather the plants naturally wain. I have just begun my self sufficient trek so I will allow it all to go for the winter.  Most homesteaders plant a fall and winter garden with row covers and cold frames. I did a cold frame one winter that was mild using old windows from the house. (I love to re purpose things.) However, this year will be different. More thought is going to my my planning, soil, and plants. My research is ongoing so I will take some time and replant next spring.  I freeze most of my foods that I have grown. Its easy for me and I need the freezer full so it runs less thereby saving energy. I have a smaller refrigerator now. Before I had two large refrigerators with freezer attached. Now I'm down to a side by side fridge in the kitchen and full size freezer in the basement. I have a food dehydrator and have used is for tomatoes. They taste like sun-dried tomatoes. I will use it again for beef jerky and dried apples for snacking. Canning is a problem at the moment because my electric stove has a glass cook top and the weight of the canner with all the water will be too much for it to hold. So canning will wait till I have a single burner to rest it on.

I have been enjoying my time here at the house, researching sewing, growing/preserving food and caring for the property. I have a lot to be proud of.  My research in homesteading is paying off by being more prepared to handle whatever the future brings with little waste of money and resources. Getting away from big agriculture, learning the process of raising crops and preserve what I have grown is the best way for me to care for myself and my family.  Its sad to see how animals are treated in food processing plants. and the way vegetables are altered giving us little nutrients for what we consume and the high cost of all of them. I wanted to create a more satisfying way of living and am getting there day by day. So I invest my time and efforts in to being self sufficient. Also, we all are used to a disposable lifestyle, I am too. But for me... I had the desire to learn to use less disposable materials keeping most things in glass containers, using cloth napkins and dish towels instead of paper. I reuse plastic storage bags as many times as I can by washing them out. The exception to this is the bags that held meats. They are tossed after each use.  It's these little things that help the environment and our wallets. It takes some getting used to but is easy once you have the mind set of conservation. We recycle almost all of our plastics, paper and metals. What cannot be picked up by the town will be taken to either the metal recycling plant once a year or repurposed if possible. My good friend Ingrid Justic has helped me see how convenient all these things listed in my blog are to do. It just takes awareness and the willingness to try. She has truly helped me to learn how to go natural with everything. I knew of all this before I met Ingrid, but I never used the knowledge in my everyday living. I thank her here and I will thank her in person the next time I see her.

To continue my path to self sufficiency I will be buying solar panels and learning to use them as soon as finances allow. They are much cheaper now and easier to use than ever before.  I long for a wood stove but fitting it in my house is a problem. Its just too tiny to fit one. The money you save heating with wood is so great your wallet will be closed almost permanently. Wood is hard to cut without a log splitter, but for around $1800 you can get a good gas powered one and split 10 cords over a summer with little effort. Wood is $200 per cord pre-cut, but if you team up with a tree trimming company your can get it for free. Make sure you have a place to cut and store the wood and you are set. Our house is secure for winter heating though. We have saved up and added a large electric hot water heater (Thanks to our good friend Orlando and My husband Tom)  to off set the oil bill which can be upwards of $800 per fill 3-4 times per year. Also on hand is the kerosene heater for power outages, and to supplement heat where ever we need it.  I will never give up my hair dryer or my dishwasher or my washer and dryer for the laundry. So if your are thinking I will live like an Amish person your are completely out of your mind.  However, going "off the grid" never really meant that lifestyle anyway.  Self sufficient means you can live without those things and can care for your self without needing everything prepackaged, and delivered to your door. Breaking free from the high bills of the energy companies, using solar power, keeping more of what you earn, and for the love, the joy and pride of doing it yourself.  That is where its at for most homesteaders.  I am getting there. I enjoy the work.  Do what you can to save the earth for your children.  We all have a responsibility to our future.

Blessing to you all.


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Fabulous fabric

Hello Friends,

I'm sharing a decorating tip with you today that I just LOVE!

I use draperies to separate spaces in my small home.  Draperies are space saving, inexpensive, can be changed with the seasons, and easy to use anywhere. I have seen curtained off areas in lots of homes. Like a door a drape can keep a room quiet by muffling sound and giving privacy. Especially if they are lined drapes. I love the warmth fabric brings to a room too. The color and texture makes a room feel cozy or luxurious depending on your fabric choice.  Here are some ways I have used fabric or drapes in my home.

Use them to replace doors under cabinets for a cute homey feel. Use them to replace doors in between rooms and you will save space that a door would have taken while open. Replace a closet door with a drape to save floor space in a small bedroom. Divide open floor plans by adding bookcases and drapes to create a separate room feel that is completely modular. Place a curtain rod between two sturdy book cases, add two panels, and viola! a doorway to a new area. Tension rods allow you to hang the fabric without making wholes in the wall or trim. For heavy weight  drapery use a shower tension rod. For light weight curtains, use a thin tension rod.  Decide the length of the fabric you will need for the area, then consider your existing furniture and decor before buying.  I like to use drapery rings with a clip on them so I can use any fabric I love.
I hope this brings you new ideas about decorating you home in inexpensive ways. Fall is near and you can have a lot of fun decorating with fabric if you think outside the box.

For more information or if you have questions, tweet me  @SuzTheAdviceLady

Happy decorating!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

House Proud

Hello Friends,

Happy Autumn!

With fall approaching and children returning to school, it's time to think about a deep cleaning in our homes. I do a deep cleaning in my home twice a year fall and spring. Clean out from underneath beds, dressers, sofa's and large appliances. Start by dusting down furniture with a rag and furniture polish instead of a feather duster.  Take down curtains and dry clean or wash them. Then follow up with vacuuming and washing floors.  I clean in and under everything that I have not touched previously. Hit the refrigerator with a blast of Lysol disinfectant cleaner and ditch the leftover condiments sitting longer than 6 months.  Pay very close attention to all the details. For instance, the kitchen cabinets. You can't see it but it's there, a very slight film of grease that you get from cooking.  Use a mixture of water and ammonia to get the grease off the cabinets, then wipe dry.  Clean inside drawers and cabinets, and add new drawer liners. This can be done once per year if you choose. Wipe down ceiling fans and wash glass globes as well as the blades.  Have carpeted areas steam cleaned by a professional too. It takes away all the allergens that have made home in our rugs. This will also keep our wall to wall carpets looking their best over time. Keeping our homes clean and free of debris is one way we show the love we have for our families and ourselves. Take care of your biggest asset and it will take care of you.

 Try these tips for cleaning other areas in your home:

- Salt and lemon juice gets stuck on stuff off pot bottoms. The acid in the lemon mixed with the salt can give them a new glow. ***Never use this on non-stick pots.

- Use a steam mop to kill germs on hard wood floors. I usually mop my hardwood floors with boiling hot black tea. But in a rush I will go for the steam mop which does the same job with quicker drying time.

- Dont forget closets. Reorganize linen and clothes closets to make every item is easy to find. Then place natural cedar planks in them to keep fabric loving bugs out. In addition to adding cedar planks, I made lavender sachet's and hung them on every third hanger to help keep my closet smelling fresh. Men would prefer tea tree scent or clove over lavender. Clove sachet's can easily be made with whole cloves from the spice rack. *Tip:  I place my top, fitted and one pillow case of sheet set inside one of the matching pillow cases to keep the set together and easy to find in my closet. Each sheet set is then neatly stacked in my closet. :)

- Use a stiff brush to remove dust from lamp shades, and free standing fans. Then place them out on the sun for an hour to kill any dust mites before replacing them on lamps. Same goes for silk flowers.

-  A big must.... vacuum then hang large area rugs outside in the sun for one hour. They will smell better and dust mites are irradiated. Wash smaller area rugs then hang to dry instead of simply shaking the out.   :)  There is nothing better than sunlight and a little time to freshen up items that can't be washed.

Finally, make it a habit to deep clean at least two times per year. Put it on your calendar and stick to it. More frequent deep cleaning is best, but with work and family requiring most of our time twice per year is good enough.  I love doing this in chunks so that it does not so overwhelming. Choose a chunk of time to do a few things and finish them before moving on to the next. You will be happy with the outcome. If you hire a professional to do your cleaning, make certain they use good products and follow your instruction precisely. Cutting corners is not ok. Inspect everything before paying the bill.

One final word before I say goodbye, don't forget the exterior of your home. You can buy siding wash from home improvement stores or hire a professional  to do your windows and siding all at once.

Love and hugs,

Friday, August 8, 2014

Clearing out the closet and finding $$$

Hello Friends,

I am still going through all my stuff in the house and organizing everything.  I want to be certain of what I have on hand so I don't repurchase items I already own but didn't know.  This is the most frugal way to save space, money and time. Keeping organized will also keep your mind at ease because things are neat and orderly, you aren't visually bombarded by stuff. This will help you feel more comfortable in your surroundings. Having to clean out old stuff from my house made me think about what I was going to do with what I found and so I decided to return items that I bought but never used to put the cash back in my pocket.  Returning past purchases is the best motivation I can conjure up to even start cleaning out the garage. 

Think about the items that you bought in the past year that are still sitting in their original box, still have the tags on or at least appear resell-able. You most likely aren't going to use it if you haven't already. Don't hang on to it for that "someday when I get around to it."  Bring it back to the store where you bought it even if you can't find the receipt. Most stores will give you cash back with a receipt, but if you don't have one then you can at least get a store credit. Some stores, like Wal-Mart, and Home Depot have easy return policies that allow you to return items that cost  $25 or less without a receipt for actual cash. The Home Depot will give you cash for up to $50 if they sell it and if it is not opened.  Or, they can look up your original receipt by swiping your credit card then scanning the item. Money is money so store credit or refund, it's all good! At stricter or smaller stores, the best you can hope for is store credit. But that's ok too if you shop there or can use it right away.  Plan your returns time so you are not waiting on long lines. The best time to go is in the morning any day of the week. Also, plan it around other errands so you are not waiting gas just going to one place.

Well, I'm off to the store. Yes I am returning my findings from the garage. Not sure if it can all go back to the store, but it doesn't hurt to politely ask.



Thursday, August 7, 2014

Entitled to a

Hello Friends:

I have had a circumstance happen to make me think about what I am entitled to. When I review what I and other people are truly entitled to I examine and comment from the current value system here in Monmouth County NJ (that is not to say that all New Jerseians are this way either). I would speak of all of America but since I am not fully informed of the opinions all Americans then I will only comment on what I live with here in my local area.

The definition of Human Rights by Amnesty Intl. is:

Human Rights Basics

Human rights are basic rights and freedoms that all people are entitled to regardless of nationality, sex, national or ethnic origin, race, religion, language, or other status.
Human rights include civil and political rights, such as the right to life, liberty and freedom of expression; and social, cultural and economic rights including the right to participate in culture, the right to food, and the right to work and receive an education.  Human rights are protected and upheld by international and national laws and treaties.

Nowhere in this statement do I see the right to the following:  FREE FOOD, FREE ROOM AND BOARD, FREE CELL PHONE, FREE MEDICAL COVERAGE, THE RIGHT TO A GOOD OR HIGH PAYING JOB, OR THE RIGHT TO OTHER PEOPLES MONEY OR PROPERTY BECAUSE "ITS NOT FAIR THEY MAKE MORE THAN ME/US".  I wrote this in capital letters because it needs to be said boldly.  I am not shouting as some would have you believe. However, it could be shouted in an attempt to get other's to listen.  We are all individuals who can create our own future. Yes; we all have ups and downs in life, we all disagree with others at times and we all want a great life. You cannot have good without bad.  No one is responsible for giving you anything. You are responsible for getting the things you want for yourself. 

I have seen and heard people close to me (they have no clue who they are btw) complain about how they  "should" get, have, or otherwise be given what they want instead of earning it for themselves. This is a newer concept. I "SHOULD HAVE" is something that slowly became popular in the last 25 to 30 years or so. I so dislike the word should, I tell people "Don't should on yourself."  I have removed the word should from my life because I too was measuring with that word.  "I should be, or should do, or should buy, or should own or should _________ (fill in the blank).  This is nothing more than your expectation. No a RIGHT. I do or don't. I will or won't. I have or have not. But I should nothing...

I remember when I was growing up our parents hold us to get a job and move out. Some parents let you live at home till you got married, or got a good paying job, or graduated college.  Most made you pay rent if you were not going to school full-time or if you were needing some motivation. And College was for you to pay off by yourself, not your parents job. We had to earn or own way. Never did we just stay home playing games, buying random stuff and being lazy. Not after high school.  If we did that, we got physically thrown out. "Shame on you" they'd say.  I agree it was harsh, but if that happened to you, you got up, went to work and got a life. For most of us we would not be lazy because we wanted to get what our parents had. There wasn't one parent who was going to just give it to us either. They gave you a start. They taught you how to act in public so you could be accepted by others (manners). They told you to read and get educated in some way. They told you to save your money for the future. You were told you can do whatever you want but you have to get it for yourself.   So we went to look for a job, or apply to college, or asked a friend or family member for a job. We worked to be productive, to have possessions, and to be proud of who we are. 

Shame on you if you expect your family or community to give you anything. I'm just saying.

God Bless America
Peace to all

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Spending time

Dear Friends,

This past month my sisters were in from out of state. We were gathering to place our mothers remains in her final resting place. We created our own ceremony, ( thanks to my middle sister) hired a singer to sing hymns, bought some flowers, and placed our mother next to her husband in their plot here in NJ. It was an exceptional time. We rarely see each other because of the distance between our homes so this gave us reason to gather. I am pleased that it wasn't an expensive visit either. All in all we spent very little money celebrating birthday's, and celebrating life. What I noticed was that we enjoyed our time together more by cooking together at home, watching movies, playing games and talking. We ate one meal out and bought pizza another day. The rest of the time we went sight seeing, and chatted about old times. The food was spectacular and the time, precious. My sister and her family were able to stay at a family members summer condo, saving them $250 per night at a hotel and from squishing themselves into our tiny home. Her children went sight seeing with my children and really got to spend quality time together. Our eldest sister lives in PA so she was just here for the day, but we will see her at the family reunion. :))

Next we travel to see other family members whom we haven't seen in many years. We are staying at my aunt's house because it's so difficult to get a good hotel room that allows pets. Lucky for us to have generous family members. Everyone is contributing something to this reunion in order to share in the joy of giving and spending time with loved ones. My eldest cousin will pay his guitar along with my husband the bass player, I'm sending bouquets of flowers to decorate the tables with, my eldest sister and other members are bringing food. My other cousin is opening up her home for the reunion to take place at, and my aunt and uncle are providing sleeping quarters for as many people as possible. Together we can make it a great gathering without spending ridiculous amounts of money and still spend all our time together. The money we do spend will be spent with great joy in creating this time together.

All we need is each other. Reach out to family and pose the question "can we visit?" Put differences aside, respect opinions as just that, opinions. Create a good gathering, choose love and maintain closeness with family. Our lives are rich. We already have everything we need, but sometimes we just don't see it.