Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Fifty ways to leave your debt.

We were discussing real-life money-saving tips on one of my lists. Here was my submission. OK, we're still in debt, but at least we're not adding to it.

We have been living on less lately, so here are some of the things we have been doing. Some of these we're doing to try to be more green at the same time.
  1. Breastfeed Dori
  2. Use cloth diapers (make own or barter for them)
  3. Price shop on phone plans
  4. Cut own hair
  5. Make own bread (anybody know how to make hamburger buns?)
  6. Bring milk from parents' dairy farm when we can (yay!)
  7. Use up what's in the pantry even if it's an odd combination of foods, call the resulting meal something fun so it sounds like I did it on purpose (surprise casserole!)
  8. Cheaper sources of protein: eggs, beans
  9. Cloth napkins
  10. Rags instead of paper towels
  11. Cloth wipes with plain water
  12. Simple soaps — no more fancy body washes for me, etc.
  13. Consolidate trips, travel much less
  14. Use the library, but keep good eye on due dates so fines don't add up
  15. Use BookMooch to feed my reading habit
  16. Don't see movies on the big screen, play board games instead
  17. Curb urge to get out of the house and drive somewhere for entertainment by riding bikes in neighborhood or walking
  18. Use up odd cuts of meat in the freezer, try new recipes
  19. Obvious for this group, but I have never paid a single penny for babysitting; turn down invitations that would cost us a lot of money or force separation from the kids (use grandmas, aunts and very close friends for child care only occasionally)
  20. Be proactive in setting up social things that could otherwise be costly (I knew an old friend was about to ask me to meet her somewhere for lunch at a restaurant, so I offered the idea of playing at the park with the kids instead)
  21. Ask for and give away things on Freecycle
  22. Not eat out at all, but have more picnics (even if just in yard) to add variety
  23. Take up any offers of stuff from people's gardens, look for a recipe online if I don't know what to do with it
  24. Use Internet (the one thing we haven't cut out as I rely on it pretty heavily) to help us learn how to fix things ourselves more (current problem is broken lawnmower)
  25. Speak up when anything kids are involved in want to do fund-raisers and say I'm glad to help in many ways, but I don't condone selling or buying junk
  26. Not set foot in a mall, throw away sale ads from newspaper so I'm not tempted to buy anything I don't need
  27. I don't even stop at garage sales anymore since there would always be one 25-cent item I just had to have and it added up
  28. Turn down heat
  29. Take quicker showers (were given a 5-minute shower timer, I don't make it quite that short, but it keeps me hopping)
  30. Use cold water for clothes washing
  31. Wash clothes only when dirty rather than after every wearing out of habit
  32. Hang clothes on line to dry, or in basement when raining
  33. Not feel obligated to give expensive gifts for weddings, etc., justto keep up with the Joneses or just because they gave us an expensive wedding gift 12 years ago
  34. Make almost all our own gifts
  35. Sell stuff on eBay that we've been holding onto for who knows why
  36. Take stuff to other people's garage sales when invited (esp. if someone else has already advertised it!)
  37. Realize that stocking up on an item just because it's on sale doesn't make financial sense if it would have to go on credit with interest to have it now!
  38. Make smaller meals (Bob's not very good about eating leftovers, so I'd rather make less or usually freeze it before it hits the table)
  39. Make my own cloth mama pads (easy to do — I'll share directions if you want, even a folded up washcloth works!)
  40. Keep grandmas informed of children's clothes sizes and needs (otherwise they'll just keep buying more dresses they don't need)
  41. Be happy with the fact that our house is not decorated and if I want a new curtain or something make it out of fabric I have
  42. Cut up other items to sew new things (a single wool sweater became legwarmers, mittens, breast pads and cloth diaper cover)
  43. Admit freely that I'm broke, swallow pride so I don't end up going in on things I can't afford
  44. Addy is interested in every kind of class, lesson, club or sport she ever hears of, so we choose the ones that fit into our family's goals the best and don't cost too much (soccer and tee ball instead of more costly gymnastics and dance), 4-H, etc.
  45. Train my children to understand marketers and their goals. (It works.)
  46. Homeschool. While I end up paying for public education with my taxes and spending money on curriculum materials for my kids, I still think that having my children at home helps them focus on what's important and not what's not (video anything, designer anything, the newest and coolest anything).
  47. Try to seek out bartering opportunities (haven't done it yet and if anyone has any ideas I'd love to hear them): I wish I knew people who needed my sewing skills or some maple syrup in exchange for haircuts and piano lessons, for example.
  48. Call our Realtor every week hoping our house sells!
  49. Sell maple syrup from the family sugarbush!
  50. Decide that we're not going to put anything on credit

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