Thursday, July 05, 2012

Better Days

I think this post will wrap up the subject of Shelter because there is not a lot more to say about the building of my house, but I am going to go over my strategies for maintenance and utilities, because that is a big part of it too.  Of course, most of ya'll know I, with a great deal of Allen's help, built practically all of this house.  Besides collecting reclaimed material that was probably the next biggest factor in my saving so much money on this house.  I did everything I could possibly do myself and still continue to.  Now, once again, I know I have a bit of advantage but even if you pay someone to black in your house and do the finish work yourself, or just do the trim or whatever, it all helps.
I have also stated before that if you are doing any kind of house work, remodeling etc. and need to buy material please do NOT assume the big box stores are the cheapest.  I can't tell you how many times I have beaten their prices by going directly to a supply house.  You know, if you have a big plumbing project or whatever, go to a supply house.  They may be the same on say, pipe, but the big boxes will rip you a new one on the fittings and such.  Just check around.

In the area of maintenance, I save a great deal of money by making my own cleaning supplies.  All of these "convenience" supplies, like pre-packaged dusting clothes, are a bunch of crap that waste money.  I keep about 2 boxes each of baking soda and borax, a couple gallons of white vinegar and sometimes some natural pine cleaner.  I am also making a great lemon cleaner by infusing vinegar with discarded lemon peels.  Just strain and spray!  I also keep a bottle of rubbing alcohol, small bottle of ammonia, a few essential oils, some castile soap, salt etc.  Once you have these ingredients you can make practically any cleaner for pennies of what store bought cleaners cost.  And I know, everybody groans and whines, I don't have time to make my own stuff!!  I have a crappy old cast iron sink right now in the kitchen that stains very easy.  When it needs cleaning, I toss in a little borax, maybe a little squirt of soap and scrub with half a lemon or just the lemon peel!  Works great and you don't even have to mix it up beforehand.  Several years ago I bought a book by Casey Kellar called "The Complete Book of Natural Housekeeping".  This is a very complete book on cleaning almost anything with, you guessed it, natural substances that are cheap!  It takes me about 2 minutes to whip up a window cleaner, shower cleaner etc. and they work!  Some of your basic items, like borax, are not real cheap but you usually use them sparingly, so they last for a good while.  And yes, I get a lot of people whose eyes bug out when I say I don't buy cleaning stuff but I would dare say my house is cleaner and healthier than all those bleach drenched houses.   Oh, one other thing, and I know some of you are going to hate me for this but I'm going to say it anyway.  I let my cat stay in the house but she is very clean (she gets an occasional bath) and rarely has an accident on the floor etc.  Chigger stays outside.  It boggles my mind how many people these days let their animals, several of them even, stay inside like kids and let them piss and shit all over that house to the point that they have to get the steam cleaners in to clean the house and then complain that they are short of money.  I'll admit I have brought a chicken into my house on occasion for doctoring but nothing stays and I never have to pay for cleaning.  No flea bombing, no carpet cleaning or replacing!, very little allergy expense, no furniture replacement where Fido had a panic attack.  And that's all I'll say about that.

Another way that I save, and even make money sometimes, is in seasonal decluttering spells.  About twice a year I go through the house and gather stuff that I'm not using going by the year or 6-month rule.  If I haven't used it or worn it in 6 months or so it goes.  This is a great way to pick up a little cash actually but I have to admit, you need to be a little ruthless in your purging to make much money.  Most people however, have enough crap stored up in there house to afford to be a little ruthless. Now, there are some things, of course, that don't get tossed.  I mean, I have a few tools that rarely get used but when I need them, I need them; like that gawd awful motorized tamp.  I'm talking about crap I know I'll never really use and don't really want.  Anyway, I go through everything and it either goes in a yard sale pile or an Ebay or consignment pile.  At this point I have just about yard saled myself out of most of that stuff but in the past that was a great way to make a little cash.  Now days I have sorted out a number of items too good for a yard sale and am slowly selling them on Ebay.  I'm not getting rich but it does make for some extra cash.  Usually I just let the money collect in my PayPal account and then when I have a decent amount I pull it out for a bill or to buy something I do need.  Yes, I know PayPal does take a little and sometimes is a butt but you don't have to use them.  I have also scoped out a couple of consignment shops in town that I may take some stuff to that would be a pain to ship.  If you have a good eye for collectibles and such you can often go to yard sales or thrift stores to buy and then resale at a profit but the key is to actually resale the item and not let them collect. 

Utilities are another area where a little diligence can save you some money.  Now, since Jack has moved in with me he insists on paying the power bill and I have to say, he isn't quite as concerned with saving money in that area as I am.  If he can afford the bill he doesn't mind, regardless if it could have been less.  I'm not being mean, he just doesn't mind and as long as he pays it I really can't say much but I still try to cut back on usage.  So, for that reason we still hang clothes out to dry, as dryers use an enormous amount of power.  I bought all Energy Star appliances for the house.  I replaced many of the light bulbs with the new fluorescent type that severely cut usage but am still in a bit of a quandary over those because they use mercury.  We are about to install a solar water preheater.  I'm very excited about that and will show ya'll all the details when it happens.  Of course, my house is a passive solar which works so well.  I am working on installing room darkening blinds on the few, small, west windows I have.  You wouldn't believe how much this helps keep a room cool.  I installed one in the pantry and it works very well.  I had tried the window film but just was not impressed with that.
I do kinda splurge on internet service but have almost no home phone service and rely on my cell phone.  Lots of people don't even have land lines anymore.  I've told ya'll my cell phone philosophy several times too!  The cheaper the better!  I want to get a call and send a call, no camera, no texting, none of that crap!  But that is a very personal choice. We only have satellite TV because Jack likes that and pays for it, otherwise it wold be gone!  Of course, since I'm on my spring water I have no water bill or sewer or trash pick-up to pay for.  Since we recycle, reuse, compost or have reduced so, we produce very little trash, and the little bags we do make are taken out on roads trips and dumped in public dumpers.  And yes, we make sure they are for public use. 

So, I guess that covers the area of Shelter; maybe I didn't forget anything? 


Ed said...

A couple comments. First, I think big box stores ARE the cheapest... in quality. I can't believe how the quality has gone downhill in the last decade. When I get my move over with in a few weeks, I am going to start doing a lot of remodeling so I'm going to have to scope out good places to get things outside of the local big box store in that town.

After spending so much time these last couple weeks boxing up 'junk', I think I'm going to focus on decluttering my life a bit after the move. It is a bit too late to start now before the move though it would have been the optimum time.

I am going to start buying LED bulbs now to avoid the mercury issue. They are getting down cheap enough where they can easily pay for themselves in a few years over incandescent and over fluorescent though that takes a few more years longer. I think it is close enough to pay the premium to avoid the mercury. My current house is full of fluorescents that have been working faithfully now for almost five years and the new house has none. It seems like a good time to make the change.

Coffeefreek53 said...

Just wanted to say that I also make my own household cleaners and laundry soap. Much cheaper and doesn't take much time at all. They work well too. So do my grown daughters, who btw have kids, and they find the time, so it can be done.

Jenn said...

Chigger probably adopted you because she prefers to be outside. Win/win!

edifice rex said...

Hey Ed! ha! you are right about that type of cheap!!
Yeah, I've been looking into the LED lights also; may be the way to go.

Hey Coffee! Exactly! it doesn't take hardly any time to mix up a few things and they work great. thanks!

Hey Jenn! Possibly! she never has shown a lot of interest in coming in the house. Except that one time she got really scared of an owl or something. Poor thing, she didn't know what that noise was!

Sal said...

Love love love the current series of posts! We are nowhere near our goals of minimal "stuff" and minimal bills- we were closer before the economy toileted and stopped people from buying our timberframes but the lack of coin has sure helped us cut down on the "stuff" aspect. We are getting there and your posts are a little rejuvinating for us- thank you! Plus we're reading them while drinking cold tea from 2 of Annie's Originals- most beautiful mugs!

edifice rex said...

Hey Sal! Yay!! I'm glad ya'll are enjoying the posts and my mugs! I do hate to hear your business has dropped so however. Here's hoping it does pick back up.

Beatrice P. Boyd said...

WOW Annie, missed av few days of blog reading and sure had a lot to catch up on here. All of it was good. I agree/identify with you on soe many points you covered the past few days. My shoipping for anything other certain things (shoes, underwear) is done exclusively at thrift stores. Decluttering is wonderful for the house and spirit: give away what you can, toss stuff that useless to anyone, sell things on ebay for not a huge profit, but still nice to get "something." Cell phones for calling and getting calls (no texting, game playing, wi-fi). No satellite/cable TV service, but we do splurge on Sirius radio in our cars for road trips. No credit card spending for other than gas, travel, eating out when travelling, lodgings. Not buying anything at the store unless we're out of it or will be before the next shopping trip.