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Tuesday, April 5, 2022

Beating the Inflation 2022 Woes




 

Life is getting expensive. Inflation 2022 isn't just in our imagination. It sometimes feels like there's nothing we can do about it. We may not be able to drive down gas, or grocery, or heating fuel prices on our own. But there are thousands of little ways we can save by being thoughtful about our spending. Listing the little ways I'm working to save money is empowering. It really does help me feel like there is something I can do (and am doing) to fight the effects of inflation.

I washed plastic bags and hung them to dry on the clothes rack. I do this about 3 or 4 times per month. I toss bags with holes, that had meat in them, or that feel greasy. I also wash sheets of plastic wrap and hang those on the clothes drying rack. When the sheets of plastic wrap are dry, I hang them over the edge of the stand mixer's bowl. I baked a two-crust pie yesterday and used up the last of my remade and frozen pie pastry. So, I'll be using the cleaned plastic wrap to make more pie dough for the freezer later this week.

I hauled more of the compost that we had delivered by dump truck. I was curious about the price we paid in comparison to what I usually spend when I buy it by the bag. So I did a little math the other day. I normally try to spend about $4 to $5 for a 1-cubic foot bag of compost from Fred Meter. Because we ordered a large quantity of compost to be delivered, we got a good price per cubic yard, about $45. there are 27 cubic feet in 1 cubic yard. Our price per cubic foot, then, was about $1,66, less than half what I'd pay at Fred Meyer if buying by the bag. I should add, this wouldn't be economical at all if we didn't have need for so much compost. It just so happens that I had plans for a large quantity of compost for this year's gardening season. We top-dressed and reseeded our front lawn. We covered many planting areas with a layer of compost, I enriched all of the vegetable and berry beds with compost, we mulched the base of all of the fruit trees and the long hedges that surround both front and back lawns, and we developed a large, new spot for heat-loving veggies, working several inches of compost into the parched and depleted soil in this area. This will be my new pumpkin, corn, pole bean, and pepper patch.

I harvested the slightly tough turnip leaves from turnips that overwintered but never developed sizable roots to use. In early spring, late-summer planted turnips, kale, Swiss chard, and sometimes beets come back. The roots of turnips and beets are often not great, but the leaves of all of these provide nutritious greens for our meals. I pick the leaves even as the plants are beginning to bolt. Here's a turnip that will flower to set seeds soon. The leaves are still edible, although a bit tough. I slice them narrowly across the grain to cut through the fibers, then either sauté them in some oil with onion and garlic or add them to soups and stews. It's basically a free vegetable as a reward for my gardening laziness -- not cleaning out the beds until late spring.

We've begun using a pitcher for drinking water again. We drink tap water, here. Oftentimes, someone has just finished washing their hands or dishes in the kitchen sink, leaving the next water to come out of the faucet warm to hot. Instead of running the water for a minute to get some nice cold drinking water for each glass someone wants, we fill a large pitcher with cold water all at once and pour our glasses from that pitcher. We may only save about a gallon of water per week, but every savings counts toward a larger goal.

We've been using a yearly calendar that one of us received for free in the mail as a car trip planner. When one of us knows in advance of an errand needing to be run, they write it on the calendar. At the next family meal, we discuss our upcoming errands, which direction they'll take us, and how we can bundle errands so we aren't making the same or near-same trip two or more times in a week. Several of us take regular prescriptions. A few months back, we noticed that two different family members drove to the same pharmacy, two hours apart. They could have driven together and saved that extra car trip. Since then, we've tried to bundled our errands as much as possible. Oftentimes, more than one of us needs to go to the bank or library or grocery store. I do believe we're saving a lot on gas these days. I noticed we're not filling the tank near as often as we had previously.

and a bonus

I noticed that when I pour something that is measured, I have a tendency to put just a little bit back. I do this with laundry soap. I pour a capful, then pour back just a little bit into the jug. I also did this with chocolate chips the other day, I poured the amount called for into a measuring cup then I poured back just a little bit into the bag. Am I stingy? I don't know. But this is a habit I've had for a long, long time. I think doing this over and over does add up to savings. Do you do this, too?

16 comments:

  1. Good job thinking of ways to economize on daily items.

    Rethinking old habits has been my focus these days to improve our quality of life as well as to not be wasteful. I've been saying to my husband that we need to learn new habits now because as we enter our 70s it will be harder. I keep a journal (made from junk mail paper) to write down the changes we'd like to make. This helps to remind me now and in the future, as I get more forgetful (which is already starting).

    As for saving money, we try very hard not to buy the first easy solution, but to think of how to meet our needs another way. Our treadmill motor started overheating, we are attempting to fix it ourselves buying the parts. I needed a temporary shade on a particular window, and made it with white tall kitchen bags, ruffling it to appear like a curtain. I'm not picky, so some of my solutions are probably not what most would choose to do.

    I handwash our dishes, and keep a bowl under the faucet to catch the rinse water. I keep this water to rinse off dirty dishes from the next meal before soaping or to run the disposal. This is how I would conserve water while camping so I thought why not do this at home too.

    I am an organized junk collector, and don't throw anything away that has some intrinsic value. We go through it before buying the appropriate material. Lots of substitutions and experimentations. But I enjoy problem solving, so it's fun and not a problem.

    There's probably more. Like you, Lili, we'll spend where we have to, but not where there would be no advantage. Most times, it is just rethinking our options.

    Have a nice Wednesday!
    Laura

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    Replies
    1. Hi Laura,
      your journal to write down changes you're wanting to make reminds me of my gardening journal. I've never worked this hard at tracking everything I do with the garden in most part, because I know I won't be able to remember when I planted or started or transplanted every type of plant. I think keeping a written journal is a really good idea. It not only gives us something to refer to, but the act of writing it down helps to carve that thought in our minds, too.

      Best of luck fixing your treadmill. We try the fix it ourselves route first on many items. The parts are often quite cheap, so if we can't do it, we're not out a lot of money. My husband has repaired our 27 year old electric clothes dryer several times, just getting the part through an appliance shop or now online. I wouldn't say my husband is particularly skillful at mechanical repairs, either. But he finds good instruction, either from the appliance store where they have a repair team or now on YouTube. I was helping my (much more tech savvy) daughter with something on her computer yesterday. She apologized for taking my time. I replied that I was grateful for the opportunity to problem-solve the situation as it helps keep my brain active. So, you're repairing your treadmill and coming up with solutions for your window blind are probably also benefitting your minds. Just my two cents.

      Delete
  2. That's funny that you mention pouring some of the detergent back into the bottle, I do that, too. We do many of the same things that have been mentioned, but I'll add that I'm trying to figure out what kind of monthly services we have subscriptions to and see if we still need them. They are withdrawn automatically and sometimes forgotten. One was only $.99/month, but I don't want to pay for something we're not using.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Live and Learn,
      Do you think you learned the pour-back thing from your parents? I'm trying to figure out where and when I began this. My mom always used the exact amount called for. We had a measuring scoop on the shelf above the washing machine and she always measured the amount of powder. (This was before laundry detergent came with scoops in the box.) You'd think this is the norm. Yet, in the many years we schlepped to the laundromat, I often saw folks just pouring powdered laundry detergent into the washer, no measuring. Anyway . . .

      That's another good area to look for unnecessary expenses -- the subscription services. I think a lot of folks signed up for streaming services during the pandemic, and may have forgotten to cancel them. Sometimes there are those trial periods for services where you provide a credit card number and they don't charge you until after the trial period. It's so easy to forget to cancel in time. My daughter sets an alert on her phone for the day she needs to cancel one of those free or low-cost trials before getting charged the full amount. Your comment is a great reminder on this.

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  3. *I finally checked out Hoopla as another free source for books (to be read on my kindle) and audible books and found several books that would have had to buy in order to read otherwise (not available through my library).

    *Working on using up last year's harvest, to include cooking up sweet meat and spaghetti squashes (all still good, stored since July and August in our spare bedroom!), feeding those tough overwintered greens to our ducks (who in turn give us delicious healthy eggs), and utilizing some longer, stringy-textured sweet potatoes in batches of homemade dog food, fed for one of their two meals per day.

    *my husband signed up for Hinge through our health insurance. They send a tablet and patches that are applied, and it's basically a no-additional-cost-to-us physical therapy system to be done at home, with the wearable patches providing feedback on if exercises are done correctly.

    *ordered my last batch of contacts through Costco. I do believe in supporting my local eye doctor and get my exam and glasses through their office, but find their markup on contacts quite high. Two daughters also use contacts for sports (swimming and soccer), so I'll be going this route for them as they need refills, as well.

    *choosing "eco" mode on the wash machine more often (this defaults to cold tap water with 15 minute of soak time)

    *keeping "eco" mode on in my car, and trying to drive in such a way to maximize the hybrid function and gas savings

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Cat. Not sure if you saw how many of my meals/preparation mirrored yours last week. You and I were on the same wavelength!

      Delete
    2. Lynn, I hadn't seen that, but went back and read about your meals just now--how funny! I feel like I'm in a rut with cooking right now. Have you made out our menu for next week yet, lol?

      Delete
    3. Hi Cat,
      We love Hoopla. Can you also get Kanopy? Mostly we use these library services for online videos. Many of the movies are older, but I prefer those, as they are often cleaner cut.

      I haven't heard of Hinge before. I'll have to ask my husband if he's seen something like that on our insurance's website. It sounds like a great option for PT.

      Can I ask about your washer's Eco mode -- does it fill with cold water for a soak period or how does it save? Does it tumble or agitate less, or is it that it soaks in cold, so it doesn't need to use as much hot water? If I thought soaking laundry in Cold for 20 minutes before agitating would work as well as washing in Warm on the regular cycle, I'd try that. Thanks for mentioning this. It gives me some ideas on reducing costs further.

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  4. I also "pour back"! A Weight Watchers trick that I learned when baking is to use foods like nuts strategically--I typically use fewer nuts on, say, banana bread. Instead of adding them to the batter, I top the bread with it. I use far fewer nuts that way, saving money and calories--and I have found that it makes the bread look "fancy", which was an unexpected perk. I don't know if this qualifies as "pouring back", but I think there are ways we can use less of certain items to achieve a similar result.

    I love your calendar idea. We have always tried to bundle our trips, so that's not a new thing in our household, but with older kids, it gets trickier.

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    1. Hi Kris,
      What a great idea, to just top baked goods with the special (and expensive) goodie, like nuts. And as a bonus, fewer calories.

      So, you pour back as well. I'll ask you this too -- did you learn this from your parents or did you just come about this on your own?

      That's the thing -- when your kids are driving themselves places, they take care of their errands in their own time and not with Mom or Dad. We found that with 4 drivers, we were each taking care of our own errands separately, and the car was going out much more often. The calendar has helped us to at least try to bundle errands with another family member and be more mindful about our own driving. It means compromise, as it's not as convenient for each individual to have to wait for or plan around another person. But then I think, running our errands separately is inconvenient in the sense that we'll each have to work more to earn the money to cover the additional gas costs.
      Thanks for your comments. Kris.

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  5. I pour stuff back in the original container if I don't need it. I've been watching what I eat, and measure EVERYTHING that I eat on a small scale. I go by the serving suggestion on packages and sometime I don't even want that much.

    All your tricks are good, and I'm sure they add up.

    Shelby

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    1. Hi Shelby,
      Good job on taking charge of your food consumption! I'm sure this will pay off with big dividends, not just with health, but I imagine you'll save a lot of money, too.
      Again, I ask -- the pour-back thing. I'm curious if this is something folks learned from their parents or if this was something they began on their own to save a little money.

      Delete
  6. I just tend to use less of most things, but I suppose I use the "pour back" concept when I make muffins. After filling each muffin cup, I'll go back and remove a teaspoon or so of batter from each cup and fill a single miniature loaf pan with it. I bake it alongside the muffins. We eat the muffins right away, but I freeze the mini loaf. By doing this I have a variety of loaves, without any extra effort on my part, just sitting in the freezer. This always comes in handy when I have unexpected company.

    Pat


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    1. Hi Pat,
      This is an awesome idea! Like you said, you end up with bonus mini loaves for another time and you don't notice the smaller muffins. This would be a good trick for weight control as well as providing that extra mini loaves for later. I am going to give this a try. is there any type of muffin batter that this doesn't work well for? Like I'm wondering if bran muffin batter would or would not work as well as a loaf. I think this would work well with blueberry, rhubarb, or pumpkin spice muffins, though.

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    2. I haven't found any loaf that didn't work out. Although a recipe that only makes a dozen muffins to begin with doesn't have enough batter to stretch to make a mini loaf as well. If I'm going to bake, I'll make at least 18-24 muffins so there's enough for breakfast and snacks, and the mini loaf.

      I also tend to bake the same muffins over and over again because they're the ones my family likes the best. They are: Pumpkin-Orange Muffins, Banana, Banana Oatmeal, Applesauce, Gingerbread with dates, Zucchini, Chocolate Zucchini, Blueberry, Blueberry Bran, Strawberry or Raspberry. I find that these recipes tend to be more fruit based, whether add-ins or puree, so the extra moisture seems to work for either the muffins or loaves. However I also make Lemon Poppyseed muffins/loaf but I think the addition of the sour cream adds to the moist crumb in either bake.

      Would love to cook with rhubarb, but no one would eat it but me :(

      Pat

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    3. Thank you, Pat, for coming back to answer my question. Your muffin flavors all sound delicious! Your thoughts on fruit-based for added moisture seems right to me. I'll keep that in mind. I'm sorry that you don't have any other rhubarb fans in your household. That's hard when you're the only one who enjoys something.

      Delete

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