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Thread: Struggle with the economy? Any tips or hints?

  1. #1
    Super Member ontheriver's Avatar
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    Struggle with the economy? Any tips or hints?

    Is it just me or are things, prices especially, seem to be getting worse? I have a fixed income which a couple of years ago was quite enough for my needs and wants but no more. I have stopped buying fabric unless it is really needed for a project and am using my scraps and stash. I no longer buy patterns, no more magazines, I use free ones I find on the internet. I have reduced the amount spent on groceries, clip coupons, only buy on sale items, plan errands to save on gas, etc. Haven't had any new clothing item in forever it seems. Forgot what it is like to eat out and going to a movie is a thing of the past.

    I thought the wonderful folks here on the board would have some tips and tricks they are using to save money and make things stretch, not just sewing related but everything related. If so, please share with us.
    Jeanann

    Theres nothing wrong with me a little chocolate won't fix.

  2. #2
    Super Member Chasing Hawk's Avatar
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    My husband and I consolidate our errands. Our COAG clinic is really good about this. Our monthly appts. are scheduled around our times. We do our grocery shopping twice a month, fill both trucks up (around here in the winter it's a good idea to have a full tank at all times.) Our big projects are budgeted weeks in advance. We take a little out of each pay period and set it aside until we have what we need. Most important of all the bills get paid first, savings next and the rest is play money..lol
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  3. #3
    Super Member owlvamp's Avatar
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    I know what you . The same here. Even gas is so high and I make a trip to pick up the grandkids and daughter from college once a week. It's crazy and I save where I can for the extra gas I spend. I clip coupons and usually only check out the ads to see what is on sale. I haven't bought clothes or shoes for myself in years . Sad but true. We don't splurge or even go to movies. I don't like living this way. I use old sheets and plastic bags to make yarn and crochet with. It's cool. But would love to buy some new yarn. I use old clothes for quilts and use pants too!
    The fabric I see on here makes me yearn for some. But on such a tight budget I don't. I just tell myself one day. I have a little bit and will use that first and move on. If I do t need to leave the house I ask my husband to stop at the store on his way home. ( he stays to the list) LOL. We shop once a week or every two weeks depends on what we need. So I would love to see what every one says.
    Last edited by owlvamp; 01-28-2013 at 10:04 AM.
    Sandra
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  4. #4
    Moderator QuiltnNan's Avatar
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    Times are definitely getting tougher for folks on a fixed income. All of your suggestions are good ones.
    As we used to do when I was a kid, I change my 'good' clothes as soon as I come home and wear old clothes when no company is expected. I wear clothes more than once, cuts down on the laundry. I wash out the Swiffer cloths and use them over again many times. If I use a paper towel for just a little 'wet' task, then I save it for wiping up the floor. I use the HandiWipes wa-a-a-ay longer than recommended, throwing them in the washer every time I run it. If paper napkins are set at the table and not used, I'll use them again. There are lots of examples of things that my depression era folks taught me when I was little that I incorporate now.
    Nancy in western NY
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  5. #5
    Super Member Central Ohio Quilter's Avatar
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    We do most of these ideas as we are new to retirement and the fixed income. (Very scary!)

    For relatively cheap fabric for quilting - shop yard sales and Goodwill. Sometimes I find bags or boxes of fabric, but more often I find good clothes, mostly men's shirts that can be cut up and used in quilting projects. Prices at yard sales can be in a large range, but it is $4 for a men's shirt at Goodwill. BUT - after the items ar in the store for a few weeks, they get marked down to half price, then to $1 the following week. That is the only time I buy the clothes for quilting at Goodwill - when they are $1. You can get the equivalent of 1.5 to 2 yards of fabric from a large to XXL man's shirt. I am very fussy when choosing shirts from Goodwill - only 100% cotton, with no or very little wear to them and only in colors or a pattern I really love.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Lois-nounoe's Avatar
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    My hubby and I are getting $7 less a month on our SSA now! Cost of things are still going up and cost of feed for our horses and chickens are going up with the cost of corn prices. We do not go out to eat unless it is lunch after doctor visits which are many due to a health problem I developed in Sept. Always ask for senior discounts cause they don't just give them to you! Go at least once a week and it's 23 miles away. Gas is going up too. Haven't been to a movie for 30 yrs and we don't drink, smoke or have any other habits that cost anything. It is by careful planning and lots of prayers that get us through from check to check. Can't wait till Spring and Summer when we grow our own tomatoes, peppers, peas, beans, and even cantalope and watermelons! Saves a lot that way.

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    I've always been frugal but I am glad I have a good stash to work from. I only purchase fabric for backs or borders. The expense that really takes a chunk out my budget are dentist visits since retirement. We used to have partial coverage but now $200 to $300 a visit makes me sick. Why do all the expenses of growing older have to come when your income is getting smaller? When they say trim the fat from the budget....I say I'm already cutting down to the bare bones.

  8. #8
    Power Poster Prism99's Avatar
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    One thing I do is purchase White Rain hair conditioner at the Dollar Store and use that to shampoo my hair. A $1 plastic bottle lasts about a month, using it daily. What I discovered is that shampoo actually irritates my scalp. Before switching to conditioner only, I had itchy bumps (almost like acne). Some conditioners contain the irritating ingredients; White Rain is a safe choice and saves money too.

    We rarely eat red meat anymore. This was a health and environmental choice, but it does save us quite a bit at the grocery store. We vary homemade meals among fish, chicken, and vegetarian choices.

    It helps a lot to cook from scratch. We rarely buy cereal; dh cooks his own oatmeal (from the large cannister) for breakfast. If we ate more bread, I would make homemade bread once a week. Coffee is my expensive vice. I buy coffee beans from Sam's Club, grind it daily, and make a thermos of coffee for myself a day. Tagged the coffee beans once, and figured it costs about $1 a day. Even McDonald's coffee is expensive compared to my homemade.

  9. #9
    Power Poster Jingle's Avatar
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    We are both still able to work and end of last year and so far this year we have had to spend lots of money on home repairs. When it is all done we will be able to spend alot less to live and should be able to make it the rest of our lives without spending more. We don't waste much money on luxuries and never have.
    Another Phyllis
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  10. #10
    Super Member ontheriver's Avatar
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    Some good ideas. Keep them coming please. Never heard of washing your hair with conditioner, doesn't it get greasy? I shop more and more at the Dollar Tree. I have been developing a list of things I purchase on a regular basis like toilet paper, dish soap, trashbags, can goods, dry foods, etc., how much I use in a month, and what it costs at each store. I am getting to know what to buy where unless I find a great sale. Example, my 12 yo likes koolaid. I found I can get a package with 12 envelopes at dollar general for 1.00, while at WinDixie it is like .30 for each envelope. Lois-nounoe, I have the world's blackest thumb, I can't get anything to grow and I have tried many times. Wish I could grow my own foods, especially tomatoes, I just love tomatoes. I live in the country, have plenty of area to work with, just can't. Have 2 freezers I could use and lots of pantry space.
    Last edited by ontheriver; 01-28-2013 at 01:17 PM.
    Jeanann

    Theres nothing wrong with me a little chocolate won't fix.

  11. #11
    Power Poster Prism99's Avatar
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    Shampooing with conditioner may not work for everyone, but it is actually recommended for curly hair and it also works great on gray/white hair like mine (which is much more dry and wiry than my original brown).

  12. #12
    Super Member mommafank's Avatar
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    Thrift store shopping is a must! Keep a floor rag instead of using paper towels every time something needs wiped off the floor. Limit use of plastic storage bags by either recyling ones that other things come in or using reusable containers. I do not throw anything much away---keep containers that food stuffs come in to reuse for other things. We never throw food away------ever! We eat leftovers and that means less cooking. Lots of vegetarian meals, soups and salads that we make from salad greens in our garden. Garden every summer and freeze or can lots of produce. Watch for rebates. We use a credit card that gives us back money and that is a big bonus. Keep the thermastat low, turn off lights, weatherproof windows and doors. Hubby always checks the wattage of our appliances with a little meter he has. We limit use of anything that uses a high rate. We do not go out to eat----and we have no complaints about that. I prefer my own cooking---I know how it has been prepared and exactly what is in it. We live simply and love it. We are relaxed and happy and healthy. Hubby researches everything to make sure we get the best for our money. And we did away with our dish TV---we now have an antenna and a roku. We have more to watch and no bill. We are going to switch our cell phone service soon to Consumer Cellular.Cheapest service with a very good rating. We will cut our bill to more than half what it is now. Check it out if you use cellular----just google it.
    Mary
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  13. #13
    Super Member canmitch1971's Avatar
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    One thing I do is buy articles of grocery when it has been reduced. They reduce it by 30% when it gets near its due date. I buy meat, yogurt, bread, pies and other things this way. I use the bread to make bread pudding or to make bread crumbs. I even bought a little caramel birthday cake for my daughter's birthday last week at 30% off. It was very good..Sometimes they even reduce things by 50%. I use the meat immediately to make a stew or soup. Everything is very good.. I try to turn the thermostat down but my husband and I are getting to be wusses... We are always cold. We do wear sweaters and socks but we are still cold, especially in the evening..
    Besides my family, my pets are the most important things to me. I have had birds, a dog or cats since I was about 8 years old. The cruelest thing you can do to me is take my animals away.

  14. #14
    Super Member irishrose's Avatar
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    I reuse grocery bags for the trash. Have quilted panels in doorways so I only use 1/3 of my house in the winter. Consolidate trips. When I figured out how much just gas was per mile, I learned to not make extra trips. Never mind the oil, tires, insurance, etc. I only buy items on sale - even when I have the money. I have Christmas money for dog walking gloves. I found the perfect pair that were within the amount, but left them there because they weren't on sale. I cut my own hair, have never had a manicure - nor do I want one.

    I could reduce my expenses if I didn't have two dogs, but I'm not to that point yet. I need back surgery, of which I have to pay 10% and now may need a new roof this summer. These two would keep me awake nights if I let them.

  15. #15
    Super Member owlvamp's Avatar
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    There's some really good ideas.
    Sandra
    Treat people the way you want to be treated!!

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    I'm enjoying the many ideas you all have for cutting down on spending. One thing I do is check the price of gas on the computer and buy while it is at a low usually Monday/Tuesday. I Google "gas prices in (my town & state)". I have used coupons for years and print a lot of them from the computer. I am lucky to live near a Kroger store that doubles $1. We are lucky that we grew up with thrifty parents and grandparents. Would these younger people be able to handle a big cut in pay? Cooking from scratch would be one of the things I can think of that might be a big problem for them.

  17. #17
    Power Poster miriam's Avatar
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    I never gave it a thought until my then teenaged son bragged to someone that I was a gourmet cook since I only bought ingredients. Ha what does he know. Nothing pre-packaged. We don't use food in cans or boxes - chips on occasion - like chili... I buy meat at a slaughter house. Very limited eating out. I shop at the thrift stores with a list - no new clothing except underwear and socks. I buy fabric at the thrift store. We do our own lawn care, home repairs & snow shoveling. I don't have a clothes dryer - everything gets hung. If I need to know something I look it up at the library or on line. I donate hair when I need a haircut - it's free. Someone mentioned shampoo. I use citric acid instead of rinse - it's cheaper. Mix a 1/2 tsp of citric acid in about a quart of water - pour it on, rinse it off. I repair my own sewing machines - I've done it for years.
    Never let a sewing machine know you are in a hurry.

  18. #18
    Super Member coopah's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by QuiltnNan View Post
    Times are definitely getting tougher for folks on a fixed income. All of your suggestions are good ones.
    As we used to do when I was a kid, I change my 'good' clothes as soon as I come home and wear old clothes when no company is expected. I wear clothes more than once, cuts down on the laundry. I wash out the Swiffer cloths and use them over again many times. If I use a paper towel for just a little 'wet' task, then I save it for wiping up the floor. I use the HandiWipes wa-a-a-ay longer than recommended, throwing them in the washer every time I run it. If paper napkins are set at the table and not used, I'll use them again. There are lots of examples of things that my depression era folks taught me when I was little that I incorporate now.
    These are all good ideas, but might I suggest using microfiber cloths and to use instead of Swiffer cloths and paper towels? I bought a few at Big Lots or Bed, Bath Beyond (using a coupon) when they came out 10 years or so ago. The biggest plus is they can be washed and reused often and last forever> Just don't use softener/dryer sheets when you wash them. I've even seen these cloths at the Dollar Tree. PLUS you don't have to use chemicals to get things clean. Just the microfiber cloth and maybe a little water, depending on what you're cleaning. This is one of my biggest savings...and helps my asthma when I don't use chemicals. Great for washing windows and even dusting! NO CHEMICALS!! And no, I don't own any stock in these companies!!
    "A woman is like a tea bag-you can't tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water." Eleanor Roosevelt

  19. #19
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    You are already doing a good job at cutting cost. You can change out your light bulbs to energy efficient. I know that in the beginning it seems expensive but in the long run they last longer and take less energy to run. I get them at Home Depot and they have some at a good price. I cut my cable down to just getting basic TV for the reception so it is only 21 a month instead of over 60. I have a sprint cell phone and I got a sprint house phone; they switched my home # so I got to keep the same # that I've had for over 20 yrs. Now I get long distance for free and caller Id, before I would have been spending around 45 for these same features thru the cable co and now I spend 20; plus I use my employee discount to cut my cost of my cell phone bills; most companies you can get a discount with. I'm getting ready to buy a reqular cell phone and switch out my smart phone which I love but you have to have a bigger plan so this will save me more money. I'll keep my smart phone so that when things get better I can go back to using it. Thru Craigslist I found one lady who for making her some baby quilts that only took sewing two pieces of flannel together and birthing them and top stitching them around the edges and she supplied the fabric. In exchange I got alot of free fabric that was great and some very expensive. Then I found another lady who had lots of fabric that she wanted to give away because she decided she would never use it. So I went from not having a stash to having a nice one and now I only buy if I "need" something for a project. Which goes along great with my plan not to start any new projects until I get the old ones completed with the exception of my monthly embroidery club. I also checked around and switched car insurance; I went from Geico (which I loved) to Nation wide and saved a 120 a month and got better coverage. I had to skip a payment so that one company would listen to me that thier interest rate and payment was too high to handle and then they lowered the interest rate to way more than half and lowered my payment so now more of my payment actually goes to lowering my bill. They wouldn't do anything as long as my payments were up to date. It's crazy how you have to do things sometimes. Good luck on your cutting cost, I'll be checking here for more ideas too.
    Judy

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    Quote Originally Posted by Prism99 View Post
    Shampooing with conditioner may not work for everyone, but it is actually recommended for curly hair and it also works great on gray/white hair like mine (which is much more dry and wiry than my original brown).
    I use leave in conditioner. It takes less and you aren't rinsing it down the drain. When my hair is frizzy I get the oil base Garnier and mix a little with my conditioner to calm them down. I add a little gel to my conditioner and it keeps it moist even in the winter time.
    Judy

  21. #21
    Senior Member sewnbug's Avatar
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    We do most of what everyone else has said, but we also shut our electric hot water heater off at night. We just flip the breaker to it. Sometimes we forget to turn it back on the next day and we have never ran out of hot water even then. By doing that and using my dryer only when we need something dry right away, we save about $20 s month on our electric bill alone.

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    We shop mostly dollar store and thrift stores & in the spring/summer the yard sales. We did use coupons until the save a lot opened near us. Now it is cheaper to shop there than to use coupons. There is also a mennonite store near us where we buy oatmeal, flour, sugar, etc in bulk. We garden & preserve the yield, keep a few chickens for the eggs. DD is an excellelent "scratch" cook & baker so we seldom buy convenience food. We don't eat a lot of meat. In fact, DD just last week made 3 meals (with leftovers, from 4 chicken breast she got on sale for .98 #. They were very larg bone in breasts. She took off the rib meat from 3 of them & fried them. DSIL ate one, DD & I split one they were so large. We ate the other one for lunch the next day along with the leftover veggies from the meal. She boiled th last one & the ribs from the other 3 with onion, celery, parsley, & shredded carrot, then made some noodles & we had a big pot of chicken & noodles. We had leftovers from those too. A small chuck roast will make pot roast & leftovers make beef stew. A pork tenderloin will provide not only loin chops but a loin roast. We have antenna tv. We use cloth napkins instead of paper, seldom use a paper towel & when we do, we reuse if at all possible. I shop sales only for yarn & fabric & it has to be an excellent sale. The only non-frugal craft item I buy is good sock yarn & even that I buy on sale. I make almost all the socks we wear & they have to feel good on our feet, but they last forever, so I think the cost evens out. Basically, if we can make it, we don't buy it. We don't use credit cards & since the stores have to pay the cc companies for taking the card, we always ask for a discount when paying cash. You would be surprised how many times we get it. I've recently heard that some stores are going to be passing that cost on to the consumer so that little "savings" may go away. Even though we don't use a cc, if I do shop at any of those stores I will be sure to write a check instead of paying cash, since checks are inconvenient now for most businesses.

  23. #23
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    Last summer we decided we had to pare our bills down the lowest we could. We put our Direct TV to the lowest rate offered. We're in the country and no cable is offered and we're so far out that an antenna doesn't work. We made our land line telephone local calls only. We had to keep it to get DSL for the internet service and we aren't ready to give up internet. We have the cheapest cell phone service we found. We sold our truck and brought a newer sedan. The payments were over $100 less, the gas is 12 MPG more and the insurance is the same. That savings on gasoline is BIG! We cut up 2 credit cards - one from Sears and one from Lowes. Then we looked at our grocery bill. We started eating more soup - always made with fresh or fresh frozen ingredients. Great money saver, lots of vegies, lower cost per serving, great variety. Usually at least 2 non meat suppers a week. One trip to town per week. Bulk buying at Sam's. Then the new year hit and our change in health insurance cost reflected the cost of coming Obama Care. We have been hit hard!!!!!!!!!!! Our Medicare supplement which is part of our government retirement benefit package is going from great coverage to not even so terribly good and costing us more! There went everything we had saved last summer.

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  24. #24
    Super Member QultingaddictUK's Avatar
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    I never have my hot water tank on as I have a electric shower and a dishwasher, which saves me a lot of money on electric and water consumption.

    I keep my bread in the freezer so I just take out a slice or two at a time, I buy bags of fresh vegetables and prepare a bag at a time, I cook them until "il dente" put in ice cold water and lay them on a tea towel in the freezer, so they are "free flow". No waste and taste so much nicer than shop frozen vegetables. My slow cooker is out on top of the cooker as I always have sustaining home made soup, stews and casseroles on the go, which are then portioned out and frozen.

    If my small freezer gets low I pop a scrunched up paper filled cardboard box at the bottom as freezing air is very expensive.

    I wear comfortable cotton nightdresses when indoors as it saves getting threads on my good clothes. Not very soiled items like towels sheets etc. are put on a rinse only wash in the machine, and I always use the lowest setting possible on other items, but do use a good store own brand washing gel.

    I never ever throw any food out, all is used up or frozen to use another day, and my shopping is extremely price orientated, fortunately for me we have 3 really good discount stores under a mile from where I live so I save a heap on petrol.

    I live quite well on my pension because of this and thanks to the Internet I can get my quilting needs from the USA as even with postage costs I can save between 30 - 50% on the prices here in the UK!

    I don't have a Credit card but do have a cash Debit card, I do all my shopping with this I NEVER draw out cash to go shopping, why? Well to use cash you have to estimate how much you will need so for example you withdraw 50 cash and your shopping comes to 43.99 you then have 6.01 pence lying around, use your Cash card and you have 6.01 more in your bank account! My husband always said "pennies make pounds" and I have found this to be so true.

  25. #25
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    These are all good tips that we all can gain from..it all adds up..thanks for the tips...keep them coming..one things I do is us rags instead of paper towels...and wash them..wash once a week..there are only two of us..make alot of soups, stews, don't put convenience foods..and during the garden season, which is longer than most places, I get vegs from local farmers and do alot of canning...jellies and pickles..besides saving money; I love the idea of knowing what is in the tomato sauce I'm using ..

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