Being frugal is part of our homesteading life. There are many expenses that other people have that we do not. I wonder how they manage? Is there some secret that I have never been told? As I struggle to pay my son’s electric and gas bill these last few months, I remember one of the reasons why I did not want to be connected to the grid. It is a bill that he doesn’t make enough money to cover. So I take from his extra food budget to cover it. Only it doesn’t cover it. It’s just that he REALLY does need to buy food too! I know there are some ways to conserve how much power you use. How do you teach a disabled grown-up, who doesn’t really comprehend that concept? This blog post, I have written as if I was living in that tiny apartment, and how I would live there, being frugal.
The first thing I would have done, was to put in raised beds, or at least dug up the ground along the fence in the backyard. He lives in an apartment house with two other apartments. The couples that live there are pretty open to innovative ideas. In fact, one of the young men there, built an impressive backyard patio type area with mostly pallets and stone for the floor. I would have got him to build raised beds with pallets. Then acquired some compost from a nearby farmer to plant in. By now they’d have some food coming up. Most of the frugal people I know, live from their gardens all summer and fall.
The next thing, seeing as this building has two couples and one single man, they could combine their buying power. Frugal shoppers would purchase locally raised meat, or buy meat in bulk from a local restaurant supplier. My local restaurant supplier, Maines Food & Party Warehouse, sells special deals as “Group Buys” often. I pick up ten pound bags of chicken breasts or chicken thighs there, and can them. But they could easily freeze them. I buy a number of bulk products there besides meat and produce, such as bags of shredded cheese, which can be frozen (I can mine). Since I have had trouble growing tomatoes in the last few years, I also buy #10 cans of tomato products (tomato sauce, tomato puree, whole tomatoes, stewed tomatoes, tomato juice, diced tomatoes and tomato paste), mushrooms, asparagus and anything else I haven’t grown myself or bought from a local farmer. Maines Food & Party Warehouse is a big part of my frugal shopping plan.
Only one of these young couples have a car, and they go to work daily, so transportation to the local big discount stores is always a hassle. If it was me, I’d order my household supplies from Amazon using their Subscribe & Save option on many of the products. It is cheaper that way and you wouldn’t run out. You just set the dates of when you need the various products to suit your budget, so the money is there when needed. Amazon lets you know ahead of time when its time to pay for it. That way you can cancel it, if you don’t have the money, but that defeats the idea. Saves on gas and time by purchasing this way. Even if you have to pay a little bit more. I think in the long run, it is better. In fact, I am doing this myself already. I may not get the cheapest price on some products, but it is a help to me since I have trouble walking in the stores due to my bad knees.
Next I would call the electric company and have them come out and do an energy audit of his apartment. Maybe the other renters would want that also. In our state, NY, they will spend an hour or more and show you what needs updating or repairing, to lower your electric and natural gas charges. This is a old house that was converted to three apartments and it is not in good condition. For a tiny three room apartment the rent is high, $500. bucks a month, without utilities. Not very frugal. If they find a refrigerator is an energy hog, or needs to be repaired, they will give you (as in no cost to you or the landlord) a new energy star one. That is because the refrigerator is one of the biggest draws on your electric system. Spending money on a good efficient one, is always a frugal purchase in the long run.
Think about winter, and what to do to ensure you won’t freeze trying to keep your heating cost down. If the windows are not efficient, I would buy a roll of plastic and tape it over each window. Then I would buy a storm door for the exterior door if possible. That would be a good way to keep the cold out when winter is here. Now is the time to work on winterizing your home! Our local county has a winterizing program that will come in and do some various things to your home, to make it more energy efficient. Take advantage of that program if you can. Keep those winter heating bills down! Now is the time to take a look at your frugal budget and get it under control!
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Copyright © 2014 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2014 Kathleen G. Lupole