Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Stashbuster/Thrift Report #2

Let's get the Stashbuster Report for Week #3 out of the way first:

Zero in
Zero out

Yep, I'm on a roll here.

Now for the thrifting part.
I worked on half my goals: I got the flyer from my grocery store, and planned my menu, but then I didn't go to the store. I know, but it was the day it was so cold and the heater wasn't working properly and I couldn't get warm for the longest time, so I wasn't going out in the freezing weather when I was already cold.

That said, I got a new flyer for this week, and went shopping today. Today the weather was no better--it was about 21 degrees, but the winds were gusting up to 28mph so the wind chill factor was 6. It felt like 6 below! By the time I got all the grocery bags strung on bungee cords in my pickup, I couldn't feel my fingers, even with the gloves on. It took both hands to insert my key in the ignition and I had to sit with the motor on for 5 minutes before turning the heat on to thaw my fingers. Dang it, people, this is NORTH CAROLINA! NOT CANADA! Sheesh! Don't make me move to Florida!

Sorry. I had a passionate moment there.
Back to being thrifty.

One of the things I really wanted to check into was what to do with empty plastic jugs. The respiratory therapist who educated me on my C-PAP said to use only distilled water in it, not tap water. It only costs 79 cents/gallon, and lasts 2-3 weeks, so the cost isn't the problem--it's those empty containers I kept throwing away because I didn't know what to do with them.

So I googled it, and found lots of uses for them, but two really stood out for me. One is to cut the bottoms off and use them under my plants. Duh. Last summer it irked me to purchase those flimsy plastic saucers from Lowe's, and the solution was right in front of me all the time.

Another thing, and this is roundabout, is that freezers function better when they are full--something about diffusing the air around them--and one site suggested if your freezer is too empty, to put plain old cardboard boxes, such as cereal boxes, in them. How much better to almost fill one of my jugs with water and put them in there instead? As an added benefit, should the power go out, they will help keep the food cold that much longer.

Other things I did this week:
1. This week is triple coupon week at my grocery store, and though there are restrictions, I saved $50.00 today. I still spent a lot, but I know that the real savings won't show up for a while, when I'm able to start delaying buying some items until they go on sale again because I have enough from the last sale, or triple coupon week.

2. I still don't have the details worked out for sorting, storing and transporting coupons, so shopping is a very long process right now, but I did use some of the envelopes that come in my bills. J-Man has most of the bills set to pay through our online bank, so we usually toss the return envelopes, but they came in handy today. The ones with plastic windows work really well, because I can place the coupons for items already selected face forward and see which envelope they are in. As I collect more, I'll be able to label the envelopes by category.

3. Still haven't painted the sewing room yet, but had narrowed the choices down to two colors, using Behr paint chips from Home Depot. When I went online to Behr.com, I found I could take a picture of my sewing room with my digital camera, and use their website to "paint" my room and see how it would look. Is that not the coolest thing? Only now, I've added back two more colors because they looked better than I'd thought when viewed online. But when I finally choose a color, I know I will truly love it.

4. I already mentioned baking, burning candles, and running the dishwasher to keep the house warm when the heater was on the fritz.

5. Millstone Coffee has those little vacuum-packed flavored coffee samplers that cost about $1.48 and make maybe 2 pots of coffee.

I'm not a fan of strong coffee, so mixing a teaspoon or two of the package with my regular coffee grounds (I have a 2-mug coffee pot) is enough to flavor my coffee without using the entire package at once.

Goals for this week:
1. Still plan to start going through my quilt magazines and pull out or scan what I want to keep. Although the mini-computer isn't here yet, I did buy a second thumb drive so I can have one all to myself for all my quilting stuff. I figure I can pare down even more if I scan the articles and patterns to the desktop, then download onto the thumb drive in categories. This will take a while, so once I start doing it, I won't mention it again until it's all done, probably months from now, unless the Thrift Muse strikes again.

2. Didn't get those letters written yet--back on the list for this week.

3. Clean out the "linen closet". It occurs to me that since the linen closet is right by the kitchen, if I get rid of and organize it's contents a little, I can use at least one of the shelves to store extra pantry items for when they go on sale--like bulk paper towels or even canned goods. Who says a linen closet has to hold linens?

Are these old hat to you? Anything to share? I'd love to hear, um, read it!


Carrie said...

I am having a hard time with this weather too!! Just today I shook my fist in the air and questioned if I was in TN or Antartica!!

MightyMom said...

OK, I haven't ever done this, and it was told to me a few years ago, so you'll have to google the details for yourself but here's the gist. ready?

step 1 save the entire circular from your paper, date the front and stick in a file....do this each week.

step 2 make out your shopping list of what you need.

step 3, go to a website (I don't remember what it's called) that categorizes the coupon fliers for every paper...you type in the items on your list (including your fav brand) and what paper your flier came from. The website tells you on what date there was last a coupon for that item. Then you go and only clip those coupons on your list. Leave the rest in the file for next time.

Less bulky mess, less time, and you find coupons for the brands you already use. I wish I could remember that website, but I'm sure you can find it with a bit of searching.

As for the jugs 1/2 filling with water is a good idea empty cardboard boxes won't do nearly as good a job as jugs of ice would. Also, do you drink tea or lemonaide? you can also cut the tops off and decorate the bottom 1/3, use as "baskets" to keep stuff (like FABRIC) in.

FeatherDuster said...

I live where there are pretty bad winter windstorms, from October into January so it's a "given" that the power will be out several times during those months--sometimes for a few hours, sometimes several days. My water source is a well, so no power also means no water. I keep many gallons of water stored away. Fill several of your gallon jugs and tuck away, "just in case". The water wouldn't be fresh for drinking, but it's perfectly fine for other uses. Another idea when power's out--I keep a tea kettle and a big pot (stock pot works well) full of water on top my woodstove, so I always have some hot water ready.

Noticed your comment about cutting dryer sheets in half. Another idea: I use a pair of utility scissors and cut my SOS pads into quarters. That's just about the right size for most jobs. THen you can just toss away when you're done, instead of letting a big one sit around getting rusty.

I could go on and on here with thrifty ideas...hmmm....

* * Cut up an old, all-cotton sweater for a stack of excellent cleaning rags.

* * When I clean my vinyl floors, instead of pouring the cleaner into a bucket of water, then dumping out (what a waste!) I mix up the cleaner with water in a spray bottle, spray that onto the floor, and wipe. A bottle lasts a long time

Libby said...

I've taken on letter writing this year. I opened my address book and selected 2 random friends and wrote just a little note card. I hope to continue this plan once a month throughout the whole year . . . and beyond. Email is great - so instant, but there's nothing like having a honest-to-goodness-handwritten-letter show up in your mailbox *s*

Alycia said...

Wow - you are on to some impressive organizing skills. And shopping - thats really cool!

Lori in South Dakota said...

thrifty ideas. Hmmm I have been studying the 365 days of crockpotting blog and tried a few recipes. I already do lots of canning and preserving. But lately I have been making my own laundry soap. It's cheap and easy. Elaine Adair's blog has a recipe posted. I can't tell the difference, and as to a "nice smell" I put in a drip of fabric softner.

Pinky said...

Wow. You inspire me to do so much. My linen closet could shed a few pounds.

thrifty ideas...

I use microfiber rags on a generic swiffer type mop to clean my tile and fake wood floors. I just use water.

Put tennis balls in your dryer, it supposedly cuts the drying time by up to 40%.

audreypawdrey said...

I had heard that about the freezer before and it does make sense! Thanks for reminding me! Thrifty ideas...we budget a certain amount each week and only spend that amount on groceries. We also stock up when it is on sale at a really good price.

Don't buy paper towels or napkins, use towels and cloth napkins.

Quilting Newbie said...

Hi Steph,
I just wanted to let you know I gave you a blog award. I didn't know how to post the little picture here, so please come by my blog to grab the little picture. I love your blog. Take care!!

Pat said...

My Mom puts everything in the freezer to help take up space...toilet paper (unused of course!), paper towels, potato chips. The ideas are endless.

My linen closet could lose a few extra items too. and I do store my paper products there :)