Monday, March 28, 2011
Gas prices are soaring and for some, it's come down to the choice between gas or groceries. Can you imagine having to choose? Feed your family or fill your tank to get to work ... to pay part of your bills and fill your tank again. What a horrible yet predictable problem! Let's talk about ways to combat high prices and different ways to save money (or be able to afford gas AND food)
1) Shop at grocery stores that have their own gas stations. They usually provide a discount on gas in return for you spending a specific amount on groceries. Of course, only do this if the store prices are lower than your first choice in stores.
2) Shop groceries very carefully. Limit the amount of "junk" food you bring in by only shopping the outer aisles. Only purchase needs and stock up when you find a good sale.
3) Use coupons when shopping (for groceries, personal hygiene items etc) and check receipts for coupons on the back and try to shop at stores that double and triple the coupon value.
4) Grow your food. Either all or some. Start simple if the thought scares you ... tomato plants. Then next year add another food or three. You'd be surprised at how much you can cut off your bill by growing your own produce.
5) Telecommuting: seems to be a great way to go. I realize not every company allows their employees to work at home but many are. It never hurts to find out if it would be accepted.
6) Carpool. With a group of people sharing the cost of gas it breaks down the expense a great deal.
7) Think of "gassing" up a different way. Maybe converting your vehicle to use water or vegetable oil as fuel. I have never done anything like this but am checking in to it. *If* it really works, I'd definitely do something.
8) Donate time in exchange for inexpensive food boxes through Project Angel Food
9) Join a food co-op
There are many ways to save money, so that one doesn't have to choose between gas or groceries. If you have any suggestions that I missed please comment so readers & I will be able to add it to our savings.
Posted by The Beauty at 6:32 PM
Sunday, March 27, 2011
I can't tell you how many times I've heard someone state that they couldn't garden because they didn't have the room or couldn't afford the containers needed to do "Container Gardening." You can see by the picture above, that my friend Jan proves container gardening can be affordable. There's no need for the "traditional" terracotta pots. You can honestly use just about anything. My friend Jan, over at SLOW MONEY FARM built a compost bin out of pallet wood and screwed recycled soda bottles in to the boards for her "container gardening." Her idea is far from traditional, can be done in small spaces and recycles. That's a win-win as far as I'm concerned! As I talked to Jan today, she mentioned that this was a hit & miss type project. It seems that some of the plants died & it's possibly from the containers (soda bottles) getting too hot. I'm wondering if a shade cloth or different climate would be the answer. We'll be trying this at some point this year because I really would like to see it work! I believe the old adage, "if at first you don't succeed ... try, try again."
Some other non-traditional containers would be those hard plastic, child pools. I've seen those and they work great for planting more than the soda bottles or small pots would hold. I'm thinking about putting things like squash, zucchini, cucumbers, strawberries etc in those. Small plants that yield larger quantities could benefit from the size of the pool.
I've also seen those "Rubbermaid" style containers used. I'll actually be using a few of those for larger/taller plants like corn and sunflowers. I may also plant potatoes by the layers in a few of those. I could use one of two bins for each type of potato I want to grow. I could also use them for carrots.
Another non-traditional container we've considered using is a barrel. We'd use them mainly (and possibly only) for planting potatoes. I could actually see using them for crops all year long. I think they are thick enough to offer some protection from harsh weather ... and for extra protection from weather, you can put straw bales around the barrels & maybe even one on top to keep the weather away from the top soil. You could also put these barrels in a green house or garage, and keep them covered. Great option and in our area, cheaper than the Rubbermaid bins.
One last, container I'd like to discuss is rain gutters. You can attach them to the sides of your home or even build a structure to attach them to. Either way you can keep them at a specific level and plant as much as needed, with space not already used. It certainly keeps plants neat & orderly. We may be using this idea for herbs and small plants such as radish.
Container gardening has so many possibilities. It's just a matter of thinking outside the box ... or maybe inside :wink:
Posted by The Beauty at 9:06 PM
Friday, March 18, 2011
Speaking of power ... we'll be starting with a 125 watt solar panel kit. Purchased as a kit, we can get it (panel, charger, inverter, wiring etc) for just under $900.00 but purchasing individual components separately will save us roughly $100 - $200.00 That size will be perfect since we won't have much to power. Honestly, I think the only thing we'll have plugged in on a regular basis is the internet modem. We'll have our laptop but that can be charged through the plug in to our vehicle charger. The following is list of things needing power ... we won't be using most of the items but it will give you an idea of usage.
Coach Battery Loads
Lamp bulb (3CFLs)
Small 12 volt appliance
19-inch color TV
Small power tool
Roof Mounted AC*
Toaster oven *
Our fridge will be propane so that takes a big chunk out of our power needs. We'll have a propane deep freezer too. Our water heaters will be solar heated ... building boxes, painting them black inside & then wrapping with cellophane. The cellophane will hold the sun's heat & distribute it through the water.
Any way .... solar power isn't as expensive as people think. If you don't research or know what you need, salesmen can definitely take advantage of you. The cost will also depend on what you're willing to live without or change (such as a propane fridge instead of an electric one). Some things (maybe even most electrical) you won't even miss.
Think about it this way ... solar power gives you freedom as well. How much do you spend on your electric bill every month? We were spending no less than $200.00 per month every month ... during Winter the cost would go up though ... no less than $250.00 per month. Figure a conservative amount per year would be $2400.00 Our system is going to cost less than $900.00 so we save $1500.00 right off the bat!
How will you be powering your homestead?
Posted by The Beauty at 2:10 AM
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
What would you do if the power grid shut down for a few days? A few weeks? What if it went down for a few months? Do you have an alternative power source?
We've planned our home with out the use of traditional power. For the first four months living in our cabin, we used nothing but battery operated lanterns. Now we have solar ones. With 2 in each room and four in the living room we won't really have a need for electricity. We'll have the generator available if we need it but it won't be "necessary." I can't tell you how freeing it is to know we're free from the high electricity bill!!!
Can you do with out things like video games, electric dryers etc when the grid goes down (notice I didn't say ... "if it goes down") It will go down at some point in the future. It's just a matter of when and for how long. How will your life change?
Posted by The Beauty at 6:22 PM