Sunday, August 3, 2008

Saving Money - laundry

Laundry, it's a never ending chore. There are always dirty clothes to be washed, dried and put away. Here's some things I've done to try to lower the cost.

1. My latest project has been homemade laundry soap. Here's the site with the recipe I used. It also has a great cost comparison that I won't try to recreate. I made this a week ago and really like it. Here's the recipe:

1 cup Arm & Hammer Washing soda (Not baking soda)
1/2 cup Borax
1 bar of soap, grated (I used Ivory)

Put 4 cups of water in a pot. Boil, then reduce to a simmer. Slowly add the grated bar of soap, stirring constantly until it is all dissolved.

Put 3 gallons of warm water into a five gallon bucket. Stir in Washing Soda and Borax. Add your soap soup. Stir until well mixed.

Cover and leave overnight. Stir and use!

This stuff is really lumpy and slimy, but I've read that the consistency will very from batch to batch. I use about one cup per load and have really liked the results. I used name brand Ivory because Dan has some allergies and I know he's not allergic to Ivory. I've bought generic soaps before that have given him a hard time. I've read about people using Irish Spring or even Caress.

I'm thinking that because I used a mild soap it might even be a good replacement for Dreft for babies. Of course, I ended up only using Dreft for a short time with Josiah because I realized that I was using regular detergent on his diapers. I figured if that didn't bother him in his diapers that it wouldn't bother him anywhere else, either!

2. Get a clothes line and use it! I really like using my clothes line for several reasons. It saves a lot of electricity, both from the dryer itself and the heat it adds to the house. Also, Josiah would rather be outside than inside. He plays and stays busy while I hang the clothes. He also likes "helping" by handing me clothes pins or picking them up when I drop them. I feel "virtuous" when I see the clothes drying on the line!

Here's how I do laundry when I dry it on the line. I try to do it all in one day. I usually start the night before with heavy darks because they take the longest to dry. First thing the next morning I do sheets and towels. I hang the sheets on the outside lines so that they hide our - ahem - unmentionables. We have several neighbors who see everything in our yard and we don't like having our underwear on display!

Then I do the rest of the whites, the rest of the darks and the reds. That usually takes care of all of our clothes for the week. We don't always have that many loads, it just depends.

If an article of clothing belongs on a hanger I put it on a plastic one to dry. I still dry socks in the dryer. I hate putting on crunchy socks!

If I start around 8:30 in the morning I usually have everything washed and on the line by lunchtime. Unless it's threatening to rain I don't bring things in until it's cooled down in the evening. I often fold things and put them in baskets according to what room they belong in as I take them off the line. It makes them less wrinkled than just stuffing them all in a laundry basket and folding later.

The most important part of hanging clothes on the line is shaking them briskly before and after hanging. This does two things: It makes them softer and helps dislodge any possible insect visitors that like to hang out on the line with the clothes! The texture of some things, like towels, is rougher than when they're dried in the dryer. Some people put them in the dryer for a few minutes to fluff, but I don't like that extra step. I'm too lazy for that.

I guess that's it. These are both simple things, but the savings add up.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Saving Money Part one

Some ladies and I were talking last night about ways to save money. I've read several articles recently about ways to save money, but lots of the ideas were impractical or not feasible for my family. I thought I'd list a few of the practical ways that we're trying to save money, and maybe a few money savings ideas that didn't work!

Today I'll share some ideas for saving money at restaurants. These may be obvious, but sometimes obvious ideas are the best.

1. Drink water! I ordered a soda for the first time in a long time the other day and was shocked when it added 2.25 plus tax to the bill! I can go to my corner gas station and get 5 sodas for that price! (See #5)

2. Split meals. Dan and I almost always split a meal. It's better for our wallet and our waist lines! The few times we don't split I usually end up wishing that I had ordered what he has anyway. He always picks the best things.

3. Eat off the kids menu, when possible. Not everyone lets you do this, but if they do it's a great way to get a good meal. They often come with a drink, too. Cracker Barrel and Moe's Southwest are the best places to do this. MMmmm....I'm feeling the urge for a Moo, Moo Mr. Cow!

4. Eat out on kids eat free night if you have kids. We went to Applebee's on Wed. and got a cheeseburger, fries, kids chicken fingers, applesauce, a kid's tea and a kid's ice cream sundae. The total tab was about 12 dollars after tip. We even brought a chicken finger home for Josiah's lunch the next day.

5. Check with school kids for discount cards or coupon books. The schools here sell Smart Cards for $10.00 that have discounts for various restaurants, gas stations, and are attractions. We have a card that lets you buy a large fry and drink at McDonalds and you get any sandwich for free. We get this and split it (See #2). It also has any size soft drink from a local gas station for 49 cents.

6. Buy an Entertainment book. This one doesn't work quite so well for us because we live an hour from the city that the Entertainment book is for. It's too far to drive for a quick dinner out. It is also for places that are more expensive than where we usually go. However, we wait to order ours until it is several months old. By then they usually send us emails offering a discounted price, free shipping, extra coupons...anything to get you to buy the book. By the time we order it we usually only have to use it once for it to pay for itself. I like it because it has attractions, too. We try to go to at least one historic attraction in the area each year.

There are just a few ideas. I'd love to hear other ideas.

Next I'll write about saving money on laundry! Stay tuned!!! :-)