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Baby steps -- and a few giant leaps -- towards saving

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Picture of Baby steps -- and a few giant leaps -- towards saving
Lots of subjects have been covered, including my favorite dumpster diving, saving old stuff for parts, or just consuming less. Here are a few of the things I do which I haven't seen (and I apologize for the repetitions if you already have described some of my tips and secrets).
Not all are DIY -- some involve products to buy which will save you money in the long run -- but I've only included those if they really save you a lot, and might even change your life like the next step changed mine....
 
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Step 1: Selzer!

Picture of Selzer!
This is the one thing in my life which I could never give up... Even though I broke my back and hurt my hands carrying the bottles up the stairs, even though I felt guilty about the absurdity of using all the energy and materials necessary to produce the innumerable bottles I'd consume and the gas necessary to ship them, even though the modest cost of a bottle was adding up to several hundreds of dollars a year, I could still not give up the habit.
I'd thought of building some sort of seltzer making set-up, and found a few descriptions of how to do it, but they all seemed too involved, (and dangerous) to be practical for me. Then I found the soda club, and it did, literally, change my life. In a way it is DIY because I now make the selzer... I don't need to carry the weight or pay for the water. I use tap water (transported via the force of gravity) and just pay for the bubbles -- about 20 cts per liter. Not only do I save a whole lot, but I don't have to carry the water and I never run out! Safe, easy, cheap. What more can you ask for?
Based on curiosity, given the initial expense of these LED lamps, are you recouping the savings Vs a standard Light bulb?

I am currently a lighting technology student, and i am a huge supporter of where LED lighting is heading, and the only thing that has kept me away is the $20 price tag. Theoretically, the energy efficiency coupled with the long life of the LED source should recoup the cost, but i have learned to be skeptical of theories on paper. How does this real world application stand up to theory?
belsey (author)  fresnelman902 years ago
For this particular LED lamp, I would say yes, I'm definitely recouping savings, because I've had it for quite a while now (three years) and it's still going strong. I haven't been quite as lucky with some of the other LED fixtures I've bought (in particular beautiful flat 2' by 2' panels which have failed me -- though I almost forgive them because the light they gave out was gorgeous, bright but also soft and flattering). I suspect the problem isn't so much the LEDs, usually it's the LED drivers, the power supply, which disappoints. If the power supply isn't perfectly calibrated and dependable then the LEDs fry...
Just $0.02 on this subject :) I used to cut my first husband's and our friends' hair when we were in the Air Force. We were young and poor, and even though getting your hair cut on base/post is incredibly good value, still, $5 is $5. So got some hand-me-down clippers and got to work.
*Lessons: Military hair is great. If you totally screw up, you can just shave it or switch to a jar-head Marine look, haha. Lie and say you lost a bet if you must go to the shave. Also, start with someone with straight hair. Waves are little more intimidating.
Now I'm in marriage #2, and have 3 little boys (4 and under!) and a hard working husband. Still poor. Still cutting hair at home!
*Lessons: Little boys aren't that hard.
I started with scissors at 15 months, until they were old enough (around 2 y.o.) to not mind the clippers. It helps when they've seen the clippers used on Dad, and let them feel it on their skin of the hand or something first. A lot like preparing for the dentist!
They will be wiggly, but it's still workable. Let them do something REALLY AWESOME while you cut their hair, esp. the first few times. My first time cutting a child's hair, I put a chair in front of my dresser (with mirror) and let him dig through some non-valuable jewelry (WOW!!) while I snipped away. Major success. Or, in front of a sink in the bathroom with a soap crayon in hand. Now they are older, I can let them watch a movie while I clip and snip away (I am a low-tv parent, so this is a treat).
Again, if you really screw up, just clipper it really short or shave it if you have to, and tell them they are playing Army. =D Keep a positive attitude, it rubs off.
*Cheap and easy Ladies' hair: let it grow!! Nothing is faster or cheaper than long hair! My hair is classic length (bottom of bum) and it takes me about TEN SECONDS for my usual hairdo. Really!! Much faster to twist it into a bun and secure with a hair stick than do all that drying, curling/straightening, fussing, applying product, etc. that most ladies are wasting time and money with. Not to mention the salon costs and time!!
Go to the Long Hair Community forum for instructions on how to trim your long hair yourself and instructions on different hair styles if you need ideas.
I eloped, it was great! We took a lot of heat from the fam. for it though. It took nearly two years for everyone to calm down.
Wow, I don't envy you! We eloped and it was over within a week. We're both pretty strong personalities though. . .
lady4feet3 years ago
lol when my Hubby is mad at me he wastes paper towels. I love the lamp and I love this step! I don't have any kids but I'm trying to teach my nieces and nephew my values.
It is very good. How about Mickey Mouse?
The best is vinegar and water. I use it for almost everything. Oh also, reuse spray bottles from old cleaners instead of throwing them away or recycling them. That way you don't have to buy new spray bottles for your cleaners. Just make sure to relabel the bottles with whatever you put in them. I use old band stickers or other marketing stickers to label mine. For instance, my vinegar and water is marked with a Science Commons sticker and my dishsoap and water is covered in Firefox stickers. That way my roommates and I know can tel them apart _
Yes, and a lot of cleaning products are being sold in "concentrate" packets which are a fraction of the cost of the pre-made stuff. Saving your spray bottles works, and then by the concentrate. A little more work, but saves money in the long run. Cleaning products are always so expensive.

its still loded with chemicals that dont work or are unsafe

tincanz4 years ago
YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5*. saving energy, recycling, being crafty!!!!!!!!!! YAY!!!!!!
At my work, we have a lady who comes in and cuts everyone's hair for $10 per person. She's a great stylist who would cost more in her salon, but this is a way to get a bunch of business packed in and guaranteed on a slow day for her I guess. Look around and see if a hair stylist will give you a bulk discount if you and some of your coworkers, friends, or neighbors all get appointments together.
That is a great idea, that is a very enterprising hair stylist! Instead of marketing to bring people to her, she's going to the market. Brilliant.
Solderguy4 years ago
How exactly is one supposed to fill his car tires with air? Take it down to Jiffy Lube? You'll spend more money on them checking your tires than the 2 cups of fuel you save from having them inflated, I'm pretty sure that's why John McCain mocked his tire inflation idea, you're better off with the bike, but that can be stolen easily. :P
belsey (author)  Solderguy4 years ago
I have never owned a car in the 20+ years since I got my license, so I'm definitely not knowledgeable about car maintenance... but here in NYC I go to a garage to fill up my bike tires for free, and I've seen car owners fill theirs up too. If the rest of the country's garages don't offer free air that would explain McCain's attempts to denigrate this simple energy saving technique.
Give money to charities and they send you free cards in the mail all the time. Kind of annoying to get the spam, but I always have a bunch of cards on hand.
Oh one other thing. I read in the manual that a musty smell can also be caused by using too much detergent. Front loaders need to use detergent made for high efficiency washers (I'm not sure of a homemade recipe for this, but I'm sure you could come up with one...) and you have to use a LOT less than in a normal washer. Again that's a money savings. I use a ton less detergent than I used to.
I keep a microfiber towel hanging by my washer and just dry the tub, the seal, and the detergent cup out whenever I'm done washing for the day. Since I started doing this (takes like 1 minute), I never smell anything, but before that I had one issue with a musty smell. All I did to get rid of it was run a load of white towels with some bleach. The smell went away and bleach made my towels white again. No big waste there...Although drying it out seems to be the best solution. Overall I love my front-loader and my water and power bills have gone down since I got it (power goes down cause the dryer doesn't have to work as hard to dry your clothes). One other money saving bonus about this is my city offers a rebate for buying a HE washer, so I got a check for 100 bucks when I bought it.
edfel014 years ago
lets tryy not to bring politics in here every1 will be at each others throats.
belsey (author)  edfel014 years ago
Who would have thought such a simple conservation/efficiency idea would be so inflammatory? But it really started because in his shoe shine instructable I pointed out to Captain Molo that he had reproduced an idea that I'd already documented -- he was just trying (unsuccessfully) to "get my goat."
We haven't been to a salon / barber shop in years. People are always asking who does my hair. Though I am State Board certified. I also cut my Mother's , Sister's , her fiance, Our friend Ray , his wife's, and also his Mother. Another Idea ...I've recently started selling off our extra clothes and such (cheap) on Craigslist. It's shameful how many clothes I've accumulated and don't wear . Atleast I buy most at Goodwills. And Swapping plants for other things I need .
belsey (author)  artist without a medium4 years ago
I'm impressed you're able to cut your own hair -- I can't do that. Usually I donate clothes but Craigslist is great for selling stuff. I avoid listing things for free on craigslist because it's much more work (more people email) and you're more likely to be stood up. Somebody who's willing to spend a small amount for an item usually wants it enough to come pick it up....
I once talked a friend through a haircut (on me). Holding out the hair and telling her cut here. Just don't let a loved one use clippers on you. I let my husband cut my hair twice. The first time was awesome. The second time he used the wrong guard and I actually cried.
pavana5 years ago
Odd problem...in Scandinavia all washing machines are front loaded and they don´t smell. Is the design different?
qetuo pavana5 years ago
Yes i have never had that problem with my front loader in Europe.
belsey (author)  pavana5 years ago
I grew up in Switzerland and used front loaders without ever any problem either, but only since coming to the US has it been an issue. Apparently there's always some water left in all machines after washing. Since front loaders are well sealed, the water does not evaporate and bacteria grows. You can leave the doors open but it still won't be enough. My theory is that since European machines tend to be smaller, there is less water left inside so it can evaporate completely. Also if the machines are smaller they are used more frequently, therefore the water is fresh (smell develops especially if you wash once a week or less). Another possibility is I think Americans tend to wash with cold water more often, which means the water won't evaporate as well... These are just my theories. I can't think of any other explanations for the American problem with front loaders.
pavana belsey5 years ago
I haven´t heard of problems with the larger machines that are used as well. Maybe it is the cold water thing. But then again we wash in 30 C which isn´t hot.

Maybe it is just different habits: using too much soap, not cleaning the filter, leaving laundry in the washing machine instead of emptying it fairly promptly and not leaving the door open when the machine is not in use.

Interensting thread here:

http://www.thriftyfun.com/tf452244.tip.html
schneb5 years ago
I love the sun glasses! --but I'll bet your kids have as much fun making their toys as playing with them. (by which I mean that the making part would be a lot of fun)
belsey (author)  schneb5 years ago
They especially liked the preparation: eating this yogurt. The only time I bought them these sugary (and for me, foul tasting) treats was when I wanted to use the bottles. They've been bugging me to make them a chess set, and I don't think it's for the love of the game!
schneb5 years ago
Air drying not only saves energy, it saves clothes--machine drying clothes causes a lot of wear and tear (so to speak). Since a lot of clothes are made from synthetic fabrics, ultimately made from oil, you score double or triple bonus 'green' points for air drying clothes. But that said, I don't air dry everything--I just hang up big, heavy items like towels and jeans; other items can dry in a machine in less time if those big, heavy items are not part of the mix.
skarah5 years ago
I can't wait for the recipe for HE detergent!
belsey (author)  skarah5 years ago
I've kind of given up on a high borax HE detergent after I nearly ruined my washing machine... this will give you a clue why... Just imagine those lovely crystals growing in the pipes... Luckily though, hot water dissolves them. For peace of mind now I'm just putting my 2 tablespoons in directly with the clothes. That does work safely. I'm still working on a regular (ie NOT high borax) liquid detergent, and as soon as I'm satisfied I'll post it. It takes time because I want to use up each batch before I try a new recipe....
skarah belsey5 years ago
Ah! So maybe not high borax, but I think any recipe for detergent that would work in an HE would be nice. I've seen many for regular machines, but the suds!
Yes, the oder is vile! You are right; I used a Lysol bleach wipes which cut down the odor considerably. Hope this helps :0)
Wipe the inside rubber gaskett out with a clean rag and leave the door open
belsey (author)  porcupinemamma5 years ago
That's good for general maintenance, but once you've got the smell it's not enough...
planethalia5 years ago
"I am wasting Energy!!" That made me laugh so freakin hard!
Me too :)
Calorie5 years ago
Cutting your own hair saves a bundle. My hair has been many stages in my life. When I was 0-10 it was blond and straight. Then it went brown and wavy from 11-14. From 14 till 27 it was very black and curly and was like grapes clustered on my head. Around 27 white hair overtook the black and grows like optic fibers. I had a nephew who is Asian and he wanted to touch my hair (I'm a white guy) and he commented that it felt like little wires :-) Any how, the white optic fibers are too unruly to cut. I've bought a pair of clippers 7 years ago and began to cut my own hair. I've learned how to fade it, make transitions between grades and am generally pleased with the look. I figure that I conservatively save $125 a year.
belsey (author)  Calorie5 years ago
Then you can multiply that amount by the number of family members. I've never managed to cut my own hair though, except for the time my husband panicked and walked off the job leaving me half shorn... It's harder to do it with my length of hair (not super long, but not a boys cut either).
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