RadBear's Cost Cutting Tips




Introduction: RadBear's Cost Cutting Tips

About: I'm cheap and like to use what I have on hand and I really enjoy taking things apart to salvage parts. Rather than be a precise engineering type of person, I'm more of an enthusiastic tinkerer. Making things...

This really isn't so much an Instructable as a description of tips we've used to save money. Meaning you won't find a step by setp solution to your economic woes, just brief descriptions of stuff that has saved my family some money.

(And no I'm not going to tell you to buy in bulk or buy generic brand foods because I'm sure you've already thought of that. But these do help. But don't buy generic Oreos, Cheerios or Dr. Pepper. They just aren't the same.)

Step 1: Put the Dog to Work

We have three greyhounds. They eat a lot, plus they need heartworm preventative, flea and tick preventative and medical care. If you have a dog (or do some research) you quickly find out how this can add up to a bundle of cash.

So when we heard about the vet school in town looking for blood donors we signed our youngest up. Greyhounds tend to have the universal donor blood type. So in exchange for his blood every few months we get his food, heartworm preventative, flea & tick preventative and some medical care for free. This has saved us a lot of money.

The other upside is the he is getting experience meeting strangers and becoming more socialized. Since he came to us a very shy boy this has really helped him come out of his shell.

Step 2: Pet Water Reuse

We change out our cats' water at least once a day so it is fresh. Instead of just dumping the old water down the drain we use it to water our house plants. This way we are getting the most for our water dollar. It probably isn't enough to be noticeable on the bill, but it makes me feel a little better.

I don't recommend doing this if there are food particles in the water. This would lead to rotting food in your plants, which could create an unpleasent odor and lead to fungal growth. This is why we don't use the dog water. They tend to backwash more than the cats.

Step 3: Switch to Generic Drugs

One of the biggest money savers is I switched to a generic drug for my maintenace medications. Instead of taking Fantastium I now take Blandcebo. Generic drugs are chemically identical to the brand name and in this case the switch saved us over a hundred dollars every three months. Fantastium was running $120 for three months worth. Blandcebo costs $10 for a three month supply.

If your drug isn't available as a generic yet talk to your doctor. He may be able to recommend an alternative that is in generic form. In my case Fantastium was a once a a day extended release capsule. Blandcebo is a twice a day pill. A little more hassle saves me a lot of money.

This can also apply to the form your drug takes. I was on a medication that cost $300 for a six month supply. By going to my doctor's office at lunch and getting it as a once a month injection I pay $2.50 per shot. This adds up to $15 dollars every six months. Even taking the price of gas into consideration this is quite a savings.

You can also save on over the counter medications by using the generic store brand. Walgreen's version of Immodium or Benedryl is chemically identical to the name brand and costs several dollars less.

Step 4: The Library

I am a big fan of reading. However, it wasn't until a few years ago that I became a fan of the library. I liked to buy my books and I could read them at my own pace without "THE MAN" imposing deadlines on me. Well it turns out books are expensive and after you read them you don't do much with them but organize them nicely on a bookshelf. They serve the dual purpose of being an homage to the depth and scope of your interests while simultaneously collecting dust.

But then we moved into a new house and in order to cut costs (as well as save space) I stopped buying books and began taking advantage of the public library. It is completely free and I've found they have a much more diverse selection than I thought they would. I was big on hardback books and these range about $25 a pop. So this is easily saving me at least a couple of hundred bucks a year. In fact the only book I've bought with money (as opposed to gift cards) was from the library...after our blood donating dog chewed it up.

Using the library has also inspired me to read books I normally wouldn't have in the past. Since they cost me nothing, I don't lose anything if they suck.

In addition to books I was stunned to find my local library even has downloadable audio books and e-books. Plus you can look stuff you find on Amazon up in their on-line catalouge. You can get the catalouge numbers of the books you want ahead of time and then walk right in and grab your books. Our library will even gather the books together for you if you give them two days notice. I've never taken advantage of this service, but it does appeal to the lazier parts of my nature.

Oh and as for "THE MAN" imposing his artificial deadlines on me...well I've found I read faster than I thought I did, that "THE MAN'S" deadlines aren't unreasonable (and inspire me to read faster) and that since our library has a voluntary fine system for overdue books it doesn't cost me anything for being a little late in returning the books. (Which has only happened once.)

Step 5: Toaster Over Vs. Conventional Oven

Another way to save some money is to use your toster oven instead of your conventional oven. This is really only good for small portions or reheating, but it makes more sense to use a small oven for a small amount of food. It takes less time to pre-heat and uses less electricity. Plus in the summer it doesn't make the house as hot.

Another trick is to wrap the little toaster oven pan in foil. This way you don't have to wash it after you're done cooking.

If you don't own one you can pick one up at Wal-Mart for about $40 or $50.

Step 6: That's It

Well that's all I've got for you. So try these tips if you like and remember to buy in bulk and use generic products...except for Oreos, Cheerios and Dr. Pepper. And bullets. Cheap bullets tend to have more corrosive powder residue so just shoot the name brand stuff. Or clean your gun after shooting it.

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    34 Discussions

    Good 'ible! Some advice:

    In the summer months you could dig up a small area in your backyard and make a firepit with some rocks on the edge.  Get some long branches off a tree and use them to cook hot dogs and such.  Or, get a grill plate and make a cheap BBQ.

    Some really good ideas. I personally like buy second hand books really cheap from secondhand stores and online, read them, then sell them (for more than I payed for if I can) And I get a good read and make money at the same time!

    Wrapping the toaster oven pan in foil would not save money due to the cost of the foil compared with a short splash under a tap to clean. Along with the effects on the environment, I don't think this is a good idea. That being said, making use of a toaster oven for toasting/reheating smaller items is genius. Thanks for this tip.

    Hey! The Great Value brand Cheez-it knockoff are just as good as the real deal. Don't diss the Generics of the world!

    He didn't cut it as a racer. He was so shy and afraid of people they couldn't get him loaded in the starting gate. But he does still like to chase small prey animals.

    Our library also offers DVD and VHS lending... though they may be limited there are several classics and documentaries that DEFINITELY beat Blockbuster or Netflix.

    This is especially true with Loratadine, better known as Claritin ;) Equate Loratadine works just as well as Claratin and costs MUCH less!

    This is genius. Of course pets need blood too - I don't know why I never thought of this!

    3 replies

    Yeah. I had never thought of it either, but there is a definate need and it saves us some cash. Now if the Red Cross would just give me something for my blood I might be tempted to donate. :)

    1 pint of blood is actually worth $300-$500 on the market. (Don't believe me, ask how much it'll cost for a transfusion the next time you see your Doc.)

    But, if you donate plasma, which isn't whole blood, but just white blood cells, then you can get paid a minimum of $20 a visit, and visit up to twice a week!

    There's also companies like Life-Sera and Serologicals that are plasma "study" groups that basically look for people who've already been vaccinated against something so that they can take their antibodies and give them to people who can't take the vaccination.

    They will actually *re-vaccinate* you, and then pay you upwards of $30-$50 a visit, and you're still able to visit twice a week. I was doing a Hep-B vaccination study and was making $70 a week for about 4 hrs of my time.

    I read this .book and they figured at that at the time it was written a 55 gallon drum of blood was worth $30,000 once it was mnufactured into various products

    Paperbackswap.com will let you swap books with millions of other users all over for the cost of postage!

    Thanks for the tips. I have already been going to the library and buying generics at every turn, but I had no idea you could get free dog supplies in exchange for blood. I wonder how a toaster oven compares to a microwave as far as energy use? Also, speaking of energy use, if you wash your clothes in cold water instead of hot, you reduce your bill by the amount you would have spent heating that water.

    2 replies

    I'm not sure if toaster ovens are more energy efficient than microwaves or not. But I would let what you're reheating be the deciding factor in which to use. Some things are much better when cooked/re-heated in the toaster oven than when you microwave them. For instance pizza. Gets crispy in the toaster oven but soggy in the microwave.

    microwave oven will heat up faster if the food has high water content and is covered, not sealed but enough to keep most steam from escaping. Today I just cooked a bunch of my garden greens in one minute using those big yogurt tubs that are Polypropylene (recycle PP 5) with lid loosely on. Microwave ovens agitate molecules, and the oxygen atom of H2O is really sensitive to it. I never bothered to look into is before.. hehe. They also agitate other molecules for sure, and actually can do some freaky stuff to some proteins compared to good ol' heating: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18240290 . Didn't know that either..

    You can save more money on dog-food by just adopting more little puppies and feeding THEM to rover :D

    1 reply

    True. Plus I could then see if my cleaning Instructable worked on blood. :) But I have a feeling I'd have to dress them up as rabbits or squirrels to get his interest. And that would cost money on costume supplies.

    There are also Used Book Stores around that will trade your used books for "new to you" books you haven't read yet. The one in my hometown has a ton of romances, but is kinda skimpy on my favorite sci-fi and fantasy... Still, I have found some great buys for cheap and traded in some real stinkers for them!

    Good stuff!! A note on using the toaster oven... in the summer time, you can move the toaster oven out to the garage (or patio, or wherever) and use it out there... so you aren't paying to HEAT the food AND to COOL the house from the heat it gives off. Same thing with a crock pot. Just make sure it's up on a heat-resistant table, or the hot exterior could burn a hungry and/or curious dogs' nose. :-( Putting an old blanket around your crock pot will allow it to keep a set temperature and use less energy... but be careful if you have an old crock pot... some of them don't really regulate temps all that well, so make sure to check your food, or turn it down accordingly with the new insulation. Since I'm on a roll here.... you could let things warm up to room temperature (depending on what you're cooking, this isn't great for pastry recipes) after taking them from the fridge and baking/heating them. Because then you're paying/using energy to heat the food an extra 40 degrees or more (depending on ambient temps). In the opposite direction, right now, I'm using the bitter cold in Michigan, and my snowy patio to take some soup down to freezing, then I'll put it in the freezer. Why pay to cool it, when it's cold for free outside? (currently 2F outside). I have a couple of gallon jugs of water that I let freeze outside, then put into my fridge every few days... helps keep things cold and doesn't use any energy above walking to the sliding door and back to the kitchen. Thanks for the instructable! Christine