There are so many ways to save money, and the least effective one is finding things on sale. We have to learn how to find and use what we already have. It's a talent lost in our present culture of wanting more. Find a few ideas below to stimulate your own creativity to do what fits for your own family and household.
We have been recycling paper for many years, as many others have, but we've found that many folks don't think about using the paper before recycling it.
Do you realize how much junk mail passes through the home or office that has printing only on one side?
We keep it and use it in our printers. Most of what we print is for ourselves and for our files, so we save having to buy reams of paper. We also do this when we print something for somebody else that we know, so it will be a topic for conversation, which gives us the chance to teach that recycling and concern for the environment is important. . . . and that frugality can be fun and not embarrassing. We set the example and that opens the doorway to teach that it's okay to choose voluntary simplicity instead of ‘keeping up with the neighbors. '
While we're discussing paper for printers, you must check out the refill options for those ink cartridges. . . it's much too expensive to keep buying new ones.
We also save all those envelopes included in junk mail. It costs more for a label than it does for an envelope, so it's not frugal to use them in place of envelopes for mailing and the post office doesn't like it either. However, we've used envelopes for sorting things, dropping off a night deposit at the bank, passing a note or a check payment to somebody. We cross off the address with a squiggly, creative flair and write the name of the person we are going to give it to. You can file canceled checks in them or coupons by different categories. I'm sure you'll think of more uses for them. This also sends a message of “waste not, want not" to our nation of in-debt families.
If you like spiral notebooks because of the hard surface, find a pocket portfolio and put junk mail in it to use. It's actually nicer than the spiral since you can arrange the papers/notes in any order you want and still have them orderly in the portfolio.
We never buy note paper. We have little boxes sitting by the telephones and put any scraps of paper that we find with a clean side up to write on. Some paper isn't the right size for a printer. There are all kinds of different scraps of paper to provide for your note paper box: extra deposit slips, the backs of receipts, small junk mail envelopes, the backing on check pads, etc.
Just begin the process and you'll find many opportunities for free paper and you'll feel good about saving money and trees. You can lay sheets by the phone and while you're on one of those long conversations, you can tear them into note size making good use of your time while listening to a friend. Feel good using some of the junk mail instead of just recycling it!
Do you know that many people have eliminated trash pickup by recycling garbage in a compost pile and recycling almost everything else they use.
You can keep a large trash can outside with a plastic bag inside that will take a month to fill. . . . and then you can haul it off to the community dumpster which is free, thereby eliminating trash pickup fees which have really become high in most towns.
Since we decided Voluntary Simplicity is the way for us, we have also been concerned about being frugal with the environment. That has required some choices where we had to choose between frugalities for conservation reasons or the pocketbook. It's been an interesting journey which began when I read the following:
"If every household in the US replaced just one roll of 500 sheet virgin fiber bathroom tissues with 100% recycled ones we could save: 297,000 trees, 1.2 million cubic feet of landfill space (equal to 1400 full garbage trucks), and 122 million gallons of water (a year's supply for 3500 families of 4)"
It doesn't take much to make a difference!
We began using recycled toilet paper, tissues, napkins and paper towels. They cost a little more, but somehow they give us a really deep feeling of satisfaction for helping the world God made for us to enjoy. Most recycled papers are not bleached with chlorine which is beneficial to the environment and our health also. I like the absence of dyes and fragrances, yet another elimination of chemicals in our homes. The toxicity of our environment does not go unnoticed by our physical bodies since research has shown that as chemicals increase so does cancer.
We've replaced a shelf full of cleaners by buying one simple laundry/cleaning product: Sunshine Concentrate .
We use it for laundry, hand soap, window and car cleaner, and for disinfectant qualities we make it up in a spray bottle with antibacterial essential oils .
Since we use herbs and vitamins we make sure we recycle those bottles, but first we like to use them for something. We enjoy making snacks from dried fruits and nuts to carry with us or to pack for lunches, so we use the bottles in place of plastic baggies.
You can use them for many things if you get a little creative. Our herb bottles have a 2" wide opening, so they're great to put in drawers to organize paper clips, tacks, rubber bands, buttons, etc. and can be used for pencil holders and flower pots for beginning seeds.
Let's allow our minds to become creative again as they were in older days when ‘things’ weren't so available and our nation didn't have a disposable mentality. Frugality begins in finding use of the things we already have in our possession, not just saving money on obtaining more things. You not only feel good about doing more with what you have, but you'll be surprised at how much more time and money you have when you don't have to spend gas and time shopping. You'll also find that you can reduce your car insurance if you put less miles on your car each year.
I firmly believe one of the main reasons our ancestors lives were so much more peaceful is because they didn't shop every day or week. Get rid of the “have it now" mentality and make lists of what you need and schedule a time weekly at first and eventually less often to shop. It will happen automatically as you stir your creativity to find things you can substitute that are already in your home.
Make your money last longer - you can have more fun times with your family, and you can give more to organizations your heart cries for.
Donna L. Watkins lives in Central Virginia with her wonderful husband enjoying birds, wildlife, gardening, forests, nature travel and her cat, Squeek. She has one grown-up son who inspires her life in many ways. Read more of Donna's articles at TheHerbsPlace.com and subscribe to her free mailing, A Healing Moment. http://www.theherbsplace.com/ahm.html