I know it is hard to believe, but most of us have extra money. It is just a matter of figuring out where it is lurking. If you pay attention every day to what you are spending money on, you will quickly realize how much more you really spend. For example, I purchase a cup of coffee every single day on my way to work. At $1.25 this really adds up over time. Working 5 days a week, for 42 weeks means I spend $262.50 per year just on my daily coffee! My husband does the same thing, but he works about 48 weeks a year for a total of $300.00. Right there is more than $500 per year we could easily be saving if we just started making the coffee at home. So lets take a look at where you might be able to 'find' a little extra money in your life!
Decrease or Eliminate Unnecessary Expenses
Here are a few ideas...
Earn Extra Money
A few ways you might be able to do this...
Hopefully this helps you find a little extra money in your life!
Please share any ideas you have for coming up with extra money!
Ways to Conserve Water at NO COST to you:
Ways to Conserve Water at a Minimal Cost (but are worth it!):
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Who doesn't want to lower their electric bill? Especially if you live in a location where the electric costs a small fortune like here on Long Island. But fret not! In the past four years, with a lot of work and implementing everything you will read here, we were able to lower our yearly KWH usage from 13,634 KWh's in 2013 to 9,670 KWh's in 2013. That is a savings of 3,964 KWh's per year! Wow! The goal was to get below 10,000 KWh's and we exceeded that. What did we do and how can you do it too?
First, we used an energy meter to determine how much energy different appliances were using. For example, we used it on our refrigerator and after seeing how much electric it used and comparing that to the new energy star ones, well replacing it was a no brainer. This saved us the most KWh's. Read about our new Energy Star Refrigerator here.
Second, we decreased how many hours our pool filter runs in the summer. This was a huge savings as well. Read about our Pool Energy Savings here.
The third huge change was switching to all LED bulbs. This was a bit of an expense to start with, but worth every penny! And since we bought in bulk, it wasn't as costly as it could have been. Read why you should switch to LED bulbs here.
Read more below about how we decreased our KWh's and lowered our electric bill.
Decreasing Electric Use - Investment required!
The following cost us money, but our electrical use decreased a lot so they were worth it!
Decreasing Electric Use - Little to No Money required:
These are mostly common sense, but reminders are needed every day in our house :-)
We are always working to save money on our electric bill and continue to replace high energy use appliances with energy star ones. The washer and dryer will be soon! Cant wait to see how much we will save :-)
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Check out other ways to Save Money on your Bills & Debt!
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Three choices for Christmas trees:
Fresh cut - as good as dead, but can be useful in some ways
Balled - a living tree with balled roots that is planted after Christmas
Faux - can be purchased with or without lights on & lasts practically forever
I know, theres nothing like the smell of a fresh cut Christmas tree but I don't like the idea of cutting down and killing a perfectly good tree just to throw it away after the holidays. If I had a use for it and it wasn't going to go to waste, well then I might feel differently. Or maybe not.... For many years we purchased a living tree with the root ball and all. We would plant it after Christmas and after a few years we had a nice border down the side of the yard. That was when we lived on a large piece of property and had lots of room to plant. Now we don't have the room, or need, to plant a living Christmas tree so a fake, or faux, tree it is!
After Christmas about 14 or so years ago I was checking out the holiday clearance at Franks Nursery (when it was still here) and there it was: the beautiful 'fake' tree I would own for longer than I could ever have dreamed. That day I purchased my 7.5' Christmas tree and I can't even tell you what I paid for it, but I know it was worth it! It was the only one left and I couldn't believe my luck. I have been using it ever since and figure I have easily saved close to $1,000 over the years! I really love my artifical tree and as you can see it is still in the original box!
The tree is simple and has no lights on it. The center 'stem' is two parts that connect together and branches that connect around the stem working upwards. The top is a separate piece that goes on last. I fluff out the branches as I go and I think it is perfect! I have put the tree up for so many Christmas' that I don't even need the directions to assemble it anymore! It is plain, and it is simple.
I know a lot of the fake trees available today have lights on them and that this could be a huge time saver (putting on and taking off the lighs can be a hassle), however I am glad my tree doesn't. First, have you really ever changed a bulb on Christmas lights? I have and I can tell you sometimes it's a real pain. Permanent lights on a tree takes that burned out buld replacement to a new level that I am not interested in! With my simple try I like the freedom to change things up. I am not 'stuck' with the same lights year after year, especially if they're not LED's! Traditional white lights with an angel at the top of the tree this year? No problem. A colorful star at the top with multicolored with low energy LED colored lights another year? Easy peasy. I like having the the freedom to change it up every year if I want to and a simple tree with no permanent lights allows me to do this.
Best of all, it's still lookds as good as new every year :-)
In my opinion the benefits far outweight the negatives.
Super simple, and super worth it!
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Do you grow your own tomatoes? If you do, and if you are like me, then you have a lot of extras. After sharing my extras with friends and family and even giving some to the chickens every day I still had so many more to go...and more growing every day. I was trying to think of something different to do with them so I thought why not homemade sun-dried tomatoes?
I started doing a little research and discovered that most 'sun-dried' tomatoes aren't really sun dried anymore, they are dehydrated or cooked in an oven. Since my goal is always to do things in simple ways using as few resources as possible I was determined to really, truly, make real sun dried tomatoes. And I did! It was so simple and so successful that I have made many more batches since then!
After drying them, which generally takes a minimum of 2 full-sun days (depending upon the humidity of course), I freeze them instead of just storing them dry because they last longer in the freezer and I don't need to check them regularly for any mold growth. Mold growth can occur if any of the tomatoes are not 100% dry. Any little bit of moisture left over can start growing mold, so since we live in a humid environment and I have a freezer I decided it was just easier and safer to keep them there.
When we are ready to use them for cooking all we do is boil some water, cover them with the hot boiled water and let them sit for 15 - 20 minutes. This rehydrates them so they can simply be added to any dish we choose!
The best part is they cost me practically nothing, they are organic (because they were grown in my own garden), they retain all the wonderful nutrients of fresh tomatoes, and they can be enjoyed all winter long when I have no fresh garden to pick from!
Check out my You Tube video below to see how I made them:
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These are all common sense, but since the temperatures were recently hovering around 0°F, yes ZERO , I thought it might be a good time for a little refresher with respect to keeping our home warm without breaking the piggy bank!
What can be done that costs nothing but time?
What can be done that requires some investment?
Note: some of these contain affiliate links. This means that if you click on a link and make a purchase I get a small percent of that sale. For this reason I carefully choose every link to make sure that I really stand behind, and almost always, actually have used and or continue to use the product myself. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.
I hope some of these suggestions were helpful and that you have a warm and wonderful winter :-)
You can read more on our website at
Minimizing Heating & Cooling Bills
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Well, maybe not necessarily secrets... but certainly great ideas that can save you money! You know the expression "waste not, want not," right? Do you practice this by being frugal at home? Do you use items to their fullest, or do you just simply throw them away without thinking about if they could still be useful to you and your family? Either way, check out these super frugal household 'secrets' for the kitchen that can help you save a little money and be environmentally friendly at the same time!
1. Reuse Freezer and Sandwich Bags - I know, they are plastic, but seriously, they really make storing things simple! Food stays fresh, and other items are easily viewed in the bag making them easier to find. But because they are plastic I make sure I re-use them over and over again (Only first-time-usefor food!). Simply turn inside out, wash and rinse, then let them thoroughly dry. Keep the used bags in a special spot so you know they have already been used once or more. I keep them in a bin near the kitchen for easy access. The used baggies, no matter their size, are great for so many purposes! When you have absolutely worn them out or broken the zipper, then be sure to recycle them right along with your other plastic bags!
2. Don't throw leftover bread away! Save all those ends and leftover pieces nobody eats. Also save the leftover pieces that are already going stale! Break or cut them up into crouton size pieces, put them in a container, and cover with cheesecloth so nothing but air can get in. I use a giant rubber band around the outside to hold the cheesecloth in place. Keep it accessible and give it a shake every now and then to keep the air circulating. When the pieces are completely dried out, put them in a baggie for storage. When you are ready, use them as stuffing or crush them up and season them to use as breadcrumbs. Check out how I used them in my Apple Stuffing Recipe!
3. Freeze brown and bruised bananas that nobody wants to make awesome banana bread! Simply put them right into the freezer with the peel on. When you are ready to make the bread, take them out, let them defrost, peel the end off, squeeze out the banana and use it to make this yummy simple Banana Bread Recipe!
4. Save butter wrappers in a baggie in the freezer to greese pans with. That's right, don't throw those wrappers and small scraps of butter out! Save them in the freezer and when you need to grease a pan before baking in the oven, simply take one out and grease up that pan! This is also a great way to save and use those little pats of butter you get at the diner!
5. Freeze small amounts of leftovers for the best homemade soup you ever made! We have all had times when we had leftovers that were not quite enough to save for another meal. I am not talking about leftovers on someones plate, those are great to share with your pets or chickens. This is for those leftovers nobody touched. Most people just throw them out, but I save every little bit in a freezer baggie, date it, and freeze it! Then I make a soup that they can all be thrown into! Check out this simple Homemade Soup Recipe that you can add all those great bits of leftovers to!
6. Reuse Aluminum Foil - if its not ruined or super dirty, wipe it off if necessary and reuse it! This stuff is expensive, and sometimes it is necessary for baking or cooking. I don't use plastic wrap so aluminum foil is usually what takes it's place just to cover things in the fridge. It usually doesn't get dirty doing that job, so depending upon what it was used for and if the foil is in good shape, I save it and reuse it. It is that simple.
7. Use rubber spatulas! I love my rubber spatulas! I literally use them every single day for multiple purposes. Bottom line though, they are great for getting that last drop of mayonnaise, soup, batter, etc. out of the container with! Why throw money literally down the drain by wasting good food that you left in the bottom of the container? I have a set of multiple sized spatulas so that I can get into any size jar, but the smallest one is my absolute favorite! (Note: affiliate link).
8. Stop buying coffee filters! Buy a metal coffee filter than can be used over and over again. I actually bought two so when one is being washed I have an extra! (Note: affiliate link).
9. Save those scraps! All those egg shells and fresh produce peels and scraps? Compost them and then use them to make your garden soil amazing instead of buying special compost! Read more about easy composting at Mother Earth News!
10. Keep your coffee in a carafe. Why waste money keeping your coffee warm in the pot you cooked it in? Why have to reheat a cup in the microwave later in the day when it never tastes good that way anyway? However, keep it in a carafe and it stays warm and tasty all day long and you are not wasting money by throwing that expensive, cold and stale coffee away! (Note: affiliate link).
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For more frugal ideas check out my Pinterest board
Everyday Ways to Save Money!
It's that time again....a new year with new resolutions. How many of us actually accomplished all of our resolutions from last year? I know I didn't. But this year I have a plan! FIVE SIMPLE, yet life changing, resolutions! Each of the 5 resolutions is simple and straightforward so they should be easier to follow through with, right? Well, hopefully! But the real plan is that they become lifetime habits that I eventually don't even have to think about!
1. Eat Whole Foods - this is not a diet but if done properly should lead to losing weight and feeling more energetic. Eating whole foods means exactly that: eating fresh vegetables, fruits, and meats instead of anything that is processed. If the foods are all organic, then even better! If the food required some sort of processing in a plant and has ingredients added for whatever reason, then it is OUT! Need some help with this? Then check out the following site:
2. Exercise - Five minutes a day is all that's needed to get started and it can be simple like walking to the store instead of driving!
3. More Quality Family Time - are you usually too busy for your spouse, children, or even your parents or siblings? Then make time for them before it is too late! It doesn't have to cost anything either! You can simply make a plan to do something for 1-3 hours each week. It can be as simple as playing a game like monopoly, or going for a nature walk at the local park. The idea is to make it a priority and schedule it in if you have to!
4. Organize - get the house in order! This will make everything so much simpler this year. It makes it easier to clean, takes less time to find what you need (Don't you hate searching for something?), and of course frees up quality time to spend with your family!
5. Grow Your Savings - even if you have debt, it is important to have some money in a savings account. Having money saved makes me feel protected in case of emergency like when our stove blew up last year. I usually set a certain goal to reach each year. I don't always meet it, but it helps!
I wish you and your family a Healthy and Happy New Year!
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Hi there! I'm Kathie, the author behind Creating A Simpler Life. I'm excited to share our longterm projects (and planning) toward building our future retirement homestead in the Adirondack Mountains of New York. In the meantime I will be sharing all the other little things we do that are part of creating our simpler life!