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Old 05-26-2014, 01:32 PM   #21
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In our budget, our biggest expense is not food, it is housing (with the associated utilities, maintenance, and repairs).

If we were looking to reduce spending, down-sizing the house would have to be on the list.
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Old 05-26-2014, 01:34 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by Walt34 View Post
8. Tap water is cheap and plentiful. You don't need anything else to drink.
I have to take exception to that!

I do not drink water straight out of the tap. It has to go through the RO filter first.

And then, I have to add some lemon juice to a cold glass, with some floating ice cubes. I deserve no less than that.
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Old 05-26-2014, 01:44 PM   #23
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While I do some of this stuff for the 'fun of it', can you really save that much? Canned tomatoes are pretty darn cheap.
I have not been successful with growing tomatoes. For cooking, canned tomatoes are better than fresh tomatoes bought in stores, because the former was picked and processed at the right time, instead of being picked green for transport.

I also grow veggie for fun, but not sure if I can recoup the cost if I grow common things that I can get in stores. Herbs are the best bangs for your buck, and labor.

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I really doubt this is saving any significant $ (if at all, depending), and I doubt you get your investment back. Even assuming a higher end of $0.20/cooking cycle, and assuming zero energy cost for the thermal cooker (which of course there must be a cost to this, but it's tough to estimate),

A slow cooker only costs a penny or two an hour to run. A basic slow cooker is cheap ($15-$20?). If you pay an extra $50 for a thermal pot (reasonable $?), that is 250 cooking cycles to break even, with VERY generous assumptions.
My wife wanted a thermal cooker, and we spent $250+ for a big 2-gal one as I recall. The real advantage is not having to watch and stir the pot, as even a slow cooker can burn at the bottom. It would take a lot of use to recover the cost of this from the electric savings.
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Old 05-26-2014, 01:59 PM   #24
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I have not been successful with growing tomatoes. For cooking, canned tomatoes are better than fresh tomatoes bought in stores, because the former was picked and processed at the right time, instead of being picked green for transport.

I also grow veggie for fun, but not sure if I can recoup the cost if I grow common things that I can get in stores. Herbs are the best bangs for your buck, and labor.
....
Thanks, I meant to mention that, but forgot.

Yes, in the store, fresh herbs are actually quite expensive, and I usually need less than the package size in the time they go bad.

Many herbs are very, very easy to grow, and generally don't have insect problems. We have a big pot of rosemary, bring it into our 3 season room over winter, and have fresh rosemary all year round. I think we end up replacing one of the three plants about every third year.

Thyme and parsley are great too. Mint and chives are only slightly more work, and we don't really use much. I'm not crazy about our oregano, maybe I'm just used to the taste of dried? I haven't bothered to dry/crush it, and I think dried oregano is not so expensive (don't really recall the price).

It takes so little space and effort to grow those herbs, don'g it for the 'fun of it' is a really small step, and though I never calculated it, some savings to boot.

I guess I could add brewing beer to this list. If you go about it with an eye towards keeping costs down, it can save money (but takes time, you need to enjoy the process to some degree). But if you buy every gadget that comes along, and high end equipment, and don't brew large quantities, it will be a money sink (but if it's a hobby, that's fine too).

-ERD50

-ERD50
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Old 05-26-2014, 01:59 PM   #25
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My living costs are already low so there's little to gain on the spending side. The biggest boost that's easily within reach isn't really a surprise, it's OMY of my present job. For me a year's aftertax net is several years of total current living expenses. But it's just a temporary bump, once it reverts, I'm done.
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Old 05-26-2014, 02:01 PM   #26
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If we were looking to reduce spending, down-sizing the house would have to be on the list.
DH and I will be doing this eventually and I'm not sure it's going to help the cash flow that much. We DO want a smaller house; we've got a McMansion with a pool and it's too much. If we buy what we want, though (relatively new, large kitchen, 3 BR, maybe lake orclubhouse access), it's not going to cost that much less so the property taxes and homeowners' insurance will be about the same. Then there are the out-of-pocket costs like the realtor commission and moving. Our friends are our ages, so they're beyond the point that they can be persuaded to load our stuff into a U-Haul in exchange for free beer. We're talking to a realtor tomorrow but my guess is that it won't be a huge economic win, but more a reduction in the hassle of cleaning/maintaining a bigger house and lawn, and somewhat lower utility costs.

Similarly- someone mentioned insulation. We just paid $3,600 to get better insulation in the attic. (House is 30 years old and the original insulation had fallen down in places). How long do we have to stay in the house to recoup that through lower utility costs?

For the OP, reducing impulse spending, watching monthly commitments and minimizing restaurant/fast food meals should help. ETA: check Asian groceries for inexpensive produce and interesting spices; one near us has not-so-fresh produce but the other has great stuff. Check the bulk section of Whole Foods for great deals on couscous, bulgur, oat bran (makes great oatmeal), etc. They're far cheaper than the health food sections of regular grocery stores. Beware of impulse purchases in both places, which will wipe out your savings!
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Old 05-26-2014, 02:09 PM   #27
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I was just curious if anyone went over their budget and found ways to save that surprised them.I have gone over mine and am kind of at a loss of where to save.I realize everyone is different but we all have places where we can save.Please share your ideas.
Hereís an idea: Instead of going over your budget, why donít you simply increase your budget? Just make up your mind to work six months longer than you planned and maybe your entire life (except for those extra six months) becomes easier. This way you donít have to grow your own food, you can drink something other than tap water, and you wonít need to think of davef when you use toilet paper (sorry about that, davef). Itís still probably a good idea to heed frayne's suggestion of not going on Ebay or Amazon if you have been drinking.
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Old 05-26-2014, 02:25 PM   #28
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Hereís an idea: Instead of going over your budget, why donít you simply increase your budget? Just make up your mind to work six months longer than you planned and maybe your entire life (except for those extra six months) becomes easier.
But can 6 months of more work make that much difference? Or is it going to be OMY, then another OMY, and OMY, till you are no longer talking about ER, but just R?

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Itís still probably a good idea to heed frayne's suggestion of not going on Ebay or Amazon if you have been drinking.
If the OP is just drinking water, or even water laced with lemon juice like I suggested, is it safe then to surf eBay and Amazon?

I do occasionally lace my water with something other than lemon juice, like a tablespoon of water to something 80-proof, but there's water in everything we drink, right?
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Old 05-26-2014, 02:48 PM   #29
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I really doubt this is saving any significant $ (if at all, depending), and I doubt you get your investment back. Even assuming a higher end of $0.20/cooking cycle, and assuming zero energy cost for the thermal cooker (which of course there must be a cost to this, but it's tough to estimate),

A slow cooker only costs a penny or two an hour to run. A basic slow cooker is cheap ($15-$20?). If you pay an extra $50 for a thermal pot (reasonable $?), that is 250 cooking cycles to break even, with VERY generous assumptions.

Same with an Instant Pot - how do you figure TCO?
-ERD50

We have reduced our electricity costs by around 2/3s so far, just from doing the kinds of things in my post. Our energy bills used to be $300 - $500 a month, and the last bill was under $100.

Our top tier costs per KW hour are 36 cents, plus not heating up the kitchen means not needing to use the A/C to cool down a big house in a hot climate, with bedrooms above the kitchen. There is a reason older homes in hot climates sometimes had summer kitchens located off the main house. The Instant pot stays cool on the outside, as does the thermal pot. I use them multiple times a day.

We went around with a Kill a Watt so we know what watts all our electrical appliances use and what we can save by making select replacements.

I am not sure what the point of your post is, though. If you don't feel a suggestion from some else is useful to you personally, based on your local energy cost, food costs, number of people in your family, climate, and house size, why not just ignore it?

Added -

I got most of my rechargeable batteries, solar chargers and cooking gadgets either free for doing product reviews or used on Amazon warehouse deals, so that makes the ROI higher than if bought new.
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Old 05-26-2014, 03:02 PM   #30
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Since retiring 4 years ago, DH and I have saved a bundle by buying our clothes at Goodwill, Salvation Army, and other resale stores. It's even more fun to go on the "1/2 price" days, where we have snagged very nice clothes in great condition for as little as $2.
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Old 05-26-2014, 03:06 PM   #31
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Speaking of clothes, we have not been spending any money the last couple of years, other than for underwear and socks. I have been wearing my T-shirts mostly, and when they became thin, my wife said she got more stashed away, the ones she bought during our past travels that I did not have a chance to wear much due to work.
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Old 05-26-2014, 03:08 PM   #32
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Hereís an idea: Instead of going over your budget, why donít you simply increase your budget? Just make up your mind to work six months longer than you planned and maybe your entire life (except for those extra six months) becomes easier. This way you donít have to grow your own food, you can drink something other than tap water, and you wonít need to think of davef when you use toilet paper (sorry about that, davef). Itís still probably a good idea to heed frayne's suggestion of not going on Ebay or Amazon if you have been drinking.
It's a mindset, redduck. Cutting expenses in areas that, in the end, don't really improve your quality of life, can have big returns over a long period. I cut DH's hair (he doesn't have much) and for 10 years the two of us managed with one car. We're homebodies and rarely eat out in restaurants unless we're traveling. As I mentioned earlier, he makes soup stock out of stuff most people throw away. We have also kayaked around the city walls of Dubrovnik, regularly enjoy bottles of $75 single-malt, single-cask scotch, and are about to go on an up-close-and-personal-with-nature cruise in Alaska in a 73-passenger vessel. Those are our priorities. I used to tell my son we could have anything we wanted, but not EVERYTHING.

As for "planning" to work 6 months longer, good luck with that. I got disgusted with my last job and, although I had planned to retire in another 4 1/2 years, I just decided to quit and enjoy life. I'm VERY glad I didn't have a plan that was heavily dependent on working to a particular age, or I'd be conducting a desperate job search right now instead of taking bicycle rides and working in the church community garden.
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Old 05-26-2014, 03:15 PM   #33
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Now that I have more time to study receipts, I am finding mistakes from the grocery store check out. Either the cashier doesn't use the pull off coupon, or the price charged was not what was advertised. I try to watch during the check out, but have no hesitation to take the coupon and receipt back if I need to get a refund!!
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Old 05-26-2014, 03:39 PM   #34
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...
I am not sure what the point of your post is, though. If you don't feel a suggestion from some else is useful to you personally, based on your local energy cost, food costs, number of people in your family, climate, and house size, why not just ignore it?
Because, as I said 'it depends'. Some of these suggestions are posted as 'universal truths', and in most cases, 'it depends'.

I think it is useful to other readers to have it pointed out that some of these ideas may not work for them, they need to take a closer look. That is the poit of my post. I dislike 'broad brush' statements (well, most of them, don't want to paint with too broad a brush on that one! ).



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Added -

I got most of my rechargeable batteries, solar chargers and cooking gadgets either free for doing product reviews or used on Amazon warehouse deals, so that makes the ROI higher than if bought new.
Well, that's an important detail to leave out regarding 'savings'. It would have been helpful to point that out in the post. Anyone who is looking into savings has to do an ROI if there is an upfront cost.

Anyhow, glad these things are working out for you.

-ERD50
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Old 05-26-2014, 03:56 PM   #35
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Well, that's an important detail to leave out regarding 'savings'. It would have been helpful to point that out in the post. Anyone who is looking into savings has to do an ROI if there is an upfront cost.

Anyhow, glad these things are working out for you.

-ERD50
We have still saved thousands per year on our energy bill, and even if bought new at full price, the LED bulbs, changers and kitchen gadgets all together would only cost ~$500 or so total, making the payback period using summer energy bills under several months, while most of the products purchased should last for years.

This thread prompted me to look up our current top tier electricity rate. It is now 36 cents per hour, not 34.
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Old 05-26-2014, 05:55 PM   #36
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Since retiring 4 years ago, DH and I have saved a bundle by buying our clothes at Goodwill, Salvation Army, and other resale stores. It's even more fun to go on the "1/2 price" days, where we have snagged very nice clothes in great condition for as little as $2.
I will try that.A week ago I grabbed some Levis I thought were on sale.I was shocked when they rang up $68.For some plain old Levis?I could not believe it.Needless to say, I did not purchase them.
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Old 05-26-2014, 06:17 PM   #37
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For some really cheap veg, sprout your own mung beans. I didn't even have to buy any equipment for mine - I just use old fruit punnets with some netting from onion bags at the bottom, standing over and draining into a slightly larger fruit punnet. Soak beans for 24 hours first and discard or resoak ones that didn't swell. There are lots of instructions online.
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Old 05-26-2014, 06:17 PM   #38
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I buy my jeans at thrift stores anymore. It's about $5.
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Old 05-26-2014, 06:25 PM   #39
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I just use old fruit punnets...
Another 'educational moment' on the forum:

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punnet [puhn-it]

noun British, Australian.

A small container or basket for strawberries or other fruit.
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Old 05-26-2014, 06:29 PM   #40
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Sharing 23 years of Frugal Retirement

for starters...
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