Saturday, April 14, 2012

I won't pay for it

I love reading The Frugal Girl and have been inspired many a time to pare down and try something new based on author Kristen's posts. One of her more recent posts, 10 Things We Don't Buy, got me thinking about what I've cut out of my spending habits in recent years. So, I'm going to be a total copycat and write my own list of things we don't pay for, in an effort to save money and keep it simple.

1) Bread
I have been baking our own bread for a couple of years now and, through much trial and error, have found a recipe that makes for a great everyday use kind of bread loaf. It's whole wheat, sugar-free and there are no preservatives, so its gets some max clean eating healthy points there. It's also incredibly cheap. I estimate each loaf to cost me less than a dollar to make, whereas store-bought bread up here can run $7 a loaf for whole grain, high-quality bread. On a related note, I don't buy breadcrumbs or panko either, as I use the leftover bits of my loaves for this.
2) Dryer Sheets
Ever since I discovered dryer balls, I have been sold on all counts. They are reusable, chemical-free, and get the job of static-removal done. I started using them when Abby was born to eliminate the unnecessary chemicals that come with dryer sheets. They cost about $25 for a pair and they were purchased over two years ago, so cost-wise, I've saved a lot.

3) Beverages
We buy the occasional case of pop for when we're entertaining and I'll admit a weakness for store-bought orange and carrot juices (for my smoothies!), but we do not buy water or juice, as a rule. Water up here comes from the Yukon River and tastes so fresh and clean. We reuse Nalgene bottles every day instead of spending money on water, which is arguably just as clean as what comes from my tap.

4) Cleaners
I really pared down our cleaning supplies when we moved to Whitehorse because moving excess of anything is irritating, and Abby was eating anything she could get her hands on. I wanted whatever those things were to at least not be coated in harsh cleaning chemicals. I also didn't want to go out and buy a whole new line of 'green' cleaners that were non-toxic. So I didn't. I filled one spray bottle with vinegar, water, and some lemon or lime peel wedges and began using that on everything. It works well, it costs maybe a few cents, and its non-toxic. On a related note, we don't buy air fresheners. A bowl of vinegar gets bad smells out quickly, and opening a window or baking treats is a much less toxic way to make our home smell good.
5) Granola bars, cookies, brownies and pies
Never say never, but unless I'm in a mad rush for a social event without any time to bake something, I don't usually buy something I can make myself. Store-bought brownies just don't hold a candle to the awesome butternut brownies I can whip up, and half the fun of having cookies in the house is eating the dough when you're making them, am I right? I can usually find a sugar-free, healthy alternative to any baking found in stores without compromising the delicious factor, so our snacks are cheaper and better for us, nutritionally-speaking. This weekend Abby and I baked some granola bars, which were eaten quickly!

6) These. Don't click the link if you're a dude, or at all squeamish. But these have saved me a ton of money, work better than their alternatives on the market, are discreet, create no waste and are a major money-saver.

7) Interest
I don't mean to say that I accrue a bunch of debt and don't pay any interest on the loans or payments. I mean that I don't take out loans with interest, and I don't rack up credit card debt. We had to buy a minivan this past winter with the surprise of twins, so I begrudgingly took out a small loan to cover about two-thirds the cost of the van. That said, we have a plan to pay it off in the next year. Otherwise, our truck is paid off and our only other money-borrowing service is our mortgage. (Most financial experts agree, however, that a mortgage is an investment and therefore not to be understood as a regular loan with interest. Given the insane housing market up ere, we hope t make some good coin when we do move out!)

8) Stock
I am a big proponent of wasting nothing, so before a chicken or turkey carcass goes into the green bin, it gets boiled for stock. It is so easy to do, takes very little effort, and provides litres of unsalted, preservative-free stock that I freeze in baggies for the next time I make a soup or recipe requiring stock.

9) Car washes
I love washing the cars. There is something so zen about the spraying, wiping, cleaning, repeating. It is a job with a clearly defined purpose and method and the afternoon in the sun it takes is a reward in itself. In the winter, when it is too cold outside to wash the cars ourselves, we just don't wash them!

10) My fitness
Gyms are really not my thing, and while I do enjoy taking a good yoga class, it's not imperative or even very convenient. I much prefer doing yoga in my basement whenever I can carve out a half-hour chunk in my day. I hike with my family and I suppose if I really get committed to fitness (it happens in phases, as these things are wont to do), then I run. I will always get myself good hiking shoes and running shoes, but generally yoga, hiking and running are free and all I need to keep my heart healthy and muscles toned.


  1. Sarah,

    I love this post- and realized how much MORE we have in common again, as well gaining some new knowledge, and ideas.
    You have a great writing style, very enjoyable. Thank you for this wonderful blog.
    your friend always, Becca

  2. I'm going to try the lemon and lime wedges in a bottle! It looks pretty too!


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