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Simple Easy Strategies on How to Reduce Your Living Expenses

Copyright September 3, 2012 by Robert Wayne Atkins, P.E.
All Rights Reserved.



If you are an older person, or if you have been experiencing hard times for several years, then you probably already know most of the suggestions that follow.

But if you are a younger person, or if you are just beginning to experience some serious hard times, then you may find some of the following suggestions to be useful.

How to Reduce Your Electric Bill and Your Gas Bill

Average Home Temperature:
In the winter during the daytime adjust your home thermostat to the lowest temperature you can tolerate.
In the winter before you go to bed reduce the thermostat a few more degrees because you will be in your bed under your blankets and quilts.

If you have air conditioning then in the summer increase the thermostat to the highest temperature you can tolerate.
If you have air conditioning and the night temperature forecast is lower than your home thermostat setting then consider turning off your air conditioner and opening your windows at night to cool off your home.

Wear more layers of warm clothing in the winter. Seriously consider wearing some soft warm gloves and a warm hat with ear muffs when you are inside the house during the winter.
Only wear one thin layer of clothing in the summer.

Hot Water Temperature:
Turn your hot water heater thermostat down 5 or 10 degrees, if possible. Then wait about two hours and test the water to see if the lower hot water temperature is still suitable for your needs. If you believe the hot water temperature could still be a little lower then adjust the thermostat down again. Continue until you reach a hot water temperature that is suitable for all your hot water needs.

Automatic Dishwasher:
Stop using your automatic dishwasher. Wash your dishes in the kitchen sink. Let the dishes dry in a plastic dish drainer on the counter top beside your sink.

Washing Machine:
Continue to use your washing machine because it is a true labor saving device that is worth the cost of its operation.

Read the label on your Laundry Powder Box or the label on your Liquid Detergent Bottle. Most laundry detergents are now either concentrated or ultra. This means the detergent now contains more soap and less fillers or less water. Therefore you need less detergent to achieve the same results as before. Use the recommended amount of detergent and see if you are pleased with the results.

If possible, consider washing some of your loads using warm water or cold water. This will reduce your electric bill or your gas bill.

Following are some things you can do to reduce the number of times you wash clothes each week:
  1. If possible, do full loads of laundry instead of smaller loads.
  2. Each person should use his or her own individual bath towel for an entire week before putting it into the dirty clothes basket. This works best if each person has a different color bath towel that is always his or her own color. However, if the bath towel gets smelly or dirty then it will need to be washed with the next load of laundry.
  3. Wash all the bed sheets once every two weeks, unless someone's bed sheets get dirty or a person gets sick.
Clothes Dryer:
Stop using the clothes dryer.
Invest in some clothespins, a clothespin storage bag, some eye screws, and some clothesline.
If possible, hang a clothesline outdoors. Or hang two or three short clotheslines near the ceiling above the bathtub in your bathroom.
If you are washing your clothes by hand then after the final rinse you should wring as much water out of the clothes as you can before you hang them on the clothesline.
  1. Outdoor Clothesline: Locate the clothesline where it will receive full sun for a significant part of the day. A location that gets full sun around midday and during the early afternoon is very desirable. Place two eye screws in two buildings, or two trees, or a tree and a tall fence post. Or you can purchase two special clothesline poles at some hardware stores. Or you can bury two 8 feet long posts at least 2 feet deep in the ground. Tilt the posts away from each other because the weight of the wet clothes will gradually pull the posts in towards one another. If possible, purchase a bag of mortar mix, add water as directed, and put the damp mortar mix around the bottom of the posts to anchor them into the ground. Wait for the mortar mix to dry. Then put the rest of the dirt back into the hole. Pull the clothesline tight between the two eye screws.
  2. Indoor Clothesline: An indoor clothesline is useful if you can't install a clothesline outdoors, or if the weather outdoors is too wet or too cold to properly dry clothes in a single day. Find the wall studs in the wall at each end of your bathtub. Screw an eye screw into a wall stud at each end of your tub. The eye screw should be placed at a height above your tub that both you and your spouse can reach but that is also above the top of your heads so the clothesline does not hit you in the face or head when you are using the tub. Pull a clothesline tight between the eye screws. Hang the clean slightly wet clothes on the clothesline and then wait for them to dry.

How to Minimize Your Water Consumption and Your Water Bill

Take a Shower Instead of a Bath:
Take a military shower. Turn the water on and get soaking wet. Then turn the water off. Now wash your hair and your body. When you are finished, turn the water on and rinse off.

Washing Dishes:
Use the three-pot method to wash your eating dishes. Wash the tableware and the dishes with the least food on them first, and then wash the dishes that are a little dirtier, and finally wash the cook pots and pans. Wash your dishes in the first pot of water with dish soap. Rinse the dishes in a second pot. Rinse the dishes again in a third pot. When the dish water in the first pot gets really nasty, you may pour it down the kitchen sink drain, or you may pour it down the front of your toilet stool to flush it. (Note: Dish water usually contains too much food residue and grease to put it in the back of the toilet tank but it can be poured into the front toilet bowl to help flush the stool.) Then put dish soap in the second pot and use it as the initial wash pot. Use the third pot as your first rinse. Add a new pot with clean water as the final rinse. (Note: Many stores sell deep plastic rectangular pans that will fit nicely inside your existing kitchen sink. Measure your kitchen sink before you go to the store so you can purchase the best size plastic pan for your sink.)

Shaving and Brushing Your Teeth:
Turn on the water to get your face wet, or to get your toothbrush wet, and then immediately turn the water off.
When it is necessary to rinse off your razor or toothbrush, briefly turn the water on, rinse, and then turn the water off.

Bathroom Toilet Bowl:
If it is yellow, let it mellow.
If it is brown, flush it down.

How to Minimize Your Food Expenses Without Compromising Your Health

Meals and Snacks:
Stop eating except at mealtime. If you have lost your job and you remain home most of the day then it is very tempting to eat a little something between meals. Stop doing it.

White Rice:
Consider eating white rice several times each week.

White rice goes well as a side dish with almost any meal (including wild game and fresh fish). White rice is normally enriched with several vitamins and it is a complex carbohydrate which is something the human body needs.

White rice is extremely cheap when compared to other foods.

White rice can become boring if it is eaten on a regular basis for an extended period of time.

There are a vast multitude of recipes that use white rice as a primary ingredient. Unfortunately, most of those recipes require an assortment of herbs, spices, and many other ingredients that most of us don't have in our kitchen pantries. The recipes listed on my web site are different in that respect. Most of my white rice recipes only require a few ingredients, and many of those ingredients are ones that most of us already have in our kitchen pantries. Therefore my white rice recipes can be used to minimize the impact of dietary boredom or appetite fatigue.

One simple solution to the boredom issue is to add one large chicken flavored bouillon cube or one large beef flavored bouillon cube to the boiling water before you add the dry rice. The flavor of the large cube will saturate the white rice and give it a new and exciting flavor. (Note: If you can only find the small bouillon cubes then try using three or four small bouillon cubes.)

Another simple solution is to put a little brown gravy, or a little white country gravy, on top of the rice when you serve it.

Canned Foods:
Read the nutrition label on the can before you buy it.
Your meals should contain carbohydrates, protein, fat, fiber, calories, vitamins, and minerals.
If you have very little money to spend of food, then look for the best value in terms of the above.
Do not just look at the nutrition per serving. Instead multiply by the number of servings per can to yield the total nutrition in the entire can.

For example, canned Spam is one of the best buys in canned meat because it is reasonably priced and it contains 1,080 Calories, 96 Fat, 6 Carbohydrates, and 42 Protein. Spam can be fried and eaten at breakfast, or lunch, or supper. It can be diced or sliced and added to almost any recipe in place of beef, chicken, or tuna.

A small can of Vienna Sausage is also a very good investment because it is really cheap and it contains 330 Calories, 30 Fat, 3 Carbohydrates, and 15 Protein. In many stores you can purchase five cans of Vienna Sausage for the price of one can of Spam. The little Vienna Sausages can be sliced and added to a can of beans to make "Beans and Wieners." Or the sausages can be coated with cornmeal to make "Corn Dogs." Or the sausages can be coated with flour to make "Pigs in a Blanket." Some simple recipes are on my web site.

Kool Aid:
One-fourth of a package of Kool-Aid plus just a tiny bit of sugar can make a quart of water more exciting to drink.

Clip and save any coupons for products you think you might need.

Do not buy a product just because you have a coupon.

Coupons should be used to help reduce your food bill. Coupons should not add to your food bill by enticing you to purchase items you normally don't buy.

The Coupon Myth: Using a coupon will always save you money.
Consider this example:
15 ounce can of Generic Store Brand Product = $0.55 per can.
15 ounce can of Name Brand Product = $0.95 minus $0.25 coupon = $0.70 per can.
In this example money will be saved by not using the coupon and simply buying the generic store brand product instead.

Therefore you should always deduct the price of the coupon from the price of the product you are considering, and then compare that reduced price to the normal price of the generic store brand product that is the same as the name brand product you are evaluating. Then buy the product that is really cheaper.

There is nothing to be gained by bragging about how much money you save using coupons if those savings are "false savings."

Compare Prices:
Compare the prices of the items you buy on a regular basis at each of the stores that are near to your home. You may discover that one store sells most of those items at a lower price. But you may be able to find a better price on a few of the items at one or more of the other stores. Use common sense when it comes to spending your money.

If possible, purchase additional quantities of any food item that you eat on a regular basis when it is on sale.

How to Make Some of Your Other Items Last a Little Longer

For Fair Use and Educational Purposes Only

If money is really, really scarce, and you do not have any dental problems, then you might wish to consider conserving your toothpaste.
Always, always brush your teeth using clean water after you eat. Brush exactly the same way as if your were using toothpaste and water, but use a little less pressure.
Just before bedtime each night, use a tiny bit of toothpaste and some water to brush your teeth the way your dentist recommends. Thoroughly rinse the toothpaste out your mouth when you are finished.

Paper Towels:
Think very carefully before you use a paper towel. If the application is one that could be easily taken care of using an ordinary kitchen towel or a hand towel, then use the cloth towel instead of a paper towel.
If the application is a nasty one that will require you to throw the used paper towel in the trash can when you are finished, then think very carefully about how much of the paper towel you really need.
Many applications can be taken care of using 1/2 or 1/3 or 1/4 of a paper towel.
A paper towel can be easily torn into pieces if you will fold the paper towel in half from end to end and then tear through the paper towel from side to side to create a piece of paper towel the size you require.

Toilet Tissue:
Fold four sheets of toilet tissue in half from end to end and then in half again. Wipe once using the center of the toilet tissue. Carefully fold the outside edge of the toilet tissue in half to cover the dirty area in the middle of the tissue and then use the same tissue to wipe a second time. Sometimes, but not always, you can fold the tissue again and wipe a third time with the same tissue. Drop the dirty tissue into the toilet bowl.

Rubber Gloves:
If you use rubber gloves then you have probably noticed that the glove on your predominate hand, or the right hand of a right handed person, wears out and must be discarded long before the glove on the other hand shows any real signs of use. One solution is to stop using the glove on your off hand, or left hand, and only use a glove on your predominate hand, or right hand. When the right hand glove wears out, throw it away. Then take the left hand glove that has never been used, turn it inside out, and it will now fit your right hand. Use it on your right hand until it wears out.


The above are just a few suggestions on how to reduce your living expenses without seriously compromising your standard of living.

If you will put your mind to it then I am sure you can think of a lot of other good ideas in addition to the ones that I have mentioned above.


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Grandpappy's e-mail address is: RobertWayneAtkins@hotmail.com