frugality or saving for your dream dome

Attention all "Domies." Feel like discussing non-dome related topics, like "Cotton vs. Polyester" or "The real story behind monster trucks?" This is the place.

frugality or saving for your dream dome

Postby Ula Oh » Fri Mar 14, 2008 2:12 am

Saving for your dream dome

This post was inspired by my experiences over the last few months, my journey is by no means over, and I will say now that I'm on this road I find it hard to get off. My goal is to figure out how to have my dream dome, in my current location, with my current earnings and still be able to afford "a life." I feel the need to clarify. It isn't that a MD is any more expensive than a regular house, on the long road savings in utilities and up keep is much less. In my area a regular house costs a bundle, a MD represents to me the ultimate in housing, maximum enjoyment for each dollar spent and so much more.

I would like suggestions, hints, tips, and stories on thriftiness, "downsizing," efficiency, good stewardship, living within your means, frugality, aprovechar, making do, doing without and creative means of getting more with less, both in time and money.
Also tricks for making one’s self content with what one has, and keeping (or not loosing) small, valuable objects would be greatly appreciated.

Because I have found that our biggest expenditure, aside from housing, is food, I would greatly appreciate tips on gardening, grocery shopping, storage, planning and preparation of food.

It’s difficult to say “I don’t need such and such” because even though a suggestion may not help me, it may help someone else. I will say try to keep your tips specific. “Save money by buying fewer groceries” is helpful only up to a point, because the next thought in my head is “how?” (How to buy fewer groceries would be an excellent first tip!)

I’ll try my best to read your suggestions and add a few of my own at least once per week. Sorry for the run on post, and thank you all in advance.

Ula
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Postby GreginAlaska » Fri Mar 14, 2008 6:49 am

Well my mom told me to never go grocery shopping while I was hungry. Not sure if that works or not, I never go grocery shopping.
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Postby FenixDome » Fri Mar 14, 2008 7:36 am

When buying groceries stay away from junk food; try to buy foods that are the most nutritious. Even if it seems expensive at the time (like avocados) it will be beter in the long run.

As for saving money (or getting money to save)--I have been saving cans and plastic since Nov. I may not reach my goal but I'll sure give it the ol' college try. Since I work in a Wal-Mart parking lot I take home 2-4 60 gal. bags a week.
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Postby Mcfish » Fri Mar 14, 2008 10:26 am

Buy meat in bulk, trim it yourself. This saves 1.00/lb at least. Never buy pre-packaged food, i.e. frozen dinners. I don't have one, but root cellars were historically used to keep vegies/fruits safely for months; buy them at peak and save food until needed and $ for your goal.

Most people have way too much house for their needs. Likewise cars. My son lived several years in a house-share arrangement with only a bike and bus for transportation. Compare your house size with that of your grandparents.

Figure out your budget to maximize your savings. Then put the savings amount in an account the first of every month, preferably automatically from your paycheck. This is how 401k works, saving for house is same.

This covers food, house, transportation. I'll leave entertainment, clothing and religion to you.
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Postby James Jackson » Sat Mar 15, 2008 12:10 pm

Controlling your utilities right now can be a good way to reduce expenses.

Do you have cable TV? Do you NEED cable TV? I have an outside antenna. I only get 3 to 5 local channels - but that gets me the networks and local news just fine. It also saves around 60 to 70 dollars monthly.

I have just basic phone service. With the newer cell phones - you may not even need a home phone - land line. But if you do - get just the basic services. Eliminate long-distance from the phone bill. That may save you about $3.00 - $5.00 per month.

The electricity. Try to replace all of your lightbulbs with compact fluorescents (CFLs). This will save you about 10% on your electric bill. I live in a 1200 sq ft mobile home that is 100% electric. Last months' bill was about $45.00.

You can track your daily electric usage by reading the electric meter. Try to do so at the same time every day - and enter that number into a spreadsheet - or just log it onto paper. Then see if you can reduce the number each day. This affects your monthly total - and your bill.

I am using my mobile home as a 'test bed' for my future monolithic (or whatever I go with) home. So, I have a solar panel on the roof - hooked up to a battery and a set of LEDs inside the home. In the evenings, I use the LEDs to light the living area - which cuts out using the 'grid' electricity. This helps reduce the electric bill - and also provides useful and practical experience with using solar to power the lights - in a future home. The cost for doing this can be less that $500 - using off-the-shelf components. More - if you intend to light the entire home with solar/battery.

I hope this helps.

Regards,

James Jackson
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Postby Kevin Goebel » Sun Mar 16, 2008 2:49 pm

Can a system like that be run through the fuse boxor circuit breaker board of the home for safety and/or to meet building codes? Can you have the solar panel wiring go to a garage or storage shed where you keep the batteries, then have wiring from there go into your fuse/breaker box on a separate circuit dedicated to an outlet or two for lighting?

Would incorporating a system like that with separate wiring to two or three rooms (to shared outlets - one side for public power, one side for home-brewed) into a new home add much to the electrician's labor costs? Would it be difficult with the usual building codes for residential areas?

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Postby James Jackson » Sun Mar 16, 2008 5:14 pm

Kevin,

My description of my solar panel/battery/LED lighting system was not complete - and not meant to be - in this brief posting.

I think that I have explained what I did - in another posting - somewhere on this forum.

I suppose you could do whatever you want, but what I have done is not what others are doing - and I don't want to be doing what others are doing, either.

What I have is as follows...

1) 21-watt solar panel on the roof. The wires are fed into the home through a hole I drilled into the wall - and end in an electrical box that I mounted to the inside wall.

2) A 12Volt/17Ah battery sits in this electrical box.

3) I have a small PWM (pulse width modulated) charge controller which uses the solar voltage - and charges the battery.

4) I have an LVD (Low Voltage Disconnect) and IR (InfraRed) switch PCB (printed circuit board) - of my own design tied to the battery.

5) I have a track lighting strip on the wall - it is an 8-foot track with three MR-16 sockets attached to it.

6) I have three 5-watt MR-16 LEDs plugged into the sockets. (These lights are bright!!!)

Sooooooo... during the day, the sun charges the battery. I have a digital voltmeter attached to it which shows me what the voltage is - and I have learned to gauge when the battery is fully charged by the voltage reading.

In the evenings, I point one of my many IR remote controllers at the IR receiver on my pcb - and the LED lights 'snap' on to illuminate my living, and dining rooms. The kitchen also gets a bit of light in it - enough for my wife to do dishes and some cooking chores in the kitchen.

I get about 4 to 5 hours of light from this LED/battery set-up per day.

The next day, the sun comes out - charges up the battery - and in the evening, I do it all over again.

The wiring is completely seperate from my regular/normal house wiring - and I like it that way.

If I were to want another lighting system in another room of the house - like the bedroom - I would put up another solar panel, battery box, battery, etc - in that room.

While I have been told by 'experts' that this arrangement wouldn't work... it has been working daily for right at a year now - and shows no signs of not working.

I have been working on improvements - and new ideas - using other LEDs for lighting, etc.

My goal for this? To devise a plug-n-play type of system that anyone can put together for themselves - if they want to - for minimal cost.

I am not interested in powering the entire home with solar/battery... just light a few rooms.

Regards,

James Jackson
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second post

Postby Ula Oh » Fri Mar 21, 2008 1:14 am

The solar panel idea is great! I've also come up with a few ways to save a little on electricity, like hanging clothes out to dry on my clothes line instead of drying them in the dryer. If I just used the clothes line for towels and sheets, that’s about 60 loads of laundry (give or take, weather providing)

Well my mom told me to never go grocery shopping while I was hungry. Not sure if that works or not, I never go grocery shopping


Also never go while you are tired, irritated, angry, sad, nervous, or any other negative emotion or feeling for that matter.

I have found that the best way to save money is to know where your money is going in the first place. There are two ways to do this. The first, easiest, less intensive method is probably the first one everyone should try.

Gather your bank statements, as many as you can find, one year would be most helpful, but one month would suffice. Also find all your credit card statements, one year would be best, but who wants to keep those around? Figure out your own method and add up all your expenses. I can't say how you should do it; you're an individual, what works for me may not work for you. Ditto for the categories, is "eating out" by it's self, under "food?" under "entertainment?" "Mate acquisition?" Only the person adding can decide because that's all personal. Once you have your figures and their respective categories you can tell just how much you spend in relation to every thing else. Then you can decide if that's too much or just right.

Want to get more in depth? That will require another post, on another night.
Thank you for all your replies and suggestions.

Ula
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post 3

Postby Ula Oh » Sun Apr 20, 2008 2:14 pm

I’m surprised there are so few posts on this subject, especially with the cost of nearly everything going up lately.

I have two new suggestions;

1. Go vegetarian, at least part time.
2. If you don’t know what you are saving for, why would you bother to save? Make your goals as clear as possible, define steps to take to get to your goal and write them down, preferably in poster form in a clearly visible place.

Is any one here a full time vegetarian? What do you eat on a daily basis? How much do you spend on food? Where do you shop?
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Re: frugality or saving for your dream dome

Postby 3dO » Mon Apr 21, 2008 12:23 am

Ula, I've been a lacto-ovo vegetarian since 1981. We have a family of 4 and average about $150 a week for groceries. We shop mostly at Costco and Wal-Mart. We eat a lot of beans, pasta, bread and salads. We love Mexican and Italian food. We just don't eat meat. :)
John Donohew

Please don't send spam. I'm a vegetarian.
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Re: frugality or saving for your dream dome

Postby cav10x » Mon Apr 21, 2008 8:16 pm

A very good question in these rough times.

In response to another reply. Yes you do spend more when you shop on an empty stomach.
I would say that for those of not so grand resources deciding on what to give up in order to save money for a home can be very difficult.
The rising costs of just about everything does not help matters.

In many areas giving up cable can save a substantial amount of money.

Quit smoking and drinking.

Reduce auto insurance coverage to the minimum allowed by law.

What and where you bye food. I suggest shopping at your local Aldi. Quality is good and price is even better.
It doesn't matter why the climate is changing. What matters is finding a way to survive it.
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post 4

Postby Ula Oh » Wed Apr 23, 2008 11:32 am

Thank you for sharing 3dO. I appreciate your openness. My itty-bitty family of two spends around $100 per week right now, (a testament to the economy of the vegetarian diet) but I'm trying to incorporate more vegetarian meals, the main problem I'm running into is finding small recipes, or recipes that can be remade into something new the next day, or frozen and eaten later. I am happy to say that after many set backs we have finally kicked the fast food habit! At least, for the past two weeks now, how long does it take to develop a new habit, three months?

Cav10x- I wish I could give up cable, but alas, I've never had it to give it up! But your suggestion may help some one else, so thank you!

I don't have an Aldi; I've never even heard of it, I shop at the cheapest place in my town, Food 4 Less. When I can make the trip, a neighboring city has a Costco, Sam's Club and a place called Grocery Outlet. With Costco and Sam's Club I have to buy all non perishables, or divvy up with my mother in law, other wise the fresh foods spoil too quickly, Grocery Outlet has a limited selection, but the prices are rock-bottom.

Insurance- also be careful that you don't carry double insurance. Some policies cover all rental cars under your name, in which case rental insurance is a waste, some health insurance companies cover your health in an automobile accident, always read the fine print and study your policies carefully.

My latest personal tip- STOP BUYING BOOKS!!!! They have tons, literally, tons of books available to borrow, free of charge at your local library. I used to spend at least $40 on books every month! And for what? I barely read the books I have! They also have hoards of other resources at most libraries, books on tape, videos, magazines that you can read for free, or when they get the latest issue in you can buy it for cheap, five cents at our library.

More suggestions, please! Any other vegetarians willing to share?
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Buying grain at an ag feed store

Postby Ula Oh » Sat Apr 26, 2008 8:38 pm

Has any one ever heard of buying grain- oats and such- from an Ag feed store for human consumption? Is that even safe? Do they put hormones or other chemicals on the feed that would be harmful to humans? If some one asks- what do you tell them it's for?

I heard of this first from a book about spending only a dollar a day on food- it was their number one suggestion. Has any one actually done this before?

Call me a ninny, but I would be embarrassed if some one found out I was buying food meant for animals. Think of the homeless person that buys a tin of dog food because tuna is twenty cents more expensive. Not that I’m making fun of homeless people, I certainly respect their situation, and after all, Alpo was originally meant for human consumption.

Am I a ninny?
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Re: frugality or saving for your dream dome

Postby angelofdodd » Sun Apr 27, 2008 12:28 am

Ula,I've had horses,and dealt with animal,and livestock husbandry enmasse a good portion of my life,and"WOULD NEVER"unless there was there was nothing else to eat,consume livestock or animal feed.The reason is quality control.I've seen things in animal feed that would turn even my cast iron stomach(rat parts,live insects,fecal matter,and other undesirable things).This was using premium feeds.It can happen in people food but not as often becouse standards are higher for us.Think of all the cats,and dogs that died or were sick from contaminated chinese wheat in their food(THOUSANDS).As an ovo lacto vegitarian,the last thing I want to find in my morning oats are animal parts,or other hearty seasonings. :o Matt
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A dumpster a day keeps the food-bill away (was Buying grain

Postby hitssquad » Sun Apr 27, 2008 11:32 am

Ula Oh wrote:Has any one ever heard of buying grain- oats and such- from an Ag feed store for human consumption?
Most people I know trying to save money on grains buy them in 50lb bags (wheat bran is an exception, as it comes in 25lb bags) at their local natural-food stores. Usually, a 10% discount is given for pre-ordering bulk items. (Money-saving tip: never buy anything that is "organic". Always order non-organic.) If one is going to store food in one's home, it is a good idea to keep the humidity and the temperature low (especially in the summer; thick, snug-fitting window-plugs and aluminized mylar can help here). Storing food in a garage is always a bad idea. (If one's bulk food goes bad or is eaten or soiled by vermin or bugs, one is not saving very much money after all.) One should also read Alan T. Hagan's Food Storage FAQ, and ask Alan any further questions over at CurEvents.
google.com/search?q=Alan+Hagan+Food+Storage+FAQ
http://curevents.com

Alan used to have a lot of old, and helpful, messages archived at TB2K. Perhaps they are still there.
http://timebomb2000.com

One's local homebrew store can supply glass containers that might be handy for storing food. One's local natural-food stores will often also have these items, but might charge more for them.


Ula Oh wrote:Is that even safe?
A lot of folks at TB2K and CurEvents say they buy their pharmaceuticals (penicillin, etc.) over-the-counter at feed stores.


Ula Oh wrote:I heard of this first from a book about spending only a dollar a day on food
One can spend zero if he knows how to dumpster dive and knows where to get the free food that the homeless get (a lot of shelters have free food that is kicked down as tax writeoffs from local stores and distributors). Don't worry about pulling up in a car. Most homeless people live in their cars. It is a good idea to carry a cell phone, though, since most homeless people have cell phones and one would therefore look strange without one.

Natural-food stores are usually great places to dumpster dive. It can be especially handy to learn their dumping schedules so one can get the food when it is fresh and right on top. Disposable gloves, as well as other tools, are a good idea. Don't forget to check the recycling bins for handy items that can be re-used.

By the way, dumpsters are private property. It seems that natural-food stores don't care, but national chain supermarkets usually call the cops.
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