Kathy Petersen’s Blog

Adventures in Frugality

Posted in frugal by Kathy on February 14, 2008

As a stay-at-home mom whose husband is a teacher, we have to watch our expenses to say the least. Yesterday I picked up The Complete Tightwad Gazette again, so I can reprogram my brain to be ultra-frugal. I’ve had this book for nearly 10 years, and have read it through at least every year, and sometimes more than that. It is awesome. There are so many tips and tidbits in there, plus it just changes your outlook from “normal” to “tightwad” just by reading it. When you look at some of the stuff she does, then it makes you start thinking frugally, and trying to figure out how you can do stuff cheaper, or save more money, or throw less stuff away. It’s really very environmentally sound, for the most part. (I’m not too concerned about being “green,” per se, but I do think we need to use what God has given us with care, and that includes the environment.)

So, I was going over my budget, and trying to figure out where we can cut corners. Some things are non-negotiable (like our mortgage and internet connection–my husband refuses to go dial-up), but I’m looking seriously at the other stuff to see where we can do better. I listed the areas of our budget, and divided between the variable expenses (utilities, food, household) and the fixed expenses (cell phone, mortgage, car insurance). My goal is to reduce the amount of variable expenses as much as I can, to free up more money to pay off the credit card faster. I’d like to get my husband on the Dave Ramsey plan, but he’s not on board, so I’m doing what I can. After I listed my variable expenses, I started brainstorming on ways to reduce those, including turning off lights when they’re not needed (even though we have CFLs, so they use a lot less electricity than regular incandescent), eating less meat and more beans, using less heat (wear sweaters–they’re already paid for!), etc. I should’ve known there would be a challenge straight off!

This morning, I got up dark and early (my husband has to leave by 6 a.m.), and started a load of laundry. We have a front-loading washing machine, which is great because it uses less water. We’ve been in our house for a little over a year, now, and are really starting to wonder about the previous owners! The neighbors tell us that the previous owners used to have a big problem with the plumbing–the septic tank backed up or the house water didn’t drain right into the sewage or something. So, apparently one of the things they did was to run the washing machine waste water out into the field behind our house. I think this is technically illegal, because it’s “gray water” and should be treated in either a septic tank or a sewer system before it gets put back into the world. It hasn’t really bothered me because I figure it’s not like it’s toilet water or anything. But a couple of weeks ago, the water didn’t drain–apparently the pipe was frozen where it should drain out back. Lovely. So I waited until it warmed up–but we’ve lived here a year, and though it is Mississippi and doesn’t freeze too much, it hadn’t happened previously, so I let it slip my mind. Until this morning. So, while trying to be ultra-frugal and have less laundry, water spewed all over the laundry room, and I had to mop it up. With 6 towels that were clean or barely used. So now, instead of having one small load of my husband’s work clothes to wash, I have 6 big towels plus a couple of pairs of socks.

I ended up draining the washing machine into some 5-gallon buckets we use as diaper pails, but I started blogging, and one of the buckets overflowed (which is why it took 6 towels and 2 pairs of socks, instead of 3 towels and 1 pair). Why do I do that to myself?? I knew better than to come up here! I knew I’d forget it! But part of me thought that it had drained enough and there wouldn’t be enough water to fill the bucket, since it uses just a little water. Now I know.

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One Response

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  1. Aaron Wakling said, on February 14, 2008 at 3:30 pm

    I found your site on technorati and read a few of your other posts. Keep up the good work. I just added your RSS feed to my Google News Reader. Looking forward to reading more from you.

    Aaron Wakling


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