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Mon Aug 27, 2012, 09:08 AM

My efforts at frugal living

Last edited Fri Jun 24, 2016, 11:25 PM - Edit history (1)

My natural gas water heater has been on pilot only for over 2 1/2 weeks now and I haven't run out of hot water yet. I wash my clothes in cold water only (edit: which I started doing at the end of last month or beginning of this month), take a shower every day and wash my dishes with about 7 gallons of water every couple of days. The pilot flame alone puts out enough heat to heat the water and keep it hot.

All the lights in my house are cfl types and I make sure they are turned off when I don't need them. The only two things I have in this house that have power to them 24/7 is the fridge and charger for my cordless phone. The coffee maker, tv, Netflix & DVD player box, wireless router, microwave and laptop are all unplugged from the outlets when not in use. I stopped using my electric dryer the last time I did laundry. I really need to get one of those clothes dryer racks as i hung my clothes off of nails in the basement to dry.

I cleaned out the pantry in the basement, washed down the shelves, and put up insulation in the ceiling and interior walls. I'll be using that as a cold storage room this winter for the apples I get from my apple tree.

Been working on my garden of 160 square feet to get it ready for next year. I have the bins ready for my worm composter but as i donated to DU this month, I put off getting the worms till next month. In the meantime, I've been cutting up cardboard boxes, heavy brown paper, flyers and any other non-glossy papers I have into very small pieces to use as worm food and to work into the garden beds. I've also been saving kitchen scraps for the same. I have three big maple trees in my yard and I'll use my mulching push mower to chop the leaves to work into the garden bed and put the rest into a pile for use as a mulch next year.

Since yesterday, I've been collecting my urine to use as a fertilizer for the lawn, the shrubs I have and for the garden bed. I'll also use it on the few indoor plants I have.

Going to have a small indoor garden this winter and I'll start small with radishes and with the chives I'll transplant from outside to ice cream pails I have saved to be used for indoor growing. I cleaned out enough room in my spare bedroom and set up a table for the plants to be set there.

The water I have saved from taking a shower has provided more then enough to be used to flush the toilet. I put in a plug in the tub drain before taking a shower and then bail the water out of the tub into a 13 gallon plastic container after the shower. Following Fumesucker's suggestion, I'm going to save the rinse water from washing my clothes to be used as wash water the next time I do laundry. doing that and with using grey water to flush the toilet, I ought to save about 400-500 gallons a month. Next spring, I plan on using a bio-compatible detergent so I can use the excess water from showering not needed to flush the toilet, the water from the bathroom sink and the wash water from the clothes washer to water the garden, shrubs, apple tree, and lawn as needed.

I'm hoping that by using an indoor worm composter, collecting my urine and by using grey water, I'll be able to water my garden, fertilize it and have compost for it without any extra cost on my part and use the excess on the rest of the yard.

Next month I'm going to do much of my grocery shopping on line. I have no vehicle and the nearest stores that have decent prices are over 40 miles away. I'll continue to use the local store for fresh produce, bread, and dairy products.

As for tv, Netflix alone has been fine. $7.99 a month provides me with all the movies and tv shows I care to watch and I haven't rented a movie in months.

Things to do in the near future:

Quit smoking. That alone would save me $80.00 a month. I'm smoking the cheapest stuff I can get but quitting would provide me with the money to pay my property taxes, fire insurance and still have money left over for other things for the house.

Purchase a reel push mower. My gas powered mulching mower is near the end of it's long life. I'd like to keep it around for many more years to use to mulch up the leaves in the fall.

Put in a flue pipe for the woodstove in the basement. The old flue was rusted out and I threw it away. As my ex wants to replace her current fuel oil furnace with a high efficiency LP gas furnace and wants me to do the job (it's the work I did before I went on disability), I'll use the flue and elbows from that fuel oil furnace for my woodstove so that wont cost me anything. I have a bunch of scrap wood left over from remodeling my kitchen after it was wrecked from water damage last winter after my then wife's relative who was living here turned the heat off without telling me about it. The wood is in my garage so I can use it to burn to help cut down heating costs this winter.

Replace windows and doors as I can. The front door pretty much just keeps the wild animals out and prevents snow from drifting in during the winter. The windows, other then the new ones I put in the kitchen, are single pane. This winter I'll be putting on that 3-M plastic window insulation on all the old windows.

Learn how to preserve foods. I can borrow a pressure cooker and my ex knows how to do it. As we still get along quite well, maybe we can work together on such a project.

Things I've learned so far:

Frugal living can be labor intensive. Ten years ago, I could have done all this with no trouble at all but some of it now really kicks my ass. But truthfully, I'm having fun doing it. I look at it as a challenge. To be able to live well on $1071.00 a month (plus the $19.00 in food stamps I get).

Being single and a person who enjoys the simple things in life, my costs aren't that high and the savings I get from what I'm trying to do aren't that much. My food bill is averaging out to be about $4.50 a day. My water bill for this month was $16.00 and that's before I started using grey water to flush the toilet. My electric bill for this month is $19.00. I haven't got my gas bill yet but for last month it was $13.52 so that was before I turned the gas water heater to pilot only (edit) and before I started washing clothes in cold water only. Those costs don't include the standard costs for having the services provided to the house. Costs I can't do anything about unless I decide I can do without fancy dancy water, electricity or gas all together.

Edit: While some of my expenses are quite low, money is still very tight as I'm paying off bills.

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Arrow 55 replies Author Time Post
Reply My efforts at frugal living (Original post)
Kaleva Aug 2012 OP
cbayer Aug 2012 #1
Kaleva Aug 2012 #3
Curmudgeoness Aug 2012 #2
Kaleva Aug 2012 #4
Curmudgeoness Aug 2012 #5
Kaleva Aug 2012 #6
Curmudgeoness Aug 2012 #7
Fumesucker Aug 2012 #9
Curmudgeoness Aug 2012 #10
Phentex Aug 2012 #8
Kaleva Sep 2012 #11
cbayer Sep 2012 #12
Kaleva Sep 2012 #15
Lars39 Sep 2012 #13
Robb Sep 2012 #14
Kaleva Sep 2012 #16
Starboard Tack Sep 2012 #17
Kaleva Sep 2012 #18
Kaleva Sep 2012 #19
mkultra321 Sep 2012 #20
RebelOne Sep 2012 #21
Kaleva Sep 2012 #22
Kaleva Sep 2012 #23
Kaleva Oct 2012 #24
cbayer Oct 2012 #26
Kaleva Oct 2012 #27
cprise Jun 2013 #53
Shankapotomus Oct 2012 #25
positiveidea Oct 2012 #28
Kaleva Oct 2012 #29
Kaleva Nov 2012 #30
Starboard Tack Nov 2012 #33
hopeful68 Nov 2012 #31
Kaleva Nov 2012 #32
Kaleva Nov 2012 #34
Kaleva Nov 2012 #35
Kaleva Nov 2012 #36
RebelOne Nov 2012 #37
Kaleva Nov 2012 #38
Worried senior Dec 2012 #39
Liberal_in_LA Dec 2012 #40
Kaleva Dec 2012 #41
we can do it Dec 2012 #42
Kaleva Dec 2012 #43
we can do it Dec 2012 #44
lumberjack_jeff Dec 2012 #45
Kaleva Dec 2012 #46
Kaleva Jan 2013 #47
Kaleva Jan 2013 #48
Elron Aven Jan 2013 #49
Kaleva Jan 2013 #50
Kaleva May 2013 #51
Worried senior May 2013 #52
Name removed Jun 2013 #54
Sienna86 Jun 2013 #55

Response to Kaleva (Original post)

Mon Aug 27, 2012, 10:49 AM

1. Great stuff, Kaleva and a huge kudos to you.

You are doing some remarkable things there and I am so glad that you documented it. You might want to submit this to some online mags for publication.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #1)

Mon Aug 27, 2012, 10:55 PM

3. I'm having fun doing it!

Years ago when I was in the Navy, an old chief (at least old to me at the time) told me when I write something down about a job that needs to be accomplished, the job is half done. And I've found that to be pretty much true. When I write down in a note or here at DU even, I find myself much more motivated to finish the task.

Since I've been reading here at DU in this group alot lately about what you and others are doing and posting myself plus reading at other sites, I've accomplished more in the past 30 days then I have in the previous several months combined.

I'm not going to save much money doing what I'm doing as i don't spend much to begin with but at least I can minimize my impact on the environment as much as possible. Possibly later, I'll start volunteering around here to help others. I have the time and some skills that could be of use.

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Response to Kaleva (Original post)

Mon Aug 27, 2012, 01:32 PM

2. You are right, frugal living is more labor intensive

than just wasting everything. Luckily, there is a great feeling from doing things that save money and the Earth. And we are better off when we are doing some labor....good for the body as long as you don't push it too far.

A few suggestions. You may not want to use urine on indoor plants---but you will find out soon enough if that is not a good idea.

If you have a chest freezer, preserving foods is easy. If you don't have one, that is something that I would put on my "to do" list. I will not be without one ever since I have gotten used to it and learned how to use it. The freezer works for less labor intensive preparation of food.

I have hooks in the beams of the basement to use to stretch a clothes line back and forth. I have lots and lots of line space to use for drying down there, and all it cost was the heavy duty hooks and a couple of standard clothes lines. And the lines are up out of the way while not in use, unlike a drying rack that takes up floor space.

Good luck. You are doing great and it sounds like you are enjoying your efforts.

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Response to Curmudgeoness (Reply #2)

Mon Aug 27, 2012, 11:19 PM

4. Took your advice about the clothes lines in the basement.

Spent some time down in the basement looking to where I could put up clotheslines and one corner near the washer and dryer will work. Cleaned out the area and found a roll of 30' of 14-3 wire in the garage which I removed the sheathing from. Tomorrow, I'll hand twine the three wires together after cutting them to the lengths I need. I should be able to string up 4 rows of wire at a length 6' each about an inch to 2 inches below the joists using material I have on hand so that they'll be below the joists but still high enough that I'm not hitting them with my head as I walk below them. The only thing I'll have to buy is the clothes pins as everything else I have already.

The basement has a musty smell to it but I'll continue to clean it as best as it can be. I've read today on line how some have used charcoal briquets put in nylons hung from the basement ceiling or containers filled with white vinegar placed around the basement to absorb odors. I like the white vinegar idea as when it needs to be replaced, I can use the old vinegar to cycle thru the washing machine to clean that, to put into sink traps to help keep them cleaned out and/or to kill weeds in my walkway. Basically, I'll be getting two uses out of the vinegar. Frugal and efficient living!

Edit: To clean sink traps with vinegar, get it to a boil on the stove (be aware your house is going to smell very strongly for vinegar so have the windows open) and pour a few cups in each drain. Let it sit for a few hours at least so the vinegar can do its job dissolving gunk in the traps. For cleaning a top load washing machine, first take the drain hose and lay it down as low as possible so that as much water as can be will drain out of the pump. Place the drain hose back to where it should be and then fill the washing machine with hot water at the small load setting along and add a gallon of vinegar. Allow the washer to go thru the wash cycle but shut it off before it begins to drain. Let it sit overnight and then turn the washer on so it can drain and go thru the rinse and spin cycle. Run the washer again with fresh hot water at full load to flush out remaining residue and vinegar.

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Response to Kaleva (Reply #4)

Tue Aug 28, 2012, 08:20 PM

5. I like the vinegar idea. You will have to let us know if it works.

But it sounds like the vinegar will only work to reduce odor and will not fix the primary problem, which is dampness. I have never heard of the vinegar as a help for a musty basement. I was told to use the nylons filled with calcium chloride hung above a bucket, and it really did absorb water. But I didn't like the idea of it and got a dehumidifier instead. Since I get at least a gallon of water per day, I figure I really do need it. And I don't have that musty smell as long as I use it.

I do like the suggestion for cleaning the washer. I think that I would wash some clothes or towels or something in that vinegar water though, and especially when I run the washer again.

Glad you found the clothes line in the basement to be a good idea. I love having mine---it is strung up back and forth all along the basement on one side. Since I am short, it is definitely out of my way. Another suggestion for if the line starts to sag---store hangers at one end out of the way and that will tighten the line. I do that all the time instead of constantly restringing the line. I don't have suggestions for clothes pins----mine are at least 50 years old.

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Response to Curmudgeoness (Reply #5)

Tue Aug 28, 2012, 09:46 PM

6. Got the clothes lines up today.

I don't have much space done there but it's in the corner by the dryer and woodstove. By spacing the lines 8" apart, I was able to string up four lines for a total of 26'. They are an 1 1/2" below the joists but me being over 6', they are still above my head so I have no trouble walking under them. Now I just need to get some clothes pins and I'm in business!

I don't have a dampness problem in the basement but it does have a musty smell. With WD-40, I got the latches on the two windows to work and I had them open all day and also did some more cleaning down there today.

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Response to Kaleva (Reply #6)

Tue Aug 28, 2012, 09:59 PM

7. You make me feel lazy.

You have just been the busy bee lately. Me---meh.

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Response to Curmudgeoness (Reply #2)

Wed Aug 29, 2012, 11:37 AM

9. If you are going to have a chest freezer full of food put a temperature alarm on it..

A neighbor just lost about three hundred pounds of frozen food because the breaker tripped to their freezer and no one noticed it wasn't working for about two weeks.

All it takes is one incident like that to negate the savings from having a freezer for quite a long time, if you have a bunch of homemade stuff in there it's even more traumatic to lose it..

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Response to Fumesucker (Reply #9)

Wed Aug 29, 2012, 07:08 PM

10. Very good suggestion.

I have never heard of a temperature alarm before. I do worry about it, since my freezer is from the 60's....I always expect it to die any day but it keeps of going. But since it is so old, I do check it every day. A temp alarm would save me the trip to "visit" it every day!

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Response to Kaleva (Original post)

Wed Aug 29, 2012, 10:13 AM

8. This is awesome!

For a while we flushed our old toilets with water from the shower. It wasn't too bad overall. I think this is when the drought was really bad and we were doing all we could to conserve. Eventually we got new low flow toilets and I love 'em!

The window replacement was one of the best things we ever did. Before, the windows would sweat and you could feel a draft around some of them. Some of them had been painted shut and they were a pain to clean. Now, the whole house feels better. When you walk upstairs, you don't feel the air change the way it used to feel. We went with vinyl and cleaning is so easy.

I second the freezer idea!

Great job!

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Response to Kaleva (Original post)

Sat Sep 1, 2012, 03:58 PM

11. An update

My gas bill came in and not including the standard charge just to have gas to the house, it was $4.16 which is a little over a dollar less the then last month's bill. As I've had the water heater on pilot only for some time now, I don't think I can get the gas bill down any lower then it is right now although I can't recall exactly when I stopped using warm water to wash clothes and set the water heater gas valve to pilot only.

I think my utility bills are about as low as they can be. Even if I cut my water consumption in half, that's a saving of $8.00 a month. Then with winter coming, the gas and electric bills will go up as the lights will be on more with fewer hours of daylight and the furnace will be running.

There is an old woodstove in the basement and today I cleaned that out. I cleared out an area by the property line which overgrown with wild grape vines and lilac shoots from the nearby lilac tree. There's a pile of wood scraps in the garage from when I remodeled the kitchen which I began today to cut into pieces that will fit the woodstove. I don't know how much wood I'll get from the scraps but I have enough from to pile maybe 2/3 of a cord. There is an old shower curtain in the garage too which I'll use to cover the pile to keep the rain and snow off the pile. That's not much wood but I'll only use it for very cold stretches of days so the furnace doesn't run near steady during those times.

In the previous two days, I used some of that scrap wood to build a compost bin which I put in the area I cleared out and the woodpile will be right next to it. The dimensions of the compost bin is 4' wide by 3' deep by 3' high which is pretty close to the what is recommended by various sites discussing compost bins.

For the compost bin I first put in a layer of cut up cardboard and paper that had filled a big cardboard box down in the basement. Cardboard and paper that I had spent alot of time cutting up with scissors for just such a purpose and also to provide bedding and food for the indoor worm composter later on. I still have another big box still in the basement half full of such cuttings. After putting in the cardboard and paper into the bin, i dumped in two ice cream pails of coffee grounds and kitchen scraps and covered that with leaves I had raked up out of the cleared area and chopped up fine with my mulching lawn mower. Then I dampened the pile with about 5 gallons of grey water mixed with a gallon of my urine.

I've been saving my urine everyday (I produce close to a gallon of it daily) and in the evening I mix it about 50/50 and apply it to the lawn. This has also cut down the number of times I have needed to flush the toilet and the grey water I save after taking a shower has been plenty enough to flush the toilet. I haven't had to use fresh water for the commode for about a week now.

The food bill is averaging about $4.50 a day and it's possible I could cut that down but even if I do, I'd like to spend that savings on more varieties of food. I'm getting a wee bit tired of potatoes, cabbage, carrots, rice, and beans. Last night I was so tired after walking to the hospital to have my blood thickness checked and back (my scooter has a flat tire) and spending the rest of the day working outside, I just made toast for dinner and that's all I had for the day. I was too tired and sore to even wash, cut up and boil a potato and cabbage dinner.

As I've stated in a previous post, my costs weren't that high to begin with before I started doing all of this so I can never achieve a dramatic savings. But I am enjoying it and it is keeping me active.

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Response to Kaleva (Reply #11)

Sat Sep 1, 2012, 04:21 PM

12. Wow! You are kicking butt, but you need to eat better.

If you are on blood thinners, the last thing you want is to get hypoglycemic and fall.

One product I would suggest you look at is the eco fan for your wood stove. We use it during the winter and it works really well on our propane stove top. Not inexpensive, but paid for itself relatively quickly in our case, as we would have to run the generator to make heat electrically.


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Response to cbayer (Reply #12)

Mon Sep 3, 2012, 09:55 AM

15. The interesting things that are available!

The woodstove is located in the basement and I have one return grill and that's in the living room. What I'm going to do is remove the return duct and also the return drop to the furnace. The heat in the basement will naturally rise up the stairs into the kitchen and also thru the return grill in the living room. I could also turn on the furnace blower occasionally to more evenly distribute the air throughout the house.

In the summer, this will be my 'Yooper A/C' as the basement is much cooler then the rest of the house. With the return duct work removed, turning on the furnace blower will suck that cooler air out of the basement and distribute throughout the house. During the hot days here, I didn't mind one bit going down to the cool basement with a cup of cold coffee and scissors and spending time sitting in a chair there while cutting up cardboard and paper.

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Response to Kaleva (Reply #11)

Sat Sep 1, 2012, 04:40 PM

13. Reading that you were burning wood scraps reminded me of something.

One of the best bargains for wood to burn when I was growing up was wood scraps from the local pallet company. A truckload of good sized chunks of wood cost about 60 bucks. Didn't have to do anything to it but keep it dry. Might be worth looking into if you live anywhere near a pallet company or any other kind of wood company.

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Response to Lars39 (Reply #13)

Sat Sep 1, 2012, 06:04 PM

14. Free pallets on Craigslist are as prolific as free couches and tube TVs.

If you burn for heat, I'd think it's a good way to go.

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Response to Lars39 (Reply #13)

Mon Sep 3, 2012, 10:47 AM

16. I have an illegal (according to code) setup as far as the woodstove is concerned.

Last edited Tue Sep 11, 2012, 10:13 PM - Edit history (1)

My gas water heater is vented into the same chimney as the woodstove would be. I currently don't have a flue from the woodstove to the chimney.

Insurance companies will cancel one's fire insurance if they do find such a setup and it's also a violation of code.

So I'll be only using the woodstove on the very coldest days and I'll be removing the flue pipe and reinstalling the cap in the chimney opening when I'm not using the woodstove.

But for those who can and do burn wood during the winter, you're suggestion is an excellent one.

Edit: For me to use the woodstove, I have to shut off the gas water heater, remove the 3" flue and cap the hole in the chimney with a 3" cap I already have on hand and then hook up the flue from the woodstove to the chimney. When I'm done burning wood and/or need hot water, I have to let the fire die out completely, remove the 6" flue pipe and cap the 6" opening in the chimney and then reattach the 3" flue from the water heater to the chimney. The insurance company doesn't care if I use the same chimney for venting the woodstove and gas appliance just as long as both are not done so at the same time.

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Response to Kaleva (Reply #16)

Wed Sep 5, 2012, 11:39 AM

17. Thinking about your water heater and cold laundry wash

Have you considered installing a passive solar system?

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Response to Starboard Tack (Reply #17)

Wed Sep 5, 2012, 11:55 PM

18. I haven't thought about it.

But got interested after reading your question earlier and looked at various sites on line on how to build one. I already have much of the materials on hand (having worked in the heating and plumbing business) and it could be a project to do during this coming winter to construct it.

Off the top of my head, it'd be something located at ground level right next to the hose with no digging to bury the lines and installed in such a way, it'd be easy to isolate, drain out, and cart into my garage for storage for the cold season and just as easy to set back up when the weather gets warm again.

The reason for removing it during the cold months is the place where I could put the solar water heater at ground level would be a location where it could get damaged from falling ice from the roof of the house.

A customer of mine some time ago gave me an used indirect water heater as part payment on a bill he owed me and that's in my garage. He didn't need it anymore after he had me put it a tankless water heater for him. So that could be used as my storage tank/heat exchanger. I also have plenty of pex piping and associate fittings along with other fittings and valves. The glass can be the old storm windows that are also in the garage. The pump could be controlled by a timer so the water to the solar heater is running only when the sun is on that side of the house.

My gas bill right now is minimal but that's due to me using very little hot water. Such a setup would allow me to wash clothes in warm or hot water and do cleaning with hot water. At least during the warm months.

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Response to Kaleva (Original post)

Thu Sep 6, 2012, 01:50 AM

19. Saving on heating costs this winter by freezing my butt off

I paraphrased a title of an article I read a few days ago and thought it so funny I laughed for sometime but there's alot of truth to it. A generally agreed upon opinion backed up by research is that for every degree lower the thermostat is set at, there's about a 3% reduction in heating costs.

During the winter of 2010/2011, this house was unoccupied and I had the thermostat set at 50. At the setting, the gas bills for the winter was in the $40 plus to $60 plus range. 50 is too low but I'm going to try dressing warmly and give 55 a shot. I may have to settle on a temp in the low to mid 60's during the day and 55 at night but even that alone will be much cheaper then having it at 72 all the time like I did when I lived here full time years ago.

There's loose fill insulation the attic and it was a pain to go up there as every time one opened the access cover, a bunch of it would fall into the house. There also was no insulation on the access cover itself so a couple of days ago, I started work on fixing that and finished the job yesterday morning. I first made a new access cover and then the loose fill away from the opening. Then using left over 3/4 particle board, I nailed that to the area around the opening. As the loose fill had settled over the years and wasn't evenly distributed, I got my leaf rake and went up into the attic and fluffed it back up with the handle and used the rake to even it all out. After that, I layed down three layers of R-11 batt insulation on the particle board and put three layers on the back of the access cover which I loosely secured with nails and two wire hangers. I know there isn't enough loose fill or batts of insulation to get the minimum of R-48 recommended where I live (R-60 is preferred) for attic insulation but what I did is a big improvement over how it was. As I can afford it, I can add more insulation over time.

The relative of my ex-wife's who stayed her for awhile left three boxes of 3-M window insulation kits. Enough to apply to the 9 old single pane windows I have. At the 3-M website, there's a energy savings estimator where one can enter in the size and number of windows one has plus some other info and get an estimate of how much one can save using the product. My results with the temp set even as low as 55, the potential savings is $122 for the heating season. At 65 during the day and 55 at night, the savings is $137. Of course I'll be burning more gas but with the savings, it wouldn't be much of an increase in cost.

I'm also continuing to cut up scrap wood to burn during the sub-zero days in January. It looks like I'll have just a weeks supply of wood but even that will help cut down heating costs. While it often seems like most everyday here in winter is sub-zero, in reality, there's only a few such days a year like that where I live. Being just a short walk from Lake Superior, the nearness to the lake makes it much warmer here during the winter then even just 10 miles further in land.

So, with little expense on my part, it is quite possible that my heating costs could be well under a $100 a month.

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Response to Kaleva (Original post)

Thu Sep 13, 2012, 06:02 PM

20. Good luck quitting smoking!

I'm almost to my second anniversary. I'd like to recommend you go Cold Turkey. It is the really the only way to go. All the little products they want to sell you give you doses of nicotine (supplied by Big Tobacco) so you can't ever break free and get over that withdrawal hump. There's a group out there called Freedom from Nicotine that I highly recommend. Good luck to you!

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Response to mkultra321 (Reply #20)

Tue Sep 18, 2012, 04:05 PM

21. I am trying to quit smoking, but it isn't easy.

I smoke 2 packs a day and at $5 a pack, I could save a bundle if I can conquer the habit.

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Response to RebelOne (Reply #21)

Tue Sep 18, 2012, 11:23 PM

22. I had switched to Murano brand cigars at about $1.33 a pack

I too smoke about 2 packs a day and would be in a major pickle if I still was paying about $5.00 a pack for regular cigarettes. The Muranos come in 20 cigarette sized filtered cigars to a pack. The taste leaves something to be desired and they do smell bad but they get the job done.

A couple of days ago I bought 4 cartons for $53.04 and that ought to last me to close to the time my next SSDI deposit comes in.

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Response to Kaleva (Original post)

Wed Sep 19, 2012, 10:59 PM

23. An update

It must be well over a month now when I turned the gas valve on the water heater to pilot only and I haven't run out of hot water yet.

The water I capture after taking a shower has been enough to flush the toilet and I haven't needed any fresh water to flush the toilet since I began doing this. And I've been saving the rinse water from washing the clothes to use as wash water the next time zi do laundry.

I continue to cut up into small pieces cardboard, heavy brown paper, and other non-glossy paper products to put into my compost bin. I'm filling up my 4th 20" wide x 18" deep by 16" box now. If anyone wants to do a job that requires no thinking; this is it! The compost pile is doing quite nicely as I turned it over today and the stuff is decomposing rapidly. The urine I've been capturing is dumped on the compost pile every night.

I mentioned in an earlier post that one of the windows in the living room was broken. I have some old storm windows in the garage and I measured them and with a some careful cutting with my circular saw, I was able to replace the broken out window with one of them. i also replaced tow other cracked windows the same way. The only thing this cost me was the tubes of silicone I bought on sale to caulk the windows.

Speaking of windows, I not only replaced the completely broken out window and replaced two cracked windows but I've recaulked, where needed, all the other old windows and the windows on the living room door and wooden storm door. I also scrapped, cleaned, primed and painted where needed and did adjustments so all shut nice and tight. Today, I put plastic on 8 of the windows and have three left to do but one of the boxes of 3-M window insulator kits was missing a roll of double sided tape so I'll have to go to the hardware store to get a roll so I can finish the last three windows. Other then the tape which I'll have to get, the only thing I've had to buy for this project is 5 tubes of general purpose silicone at $1.99 a tube (it was on sale).

Hanging my clothes to dry on the clothes lines I put up in the basement has worked very well but the clothes were stiff. Yesterday I made a batch of homemade liquid fabric softener and washed a load. The clothes are soft and have a nice fragrance to them! Here is the recipe:
6 cups of water
3 cups of white vinegar
2 cups of hair conditioner (the conditioner was left here by the person who lived here before)

Next time I make a batch, I'll put the hair conditioner in the container first and then heat up the water and vinegar in a pot on the stove and then slowly add that as I stir so it all mixes good. I had added the conditioner last yesterday to cold water and vinegar and it took some time stirring before it was well mixed.

After making the fabric softener, I made some antiseptic mouthwash with water and apple cider vinegar which I have in a Planters Peanuts glass container in my bathroom. I did not bookmark the website where I got the recipe from but there are numerous sites that give such directions with various ingredients. As I had apple cider vinegar on hand, I used that recipe.

I'm getting alot of apples now so this weekend I'll begin making my own apple cider vinegar. I should have a few gallons of the stuff by spring.

A couple of days ago, my former father-in-law came and got me and we went thru his garden to pick what he didn't need. i got 4 heads of cabbage which must weight about 20 lbs. each and I'll make sauerkraut with that. I also filled two milk crates heaping with tomatoes. He also gave me 5 1 gallon size glass containers. I worked late into the night cleaning and sorting the tomatoes. The good ones I put into the glass containers and filled with a brine solution to preserve them. The instructions I got for that was from this site. The rest of the good ones I'll freeze. A number of the tomatoes had bad parts and I thought I'd make homemade V-8 juice out of them by with the good parts of those tomatoes. But it looked so good as it was cooking on the stove as per directions that I decided to make a soup out of it instead by adding several cups of long grain brown rice that I had cooked last week and was in the fridge. With crackers, this turned out quite delicious and quite filling! This is going to last me for a few days as I can only eat one bowl before feeling very full.

I've been keeping the thermostat set at 55 and it's been down to 57 in the house with the cooler weather we've been having and during the day when I'm active and at night when asleep, that temp has been fine. But during the evening such as now, I've found that 62-63 is my minimum comfort level. So in the evening, I turn up the temp on the thermostat to 63 and when it gets to that temp, then I set it back down to 55. An electric space heater I have maintains that temp in the living room by coming on once in a great while. When I go to bed, I turn off the space heater and unplug it. I imagine come winter, the space heater will run steady in order to maintain that temp and with electricity costing 19 cents a kilowatt where I live, that'll add about $18.00 to my monthly electric bill if it where to run continuously for 4 hours every night at its low setting which consumes 750 watts per hour. I'm going to do some more research on this as it may be cheaper to just leave the thermostat at 63 during the evening and turn it down to 55 when I do go to bed.

If I understand my gas bill correctly, my furnace will burn up about 47 cents of natural gas in a little over one hour of operation (this doesn't include the cost of electricity to operate the furnace blower). The space heater will cost 57 cents to run for 4 hours steady at 750 watts an hour. I may have to adjust what I use according to outside conditions. The space heater may not be able to maintain temp when it gets very cold outside unless I set it to high. Right now it's 48 degrees outside and the space heater hasn't come on for some time and the temp in the living room is 62.

There's much more I've been doing but I'm very tired right now and it's time to watch some Netflix while I snack on apples. I'll add more to this update at a later time. And the space heater just kicked in so I'll be feeling some nice heat directed my way as I sit in the big, comfy chair watching tv!

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Response to Kaleva (Original post)

Thu Oct 11, 2012, 11:44 PM

24. New update

Still haven't run out of hot water yet with the gas valve on the water heater set to "pilot". Was a little disappointed that I had only reduced my water consumption by 300 gallons with my water saving efforts but it's a step in the right direction. I had used 1000 gallons in August and 700 gallons in September.

My gas bill for September was the same as it was in August and that was $17.31. Looking at the long range forecast for the rest of this month, I don't expect my gas bill for October to be much higher as I've adjusted to living in the house with temps in the low to mid 50's. Occasionally, I'll turn on the furnace in the evening and run the temp up to 63 and when it hits that, I'll shut the furnace off again and turn on the electric space heater in the living room at low to maintain temp till I go to bed when i shut that off too.

There's an old metal filing cabinet in the garage which I'm slowly filling up with small pieces of scrap metals such as screws, bent nails and what not. As for the cans, I keep them in a plastic bag in the sink cabinet and when I have a several, I'll put them in the sink basin after washing dishes and let them soak for an hour or two. The paper then peels right off the soup, sauce, tuna and whatever can and I wash them out, rinse them and then bring them down to the basement to dry out. Then I crush them flat and put them in the filing cabinet in the garage. I know some people who collect scrap to sell for extra cash and when the filing cabinet is full, I'll call them and tell them they can have it for noting.

I continue to cut up papers and cardboard to add to the compost pile. I'm on my 7th big box now. I add my urine to the pile every night and it's cooking along nicely.

There were two old bed box springs in the garage left by the relative of my ex-wife's. I cut off the fabric as neatly as I could, took apart the wood frames to set aside for various projects and then realized the box springs themselves will be perfect as trellis's for vine tomatoes, sugar snap peas and pole beans. As they are 5' wide and 80" long, layed on their side, I couldn't ask for a better trellis. The felt pads I cut to appropriate widths and made draft stops for my outside doors, my walk in closet door in my bedroom and for the door of the unused and now unheated bedroom which I rolled and then tied with old, thin wire that I found here in the house and garage. The rest of the box spring covering I folded into a 3' x 4' shape and tied together with short pieces of 14 gauge wire and layed that over the compost pile to help retain the heat during these cold days. There was very little of the two box springs that was put in the garbage. I was very pleased with myself for finding multiple uses of those two old box springs.

There are 7 big maple trees in my lot and the two adjoining lots and the leaves have been coming off of them steady. I rake about every other day and chop up the leaves with my mulching lawn mower and now have a nice layer of mulched leaves on my flower beds, next years garden and around the the small ceders in my front yard. The rest of the mulched leaves I'm putting in my compost pile.

I made about 10 gallons of sauerkraut out of the 5 big heads of cabbage my former in-laws gave me. My attempt at pickling tomatoes turned into a high school science experiment gone bad and I ended up pouring the brine down the sink and tossing those tomatoes into the compost bin. I have lots of apples, enough to last me much of the winter, and with the cores, I'm making apple cider vinegar.

This is the 2nd month in a row where I've had some money left in my account by the time my SSDI came in. I pay my bills on time, have plenty of food, and am paying down debts. By next August, I should be debt free and I can then use the extra money for improvements on the house such as new windows, doors and such. Altough I do plan on buying a new scooter next spring for which I ought to be able to make $100 to $150 a month payments on but even with that, I should have an extra $200 a month spending money by next August. I'll feel like a rich guy! It took some adjusting but I'm doing quite fine on $1071 a month plus $16 in food stamps (which is actually a debit card).

People have been commenting on how much weight I've lost. Some have said it looks like I've lost about 30 pounds. A big factor in this is that as I have to walk to the grocery store, I sure as shit am not going to carry anything more then the absolute essentials the 1 1/2 mile hike back home. So I haven't had much of any so-called junk foods to eat since about the middle of August when I got a flat tire on my scooter and thus began walking everywhere I needed to go in town. Being active most every day doing projects around the home and doing the walking has also played a big part in the loss of weight. This past Wednesday after my SSDI came in, I spent about 2 hours walking taking care of business, paying local bills, going to the post office to send out other payments on bills and did some grocery shopping. I was in a great deal of pain by the time I got back home and couldn't do much of anything for the rest of the day and I'm still limping from that effort.

A few months ago I was paying $107 a month for a $125k life insurance policy. As I was no longer married, I didn't see the point of having so much and I called around for a basic $10-15 burial policy but am considered too high of a risk and no insurance company would accept me. I cancelled my policy anyways as all my siblings make over a $100 grand a year and they can afford to spend a few bucks to plant me in the ground when the time comes. Even though I may have just a few years left in me, I still think my best years are yet to come and I'm enjoying doing what I'm doing each and every day. I may be piss poor money-wise but quality of life wise, I feel like a wealthy man.

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Response to Kaleva (Reply #24)

Fri Oct 12, 2012, 12:08 PM

26. A couple of thoughts (and a big welcome back!)

How are you using over 23 gallons of water a day? Do you possibly have a leak somewhere? I know we are on the extreme end, but I figure we use about 3-5 gallons a day.

Your trellis idea is absolutely brilliant. I wonder if there is a market for this?

Huge congratulations on paying down your debt. There is nothing quite a liberating as owing either nothing or very little. Keep it up!!

You have taken life by the horns, Kaleva, and have every right to feel great pride in what you are accomplishing. You are, indeed, a wealthy man.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #26)

Sat Oct 13, 2012, 12:03 AM

27. Good question about the amount of water I use.

Did some calculations after reading your post. A 5 minute shower every day accounts for half of it. Even with a low flow 2.5 gpm shower head, I use about 12 gallons every day taking a shower. Brushing my teeth twice a day, washing my hands and shaving uses about a gallon and a half and that's not leaving the water running. Doing laundry about every 5 days, washing dishes every other day, making coffee twice a day and other minor uses accounts for the remainder of the usage.

I could cut down on the water taking a shower by turning off the water after wetting down and then back on again to rinse off and maybe reduce the gallons used a month by about 150 or so a month which would save me me roughly $16 over 5-6 months time. It costs me about $43 a month just to have a water line to the house. I think 700-750 gallons a month is about as low as I can go considering I'll need to water the garden next year which I plan on using the wash water from washing clothes for.

Yes, I'm pretty pleased with myself about the trellis idea. After I had removed the fabric and wood, I was wondering what the heck I could so with them. They are not something I could leave on the side of the street on garbage day for regular pickup and it would be a tough job to cut them into small enough pieces to fit in the old metal filing cabinet where I'm putting scrap metal. As i was holding onto one and thinking about it, I looked down and thought one could plant vine crops down there so I measured them and measured the garage wall which forms the boundary for part of my future garden and they'd fit perfectly laid on their side and end to end.

I'm finding uses for all kinds of stuff I'm finding here left by previous occupants over the years. Such as empty plastic Frisky cat food containers. The ones with a handle and large screw on cap. I first put them in the garbage and then thought that I didn't have a watering can so I dug them back out, drilled small holes in the caps of two of the from the inside out, filled them with water, screwed the caps back on and tried them out as watering cans and they work as such.

It's fun looking at something and trying to figure out what I could use it for. The wood I salvaged from the box spring mattresses is 2" x 1/2" and I'm going to use them as frames for storm windows for the basement windows. I have a roll of heavy gauge opaque plastic, the kind one would lay down on the ground in a crawl space, and that will be the windows. Not the best but it will have to do until I have the money to replace the basement windows.

It'll be nice to be almost debt free (assuming I purchase a moped next year and make payments on it) by late summer next year and then have the money to make needed improvements on this house. Especially on insulation. I can live at temps in the 50's during the next two winters in order to save money to pay off debts in order to free up cash for making the improvements but it does kind of suck and I'd like to have it about 68 but without the furnace running pretty much steady in order to maintain that temp even in relatively mild temperatures and not have this house be an oven during the hot summer months.

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Response to Kaleva (Reply #27)

Mon Jun 24, 2013, 02:30 AM

53. Dishes, and other points

Thanks for telling us about your frugal pursuits... its an interesting read.

I don't think you've gone into detail about cleaning dishes yet, but I'd just like to relay that the automatic dishwasher is probably one of the few modern domestic conveniences that's more efficient than manual labor... by a long shot for both water and energy use. If you're already using a dishwasher, definitely continue using it (preferably with phosphate-free dishwashing detergent, and making sure the washer is full before you start the cycle).

On food, you can have just about *any* grain paired with *any* legume so a combination like lentils and quinoa, or chickpeas with pasta or bread will give you good protein. Also watch your vitamin B intake (you can get it from yeast-leavened bread or supplements, for instance).

We were keeping our thermostat at 60F in the winter, quite uncomfortably. After doing some weather stripping and insulation, we upped the thermostat to 64F which is much more comfortable. The general eco/green recommendation for turning the thermostat down in winter is 67F.

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Response to Kaleva (Original post)

Fri Oct 12, 2012, 11:40 AM

25. For lighting at night

I like to use my solar/handcrank led lantern.

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Response to Kaleva (Original post)

Sun Oct 28, 2012, 03:26 PM

28. Wow, you are an inspiration!


I have saved & printed your post. I will reflect on it over the coming days. What a great example! Thank you for detailing it all.

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Response to Kaleva (Original post)

Sun Oct 28, 2012, 08:58 PM

29. Update

The monthly water bill came in and it stated I used 500 gallons this billing period. Which is half of what I had used in August. For about a week now I've been shutting off the water when taking a shower and just have it on long enough to wet down and then turn it back on again to rinse off. Before, the water I got out of the tub after taking a shower came close to filling a 13 gallon container but now it's half that amount. Not enough now for flushing the toilet so I make up the difference by lugging up from the basement saved wash water from washing clothes. It will be interesting to see if the November water bill shows a further drop in water consumption.

The temp in the house stabilizes about 15 degrees higher then what the temperature outside is. It was 55 in the house when I got up this morning and the thermometer outside showed just under 40. We had a few days of relatively warm weather (in the 50's) and the same was true then. The temp inside was in the mid to high 60's.

The task of raking and buzzing up the leaves with my mulching mower is done. Finished it this morning. The compost bin is full and everywhere I wanted mulched is so. I had even went to my ex wife's home and raked up her big yard and mulched the leaves and spread it out evenly over her large garden. She had the best of intentions with her garden but didn't have the time to keep up with it. I have the time and interest so we talked about combining our efforts next year on both our gardens and splitting the produce. I already know I'll be doing the bulk of the work but that's no biggey as I do have the time.

I have lots of apples and later this week, my ex and I are going to make applesauce and out of some of that, apple butter. She has the bottles and equipment and I have the apples.

Was told early this month by my former sister-in-law that I ought to be eligible for a reduced phone charge. I called the phone company the next day and the lady said I needed to come in and fill out an application. When I got to the phone company, the lady (who is a neighbor of my ex's) said she looked over my account to see if there were also other ways for me to save money and said that if I sign a 1 year contract for internet which I get thru the phone company, they'll reduce my internet bill by $15 a month for the first 6 months and then after that, it'll go back to what I was paying. I signed that and filled out the application for the reduced phone bill. Later in the month, I got a letter from the state of Michigan saying I was approved for the reduced rate and when my phone bill arrived this past Saturday, it dropped from the usual $87 a month to $43. That savings includes the $15 reduction on internet fees. This comes at a good time as my gas bill will be going up for winter heating.

The compost pile continues to cook nicely. When I removed the blanket that I had made from the fabric I salvaged from the two bed box spring mattresses I had taken apart earlier, I could feel the heat coming from the pile and the pile is moist. I have a sheet of plywood that I place over the bin so the blanket itself doesn't get soaked from the rain. I think the makeshift blanket helps a great deal in retaining the heat and thus aid in the decomposition.

The price of fuel oil for home heating has gone way up and my ex was worried she wouldn't be able to afford to heat the house with using the fuel oil furnace so she asked me if it was feasible to switch to an LP gas furnace. LP gas being much cheaper then fuel oil. I told her that it was and altough I no longer work, my accounts with my suppliers are still active so I was able to get what was needed at contractor prices and the total cost was just under $1500 to remove the fuel oil furnace and replace it with a 95% efficient, two stage LP gas furnace. She later told me that other people has said that job would cost about 3 grand or more and I told her that was my ball park figure had she hired someone to do it. So I saved her about $1500 minus the cost of the sub sandwich and chips she fed me one day. Before, this would have taken me one very long day or a day and a half doing it myself but it took me 5 days to do the job as I could only work so long before the body gave out.

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Response to Kaleva (Original post)

Sat Nov 3, 2012, 12:50 AM

30. 11/03/12

Gas bill came in today for October and it's $19.75. A couple of dollars more then for the month of September. I use natural gas for heat, hot water and cooking. Looking at the extended forecast for this area, it may be in the 40's all of next week so I won't use much gas then and then it's expected to drop into the 30's and 20's the following week.

Went on line yesterday to balance my checkbook and noticed there was much more money in my account then I expected. There was a deposit made by SSA into my account so I called Social Security to find out about it. Thinking that someone may be missing their SS payment as it had been deposited in my account by mistake. After being on hold for awhile, I talked to an agent and he said I had been underpaid in 2010 and that was money owed me. Woot! Woot! So today I paid off in full an account I had with a local hardware store and then continued to walk to the county courthouse where I paid in full what I owed for 2011 property taxes. The money I was going to pay on those two debts I'll apply to two other bills and they will then be paid in full. This will reduce my monthly expenses by $225 a month giving me $300 a month available for miscellaneous. But I'm going to open up a savings account and transfer $200 of that a month into the account which will be spent on replacing all the old windows and doors in this house by early next fall. I already have budgeted $100 a month to be set aside for future property tax payments and fire insurance premium payments and I'll transfer that amount into the savings account too.

This mistake by SSA is a major blessing as had I been paid that in 2010, the money would be long gone on whatever but now I'm going to be pretty much debt free months earlier then I thought.

The county I live in provides a transportation service and I applied for and was approved to get reduced fares. It's getting cold now and doing the walking that I did today was invigorating to say the least. Every Wednesday I have to go to the hospital to have my blood thickness checked so I can get a ride there for 75 cents. It's a short walk from the hospital to the grocery store which I can do and from there, I can get a ride back home with my groceries for another 75 cents. That sure will beat walking 3 miles, carrying groceries for half that distance, when the temp gets down to below freezing. I have another debt that I'm paying $100 a month on but it'll be paid off early next year and I plan on then using that money for payments on a new motor scooter which I can use for much of the year.

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Response to Kaleva (Reply #30)

Mon Nov 5, 2012, 06:35 PM

33. Just want you to know I love reading your posts. Very inspirational!

Stay warm and safe.

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Response to Kaleva (Original post)

Sat Nov 3, 2012, 04:01 PM

31. thank you for posting...

thank you for posting...some ideas i'd not considered...

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Response to Kaleva (Original post)

Mon Nov 5, 2012, 02:10 PM

32. Looking at my gas and electricity usage history

Spent a bit of time signing up for on line payment on the utilities and garbage pickup. Interesting info to look at when reviewing my accounts at the gas and electric websites.

Here's the history of my gas usage since Feb. in therms (a therm of natural gas contains about 100k btu's of heat)


Looking at my bill, a therm costs me a little over a dollar and that includes service charges and tax. The reason my usage was so high in April was that I was doing drywall work that month in the kitchen and I needed the heat turned up for the mud and paint to dry. At the end of June or beginning of July, I stopped washing my clothes in hot/warm water and that would explain the drop there. At the beginning of August, I turned the gas valve on the water heater to pilot which provided a minor savings.

As for my electric usage, the amount in kilowatts varied greatly from month to month but that's because they only did actual meter readings every other month and estimated the usage the other months and based that on my consumption 12 months before when no one was living here. So, the following month when they did an actual reading, I had to make up the difference.

Here is the history in kilowatts:


On average, I used 159 kilowatts a month since April. I had called the electric company a few weeks ago and asked them what a kilowatt cost (as it wasn't explained on my bill) and was told it's 19 cents. Adding tax and distribution charges to that, my monthly bill is about $38. Right at the end of August, I stopped using my electric clothes dryer but it's hard to see how much I saved by doing that because of they only did an actual reading on the meter every other month.

By signing up to pay my garbage pick up bill on line, which I pay every quarter, they waived the $4 administrative fee. A very minor savings but it all adds up.

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Response to Kaleva (Original post)

Wed Nov 7, 2012, 01:44 PM

34. Monthly Budget -Updated 1/24/13

Last edited Thu Jan 24, 2013, 10:49 AM - Edit history (1)

I now now what my monthly SSDI will be after the Medicare premium has been taken out and I have the montly averages for gas and electricity costs since Feb. of last year. I also know what my property taxes for the year are and my home owners insurance premiums are.


$1119 SSDI
+$16 SNAP
$1135 Total


$75 Phone & Internet
$33 Natural gas for heating, hot water and cooking
$39 Electricity
$88 Property taxes and homeowners insurance
$25 Garbage pickup
$48 Water & sewer
$150 Payment on hospital bill
$8 Netflix
$120 Food, personal hygiene
$16 Dog food
$90 Cigarettes
$34 Dog's medications
$5 My medication
$100 Miscellaneous, clothing
$831 total expenses

$304 available for discretionary spending

I myself won't have that $300 some dollars a month until very early next spring as I'm helping out the ex-wife with some of her expenses as she's gotten herself in a heck of a financial pickle since the divorce.

Assuming there are no further charges on my account at the local hospital, I ought to have that paid off in full by January of 2014. That would add another $150 to the monthly discretionary fund for a total of $454.

Quitting smoking would add another $90 for a total of $544 a month.

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Response to Kaleva (Original post)

Wed Nov 7, 2012, 02:02 PM

35. Thanks to those who find this interesting!

It's quite helpful to me also as what I post about what I plan to do serves as a reminder. The comments made by others, not just in this thread but in all the threads in this group, have been very informative and helpful.

It was tough going in the beginning adapting to my situation but the ideas posted here by others and the inspiration it has given me has made the challenge fun. While it was always a dream of mine to live off the land on 40 or so acres, that is no longer a possibility (I physically couldn't handle it) but I can still do a lot on my little 50' x 100' lot.

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Response to Kaleva (Original post)

Fri Nov 9, 2012, 01:29 PM

36. Dehydrating apples today

The plan to make apple sauce and apple butter with my ex hasn't panned out yet but when I was over there a couple of days ago, her parents were also there and we got to talking about it. They, the parents, said that they had a dehydrator that I could use it for as long as I needed it so when my ex was bringing me back, we stopped at her parent's house and got it. Yesterday I made a batch and it took about 12 hours. Enough to fill a quart size freezer bag and part of another. I got another batch going this morning. I may be dehydrating apples for some time as I do have quite a few. I still want to make applesauce and apple butter and that may happen yet.

My ex's niece who stayed at this house for a few months last year left a number of bills (most of which I had to pay) behind and I saved them. Yesterday I was doing some paperwork and came across the gas bill for last November when she was here and she had used 76 therms that month. I'm positive I'll be using much less then that but then again, she didn't have the furnace shut off during the night and much of the day like I'm doing. It's about 40 degrees outside right now but a balmy 62 inside even with the furnace off. The dehydrator itself is putting out some heat.

Got a letter from SS explaining the extra payment I got at the beginning of the month. The letter also said that my regular monthly benefit will be $1103 in December and not $1071 and there will be another increase in January for cost of living adjustment. How much of an increase in January will not be known till it is determined how much is deducted for my Medicare premium and that won't be done till sometime in December. So the monthly budget I posted here will have to be tweaked a bit when I get the info.

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Response to Kaleva (Reply #36)

Wed Nov 28, 2012, 04:37 PM

37. I am on Social Security and have been told the cost of living adjustment

will only be about $20 a month. But that is $20 more than I have now.

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Response to RebelOne (Reply #37)

Wed Nov 28, 2012, 04:56 PM

38. Back when I was working, I thought nothing of $20 or even a $100

Now an extra $20 is something to be thankful for!

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Response to Kaleva (Original post)

Sat Dec 1, 2012, 06:59 PM

39. I have been reading

about your fabulous way of living a good life frugally.

You are on a tight budget but we all are one way or the other, you are making great progress and the future looks pretty good.

We are all suppose to get 1.7% increase in SS this coming year, our Med B premium is going up $5.00 from what I've read. At least it's a little bit that will be consumed by higher Medicare Supplemental insurance premiums but those would go up regardless so at least this helps some.

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Response to Kaleva (Original post)

Sat Dec 1, 2012, 09:20 PM

40. interesting read. Thanks for sharing


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Response to Kaleva (Original post)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 01:18 AM

41. Update: 12/1/12

Water bill came in a couple of days ago and my consumption was 400 gallons. Water department rounds up usage to the next 100 so I used 300 something gallons.

Gas bill came in today and it's $40 and change for November. I was hoping on less but I've been feeling run down for awhile, not doing much, and have had the heat up during the day longer then I used to.

Thankful that all the outside projects got done before the snow came. It's been cold for the past few days but it's warming up again. Supposed to hit 55 by Tuesday or Wednesday.

I'm still crushing cans and cutting up papers. Not much left with the cardboard and papers anymore as I took care of much of it around the house and in the garage earlier.

Was feeling quite a draft by the living room door which goes to the outside. Pulled the trim and I saw the problem. No insulation at all between the rough frame and door frame. Air was just blowing thru the gap with the trim off. Put in insulation and put the trim back in place. No noticeable draft anymore but I imagine all the old windows in the house are the same way. So, replacing the 11 old windows will be a priority.

Ex wife gave me the office desk and bookcase. Place is starting to look less of a bachelor pad!

Money situation is getting better as each month passes. I should have more left in the account this month when the SSDI arrives then I did last month and certainly more then the month before that. And that's with giving my ex $150 to pay for Thanksgiving dinner.

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Response to Kaleva (Original post)

Fri Dec 21, 2012, 09:53 PM

42. Push mower

This is the mower I use most of the time- it does a great job and is easy to push unless grass is wet.


I also like hanging my clothes out on the line, haven't used the dryer in a couple years.

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Response to we can do it (Reply #42)

Fri Dec 21, 2012, 10:03 PM

43. Thanks! Bookmarked.

My gas mower is on its last legs and I'd like to try and prolong its life as long as possible for mulching leaves.

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Response to Kaleva (Reply #43)

Sat Dec 22, 2012, 12:29 PM

44. No problem, I think you will love that mower

this video shows how easy it is to use-

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Response to Kaleva (Original post)

Tue Dec 25, 2012, 01:58 AM

45. You can reuse canning lids provided you don't distort them during removal.


As time permits, we're canning pumpkin this winter.

Pumpkin is about $5 per quart. One batch of pumpkin is 7 quarts, IIRC. It takes about an hour of work.

That's $35 per hour.

With the surplus, buy tools (e.g. a pressure canner) I've seen them at garage sales cheap, and the seals are readily available.

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Response to lumberjack_jeff (Reply #45)

Tue Dec 25, 2012, 04:27 AM

46. I'm hoping to work with the ex next year doing canning.

Combining the produce from both of our gardens, we ought to be able to stock up pretty well for the winter.

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Response to Kaleva (Original post)

Fri Jan 4, 2013, 03:04 PM

47. Update 1/4/13

Electric bill came in and it's the lowest I've had here since moving in and when they took an actual reading. That's good!

Gas bill skyrocketed up to $47 for December. That's $7 more then for November but it has been a very mild winter so far and that has really helped with the heating costs. I keep the t-stat set at 65 much of the time when I'm up and about but turn it down to 55 for the night and when I know I'll be gone for awhile.

The garage is completely cleaned out now of junk other then scrap metal. I have two drawers in the old, metal filing cabinet filled with crushed cans and and starting on the third drawer now.

Got my first seed catalog and am looking it over to decide what to order. Pretty basic stuff. Peas for freezing, bush beans for freezing, cucumbers for pickling, and radishes. Tomatoes, peppers, onions and that will be planted at my ex wife's garden. The plan is to work together on this.

My water consumption for December remained at 300 gallons. The water company rounds up to the nearest 100. I still do all the things I've mentioned before in trying to conserve water.

If I can think of anything I've done, I'll update this. But with the cold weather, I've been rather inactive and am thankful all the outside chores have been done.

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Response to Kaleva (Original post)

Thu Jan 10, 2013, 09:22 PM

48. Update 1/10/13 Edited 1/12/13

Last edited Sat Jan 12, 2013, 10:09 PM - Edit history (1)

Got the garden area pretty much ready last year. Will be adding the compost I have in the spring when the soil is ready to be worked again and I'll probably add some very old manure too which I have access to. The Gurney's seed catalog came in and I got the bug and placed my order on line after I made a plan on what to plant where using the square foot gardening system.

Gurney's offered a instant on-line $25 coupon for orders over $50 which I was able to use and that paid for the shipping and handling and 3 of the tomato plants.

Did my first on line grocery shopping last night at Walmart.com. I ordered:

Purina Dog Chow Healthy Life Nutrition, 8.8 lb (2)
Great Value: Oven-Toasted Quick Oats, 42 Oz ( 2)
Great Value: Pure Sugar, 5 Lb (1)
Orville Redenbacher's Movie Theater Butter Microwave Popcorn, (10ct box)
Log Cabin: Original Syrup, 64 oz. (1)
Great Value: Clover Honey, 16 Oz (1)
Great Value Peanut Butter Crunchy, 40 oz (2)

Since my order was over $45, I got free shipping and the stuff ought to arrive next week. I budget $136 for food for me and my dog of which $16 of that I figure on spending for the dog food.

Did a bunch of walking today paying bills, getting a haircut and then finally ending up at the Family Dollar store where I bought bread, canned soups, crackers, tuna and they also had hot dogs and lunch meat at 50% off so I bought several packages of those. I was pretty whooped and sore by then and a lady working there called up the local transportation company and they arrived in a few minutes to give me a ride back home for 75 cents. It would have been a killer to walk back carrying the groceries.

I think I'm going to start tomorrow rearranging things in the basement. Empty out and take down the pantry room which is right at the bottom of the stair way, move the work bench from the west side of the basement wall to that spot which will greatly increase the clearance at the bottom of the steps and put the pantry back up again where the work bench used to be. I can't work for much of any length of time but I got a long time to do the job as there is no rush.

It's damn nice having all, except one, of the bills paid off and while I don't have much, all the regular monthly and routine expenses are covered for and I have some spending money left. The one remaining bill I have is at the local hospital and I'm paying $150 a month on that and it ought to be paid off in about 12 months. That is assuming no further charges are added to it in the meantime. Even after I paid for the seeds and plants for the garden, my quarterly home insurance premium, the quarterly bill for garbage pickup, 5 cartons of cigarettes, my dog's and my medication, the monthly utility bills, $150 on the hospital bill, the phone and internet, the winter property taxes, $79 on food so far, and $10 on a haircut, I still have $111 left for the next 32 days. Plus I'll be getting back $150 back at the end of this month my ex-wife had borrowed from me. At least she tells me she's going to be paying me back.

Edit: Just completed the basement project. I am tired and I hurt but there sure is the space now! Instead of just a 1 1/2' clearance from the bottom of the basement step, I have 5' of clearance. I emptied all the shelves, took down the pantry carefully so I could re-use the wood, moved the work bench to where the pantry was and re-built the pantry sehlves on the west wall.

For food storage, I now have 4 11" deep X 73" long shelves and 4 11" deep X 68" long shelves plus there is 21" of clearance at the bottom of both sets of shelves for containers. Using spare nails and scrap pieces of wiring, I hung up my extension cords, trouble light, hoses, hand saws and pipe wrenches under the basement stairs so they are out of the way, easy to get at and nice and neat. I also made sure I left room there for a 5 cubic foot chest freezer if I were to get one in the future.

I should have taken a before and after picture as it seems I have twice the room now in the north half of the basement. I didn't haul anything out and I reused everything, including nails and screws, so it didn't cost me anything.

Tomorrow I'm going to start on the basement stairway. I'll scrape down the walls, paint them pound in nails to hang up the pots and pans I dodn't use often so that would free up kitchen cupboard space.

Tomorrow I'm going to start on the

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Response to Kaleva (Original post)

Fri Jan 11, 2013, 03:45 AM

49. What I did...


My electric bill runs about $35-$40.

When the gas hot water heater died, I installed a tankless electric. Its impact on the power bill has been negligible. This saved over $11/mo when I fired the gas company. They wanted $11+/mo just to read the meter and send a bill. Now that $11+/mo is gone. The tankless electric unit will have paid for itself this Feb.

The $11+/mo went into buying a lot of electrical parts/wire so I could make the lighting in my crib have much finer granularity. I installed a couple of dozen HALO's all over, and wired them with multiple switches so say 1, 2, or 3 of a group of 3 could be turned on selectively rather than having to turn on all 3 at the same time like most electricians would do in a typical house. If you only need a bit of light, you can only turn on one in a group.

With more fixtures, and finer granularity, you can tune lighting needs to a particular task. I got the HALO's cheap, like $10 for a case of 6 (with trims) when Home Depot was changing product lines and just wanted to blow them out. I bought as many cases as they cad on the floor.

Along with the new lights, each room now has a ceiling fan. On low speed they only draw 9W. I've been 4 years now in south FL without turning on the A/C and I don't really miss it other than for a couple of the hottest weeks in the summer.

A CRT tube TV died (90W) and I replaced it with a small flat panel that only draws 32W. Read the electrical spec panel on the back of TV's, some of them are real heaters and will add a lot to the A/C load in an air conditioned house. Without the A/C on, I noticed the room with the 32W flat panel was staying cooler during the summer. A 50-60W heat load delta is noticeable.

Car is an old 98' 5-speed Jetta TDI, which get in the 50 MPG range.

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Response to Kaleva (Original post)

Thu Jan 17, 2013, 01:46 PM

50. Update 1/17/13

Received my Michigan Home Heating Credit Claim form in the mail yesterday. After doing some rough calculations, it looks like I'll be getting about $135 credited to my natural gas account. That amount would cover what I paid on my gas bills for Sept, Oct, Nov and December of 2012.

On the back of the form was info on applying for a low interest home improvement loan. I called the local office that handles this and the lady is sending me an application. Based on my income, I'm eligible for an outright grant but there is only so much money available and they award the grants on a lottery system. Even if I don't get the grant, the lady said I'm eligible for a a 4% loan of up to $7,499 with no collateral. I can get up to $24k something at 4% interest using the home as collateral and have up to 20 years to pay.

If I get the grant, that would really improve the level of insulation of the house and further reduce my heating bills and if I get about $135 a year for home heating credit, this place will be very cheap to heat and for hot water and cooking.

Playing around with a loan calculator, I don't know if getting a loan, even at 4% interest would be worth it as the interest alone for the first couple of years would be well over $200. By year 3, the interest would drop to about $160. Over a 5 year period of time, assuming I got a loan for $7499 to be paid in 5 five years, the total interest would be about $800. Would I save that much in gas over that period of time? Especially when considering my gas bills are so low to begin with? If I don't get an outright grant, I may be better off just paying for improvements as I go. The plus side of getting a loan would be that everything would be done right away and not be dragged out over a 5 year period of time if I were to pay out of pocket.

Did some more rearranging in the basement and now have room near the food storage shelves located on the north west wall for a small chest or upright freezer on the north wall between the work bench and work area shelves and the food shelves. The basement stairway walls have been painted white and that sure did brighten it up! Going to put up hangers and nails on the east side of the basement stairway wall to hang up pots and pans to free up kitchen cabinet space. Sometime in the future I'll paint all the basement walls white. Did laundry this morning and it was actually a pleasure as there is so much more room. And all I have for garbage out of that project is a small garbage bag as I reused everything else. Just rearranging things did the trick!

I'm a simple guy with simple pleasures and it's stuff like that that make my day.

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Response to Kaleva (Original post)

Fri May 17, 2013, 03:48 PM

51. Update 5/17/13

Been here at the house long enough now so that I'm on a $35 a month budget plan for my electric bill.

Put last year's compost in the garden and mulched up another big pile of leaves and a big box of cut up cardboard with the lawn mower a couple of days ago to get started on this year's compost. As I live in the north and the compost pile doesn't compost during the cold months, I may try worm composting this coming winter. I have the containers for that already and just need the worms.

Except when the ex wife come over, the gas valve on the water heater remains on pilot and I myself have yet to run out of hot water. I have it to "on" when the ex is here but turn it back to "pilot" when she leaves back to her place. She likes long showers.

My gas bill for the past 12 months has averaged out to $34.50 a month. That's for heat, cooking and hot water. I might sign up for the budget plan for that soon.

Haven't smoked a cigarette in over two months now. Big savings there!

Got the peas and red onions planted in the garden. Might go out later today and get started on planting the radishes. Next month after the danger of frost has past, I'll plant tomatoes, beans, beets and cucumbers. All of which i already have. Just waiting for warmer weather to plant them.

Switched my line line phone service to local and emergency calls only and that with internet brings my monthly phone bill to $57.24 (includes tax). I use my cell phone for which I get 250 minutes free every month for longer distance calls.

My water bill has been below $50 a month now (use less then 300 gallons) for some time except for 1 month when it hit $52 and change. Next month I'm going to order soap nuts to use as laundry detergent so I can use the wash water from the clothes washer for watering the garden.

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Response to Kaleva (Original post)

Thu May 23, 2013, 04:46 PM

52. I love reading your posts

you have really come up with some great ideas and seem to be doing everything you can to save money.

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Response to Kaleva (Original post)

Response to Kaleva (Original post)

Wed Jun 26, 2013, 10:16 AM

55. Enjoy your posts.

Looking forward to an early summer update.

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