Saving money is hard.
In all reality, making money is even harder. On Army pay, it can be hard to find a few extra bucks to put into savings each month. If you’re a contractor family, you have your own set of issues! Your family might bring in a healthy income each year but it’s completely inconsistent each month! The income of a contractor can vary by literally thousands of dollars. Try budgeting that each month, it’s the most frustrating thing I’ve ever done.
In most families, making more money isn’t really an option. So in order to save more or aggressively attack your debt you have to take money from somewhere else in your budget. I was tired of spending so much money on things that weren’t food. My food budget is for food, not for cleaning supplies. Seriously, when did cleaning supplies get so stinking expensive?! I got tired of it so I started researching DIY recipes on Pinterest and the Google. It’s saved me roughly $1000 a year just in using recipes that I can make myself! It’s also a healthier alternative as well.
My hubby and I rarely go to the movies. It’s another way that we can save money. For two tickets (even with military discounts) it’s about $20! But who doesn’t go to the movies without a slushie and popcorn! That’s about $50 to go and sit in a dark room with tons of other people and not talk to each other. That’s not worth it to us normally! We use Netflix, which costs $8.99 a month and the library which is free! It takes sacrifices and going without. But what are we missing? Absolutely nothing. Secular media has nothing of value to offer us 99% of the time.
Another way we save money is we don’t eat out hardly at all. We make our meals at home! This decision is mostly based on the fact that I have Celiac Disease and eating out is a landmine waiting to explode in my gut. It’s rarely worth it. A website that I adore is: www.5dollardinners.com
. This lady has meal plans from Costco and Sam’s; 20 meals for $150. All freezer friendly and many of them are crock pot meals. I’ve done this many times and it’s a lot of work up front, but knowing that you have 20 meals in the freezer able to pull out at a moment’s notice is wonderfully stress reducing. In those 20 meals I’ve usually gotten 30, plus leftovers (especially if my husband is TDY). My family keeps our meals simple, we have a protein, frozen veggies, fruit, and a starch. It’s simple, easy and frozen fruit and veggies aren’t terribly expensive! We’ve been able to stock a lot of veggies from our garden this last summer which has reduced our veggie buying necessities quite a bit.
Budgeting is such an important aspect of saving money and becoming debt free.
If you know anything about Dave Ramsey (he has a very helpful website, I urge you to check it out) you know all about the need for a month to month budget. I can’t say that I’m the expert on budgeting, but I’ve had my fair share of trial and error to find what works for my family. I have a section in my budget that’s the same every month like food, fuel, health insurance, utilities, debt payments etc; All of the reoccurring monthly bills. Below that I have a section that varies each month. I use this section when we have a surplus of income, that way I know how much to put into savings for the next month where our income doesn’t meet our reoccurring bills. I also use this section for our aggressive debt pay off. Whatever we have left over in our budget from our reoccurring bills I usually split between an extra payment on debt and our savings account. My sister has been a wonderful sounding board for tweaking our budget to get the most out of our money. She worked for Primerica and has a degree in accounting. Needless to say she’s super smart!
Finding out where you can cut corners is difficult. It all boils down to planning. Plan for purchases over $50.00, planning for vacations, planning for events like Christmas, birthdays (these aren’t surprises, you know they’re coming, PLAN FOR THEM!). Dave Ramsey’s envelope system is really awesome, although slightly impractical for those of us who use auto bill pay. There is lady who I love named Becky from Clean Mama. (www.cleanmama.net
), who sells awesome organization binders for bill paying and budgeting. This is a fantastic tool to keep track of what you’re spending. I highly recommend her products. They’re all amazing. She even has a cleaning binder to help you do a little each day so you’re not stuck cleaning 20 minutes before an event!
With budgeting to get out of debt, you’re not always going to get immediate gratification. You don’t get what you want. That’s life! We strive to teach our children this concept but for some reason, we, as adults, don’t always grasp how important it is for us too! Suck it up buttercup. Sometimes you have to wait and save up for what you want, and plan and sometimes you just don’t get it period. Is it the end of the world? Nope. So chill.
Dealing with money stinks and trying to make it work for you the most is so difficult. It takes forethought and planning. I urge you to talk to your FRG, start a Pinterest board, go to a Dave Ramsey Seminar to find out more about finances and budgeting. It’s scary, but knowing exactly what’s going on is always so much better than being blindsided by something that you chose not to look at.
Try cutting coupons, making budgeting an obstacle that must be conquered (for my type A readers), tuck away cash in a safe place for the zombie apocalypse. Be aggressive with your debt! Be angry at it! It’s not necessary! It’s a false sense of adulthood that the government has told you that you need to be a contributing member of society. You can work on a cash flow basis! It takes hard work, sacrifice and a strong commitment between spouses, but it is possible!
Here is a rundown of what I WAS spending and how I calculated the change! My recipes are below!
Product Conventional Product Cost: What I spend: How much I saved:
Deodorant: $12.00 yearly $1.19 Yearly $10+
Shampoo: $43.00 Yearly $1.99 Yearly $40+
Conditioner: $18.00 Yearly $4.69 Yearly $13+
Face Wash: $52.00 Yearly $16.00 Yearly $35+
Laundry Soap: $60+ Yearly $5.00 Yearly $55+
Dish Detergent: $25+ Yearly $3.00 Yearly $22+
Body Wash: $25.00 Yearly $5.00 Yearly $20+
Household Cleaner: $25.00 Yearly $2.00 Yearly $22+
Souring Scrub: $10.00 Yearly $2.00 Yearly $8+
Astringent: $94 Yearly $3.99 Yearly $90+
Teeth Whitener: $100+ Yearly $2.99 Yearly $95+
Hot Oil: $20+ Yearly used coconut oil from lotion & face wash $20+
Lotion: $30 Yearly $8.00 Yearly $20+
Here are the recipes that I use to save my family money and to start getting the chemicals out of our home!
6 cups of water
10-20 drops of lavender essential oils (optional: I use doTERRA…LOVE THEM!)
Shave soap bars into little pieces. I use a salad master but a cheese grater or big serrated knife works also. Put in bowl and set aside. Boil 6 cups of water. When boiling pour in soap shavings and bring to a boil. Stir occasionally for about 8-10 minutes, until all soap shavings are dissolved. Pour soap into a glass bowl and let sit until completely cool. You must have patience, this will take a while, it’s easier to let it sit overnight. When COMPLETELY cool, pour contents into a plastic container to use in the shower. I have to use a funnel because I’m super messy. You will only need a quarter size (at most) for a good rich lather! I bought my soap at the Family Dollar for 2.99 for a 3 pack. It yielded about 100 ounces of body wash!
I like this one better because it does NOT need to be stored in the fridge.
Add together and stir until smooth! Use a quarter size or lesser amount on face daily. It does not lather so make sure you work it into your pores!
Dish Washing Detergent:
Rinsing agent: I fill up the dishwasher rise dispenser every few days full of white vinegar.
Mix all together and use 1 tablespoon per load. When you mix it all together you will need to take a fork and whisk to it every 4-8 hours de-clump it for a day or two then it will be fine to use.
The following info is from www.dyinatural.com:
The Heinz White Vinegar
rinse agent costs about 0.06 cents per load. It costs about $2.28 per BATCH of this detergent. 1 batch yields about 24 ounces, about 48 loads.
Natural Laundry Detergent:
I prefer the liquid to the powder even though it’s more time-consuming to make. The powder takes a long time to dissolve in the water. This information is from a blog/iPhone app called “Wellness Mama”. It’s amazing and you should all download it. It’s got tons of super helpful resources!
To make powdered laundry soap:
1. Grate the bar soap or mix in food processor until finely ground. Use the soap of your choice. I personally use Dr. Bronner’s Pure Castille Bar Soap because of its exceptional quality, and because it is available in several different natural scents like lavender, tea tree, peppermint, almond, and others.
2. In a large bowl, mix 2 parts washing soda, 2 parts Borax and 1 part grated soap. (Add a few teaspoons of baking soda if desired).
3. Store in closed container. I keep mine in quart or half gallon mason jars. If you are using a big enough container, you can skip step 2 and just put all ingredients in storage container or jar and shake.
4. Use 1/8 to 1/4 cup per a load of laundry.
To make liquid Laundry Soap:
1. Grate one bar of soap with a cheese grater or food processor.
2. Put grated soap in a pan with 2 quarts water and gradually heat, stirring constantly until soap is completely dissolved.
3. Put 4.5 gallons of really hot tap water in a 5-gallon bucket (available for free in bakeries at grocery stores, just ask them) and stir in 1 cup of borax and 1 cup of Washing Soda until completely dissolved.
4. Pour soap mixture from pan into 5-gallon bucket. Stir well.
5. Cover and leave overnight.
6. Shake or stir until smooth and pour into gallon jugs or other containers.
7. Use 1/2 to 1 cup per load.
These recipes are also a great way to save money on laundry. By my calculations, I am saving over half on my laundry bill by switching:
On the powdered recipe, I spent:
• One 55 ounce box Washing Soda- $3.49
• One 76 ounce box of Borax – $4.99
• One Bar Dr. Bronner’s Pure Castille Bar Soap- $2.99
With the amount this mixture I use (1/4 cup) per a load of laundry, this recipe works out to $0.09 cents per a load of laundry. This saves me almost $0.15 per load over using Arm and Hammer or Tide. With the liquid recipe, the saving is even more. A Five-Gallon batch costs $4.30 and washes at least 80 loads, costing about $0.05 per load!
I’ve made both of the above recipes and they both work very well! I prefer a recipe called “Laundry Sauce” however from http://www.budget101.com/content.php/3993
. It’s easy to make and very easy to use and lasts forever! The website spells it out very easily, but I condensed it below:
This amount makes half a gallon of laundry sauce which is roughly 130 loads depending on how soiled your clothes are.
First, boil the 4 cups of water. When it comes to a rolling boil turn down to low.
Second, grate the bar of soap into small chunks. This is easy to do in a food processer. If you don’t have a food processer (I don’t), use a large serrated knife and shave it. It takes a bit longer to cut and to boil down, but it works just the same.
Third, add the grated soap to the saucepan and turn the head back up to medium. Stir the sauce until it is completely dissolved. This takes roughly 10 minutes depending on the size of the bar soap chunks.
Fourth, when the soap is dissolved removed from heat and add the borax and washing soda. Stir until completely dissolved. When this is complete pour the liquid into mason jars (or glass pickle jars, whatever you have that’s glass and has a lid).
Fifth put the lids on and make sure they are tight. Turn the jars upside down and let them sit for roughly 4 hours. The contents might separate or they might not. I’ve made this recipe several times and have gotten both results and I can’t figure out what I did differently. When your 4 hours is complete you need to whip the liquids. I use my Nutri bullet, but a ninja, blender or an immersion blender works also. I whip it for roughly 30-60 seconds then use a spatula to get every last drop out of my Nutri bullet. It only takes 1 TABLESPOON per load! I have a high-efficiency washer so I put my tablespoon directly into the basin instead of the soap tray. It just seems to work better!
All Purpose Cleaner:
1 cup water
I add about 3 squirts from the lemon juice squirty bulb. I have also used about 5 drops of lemon essential oils for this too and LOVE it. That way my house smells like, as my sister says, “a nice salad”. The lemon juice takes away from the vinegary smell. If you’re worried about the smell, fear not. The smell evaporates quickly and isn’t over powering in the least. This cleaner works on everything. Mirrors, floors, toilets, showers, you name it! I used an old 409 bottle and took a sharpie to it.
This works great for grimy floors, bathtubs, toilets etc. Recipe is taken from Wellnessmama.com
1. Pour ingredients into jar or bowl.
2. Mix or stir until well mixed.
3. If you want to make a shaker, put in a pint or quart mason jar and poke some holes in the top (carefully) with a sharp serrated knife.
1. Lightly wet surface with water or undiluted white vinegar (for really bad messes)
2. Sprinkle powder on and let sit 5 minutes
3. Scrub with sturdy brush until clean
4. Rinse with water or vinegar (for really bad messes)
Although this sounds really weird, it really works! I use it myself once or twice a week!
I use Thayers Alcohol-Free Witch Hazel Toner
as a facial astringent and it’s amazing. No more spending $20 for Clinique astringent that lasts for about a week and a half! Use a cotton ball to apply liberally, let dry then you’re good to go! I use it after I wash my face right before bed.
This is another super easy recipe for natural deodorant that does not have aluminum in it or other toxins that can easily leak into the lymph system in the arm pits! (Google breast cancer and aluminum! WOW!) Use a White Cloud Cotton Balls,
and swap Swan Isopropyl Alcohol, 99%
onto your arm pits. Works amazing! I’ve been using this for a few weeks and can tell a huge difference. No stinky smells and super easy.
VO5 Hot oil Alternative:
To substitute this I simply use coconut oil. I will put some in a small glass dish; heat it in the microwave and use EXACTLY like the hot oil treatments. Put it on, wait 15-20 minutes then wash out with your shampoo and conditioner.
Again, I simply use coconut oil! Works like a charm. It’s healthier and coconut oil is SO much healthier for you and has TONS of health benefits: mentally and physically.
2 TBS coconut oil
1 TBS baking soda
1/2 tsp hydrogen peroxide
10-20 drops of peppermint essential oil ( I use doTerra)
I mix all of these ingredients in a small Tupperware container and just use my toothbrush as a scoop!
I hope you’ve enjoyed these DIY recipes. Please let me know how they work out for you!
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