Debt is in the air. I can't help but notice all of my co-workers (mostly female) complain about being broke all the time, and pretending they have no money for food until so-and-so days from now, so they are forced to eat Ramen Noodles until next payday. These are the same young women that walk into work each pay period with a new Gucci purse, Victoria's Secret perfume, and expensive Mac makeup. Call me crazy, but I want to shake-shake-shake some sense into them.
For us almost-freegans out there, we see these scenes far too often, and know them far too well. It is based on the façade of needing things in order to be accepted, brought on by big media so the money train will
Don't get me wrong, I am all for alternative forms of living. I used to drool over a lady telling me stories when she lived in a tent for a year to get out of debt. The tiny house movement has swept the country. It is everywhere on youtube, has been seen on Oprah and major news networks. It makes no sense to me, and here is why. I have seen documentaries about these tiny houses showing a young man that purchased property in Colorado, and built his own tiny house on wheels. He stated his cost was about $25,000 (not including the property).
If you have more house than needed, simply rent out your extra space. If you are indecisive due to privacy, or you don't want to live with other people, you can close off a part of your house and create a separate entrance. This will set you back about 2 months worth of rent accumulation in your area, but is still very feasible. My grandmother utilized this method when her house was bigger than she could care for.
An additional thought is to purchase pre-fabricated sheds, which are made of pretty much the same materials as tiny houses, and outfit them with heat and solar for electric. These can be purchased at your local hardware store, and can even bet set up for you, given that the concrete slab is in place. They are made of the same quality materials as the tiny houses, as long as you add insulation.
Thoughts, comments, ideas, oppositions?
Nothing drags a girl down faster than someone telling you your car is ugly. My 16 year old Toyota Camry fits my needs just fine. Whenever I am feeling unappreciative or down in the dumps about my car, I do these simple things.
I give it a good washing inside and out. I fill a bucket with about a gallon and half of water. No hoses needed, it just adds more effort in my eyes anyway.
I don't use any soap. Just water, a rag and a dry towel. I start with the hood, the top, the top of the trunk and work my way down tot he side panels. Simply take the wet rat and wet the area, then dry it with the dry towel.
On the inside, I just give it good vacuum and a little Armor All polish to make it really shine.
Instead of buying window cleaner, I just use the squeegeeethod while I'm filling up at the gas station. I only use glass wipes if the windows are really dirty on the inside, which is just a few times per year.
Do your own oil changes. This is REALLY easy. I used to work at the WalMart oil Change center for over a year and was baffled about how easy it is. And CHEAP CHEAP CHEAP if you do it youself. The oil is about $10-$15 and the filter is about $5. You can do your own oil changes for about $20, which is cheaper than just about any oil change center. If you have more than one vehicle in your household, this adds up to significant savings for us commuters.
Once your car is thoroughly cleaned, it will feel new again, and you most likely will be rejuvenated in pride with your car, knowing that it is well loved and cared for. Also, if you have parts where the paint has faded off on the hood, try the Armor All on the outside where the paint is peeling. Armor All or Finish 2001 do a good job of temporarily hiding these ugly spots.
It has always been a dream of mine to ditch the car, and ride around on a Vespa (or knock-off) scooter. These get you around town, require practically zero maintenance, and cost about $5-$10 a month to keep gassed up. Someday wanna-be freegans! Someday it shall be mine!
Keeping warm in the winter. I have a really low body temperature, where I am always cold, even in the summer, so I have a lot of tips to keep warm.
Thing about it. The less space you have to heat, the cheaper it is to keep warm. If you can close off a room, do it. The cheapest way to heat a space is of course, closing off any room with a wood-burning fireplace, and utilizing it to keep warm. If you have a fireplace insert, even better. In fact, I'm jealous. Inserts have optimal performance, and can heat an entire house, if you have the right one.
The second best thing is to have an electric space heater. place it in the room you spend most of your time in, and use it sparingly. Having a humidifier will help make the room feel even warmer.
Heated Blankets. These are hit and miss since the quality of these blankets has gotten horrible. I got a really great one as a gift over 5 years ago, and use it every year. I typically take a hot bath to get myself warm when I'm chilled to the bones. I then jump right into bed under the heated blanket, and can typically thaw myself out before falling asleep.
The central heater in my house is circa 1980, so I don't use it unless I have company coming over, or I'm desperate to get the house warm in a hurry. I will only run it for an hour while I plop myself in front of the TV and close the door to the room.
Of course, bundle up. It's silly to turn up the heat just so you can walk around the house in shorts and a tank top. Bundle up and turn the heater down. The best thing to wear is a fleece hat or beanie. These keep the heat inside your head, and make the rest of the upper portion of your body feel warmer.
I have just recently been introduced to long johns. I didn't know these existed for regular people, and thought they were only used by people when they were skiing in the mountains. I used these last year, and was pleased with the results.
Wear wool if possible. This fabric is a natural heat retainer, and will help you to maintain your body temperature.
Scarves are not just to be a metrosexual hipster. They are also very handy, and can help keep the cold air from hitting your chest, resulting in a lower body temperature.
Drink something hot: Coffee, Hot cocoa or hot tea work well to make you feel warmer (and more cuddly) on those cold winter nights. Add a couple mini-marshmallows for some real nostalgic co
Laundry is fairly simple, but there are ways to do it for free, or almost free.
There are a lot of laundry soaps out there that cost only $2.00. It's sort of like shopping for cereal. The cheapest ones are at the bottom of the aisle, or on the side in big plastic bags. These can do 100 or more loads of laundry.
The scoopers given to you with your laundry detergent have several lines on them. You don't have to fill it to the top to clean your clothes. Typically, as long as your clothes are not heavily soiled, you can use the bottom line, fill it with laundry detergent, and put it in the wash. Once your laundry soap is 1/2 gone, refill the container all the way to the top and shake it to prolong it's use.
Go more freegan and don't use soap with your laundry. The agitation cycle in your washing machine is more than sufficient to properly clean your clothes.
Even more freegan:
Make your own washing machine out of a 5 gallon bucket and a plunger. Use the plunger to agitate the dirt out of the clothes, after you have left them soak in the water for an hour or two. This process will loosen the dirt on your clothes, and allow the dirt to lift easier. Another option is to utilize this method until you are able to find a working washing machine for free on Craigslist.
More freegan still:
Don't use a dryer. This is simple. I inherited a dryer when my mother passed away. Once the dryer goes kaput, I will not have it repaired or replaced. I will use the clothesline I have outside to dry my laundry and will adjust my wardrobe to allow for enough drying time between clothes use.
I know that drying your clothes on a clothesline is not for everyone. If you don't like that your clothes dry wrinkled, you can iron them to make them look new and clean again. Simply spray them with a little water for that creased, dapper look you see on more expensive clothing.
Also, I recommend wearing your clothing more than once before washing them. You can create your own clothes freshener with a spray bottle and a little bit of cheap fabric softener. I get mine at the dollar store and add about 1/4 spray bottle full of fabric softener and 3/4 water. I use this between washes to refreshen my clothes, and as a cheap Febreze-like freshener in my car. I spray the seat, and use a brush to remove all the dog hair, particulates and bad smells in my car (I work near a lot of cows).
If you use fabric softener, you can put it in a spray bottle. Spray a washcloth a few times with your liquid fabric softener, and toss it in the dryer. This works as a fabric softener, and is nearly free of charge. It's better than the $4.00 to pay for those single use sheets.
The most freegan:
Wash your clothes in the bath or shower using grey water collected when you took your bath or shower. This grey water will have left over soap you used to clean yourself, and will clean your clothes as well. I don't particularly like wringing out my clothes since it makes my hands hurt after a while, but hey, free is free, right? Then hang then to dry. In the winter months, hang them around your house to provide humidity. This will make your house feel warmer than it really is.
It's time to take a step back and look at our lives. These little devices keep us from properly interacting with you know, human beings. A new generation has been born that spends more time online than they do with their families. This I not at all what I consider progress.
Get rid of your extra minutes. "Downgrade" your cell phone plan to 400 minutes per month, and limit yourself to these minutes.
If you are not a big cell phone user, but still own one, move down to a pay as you go plan. Many of these plans include 100-200 minutes for a monthly cost of $10. You won't get the internet, GPS and so on, but you can still use your phones for emergencies, and use free nights and weekend minutes when you want to catch up with a friend.
Netflix and Cable: If you are a wanna-be freegan, you probably don't even have cable, but do have Netflix. But think about this....you need to pay for a monthly internet connection in order to have Netflix. This doesn't mean you paying $9 a month for entertainment services. It means you're paying $65+ just to be able to GET Netflix. Ditch these bills. Go to your library with your laptop, iPad, iPhone or whatever and use their free wifi. Rent DVD's for entertainment for FREE from the library. It's an adjustment, but I have done it many times when I am desperate.
Summary: Having cell phone $80+ a month plus $75 a month for Netflix and Internet. Get rid of them, and you save over $150 a month for a minor adjustment.
Also....people are updating their televisions for flat panels, flat screens and LCD's. Take advantage of this and scour your neighborhood for their old TV's to use in your home.
Cable: Can be free. If you live within 30 miles of a TV station, you can buy a digital antenna that plugs into your TV cable port, and get free broadcasting from these stations. Where I live, I am only able to get 1 channel in English, and the rest are in Spanish. However, I know of some people in the Midwest that would be able to get 35 or more channels including major networks (ABS, NBC, ION, Hallmark, CBS, FOX, National Geographic) including some movie channels. Do an online se
I am all for 1 time purchases that provide free entertainment for a lifetime.
Soy based organic cruelty free body wash anybody? NOPE! Very few tools are needed to keep yourself clean and smelling free. Soap, shampoo, toothpaste, a razor and a toothbrush. That is all that a freegan wanna-be needs.
Lets start with shampoo:
98% of shampoo is made with exactly the same ingredients. Just more, or less of an ingredient here or there, and the amount of water that is added. Whether you buy Suave for $1.00, or Infusium 23 for $6.00, you should be able to get the same results. Don't be picky. Just buy the cheapest shampoo you can find, and make it last.
How to make it last?
Glad you asked. There are a couple ways. First of all, it is not necessarily healthy to wash your hair every day. God gave us the ability to regenerate and naturally clean ourselves with the oil on our scalps. If you dip your head in water every day, it will naturally balance itself out after about a month. So...shampoo is not really necessary, but will help you smell good.
You can also add water to your shampoo or conditioner. After you have used 1/2 the bottle, fill the bottle up by an additional 1/4 with water, then shake it up. This will help it last longer.
Soap: Okay, I will be the first to admit, that soap is sort of a necessity so you don't stink. BUT....expensive soap is NOT necessary. You can use ivory or Irish Spring, and it will make you smell good for about an hour or two....just like ANY OTHER SOAP ON THE MARKET. After the initial 2 hours, it wears off, and you just smell like a human again. This is why I adamantly believe that you can buy the cheapest soap possible, and buy it in bulk!
Toothpaste. Same as the above. The active ingredients in toothpaste are all the same. About 15% of sodium fluoride. The only difference is the flavoring used in each tube. This simply means, you don't need expensive mouthwash and $4.00 toothpaste. Buy the 89 cent tube you see at the bottom of the shelf, and move on.
Razors: I buy the $10 razors, and use them for about 6 months until the blade gets dull. I then just buy refills for about $5 for 4 of them. This helps the environment by keeping them out of landfills. You can also shake off the water from your razor every time you use it to prolong it's use and prevent rusting.
Shaving Cream is absolutely unnecessary for cleanliness. I learned this the stupid way....buy buying it when I didn't need it. Just use regular soap. If it makes your skin itch, use hair conditioner (if you have it). This will keep you from getting scratchy and provides a clean, close shave.
Toothbrush. Yeah, I get mine at my dental checkups and ask for an extra so two will last 6 months (the recommended amount from the dentist is 3 months). This is free. If this doesn't work for you, just buy them at the dollar store, or get the cheapest one. As long as you scrub your teeth, and floss every day, you will be preventing periodontal disease and keeping other illnesses from spreading throughout your body when you get sick.
If you are trying to be super freegan...try filling up your sink with water, and bathing from the sink. About two years ago, I did this religiously for an entire month, and never took a real shower or bath. I didn't stink at all. How much water do you really need to keep clean anyway? I always think of a king taking a bath in a pool, thinking that much water should never be used for one person. In Africa, they use an average of 10 gallons of water per person, per day. This includes personal hygiene, cooking, washing (laundry) and cleaning, which is far less than us spoiled Americans use in a day.
Thrift Stores! Thrift Stores! Thrift Stores!
These are AMAZING resources for just about everything. I can't even tell you how much I love thrift stores! My significant other and myself make monthly trips to a town about an hour away for the best duds and deals. Most shirts are about $3.00 each, and the thrift stores have regular buy one, get one free deals, or 1/2 off deals. You can sometimes get entire outfits for $5.00 or less.
Many are name brand items. Some I have gotten include Aeropostale, American Eagle, Lucky Brands, Old Navy, Forever 21, and some fancy jeans that have a Buddha on it (I can't remember the name). And don't think for a second that I just walk around in grubby old stuff. My coworkers often comment on how pretty I look, or how much they like what I'm wearing when I walk into the office. I always say, "Thrift Store!" and then give them the price I paid. Some of them drop their jaws in disbelief and embarrassment that they just spent their paycheck on new clothes at the mall.
Of course, it is very helpful that I am a standard size (size 8 pants, medium shirts). However, they have all sorts of sizes and stle
Thrift stores are great for other things too. When moving into a new home, I would highly recommend a thrift store for all your pots and pans, glasses and dishware, tableware, cooking utensils and decorations. These are cheap cheap cheap because they are so abundant, and the thrift stores have to regularly rotate their inventory.
Just don't go to my thrift store and take all the good clothes.
A freegan doesn't need a gym! Find your own ways to stay healthy. If you are growing your own fruits and vegetables, and have dedicated yourself to being a true freegan, you don't need equipment to stay fit. If you do need equipment, you probably got it for free. SO many people out there regularly post free treadmills, ellipticals, weight sets online for FREE. Take advantage of it! I got my bicycle for free when someone left a free sign on it outside their house. I use my bike at least twice a week to go out into the vineyards and explore the town. I also have a treadmill in the garage that another neighbor of mine was throwing away. It works fine for my needs (it's not at all fancy), and keeps me in shape when it's too cold to walk in the winter.
I don't believe in vitamins or supplements. You should be eating the right way to get all you need to stay in shape. These are just unnecessary items pushed on us by the media, which really are not needed at all.
If you use your gym membership regularly, you probably use it for the social aspects of it, and don't really utilize it to keep fit. If this is the case, take it to the next level. Apply for a job at the fitness center in which you have a membership. A lot of these places hire part time, and provide you with a free membership. Pocket the extra income. That's what I call killing two birds with one