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Old 02-27-2008, 08:12 AM   #41
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We've been coping with reduced income lately. I get out all the grocery store flyers that come in the free newspapers and go over them, typically there's two stores that are close together, that will seem to have the best or reasonable deals. I make a list of stuff to get that's on sale in them and that's my grocery list... with maybe some basics added, which I buy the store brand of. We've been living off maybe $100 in groceries a month for the last few months.

Beware of Costco and bulk food stores, you are typically not actually saving money there, compared to buying the big packages of store brand stuff. There's very few items you can actually save decent amounts of money on. However, in terms of value when replacing small appliances etc, you can find good quality stuff for cheaper in Costco etc.

Beware also of the "false" economy pack, some large packages are more expensive per unit fill than the smaller packages. For some reason ketchup always seems to be like this, it's cheaper overall to buy the 1L store brand than the 1.5L, cheese slices I have to watch too, sometimes the 48 pack is more than double the price of the 24 packs. On the other hand, the saving is often huge on larger packs, $2 gets you a kilogram of rice, 50c more gets you 2 kilograms, and a dollar more gets you a 5kg bag.

I always visit the marked down and reduced sections, never had a problem buying marked down meat, but I don't buy the stuff that looks or smells funky. Stick it in the freezer as soon as I get home and use it the day I get it out. I am always careful to cook it thoroughly.

Crock pot cooking is quite economical, 6 hours of 100W is 0.6KWh, compare that to having a 2.5KW oven on for 45 mins, or even cooking on the stove top in a couple of pots with two 1.5KW rings. Yes those do cycle according to the thermostat, but overall I think it works out good. However, it's also economical with food, throw in cheap meat, carrots, onions, diced broccoli stalks or the good limp bits of any other veggies, dash of nutmeg, teaspoon of poultry seasoning, couple of spoons of flour, fill with water and it makes a hearty nourishing stew. 6 servings usually, we usually freeze 2 in margarine tubs for quick microwave dinners. "Chili" is simple, ground meat, over night soaked beans, 50c on sale pasta sauce, onions, I like peas and carrots in mine, seasoning... again 6 servings or so of damn good food.

If you're on the chicken thighs/quarters for 99c a pound diet, and can't even stretch to the store brand shake and bake, put flour, onion salt and poultry seasoning in a 2lb margarine tub, shake them up in that and bake.

You can buy "going limp" greenstuffs off the reduced rack and just chop it all up, put it in cup sized packages in the freezer, and the crockpot meal is as simple as picking out 4 packages, throwing them in the crockpot and forgetting about them for a few hours.

Reusing packaging. I wash out all margarine tubs and reuse them for saving and freezing food in. They last quite well, then they finally go to the recycling box when they get warped, scratched cracked or stained. Bread bags, I shake the crumbs out and re-use them once for wrapping opened packages of bacon, cheese etc. You can wash plastic bags if you so desire, for freezing veggies you can buy some nice heavy duty thick freezer bags and wash them out a few times, I personally wouldn't re-use bags for meat though. I have a 8 or 9 year old roll of saran wrap (cling wrap) kind of stuff. I paid $7 for a catering roll.... and I'm still using the damn thing, box disintegrated a couple of years ago. I know other people are probably using about the same amount as me and needing a $1 or so package every month or so, so it pays for itself in a year easily. Yeah it's made from non-renewable resources, but it is very thin stuff, thinner than bags, and means you can buy the huge packages of ground beef or chops etc and split it up easily when you get home, and a layer of clingfilm is generally less plastics than individually trayed and heavy duty wrapped smaller packages of meat would use.

Home remedies, don't buy tylenol, buy acetominophen, don't buy advil buy ibuprofen... store brand generics, also there are huge savings in larger packs on those, you sometimes see bottles of 100 right next to the blister packs of 10 for only double the price. Store them real carefully if you have kids of course. Usually if you see a brand name remedy like Benylin or something, you can read the medicinal ingredients and match them to a half price generic a foot or two away on the shelf.

Dollar and 99c stores can give you huge deals, but can also cost you money if you're not wary. For example, you can go through a dollar store can opener every couple of months, or go spend $3 on one at a department store that will last years. (Look in the thrift stores for a "Swing-a-way" opener, you'll probably get it for 25c or 50c, clean it up and it will be the best opener you ever had) A few items in those stores can be found in regular stores for 59-89c they're priced up to a dollar. Then there's dollar store sized packs of things, like 100 sandwich bags or coffee filters for $1 when the grocery stores have 200 packs for between 1.29 and 1.59. However, you can still get some great deals. The best kinds of those stores to find are those that are more independant and buy anything they can get in skid loads and bulk lots that they can price for a dollar. This is opposed to the larger chains which have everything made to be priced at a dollar. Those that buy "whatever" have huge deals, for instance, I was getting a listerine equivalent mouthwash for $1 a litre until they ran out. That would normally be a $2.99+ store brand listerine equivalent.

Oh, another false economy I find is store brand and dollar store dish soap. It's too thin, you need half a cup or so of it to get your dishes clean, with regular Sunlight, you need about a teaspoon full. I guess you have to be careful, sometimes the name brand pays off sometimes it doesn't. Was looking at a name brand "double roll" TP the other day, 12 rolls for $5 or the generic 24 rolls for $5. Now, this name brand claimed you could use a 3rd less (okay, like the rest of the people in my house will ACTUALLY be careful) due to being thicker or something, but looked at the number of sheets on the roll, 200, compared to 240 on the generic brand. So, there was nearly a third less paper to start with and it comes nowhere near being a "double" roll.

Beware also of stores that use "get you inside" sale items but really have everyday basics priced pretty high, one example store here has seemingly good sales (which are always quantity limited, to like 2 or 4 GRRRRR) and then you realise the bread is 30c a loaf more, the eggs are 25c more, the sugar is 50c more......

anyway, that's all I can think of right now.
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Old 02-27-2008, 01:25 PM   #42
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We just cancelled our satellite subscription which should lead to much more TV off-time. Throw in the writer's strike and the fact they give away Faux News but charge people more for somewhat more real channels, and I'm not missing it much.

I pretty much only watched DIY, HGTV, the premium movie channels, and Mythbusters, but between Netflix and all of the on-demand stuff available over the internet, it's hardly a loss. Now my kids won't be watching endless ads for crap that nobody needs during their cartoons, and they just might have to do something active or read!!

I guess having grown up with just 3 over the air channels for so much of my youth, I don't have allot of sympathy there.
Just an update here:

We've been more or less satisfied with the over the air stations this last month, but we also just upgraded to a DTV tuner/recorder combo and it is working out great. No more monthly bill except for Netflix and electricity, yet we still get the basic FOX, ABC, NBC, CBS, and 4 different PBS channels in a crystal clear picture and audio. And incidentally, those channels cover about 90% of what we watch anyway.

I HIGHLY recommend going to the DTV standard for anybody putting it off to the last minute. The quality kicks the snot out of anything you'll receive over SD satellite or cable. Don't wait for the government coupon ($40 off an as yet unavailable standalone DTV tuner) if you intend to purchase a DVD recorder any time soon, as you can get the combination of the two for just over $100 if you are willing to accept a refurbished model. (Essentially you get a DVD recorder with the DTV tuner thrown in for virtually no cost.)
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Old 02-27-2008, 04:15 PM   #43
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Snax- how does the DTV reception compare to the regular signal reception?

I live about 60 miles from several of my "local" TV stations and so I use the amplified rabbit ear type antenna and I experience "ghosting" sometimes (picture loses color and is very grainy).

I am worried that the DTV receiver won't be able to give me any picture at all in these situations.

When you try to pull in a distant station with your new DTV setup- does it come in just as clear?
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Old 02-27-2008, 08:59 PM   #44
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It's really like night and day on the quality and reception for us. All of the digital channels come in perfectly, but I'm fairly certain every station is within 15 miles of here. (We are in a valley surrounded by hills with the transmitters on them.)

The downside to DTV however is that you either have a picture and sound or you don't. There's no watching or listening to anything through static. This also makes getting the rabbit ears into the right position for everything a bit of a challenge.
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Old 02-28-2008, 04:01 AM   #45
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I was afraid of that- It sounds like I'll lose a few stations next year when they finalize the changeover.
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Old 02-28-2008, 08:58 AM   #46
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By the way, noticing something with my house that might help other people with the winter heat.... my north wall isn't the coldest....

My neighbour is on the north side and has white siding, combined with some snow cover on the ground, this works as a right angle reflector for any winter sunshine. It seems my brick north wall gains a reasonable amount of heat from this on sunny winter days. In addition, a short fence between the driveways, gets snow built up against it either from shovelling or drifting, which usually approximates a parabolic reflector, so sun is reflected off that also. I can feel the warmth on my face when I stand in front of the window in the upstairs hallway, which area can feel quite toasty on some sunny days. This effect doesn't seem to happen so much in summer thankfully, due to less reflectance off the driveway and also the angles of the sun being different.

If you have siding, and insulation on your north wall, you might not gain much reflected heat through the wall. However, reflective radiative heat might be introduced through any windows... so if you have snow and open area to the north of your house, you might try something like this... tie a rope to the bottom of the windowsill or middle of the frame of a north facing window, and using enough length to put you somewhere that will see morning or afternoon sunshine, tie a board or something to the end of the rope there, and use that radius to sculpt snowbanks, so they reflect towards that window. If you felt like it I guess, you could peg up a silver tarp at a suitable distance to reflect solar energy onto that side of the house.

Anyway, this effect might be saving me a couple of bucks in heat, I can certainly feel it working on sunnier days.
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I remember The RoadWarrior..To understand who he was, you have to go back to another time..the world was powered by the black fuel & the desert sprouted great cities..Gone now, swept away..two mighty warrior tribes went to war & touched off a blaze which engulfed them all. Without fuel, they were nothing..thundering machines sputtered & stopped..Only those mobile enough to scavenge, brutal enough to pillage would survive. The gangs took over the highways, ready to wage war for a tank of juice
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Old 02-28-2008, 12:07 PM   #47
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I shower at the gym. Keeps me in the habit of exercising too. Besides, it takes a lot of energy to heat up water!
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Old 02-28-2008, 12:39 PM   #48
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Never thought of that one. Even if I were too lazy to work out, that would be a great cheapskate maneuver.
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Old 02-28-2008, 02:50 PM   #49
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I shower at the gym. Keeps me in the habit of exercising too. Besides, it takes a lot of energy to heat up water!
Word, poop at work, shower at the gym. Now, where do we find food?
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Old 02-28-2008, 03:10 PM   #50
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Cattail roots for carbs, dandelion greens and evergreen shoots for veggies, fresh roadkill for protein.....
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I remember The RoadWarrior..To understand who he was, you have to go back to another time..the world was powered by the black fuel & the desert sprouted great cities..Gone now, swept away..two mighty warrior tribes went to war & touched off a blaze which engulfed them all. Without fuel, they were nothing..thundering machines sputtered & stopped..Only those mobile enough to scavenge, brutal enough to pillage would survive. The gangs took over the highways, ready to wage war for a tank of juice
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