Summer is in full swing, and if your house is anything like ours sometimes it feels as if summer sucks the money right out of the front door. Between the high costs of water, air conditioning, having the kids’ home from school and everyone wanting to go places and do things it can seem as if there is never quite enough money for everyone who is demanding it. But how would you like to actually save money this summer?
I know that it may seem impossible, but you really can save money this summer simply by using these three simple ideas to get started saving and let yourself get creative. Why only three? Because you are busy this summer and it is easier to stick to smaller, defined goals than a broad range of tips of and ideas. Once you get started though you’ll find yourself coming up with even more ways that you can save.
Save Money on Your Energy Bills
One of the easiest ways to save the most significant amount of money this summer is to acclimate your home and family to the natural cycles of heat and humidity. The best way to do this is slowly adjust your air conditioning to higher settings during the day. Take about a week and slowly adjust your settings each day. You may find that your weather is too hot and humid to go without AC altogether, but this method can significantly reduce the amount you spend on air conditioning. In addition, try turning the AC off altogether in the evenings and use ceiling fans, floor fans, and window box fans to keep the cooler outside air circulating through the house. Also instead of running the dryer do all your laundry on sunny days and hang outside to dry on Urban Clothelines. They don’t have to be permanent or bulky structures either. Many are portable so that picky homeowner’s associations won’t have a reason to cite you. Plus, kids can help you hang and remove laundry.
Save Money on Your Water Bills
Water bills can be prohibitively expensive during the summer, especially if you are trying to keep your yard green and also allowing your kids to play in the sprinklers. Well, there are several ways to cut down on your water bills. First off is to reuse all of your water, and I do mean all of your water. Save the water from your baths and showers as well as your dishwater. Mind you, you’ll have to switch to biodegradable soaps and shampoos, but believe it or not, your shrubs, flowers, houseplants and even garden vegetables seem to thrive on recycled water, so don’t be shy!
Another way to save money on water is to buy a kiddie pool instead of letting your children play in the sprinkler. Buy a pool with a cover or rig a mesh cover that will prevent leaves and bugs from getting into the water so that you don’t have to refill the pool as often.
Saving Money by Skipping the Vacation
The idea of not going on a vacation can seem absolutely depressing to most people. After all, isn’t getting away from it all what summer vacations are all about? Now I’m not suggesting that you not take a vacation, but that you don’t go anywhere on your vacation. No mind you, you have to do some preparation for this kind of vacation so that you won’t slip into your usual home routine. You can choose a theme (such as a Caribbean cruise or a Tour de France) and plan your meals and activities accordingly. You can schedule a number of day trips to local attractions that will keep you out of the house. The point is to enjoy your time off without having to pay the ridiculous hotel, restaurant and resort fees. Just using this idea alone you’ll end up with money leftover at the end of the summer; money you normally would have spent on something else.
While there are dozens of ways to save money over the summer, hopefully these three have given you a place to start so that you can get through the holidays without feeling as if your budget has been sucked dry and you can head into autumn with a little jingle in your pocket.
As the weather warms my kids are staying outside longer. The garden house is already being turned on for quick sprinkler sessions when they get overheated from play. Soon they will be in the pool. All of this means wet clothing, wet swimsuits, and lots of towels. I cannot keep up with the amount of wet clothing and towels that come with spring and summer so I have to accept that I am going to have a fair amount of stinky laundry to wash…laundry with that icky mildew smell. So how do I get it out? I absolutely detest getting out of the shower and reaching for a towel, only to bring it to my face and realize that it smells noxious even though it’s technically been ‘cleaned’. Gross!
I describe my very effective plan of action here, it works for all laundry items that have mildewed:
Hope it helps!
Have a great weekend all! I slept in on this glorious Saturday morning and then made everyone a sweet and salty breakfast combo, muskmelon and bacon. It is cold and dreary here in Ohio so maybe it is a movie day? A laundry day most likely. I hope the weather warms up a bit tomorrow. We want to break in our annual passes to our local zoo.
Today is the last day to buy the new Herb Fairies series/set. I have now read the first book in the series and OH MY GOODNESS it is great. My 7 year old son and 9 year old daughter will be over the moon for it I think. The main characters are some really empowered children who grew up with herbalist parents. Yet there are also some child characters who not have quite their comfort level with the great outdoors so it is a fun mix. This set goes away tonight at midnight and won’t be available again until 2014 so don’t delay.
I wrote two articles elsewhere this week and wanted to share them…
I am a member of the Green Sisterhood. which is a group of amazing green women bloggers and business owners who have banded together to work towards our goals, both environmental and personal. They say everyone needs to find their tribe and the Green Sisterhood is an amazing tribe. I knew most of the women involved previously but getting together in this more intimate group has been so rewarding. I cannot wait to see what we can accomplish together. You can follow the blog for more great, green and conscious content as well. This week I wrote a post there about Unplugging the Family for Screen-Free Week, which is coming up at the end of April. It is a week when we are encouraged to unplug the TVs and computers and reconnect to real life, family, and nature. Will you join?
I also wrote over at Fit Frugal Fabulous about an issue that keeps many up at night…health insurance woes. If you cannot afford health insurance or you have a less than desirable plan there ARE still ways you can take charge of your healthcare. Traditional health care is really sick care and we CAN take steps to make sure we don’t need sick care. THAT is real health care! Read A ‘Do It Yourself’ Healthcare Plan When You Can’t Afford Health Insurance.
Other worthwhile links…
Good Girl Gone Green’s amazing Almond Pulp Bars - a delicious way to use up almond pulp leftover from making almond milk.
Litterati – This is an AMAZING site and idea. Basically when you are out and about, picking up library books or taking your kids to the park and you see a piece of litter, you take a photo with your camera and upload it to Instgram (follow me here) and tag it #Litterati. Then you recycle or throw away the litter. It creates a platform for people to unite and clean up the earth one piece of garbage at a time and the site tracks everyone’s efforts via a global map. The kids are actually loving this process and finding it game-like. Here is a piece we tagged this week, found along a roadway as we were walking.. Who throws an empty bottle of laundry detergent out of their car?!?
Books I am Reading:
Attack Your Day!: Before It Attacks You - FREE right now. It is an excellent book about being more productive.
You Can Buy Happiness (and It’s Cheap): How One Woman Radically Simplified Her Life and How You Can Too - A great read about a couple who live in one of those tiny houses and have very little by way of belongings.
Soap Maker’s Workshop: The Art and Craft of Natural Homemade Soap - Yep, I really, really want to try my hand at making my own soap. I have wanted to for years. One of these days….
Unlike a lot of moms in the natural parenting blogosphere I don’t really harp on media and electronics too often. We are not a TV free house and never will be. My kids all have a TV, an xBox, and a computer in their bedrooms. We are plugged in and I quite enjoy it that way. For me it is more about balance and making sure we stay connected as a family and to the outdoors and other screen-free pursuits whilst still enjoying our screen time. I think our approach has worked pretty well.
My oldest plays video games with a historical bent and comes to me daily to tell me what historical things he learned on the game and then confirmed online for accuracy. These games have helped him discover that he LOVES history, especially as it relates to military and world wars. He just finds it all fascinating. My middle child plays a game daily that is all about architecture and world building. Both have gravitated towards educational games so I count myself lucky. Neither of them watches very much TV and both will happily spend 5-6 hours outside after school if the weather is nice. My youngest is my TV watcher and he watches a little more than I would like but happily he loves to watch Netflix documentaries about dinosaurs, prehistoric time periods, and animals.
I watch a handful of shows via primetime and cable network…they keep me from cancelling our cable. Though I always watch them later via DVR because I refuse to sit through commercials. I love True Blood, Justified, Game of Thrones, Dexter, Grimm, Person of Interest, Burn Notice, Lost Girl, and Elementary. I also love to watch Netflix and the amount of conscious and inspirational documentaries on it is amazing. For only $7.99 a month we are able to stream all of their content to our TVs…via xBox, Wii, and Roku. Sometimes it sucks me into TV that does not better my mind…like when I watched the first episode of Gossip Girl (just to see what the hullabaloo was all about) and then spent a week watching every single episode of every single season. :) Mostly though it enables us to watch all kinds of documentaries.
I recently asked fans on the NaturesMoms fan page what documentaries they were streaming via Netflix and here are some of the standouts…
No Impact Man
Vanishing of the Bees
Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead
Super Size Me
Forks Over Knives
Hungry for Change
Growing Food Documentaries:
The Business of Being Born
The Vaccine War
Loving Lampposts (about autism)
This is only a teeny tiny sampling. They have just about every kind of documentary/movie you could want from animals and national parks to religion and human rights stories. If you don’t have game consoles and you don’t want to watch on your computer I suggest a Roku. It is about the size of a deck of cards and allows you to stream all sorts of content …Netflix, Hulu, TED talks, exercise videos, etc.
What are you watching?
In the spirit of Valentine’s Day I thought I would highlight some ways to keep date night a green affair. Date night is something I hope that all couples are able to take advantage of at least once a month. It is so easy to lose your identity as a lover and partner when you have kids, home, work, bills, and all that other stuff that takes over our lives. I know I certainly let myself forget how important it was to stay connected to my husband over the years. Heck we didn’t even celebrate our anniversaries anymore. My husband and I have always been best friends but we had lost sight of putting time together first and foremost. We forgot how to be a champion for each other and be that soft landing place when things got tough. We re-committed to making sure we had couples time as much as possible and it has been amazing for us. Just before I sat down to write this post I was on the phone planning date night for the month.
Like a lot folks though we have to keep in mind things like budget and time. We have to get creative. As a family seeking greener pastures and healthier lives we also have to keep in mind our impact on our bodies and planet. Here are some ideas in that regard.
The Main Event
Share the Shower – Okay so this might occur before the date but it’s a great way to start nonetheless. Conserve resources by showering together. If you get er… sidetracked, with some other stuff while in there, just turn the water off for a spell and then resume. We have a nifty showerhead that actually comes in handy in that regard… it has a pause control built in. ;)
In House Date Night – Due to time, money, or lack of childcare it may be necessary to stay in for the night and that is a great green option. Stream a movie via Netflix or rent one from RedBox. Send the kids to bed, grab some blankets, and lounge on the couch or floor as you watch. You could also have a late dinner together with soy candles and music. Cook a pizza shaped like a heart or grill some steaks while you sip wine. If the weather is nice you could take it outside even. Find ways to take the ordinary and change it up a bit to make it special.
Take a Couples Class - Many cities and towns offer special classes for adults through their parks and recreation department. You could take a class on cooking, bread baking, painting, dance, ceramics, martial arts, a foreign language, or even a sport. Many of these classes can be done on the weekends when childcare might be easier to arrange. You better yourself, you have fun, and you spend time together, it’s a win-win. Bonus points for staying close to home and perhaps carpooling with another couple.
Get Active Together – Many of us talk about how we want to get back to playing tennis, go jogging more, or perhaps take up a sport. Why not do it together? Buy or rent bicycles or roller blades and start exploring your immediate neighborhood together. You won’t feel so embarrassed to fall on your tush if your partner is there next to you falling on theirs. Spend an evening at a local skate rink. Play Frisbee or croquet in the yard. Think about those active things your younger self would have loved to do on a date and do those!
Go Shopping – Ethically – If you want to exchange gifts or wear something special for date night check out local thrift stores. My husband and I also enjoy thrifting together and will often make a date to go thrift shopping when the kids are all in school. You can find great, high quality stuff at second hands stores! We also like to hit up natural grocers and farmer’s markets together. We walk the isles chatting, reading food labels, and finding new foods that are local to our area. You could also spend an afternoon hitting up yard sales or go to an estate sale. You spend time together and you keep your impact low by shopping green.
House Tours – For weekend fun spend an afternoon touring Open Houses. Try to keep it within 5-10 miles of your house. This is more fun if you don’t currently own a home or if you plan to buy another soon. That way you get to think about, and dream about, your future nest.
Go Organic and Local – Scout out smaller restaurants and cafes that use local foods. Bonus points for organic and/or pastured. It is fun finding these little local gems and also trying them. You are supporting your local economy when you do. Though it may not be local you can also buy organic liquor.
The After Party
Greener Bedroom Decor – The bedroom area might need a little ambiance. LED twinkle lights are perfect for bedrooms and they are a greener option. If you can find red ones, even better. That is what I have. These heart shaped lights run on batteries, so remember to use rechargeable ones. Just remember to unplug them before you go to sleep. Candles are another nice option but they do contribute to indoor air pollution. If you want to forgo them try flameless LED candle lights. We love these. For sheets go with organic cotton or bamboo.
Planet Friendly Birth Control – The greenest birth control method if NFP, followed by sterilization probably. If you want to avoid pregnancy and do not feel comfortable with either of those options check out this post for other options.
Greener Sex Aids/Toys – You can get organic personal lubricants from Good Clean Love. They also make love oils using essential oils. Sliquid Organics Silk is another good one. For sex toys just say no to phthalates. They can cause cancer, impair fertility, and damage our reproductive organs. You can find plastic or silicone ones that vibrate and have no phthalates. If you don’t need battery power then go for wood or glass. The glass ones are beautiful! In fact check out all the green sex stuff at Eden Fantasies. Good stuff!
Eco Lingerie – Each year I see more and more organic and sustainable lingerie options. The go to place in my mind is Etsy. You get high quality lingerie and you support small business.
Are you ready for date night yet?