Monday, July 27, 2015

Kung-fu household management! HYAH!

[If posts about housekeeping bore you to tears, feel free to skip this one.]

O, one of the problems with making the leap back to employment is bridging the financial gap -- that critical span of two to three weeks where you no longer qualify for unemployment, but you haven't received your first paycheck yet. After making sure tithing/rent/bills/etc. are paid, I've noted we don't have much left over in our bank account. I choose to see this as an opportunity to sharpen up my slightly-dulled skills in frugality and home management.

How does this work? I'ma tell ya how!

Cooked homemade pancakes for Miss V this morning. The standard pancake batter recipe makes more than she can eat (unless she's ravenous), and ordinarily I just tip the rest of the batter down the sink. But today I discovered you can freeze pancakes and reheat them later... so I made pancakes until the batter was gone, let them cool, stacked them up with waxed paper in between, wrapped and froze them. When Miss V wants pancakes again (and she will), we'll be set up to provide an instant gratification breakfast.

I have this bad habit of buying a whole lot of fresh basil, using individual leaves in a caprese salad and then forgetting the rest of it until eventually I unearth a pile of green slime in the back of the fridge. Not this time. All the rest of the basil has been stripped of its leaves, and now I've got two cups of packed fresh basil to make some pesto. Because you can make all kinds of stuff when you have pesto.

As you might have discerned from the basil story above, my fridge, freezer and pantry are not very well organized at the mo. I'm going through them to find and use up all the languishing (but still useful) food items that have been hiding in forgotten nooks. (Some of these will be more of a challenge than others -- how do I transmogrify a single serving of frozen white fish into a meal for three people? Dunno, but I suspect pesto WILL be involved.)

Spices. Lots of spices. Spices turn plain-Jane food into gourmet fare. And I already have a hefty stock of them on hand, so there are no additional costs.

I pay my bills with an online bill-payer set up through my bank. (Many banks and credit unions offer these free for the use of their members; check with your bank to see what it offers.) I haven't had to remember to write a check to my landlord in years; the bill-payer does it for me automatically. For bills where the total amount varies from month to month, when I receive a bill in the mail, I go into the bill-payer, indicate how much I want to pay and when I want it paid, make a note of it in Quicken and file the bill. Saves on stamps and eliminates late fees.

I'm working to get on top of household chores. Getting laundry and dishes done quickly isn't just efficient, it's also frugal -- if I leave a clean load of laundry sitting in the washer too long, it will start smelling sour and I'll have to wash it again. $$. Putting it into the dryer immediately after the load is finished saves water and electricity. (Yes, I could line-dry my laundry and save even more, but I live in the Land of Rain, folks. Plus my landlord has been doing a lot of earth-moving on the property lately. Dusty sheets and towels are not my idea of fun.)

Bookstores. Mmmm, delicious books. But they're not really in the budget, so I'm going to a) dig into the Teetering Pile and b) spend more quality time with the county library system. The same goes for movies. I want to see the documentary I Am Big Bird, but the closest theatrical showing will be in Tacoma, a month from now. Fortunately I can rent it from Amazon for a price far less than the cost of gas and theater tickets. Also, I can exercise a little patience and wait until money starts coming in again.

Cleaning up. If I have a whatsit but I can't find it in all the flotsam scattered around the house, I end up buying another whatsit, and then losing it in the flotsam... yeah, you get the idea. Cleaning house is frugal; it helps you find and make use of what you already have. (Small example: I just cleaned out the car and discovered we had three bottles of hand cream in there. THREE? WHY EVEN)

There are probably all sorts of frugalistic things I'm forgetting, but at least this is a start.


MarieC said...

Excellent tips. All are good reminders!

Soozcat said...

Well, thank you! These are not super-duper-uberfrugal, but they're things I should be doing anyway.