Feeling frugal

I've been having fun trying to think of ways to trim the grocery bill a little bit. I enjoy following some frugal blogs like A Working Pantry, Cheryl's Frugal Corner and The Bluebirds Are Nesting On the Farm. Those ladies post a couple of times a week on ways they try to save money at home. To them being frugal is far from a drudgery. It's a fun challenge to save money and make life at home beautiful and pleasant.

The first simple idea I had was to cut $50 per month out of our grocery bill by not buying Julian Pull-ups anymore. I gave potty training a try but disappointingly, had to give up for now. Because I spend so much time sitting and nursing Eric, I can't devote the time it would take to help Julian get potty-trained. Maybe in a few more months when Julian is closer to his 3rd birthday and Eric isn't spending as many hours nursing.

This next one might seem obvious but I guess it wasn't to me! I bought a Swiffer mop 5 years ago and have been using it with the disposable pads ever since. That was okay when I only had to mop a small kitchen and dining room area but three years ago we moved into an apartment that was entirely laminate floors, no carpet at all. Before this our apartments were mostly carpet. I went through a lot of those disposable mop pads. I realized that if I stopped using them and switched to using my spin mop and bucket we could save at least $20 per month. So I started doing that last week. Mopping with a bucket really isn't much harder than mopping with a Swiffer. Actually, I think the spin mop makes the floor look and feel cleaner than the Swiffer pads do. So I am happy about that change. My only regret is I loved how good the lavender Febreze scented Swiffer pads smell. That chemical lemon smell of Fabuloso that I use in the mop bucket isn't nearly as nice.

I like to use Lysol laundry sanitizer as an additive in my washing machine. It's especially comforting to have during the middle of winter when the kids get sick more frequently. I have been using it year-round, though. I thought it made the laundry smell fresher and cleaner. It was also quite expensive. Something like $27 a month to use it in every load. So I thought about it and I realized that white vinegar is much cheaper than laundry sanitizer and would likely also work well to make laundry smell clean and fresh. Not only that, it would also work as a fabric softener. Then I wouldn't have to buy laundry sanitizer or fabric softener sheets, just cheap white vinegar.

Last week I experimented with splashing a small amount of vinegar in the washer with the laundry detergent. I'd estimate I poured in 1/3 to 1/2 a cup. I did not use laundry sanitizer or dryer sheets. I was pleased with how clean and soft the laundry came out of the dryer. It did not smell like vinegar at all; it actually smelled great. So I am going to continue with that and see how it goes. Probably during the months of December and January I will still try to have a bottle of Lysol laundry sanitizer on hand. In the past those have been our worst months for sickness.

(In the past two years the cost of Swiffer mop pads and laundry sanitizer has gone up significantly. If I am remembering the old prices correctly, I think they are something like 30-40% more expensive now. Before this they were more justifiable conveniences to me.)

I've also been reading a little bit about making sourdough bread and I am very interested. We have toast for breakfast most mornings and currently we spend around $40-$50 per month on bread, which is about the cost of 4 large loaves of sandwich bread from Costco and 2 smaller loaves from the regular grocery store. Potentially we could save a decent amount of money on our grocery bill by making at least some of our own bread. This might be something else that has to wait until the baby gets a little bigger. Currently I spend my evenings after dinner nursing and taking care of him with little time for anything else.

I am going to work on tightening up the grocery spending even more but I felt like those were pretty easy ideas to start with.

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