Sunday, June 29, 2014

Shrinking Footprint

This is our trash - for a week.

I've always been a recycler and a yard work junkie, so when we moved in to our new neighborhood I was pleased to find out that there was once a week curbside yard waste pick up, garbage pick up, and recycling pick up. It's pretty intricate compared to other places I've lived because without the separation of these things, well in to the trash everything goes for most people.

In the last few months I've decided to start including our banana peels and apple cores in with the yard waste. I'm a yard work nut so there's always pine tree droppings and the like that I get rid of every week. Well now we mix in most food products like egg shells, unused fruit or veg, and things that have gone bad or unused like bread or cheese. 

This has significantly reduced our garbage needs.

We also recycle religiously. Which in itself recycling is a great way to teach your child about materials and identify the associated types and textures of glass, metal, and plastic. And yes, we recycle everything plastic straws, cup lids if we've stopped and gotten a drink on the go. Anything that we can recycle we will.

It leads to an interesting dilemma though. My garbage bag is less than half full for one week of household waste. That parts not the dilemma though. The dilemma is that the garbage bag is mostly filled with plastic bags from product packaging. I dont believe it's recyclable but I need to find out. I suppose I could start collecting it and put it in the bag recycling bins found at some grocery stores - but I dont know if it will be reused or tossed. 

My next quandary is how to dispose of cooking grease in a way that is more friendly. I usually soak it up with paper towels then throw it in the bin. We're not giving up meat, so I need to find a better way to tackle this issue. Bones from meat are also an issue. I know they are biodegradable but because of our neighborhood cats and raccoons, I'm afraid that they'll knock over the garbage and choke on a bone. My innern einer frau just comes out at the weirdest moments....

After watching a video about a zero waste household, which only produced 1 quart of garbage a year - I though, I can do better.

Zero Waste Family

The family also has a blog on blog spot!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Purchase Research

Have you ever paid for something and the moment when money from your hand goes in to the cashier's hand your heart sinks a little? Ok, well I do. This summer is mostly being spent in preparation for the accelerated night class I'm taking for the summer B semester, it starts this Thursday, and most of all Fall where I will be taking a night class and my son will be starting kindergarten. For these events we both have material needs that need to be bought. Let me say it's daunting to see the full price cost of items. A new graphing calculator is 109 dollars at Walmart. A book for my next class with an online code 231 dollars at the college book store. School uniforms for my son, each shirt full price is 12.99, shorts 12.99, pants 14.99. Eesh!!! 

No wonder most Americans are broke!

If I paid full price for everything I'd have no discretionary spending left or even grocery money at the end of the week. Something I've been getting better at is not paying full price. I coupon, I clearance shop, I barter, and I do a lot of work myself. Another way to save is to buy used and save the difference. I do this by looking at alternative retailers and sellers. It takes some research, but you save so much on your purchases. So here are the items I saved on this week and how I bought them. 

My neighbor and I were talking and she suggested I look on Craigslist for a used graphing calculator. Bingo!! 80 dollars, and it's a Silver Edition TI-84, this is like chrome for geeks. 

A used text book with online code at the competing non college operated book store across the street from campus 124.98. The same 'package' was over 200 dollars at my campus bookstore.

Gently loved uniforms on sale at my son's school, 5 dollars a piece!! The tops and bottoms are embroidered with the school name and logo, so they have to be bought at a particular store with a set price list. This store offers no discounts, sales, or coupons. I was able to buy 15 different pieces at the schools resale and didn't have to pay tax! Score!!

Book 231 - 124.98 = 106.02
Calculator 109 - 80 = 29 (plus tax)
Uniforms 194 - 75 = 119.85 (plus tax)
Total Saved = 254.87

Full price = 427.98
My price = 254.87
Percent Saved = 40.5%

Sometimes people see a price and think, this is the cost, I must pay this. But goods and services can be obtained for less than the original asking price. So if you're short of ideas on how to save money on a particular thing talk to a friend. My neighbor helped think of places to look for a used graphing calculator. The enrollment counselor at my son's school mentioned the uniform sale. My girlfriend suggested Amazon when I told her the price of the book. It never hurts to talk to people about things, often times they have great ideas. 

Three steps closer to meeting all the needs we have for August!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

School Supplies, Check

And the school supply shopping is done!! 

I stocked up last year on all the sales and freebie items I could get, patiently putting away extras. Last night was the culmination of my sales shopping last year and two shopping trips this month. Full price everything on the table spread is about 84 dollars plus tax. I bought store brands for several things and couponed and sales shopped some others, so my total was less than that by a good deal. I'm still amazed at how much the school system asks for. 

When speaking to friends on Facebook about the back to school supply lists we all commented how they were very lengthy. One mother said it was her belief that schools will ask for more because they know some parents wont bring in supplies. So for the parents that do, they're compensating for the parents that dont. I thought about this long and hard and found myself in agreement with my friend. Some parents are in a difficult place to provide. As a single mother it's not easy to spend discretionary money on school supplies when there are other wants like going out and treating ourselves, but I choose to see school supplies as a need not a want and know to differentiate between the two. Much like parenting is a choice, parents must further choose to commit themselves to the education their child is receiving, and help and enable the school and teachers to do their best. If me providing these items helps with the goal of providing my son and his classmates with the best environment possible to learn, I feel it is my duty to willingly provide them with a kind heart. 

Now that the supply list is double checked and packed in bags ready for delivery there's still more to do! All documents and coppies of medical records have been submitted, all paper work has been signed - registration is done. Check. School supplies bought. Check. Entry testing done. Check. Now to buy school uniforms and the agenda his school requires. This is a public school, but some public schools here have uniforms. To save on the cost of uniforms we're going to the school shop where they resell uniforms for 5 dollars a piece. My mother encouraged me to go as soon as possible because when they're out of his size, they're out. So that's on my agenda this week. After dropping off the supplies and buying the uniforms and a school agenda, my next goal is to pre pay for aftercare and school lunches for a month or two. 

Being a mom is a lot of work!!!