Substitution Strategy

Choices

A truism of mine is “There are always more than two choices.” At first glance, there may seem to be only two choices. Sometimes that is because many of the choices are so unpleasant we automatically disregard them. Sometimes it’s because we don’t have all the information yet, and when we do we’ll see the additional possibilities.

If neither of the obvious choices is attractive, look around for more.

To take an extreme example, suppose money is so tight that buying toilet paper is a problem. At first glance, the choices seem to be: 1. do without something else important in order to buy toilet paper, or 2. do without toilet paper (eew).

As described in my Frugal Living book, there are several other choices:

“The next step is cloth wipes. I’ve started with just using them for urine. As a woman of a certain age, I pee quite a lot and flush away a few cents worth of paper every time. One 2X T-shirt made about twenty wipes, roughly 6 x 7 inches. I didn’t hem them, and I didn’t need to, so that was easy. Some Internet posters prefer thicker material such as pieces of cloth diaper, or flannelette cloth.

 

I find them to be more comfortable and more effective than paper. They are much nicer in every way. And no bits of paper left behind! A damp cloth wipe can be used like the newly fashionable wet wipes. Flushable wipes can cause problems in water treatment plants, so wetting a cloth wipe is safer.

I toss them straight into a covered container. I don’t feel they add to my laundry costs enough to count. They are small, and collectively add up to no more than a T-shirt per load. I kept track for a while and learned that using this method I use roughly one third as much toilet paper as I used to. People who use them for #2 often use a disinfectant such as tea tree oil, vinegar or bleach in a diaper pail.

This is something that lets me do what disposables do, but without having to buy disposables. If I run out of paper, I’m not up the proverbial creek because the cloth wipes are there when needed. Even if I used wipes for everything, I would still keep paper on the dispenser for guests, of course.

I have seen this method scorned as “reusing toilet paper.” That’s silly. There’s no realistic and sanitary way to reuse toilet paper. People using this method are using reusable cloth instead of disposable paper. Nobody calls using cloth napkins “reusing paper napkins.”

In a pinch, the cloth wipes make okay handkerchiefs, too. A nice clean hanky or cloth wipe is also great for cleaning my eyeglasses without scratching. (Never use paper on dry glasses. It will scratch!)

On an episode of Extreme Cheapskates, I saw a family that used newspaper as toilet paper. This is NOT flushable. They put the used newspaper into a trash bag and when it was full, threw it away.”

In almost any situation, there may be more choices than you’ve thought of. Searching online and talking it over with friends and family may open up new possibilities for you.

 

http://www.amazon.com/author/mariebrack

 

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A Two-Pronged Approach to Spending Less

One way to think about cutting costs is to come at it from both ends. What do I feel I absolutely must spend money on? And on the other hand, what are the obvious extravagances I have no difficulty in identifying and letting go of?

Perhaps one insists on having a home, not living on the street. That’s a good baseline for the housing part of the budget. On the other hand, perhaps one could cross expensive artwork for decorating that home off the list of future expenditures. That’s fairly obvious too.

Maybe have to have a vehicle to get around in a normal fashion, so I spend on that.  On the other end of the spectrum, maybe I don’t need to spend money having an optional moonroof installed on my vehicle.

These are wide extremes. As I’ve worked through the process of cutting expenses, I’ve gradually come closer and closer to the middle balance in all budget categories.

 

The Archeology of Adapting to a Lower Income

Every time I think I’ve reduced spending as much as humanly possible, I find another level of non-spending below the one I’m currently in.

They say that dirt goes on one layer at a time and comes off the same way. That’s why it takes several tries to clean a neglected baking dish or crudded-up bathtub.

When adapting to a lower income, don’t make yourself crazy thinking you have to change everything at once. If you can, great. If it gives you a kind of emotional bends, slow down and do one thing at a time. Start with what’s easiest. That way, you’re cutting the things you care least about, and so it hurts less.

Frugal Living for the 21st Century: Adventures in Using Your Money Wisely has a large range of ideas for spending less. Take what you like and leave the rest.

 

 

http://www.amazon.com/author/mariebrack

Dislike avocado? Or just want a new idea?

Avocados are a great source of potassium, fiber, essential fatty acids, and a bunch of other great stuff. But what if you don’t like the texture, or the color? What if you’d rather eat chocolate pudding? On the other hand, what if lactose intolerance bars you from enjoying pudding?

Not to worry, there’s an alternative: avocado chocolate pudding. At first, I was skeptical. So skeptical in fact that I almost let the avocado go bad before trying it. I tried it just in time.

The recipes on the internet call for things I don’t have, like coconut milk, so I just left those out. I mixed up the good part of the avocado (must be soft), 2 teaspoons of cocoa powder, and a bunch of sugar, maybe 2-3 tablespoons. If you have less of a sweet tooth than I do, start with less, you can always add more. Smush it all together and add enough water to get a pudding texture.

It looked like pudding. Summoning my courage, I tasted a little. Tastes like sweet chocolate. The texture is exactly the texture of chocolate pudding. Yay!

Refrigerate for best effect.

Is It True? Nutritious Food is Expensive

My answer is, yes and no.

Blueberries are expensive. Bananas are not.

Steak is expensive. Eggs are not. At two eggs per serving, they put the protein in your meal for about twenty cents.

Name brand ready-made fancy granola cereal is expensive. Oatmeal is not.

Boneless, skinless chicken breasts are expensive. A whole chicken costs less per pound and is far more versatile.

Brown rice is filling and nutritious and inexpensive.

Lentils cook quickly compared to other beans, are high in protein, and are inexpensive.

Shelled walnuts are expensive. Sunflower kernels cost less and have similar nutritional value.

Ready-cut carrots are expensive. Whole carrots are not. Cabbage, potatoes, and onions are inexpensive and nutritious.

 

 

52 Weeks: Electricity – Cooking

A microwave oven uses much less electricity than either a stove top or oven, about a third as much. On the other hand, some foods need baking, broiling, or searing to bring out their best flavors. When I use the full size oven, I often fill it up with a pan of chicken and three pans of vegetables to roast. When I’m baking something small, like baked potatoes, I use the toaster oven. I use the micro-wave for reheating.

A pressure cooker will cook food in about 1/3 the time that conventional cooking takes. The best foods for this are foods that can be cooked with liquids, because the cooker needs steam to work. This is great for rice and for beans, and it also works for meats and vegetables.

Solar ovens use no energy at all, but there are disturbing reports of vision damage from the reflectors.