I thought I would follow up with some frugal ideas of my own, after living very frugally for about 30 years now. My husband and I made the decision when we married that we wanted a big family. That right there is taking a vow of poverty, and by golly we have stuck with it! Now that the kids are mostly grown and gone we are pretty much sold on the whole frugal idea. It is nice to not be in crisis mode, but we do still watch the meter so to speak.
What I mean by watch the meter, it exactly that. I have a son-in-law that puts me to shame when it comes to being frugal, almost to the tight extreme. But if you need hints he is the person to see.
One day we were hiking and my flip flop broke. He and I were kind of about five miles from town and on a gravel road. I was pretty freaked out and dreading the long one shoed walk home. He took my flip flop from me and found a piece of wire lying on the road. He was actually able to fix my shoe. In fact I wore that shoe for about six more months like that. He told me if he'd known I was going to keep wearing it for so long he would taken more time to make it look nicer.
At any rate here is the test he did, speaking of watching the meter. One day he and my daughter were going to hook up their new washer and drier. He was concerned that their electric bill would skyrocket when they added the new appliances. So he had my daughter turn on the washer while he watched the meter. Then he had her turn on the drier. Then she went to take a shower. Here in Costa Rica we have what is called "suicide showers". That means the water is heated through a on demand heater hooked on the shower head. Well when she began the shower he about had a kitten. He said that thing just started spinning like crazy.
So now they are allowed only so many minutes in the shower, at least when it is hot, unlimited cold. He suggested to us that we do our showers like they do in Hondurus. There they turn on the water only long enough to get wet. Then soap up and turn the water back on to rinse off. I just told the family to cut their shower time in half. We will see how that does.
That is one of the biggest ways to save on bills, just become aware of where your money is going. We were spending a lot of money on our international phone bills. So we got a Skype phone and now that is taken care of.
Another good way to cut down on bills is to cook more from scratch. That does not mean all day in the kitchen. Just throw some beans in the crockpot before work, and cook some rice when you get home. It tastes great with some tortillas, and vegees and fills you up.
Going out to eat is the first and probably the best place to cut out. I think as the economic crisis continues we will definately see our nation getting a little skinnier, and hopefully healthier. There you go we can cure the health care crisis at the same time, just make your own food!