Lemon oil, solar power, burning off, budgets and saving money.

The one thing all the items in my title have in common is… money. Or to be more exact, my growing awareness that my old age is going to be rather grim unless I become a lot more careful with money. Thanks to an inheritance from my late father, I’ve had two stress free years in which to write, but now, as I approach my 60th birthday, I have to start getting serious about money again.

The first thing I decided was that I was going to use my inheritance to pay off my mortgage because I didn’t want that huge monthly expenditure hanging over my head for the rest of my life. I can do it, but getting rid of the mortgage will reduce my rainy day nest egg to something microscopic. Not so good. Hence the need to budget.

Now, if you’re like me, you probably just pay your bills and shove them into a draw somewhere without ever really keeping track of how much you’re spending every month. Yes, I know that some of you are very organized and keep track of your bills but… the rest of us need something a little easier. If you use internet banking to pay your bills then there is an easier way. Every internet banking application has a ‘Payment history’ function and a ‘Payee list’. They’re not there just for show! You can use the two functions to get a quick idea of your previous year’s expenditures. Basically, I just went through my payee list, looking up all my regular payments. I typed them into a spreadsheet and in a very short space of time I had a pretty good idea of my average monthly spend.

The good thing about having this kind of information in black and white is that you can no longer fool yourself about those ‘little’ indulgences. For me those little indulgences included monthly subscriptions to two mmo’s, neither of which I’m currently playing. [I’m now playing GW2 which is free-to-play]. It hurt to cancel those subscriptions, but in doing so I saved myself close to $500 per year.

I won’t bore you with details of all the areas where I’ve cut back, but I’d like to mention two other ways of saving money – lemon oil and effective use of solar power. No, the two don’t go together! Lemon oil is a great way of cutting multiple, commercial, cleaning products off your shopping list and out of your life. My tips on solar are for those who have solar panels and want to make the most of them.

I’ll start with lemon oil. You can buy a bottle of lemon oil for the price of two commercial cleaners but it will last through the life of about five commercial cleaners, plus you’ll have the satisfaction of having a house that smells wonderful and isn’t suffocating you with potentially dangerous chemicals.

To use the lemon oil for cleaning, just get a clean, empty spray bottle and pour about 1/2 an inch of lemon oil into the bottom. Add a few drops of biodegradable dishwashing detergent and some water. The amount of water you add depends on the type of cleaning you need to do. I’m a very messy cook so my cooktop is always covered in dried on food splashes. To clean the cooktop, I use a fairly concentrated solution made with only a few tablespoons of water. For benchtops and other less greasy areas you can dilute the lemon oil with a cup or more of water.

Until today, I’d only used my homemade lemon oil cleaner on benchtops, but on a whim I sprayed my grubby cooktop with lemon oil just to see what would happen. I left it to soak for about 5 minutes and then went back, expecting to have to do some serious scrubbing. Imagine my delight when the gunge came off with a simple swipe of the sponge! It was like watching one of those commercials where Wonder Product wipes away dirt and grime as if by magic. Well, it is magic, the magic of tv, because I’ve tried a couple of those Wonder Products and they never work as advertised. My lemon oil did though. πŸ˜€ The gunge truly did come off like a dream!

Now to solar. I’ve had solar panels for about a year now, and although they have helped to reduce my electricity bills, those bills are still higher than they could be. I was scratching my head about this when I was hit by the obvious – the amount you get from feeding electricity into the electricity grid is less than what you pay when you draw electricity from the grid. I told you it was obvious. But how to take advantage of that knowledge? Again, the answer is simple. If your washing machine and dishwasher have a scheduling function then set both to run during the day, while the sun is shining on your lovely solar panels. Or try and do as much as you can during the weekends when you’re home.

Another little thing I discovered once my mind was focused on cost savings, was that you do NOT have to allow your dishwasher to use the ‘dry’ function. Quite simply, the dishes are nice and hot when the wash/rinse cycle finishes. They will air dry, inside the dishwasher, without the need to apply extra, expensive heat. It’s like washing dishes by hand in hot water and then letting them air-dry in the draining rack.

The final thing I want to talk about today is burning off. In the past I have ordered a skip just before fire season and filled it to the brim with dead branches as well as broken appliances etc. This year I’ve been getting out there every still day and burning small piles of leaves and branches to prepare for fire season. It’s time consuming and I end up smelling like a smoked ham but I’m happy in the knowledge that a) my property will be less fire prone and b) I can save the cost of a skip.

None of the things I’ve mentioned save you that much, individually, but add them up and you’ll be surprised by how much you can save. πŸ˜€

If you have money saving tips, please tell me about them in comments. I’m sure other bloggers would love to read them as well!

cheers

Meeks

 

 

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About acflory

I am the kind of person who always has to know why things are the way they are so my interests range from genetics and biology to politics and what makes people tick. For fun I play online mmorpgs, read, listen to a music, dance when I get the chance and landscape my rather large block. Work is writing. When a story I am working on is going well I'm on cloud nine. On bad days I go out and dig big holes... View all posts by acflory

36 responses to “Lemon oil, solar power, burning off, budgets and saving money.

  • pinkagendist

    60? I thought you were my age πŸ˜€
    I can’t give you good money advice. I’m too often irresponsible…

    Like

    • acflory

      Technically I’m still 59 and I’m clinging to those last few months by tooth and nail!

      I’ve been a bit irresponsible too, not in big ways but in lots of little ways that add up. Don’t worry though, I’m not destitute yet!
      -hugs-

      Like

  • Solar NJ

    Vinegar works great when it comes to cleaning! πŸ™‚ GO GREEN!! Save the environment!

    -Sharone Tal

    Like

    • Candy

      Baking soda is excellent for bathtubs. Oddly, it’s also excellent for baths! Especially for sensitive or sunburned skin. I love the idea that my soothing soak leaves the tub ring free!

      Like

      • acflory

        Oh!? I’ve never thought of using bi-carb like that before. My Gran recommended vinegar for sunburn… and mosquito bites lol.

        I’m assuming you’d make a thin paste of the bi-carb [soda] before putting it on the sunburn?

        Like

        • Candy Korman

          It’s even easier than that. For a sunburn run a luke warm or cool bath and simply add the baking soda to the water as the tub fills. It makes the water very soft. You skin feels great. My skin is very sensitive and this is much nicer than bubble baths made of soap. I used to spend money on fancy bath salts. This is cheaper, gentler on my skin and leaves the tub clean… win/win/win.

          Like

          • acflory

            We don’t have a bathtub in the house but now I wish we did. [I cut it out of the design because I swore I’d never scrub a bathtub again]. I have read that Epsom salts are great for soaking away aches and pains. I wonder if it’s something similar.

            Like

        • Ilil Arbel

          Let’s say you want to clean a sink, or a toilet. You pour the baking soda on it, and then pour vinegar on the soda. The thing begins to bubble beautifully. Once the bubbling stops, you scrub. Unbelievably clean and cheap as dirt.

          Like

          • acflory

            Oh!!!!! I’ve used baking soda to clean burned on gunk from pots and pans but I’ve never thought of adding vinegar. Thank you so much for this great tip. πŸ˜€

            Like

    • acflory

      Hi Sharone, yes, I use vinegar on my floors! lol I think green is good for us people as well. πŸ˜€

      Like

  • amandadhines

    Hello!

    My best advice to you is to use a cheaper energy supplier if your area allows it! Where in the US are you located because I have a website that is free, easy, and quick! Oh yea, and its mine.

    Take care,

    Amanda Hines

    Like

  • Colin

    I think my dad trained me well on the money front. I usually sit down and “do the books”. It would be bad to run out of money before I ran out of a month. It’s happened a couple of times, and it is just frustrating.

    The key to avoiding that is of course to keep a sharp eye on the expenses, and collect receipts. Sigh. Sometimes I think I’ll turn into my dad. But he’s right. I hate to admit it, but he is. When you know your accounts, you act on knowledge, and not wishful thinking. Like today when we went out shopping, and I saw this gorgeous coat that I Just Need, but it was forty quid even as second hand. Too expensive.

    So, the only advice I have is to do the books properly. It’s boring, but it’s also sobering. πŸ™‚ And clip coupons!

    Like

  • metan

    Those power bills seem to be just going up and up don’t they? Our dryer died a long time ago and through lack of funds I just had to struggle on without it, with two very small children it was no mean feat! Once I could afford to buy a new one I couldn’t bear the thought of paying for something that would up the bills ever further so I still live without one.

    No dishwasher here. Although I would dearly love one see my previous “can’t bear the thought” statement. We have solar hot water and that helps but I would love solar power. My dream is to get off the grid altogether. We have friends who have done so, what a satisfying thing that would be!

    The burning off thing though, the Man loves a good bonfire in the backyard so until we hit fire season it will be saturday morning burnoffs for a good while yet! πŸ™‚

    Like

    • acflory

      Yup, the power bills are ridiculous and they’ve been ridiculous for a while, thanks to the power companies letting the infrastructure get old and toothless. But I mustn’t rant. I’d love to be completely off grid as well but it’s just not going to happen. 😦

      We do have a drier but I’ve been pretty strict with that. Washing goes out on the line or gets hung over a heating duct [in winter].

      I used to be terrified of burning off. In my imagination I could see the flames leaping up into the gums and setting all of Warrandyte on fire! That’s why I have little fires instead of a big bonfire. They both do the job though and I’ve noticed the ash actually improves the soil quality after a couple of months.

      Like

      • metan

        Little fires certainly do the job and are a far better option than letting the mess get out of hand which can happen very quickly. There is something very satisfying about reducing a messy pile of sticks to a small pile of ash isn’t there? The Man has been working hard this last few weekends and done a lot of burning off, the block looks great now.

        I am really hoping that the bad neighbours get it together this year and clean up their block, their disaster looks as though it has been abandoned and makes me wonder why we bother keeping our side fire unfriendly.

        Like

        • acflory

          Ugh, I know what you mean. By rights Warrandyte should be blanketed in smoke, at least on weekends but… I hardly ever see anyone burning off. Either there’ll be a mad rush soon or just masses of new spring growth and last years deadfall left to make summer truly toasty. 😦

          Like

  • Ilil Arbel

    The lemon oil is lovely! I will try it. Another huge saver (and much healthier than commercial cleaners) are vinegar/baking soda. All of us who are cat owners prefer it for scrubbing the bathrooms.
    I also live in a big city like Candy, so the walking and public transportation is how I move around everywhere. Not having a car is a huge saver.
    As for books, which are my biggest luxury expense, I discovered the free books on Kindle… Just go on the Kindle store on Amazon and type “free books” and if you love old and interesting books like I do, you will be amazed.
    I left the biggest saver of them all to the last, mostly because I don’t do it to save money but for other reasons. Stop eating meat. Go vegetarian, or if you can, vegan. It’s kindness to animals, good for your health and for the health of the planet, and eating becomes really, REALLY cheap. It’s the easiest thing in the world to do, by the way, once you decide.

    Like

    • acflory

      I’m a carnivore! lol. No, seriously, we have at least 2 vegetarian meals or very low meat meals a week, sometimes more but, as you say, not to save money but rather for health. I believe a little bit of meat is essential for the iron and protein. And yes, I know you can get both from pulses etc but getting enough from pulses requires more cooking effort so, I’m lazy. Plus I do love a nice piece of meat. Rwwwwr! -cough-

      Like

      • Ilil Arbel

        Your alpacas might be scared of this posting… You know I am not trying to convert you, I hope! Truth is, I find the cooking simpler, faster, and more pleasant since I became a vegetarian, but I basically wanted to mention it because of the huge difference in price. Feeding a herbivore is so much cheapter than feeding a carnivore!

        Like

        • acflory

          You’re so right on the cost factor. I made the dahl and rice recipe over the weekend and it cost maybe $3 in ingredients [all of which I had in the pantry already]. So yes, vegetarian meals make sense financially and we do enjoy the flavour but the only recipes I know are a bit involved so I find it easier to cook a small piece of nice meant and serve it with a salad [mostly from my deck garden!].

          Like

  • kmtreat

    Dang – I wish I could contribute something. Maybe something will come to me. I used to hang my clothes outdoors to dry and save years ago but now with all my allergies and sensitivities, it is not a wise choice.

    Like

  • Candy Korman

    I’m fascinated by your lifestyle and the choices you make. In my absolutely urban environment there are many things you can do to cut costs, cut waste and live small β€” as in with a small carbon footprint and with a modest budget. Living in one of the most expensive cities on earth is easy with a ton-o-money and challenging without it.

    I love your lemon oil idea. Some of my cost savings ideas include β€” clothing swaps (a bunch of women clean out their closets, bring what they no longer wear, dump it all in a pile and go “Shopping” for free, leftovers go to charity); enjoying the indie world of fiction $2.99 & under; getting on every discount theater list for tickets to shows; and walking or taking the subway instead of a cab. That last one is a biggie! The price differential is HUGE and losing the cab habit is a good thing in a city like this one.

    Like

    • acflory

      I don’t go out much but by god I wish I could reduce my reliance on a car. 😦 Sadly Warrandyte is a huge, sprawling place and walking is just not an option. For pleasure yes, for a purpose no.

      I remember about 5 years ago I had to walk from my house into Warrandyte village to pick my car up from the garage. I took my dog with me. We got there but it took 3/4 of an hour and on a hot day that was about 1/2 an hour too much! Even my dog was pooped. Maybe I should get one of those electric buggy things that my Mother used to ride around in. Or maybe not. I don’t think I’m quite ready to become a geriatric just yet. πŸ™‚

      Like

      • Candy Korman

        Once again, I think I put my reply to the wrong answer. The car thing is one of the urban advantages.

        The daughter noticing the lemony fresh smell is simply nice!

        Like

        • acflory

          It’s ok, I put 2 and 2 together. πŸ˜€ Melbourne does have public transport in the form of trains, trams and buses so the most populous, inner city areas are perfectly accessible without a car. Out here though… the bus service is abysmal [not enough commuters to make more buses feasible] and the distances are large. The upside however is that by the time you get near Warrandyte you can actually smell a difference in air quality!

          Like

  • jenniferscoullar

    Will definitely try the lemon oil … I’ve had solar for about a year too!

    Like

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