5 Sustainable Ways to Save Money

5 sustainable ways to save moneyHi Everyone!

I can’t imagine a day I don’t talk about how sustainability and budgeting can go hand and hand together. This post is focusing on 5 things you can do today to waste less and save more!

 

  • Reuse your stuff – This sounds so freakin’ obvious, but do you really know all the ways you can reuse stuff? This is the number one tip because it applies to so many things. Freeze candles that are in jars melted down to the point that they are no longer safe to use. Pop those leftover pieces into another container with a fresh wic and you just got to use every penny of that candle. Buy a whole chicken and butcher it up yourself. Take all the scraps and make broth. Have a vacuum sealer? Re-seal potato chips and other bagged goods to stretch their shelf life. Dehydrate food that is going to go bad soon and have a really full pantry! Pinterest or youtube this stuff and you would be amazed at the ideas you will find!!!!
  • Transform your junk into money – This is about getting the most for your stuff… even after you have stopped using it. Sell your stuff second hand. That computer that you broke and wasn’t worth fixing? Sell it on a website, app, or yard sale and get some money back. The buyer will use the parts and scraps from it for their own benefit, but now it isn’t going to the landfill and you got money for what was sitting collecting dust. This applies to everything from books to art to clothes. Don’t be afraid to see what you can get rid of it, if you don’t enjoy it anymore.
  • DIY! – I love DIY stuff. Gardening, sewing, woodworking are all great skills that not only save you money, but could even be turned into an income if you sell your goods and services. I mention those three because they are excellent as well for sustainability. Learn to grow your own food, mend your clothes, and reuse scrap wood. That being said a word of caution? Make sure that what you’re saving is worth the cost. There is no point in DIYing every little thing when materials can cost you nearly as much as hiring someone AND you have to spend your own time doing it.
  • Turn off the TV, Light, Faucet – If you pay your own utilities you know how much they can cost (and even if you don’t be a bit considerate of the environmental impact of that hour long shower). So take the time to turn off the faucet when you’re brushing your teeth. In the shower conditioning your hair? Turn the water off while you wait for it to set. Unplug electronics or put them on a power cord that you can flip the switch and cut the energy suckers (Do you realize how much power a TV still uses when plugged in but not on??? P.S. the pun was intended). If you don’t like to turn things off, or are on them a lot… I’m looking at you mobile readers 😉 take a moment and see if your electronic device offers a power saving option and clear off any unnecessary apps, files, and background programs to save energy and extend battery life. The next time your phone doesn’t die, you’re welcome.
  • Switch to Automatic Debits/Online Statements – A lot of billing services are willing to give you a discount if you are willing to A) guarantee them their money (automatic debit = automatic income to them) and B) if you’re willing to save them money (aka mailing is expensive in comparison to emails!). Call or check online for your current services still sending you print information. See if they are willing to offer you a discount and save a tree while you’re at it!

 

There you have it 5 simple things that can have a lasting effect on your environmental footprint and wallet! Which one are you most excited to try?

~Naomi

 

Cutting your Grocery bill in half… in less than 30 mins a week

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Hello Everyone,

One of my pet peeves in this world is when someone tells me that something that saves them money is “too much effort to be bothered with” yet two days later (or two hours) they are griping about not having enough cash to go out. Listen! I promise you that I can make about 50% of your grocery bill go away with some very basic steps. In January of 2018 our total grocery budget was $75. By the end of the month not only were we still within the budget (by pennies, but we were in) and our grand total of savings before cash back was $77. From the following tips we saved just over 50% on retail prices for our groceries. If you include the rebates we had it was around 60%.

A few notes/disclaimers before we start:

  • My budget for my husband and I ranges between $75-150 a month for all of our groceries that are edible. This includes alcohol. That being said it can be done for less, but this is what works for us. We also know that at full price our food would be literally double, if not more at around $200-300 a month.
  • I actually love cooking, so for me it isn’t a burden to meal plan. If you don’t cook at all then this might not help you very much (I don’t know, I don’t eat a lot of processed foods).
  • I’m not going to talk about the awesomeness of gardens because I understand that just won’t work for everyone. This is something just about anyone can do.

So let’s get started:

First, stick to 1-2 groceries stores. Do your research and pick the one with the best sales for food that you like. For me, that is a regional chain called Meijer. #Lovethem.

Anyways the 1st thing to do is sign up for their rewards program, unless you shop at Aldi you shouldn’t have a problem doing this. This doesn’t mean credit card, that’s a totally separate issue. Sign up for whatever coupon and ad system they have. Meijer even has an app for their program, Mperks, and I love it. This is the number one way to build savings and do so quickly. Now before you tell me that it is so much work to coupon and plan, let me tell you to calm thyself. You are not an extreme couponer. I am not an extreme couponer. We are literally doing this in less than 30 mins of planning per week, it will not kill you to clip a goddamn coupon.

The 2nd thing to do is to put in a search engine “Meijer (or your store) weekly ad and coupons.” I’m not kidding when I say the first result for me was a website that listed the sales ad for my area with a cross comparison of Mperks coupons. They do all the hard work for you. They tell you exactly how much something will cost after the sale and coupon are added together. You can say thank you now to the nice people who do this. This is where all the time is saved because you don’t have to think about what things will cost and if you are only limited to two per transaction or if this or that doubles or will work together. Simply scroll down that page you just found and go “ooooo I want tomatoes this week” or “I needed creamer anyways!” and then simply add it to your shopping list and make sure you have the coupon clipped or printed for your trip. I love that meijer is completely digital because I will sit on my phone at work on my break and have two tabs open just pulling my groceries together. 15-20mins later boom done.

The 3rd step is an extra bonus for a little extra work (and I mean very little in some cases). Use a rebate app like Ibotta! My referal code is here and you get $10 for signing up with it (yes I get some money as well if you sign up and actually use it). I recommend Ibotta because last month alone I got $50 back on my spending in all categories not just groceries. For me I simply pick which of the 100’s of stores they offer that I shop from (Meijer, Amazon, Family Fare, Joanns, Uber, etc.) and follow the instructions. 3 quick examples: Meijer, I have to click the rebates I want and take a photo of the receipt within 3-5 days of the purchase, Family Fare I have to pick the rebates before checkout because it automatically connects with my rewards there so I don’t have to do anything else. Amazon I simply have to shop on the Ibotta browser and they do the rest for me. No credit card information required.

So the next time you are even thinking about telling me that it is too much work to be worth the money, remember that you could be saving Hundreds of dollars per month for simply taking 30 minutes of prep work a week. Heck just throw on the TV while you’re doing it.

What could you do with all that extra money?

~Naomi

An Introduction to Zero Waste Benefits

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Hello everyone!

Today I wanted to talk about the Zero Waste movement. This isn’t a blog post about convincing you that you are some terrible human for using plastic products or for throwing something in the trash. This post was inspired by seeing one too many of those kind of comments and not wanting to see people deterred from something that has more than just environmental benefits. So let me dive in:

First the main idea behind Zero Waste is to overall reduce what waste you produce and what waste ends up in the landfills. The goal isn’t to produce no “Waste”; it’s to make sure every piece is taken care of in the best way possible and to be more thoughtful about the waste we create. This can mean things like composting, recycling, terracycling, buying used, and reusing. Now why should you make the commitment or take steps towards it:

Environment

This is the first reason that pops to mind. It keeps trash out of oceans and away from wildlife. It does help with the emissions that affect our air quality. I remember hearing once that the average person in the USA made around 4.5 lbs of trash per day. That is the size of our kittens right now. That is the weight of an entire bag of sugar or flour. Reducing that does more than just help the environment though.

Money 

Moving towards zero waste has saved us immense amounts of money. It seems counterintuitive because most people think you have to buy these speciality products to be able to afford to do this. I argue that for the most part it will save you much more than it costs, especially at first. First there are so many free recycling programs in many neighborhoods and cities or even as part of trash services. If you reduce your waste by recycling by half or even a quarter you could downgrade your trash services and trash bags and save money there. Instead of buying a single use water bottle, a reusable water bottle can easily pay for itself within 5-10 uses. Avery has had his bottle since 2012 (Yes he does wash it). There are so many examples like this that would make a huge impact on your budget over the year and you can feel good about helping the planet while doing it.

Health

While you don’t have to give up processed foods, you will probably see yourself moving away from it! This is absolutely great for you. I have been cooking at home more than ever with lots of produce and I have been doing it for my husband and I for under $75 a month. That includes treats and alcohol. You learn to buy in bulk, at local markets, and can even preserve your food. You are also keeping fewer chemicals in your home and moving towards more natural options.

Clean

I have to admit this might be my favorite and most unexpected benefit to moving towards a zero waste lifestyle. Our house is becoming cleaner and smells great. Here is my favorite example. When my college friend had a roommate who once threw rancid meat in the trash, left it there for days, and then demanded that one of her other roommates deal with it. It had made the entire place start to reek and they all got into a fight about it. Plus it took like three weeks before I’d go and see her from the smell. I used this example because with zero waste you tend to have less food waste because you tend to need to plan out meals better, but even when you do your food can go right into a composting plan and not be sitting in your home for weeks. Now, Avery and I rinse all of our recyclables that had food in them, use a smaller trash can, and are composting most of our food waste. We have less materialistic things overall and have less clutter! What a win!

 

These are just a few of the examples I have about the positive benefits of going zero waste. But it can be really intimidating and unappealing to go this route. It does take a little bit more effort some days but if you get in the habit, it really isn’t bad at all. In an upcoming post, I will be putting together a really simple beginners guide on some very easy changes that will not only be more environmentally friendly; it will also make your life easier and healthier. I’ll be putting that series together about simple to complex changes you can make and you choose what works for you and your family. Just remember every little bit counts! Are any of you interested in going zero waste?

 

~ Naomi

2018 Going Forward

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Hey everyone, it’s Naomi! It is so good to be back. This blog has been long overdue for some new posts. We have some exciting news though! 2017 was a massive year for us. We got married (Surprise!), I graduated college, we have our first apartment together and two adorable kittens. That being said with such a massive year behind us, of course we want to make 2018 a wonderful year as well.

Going Forward!

Avery started an etsy shop (Check it out at etsy.com/shop/ogdencustoms)! He is super excited to be moving forward with this as his side job and it brings him so much joy to design merch! I on the other hand have undertaken the task of reviving the “HomesteadSweethearts” brand. After graduating college I really feel like there is nothing holding me back from this blog, our instagram and so much more. I’m so excited to announce that in conjunction with this blog we are planning a VLOG! What better way to provide tutorials than videos am I right? So expect some posts about those coming up in the future.

So besides our new side hustles/brands/passions coming to life we have some major goals this year! Numero uno is to pay off 50% of our debt. I won’t lie we are nearly 91k in debt between things like student loans, cars, new phones, and credit cards. The absolute bulk being in student loans (sorry Aves, you’re a babe for supporting my education!). So that is the number one goal. 45.5k paid off this year, wish us luck!

The second one is a journey to being zero waste. Sustainability was a major part of my life in college and I want to bring that into my marriage with Avery. Not only will it save us money, but it will bring a whole lot of positive ramifications with it. We honestly can say that this is just one of the ways that we hope to improve our lives.

The third major goal is getting back to “homesteading”. This is a dream for us that is hard to make a true reality when we are renting an apartment. But we are fortunate to have access to land to garden and raise animals and we want to show you how we overcome the inability to purchase large lots of land.

There are so many other little goals to this year but those are the major things that you will see us talking about in our blog and vlog. We hope you have a fantastic start to your year. So let us know two things in the comments down below. 1) What kind of content do you hope to see from us this year? 2) What are your top goals for 2018!

~ Naomi

March Review & April Goals!

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Hello everyone!

Our first full month of blogging is over! I can’t believe how this first month has gone by so fast. Avery and I had some goals for this month and we did pretty well overall, but we still have a long way to go! So, let’s just dive right in and review how we did and where we need to improve!

March Review

These were our goals for March:

  • Post on our blog every Tuesday and Friday!
  • Create our Pinterest page
  • Read about bloggers Pinterest strategies
  • Post on Instagram 3x a week

Here is how we did!

  • 7 New Blog Posts
  • Posted at least 5x a week on Instagram
  • Our first affiliate link!
  • Created our Pinterest

Some big things that haven’t happened yet:

  • Posting on Pinterest
  • Scheduled posts on social media
  • Actually making an income

Stats:

Unique Visitors: 24 (down from 40)

WordPress followers: 7 (up from 4)

Highest Performing Post:

Instagram followers: 47 (up from 11)

Highest Performing Photo:

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Photo Credit: Avery. Btw it tasted as good as it looks.

Our thoughts on March

First of all I want to say that in March we did hit over 50! followers on Instagram, but to be honest on March 31st we were down to 47. Since then we have stayed above 50 Instagram followers.

Mar Insta 2017

So that was pretty awesome. Unfortunately I do not feel that we were as successful turning those new followers into content viewers. We are bloggers first and the fact that our post viewers were down is disappointing. I realized this about half way through the month and found that it came from two main reasons:

  1. We were not interacting enough with other bloggers on WordPress. We are great about responding to comments on our own posts, but we need to improve putting ourselves out into the community.
  2. Our social media presence isn’t translating into blog viewership. We need to get Pinterest going as it is easier for people to get to our website than Instagram. Although we really have loved running Instagram and will definitely keep growing it.

Blogging content I was happy with, but my posting skills were weak. I definitely didn’t post every Tuesday and Friday, although we have made progress. Regretfully I struggled with some technical issues and scheduled posts and had to delay some. This is a huge goal for next month. Also we only got our first affiliate link up on March 31st. That was definitely cutting it close and obviously wasn’t going to make us money.

 

April Goals 

  • Post on our blog every Tuesday and Friday!
    • Until we nail this goal it is going to be at the very top!
  • Post on Pinterest
    • Use a Social Media Scheduler
    • Schedule posts once a week minimum
  • Post every single day for the rest of the month on Instagram

Stat goals:

Unique Vistors: 250

WordPress followers: 25

Instagram followers: 100

Our thoughts on April’s Goals

We kept our stats goals at the very same level. While we plan to not drop our momentum with Instagram, we definitely need to change course and work on getting views on our blog! Our number one objective this month is to showcase our blog.

What is your favorite way to attract new visitors?

Naomi & Avery

New Camera

Hello everyone,

* This post does contain affiliate links. These result in no increase cost to you as a consumer, but simply a small percentage of the sale goes to us for directing you to them. We only will ever post links about items that we have used ourselves and absolutely loved!

New toys!!! Wait no, shhh do not tell Naomi that… this is supposed to be a tool of the trade… that’s right that is what we can tell her, just our little secret. Well, as the title suggests I am getting a new camera finally, after 12 years with the D40 (Naomi’s new camera). I have recently acquired a new camera which took a lot of deep contemplation and some deliberation with Naomi and myself. We needed to figure out what not only we need now but, also what we may need in the near future, and hopefully we did just that.

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Naomi, the thief, with my D40

So just why did Naomi and I think that we needed a new camera? Well as aforementioned Naomi recently received my D40 as a hand me down camera. She started to blog and we knew we would need to take images beyond cellphone quality and it was determined that she could learn photography on my old camera. While she stole my camera I could borrow my Dad’s spare camera (his 16 year old Nikon D70). That was the plan at least, but recently the D70 camera developed a fatal flaw. It thinks there is a full compact flash memory card in it currently and well, with or without a card it says that the card is full and will no longer take pictures. Now that my stop gap camera measure failed it came down to the truth. I needed something to take pictures. We decided not to buy just any old replacement, but a shiny new camera!

With an older model being off the table, we started looking at our options. Since we already have four lenses and access to my father’s equipment we decided to stick with Nikon for simplicity. When looking at the current line up we saw the D3400, the D5600, and the D7200 as possible choices. The full frames camera, while also highly expensive, also would mean new lenses so out they were out as well.

Now as a full in depth description of each camera’s specs would be beyond the scope of this post I shall stick with the major pros of each camera and cons. The D3400 is the least expensive camera on the list. This is in its favor, however it also lacks the articulating screen and touch capabilities of the D5600. The D5600 as stated has a articulating touch screen, but is also equipped with Nikon snapbridge, rather than the wifi connection of its predecessors. Snapbridge as a program has many flaws and the new model is a fair bit more expensive than the D3400. Now we come to the D7200, a camera I would love to have just for the sheer speed increase and added features. The 7200 definitely the better camera for pictures sake but with its added size, weight, and most importantly cost it has been decided to be a future camera.

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A new photo from my new camera

Well then, if not the D7200 we are left with the 3400 and 5600 so which will it be? Simply put neither…

Naomi and I came to the D5500, last year’s camera, with nearly identical specs as the D5600 and a much lower price tag it is the camera to fit our current needs. Now that being said the current plan is I will shoot with it for the next couple years while she learns more on my venerable D40. Then we shall pass the D5500 to Naomi and get the D7200 or an even shinier new toy… I mean camera.

With that decision made I have many more to come camera bag, new tripod for video, drone, small action camera, and hopefully a wide angle lens. However those are for another day as I must budget for my calf now. That being said if you are interested in checking out the D5500 for yourselves click the link below! Follow us on Instagram to see some of my latest photos with my new toy!

  • Avery

Nikon D5500 DX-format Digital SLR w/ 18-55mm VR II Kit (Black)

 

Why not writing letters is hurting your relationship

Hello Everyone,

Last week I talked about the long distance relationship that Avery and I have (post here). I wanted to discuss some of the ways we overcame the distance challenge. When it comes to LDRs or just relationships in general if you’re not writing letters and notes to your loved ones you’re missing out. Think about the last time you actually received something sweet in the mail or on your desk. The fact that someone took the time to send anything at all is flattering, but when it is evident that it took a little more time and thought to put it together, it becomes so much more meaningful and fun.

It doesn’t really take a lot to get started and you can get really creative with it. Avery and I started by sending weekly or biweekly letters just chatting about our weeks and saying how we missed each other. We would talk about anything under the sun. One day though the games began. Avery started it all by sending me drawings. Let me share with you a little secret… he can’t draw to save his life. I died laughing when he drew me a picture of a pie (an ongoing joke and a story for another day). He even sent me an adorable child like drawing of a house and two stick figures of us with a puppy. It probably seems mean that I laughed, but it was so him and I was so happy that I put them up all over my walls. My friends would wander in and ask what the heck that was about and it cheered me up to tell stories.

Every time he would send me something new, I sent him something different too! My letters started coming with little origami stars that when he unrolled them had a little motivational quote or I love you on it. When he sent postcards, I would send open when… letters. I nearly died from laughter when I got a card that said “thinking of you” just to open it and see it said naked. It was all about making each other smile and sharing the love.

To this day I have my favorite pictures and letters in a special little box that I can look at every time I miss him. Some of them are three years old and yet I still have them. We haven’t sent letters so much any more because we are not as far apart, but that habit has translated into new things for us. I created a little notebook with memories and photos as a gift for him. We leave little notes and gifts for each other (yes, Avery the soft pretzels count as my present to you every time I make them). Writing letters built a foundation in our relationship that I value deeply. It taught us to make time for each other, to care for each other, and to find joy in the littlest of things. If you’re not writing letters to your significant other, even if you live together, you’re missing out on the opportunity do something really special together.

So, what is your favorite thing to send to your significant other?

  • Naomi