Coping: Budget Advice – From the Kids!

One of my daughters, I have to say, got high marks from dad this week when we talked about how she and her hubby were doing in their new apartment.

They had been in a great shared house deal, but that fell apart due to a serious foundation water leak.  Exit the great finished basement and into a small apartment – feat made more difficult by their cat.

Thing is, the new joint costs more than the old and – amazingly – she had started to look at financials in a wonderful, new (to her) way.  I was amazed…

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What she did was get on with the power company and figure out how much money they could save if they didn’t run their water heater as much.

The answer was quite a bit.

So she, and the hub, are now doing all their showers at the gym.

Which, to hear her explain it, made a lot of sense.  The savings on hot water is about $20-bucks a month while the gym membership is like $40-something.  It’s like a big discount, all the time.

Another thing I’ve noticed is that rather than have friends over for entertaining, they are “meeting up for workouts…”  Another fine way to save money, not to mention getting ready for the next Tough Mudder event.  Hubby’s a black headbander which is something in muddy circles.

Back to the electric bill:  They did notice it was a bit higher for when they both took time off work with the flu (and showered and cooked more at home).

With the flu gone, though, they did some serious cooking last weekend pre-cooking meals.  This is the daughter who’s been through chef school, so in a few hours, she put up a half-dozen dinners of peanut Thai chicken, spaghetti, and lots of other things.  If the power doesn’t go out, they’re set.

I keep reminding myself to get back into the habit of using our FoodSaver FM2435-ECR Vacuum Sealing System with Bonus Handheld Sealer and Starter Kit, Silver, though I have no idea where the handheld part went.

We’ve found bags are pretty inexpensive, especially because it’s just the two of us.  Cooking for four and getting a “free bonus dinner” is what it amounts to.

A bit of shopping around for the bags?  Occasionally they can be found on eBay and in a few other retailing sites.

Making Things

Despite the daughter being a fan of gyms, I count myself skeptical.  Seems a shame to waste all that energy that might otherwise be spent doing real projects.

Except then I look at Elaine, who regularly uses the Gold’s Gym machine and the treadmill in our “guest room” and then it makes sense.  The only figure I ever have time to work on is the one in the bank.

Which gets us to the “making things” part of the conversation.  I’m always looking for woodworking plans – the more and cheaper, the better.

I pick up one of those 13,000 plan deals a while back, but it was a little too “woody” if that makes sense.

When I’m looking for something to build/tinker with, I like items like the ones that used to appear in the old copies of Popular Mechanics.

When “the major” and I were young, growing up in Seattle, we would regularly go through the latest Popular Mechanics, Mechanix Illustrated, and whatever else might hold worthwhile project ideas.

We may have been born a tad too late, however.  I kept running into appealing projects – like a home-made boat – that would run on a gasoline powered washing machine motor.  Don’t know if you’ve been shopping for one of them lately, but I do know where I can get a good 6-1/2 HP gas engine for $100 bucks (Harbor Freight) so building a displacement put-around boat is still on my personal bucket list.

Finding the plans, though, is next to impossible.  Every time I go looking for plans, I’m struck by the enormity of the Internet.

While there didn’t seem to be anything on the Popular Mechanics website itself, the web archive was another track and it paid off triple:

Once the page loads, you still need to click on the month you’re interested in and then select from a bazillion format choices, but eventually you get down to the underlying document.

A lot of people include pdf’s of such magazines in “survival CD’s” but for real “survival” situations, we lean towards books on hunting and early issues of Mother Earth News.  Put-around boats won’t be in as high demand as small sailboats, for example…but I digress.

As I was flipping through the 1914 February issue of Popular Mechanics, I was really struck by the add for the “Library of Original Sources” which sounded interesting as all get-out.

This was the kind of making and working with Ure hands book that I consumed like crazy as a kid.

Even today, I have book like much of the Audel’s series.  But this…this one stopped me.  Was Sennacherib someone I hadn’t paid enough attention to?  People in 1914 were noticing…

Turns out, per Wikipedia, that mostly war and solving the Babylonian Problem was his thing, except when done it was time to build megalithic cities:

“Sennacherib made Nineveh a truly magnificent city. He laid out new streets and squares and built within it the famous “palace without a rival”, the plan of which has been mostly recovered and has overall dimensions of about 503 by 242 metres (1,650 by 794 ft). It comprised at least 80 rooms, many of which were lined with sculpture. A large number of cuneiform tablets were found in the palace. The solid foundation was made out of limestone blocks and mud bricks; it was 22 metres (72 feet) tall. In total, the foundation is made of roughly 2,680,000 cubic metres (3,510,000 cubic yards) of brick (approximately 160 million bricks). The walls on top, made out of mud brick, were an additional 20 metres (66 feet) tall. Some of the principal doorways were flanked by colossal stone door figures weighing up to 30,000 kilograms (30 t); they included many winged lions or bulls with a man’s head. These were transported 50 kilometres (31 miles) from quarries at Balatai and they had to be lifted up 20 metres (66 feet) once they arrived at the site, presumably by a ramp. There are also 3,000 metres (9,800 feet) of stone panels carved in bas-relief, that include pictorial records documenting every construction step including carving the statues and transporting them on a barge. One picture shows 44 men towing a colossal statue. The carving shows three men directing the operation while standing on the Colossus. Once the statues arrived at their destination, the final carving was done. Most of the statues weigh between 9,000 and 27,000 kg (20,000 and 60,000 lb).”

I look at some of the numbers here and it is truly impressive. A kilogram is 2.2 pounds, and this was before Caterpillar and John Deere.  That’s a ton of hand-work…but if you have real power over people, just shows what can be done.

Unless there’s some lost technology involved…and seems to me not enough people are looking into the possibilities there.

But enough…I found you a place to begin reading of “early makers” of our lives…and darned if it ain’t interesting brain food between bouts of real work…

Write when you get rich,

21 thoughts on “Coping: Budget Advice – From the Kids!”

  1. “Back to the electric bill: They did notice it was a bit higher for when they both took time off work with the flu (and showered and cooked more at home)”

    Interesting.. oh.. for the hot water.. electric or gas..
    I put the Reem tankless.. LOL comes in the mail about the size of a small book.

    Two days ago I had an interesting conversation over coffee with the president of our electric company.. nice gentleman and I asked him why they were fighting solar and wind energy. it took him back a little bit and he asked me about our system and how much did it provide, payback etc. my response was..
    IT DOESN’T MATTER.. it isn’t about myself.. but security for my grandkids and my great grandkids. three generations.. Hmm maybe four ago.. a direct retaliative of ours took off with a man named lewis to wander around the wilderness..the family at the time didn’t understand the significance of this journey..
    (I digress here is a cute family story that I was told by a great great uncle when I was a little boy ..I don’t know if it is true or not it really doesn’t matter LOL but I loved it.. he made a bunch of baskets.. then told everyone he had a hankering for a berry pie.. sent everyone out to gather berries then took off while they were gone to meet up with Lewis.. LOL LOL I have one of the damned baskets.
    I don’t know why I let my imagination run wild with me on this one but he had the audacity of dragging home a young teenage indian maiden to boot. I seen the spot where the shack in the woods was where she lived LOL.. he was hated I mean venomously hated for over a century by a portion of the family LOL LOL LOL LOL it is only our parents generation that sees the significance of his journeys)
    The reason for the journey was just like our forefathers discovering new lands. They were trying to secure a better future for their children and grand children and great grandchildren. It didn’t matter if they traveled great distances lived through horrible natural situations. Like my religion of choice.. they were hated because they didn’t bend to the local traditions and beliefs.. they went by foot and hand cart covered wagons through some conditions that we will never ever experience(Hopefully)to build a future for their children and grandchildren. the same goes for the electricity bill.. and the whole economy. see the way I feel about it is the same as with the fears of global warming, and EMP, hurricanes, earthquakes etc.It doesn’t matter if global warming is real or if there will be an emp or an earthquake we have to build for the generations after us.
    the power company just like the Oil industry should be our canary in the coal mine. the cost is edging up and up yet wages aren’t edging up and up.. there isn’t any blue sky there is a limit to our atmosphere the bubble of our world and economy .. gasoline.. we will never see fifteen cent gas again.. we will never see fifty cent gas again.. not that very long ago gas was forty five cents.. I had a grand torino.. and a boat of a station wagon.. unless you are extremely wealthy you cannot afford to drive it, a new car was 2500.00 and you could buy a luxury home for thirty grand my first home was seven thousand my parents home was 2000.00 I sold the first home I built for thirty five thousand and thought I did pretty good today that was not that long ago a home now is a quarter million dollars to pay for it income has to match the payments. 20 to 25 just for the housepayment.. now figure in car food and all the other expenses..
    this canary says a lot.. we have to think for the future.. not for my sake.. or your sake hell in a couple of decades from now the vast majority of us will either be in a nursing home hoping that what we saved up will be enough to buy a couple of cases of diapers or dead with only a couple of boxes of assorted crap a few photos and the memories of what we stood for. like the pioneers of the past that wandered west that didn’t have any guarantees for a future just a plan for a future for their descendants we should be making this our goal no matter what the cost. A dollar spent today is a hundred thousand or more in a very short time. by adopting solar and all renewable sure it will cost a few bucks now but it will secure the future of not only our future family but our nation as a whole.. work with them not against.. but if the power companies were smart they would embrace the future not fight it view the system like a tree you will always need the roots and the branches but by utilizing the leaves as part of the power source to run the trees photo synthesis process you have one of the most efficient power systems in the world. give everyone the option that if they put a solar power system up that their costs will not increase for ten years..but they don’t get reimbursed for any excess that they produce for that ten years. if they choose to be reimbursed after the ten years then they have to pay the increases in rates. then build a smaller solar power hub a tree so to speak at every lift station at its furthest point working their way back to the power plant. the reasoning is by doing this one the power companies wouldn’t have the massive changes and expenses that are going to be needed as we progress in the very near future.. it will strengthen our power grid over the fears of an EMP or storm .. see once you have a smaller solar tree.. that will handle a few hundred homes and businesses then if a power outage was to happen it would have a smaller foot print.
    it would also strengthen the power company. you cannot have free energy at all.. just like the oil companies.. you cannot have free energy the affects of this would be devastating.. on the other hand you cannot have a run away costs.. lately our city needed to make a few repairs.. the only way they could was to increase the local city utilities.. by thirty percent.. now that was just for a small section of repairs needed on an aging infrastructure. Our nation trying to save money has done just this.. they didn’t plan for the children and grandchildren. the costs are higher.. and one day will explode into this massive expense that could destroy the very utilities that we all take for granted.. the minor increase in fuel for the car the electricity and not considering the expenses of the youth.. like Georges daughter realizing the increase in costs.. if that is a shocker.. just wait.. it is a coming.. we as their mentors and the ones that should be planning for these changes should be not tomorrow but twenty years ago..just like saving money.. it is the compounding periods that builds great wealth.. how many compounding periods does our nation have before it expands so fast that it devours our children and grandchildren..
    anyway that is my rant of the day.. it was an interesting conversation.. he told me that the biggest question that anyone has is how much will they make..

  2. I love the showering at the gym thing – I know of lots of people that do this. Several years back, at a previous gym located in strip center, I noticed that the Psychic next door was in the gym locker room. She didn’t look like she worked out much so I asked the owner (was friend of mine) if she was starting a w/o program. He said “Nah. She lives in her shop next door but it doesn’t have a bathroom so she joined here and uses the bathroom facilities”

  3. Reduced my electric bill by turning off hot water circuit breaker when not using hot water. My electric bill is about $1 a day summer to $1.50 in winter because of furnace blower and more lighting.

    Turn on circuit breaker half hour before needing hot water which isn’t a problem since it is just me. The hot water heater is well insulated and keeps water hot enough for hand washing while being off. The breaker box is in the kitchen so it is easy to access.

    • Yeah you can get a regulator for those that’ll cut it off and on at a certain time but too expensive so that’s the whole thing is just like solar panels I mean you can save money but it’s going to cost money up front

    • Try tankless. Amazing how low the bill goes.
      And as a plus, you can shower for as long as you want and never run out of hot water.

      • I tried a few tankless units before I found one I like – the Marey 10L/min natural gas unit. They make a propane unit too. Installation was a snap if you’re used to plumbing. It will drip condensate a bit, so a pan underneath is a good idea. I use no hot water at all other than showers, so the thing is inactive most of the time. YMMV. I’m actually tankful that I found this unit on sale:-).

        The electric ones need care to be sure the elements stay wet and don’t steam, as they will burn out, since they’re much higher amperage than a regular water heater.

    • Most electric hot water heaters use about four hundred kw a month continuing use to keep the water hot while your away at on demand draws a lot of power but only when your using hot daughter was complaining about the kids leaving a light on. I laughed and said really that light isn’t anything at all..4 tvs 4 cable box’s each with a vampire power drain of about a hundred watts. 2me per day plus for each.. Cell phone anyone.. The more technology we have the more power we will use. Computers routers etc etc. Almost everything has a vampire circuit

  4. Dear Mr George, Ref woodworking, you may find it interesting (I have) to look at the you tube site of an elderly English carpenter/craftsman, Paul Sellers. His occasional humorous comment is usually as dry as the sand found in any desert. Regards from a soon to be contributor. AB


    it is interesting that you brought up the building of the palace using stabilized earth blocks and the sheer number of them that was needed.
    a few years ago a collage professor and I got into the discussion of rammed earth and the ceb pres.. the discussion started over an article in Mother earth News.
    anyway.. during ww2 wood was a rarity and some colleges around the nation.. ( our state university included) started a class that dealt with this. I didn’t really get interested till I came across a barn that was made by the kids.. so my friend decided ok.. lets see just how good this is. had a summer class they built a press and used a variety of mixtures to see just how good it was. He was astonished.. the best one was the one using clay sand and roasted and ground up shells.. ( you can buy them just bake it) which had limits that were just unbelievable. I have the pressure tests someplace.. the hardest part was the amount of work it took to sift the clay mix the sand get the right clumping capacity.
    anyway we were having a discussion and I said.. I bet a four year old can make blocks as efficiently as an adult man. and being able to make them fast enough that a thousand bricks a day could be possible. so the debate is on.. I am going to build a press use one that my grandson made of his design and have a commercial hand press coming.
    I don’t see how it will be that hard..or complicated to accomplish something like that.

  6. George –

    I echo your comments about the food saver. With the kids out of the house, my wife and I often food save the leftovers and have not had to change the recipes. Cuts down on cooking and you still get the great home cooking.

    If you want to save electricity. Use a clothesline during the summer and clothes drying racks for indoor drying during the winter. Cuts an easy $40 – $50 off the power bill a month and is much easier on the clothes (greater life expectancy).

    • Drying indoors in the winter may, or, may not save money. You still need heat to evaporate the water. You still have to buy the energy. It will depend on which energy source that you buy. Gas , electric, wood, Wood that you cut yourself. A little savings from not running a dryer motor.

  7. Dave Butcher has been out there a long time promoting human powered electricity generation to offset some power costs and to keep one in shape. Maybe you can replace your treadmill with one of his devices and create some surplus energy. Elaine will appreciate the results you’ll get. 73


      Every family gathering I would be sitting there and all the women would be talking about how they wanted to loose weight.. then I seen this one.. ok.. I started the plans in my mind to build one from an old junk washing machine.. then when they start cackling about loosing weight.. Here you go ladies.. just don’t forget the spin cycle.. LOL LOL LOL LOL human powered and really how much does a washer eat up.. you could pay for the construction of the unit in no time at all..

      • LOL yes.. I think Elaine would love you the REST OF YOUR LIFE if you built her one of these to…LOL LOL LOL LOL I know mine would LOL LOL.. mine might not be that long.. but hey..

  8. Chinese tariffs and now we know why my neighbor moved took a loss on his new million plus home and went back to bejing with his Chinese wife to develop other markets. It’s not going to be pretty and look forward to a 45 percent duty. Better buy what you need now or forget about it. All the leading marketeers Costco Walmart target pleaded with the admin not to do this to no avail. I think you are right watch the ushering in of the new depression

  9. Today’s mention of topics discussed in long ago periodical issues on Archive dot org causes me to ponder how much knowledge flows under the bridge and into obscurity.

    I was shopping for bike chain cleaner a couple of seasons ago. The bike store had manufactured concoctions for sale that were all super expensive. A commuter friend told me to hang onto my cash and just use kerosene as a cleaner. That was complete news to me. A couple of weeks ago I was reading a bicycle review issue on Archive dot org by “Scientific American” from the 1890’s. Lo and behold the recommended item for cleaning a chain was given as kerosene.

  10. Popular Science and Pop. Mech. sold collections of their ‘how to’ articles during the 30s to the 60s. I have many of then . They are available at the used book sites ( alibris etc. ) And E-bay Amz. etc.

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