10 Ways Our Family Saves Money

I would love to share some different ways that we save money. We are not always super thrifty, like some, but here is how we try:

1.   Recycle Aluminum cans and scrap metal

It is so simple to just have a separate bin for aluminum cans. After we have several bags full, David takes them to the recycling center and they pay him for them. Even if you don’t want to fool with taking them to a recycling center, maybe you know someone who will and collect the cans for them. My mom and dad collect cans for us.

2.   We use an antenna for TV signal

We can’t really get cable television out where we live, but we have had several different satellite services in the past. We really don’t watch much television, but it always seemed like most shows we did watch were on network TV anyway, so when all of our local stations went to a digital signal, the picture is just as good as satellite signal. We ditched the satellite and now watch television for free!

3.   Pay as you go cell phone cards

We have had contracts many times with several different companies in the past. It always seemed like there would be some surprise charge on there every month that we didn’t expect. It would be like, “Oh you were roaming last month outside of our network. We charge for that.” Or “You went over your limit on texting and data. We charge extra for that.” And if you want out of your contract…. Look out! They charge for that!

With the pay as you go phone card, there are no surprises. We pay a set amount every month for each phone. If something comes up and we are short on cash, we may wait a few days to renew. And that’s ok on a pay as you go plan. It works for us.

4.   No credit cards

By now, I know you are starting to see a trend. The reason we do a lot of these things to save money is because we have tried it other ways in the past that did not work. This is not an exception. We have had credit cards. Several. Oh, we would pay them off and make a pact to never use them again unless it was an emergency! They were just too convenient. I know some people are disciplined enough to pay theirs off each month, but this didn’t work well for us. We have been without credit cards for 7 years now and you know what? I really don’t miss them at all. It is just one less bill to worry about.

 

5.   Use coupons whenever possible

I have found that for the most part, at Aldi’s or other grocery stores, the store brand is just as good as the name brand… most of the time. So that is what I mainly buy, but there are those few items like laundry detergent or deodorant that we have a certain brand we really like. I specifically look for those coupons and sales on those items and stock up when I can. Also, whenever we eat out, we first look and see what restaurant coupons I happen to have.

6.   I wash and reuse plastic baggies and bread bags

First, let me just say I do not reuse a plastic baggie if it has had raw meat in it. That would just be gross! But if it has had crackers, or rolls, or raw veggies I definitely think it can be reused. I wash it in the sink along with my other dishes and drape it up to dry.

I mentioned this at work to my coworkers one day and I got that look. You know the one. The one where you think, “Oh no, they’re gonna talk about me later.” Lol I guess we all have our quirks.

The bread bags also work well if I am making a banana nut bread or a zucchini bread and I am giving it away… works great! I used to know a lady who knew how to make braided rugs from bread bags! I now wish I had asked her to show me how.

7.   Service our vehicles, home maintenance ourselves.

Now technically, I don’t do this one. My husband does. And I am so grateful that he has the knowledge to take care of these things. If we have a plumbing issue or whatever, first he will attempt to fix the problem himself and he usually can. If he can’t fix it many times he will read about how to fix something or even watch a You-tube video. If you can do it yourself, you save the service fees.

Do not get me wrong here. I truly appreciate the professionals who provide these services for people who cannot do these things themselves. I remember totally botching up my son’s hair when he was small and was so grateful for the hairdresser who uncomplainingly made things right! I am just saying if it is something simple that you can do yourself, it does save money.

8.   Use the clothesline

In our house we have had bad luck with clothes dryers, so there have been times I have had to hang clothes to dry out of necessity. Even in the wintertime, I draped clothes and sheets all along our handrail and over doors to dry. Now that we do have a dryer that seems to be working at the moment, I still try to utilize the clothesline when I can. On a nice warm day the clothes actually dry just as fast as if I had put them in the dryer. One thing I do try to do is use fabric softener if I am going to hang a load on the line so that the fabric doesn’t dry as stiff.

9.   Stock up when items are on sale or at Sam’s club

I most always pick up a copy of the local Sunday paper so I can catch all the sales going on in town. If there is something on sale that we use regularly, I may pick up several and stock up. If I happen to have a coupon for something on sale that I know we will use, again, stock up. My husband has always loved buying in bulk. We do this a lot with paper items. Every once in a while, we make a trip to Sam’s and stock up and you know… He’s right! It is good not having to worry about certain items when you do your weekly shopping.

10.   Pack a lunch for work, or take coffee from home in a to go cup

As much as my hubby and I love to eat out, we can’t afford to do this all the time. So one of the ways we save on money is by packing our lunches for work. Fortunately, for me working in a school, if I do get a lunch from the cafeteria it is pretty inexpensive, but packing a lunch for me also saves time. If I have my go cup of coffee, I don’t need to take time to stop and purchase one. I can just go to work. But for my husband, a truck driver can spend lots of money and waste a lot of time stopping to eat. He takes several items (mainly fruit) with him on his truck and he can stop and eat while he is waiting to load or unload and doesn’t need to make any extra trips to the truck stops. Doing this makes the times that we do eat out together more meaningful.

 

As I was writing this, I was also thinking there are lots of areas where we really waste money and need definite improvement. Maybe my next post should be 10 ways we waste money. Lol

How about you?

Would love to hear some ways your family saves money.

Leave a comment.

Adult Guardianship Class, Done!

I have mentioned on my blog that the Ohio Supreme court has recently put new requirements in place for guardians of adults. There was already a couple paragraphs of laws concerning this but now they have added to this – 9 pages.

Guardians are now required to take a six hour fundamentals class the first year and a continuing 3 hour class each year thereafter for as long as you are a guardian of an adult.  The rules were put in place officially on June 1, 2015. My mother and I each received letters of the new requirements from our county’s Court of Common Pleas somewhere around the middle of June since we are co-guardians of my brother, John.

(We didn’t know anything like this had been coming, so we were a little shocked and it took some time to process what exactly we were being asked to do).

After some fails, we were finally registered for the class.

We attended the Adult Guardianship Fundamentals class this past Tuesday.

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There were close to 100 adult guardians in attendance. We were told the importance of staying for the entire six hours.

We had two knowledgeable instructors. One was an attorney from Columbus whose practice focuses in the area of disability law. He also has a daughter who is disabled, so he knew coming in from many angles the types of issues that are faced when a family member is developmentally disabled.

The other instructor had presented 550 workshops in the past decade relating to aging issues.

Here is something I hadn’t thought of going in. Some people are Guardians of Adults because of an aging parent or relative with dementia. So while the attorney brought forth a lot of relevant information for my mother and I, the other instructor did not. Now, she was very knowledgeable about the new guardianship laws and rules but her part mainly pertained to guardians of the elderly. Even the example we were given and referred to for the duration of the class was for an elderly lady from Mexico who had dementia. She also spoke about guardians of an estate. My brother, John, doesn’t really have an estate.

Now while I do understand that Tuesday was only the 2nd time the Adult Guardianship Fundamentals class had ever been offered, yet I hope that in the future they may separate the two types of guardians. While some issues may have been similar, there was quite a bit of time spent on items that didn’t pertain to our situation. I did try to keep in mind that some day I may need to become a guardian of an elderly person, namely, my parents; (you know, to try to make it relevant for me) but – on that day – I was really there for John.

I am just one of those types of people who do not like to have my time wasted. It drives me crazy! There were times that I felt like I was just there for the sake of putting in my six hours. Many questions that were asked were given the answer “We don’t know, yet.” because the rules and laws are so new. It was very much like the cart was put before the horse. Much more planning needed to be done for these courses.

With that being said… I did learn quite a bit of useful information. We were given tons of resources to go to if we ever have any question about our adult guardianship. I took tons of notes and I am sure I will use my manual as a reference in the future.

For the most part, Mom and I are going to have to communicate a lot more with our county’s Court of Common Pleas. We now have forms, goals and plans that we will need to write our and update yearly. (They are still working on what these may look like). I am hoping we can do this together since we are John’s co-guardians, but we will have to ask the court for sure.

If anyone is a guardian of an adult in Ohio,(this includes those with disabilities or the elderly) be aware of these new laws. If you have not received any notice in the mail as of yet, contact your county’s Court of Common Pleas for more information on classes being offered and other new requirements you may need to abide by.

Faxes and Frogs!

So some of you may remember from this post. That my mother and I are John’s co-guardians and that now the Supreme Court of Ohio has made a decision that all Guardians of Adults must take a class every year. There was only one class being offered in our area, so unless we wanted to do some traveling and spend some gas money, we had to act fast.

There were three methods to sign up for this class.

1. online at the web page (preferred method)

2. fax

3. snail mail

Problem was, the preferred web site method never really worked. I know this is a shock! This is probably the first time a government related website went down! (a-hem)  Either the site would be down or we could not get our log in “approved.”

Next, I thought well, let’s fax! The class is next week so snail mail isn’t even an option right now. So… yesterday I faxed.   no response.    So… today I re-faxed! Finally, a confirmation email. Whew!

I will have to let you know how that goes. Our big questions will be “Can we lose our guardianship if we don’t take these classes each year?” and “Will these classes eventually be at a cost?”

Next, I have something else to share with you. We will be having an addition to the Ramey family soon.

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Can you see them? Let me zoom in.

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There are about 873 (approximately) tadpoles swimming around in my grandson’s pool!!!

I hate to not let them grow up. I even put a couple of boards in the pool so when they are big enough to get out of the water, they can. I am not sure my one and a half year old grandson feels the same way about them though, because I have caught him on at least two occasions trying to “set them free.” Lol

I was just wondering…

Can 873 tree frogs hurt the green beans you have growing in your garden? If they eat Potato Bugs, that would be great!

Give Thanks to the Lord

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.
 Psalm 118:1 NIV

I am so thankful and humbled for the response to yesterday’s post. I want to thank each and every person who shared the link to get the word out about Ohio’s Developmental Centers. I want to thank each person who emailed congressmen and our governor to let them know we are not O.K. with the closing of Developmental Centers. I was so moved by the comments and touched by those who remembered John.

More than any of this, I want to thank my God, whose love endures forever. It will ultimately be through prayer to God that he will lead and guide any decision that is to be made about Developmental Centers and their future.

If you did not email any congressman or governor yesterday, or even if you did, I ask that you pray.

Pray for Ohio’s Developmental Centers to remain an option for families who have a member with special needs.

Pray for the staff who work in these Developmental Centers.

Pray for the clients, that their best interest is always taken into consideration.

Pray that our congressmen and our governor will always seek God’s will before making any decision, especially decisions concerning developmental centers.

Pray for my family as we move ahead that we will always stay in God’s will as we continue our push to keep John in his home.

Pray for John. Pray that he knows he is loved and cared for. Pray for his health and his home.

John Easter 1979

I will continue to keep everyone updated as to what is going on. In the mean time, thank you for your continued support and your prayers.

Please, Help My Brother Stay in His Home!

Today, I have a huge favor to ask anyone and everyone willing to respond.

I would like to introduce you to a member of my family.

John at 2 yrs

This is my brother, John. He was born in November of 1961. You see, my brother, John, has a form of autism. During the  1960s – 1970s not much was known about autism. Due to John’s erratic behaviors and side effects from the trial and error of many different types of medicines, Mom an Dad could not care for my brother at home. He needed to be cared for professionally. This was a very difficult decision for my parents and after much thought, prayer and consultation, in 1974, John was placed in GDC (Gallipolis Developmental Center). This was close to where we lived and my parents and I could visit him often and keep a close eye on his care.

John 1972

According to an annual report from the state of Ohio GDC was one of the largest facilities of its kind and served 2358 residents. Now, the census is down to around 99. After more residents are relocated to group homes, the census will soon be down to 59. (according to a phone call from one of GDCs administrators). This is a huge drop!

John bday

So, why do you think there was this huge drop in census? Well, that is our fear. Yes, Developmental Centers do cost our state money. Yes, our state is always trying to cut the budget. Yes, my mother and I have received phone calls from GDC administrators wanting to suggest that we allow John to be placed in a privately owned group home. (John was placed in a group home at one other time and it was not the most appropriate setting for him).

Yes, we fear of an upcoming closure of GDC!

John 1977

There are several reasons why we have this fear.

  1. The huge yet gradual drop in census.
  2. A huge drop in the workers. In October of 2013, 80 positions were cut from GDC.
  3. There is already a slated closure within the next two years for two other Developmental Centers (Montgomery and Youngstown). See article.
  4. The need for this legislation, S.B. 64 which states that no more developmental centers can be closed without members of the General Assembly reviewing and creating a Commission.
  5. Lack of communication from GDCs new administration to guardians. Administration used to keep in contact with parents and guardians of any new legislation or orders from the court or any changes. The only contact we have had lately is about these new group homes.

 

As John’s adult guardians, my mother and I received notices recently in the mail that the Supreme Court of Ohio recently passed a law that we now need to attend classes every year in order to keep our guardianship. If we don’t take the classes, we may lose our guardianship! That would mean John would become a ward of the state and we wouldn’t have any say in his placement. Is this to make it difficult on current guardians to keep their family members in developmental centers? I don’t know. I just know that so far we have had a lot of difficulty just getting registered for the only class that is located in our area and is coming up in the next two weeks! Not much notice!

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I ask you this:

Please. If you live in one of these counties in Ohio (Fayette, Pickaway, Ross, Pike, Vinton, Jackson, Athens, Meigs or Gallia) that are serviced by GDC contact your state senator or representative. Also, contact our governor. Let them know the importance of keeping our state’s developmental centers open. Group homes do not work for all residents. There needs to be the option of a Developmental Center.

If you live in any other county in Ohio, this affects you as well. All Developmental Centers in Ohio stand the chance of closure if Ohio citizens don’t stand and act!

If you do not live in Ohio, do you know the status of developmental centers in your state? Are people, like my brother, who are developmentally handicapped being offered options as to the most appropriate environment for their care?

We need to take a stand for those who cannot stand up for themselves! GDC is home to John and the other residents there.

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
 Matthew 25:40 NIV