Monthly Archives: July 2010

Milking It

Now that I’ve weaned Girly, I can finally talk about lactating without getting sentimental or engorged.  I chose to breastfeed for health reasons, both for my children and myself. But it was also convenient and saved us a lot of money. 

Rough estimates show that you can save at least $1500 in the first year of life . The Journal of Pediatrics research shows that breastfeeding could save billions of dollars ! The statistics are pretty startling:

The lives of nearly 900 babies would be saved each year, along with billions of dollars, if 90 percent of U.S. women breast-fed their babies for the first six months of life, a cost analysis says…About 43 percent of U.S. mothers do at least some breast-feeding for six months, but only 12 percent follow government guidelines recommending that babies receive only breast milk for six months. 

The beauty of breastfeeding is that it’s free and natural. If case you can’t help yourself, there some great green breastfeeding paraphernalia you may “need.”

I never really researched myself, but I found an in-depth article about why breastfeeding is better for the environment too. Here’s another “eco-mama’s” take on overcoming breastfeeding challenges.

Pumping is certainly the least glamorous aspect, especially if you accidentally flash the mailman like I did! I pumped for a year with both kiddos, and it can be physically exhausting, but the pay is worth it. I bought a standard Medela pump, but I found the second time around that an inexpensive hand pump actually expressed the same amount in the same time, plus at home I could nurse while pumping. You’ll need some BPA-free bottles too. I also chose cloth breast pads, rather than disposal ones, and my Big Guy loved calling them “booby socks.”

Sadly there are toxic pollutants in breastmilk , but feeding is still encouraged. It only makes me want to take action so that my Girly will be able to feed her family. I’ve been active online with MOMS: Making Our Milk Safe for almost five years now, and despite the circumstances progress is possible. 

Do feel supported or judged about breast feeding?

Sustainable Family Finances
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

Yard Sale Savvy

Today’s title is a bit in jest, because I don’t consider myself to be all that savvy when it comes to yard sales. But when my neighbors decided to host a group sale, I couldn’t help but join in.

Technically, I ended up in the hole. I bought more than I sold. I had tons of kids clothes, 2 bags of books, some chair cushions and a futon cover. Virtually no families with young kids showed up, so I only sold a few jammies and onesies. The books sold well, although I wasn’t sure how to price them and I’m pretty sure that I should have headed to Powell’s for a trade before offering them up for $1. In total, I only earned $29. Yet, I felt like I came out ahead…

My neighbor had the perfect antique chase and a sweet little wooden bench seat! Both need to reupholstering, but they are exactly what I had in mind on my home wish list. Plus, I scored 5 boxes of jam and canning jars, which I was planning to purchase the very next day. I also picked up a couple of games and dress-up clothes for the kids: all for $65.

Here’s a few tips:

  • Prep the week before and plan to set up early – expect early birds
  • My neighbor sold donuts in the morning and sodas in the afternoon for $1
  • Be willing to negotiate on price, but don’t sell something for less than donation value
  • Group pricing 2 for $5 etc, to encourage bulk sales
  • Have cash and change handy
  • Crank up some music and have some fun! 
  • More tips…

Getting buyers to you sale is critical. They advertised in the newspaper, on Craig’s list, and signs. With an informal poll, generally the older generation found out from the paper, while the younger crowd hit craigslist or simply scouted by signs en route. In hind sight, I should have been more proactive about advertising via Facebook and local mom networks to help get the word out. 

Lastly, despite the bargain scores, yard sales always remind me why we try to live uncluttered and how too much stuff harms the planet and robs you in the process.

What are your tips for a successful sale?
Do you find sales worth your time and energy?

Sustainable Family Finances
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

Poop Composter

Next week marks our one year anniversary from adopting our Doggy, a five year old black lab. Like our Big Guy reminded me tonight, we have more than four “people” in our family now! 

As much as our Doggy has become a family member, we still haven’t figured out the best way to contain his double-daily-duties. Hubby is the scooper, but we needed a poop composter.

First I found one online, and was pretty much sold:   The  Doggy Dooley dog poop composter  is a small bin that you bury into the ground. You pop open the lid to put poop inside, which decomposes underground. There’s an enzyme product that you sprinkle into the bin to help with decomposition. It costs about $59.

Then I found the close to freebie option: directions for making your own doggy composter!

Next I found a quick video:

Hubby dug the hole over the weekend, and with any luck we’ll have a successful and more sustainable system for doggy waste.

Do you have a doggy composter?

Sustainable Family Finances
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

Farmer Fresh

Nothing says summer more than a flat of Oregon strawberries. Add some blueberries on top of some vanilla ice cream, and you’ve got a simple and fabulous desert! 

I’ve been to the farmer’s market twice this week on lunch breaks, and plan to go on Sunday too.  I’ll pick up a flat of strawberries and making my first-ever batch of strawberry jam! I agree with a fellow blogger from the Greenest Dollar who refuses to be intimidated by canning. Really it’s not rocket science, but it is more sustainable and will save you money.

I was definitely aghast to hear that  Safeway tried to host a faux farmer’s market  – minus real local farmers! It’s enough to make me want to boycott Safeway, but since it’s the only grocery store I can walk to, I don’t think driving for last minute items would pay off for the environment or our pocketbook. But since I buy most of my produce through Spud’s organic delivery, I already avoid driving and buy almost all organic.

Do you support your local farmer’s market?
Do you find good prices and unbeatable freshness?

Sustainable Family Finances
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

Frugal Family Camping

Now that summer is finally here it means camping season for our family. Sleeping under a forest canopy or starlight sky is our way of connecting to nature and each other. Plus, it’s inexpensive.

In reality most of our plans began months ago. Here in Oregon most campgrounds are booked months in advance, and I typically set a reminder about nine months ahead to reserve our favorite sites. There are plenty of first-come first-served campgrounds, but I’m just not willing to pack up the family on the chance that we’ll get a site. Plus, it gives us something to look forward to…

While scheduling can be tough with busy lives, camping with other families is really the way to go. By joining forces you can share cooking/cleaning/kid watching duties and your kiddos have instant entertainment with friends.  But the real reason to camp with other families is the bond you’ll share, especially if it becomes a tradition. You simply get to know friends when you’re together for a few days rather than a few hours.

Perhaps you’re not a camper, and aren’t sure where to start. Practice pitching your tent in your own backyard as a test run, your kids will get a kick out of it and you’ll feel more confident when you hit the road to the great unknown.

I love backpacking, but we are truly car-bound campers with extra cargo  and kiddos. Yet, I still strive for simplicity and don’t believe you need to buy a ton of gear to go camping. Here are a few random tips to consider for your next camping trip:

  • Pack strategically – create camping bins to store kitchen stuff and gear/games. My Twin Sis just got me Modular Hauler as fantastic b-day gift, they seem really handy. 
  • Pack car strategically – pillows, toys, books by kids – fleeces/jackets in a bag – shoes under seats….when we road trip we have a “home” for everything, which saves you hassle.
  • Have special games and books for camping and create your own ones, like fircone basketball 🙂
  • Kids love special flashlights , especially the self-generated wind up ones
  • Use flagging to demarcate camping area  for younger kids – use “must be able to see you” rule
  • Tents bigger the better OR plan to use multiple as kids grow up
  • Make/prep food in advance – my favorite is to make cornbread and then bring an easy chili mix – keep it simple with these camping meal ideas
  • Give yourself a break if camping is too much with young kids – do it because it’s fun, not another “to-do” to make you feel guilty!

What are your favorite camping tips/tricks?
How do you save money while road-tripping? 

Sustainable Family Finances
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.