Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Making money in the recession

US News & World Report just posted 10 Winners in the Recession.

Some of them are not surprising if you think about it.

Netflix is way up.  So is going out to the movies.

Chocolate consumption is up, too.  Nice to know we are keeping our emotions soothed with the good stuff!

Seeds for vegetable gardens are selling well.  I expected gardening to grow a lot this year (sorry) due to the high prices of food and greater need to stretch (and save) money.  

But 25% growth?  That's a lot of concern being translated into positive action.

Biggest surprise for me?  Romance novels.  Science fiction and fantasy are helping folks escape reality, too.

Do you see any products or ideas making money right now?  Share in the comments.

Monday, March 9, 2009

How to build a clothesline, Part 1

I googled "how to build a clothesline" and immediately didn't like the responses.  

Some went in a completely unexpected direction.

This clothesline is about laundry.  Something large families know something about.

Does your dryer churn endlessly, seeming to never quite catch up to the washing machine?  Is there always a load waiting to be tossed in?

Do a few special wash items (quilts and comforters, new fabric, "fragile" garments, Skippy's sleeping bag from a Scout weekend) throw the whole delicate balance into a Twilight Zone-like sense of futility?

Let's dial it back a generation or two.  Grandma had as many kids as you do (statistically, probably more) and a whole lot fewer appliances.  Especially not a dryer.  She probably didn't have as many clothes, but she definitely had a great system to get them dry.

The clothesline.

Let me convince you to make one and use it.


After the initial setup, a clothesline is a lot faster than the dryer.  I set up 3lines, each 32 feet long, with an extra support in the center.  I can hang up 4 loads at a time, and they will all be dry in an hour.  Suddenly, I can dry laundry faster than the washing machine can keep up.

Many items like fleece and other lightweight fabrics dry in minutes with a breeze.  Heavy items like jeans may take a little longer.

Four loads used to take most of the day to cycle through the dryer.  Pop a load in, run for an hour, check it, clean the trap, run again to finish the load.  If I ran smaller loads, it didn't really save me time since I had to run more loads.  Laundry backed up.  Last load often sat overnight, and sometimes required rewashing if it began to sour.

My overall laundry time has dropped by almost half, from the initial sorting to folding and delivery.


The cost of electricity for me has increased sharply this year, and we aren't using any more than before.  Based on other reading, I'm estimating that each load cost me almost $1 to run through the dryer.  For my big family, that might be $15-20 per week.  Over a year, that is too much to spend on drying clothes.  For our family, that is over half of the clothing budget for the year.

A hidden way that a clothesline is cheaper is wear-and-tear on your clothing.  All of that lint in the dryer filter each and every time you run a load?  Money.  Clothes hung from the line don't generate lint.  Even if you have an industrious Boy Scout consuming all that lint, it is costing you money.

I did have one money saving surprise:  stains.  When I hung a pair of my daughter's leggings, I noticed a big ol' grass stain on the knee.  Since they had not come from the dryer, I was able to treat and rerun.  No grass stain.  Garment saved.


Clotheslines are green.  Any way you look at them, clotheslines save a ton of energy, extend the life of your clothes and make use of nature in a positive way.  Oh, and they feel great!


Starting--I ran three 32' sections of clothesline, 20 inches apart.  The wood, hardware, bag of cement and clothesline were all purchased new from Lowes.  Hammers, hand saw, and post hole diggers were already in the workshop.  Total cost:  $42.00.  This will pay for itself in under a month.

Neighbors--I just popped mine in, and added color to the neighborhood.  Your neighbors might raise their eyebrows.  Of course, I have 8 kids, so raising eyebrows is a common thing around here!  Check and see if you have any local ordinances, but odds are good that you are OK.  

Underwear--we all wear them, but apparently no one wants to see the neighbor's.  I guess I could hang them at night, but that wasn't a popular suggestion with my wife and daughters.  Of course, the boys don't mind if their Spiderman "fun-to-wears" flap in the breeze.  We were outvoted. Underwear goes in the dryer.

Shortly, a new post will cover the simple mechanics of building a clothesline.

What do you think?  Is this worth the trouble?  Do you line dry?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

One Million Free Subs!

Courtesy of Quiznos:  One million free subs!  But they are going fast...

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Save a dollar, eat a taco

In case you are not sports minded, the World Series is happening right now.

The Philadelphia Phillies and the Tampa Bay Rays are slugging it out to see who will be the best in the world. Every time a base is stolen in the World Series, Taco Bell will feed you.

That means a free taco for every American!

See you at Taco Bell next Tuesday, 28 OCT from 2PM to 6PM.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Ride rollercoaster for free!

OK, this roller coaster might not be free. Unless you can leave your investments alone. And they were sound choices in the first place. And you don't need them for a few years.


Anyone else had that gravity induced free fall feeling in the pit of your stomach watching the news over the past couple of weeks?


Good news, bad news, and plenty of talking heads trying to make sense out of what doesn't make a lot of sense.


Tie it all up with a pretty election ribbon, and you have quite a present.


What steps should you be taking right now?

Basics, always back to the basics.

1) Assess your bill basket. Is everything current? If not, what step can you take today to get them that way? Oatmeal, noodles, beans and rice for a couple of days go a long way to free up $25 to cover some small nagging bill. Look for the nagging little thing and take care of it. We all have one.

2) Check your cash. Do you have enough cash available to get you to the coming payday? If not, prioritize. Roof over your head, power, water, groceries on the table, car, and gas in the car to go to work.

3) Look ahead. Thanksgiving is coming up shortly. Decide what you are going to spend, what you can afford, and stick to it. Don't wait to take it all out of one food budget. Start now, spread it out. Anything you or the kids could could in advance and freeze?

4) Look a little further. Christmas is coming up right after that. Decide what you are going to spend, what you can afford, and stick to it. Set expectations now if it will be a lean year. Start googling for inexpensive presents you can put together now, while there is still plenty of time. Make sure to spend time, lean year or not, doing inexpensive or free things to enhance the holidays. Go to the library and check out books, movies and CD's with Christmas or holiday themes. Make time to watch or play them with the kids. Bake something simple each day (make cookie dough, and pop a cookie sheet of them in the oven each day). Kids will always remember fresh cookies, not whether they cost a lot or were full of fancy chunks.

These inexpensive ideas are good, even if you can afford something else!

5) Start thinking about the new year. What was good about this year? What would you change? What would your spouse or kids change?

DECELERATE...as you slide into the end of the ride.

The rest of the year might be tough to watch, or it might not. We aren't so good at predicting, as you'll learn from watching the news.

Keep watching your own cash, keep plannning, and keep looking forward.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Introduction to Large Family Finance


Welcome to "Large Family Finance". The purpose of this blog is to deal with financial issues, especially those issues that effect the large family.

Let's face it. Most of the information out there is very geared to small families. And most of it is a lot of good information, but how do you scale it for those of us who have a collection of children?

A college savings account is probably a good idea, but how do you plan for 6 of them? or 8? or 12?

For our purposes here, I'm assuming a minimum of 4 kids. That is the only assumption I want to make from the beginning.

Maybe you live on one income, or not. College graduate, or not. Special needs kids, or not. Homeschooling, or not. Catholic, Protestant, Mormon (LDS), or not. Urban, rural or somewhere in between.

I'm sure the flavor of the Large Family Finance blog will mature and change over time. Please contribute to that growth by contacting me or adding comments to share with everyone.

There are plenty of good ideas out there, as well as silly and crazy ones. Our combined knowledge can really help a lot of folks out.

Thanks again,