Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Thinking outside the box (or trash can)

When we moved, we found a few more ways to save money on our monthly expenses. We have a well and a septic tank, so we are no longer paying for our water. We don't live in an HOA, so no monthly or yearly dues. And we didn't sign up for trash pickup.

Well, we did sign up for it, then realized the logistics involved and the cost and said 'forget it!' and canceled it before ever having a pickup.

There were two main problems. The first was the cost: we would be paying for two months' service what we had been paying for three months' service at our old house. The second was the logistics: we live on a narrow private lane with no turn around space. The pickup location for the trash was by the mailboxes next to the main road, a quarter mile from our house.

Were we going to drag a trash can a quarter mile (with hills- the private road is not flat) each way every week? I don't think so!
Do we generate enough trash to justify the increased costs? Nope!

Because of the way we eat, we don't have a lot of packaging to throw away. Most of our trash ends up being fruit and veggie trimmings, and now that we've bought a compost barrel, we'll be composting them, which will further decrease our trash output. Before we moved we would fill a kitchen trash can every two weeks or so. That's two, maybe three bags of trash per month.

In researching our options, I discovered that the local dump will allow you to drop off 30 gallon bags of trash for a dollar a bag. That's two of my 15 gal kitchen bags. You can buy a savers card for $10 that allows you to bring 12 bags of trash, further decreasing the cost.

$1 or $2 dollars a month versus $25? That's pretty much a no-brainer. Of course, it's not quite that simple, but since the dump is on the way to LMS' co-op class, there's not extra mileage or gas involved. The only problem will be hauling the trash in our CRV. But I think I have that figured out- put the trash bags in a large rubbermaid container to prevent leakage and drop off on the way to class, not after. The smell problem should be fairly nonexistent now that we are composting and don't have to worry about rotting fruit and veggies in the trash. And we're buying a truck in a couple months, so if it's really an issue, we can throw it in the back of the truck.

It's a little unconventional, but it will save us a significant amount of money ($275 a year!), so totally worth the small amount of extra work needed.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Making do

The one thing our new house doesn't have, that we really wanted, is a garage. Our lot is more than big enough to add one, though, so we're hoping to be able to build a garage next summer. In the meantime, we have to come up with ways to work around its absence.

The woodshop/workspace is in the basement bedroom that will eventually become the guest room/exercise room (complete with a murphy bed to save space!). It's actually quite convenient to the rest of my work space (sewing/crafts/etc), but once I start painting furniture I don't think it will be as nice. Though it's definitely better than being out on the screened in back porch at our last house- I was always sweltering or freezing.

The lawnmower is under the deck. Not optimal since it still gets rained on, but there is no way it's coming in the house. The gasoline fumes would be horrible.

The bikes, bike trailer and jogger are back in the waterproof portable tent shed (we had it on the covered back porch at our last house). I didn't want to put it directly on the ground (especially with how much rain we've been getting), so I built a simple platform to set the tent on.

I bought seven or eight 2"x10"x8' treated boards, four 4"x4"x8' treated posts, some decking screws, and some eye hooks. Total cost: under $100. Much cheaper than buying a whole new shed for $800+.

I laid out the 4 posts

Then laid out the 2x10s on top

I tried to keep everything as straight and square as possible, but I didn't stress about it too much. I leveled the ground a little, but left a little bit of a backwards slope because I didn't want water pooling on the platform.The deck screws were self drilling, so I didn't even need to pre-drill the holes (yay!). I used a couple deck screws in between each board as super-high-tech spacers. Once all the boards were screwed down, I screwed in the eye hooks and attached the loops on the tent to the hooks to keep it anchored.

(yes, those are parts to LMS' climbing toy and playhouse. we're finally getting the rest of the pieces from my parents' house this summer!)

I could have had this completely done, from picking up the wood, to unloading it, to building the platform, to putting our bikes in the tent in about two hours. The only reason I didn't? The batteries on my drill hadn't been charged in a couple months and I had to wait for them to charge.

Quick, easy, and cheaper than any of the alternatives, yet works well. Can't go wrong there!