Mr. Stacky – Apartment container garden

Mr. Stacky – Growing Veggies in own Apartment

 

I got a Mr. Stacky for Christmas from my sister in Ohio. Mr. Stacky is the perfect thing for growing a garden in an Apartment. It has four pots that stack on top of each other for a total of twenty pots.  I have a great big apartment window for growing plants all year round.  I just have to wait until the spring when everything is in season to get my potting soil, fertilizer and seeds.

I looked on youtube to see how to germinate seeds.  Germinating seeds seem easy enough.  Just soak the seeds a little bit and put on a wet paper towel.  Once done with that, put the seeds and towel in a container.  Some seeds take three days to germinate while others could take up to three weeks.  I guess check up on them every so often to see what is happening with the seeds.  I think even the package the seeds come in could also have instructions on how to germinate the seeds. Another tip I learned on youtube is to tell which one of the seeds will germinate and which ones won’t.  Put the seeds in a glass of water.  The ones that sink to the bottom will germinate while the ones floating on top will not germinate.

For growing plants in a container, they say it is necessary to have potting soil as the plant will grab as much nutrients that it can.  I have been shopping around on the internet and find that black gold has the potting soil, fertilizer and plenty of other stuff needed to grow plants in containers.  It seems to be the best bet.  I don’t have room to make my own compost in my apartment.  It seems to be a smelly process anyway.  For not too much more black gold potting soil also has compost in it.  My friend says she has some dirt but if it is not potting soil I think I will just stick with the black gold potting soil.

Mr. Stacky has a nice water irrigation system.  You just water the top and everything is supposed to drip down to the bottom.  Since there are holes at the bottom of the pots, there is supposed to be no need to put rocks and sand to break up the water so the roots of the plant don’t get waterlogged.

Beans I hear are the easiest to grow so they are definitely in on my to grow list. Pioneers used to grow beans out on the prairie land.  If they can grow beans under those harsh conditions then I say so can I under much better conditions.  Strawberries seem easy to grow but I am not sure about the availability of the seeds.  I guess I will have to wait until spring to see what seeds are available.  Maybe I will grow some carrots and lettuce.

My Mr. Stacky will be nice.  I won’t have to depend on the food pantry or the farmer’s market so much. My friend likes to go to the farmer’s market to get zucchini, squash, chard, and kale.  She likes to chop them up with her eggs for breakfast and make soup for dinner with those vegetables. Maybe I will try to grow those in my Mr. Stacky along with green pepper and cucumbers.

I personally eat out of cans. I will have a can of vegetables, can of fruits and a can of protein such as tuna, chicken or pork. Sometimes I will have a can of soup.  I will make just enough to fill a plate.  If I am lucky I will have grape juice or milk to drink but often times I will have tea or water. I have two bags of frozen fish I have to cook up which should last me a while.  I also have a bag of beef stew. That should be good.

For lunch I brown bag it with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  If I don’t have an apple, banana, or orange I will open up a can of fruit and put in a container.  Sometimes the food pantry will give me bags of chips, yogurt and cups of juice.  Sometimes I even get cookies and crackers, so I pack those in for lunch.

When I make tea, I use a pot with a special tea holder which I found at a rummage sale for a buck.  I put about six bags of tea in the container and fill the container up with water.  I let it soak for about four hours or until it is the brown color that I like.  One time I thought I have given away my tea pot.  I looked everywhere but I couldn’t find it.  So, I used a big bowl, filled it with water and put my tea bags in the bowl.  I let it sit for a while and poured the contents in the tea jug that I put lemon juice and vinegar in with the tea. After a week, I found my tea pot. It was where I would loose it on the top shelf above the kitchen sink. I have been using my tea maker ever since and I am glad I don’t have to use a bowl to make my tea. I don’t put sugar in my tea. I try not to put to much vinegar in, maybe just a couple of swigs. I try not to put too much lemon juice as it is kind of expensive.

I bought my friend a chopper for her birthday.  It is the equivalent of 24 knives or so it says. It dices, slices, chops, puree.  It makes cole slaw, soups and chops meats and nuts. I got the chopper at Wal-mart. She is always cutting up vegetables.  I hope this will be a little more quick of a process for her and maybe even a little professional. She will be skeptical to use the chopper like she was with the oven crisper I gave her, but I think it will be one of those things she will wonder how she ever did without the chopper.

One thing that would save money and time on food is knowing what you have, cleaning out what you don’t want and organizing. In my cupboard I have cans of vegetables on the top of the cupboard, cans of protein in the middle of the cupboard and cans of fruit on the bottom of the cupboard. That way, I just pick out the cans I need to open then eat and put the rest in the refrigerator. If I am running low, I will be able to see it by the groups that I have made.  The frige needs cleaning out now and then as the left overs tend to grow. Putting like with like and in order helps to know what have and don’t have and maybe even need. No surprises.  The freezer is the same with the frige.

Things that also seem to grow in the kitchen are cookbooks, pots, pans and the like. How many do you actually use?  Can you do without?  I gave away 10 of my cookbooks and kept 2 or 3 just in case I start cooking again. I gave away my Mom’s blender and mixer since I don’t seem to use those either. I am even finding that I am living without a microwave since it died on me a couple of months ago.  I also looked through my plates, cups and bowls. I purged on them also.  I have just enough room for what I need.

Sharing meals with friends is nice as it cuts down on the use of food.  Also makes buying in bulk easier.  Coupons are even easier to use with two people.  They might have buy one get one free or two meals for $5. Fresh produce has to be hurried up and used before they go bad. Subway has specials on footlong subs that could be split between two people and Little Caesars has pizza for a group of people. Specials are good for the budget too.  Look out for them!

Churches have free meals they offer.  Some do it weekly while others do it monthly.  There is the community Thanksgiving dinner and of course soup kitchens and the food pantries.  Some people are lucky enough to get food stamps.

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Remember 24 hr rule to save money

  1. To prevent impulse buys and to truly separate the wants from the needs let the purchase wait 24 hrs. You might find something cheaper, decide you don’t need the item, or the item is of better quality someplace else. Some people wait 30 days to even 3 or 4 months before buying the item they want to purchase. Sometimes the price goes up, stays the same but maybe even go down. Especially if you wait for a special holiday like black Thursday, Christmas or in season such as winter or summer. Sometimes if it is out of season or even after the holidays. Eventually it should go on sale but be sure to compare prices and do some research to be sure that you know what you are getting.
  2. Prices for items we want to buy fluctuate like the stock market only sometimes not as bad. Someone in the know said that everything eventually goes on sale. Keep an eye out for coupons, coupon codes and rebates while you are waiting to buy the item. Sometimes if some thought goes into the process you can substitute what you want with what you already have. Maybe a cute luggage bag is available for emergencies and you might already have a small piece of luggage for emergencies but have never thought of the bag that way. Also you might find the same item at a 50% off Saturday at Goodwill, garage sale or even a church rummage sale.

Talk about Money

  1. Before going out, have a conversation with yourself, or the people you are going out with, about the money being spent. You’d be surprised about the people in the same financial boat you as you. Even if they are not they might be relieved to know that this doesn’t have to be a big spenders night on the town. If you talk about it out enough or brainstorm it out enough, a cheaper, more inexpensive night out or even a free night out could be obtained.
  2. Talk to people to see how they are saving money. Maybe they know of good books they can share or just might have some outright useful tips they can share. Everybody does everything differently and some people might have better ways than other on how to save or even spend money.  They might even know of a few good blogs on the internet or even online classes. They might have some favorite financial advisors on youtube.
  3. When talking about money, usually find out pretty quick what works and what doesn’t work. People will tell you from their own experiences and you could tell them from your own experiences what worked for you.
  4. Not only talking to other people about money but to other businesses too. They might have some specials or good deals they can share with you.  If you are a student or a senior they might have discounts.  Ask if certain days are better than others.  This way you can keep that in mind when going out the next time. Ask when their happy hour starts and stops.

Triggers that trigger spending

Know your triggers

  1. Know your triggers – know what starts you off on a spending spree or just what gets you to spend your money. My triggers are restaurant coupons. Even if it is just Burger King or Mcdonald’s, I know no coupon can be cheaper than eating at home. Those coupons are usually more than the food I would get anyway. So, I lose by spending more money than I have to and the restaurant loses by taking less. Maybe we are just both break eveners?
  2. I also have to watch the way I go out. No matter how cheap the store, I know I can get a good shirt for 25 cents or even less at a garage sale or a church rummage sale. I try to go to things that are free or won’t cost too much money. I would like also to get a return on my investment of going out.
  3. Brown bagging my lunch and bringing my own water bottle eases the trigger of buying at the café or even getting a can of pop. Sometimes I need two or three cans of pop that would ease my thirst of just bringing a water bottle.
  4. With Halloween coming up I managed to find a clown’s wig, bottle of beer costume and some clown make up with a clown nose for 3 bucks. I saw some clown masks I thought I could get for saving money on make-up but I would have to wear the same masks year after year. The make up costs a dollar less than the masks and I can alter my make-up differently year after year. It is a little more for the make-up but I would get a variety for not too much more. I am on the lookout for crazy socks and maybe some clown gloves. Happy Halloween! Try not to spend too much money on a holiday that comes one day a year.

To spend today or not

Play games of chance with your extra spending money

 

  1. One thing to do is to pick a number out of a hat. Maybe have the numbers 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8 or even go 2,4,6,8,10,12 if you really want to save. Draw a number out of a hat and that’s how much you should save for the day or that’s how much money you can spend that day. So, if you draw a $1 out of your hat then that would be going into saving or maybe that’s all you can spend that day. Likewise, if you draw a 10 then that would go into savings or be that’s how much you can spend that day. Try to do this every day or at least when want to save or figure out how much to spend that day.
  2. Another way to figure out what to spend would be to roll the dice. Get at least one die or if you really feel like spending get two dice or even more. What number you roll would be how much would save or be able to spend that day.
  3. Flipping a coin can also be used. You could have heads to be a spending day and tails be a no spend day.
  4. Then there is always the 52 week spend challenge where you save a dollar a week and keep doubling each week that goes by. Keep going until have enough dough to satisfy the money goal that you have made.

Every little bit counts

  1. There’s a lot to be done with a jar full of change. Games and challenges come to mind.  By now everyone has heard of the 52 week challenge where you put in so much money a week to get to a certain financial goal that won’t hurt too much. Typically, though, change comes from what is given back after breaking a dollar, five dollar, ten dollar or even a twenty dollar bill. I’m usually down to saving my pennies as I spend my silver on things I shouldn’t or just give to the church.
  2. At a store called 5 below, they have special piggy banks for spring break funds, college funds or even vacation funds. Walmart has a lot of cute little piggy banks where they sell watches and jewelry to make saving a little more fun. I got my piggy bank from a garage sale where I just got it for a buck. It is a nice steel one and is pretty big for stuffing lots of money into it. I got my vacation fund jar from the community thrift store. It was on sale at 75% off. So I only paid about 50 cents for it. If you don’t want to spend money on a piggy bank you could just  recycle an old jar and use duct tape to put a label on it that would be your financial goal for the bank.
  3. Also what some people do is double pay. Spend for dinner out and save what you spend for dinner in the piggy bank. If you can’t afford to double pay than won’t be able to eat out. This goes for fancy coffees, junk food, or whatever else spend money on that you think you should just save.  This doesn’t really work for me. What I do is budget my money out and what I have left for spending money I put in a steel cabinet. Money is not with me all the time but if I absolutely need it, it is there. I lock my cabinet so it is harder to get into I have to really think about my spending before going into the cabinet. For some reason if I just let myself have a little bit of money or even a lot of money I spend it. So if I hide my money I won’t spend so much. So far so good, it has been working for me. Find out what works best for you.

Big Money with inexpensive Hobbies

  1. If you must have a hobby let it be a cheap hobby to save money or even make money. Be aware of the cost of the hobby so that all of your money doesn’t run away with it. Keep points!  Know the life of the product and how much each life costs.  Also know when to cut your losses. Know when enough is enough.
  2. There are hobbies with a reputation for being cheap.  Find out what they are and if you have an interests in them.  Find out more about your hobby through your local library or even the internet. Talk to other people about your hobby and see if they know anything to help you out with finances or anything else.  If you can afford it, take some classes on your hobby.
  3. Finally, try to make your hobby pay for itself.  Teach others, sell some stuff or even work for other people concerning your hobby.  You could even make your hobby a career by going to school for the hobby and then getting a job. You might have to make some compromises but it can be done.
  4. Also, it gets lonely doing a hobby by yourself.  Look in the classifieds, craiglists or even just the newspaper and bulletin boards to see if there are other people just like yourself doing the hobby you enjoy.  Be sure to ask around.  You’d be surprised at how many people know who is doing what.  The library might have information too.  Check out their website and even ask the information desk.  Always check the internet. Something might come up on there too.