Thursday, December 4, 2008
5 Real Tips for Cost Cutting
By Melissa L. Kauffman, Editorial Director of BIRD TALK and BirdChannel.com
Share in the adventures of Melissa Kauffman's experiences in bird ownership in Life in the Bird House.
I normally don’t care for cost-cutting articles. Usually the tips include suggestions that just don’t work for me. For example, doing all your errands at one time to save gas? I’m a working gal. I only have Saturday and Sunday free to do errands anyway, so I do them all at once. Seriously, who has the time to do an errand a day? So when I decided to write about a few cost-cutting tips for bird owners, I tried to pick ones that made logical sense for most people and would actually make a difference. That is what I tried to do. You’ll have to let me know if I succeeded or failed, or if you have even better cost-saving tips.
Bird Food: This is the recurring expense for all bird owners. So I am going to tackle this one first. I’m not going to recommend that you buy cheaper food because I believe, even in tough times, you try to hang on to the healthiest options. After all, no one wants an unexpected vet bill. So here are a few of my recommendations.
1. Portion control equals budget control: Most people over feed their bird(s). This wastes money and makes the bird fat. Bird Talk published the article, “Measure For Measure” in its June 2007 issue that laid out the following guidelines for feeding treats from Larry Nemetz, DVM, of the Bird Clinic in Orange, California: one-quarter to one-half teaspoon for cockatiel-sized birds; one-and-a-half to 2 teaspoons for Senegals and conure-sized birds; 1 to 2 tablespoons for Amazon-sized birds; 1 ounce for macaws and large cockatoos. This article also covers when to feed your bird and what other items besides the basic diet to feed your bird.
2. Treats — Work for It: Bird owners like to give their birds little treats from time to time. Well, treats can add up in both money and grams. So offer something a bit more than yummy goodness. First, make sure the portion is correct for the treat. For example, if you like to feed your bird the occasional Cheerio, then remember that 12 regular Cheerios are equivalent to 1 gram. That’s a lot of treat for a tiny bird. If you have a cockatiel, you’ll only want to give it about one Cheerio and only on occasion. (Read more about cereal and birds in Susan Chamberlain’s “Scoop on Cereal,” which first appeared in the April 2006 issue of Bird Talk. Next, instead of going through about 10 destroy toys a week, buy a foraging toy and place those treat tidbits in this toy. That way your bird will spend time working for its treat (this stimulates the mind and helps your bird exercise), which will make the treat last longer, plus save you a destroy toy or two. It is win, win all around.
3. Buy Bigger: Buying food in bulk does two things: it usually saves you money per servings and it saves you gas or shipping costs by cutting down on trips. For example, if you bought a 12-pound bag of a well-known parrot pellet instead of a 3-pound bag, you would save $9.96 overall. The 3-pound bag cost $4.99 per pound while the 12-pound bag cost $4.16 per pound. So even though one is less money up front, in the long run, you save more money buying the bigger bag. But saving here only works if you store the food properly so it stays fresh longer, so read the next tip.
4. Proper Storing Isn’t So Boring: Very few people get excited about storing food. Those who do save money. For example, if you do as the suggestion above and buy bigger bags of food, the food will stay fresher longer if you store it properly. First of all, check the label to make sure you purchase food before its expiration date. Secondly, since the shelf-life of food is affected by humidity, temperature and packaging, store the food in an airtight container and place it in area that is maintained between 50- to 70-degrees Fahrenheit. To extend it even longer, you might want to freeze it. If you do freeze it, make sure it is in an airtight container so moisture doesn’t seep in. Fresh fruits and vegetables should be stored between 35- and 40-degrees Fahrenheit. If you’ve watched an infomercial lately, you’ve seen the fruit and vegetable storage bags that supposedly extend the life of your produce. I haven’t tried them yet but since fruit and veggies for the birdies can cost a pretty penny, I definitely will.
5. Energy Savings: My last tip will talk about energy savings. This is one you hear about all the time; lower your thermostat in the winter and up it in the summer. So what is a good temperature to keep the house at in the winter and in the summer for not only you, but your birds, too? There are a couple of things to know: your birds will be fine if you keep the temp in your house from 65- to 70-degrees Fahrenheit, which is recommended for people. The birds will be fine if you don’t turn the air on in your house until it hits 80-degrees Fahrenheit. You do need to watch for extreme temperature changes, and factor in the health condition of your bird and air flow through the house. To learn more about this, read a great quick article called, “Ideal Temperature Ranges for Parrots,” which was originally published in the December 2004 issue of Bird Talk magazine.
So these are my five easily doable and practical tips. If you have more, please add them on to the comment section. We’ll be gathering tips from our readers for a future Bird Talk article.
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5 Real Tips for Cost Cutting