Entries Tagged 'Frugal Living' ↓
July 5th, 2013 — Frugal Living
(image from fashionpasion.com)
Some people are a little nervous about using a beauty school for deeply discounted hair cuts.
But did you know some offer other services too? Regency is a school in Chattanooga and a friend at church told me they do pedicures.
The total cost is only $15 (and that includes a brand new full size bottle of OPI polish you take home with you.)
It’s worth checking out in your area if you want to save money. In the south, pedicures are pretty much required. I’d love to do my own but mine look terrible!
I’ve used Regency several times and have been pleased. The only downside is that they don’t offer many colors of polish. I asked the instructor if I could just bring my own and she said it was fine as long as it was OPI. She said I’ll still get a free bottle so I’ll keep them for stocking stuffers at Christmas.
July 3rd, 2013 — Frugal Living, Homemaking
Cleaning products give me headaches. Really bad headaches.
Am I the last person to know that you can clean with steam, microfiber and NO products?
Wagner 915 1,500-Watt On-Demand Power Steamer and Cleaner
Oh baby – this product even has a payback. No more Tilex for the bathroom! No more Murphy’s soap for the hardwood floors.
It cleans floors, walls, counters, the stove top. It does windows! It steams wallpaper off. I’m wondering if it could steam a wrinkled suit (but I’m a little afraid to try it on a good suit). George cleaned our barbeque grill with it (there’s a stiff metal brush attachment for jobs like that).
I bought it about six months ago (a friend let me try hers first). It works well. The only thing I’ve found is I have to shoot a little steam in the sink first. The first squeeze of the trigger seems to let out way too much. After that, it settles down and cleans wonderfully.
It only came with one “mop” cover but I was able to fold microfiber towels and clip them in place for extras. I go through about three when I do our kitchen floors.
I have often cleaned around our kitchen sink’s faucet using a toothbrush and some heavy duty cleaner. The stainless seemed a bit grungy but our home is at least 40 years old. I just thought it was old. I blasted it with the steam cleaner and now it gleams.
The steam also sanitizes. I love not using bleach in the kitchen any longer (no matter how careful I tried to be, it seemed like I always got it on my clothes).
I’d say it saves time but every time I plug it in, I can’t seem to stop finding more ways to use it.
Disclosure: This post contains an affiliate link.
June 27th, 2013 — Frugal Living
Do you want a fun, free summer project for your kids? Do you cringe when they come indoors during the hottest part of the day because you know they’ll veg on video games for a few hours?
Turn it around and have them write the game. Yes, you heard me!! Teaching kids how to program in Python steps you through teaching a child to write a computer program that will play “hangman”.
I used these slides on a volunteer project teaching a small group of 4th grade boys. They were identified as needing extra help because they were slow readers. They all told me they hated to read but loved video games. I challenged them that they would be better gamers if they were good readers and promised them programming time if they would read to me. They were all churning out good code that ran in just a few sessions. They also started scoring A’s on the reading tests they did for the books we read together.
Later, they modified it so it would use their spelling words as hangman words. They also figured out how to write a program that would get them to practice their multiplication facts.
This is a win-win and one more example of how frugal is often better. (Oh and if you don’t have kids and you’re bored, grownups are allowed to play too.)
More on teaching kids to code:
How and why to teach your kids to code
If you decide to use David Bau’s slides and need a little help, leave your question in the comments below and I’ll be glad to lend a hand.
June 20th, 2013 — Frugal Living
I gave up my gym membership when my job was eliminated in 2010. I started pushing mowing our 1.4 acre yard calling it good.
Lately I’ve been interested in fitness as I’m losing weight again and eating tons of veggies. I saw a video demonstrating a Crossfit exercise where one jumps onto a sturdy 18″ wooden box. I tried jumping from our patio onto our porch (a whopping 4 inches) and was stunned to find it extremely difficult.
(I know I’m middle aged but FOUR INCHES??)
I knew it was time for some serious action if I wanted to age with a little dignity intact.
George came in and shared an app some of the guys at church are using. It’s called Alpha Trainer and I’m in love with it.
- It’s free
- It doesn’t require special equipment
- The moderator’s voice is pleasant (it’s voice coached)
- It paces you through a workout
- It’s customizable
- It challenges you in a fun way inviting social interaction and giving rewards
- It’s mobile (it’s on my phone!) I’m not tied to a room with a TV
It’s also uber challenging. Just get it and start using it. If you are out of shape, customize it for the easiest workout. You’ll see a button that says “See My Workout”. After you click it, don’t stop there.
There’s another button that says “Start Workout”. Press it and you’ll be stepped through a 30 minute routine with plenty of breaks for rest.
If you don’t know how to do the exercise that was named, press “Pause” and you can see exactly how to do it. The instructions are clear, photographed well and easy to follow.
I’m woefully out of shape but am enjoying making progress. If you can just manage one modified pushup, it’s more than you were doing yesterday! I actually managed more than that and that’s making me feel pretty good about myself.
Does anyone have experience with any other good fitness apps?
April 24th, 2013 — Frugal Living
When yesterday’s post went live, I saw I had done another similar post in January, 2012.
Just for fun, I looked up our mortgage balance that month.
Today, it’s half that.
Does this stuff work?
You bet it does.
* The reduction hasn’t been just from refrigerator savings. We send any extra money we find to the mortgage period. This has been money from refunds, rebates, forgoing Starbucks on road trips, etc. We save it – we claim it!
April 20th, 2013 — Frugal Living
(Photo by George Cavanaugh)
I’m going to start giving examples of how we find more money in our refrigerator!
Don’t think of this as cleaning. Think of this as finding free food and diverting the saved money where you wish. For us, any extra money goes to our mortgage.
I clean one shelf every day. While I’m in there, I check out the rest of the fridge to see if there are leftovers we can use for a free meal.
To get started, all you need is something to wipe the shelf. I use Clorox or Lysol wipes from Costco. I also like vinegar and water used with a paper towel.
Now start on the top shelf. Take everything off the shelf discarding anything that’s obviously too old or out of date. Wipe the shelf and put the contents back. Check out the other shelves quickly and try to find food you can use today! When you are done, put something distinctive on the cleaned shelf. Tomorrow work down to the next shelf.
That’s it! Do it every single day, and you’ll never have a disgusting job on your hands. It gets faster and easier every time. It also helps to keep you from buying food you don’t need. When we started the Dave Ramsey baby steps, we found that food was just under housing as our biggest expense.
I take it a step further. If I find dinner lurking on the shelves (there’s half a chicken leftover along with veggies on our third shelf right now), I move $5 from our food category to the mortgage category. We keep getting closer and closer to 0 on that mortgage and it’s getting exciting!!
To take this one step further, keep a roll of masking tape and a Sharpie in your kitchen. Use them to label any leftovers with the day’s date. It will make your job of deciding what to toss as you clean a shelf each day (3 days is a good rule of thumb for leftover cooked food).
March 18th, 2013 — Frugal Living
I couldn’t spend less and stay on a budget if it wasn’t fun. I also couldn’t do it if it meant living in a dreary environment wearing dumpy clothes while eating beans out of a can every day.
I look at the whole thing as a game. The opponents are the advertisers who want to lure us in to get our money. The object of the game is to (legally) get great stuff that adds value to our lives while keeping as much of our money as possible. A great standard of life is one of the main objectives.
I keep finding new strategies but one of the first is (in the spirit of the game) to think “what do we already have that could meet this need?”
Here are a few more:
- Cull your list of wants carefully. There’s nothing worse than to fork over some hard earned cash only to find out that new shiny thing didn’t live up to the hype.
- Make sure you aren’t substituting shopping for something more important. I used to buy all kinds of crafty stuff instead of cleaning and organizing our home. The craft books showed me gorgeous photography of pretty homes. A cute new spring arrangement doesn’t look quite right in a cluttered mess. Now I realize that shopping took me out of the mess into a beautiful mall. It was temporary. My family needed me to be home leading the charge to make our own home nice.
- How can you be more efficient with day to day use of services and products? Keep learning. Right now I’m working on reducing the total number of cleaning supplies I buy as I learn the power of baking soda and vinegar. I also keep experimenting on using less of these daily products. If I get the same results using half as much, the savings add up. Spending money on cleaning supplies just isn’t as much fun as shopping for new shoes so I’m after it!
- Shop “gently used” for huge savings on more things than you’d imagine. Before buying anything, check out the used market. You don’t have to go that route but it’s worth investigating. My daughter just showed me how she gets to wear designer clothes for about 10% of retail on eBay. She’s petite and only looks for things that fit her measurements. This means she’s also saving on the cost of alterations.
- Review previous purchases and get better at shopping. Were any of your purchases wasteful (for example, we buy organic produce and have to be less more often or it spoils). Notice what you bought that quickly lost its shine. Where does it pay to spend more for value? Where does it not pay? This answer won’t always be the same for everyone so you’ll need to figure this out for yourself. For me, an expensive handbag is a better purchase than an expensive article of clothing. I’m messy and could stain an expensive dress. I’m a lot easier on purses. (I can hear Carmen saying “Mom, buy those purses on eBay!”) For the record, my last purse cost less than $15 at TJ Maxx.
- It goes without saying. No new debt. Pay cash and get great deals.
Comments keep coming in emails and occasionally here too. Thank you so much for your feedback. Bloggers love comments!
My dad has just been admitted to ICU. I’m leaving town to be with him and so posting may not be regular until he gets better.
February 6th, 2013 — Frugal Living
Clean Out the Refrigerator Daily
I learned that term from Dinner’s in the Freezer by Jill Bond. This was one of the first books I saw about cooking ahead for the freezer and I learned a great about housekeeping from her book. When I searched for the name of her book, I also learned that she blogs so you may want to check her out.
C.O.R.D. is on my daily list of things to do and today it served me well. After you get this established as a routine, opening the frig is pleasant. I empty one shelf a day, grab a wipe, and quickly clean it (placing a small mustard jar on the shelf when I’m done to keep my place for the next day).
Then I quickly glance at all the shelves. This is like a treasure hunt! Today I found some ground beef that needed to be cooked (just a tad left from the burgers George had grilled the other night) and veggies to steam. It was like finding a free meal. Anytime I have to run to the grocery store to buy dinner, I know I’m going to spend at least $15. I always see things we’re out of and food is expensive!
My last tip is to keep a Sharpie and a roll of masking tip in the kitchen. It makes labeling leftovers and opened jars with the day’s date easy to do. It helps me know when to toss something before it gets too gross to deal with.
Consider trying this out. Even if it’s been a while since you cleaned the frig, there’s no rule why you can’t start one shelf at a time. When I get to the bottom, I can tell if it’s time to take everything out and clean out the whole interior. But again, it won’t be so bad with most of the work behind you.
January 23rd, 2013 — Cooking 101, Frugal Living
(photo by George Cavanaugh)
It’s been awhile since we talked about 5 minute artisan bread. One reason I always keep a container full of the dough in our refrigerator is because it makes great pizza and pita bread. The bread costs a fraction of the store’s cost and it tastes incredible hot and puffy from the oven.
You heat your oven (with the bread stone inside) to 450. Meanwhile take a piece of the chilled dough that’s about the size of a tangerine. Place it on a floured surface and roll it out in the shape of a circle. You want the dough pretty thin. The one in the picture above was rolled out to the size of a salad plate.
Place the dough on the hot stone (mine can do two at once) and bake about 5 minutes until lightly browned and puffy. If you cut the pita in half, you can open the pocket easily with the point of a knife.
George loves these filled with scrambled eggs in the morning.
January 22nd, 2013 — Frugal Living
(image from the non blonde)
We all know it really wouldn’t be fun after a few hours. Our feet would get tired, everything would start to look the same, and it wouldn’t take long before we’d run out of room to put the stuff.
So why do we do it?
It isn’t the things that make us happy; it’s what we think the things will bring us.
I’m challenging myself to get what the things will bring us without getting so many of the things.
For example, we feel the family will draw closer if the living room decor is updated. I’m finding that straightening up the room and giving it a good cleaning is making it feel fresher. I took time to use some scented spray and made a fire in the fireplace. We ate in front of the fire and had a cozy evening in.
I think a new outfit will make me feel more stylish and self-confident. Instead, I did 30 minutes of cardio, took a shower, and took time to put on a little makeup and fix my hair. Guess what? I felt more stylish and self-confident.
Don’t get me wrong – I can’t wait to do some shopping. I’m just trying to be more intentional (and pay off our house first!)