Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Thrifty Tips

Tub Tips:
If you think your tube of toothpaste is empty, cut the tube in half and you will find enough past to last 5 or 6 more brushings.

Use baking soda as a toothpaste, it is just as good as store bought paste.

To remove stains from your teeth, occasionally brush with lemon juice.

Make your own mouthwash using a few drops of essence of peppermint and a pint of water. This costs a fraction of commercial mouthwashes.

Bath Sachets:
2 Cups ground up soap slivers
4 Cups fine rolled oats
1 Cup powered borax
2 t. sachet power

Mix all ingredients together and spoon into small squares of material, gather edges together and tie with a ribbon. This makes a cute, inexpensive gift. I you want a quick fix, spoon ingredients into an old sock, tie and toss in the bath.

Don't want to make bath sachets? Don't waste your soap slivers. Take a fresh bar of soap, prick holes in one side of the fresh bar and one side of the sliver. Wet both and press the soap tightly together for a minute and leave overnight. When using the "new" bar, use the side with the sliver first.

Make liquid soap with your soap slivers. Put the slivers into the blender with a little water. Blend on low until you are happy with the consistency, pour the liquid soap into a dispenser.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Why Do Middle-Class Americans Struggle

The Commerce Department recently reported that the national personal savings rate for 2006 slumped to the lowest level since the Great Depression. On Average, Americans not only spend all the money they make after taxes, but also are digging into their savings or putting more debt on their credit cards.

Many middle-class Americans struggle because of corporate greed, downsizing, outsourcing and out of control health care costs. While these are all legitimate problems and concerns, could it also be that we are not willing to give up our wasteful ways and current lifestyles?

Remember last January, before the Super Bowl? 2.5 million Americans went out and bought themselves a high-definition television set just for the game!! Add to that expense, and average of $49.00 per person was spent on related merchandise, food and beverages.

If you are an average, middle-class, hard working two family income household, do you think these are expenses that you could afford? Were you able to make ends meet after these expenditures?

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

It's A Tea Party!

If you’re a tea sipper like I am, you probably have dozens of tea bags laying around your house in your drawers and cupboards. Friends and family give me tea as gifts for all occasions. I pick up bags at restaurants, hotels and even send for free samples. Here are a few tips to help you save a few pennies and us up those extra bags of tea.

As an air freshener mix one quart brewed tea and four tablespoons lemon. Put in a spray bottle and shake well and spray!

Cold tea is an excellent cleaning agent for any kind of wood. Dampen a soft cloth with tea and gently clean your wood furnishings and molding.

Mix one part tea to one part double-strength beef stock as the liquid when making a pot roast or stew.

To accelerate the germination of seeds, mix two tablespoons of cold strong tea with each pound of seed. Cover and set in the frig for five days. Before sowing, spread the seeds out onto papers to dry and let dry.

To relieve minor burns, apply a wet tea bag directly to the burn.

Soothe canker sores by applying a wet tea bag directly on the sore.

Soothe tired eyes with cool bags of tea. Place bags over closed eyes and rest for 15 minutes.

Get relief from a sun burns by patting the burn with wet, cool bags of tea.

If you would like to add highlights to your red or brown hair, rinse your hair with brewed tea.

Monday, March 19, 2007


Think what you do when you run in debt; You give to another Power over your Liberty.
Benjamin Franklin

They that go a-borrowing go a a-sorrowing.
John Clarke

Friday, March 16, 2007

New Tax Breaks For 2006 Taxes

Every year there are changes in tax laws, deductions and credits. To get the biggest federal tax refund, you need to know what these are. Here is a list of some of the major changes in tax breaks for individual filers for 2006:

Energy credits for homeowners. If you installed certain energy-efficient products in your home during 2006, such as windows, exterior doors, insulation, and heating and cooling equipment, you could receive a tax credit up to $500.

Retirement plan tax savings increased. If you have a 401(k) or 403(b) plan, you can now create a qualified Roth contribution program.

Charitable Donations. Clothing and household items donated to charity after Aug. 17, 2006, must be in good used condition or better to be deductible.

Telephone Excise Tax Refund. Individual taxpayers will be able to request a refund if they paid the federal excise tax on long-distance or bundled service.

New Split Refund Option. Taxpayers now can split their refunds among up to three accounts held by up to three U.S. financial institutions, such as banks, mutual funds, brokerage firms or credit unions.

Green vehicles tax credit. Owners of new hybrid vehicles purchased in 2006 are eligible for tax credits up to $3,400, depending on the model.

For more information, visit the IRS website. Or refer to Publication 553, Highlights of 2006 Tax Changes, and the instruction book for Form 1040.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Grandma's (inexpensive) Carpet Cleaning Solutions

Carpet Cleaning Ideas

To give your light colored carpet a fresh look, brush with cornmeal before vacuuming.

Homemade Carpet Shampoo:
1/2 c powdered detergent
1t ammonia
1 quart of warm water

Mix ingredient in a bowl, stirring constantly to work up a layer of froth. Using froth only, rub carpet lightly with a sponge or cloth. Stir solution to get additional froth. Allow carpet to dry and vacuum.

If you are shampooing your carpet with a carpet cleaning machine, cover your furniture legs with plastic baggies to protect them and to keep your carpet from getting rust stains caused by metal legs on damp carpet.

Carpet Stain Removal Ideas

Mix a diluted solution of vinegar, dish soap, and water. Dampen a cloth with this solution and press firmly against the stain for several seconds. Blot dry with a clean cloth.

Shaving cream can be used as an emergency carpet stain remove. It works on coffee, wine, ketchup, chocolate, and tea.

Sprinkle salt liberally on fresh stains and allow to soak up the moisture, then vacuum. Salt is great for absorbing mud stains.

Homemade Carpet Stain Remover:

Mix equal parts of salt and baking soda. Add several drops of white vinegar and enough water to make a paste. Check carpet for color fastness, then apply the paste to the stain and let it set. When it is dry, brush it away and the stain should go with it. For a particularly nasty stain, scrub it when you first apply the paste.

Homemade Pet Stain Remover:

1 C of hydrogen peroxide
1 T of baking soda
1/2 t of dish soap

Mix all ingredients and stir well. Apply solutions to the stained area with a sponge. Let dry and vacuum!

Friday, March 9, 2007

Do You Know Your Budgeting Guidelines?

Here are the recommended debt guidelines. Creditors use this guideline when reviewing and approving your credit application.

Housing: Your housing expense (mortgage, rent, taxes, repairs, improvements, insurance and utilities) should not exceed 35% of your income.

Transportation: Monthly car payments, gas, oil, repairs, insurance, parking or public transportation should not exceed 20% of your income.

Debt Budget: Credit cards, personal loans, student loans and any other debt payments should not exceed 15% of your income.

Investments & Savings: Stocks, bonds, cash reserves, art, etc., should be at least 10% of your expenses.

All Other Expenses: Food, insurance prescriptions, doctor and dentist bills and clothing should not exceed 20% of your income.

Take some time to calculate your debt to see how your budget measures up. If you are spending more in one category than the guideline suggest, make a list of what you are buying and brainstorm ways to cut cost in that category. If you are under in one area, you may add the extra percentage to another category.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Are You spending More Than You Make?

According to a recent survey, most people are spending 10% more than they make! The average person may know what their check will be each payday, but they have no idea how much money they spend in a pay period. Based on the average American income we spend $431 per month more than we make. No wonder the average credit card debt in $8,500.

When setting up a budget, I'm sure we all remember to list the big expenditures like the car payment, house payment/rent, food and utilities. What we sometimes tend to over look are what I call the "Budget Suckers".

Here are a few Budget Suckers that may not be included in your monthly budget:
Your car's oil changes, tire rotations, new windshield wipers, new batteries, the cost to renew your drivers license, tolls, inspections, parking meters, newspapers and magazine subscriptions, the morning coffee or juice from the juice/coffee bar, chipping in for the co-workers gift, the garbage bill, haircuts, tips, vet bills, and when company arrives, increased food, and utility bills. Most of us remember to budget for birthday gifts, and holiday gifts, but what about cards, wrapping paper, bows and tags? Have you over extended yourself??

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Are You Green?

Are you green? If you are not ready to jump on former Vice President Al Gore's green band wagon, you should still consider a few green ideas that could save you some cash. Here are a few money saving tips to make any tree hugger proud!

1. Unplug appliances and electronic when you are not using them. This could reduce your electricity bill by 20% a year.

2. If you drive with your foot in the carburetor (as my Dad used to say!) take it out. If you drive 55 mph instead of 65mph you will save an average of 15% on fuel.

3. An annual savings of $10- $40 can be yours if you put your computer in sleep mode when it is not in use.

4. Paper! Use the back side of junk mail envelopes to write notes, or to make lists. Save sheets of paper that are only used on one side. Let the kids use the clean side of the paper to draw or doodle on . Use the back side of the paper in your printer to print out drafts, one time recipes, etc.

5. Speaking of your printer; when printing a draft or unimportant document use your preference selection under "print", click on draft and then gray scale. This will make your print cartridge last twice as long.

6. Pay your bills on line to save postage and paper.

7. Invest in a programmable thermostat. Programing your furnace at a lower setting when you are gone or asleep will net you a savings of $100 a year on your utility bill. Keep your daily temperature at 68 degrees and wear a sweater. If you are sitting and you are chilly, get up and move around for exercise and it will warm you up.

8. Replace your incandescent lite bulbs with a compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFL). The saving to replace just one 100 watt incandescent bulb is about $30 over the life of the bulb.

9. If you like crafts or like to sew recycle old blue jeans and flannel shirts in to warm and cute quilts. Turn old T-shirts into pillows, use old panty hose as stuffing. Turn old sweaters into purses. There are many craft/sewing ideas on the Internet for recycling old clothes. These handmade items make wonderful gifts. People love to receive handcrafted gifts.

10. With spring coming soon, many of you may be getting "spring fever". If you love to garden get together with friends and neighbors to swap cutting from each others existing perennials. When making new plant purchases, go together with friends and split flats of plants. Make a donation to the Arbor Foundation and they will send you free trees.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Cash in on "Stuff"

Are you "over stuffed?" Make extra money selling your "stull" to the "under stuffed!" Clean out your cupboards, your closets, your garage and clean out your basement. Anything and everything has been known to sell on eBay. Get rid of your clutter, junk, and clothes you haven't worn in a while and make some extra cash by selling it on line or have a garage sale. If it is your first time selling on eBay, get a friend, or neighbor with eBay experience to help you list your items. It is a fairly simple process to list things, but it would be nice if someone could help you get started. Most kids over 12 know the ins and outs of eBay. Beware that eBay charges a fee for listing your item and then will take a percentage of your selling price. Don't forget to calculate a shipping price, buyers usually pay for shipping and want to before buying what the charge will be. You will need a PayPal account to sell on eBay. PayPal will also take a cut of your profits. If you live in a metropolitan area, try listing your "stuff" on Craig's List does not charge anything for listing an item, but it only sells locally. I personally have had great luck selling on Craigslist and would recommend it.

Now that you have cleaned out your nooks and cranny's and have taken in come cash, DO NOT BLOW THE MONEY!! It is sooooooo tempting to tell yourself that you deserve a treat, or something special because you worked hard to earn the extra cash, but you need to stand strong in your effort to get out of debt. TAKE THIS MONEY AND PAY IT ON A CREDIT BILL, or make an extra car payment or ad extra to your house payment,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,PLEASE DON'T JUST BLOW IT!!

Friday, March 2, 2007

WD-40, A Miracle Spray?

You may be wondering what an article about a lubricant is doing on a blog about saving money, but that is just the point! WD-40 is a miracle in a can and can take the place of a lot of different expensive cleaners and does a better job than most high-priced products.

WD-40 was developed in the 1050’s by three chemists looking for a rust preventative solvent and degreaser. This Water Displacement formulas (WD) was born on the 40th formulation, thus; WD-40 was born! It is safe for you (the basic ingredient is fish oil) and cleans most all surfaces. Here are a few useful ideas for using WD-40:

1. It will remove lipstick from cloths. Saturate the lipstick spot with WD-40 and wash.
2. It will remove crayon from walls. Spray and wipe with a clean rag.
3. It protects silver from tarnishing.
4. It will remove road tar from your car.
5. It will clean and lubricate guitar strings.
6. It will rid rocking chairs, swings, tricycles, wagons bikes or anything else that squeaks of their squeak.
7. It will remove bugs from the bumpers of your car.
8. It attracts fish. Spray a little on lures or live bait. It is cheaper than the chemical attractants that are sold for this purpose.
9. It can be sprayed on your joints to relieve arthritis pain.
10. It will remove tree sap from your car.
11. It will remove stickers from most surfaces
12. It will remove splattered grease on your stove.
13. Clean your bathroom mirror with it and the mirror will not fog up
14. It will restore and clean the leather dashboard in your car.
15. If you live in a snowy climate the white stuff can build up on your dish and screw up your reception. Shoot a coating of WD-40 on the dish and the snow will slide off instead.
15. If you squirt the threads before you install the bulb it won’t get corroded and break when you try to change it.
16. It will keep the squires away from your bird feeders if you spray it on the feeder poles and it will keep the pigeons off the porch.
17. Spray it on an ant bite immediately and it will take the sting out and stop the itch.
18. It will loosen stuck sippers.
19. It will remove water spots on polished aluminum.
20. Use it on anything that needs lubrication. (fans, sprockets, fan belts, saw blades and other tools.)