Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Make My Day!

Would it make your day if you found a stash of cash hidden in a long forgotten hiding place? One out of every 10 people has approximately $1000, somewhere, in a “forgotten” account.

It’s estimated that there is $32 billion sitting in lost or forgotten accounts. These “accounts” could be from unclaimed life insurance proceeds, utility deposits, savings accounts long forgotten, stock dividends, lost tax refunds, and pay checks that were never picked up.

By law, banks, insurance companies, utilities, and many other business are required to surrender inactive accounts to the government for safe keeping. If you can prove that you are you and the person entitled to the money, the government will be happy to hand the money over to you, without any charges or fees.

To find out if a windfall could be yours, go to www.unclaimed.org or www.missingmoney.com and take a look in your state. Check every state that you have ever lived in and enter all the names you might have gone by, such as your married or maiden name. If you don’t see your name, but think that you do have money coming to you, call the state’s treasury department and ask them to check for you.

Beware: There are companies that will gladly charge you a fee to look for this money. It’s so simple to do on your own that you won’t need to hire anyone.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Don’t "Flush” Your Money Down The Drain

Alex Wilson states in his book Your Green Home, that water will be a far greater challenge to humanity in the 21st century than energy. Here are a few tips for living a little greener, saving a little water and saving money on your water bill.

If you could cut just one minute off of your daily shower, you would save 2,000 gallons of water per year. Install water saving shower head. These are relative inexpensive and easy to install.

If you have a one leaky faucet that leaks a drop of water per second, this is enough water to fill 16 bathtubs full of water per month. Fix Leaky faucets!!

If you have a swimming pool, cover the pool when it is not in use and save 15,000 gallons of water. This is the amount of water that evaporates yearly.

Install a new water efficient toilet. 30% of the water in most homes is flushed down the toilet. Many cities offer rebates on your water bill if you install a new water saving toilet. Don’t use your toilet for flushing trash like facial tissue or cigarette butts. If your can’t purchase a new water saving unit, put something in the water tank to take up the space of water, so your tank will stop filling sooner.

Don’t let the water run while you are brushing your teeth. Wet the brush then turn off the water. Turn it on again to rinse!

Don’t let the water run while you are shaving!

Don’t let the faucet run while you clean vegetables.

Run your dishwasher and clothes washer with full loads.

Don’t use running water to thaw anything frozen.

Keep a pitcher in your kitchen sink. If you need to let the water run to get hot, catch the water in a pitcher and water your plants with the “extra”.

Keep a bottle of water in the frig for drinking so that you don’t have to let it run from the faucet to get cold.

Don’t over water your lawn! Deep soak the lawn so that moisture will soak down to the roots where the water is needed most. When cutting your lawn, leave the grass at least 3” tall. This will promote water retention in the soil. Water early in the day (before 10:00) to prevent evaporation; don’t water when it is windy. Don’t allow your sprinklers to land on the sidewalks, or drive ways. When it is time to fertilize your lawn, apply the minimum amount of fertilizer needed. The fertilizer will make your lawn grown as well as increase the need for water.

Xeriscape your lawn, plant drought resistant shrubs and plants; many cities offer free classes on Xeriscaping. Use Mulch around trees and plats to hold water in.

When washing your car, don’t let the hose run, instead use a nozzle.

Install a rain shut-off device on your automatic sprinkles to eliminate unnecessary watering.

Place a bucket or barrel at down spouts to catch rain water. Use this water for watering your yard and plants.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Make Your Own Fun and Save!

Homemade Bubbles
1/2 cup dish detergent

5 cups water
1 teaspoon oil
Mix all ingredients together and have suds of fun!

Play Dough
4Cups flour
1 ½ cups of water
1 cup of salt

In a large, flat bottomed bowl, mix flour, & salt with a spatula. Add water slowly, mixing as you pour. Additional water may be added if needed, but the dough should be very stiff. Knead for 10 minutes. Dough is ready to use when texture appears soft and smooth.

When the little artist is done playing with the dough, it can be stored in an air tight container. For longer lasting dough, store in the refrigerator!

This dough can also be sculpted, or cut into creations that can be bakes in the oven set at 325 degrees. Baking time depends on the thickness of dough, usually ½ hour per ¼ inch thickness. When your project is done baking and cooled, you will be able to paint it!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Is the cost of fresh milk, “Milking” your grocery budget?

The cost of a gallon of fresh milk has risen almost as much as the cost of a gallon of gas. If your looking to cut down on your grocery bill but still want to drink milk, try replacing your milk consumption with a little powered milk.

I know what you are thinking,,,,,,,YUCK!! Most people don’t like the taste of powered milk, but if you are sneaky you can introduce powered milk to your family by mixing it with the good stuff a little at a time. Try mixing one third powered to two thirds regular milk. Use the regular milk jug, make sure the milk is very cold and no one will know the difference!! When cooking and a recipie calls for milk, always use powered milk. Noone can tell the difference when dry milk is used in recipes!! Using powered milk in this way will be a huge savings in your weekly grocery tab.

What else can you use powered milk for? I’m glad you asked!!!

Sooth itchy, insect bites, poison ivy, or a throbbing sunburn by mixing 1 ½ cups of powered milk, a quart of water, two tablespoons of salt and a few ice cubes. Apply the solution to the infected area with a cloth to sooth the burning and itching.

Milk is a natural skin softener. Add 1/2 cup of powdered milk into the tub as it fills, then lay back and enjoy a soothing bath as your skin is naturally softened!Pamper yourself with a milk facial mask.

Use ¼ cup powered milk, mix with a little water, just enough to form a paste and apply to your face. Let it dry, then rinse! This at home, inexpensive, do it yourself facial will feel as good as any facial you receive at a spa!!

If you would like a spa like exfoliation treatment uses the same recipe as above but add a tablespoon of oatmeal. This makes an amazing skin softener as well as exfoliates.

Make a soothing, inexpensive make up remover. Mix three tablespoons powered milk and 1/3 cup of water to the consistency of heavy cream. Apply to your face, remove with a soft cloth, and rinse with tepid water!

If you have fish that has been in your freezer a little too long, place the frozen fish in a bath of milk until it thaws. This will make your fish taste (almost) like a fresh catch!

Want your week old corn on the cob to taste like it was picked from the field this morning? While you are preparing the water to boil your corn in, add ¼ cup of powered milk. Boil your corn as usual; the added milk will make the corn taste fresher and sweeter!

Treat your plants to a bath using 1/3 cups of dry milk and 2 cups of water. Mix thoroughly; use a soft cloth to wipe dust off of your plant foliage.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


Barbara O’Neill, PhD, DFP, Extensions Specialist in Financial Resource Management, Rutgets University Cooperative Extension, (With all this following your name, how can you not be a financial guru?!) has four tips for “fiscal fitness”.

1. Pay yourself first by saving at least 10% of your total income every paycheck. If possible, have it deposited automatically into a savings account before you are tempted to spend it.

2. Save $1.00 a day by putting change in a can or jar, or by reducing daily expenses by $1.00. You should be able to save about $50.00 a month or $600 a year. Increase the amount to $2.00 per day, plus loose change and you’ll have over $1,000 in savings!

3. If you put $10.00 per day ($300) monthly toward paying off an $8,000 credit card balance at 16% interest, you could pay off the credit card debt in THREE years instead of decades.

4. Paying just $1.00 a day more than the minimum payment due on a $5,000, $10,000 or $15,000 credit card balance with 17% interest will save you $7,624, $12,615, and $16,168, respectively in interest payments!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Here’s a great money saving website for those with children, www.swapbabygoods.com. This is a great place to go to save tons of money on the things you buy everyday for your family. It’s a website where you can swap your children’s toys, clothes, books, DVD’s, furniture, etc. They also offer coupon swapping and discussion forums and a news letter! Check it out!!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Dryer Sheets, Not Just For Dryers

A fabric dryer sheet has many uses besides adding fragrance and removing static cling from your clothes in the dryer. They are multitasking little fibers new and recycled! Here are numerous penny saving ideas to stretch your dryer sheets.

Use the fragrance sheets to freshen the air in your home by placing over the heating/air conditions vents.

Tape one to the top of your ceiling fan to spread the aroma.

Place an individual sheet in a drawer, or hang one in the closet.

Place a couple of sheets in the bottom of the dirty laundry basket.

Tuck one under the seat of your car and in the glove box.

Leave several in the RV or camper while it's in storage.

Stick a sheet in with your vacuum bag.

Leave a sheet in your luggage before storing.

Place a sheet among seldom read books or photo albums.

Stick a sheet in all of your shoes!

Roll up a dryer sheet in your toilet paper roll. Each time you spin, it releases a little freshness into your bathroom.

Slightly wet a sheet and use it to scrub the scum, soap build up and minerals out of your shower.

Fabric softener sheets are designed to help eliminate static cling, wipe your television and computer screen with a used sheet to keep dust from resettling.

If you are a fiber artist, run your sewing needle through a sheet prior to sewing, to prevent the thread from tangling.

Use a used sheet in your fiber art.

Take a used dryer sheet, spray insect repellent into it. Then dab on the back of your neck, legs and arms.

New dryer sheet are great for repelling mosquitoes on your patio, just hang a sheet near by and mosquitoes will leave you alone. Take some along on a picnic so the ants will not invade your party.

Place a sheet in the bottom of your trash cans before you add a trash bag. The dryer sheets will absorb any liquids that get through as well as adding a pleasant fragrance.

Here’s an idea I have read about, but haven’t tried: Use fabric softener sheets to clean baked on foods from cooking pots and pans. Place a dryer sheet in a pan; fill with water, and let sit overnight. The next day the stuck on food can be wiped away! The antistatic agent apparently weakens the bond between the stuck on food and the pans surface.

When you think your dryer sheet is finally used up, use it in flower pots to cover the hole in the bottom to keep dirt from coming out!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mothers Day!

Friday, May 9, 2008

Eat Out Without Sabotaging Your Budget!!

I love to eat out! I know, I know, cooking at home is probably half the cost of eating out, but for me, if I can’t eat out once in a while, life wouldn’t be worth living!

According to the National Restaurant Association, wholesale restaurant food prices rose 7.3% in 2007, the largest increase in three decades. I don’t even want to know what the increase will be in 2008. If you’re like me and want to eat out once in a while, here are a few tips for saving a little dough and not completely blowing your budget.

Watch for coupons. When you are scanning that Sunday paper for those valuable grocery coupons, keep an eye out for dinning coupons. Purchase an “Entertainment Book”, or join Restaurant.com for some great values. Do a Google search for on line printable coupons. When we are going to eat out, my husband will say “Where do you want to go?” and I always say “Let me see what restaurants we have coupons for.”

Split a meal! Typically, restaurants serve huge portions. Order one meal and split it with your partner.

Control yourself!! Eat half your meal, and box up the rest. Today’s left overs are tomorrows lunches!! Now your meal price was just cut in half!

Always order Water! Most beverages are around $2.00 each, for a family of four, that’s $8.00 just for beverages!

Always, always, skip dessert! With desserts running around four bucks each, who need them? Save the calories, save the fat, save the dough!

Go with the lunch bunch! Lunches are always cheaper! At our favorite Mexican restaurant, for the exact same meal, lunch is $2.00 an entree cheaper!

Choose wisely. You don’t have to go to the most expensive place in town to have a great meal or a good time. Choose a moderately priced restaurant and save.

Sign up and join the club! Sign up for restaurant emails, I get tons of coupons and even free meals by signing up for e-mails from all my favorite places to eat, including fast food. Many establishments have reward programs that offer point’s for dollars spent that can be redeemed for free meals or complimentary items such as an appetizer or dessert. Don’t forget to join the birthday clubs, most offer a free entree for the birthday person!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

3 Yummy Meals Under $10.00

Chili Pot Pie
Shopping List
1 lb. Ground Turkey - $3.50
16 oz. Can of Tomato Sauce - $.99
15 oz. Can of Black Beans - $.69
15 oz. Can of Whole-Kernel Corn - $.69
2 packages (8.5 oz. each) dry corn muffin mix - $.89
Taco Seasoning - $.79
12 oz. Can of Evaporated Milk - $1.19
2 Eggs - $.99
Total - $9.73

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and grease a 13 x 9-inch baking dish.
Cook ground turkey in a skillet until all is browned. Drain any fat off of meat. Stir in the taco seasoning, tomato sauce, corn, black beans and 3/4 of the can of evaporated milk. Bring to a boil. Then reduce the heat and allow the mixture to simmer for five minutes. Stir occasionally. Pour mixture into baking dish.
In a medium bowl, combine corn muffin mix, eggs, and remaining evaporated milk. Stir and then spoon the mixture evenly over the turkey mixture.
Bake for approximately 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Homemade Pizza
Shopping List
Ready-to-cook Pizza Crust - $2.13
Pizza Sauce - $1.25
Shredded Mozzarella - $2.50
1lb ground beef $3.50
Onion cut up $.50
Total $ 9.88

Open the pizza crust container and spread it out on a cookie sheet. Follow the instructions on the package. Top the crust with pizza sauce, ground beef, onion, and cheese. Bake until the cheese is bubbly.

Turkey Meatballs & Spaghetti
Shopping List
1 lb. Ground Turkey - $3.50
Spaghetti $.99
1 Can of Spaghetti sauce $.99
½ cup of bread crumbs - $.50
1 Large Egg - $.39

A dash of salt
A dash of pepper
Total: $6.37

Bring two quarts of water to a boil, add spaghetti and cook for 10 minutes.

Combine turkey, salt, pepper, bread crumbs, & egg in a bowl. Shape the meat mixture into one inch ball-size meatballs, placing them in a skillet to brown. Cook, turning often until meatballs are cooked clear through.
Drain Spaghetti, add sauce and meatballs.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

When is Cheap Too Cheap?

I asked some of my friends “what are some of the wackiest things you have ever done to save money”. Here are a few of the more “interesting” ideas:

When you go to a fast food restaurant, always take a hand full of ketchup, salt, pepper, mayo, napkins, etc. This person said she never buys these items!

Never buy toilet paper, use news paper or magazines like they did years ago. (eeegads!!)

Eat dog food.

Marry a man who is handy and can do repairs around the house!

Never buy sandwich bags, instead use the plastic your newspapers come in, use bags from frozen veggies, or bags that cereal is packaged in.

Go around on garbage day and pick things out of the trash to sell on Craigslist.

Here is my favorite: For wedding flowers one lady said she went to a cemetery the night before her wedding and picked up the fresh flowers.

I may be cheap, and I may be frugal, but I’m not sure all of these money saving tips are for me!! Hope you found them as interesting as I did!!

Monday, May 5, 2008

I Won't Tell Anyone That They're Fake!

Love flowers, hate to water and weed? I have always been an avid gardener, always giving my plants and flowers lots of tender loving care. However, the cost of plants and water has caused me to reevaluate my love of being a novice horticulturist. For the last couple of years I have “planted” fake flowers. I can purchase enough fake flowers at the dollar store to fill all my flower boxes for $20.00. If I were buying “real” plants, I’d get about three plants for this price.

The “flowers” can be plucked out of the ground in fall, washed down with the hose, stored and “replanted” in the spring! Every few years I will have to replace some of the faded flowers, but in the mean time, I have a beautiful flower bed that is much cheaper to “plant” and maintain than real flowers. The best part is that from the street, no one can tell that their fake!!

Friday, May 2, 2008

Save On Hair Cuts

If you enjoy going to the stylist, beautician or barber to get your hair cut, skip this post! If you’d rather save some money on hair cuts, read on! Learn to cut your own hair or at least learn to cut your children’s hair. We all know that going to a salon is not cheap. Where I live the average kids cut is $12.00. If you have two children and each get their hair cut once a month, that’s $288.00 on children’s hair cuts a year. The average adult price range is about $20.00 monthly. That is $240.00 a year for one adult. One adult and 2 kids total $528.00 a year, plus tips. For me, that is a lot of money!!

When my kids were growing up, I always cut their hair. I used to pay for my own cuts, but I was always unhappy with the cut and would go home and cut it over myself! I finally decided that I might as well "just do it" myself! It is not difficult to learn and the thing about hair is that it will always grow back!! Here are a few links that will guide you in learning to cut hair.