Sunday, November 30, 2008

Stop Junk Mail

From Stop Junk Mail website:

"After returning from vacation I pushed through the post office doors. Stood in line patiently. Once at the counter I requested my mail which was held till my return. The customer service rep. left and soon returned with a box two thirds full of mail. I stood there in shock, looking down at the volume of mail I had received in five days. I acknowledge the fact that its become extremely annoying daily to separate the unwanted mail, but never put any serious thought into it till now.

I went home, and after 45 minutes of sorting the mail, I determined 95 percent was junk mail. My time is valuable, and looking at the time I spend annually sorting out the junk mail, I decided to research and determine a way to eliminate the junk mail madness. Telemarketers have been reduced by the no call list. There had to be a way. I have completed research and along with my staff have developed the necessary tools to accomplish the task.

Its time to put an end to this ridiculous amount of waste of material and resources. Stop Junk Mail will assist you with the reduction of your unwanted junk mail.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Converting Flower Pots Into Homes For Birds

If you're already getting cabin fever with the cold weather ... here's a flowerpot project that has nothing to do with plants and everything to do with birds. Although it's not time for nesting, birds use bird houses to roost in for the winter also.

With a little bit of remodeling, you can put out the welcome mat for wrens with this easy-to-build birdhouse project on Birds and Blooms website.

Susan Vater created this birdhouse for her garden in Middleton, Wisconsin. Because the house is small, she says it's perfect for hanging in the thick vegetation that wrens prefer.

Read the entire article.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Rite-Aid's Gift Of Savings

Just in time for holiday shopping, Rite Aid’s Gift of Savings program lets customers earn $5, $10 or $20 certificates based on total purchases from $25 to more than $100.

To receive their gift certificate, customers can pick up a brochure with mail-in form at any Rite Aid or go to www.riteaid.com and submit the information from qualifying receipts dated Nov. 16-Dec. 24.

All submissions must be received by Jan. 26, 2009. (See in-store brochures or online information for program rules and purchases that are excluded such as alcohol, tobacco and gift cards.)

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Making Soaps

Using your leftover soymilk and tofu cartons was never this fun! The environmentally conscious can now recycle in a new, creative way with Bramble Berry Inc., a provider of the highest quality ingredients for making personalized soaps.

When deciding what to add to your soap, think green! Herbs, oatmeal, coffee, spirulina, clay and charcoal each add a specific enhancement to the skin through their naturally occurring properties. With easy-to-follow recipes, Bramble Berry’s eco chic soap can transform even the most novice crafters into “green” mini-Marthas.

Here's a recipe for Eco Chic Soap:

Ingredients Needed:

Herbs, oatmeal, coffee, spirulina, clay, or charcoal
1 pound (16 ounces) Bramble Berry ‘melt and pour’ soap, organic base
1 ounce essential oil (we used lavender and eucalyptus)
Soap mold (or Tupperware, or anything you find like an empty yogurt
container, old tofu container, empty soy milk container, etc.)
Rubbing Alcohol

1. Prep your herbs and make sure they are the right size for gentle exfoliation. Sharp herbs may be too abrasive on the skin.
2. Cut the ‘melt and pour’ soap into 1 x 1" cubes.
3. Using your microwave, heat the soap in 30-second increments until the soap is fully melted.
4. Add .25 ounces to .50 ounces of essential oil. Remember, if
you use a yellow or orange colored fragrance, your soap base will look less
clear and look more yellow/orange.
5. Mix in your herbs or additives. Stir until the herbs seem mostly suspended.
6. Pour your scented and herb'ed soap into the make-shift mold.
7. Tip: Don't fill your make-shift soap mold all the way up. It helps for easy release to fill 85% of the way to the top and not the entire way.
8. Do one finishing touch of rubbing alcohol to finish off your soap and give it a nice smooth surface

Wait for the soap to harden, pop or unwrap the soap out of the mold, wrap soap with saran wrap, label and enjoy the compliments you get. Buy supplies and get more great ideas here.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Avoiding The Holiday Financial Crisis

Each year millions of people go into debt celebrating a holiday that loses its entire meaning in the process.

Recently in our country the banks ran out of money. To avoid collapse, the government pumped liquidity back into the system for a short-term fix. But behind our country's financial crisis (and ours), a much more ominous crisis looms: we are running out of nature - fish, forests, fresh water, minerals, soil. What are we going to do when supplies of these vital resources run low?

There’s a way that helps the planet and our personal pocketbooks. We must have a plan to avoid the collapse of the earth and green that nurtures not only our bodies with food, but our souls with the peace gathered from those quiet places in nature that we seek out when all seems lost ...

We have to consume less.

It will take a massive mind shift.

You can start the ball rolling by celebrating Buy Nothing Day on November 28th. I encourage you to celebrate Buy Nothing Day on the day after Thanksgiving. It's an international event.

Do something with your family. Make a new tradition. Create some fond memories of time together, rather than a mad dash for the stores at the crack of dawn.

We stopped 25 years ago and have never gone back.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Say Thanks To The American Troops

Many won't be with their families for the holidays. Those serving in the military for the safety of our country deserve a Thank You. Xerox is providing a way to let you do that FREE with a few clicks.

Choose a card designed by children. It will go to some member of the armed services. It is FREE and it only takes a second. Click here.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Cutting The Costs Of Staying Warm

In these days when cold weather is upon us. It is important we find ways to cut our costs related to staying warm.

In the AARP Novemember 2008 this helpful table was provided:

6 Ways You Can Cut Costs

1. Lower you thermostat a few degrees and bundle up more indoors.
2. Set your water heater temperature to low, or about 120 degrees F.
3. Drain a quart of water from your water every 3 months to remove sediment.
4. Replace or wash furnace filters.
5. Put weather stripping or caulking around windows, and weather stripping around exterior doors.
6. Check for drafts around electrical outlets, ceiling fixtures and ducts, and insulate if necessary.

Looking at this list, I was taken aback at #3. We have lived in our house for several years and I have never emptied the sediment out of the water heater. Guess I am overdue. Are you?

From the Editor

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Simplifying Birthday Parties

When you stop and think about your past parties, you’ll realize how much the following article makes sense and will actually save you time, money, energy (yours and our natural resources), not to mention promoting a healthier life for people and the planet.

The trend for the party is to simplify – even more now than ever. There are so many ways to make a big difference (while setting a good example for the kids and inspiring others).

Here are 10 smart party tips that will also stir up some ideas of your own for a very fun & most impressive event from start to finish.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Cocoa Mulch - Poison To Dogs and Cats

Please tell every dog or cat owner you know. Forward this by email below.

Over the weekend a doting owner of two young lab mixes purchased Cocoa Mulch from Target to use in their garden. They loved the way it smelled and it was advertised to keep cats away from their garden. Their dog Calypso decided that the mulch smelled good enough to eat and devoured a large helping. She vomited a few times which was typical when she eats something new but wasn't acting lethargic in any way.

The next day, the owner woke up and took Calypso out for her morning walk. Half way through the walk, she had a seizure and died instantly.

Although the mulch had NO warnings printed on the label, upon further investigation on the company's website, this product is HIGHLY toxic to dogs and cats.

Cocoa Mulch is manufactured by Hershey's, and they claim that 'It is true that studies have shown that 50% of the dogs that eat Cocoa Mulch can suffer physical harm to a variety of degrees (depending on each individual dog). However, 98% of all dogs won't eat it.'

The Snopes.com website (where you can verify any stories you get by email) gives the following information:

Cocoa Mulch, which is sold by Home Depot, Foreman's Garden Supply and other Garden supply stores, contains a lethal ingredient called 'Theobromine'. It is lethal to dogs and cats. It smells like chocolate and it really attracts dogs. They will ingest this stuff and die. Several deaths already occurred in the last 2-3 weeks. Just a word of caution, check what you are using in your gardens and be aware of what your gardeners are using in your gardens.

Theobromine is in all chocolate, especially dark or baker's chocolate which is toxic to dogs. Cocoa bean shells contain potentially toxic quantities of theobromine, a xanthine compound similar in effects to caffeine and theophylline. A dog that ingested a lethal quantity of garden mulch made from cacao bean shells developed severe convulsions and died 17 hours later. Analysis of the stomach contents and the ingested cacao bean shells revealed the presence of lethal amounts of theobromine.


Keep in mind that neighbors may have this type of mulch, so keep your pets on your own property and notify your neighbors and friends NOT to use this.

Friday, November 21, 2008

High Cost Of Health Care

In the United States today there are millions of people without health insurance. As the insurance companies want to make a higher and higher profit it keeps the majority of uninsured people from getting health insurance due to the costs. Many businesses have had to either drop the health insurance or make the deductibles in the range of $1000, $5,000 or even as high as $10,000 and place more of the cost on the employee.

If you can place pre-tax money into a health savings account to help pay for your medical care this can help alleviate some of the strain of medical care. Many people do not understand how these medical savings accounts work. You have to estimate your medical care cost at the beginning on your “open season” at work which allows you to make changes to your benefits.

What to be careful about is estimating too high as if you do not use everything by the end of the calendar year you lose this money. Another aspect to keep in mind with this type of plan is that the money is taken out of your paycheck each month where your employer has divided the total amount, you requested for payment for your medical bills, by the total number of paychecks you will receive in a year.

You also have to usually have to pay for your co-pay/co-insurance or deductible first and you get reimbursed for the cost. This type of plan will lower your federal and state taxes based on your income.

Does the average individual have other options? If you are in financial hardship, let your physician know personally, as the office staff may or may not have the ability to give you a discount after filling out paperwork to justify the hardship. Do not be embarrassed to ask for help, as many providers will work with you, if you ask.

If you do not have health insurance or have a very high deductible and need medications, find out the name of the medication manufacturer from your pharmacy and look the company up online, as many of these companies have free or discount medication available. Ask all of your physicians for samples of medications. There are options that can help pay for medical care if you just ask for help.

Content Submitted by czsissom on The Frugal Life Forums.

Celebrate New Home With Composting Party

This couple while short on compost materials after making a move, hatched a perfect plan to acquire masses of good organic matter, and have fun while doing it.

They morphed their house warming party into a compost warming, and boy was it fun. Invitations were sent and word was spread they wanted rotting matter, and lots of it.

They offered prizes for the most useful, the most unusual, and the largest quantity of materials. I think it's a great idea and wonderful way to get a good compost pile going right after moving into a new location.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Favorite Frugal Tips

Renee Rivard submitted this question on The Frugal Life Forum:

I was wondering what some of your frugal tips are that you use in your everyday life. I use coupons, keep my receipts and when something goes on sale I take my receipt to get the sale price, keep all lights off when not in the room. Go on-line to get free items that I use and keep them when I go on vacation (personal items). Put all my change in a change jar, take my lunch to work. Use only half a cap of laundry detergent, use cold water to wash, etc,. I know these are just general frugal tips and have many more, but I was wondering what everyone else does to be frugal and your tips. Thank you.

This forum post has 39 responses as of today. Read them and submit your own.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Fire Starters - Gift Idea

FIRESTARTERS

You only need 4 things:

cardboard egg cartons (use just the bottom part)
wood shavings/curls
old wax
old cookie sheet or something to set the egg cartons on

Put the egg carton bottoms on the cookie sheet ... any extra wax will then go onto the cookie sheet and not on the counter. Stuff about 1/4 cup of wood shavings into each "egg." Melt the wax and pour it over the wood shavings. Let dry over night and the next day cut the egg cartons into individual "eggs."

When you want to start a fire, just put one of the eggs at the bottom, add kindling and a couple of pieces of wood and start the egg/shavings on fire. It will burn for about 10-15 minutes and by that time the fire will go going very well.

This is a good way to recycle old egg cartons, wood shavings and wax (old candles etc); and eliminates the need for paper when starting a wood fire. I melt the wax in an old tea kettle on top of the wood stove.

Content Submitted by sunflower1948 on The Frugal Life Forums.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

How To Fix Those Gadgets

We toss toxic gadgets left and right, often thinking they'll be recycled, but many times our e-waste is shipped off to other countries. The EPA does little to ensure the safe recycling of materials. Or, only a fraction of the device can actually be recycled and the rest ends up in a landfill.

It's still ultimately up to us to keep a gadget for as long as it is possibly useful. And that means repairing it when needed. Thankfully, repair tips are endless and free advice is everywhere.

Here's a site with videos on gadget repair. Not the end-all of instructions, but maybe it will inspire you to search online for more info on what you need to fix. A huge sense of accomplishment and confidence comes with fixing something you thought was over your head. Turns out - you can do it! So - save money, be green, fix it yourself. Here’s how.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Caregivers Need Support

A new resource is available at the Ask Medicare website. Launched by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the site includes information on navigating through Medicare, health care services, links to partner organizations that assist caregivers, and personal caregiver anecdotes. Visit now.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Cheaper Movie Rentals

Redbox (www.redbox.com) offers rentals through vending machines at some 8,000 locations across the country, often at supermarkets and stores. For as little as $1.00, you can rent movies.

Netflix (www.netflix.com) costs as little as $5/month to view thousands of DVDs, movies and TV series, with free shipping to and from your home.

How about entirely free at the easy-to-navigate website Hulu (www.hulu.com), you can view more than 165 movies and some 300 TV shows online from NBC Universal, Fox and cable channels that show TV classics.

CBS and ABC also offer full-length episodes of their shows. Depending on your computer, you may be able to use a "TV out" cable to connect to your TV set for "big screen" viewing.

Source: AARP Bulletin, November 2008

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Shopping - Product Reviews

ConsumerSearch.com offers more than 300 product reviews that consolidate and analyze comments from experts, such as Consumer Reports and Cnet.com, plus user comments posted on the Internet.

Although the website receives some money from retailers, the reviews are independent. The most common items people want information on are mattresses, vacuum cleaners, TVs, coffeemakers and lawnmowers or snowblowers.

About 10 new reports are added each month. Visit now.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Reuse Medicine Bottles

Besides all the common uses for empty bottles of many sizes, your medicine bottles are typically not recyclable, so check with your pharmacy to see if they're agreeable to reusing them. Some have found that non-chain pharmacies will reuse them, so carry some in your car when you stop to have a prescription refilled.

Source: GreenAmerica.org

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Gift Baskets For Pets


Our Life's Abundance website has some great gift baskets for dogs and cats.

The gift packages include toys and treats. Something for under the tree for your special furr balls ... or maybe a grandpuppy or sponsored pet.

I wouldn't put them out until you've got the tree area under supervision. The aroma may get your furr friend a bit too anxious. Patience is not generally a pet virtue.

View gift options.

Flower Bulb Storage Solution

Tender bulbs that must be overwintered indoors are tough to keep organized. These include canna lilies, freesias, caladiums, gladioluses, dahlias and tuberous begonias.

Keep track of what’s what by storing them in egg cartons, with each bulb identified on the top of the carton. The cartons have ventilation holes that prevent rot.

Source: Birds and Blooms Garden Newsletter.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Prepaid Cards Instead of Cash or Check

From: PracticalMoneySkills.com

Tens of millions of Americans don't have access to checking accounts or credit cards, which can make it difficult for them to cash their payroll or government-provided benefit checks, pay bills, withdraw cash and shop online or by phone. It also forces many to carry large amounts of cash and to utilize extremely expensive check-cashing services.

An increasingly popular alternative known as prepaid cards has helped fill this void. Prepaid cards look and work much like debit cards, except that instead of drawing money from a checking or savings account balance, they are funded by money deposited into an account by cash, check, funds transfer or direct deposit by an employer or government entity.

Prepaid cards share many of the attributes and advantages of debit cards, including:

  • They're safer to carry than large amounts of cash
  • If branded with a logo like Visa, they can be used anywhere that brand is accepted
  • Spending is limited to the amount in the account, helping keep debt in check
  • Many can be used to withdraw cash from ATMs or to make online or phone purchases
  • Many are covered by Zero ...
Read the entire article.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Frugal Thanksgiving Dinners

A vegetarian Thanksgiving sounds like an odd idea since it's often called, "Turkey Day," but you can have a nice banquet without the cost of all the meat. Here's a site with some ideas to keep your Thanksgiving meal frugal.

Maybe you've got a vegetarian guest coming to a non-vegetarian celebration. Get some great tips here: When a Non-Vegetarian Cook Hosts a Vegetarian Guest.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Fall Budget Shopping Guides

The Budget Fashionista’s website gives fashion tips and bargains for those who love to shop and enjoy being fashionable. I admit, I've been out of that league for a long time. Working at home allows me to be fashionable in my pj's. My idea of "dress up" is a casual pair of pants that has a button and zipper. My favorite wardrobe item is something that won't mind getting dirty while I play in the dirt in my garden, or sit on the ground to get a closer look at some insect or mushroom.

But .. to each his own. I love the diversity of the natural world ... and the diversity of life and lifestyles. For those who still love to shop, check out the

Budget Fashionista website.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

5 Reasons to Stop Using Cell Phones

David G. Mitchell knows he's not preaching to the choir when he strongly recommends that most people stop using cell phones. He observes that "I will not use a cell phone and you probably cannot be separated from yours."

Yet, he makes a compelling argument in a pithy post at Saving Advice that provides five reasons to give up cell phones and save money.

Health is one of his concerns. Read the entire article at MSN Money. Here's a couple more links from my personal blog:

Cell Phone Precautions - Analysis Of Studies
Cell Phone and Bluetooth Protection Available

Saturday, November 8, 2008

4 Ways To Earn Cash Before Christmas

From: Not Made Of Money.com.

Now that stores everywhere are starting to sparkle with Christmas merchandise, you may have found yourself going into a panic. How are you going to afford all of the things you want to do this Christmas? Maybe you’ve got your heart set on buying your children some really snazzy gifts. Or maybe you want to make the trek home to your parents’ house for Christmas. Whatever your holiday plans, you can almost bet that you will need some extra money to make them happen.

Before your panic turns into a full meltdown, you should know that there are some simple ways to earn some extra cash in time for your holidays. Depending upon whether you have an abundance of time, talent, or stuff, you can turn your excess into money in no time.

Sell your junk. Selling your unwanted items on eBay just gets easier and easier. Simply take a picture, type a short description, and click a few buttons and your product is out there for someone to find. Maybe there is someone, right now, looking for the old edition magazine that’s collecting dust in your closet. Do a little research by looking at similar items to help you decide the best way to list your treasures.

Work at your favorite store. Almost all retailers need extra help on the holidays. Why not cash in on the time you spend in your favorite shop and earn a paycheck? You may even get the benefit of a bonus on your purchases there.

Put your talents to good use. Bake breads and treats to sell at a local market. Knit tiny baby blankets to sell on eBay. You may even be able to help your neighbors by starting a Christmas light hanging service. Just look for ways to use the things your good at to benefit someone else. You can advertise online in a community bulletin board or by hanging flyers in your neighborhood.

Become a salesperson. Do you enjoy going to Pampered Chef or Home Interiors parties? You can earn your own little stash for Christmas by becoming a salesperson. Start a little early (You don’t want to be trying to talk your friends into hosting parties during the holidays), and you’ll be able to build your own Christmas fund. Be sure to choose a company that allows you to minimize your initial investment, as well as finding a product that you really enjoy selling.

Source: Visit for more great articles.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Beware of Bad Credit Quick Fixes

What's the No. 1 way to tell that a credit-repair firm is not legitimate? It asks you to pay upfront for services that haven't been rendered, "Blunt Money" says.

Another tip-off, she writes: No matter what they claim, "no one can remove accurate negative information from anyone's credit report."

Unfortunately, many desperate people have responded to ads containing bogus claims, often paying hundreds or thousands of dollars to shady firms promising to improve their bad credit. As a result, the Federal Trade Commission and 22 states have launched a crackdown on unlawful practices, targeting 33 companies. Read the entire article.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

America Recycles Day - November 15

This is a national celebration set each year at November 15 to remind us that recycling and buying recycled goods is of utmost importance. Many events are scheduled throughout the nation on this day. In addition, many prizes are awarded to those who make a commitment to recycle or buy recycled products. Get more info at www.americarecyclesday.org.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Finding Professionals In A New City

People enjoy being comfortable, and moving takes us out of our comfort zone. We leave behind old friends, a familiar school district, the restaurants we love, and the advisors we trust. It can take years to to find and build relationships with quality professionals like our doctor, accountant, contractor, financial planner, and attorney.

Simply calling a random professional in the phone book can potentially turn out to be a disaster. So, what should you do? Take a look at a few things you can try for finding someone you can trust.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Holiday Travel

From My Two Dollars.com

It’s that getting to be that time again - time to fill up the highways, airports, and railways with people on their way to visit relatives for the holidays.

We are taking Amtrak across country again and we booked our tickets about 4 months ago to make sure we got the dates we wanted and were able to reserve private bedrooms for the whole trip. But for those of you just starting to think about what you are going to do this year, there are a few ways to both save money and save yourself some headaches in the process. Read the entire article.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Things A Homeowner Should Do To Save Money

On The Simple Dollar, a personal finance blog, I stumbled on an article, "18 Things a New Homeowner Should Do Immediately to Save Money."

These tips can be used by current homeowners. I also realized that the very same tips that can help someone save money are also very green. In fact, out of the 18 tips, 16 are directly green. Maybe there are some you haven't done yet. See the list in the article.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

For the Juicers Among You

Recently, we have started juicing some carrots. To prepare the carrots I either wash them thoroughly or if they aren't in the best of shape I have peeled them completely. After juicing, I have found there is a lot of fiber that is left over. Being the frugal minded person that I am, I have sought a use for this fibrous material.

I have buried the material next to some of our plants to improve the tilth of the soil and act as a food for the earthworms too. In fact, I have a friend that does vermicomposting (worm composting) and he feeds the material to them and they seem to love it.

I wondered if eating it would be acceptable. Over hearing my thoughts, my wife reminded me that beet fiber is used in food products so carrot fiber should be usable too. I used it in my Vita-Mix to make a smoothie and found that it does work well and has virtually no taste. I have so much fiber that I have to split it up between several smoothies. However, that is no bother to me. I am just glad that I have found one more thing I can use instead of throwing it out.

From the Editor

Saturday, November 1, 2008

What About 401k's In This Economy?

From The Budgeting Babe website.

Question:
Should I reduce my 401k contribution while the economy tanks?

I'm currently putting 10% of my salary into my 401k. Given how craptacular the stock market is doing right now, and that my fund is actually going down instead of up and hasn't made any money this year - has actually been steadily losing money - would it make sense to lower my contribution to 5% until the storm has passed? I mean, I won't be taking anything out that's already in the account but right now it seems like I'm literally throwing my money away.

Read the answers to this question in the comment section of this post.
"Simplicity of living, if deliberately chosen, implies a compassionate approach to life. It means that we are choosing to live our daily lives with some degree of conscious appreciation of the condition of the rest of the world." Duane Elgin

"Do what is good with your own hands, so that you might earn something to give to the needy." Ephesians 4:28