Monday, June 28, 2010

Thrifty Shopping

From AARP Bulletin

Business is booming at secondhand shops. Here's how to snag the best stuff.

Donations are often local, so head for thrift stores in wealthier neighborhoods. Find stores at www.thethriftshopper.com, which has 9,000 listings.

Shop early in the week - many donations come in over the weekend.

Watch for hidden bargains. Thrift stores often set prices by category, say $3 per shirt no matter what the brand.

Consignment shops, which pass on a percentage of the merchandise price to the owner, may be more upscale. Find shops at www.consignmentshops.com.

Sponsored by The Herbs Place - Wholesale Prices Always
On Sale NowOnline CatalogWomenMenChildrenEssential Oils

Is Wind Energy An Option For Your Home?

Do you live in an area where windpower is an energy option? Skystream's website allows you to put in your zip code to see if you have enough wind to make energy. Skystream is a wind generator that turns the wind into affordable electricity for your home. It's safe, clean, and can protect you against rising electric costs. Right now, you can get a 30% tax rebate on the entire cost, including installation. If you've been thinking of wind power, now may be the time to buy. Learn more at SkystreamEnergy.com where you can enter your zip code to see if wind energy is an option for you.

Sponsored by The Herbs Place - Wholesale Prices Always
On Sale NowOnline CatalogWomenMenChildrenEssential Oils

Build Your Own Cozy Cabin

Rays of early-morning sunlight gently peek through the windows, easing you awake. Looking down from the sleeping loft, you see everything you need: a pine table; a box piled with hardwood, split and ready for the woodstove; and a compact kitchen in the corner. This is the cabin dream.

In this article, I’ll show you how to build a 14-by-20-foot cabin featuring a sleeping loft over the porch for about $4,000. Who can resist it?

My own cabin adventure began in 1986, when I built one as an inexpensive place to stay while constructing my house — that’s when I began learning what makes cabin design and construction successful. (I’ve always had a debt-free approach to developing my property.) The four years I lived in this cabin were a good time in my life — perhaps one of the best. I fondly recall the simplicity of waking each morning with the sole purpose of building my own house, working well into the evening. Read the entire article.

Sponsored by The Herbs Place - Wholesale Prices Always
On Sale NowOnline CatalogWomenMenChildrenEssential Oils

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Why Thrifty People Are Happiest

Spending is out, simplicity's in. Why the nation's thriftiest people are also the happiest.

Frugality, formerly an everyday virtue, hasn't gotten much respect in recent decades. Yet when the stock-market crash of 2008 pushed a stalled economy into the Great Recession, bam!—suddenly thrift was in vogue again. A recent Gallup Poll found that 62 percent of us would rather save money than spend it, up from 48 percent in 2001.

Being a cheapskate is my chosen profession, come by honestly from a boyhood in the farmlands of Ohio—where you learn to use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without—and 24 years running nonprofit groups.

In the spring of 2008, as the Dow seesawed, I crisscrossed the country on a 30-year-old bicycle to research my second book, The Cheapskate Next Door. I had surveyed more than 300 of my "Miser Advisers" - a network of superthrifty folks I've developed—about their financial habits, and I wanted to take a closer look at them. I met near-millionaires and people who earned so little they could qualify for public assistance but chose not to - they had more than enough to live as they wished. What they all had in common: they've found ways to be wealthy that don't depend on earning more cash or buying more things.

That's right—the reality of the frugal life upends stereotypes. These aren't latter-day Scrooges, though I've yet to meet one who doesn't sport apparel dating to the Carter administration, or earlier. For its adherents, thrift is more about knowing what you cherish, then skipping the rest. Read the entire article with various people stories.

Sponsored by The Herbs Place - Wholesale Prices Always
On Sale NowOnline CatalogWomenMenChildrenEssential Oils

Build Your Own Hot Tub

You can create a relaxing oasis in your backyard for less than $1,000 with this easy DIY hot tub plan.

I have lived in the Pacific Northwest with its cool, damp winters for more than 20 years, and I always wanted to build a hot tub. I wasn’t interested in one of the popular jetted tubs because their cost is prohibitive, the pump noise and vibration are bothersome, and the chemicals used to keep the water free of bacteria are a turnoff.

The idea of using a stock-watering tank for a DIY hot tub project has been around for a long time, but all of the ones I’d seen were pretty unattractive. I wanted a setup that was nice-looking, easy to use and economical. My hot tub dreams came together when I discovered a wood-fired spa stove made in Japan by a company called Chofu and imported by Island Hot Tub Co. Depending on how the soaking area is customized, the setup I’ve designed can cost less than $1,000. Read the entire how-to article.

Sponsored by The Herbs Place - Wholesale Prices Always
On Sale NowOnline CatalogWomenMenChildrenEssential Oils

Time to Change Banks

AARP's July/August magazine tells its 47 million readers that credit unions are the way to go citing three compelling reasons to switch: lower fees, higher interest rates on deposits, and better service.

Consumer Reports July issue also has an article entitled, "When to Bail on Your Bank" which states:

The Move Your Money campaign spearheaded by blogger and pundit Arianna Huffington urges consumers to switch from big corporate banks to local ones. Too-big-to-fail banks took taxpayer bailout money and then, the argument goes, repaid that generosity by cutting home-equity loans, raising APRs on credit cards, and refusing to refinance mortgages.

Although smaller banks emphasize service and community ties, national banks generally have more branches and better online and mobile banking. That said, there are great deals at local banks and especially at credit unions.
Read the benefits. Download the AARP article.

Sponsored by The Herbs Place - Wholesale Prices Always
On Sale NowOnline CatalogWomenMenChildrenEssential Oils

Friday, June 18, 2010

Handmade Dream Homestead

By Ronnie Stevenson

Seven years ago, my husband, Tom, and I were living in Merrill, Wis., with our children, Alyssa and Casey, when we decided to buy a piece of forested land. At that time, we were just looking for a place nearby where we could build a cabin and spend weekends, but we ended up with a year-round home.

We now live on 10 beautiful acres in a log cabin that we built ourselves. We also keep animals, including donkeys and chickens. We love living a quiet life nestled in these huge timbers; the time for reflection suits us perfectly.

We found this place during a long search for just the right property. To decide if you want to buy a piece of land, you really have to walk across it, because you never know if the perfect building spot will be just over the next hill or on the other side of a swamp. The type of land we were looking for had to have enough trees to construct a log cabin.

Soon after we finally found and purchased our dream property, we started building the cabin. It took us two years to complete it—working mainly on weekends—and the finished result is about 600 square feet. Read the entire article.

Sponsored by The Herbs Place - Wholesale Prices Always
On Sale NowOnline CatalogWomenMenChildrenEssential Oils

Natural Insect Control Works

Early on, I thought natural insect control meant using an “organically approved” insecticide, such as rotenone, to defeat leaf-eating insects — especially my arch-nemesis, the Colorado potato beetle. I dusted my potato patch several times a season in a struggle to keep the beetle’s exploding population in check, barely managing to bring in the crop. But as I learned more about the ecology of insects such as ladybeetles, lacewings, praying mantises and assassin bugs — what some call “the good guys” — I worried that blasting away with a powder intended to kill might not be doing them any good either.

One spring I vowed to use no rotenone at all in my potato patch, even if it meant losing the crop. I was amazed to find only five potato beetles on my potato plants during the entire season. I took that as luck-of- the-draw seasonal fluctuation — until I bumped into my neighbor across the road, whose garden was less than 70 yards from my own. “My, my,” she wailed, “ain’t these potato bugs just awful. I dust, and I dust, and I dust — and I’m still out here every day, picking ’em off by hand!”

That was my epiphany about the true nature of the teeming insect community around me, and my garden’s relationship to it. From that moment, I have never used a granule of toxin — however reputedly benign — to deal with insect challenges in my garden and orchard. I now find the potato beetle to be one of the easiest insect competitors to deal with. Read the entire article.

Sponsored by The Herbs Place - Wholesale Prices Always
On Sale NowOnline CatalogWomenMenChildrenEssential Oils

Save Gas With Hypermiling

Gas-saving driving habits, called hypermiling, can help you achieve up to 40 percent more miles per gallon (mpg) than your car’s official fuel economy estimate.

Take, for example, a 2005 Honda Accord, a bestselling sedan with an mpg rating of 24 (21 city, 31 highway). According to Wayne Gerdes — who coined the term “hypermiling” and is considered by many to be its leading expert and trainer — an Accord driver who is savvy to hypermiling can expect to get about 35 mpg.

Dedicated hypermilers can achieve 50 percent or better improvement over their vehicles’ estimated mpg figures.  Last year, Gerdes set a world record for distance in a gas — powered, midsized sedan by driving 1,445 miles on a single tank of fuel in a 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid. That’s 81 mpg — more than double the vehicle’s Environmental Protection Agency rating of 39 mpg.  Read entire article.

Sponsored by The Herbs Place - Wholesale Prices Always
On Sale NowOnline CatalogWomenMenChildrenEssential Oils

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Nature Based Preschools

When they're outside, the children in Erin Kenny's class don't head for cover if it rains or snows. They stay right where they are — in a private five-acre forest. It's their classroom, a free-flowing romp through cedar and Douglas fir on Vashon Island in Puget Sound.

The unique "forest kindergarten" at Cedarsong Nature School is among several that have opened in recent years in the U.S., part of movement that originated in Europe to get kids out from in front of televisions and into the natural world.

"American children do not spend much time outdoors anymore," Kenny says. "There's a growing need and an awareness on parents' part that their children really need to do more connecting with nature."

Kenny opened Cedarsong's doors in 2008, starting out with five children. She plans to expand the school to five days a week next year. Kenny says there's a growing waiting list.

For Kenny, the preschool is a culmination of years of working with children and a love for the outdoors. She used to be a lawyer, but was inspired to start her school after reading Richard Louv's book "Last Child in the Woods."

In the book, Louv coined the phrase "nature-deficit disorder" to explain a lack of connection between the country's children and nature. He argues that the decrease in nature dwelling leads to a rise in childhood obesity, attention disorders and depression. Read the entire article.

Sponsored by The Herbs Place - Wholesale Prices Always
On Sale NowOnline CatalogWomenMenChildrenEssential Oils

Build Nest Boxes to Attract Pollinating Bees

Bees are some of our best pollinators, and 30% of our food supply is dependent on bees for pollination, as well as the fruits and flowers in our home gardens.

Right now the Honey bee is in decline due to mite infestation, however, this bee is not our only pollinator - other bees, known as 'Solitary' bees are just as hard working but because of their small size they go unnoticed and due to lack of knowledge about these fascinating insects, are greatly under appreciated.

In most cases, mention the word 'Bee' and most people will be squirming, recalling tales of bee stings and thus labeling all bees as bad. Unfortunately the bees that do sting, such as the wasps, hornets, yellow jackets and occasionally the honeybees, give these other Solitary bees a bad name and instantly cause fear. In most cases bees will ONLY sting if roughly handled. Get more info and instructions to build simple nesting blocks.

Sponsored by The Herbs Place - Wholesale Prices Always
On Sale Now • Online Catalog • Women • Men • Children • Essential Oils

Scanning for Dollars

Keep your eyes glued to the register while your groceries are scanned in the supermarket, especially when items are on sale. Also check your receipt.

Here’s why: Computers make mistakes. Plus, some supermarkets have a “scan guarantee policy.” If an item is rung up at a higher price than the one marked or advertised, you get it for free, at least up to a dollar amount. (The policy does not apply to alcohol or tobacco products.)

Among the chains with this policy are A&P, Kroger, Stop & Shop, Publix, Hy-Vee and BI-LO.

Says a spokeswoman for Hy-Vee, “Mistakes occur most often on sale items when price changes haven’t been correctly programmed into the computers.”"

Source: AARP Bulletin - May 2010

Sponsored by The Herbs Place - Wholesale Prices Always
On Sale NowOnline CatalogWomenMenChildrenEssential Oils

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Get Rebate Check for All Your Shopping

Register with Ebates and get cash back every time you shop.  Register now and get $5 cash or a $10 gift card.  When you're ready to shop, you simply go to the Ebates website and click on the store you want to order from.  Registration is free!

There are 1,200 options with well-known online stores such as WalMart, eBay, Old Navy, Land's End, Dick's Sporting Goods, Sears, travel, music, movies, garden supplies, jewelry, flowers, toys, electronics, business supplies, and on and on the list goes.

There are no points to redeem, no forms to mail in and no fees.  Stores pay Ebates a sales commission for sending shoppers through and Ebates uses the commission to pay you cash back.  All they need is an email address to notify you when your cash back has been credited.


Sign up now and check the list of stores for your favorites.

There are no obligations or fees.  We signed up in 2006 and we have received $446.02 so far.  Part of that is from referrals.  You get a link that you can use in emails, blogs, Facebook, etc. to refer friends to this great deal ... just like I'm doing now :-)

Here's a few common questions:

How quickly is cash back credited to my account?

Most cash back rewards are credited within 48 hours. Some stores, however, cannot confirm your purchase until the return period has elapsed and may take up to thirty days to confirm your cash back.

How can I get paid my cash back?

You will be paid quarterly and only need a rebate of $5.01 accrued to get payment. If you don't have that in one quarter, it will carryover to the next quarter. You never lose your rebates. There are various methods of payment:

1) Big Fat Check: We send a check directly to you – mailing fees are on Ebates.
2) PayPal: We deposit your payment in your PayPal account – sender’s fees are on Ebates.
3) Charity/Organization/Family Member: It’s free and mailing fees are on Ebates.

Sign up now, Shop later.

Help with Economic Pain

By: Carole Fleck

Thousands of low-income older adults who are struggling financially can get free counseling, thanks to a new government program.

The National Council on Aging (NCOA) will set up eight Economic Security Service Centers over the next two years to help up to 4,000 vulnerable older adults. The centers will offer financial planning advice and connect people with assistance programs. The initiative will operate through community-based organizations.

The program will “ensure that older adults can benefit from income support and employment programs, foreclosure mitigation, debt management, legal aid, reverse mortgages and the many other services for which they are eligible,” says NCOA president James Firman.

The centers will be in Baltimore, Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Los Angeles, Milwaukee, New York and Tucson.

Source: AARP Bulletin May 2010

Sponsored by The Herbs Place - Wholesale Prices Always
On Sale NowOnline CatalogWomenMenChildrenEssential Oils

Free Travel Activity - Factory Tours

We've always loved factory tours. It's fascinating to see how things are made before they get to you. Very educational for children and adults. We all need to keep learning. Now there's a website that allows you to look up tours for your area or any area you'll be traveling to or through.

This site celebrates American imagination and industry. What better way to appreciate those qualities than to visit and tour America at work. The information on this site is maintained by many people throughout the United States who enjoy visiting American industry. Visit now!

Sponsored by The Herbs Place - Wholesale Prices Always
On Sale NowOnline CatalogWomenMenChildrenEssential Oils

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Does Mortgage Refinancing Makes Sense

Refinancing your mortgage is a highly flexible financial tool, available to many homeowners. Mortgage refinancing allows home owners to potentially get lower interest rates and lower monthly payments, to switch from an adjustable to a fixed rate mortgage, to take out home equity, to consolidate debt, and even to combine two mortgages into one.

Though highly flexible, the real value of mortgage refinancing comes when the costs of refinancing can be recouped in a short period of time. You see, getting any type of mortgage costs money in terms of various fees, and refinancing is no exception. Costs for refinancing include: application fee, appraisal fee, survey costs, attorney fees, title search and title insurance, home inspection costs, origination fees and possibly mortgage insurance as well. The total costs typically add up to an average of 3% to 6% of the total outstanding mortgage balance.

In order to take advantage of the mortgage refinance deal, you must calculate what is known as the break even period (also called a ... Read the entire article.

Sponsored by The Herbs Place - Wholesale Prices Always
On Sale NowOnline CatalogWomenMenChildrenEssential Oils

It's Dandelion Time

Wow, are there dandelions this year! I've taken the kids out to pick twice, and we've already filled two quart jars with blossoms. Looks like dandelion jelly will be our go-to gift this Christmas.

Have you ever eaten dandelions? If not, you're really missing out on a treat. ... Get some recipes.

Sponsored by The Herbs Place - Wholesale Prices Always
On Sale NowOnline CatalogWomenMenChildrenEssential Oils

I Buy Thrift Store Jeans

I love used jeans, I can't imagine buying new jeans anymore, it just seems wrong to me anymore.

I like to walk into a thrift store and search for the perfect pair of pre-worn jeans, no matter if they are men's or women's sizes. I like the hunt in finding a well made or a formerly high priced pair of jeans that are still in good shape and fit me like a glove. I get a slight high when I walk out of the thrift store knowing that I paid less than $10 for a pair of jeans that probably cost someone else $30- $100. You can almost hear me squeal with delight!

The idea of buying someone else's high priced cast-offs for ⅓ the price or better is a wonderful feeling.

But that is not all, I also love the idea that these jeans have already been preshrunk and all the stiffness has been worn out of them. What you try on in the store is what you are going to get after you take them out of the dryer and put them on at home. No worries.

And I also love that when I walk into a thrift store I am keeping a pair of jeans out of the ... Read the entire article.

Sponsored by The Herbs Place - Wholesale Prices Always
On Sale NowOnline CatalogWomenMenChildrenEssential Oils
"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