Archive for $$ Saving Tips

Sanitize Your Toothbrush for Pennies

tooth

Just the other day some of my mommy friend’s and I were talking about how disgusting toothbrushes can get.  That inspired me to do a little research and here is what I came up with.  A great way to sanitize your toothbrush for pennies. This is for you Mandy.

Here is all you need to do. Once per week, soak your toothbrush in a cup of hydrogen peroxide for about 5 minutes.  When you are done, simply rinse and let dry. It is also best to always store your toothbrush upright so that it can dry thoroughly between uses. If you prefer, you could soak your toothbrush in white vinegar as that would have the similar sanitizing effects.  Who knew keeping your toothbrush clean could be so easy and cheap.  Guess I won’t need to buy that $50 toothbrush sanitizer anymore.  Always remember, a penny saved is a penny earned!

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The Avocado Smoothie Your Kids Will Love

Avocado Smoothie

Last year, juicing was all the rage in my house. This year, we have moved in a similar but slightly different direction…smoothies!  Thanks to my friend Jen and her facebook posts about the delicious smoothies that she made with her family, we have started to make smoothies too.  Now don’t get me wrong, I still love juicing but making smoothies requires less cleaning in the end. The one thing about juicing that I hate is having to take apart and clean the juicer when we are done.

Making smoothies allows us to use most of the same ingredients, but creates a frozen concoction that my kids can’t resist.  We initially started with your typical type of smoothies. You know, bananas, yogurt, ice and orange juice.  This is delicious but not quite healthy enough if you ask me.  The cool thing about smoothies is that some frozen fruit can really hide the taste of all the healthy stuff.

There are 2 things that I always put into each smoothie.  These are wheat germ and flaxseed meal.  If you are not familiar with these two things I highly recommend that you check out these links and learn about all the awesome health benefits of wheat germ and flaxseed.   Just a word of warning though with regards to flaxseed.  It can have a mild laxative effect so you may not want to add too much at once. We add about a 1/4 of wheat germ and 2 tbsp. of flaxseed to each blender full of smoothies.

Health benefits of wheat germ

Health benefits of flaxseed meal

Now let’s move on to the recipe for what I have to call the tastiest avocado smoothie ever.  I love avocados and both of my kids did when they were toddlers, but now as preschoolers they have become much pickier eaters.  This is where the whole smoothie thing comes in.  This is a great way to sneak in the healthy stuff without getting any complaints or whining from the kids.

The ingredients are: (makes 4 smoothies)

2 bananas

1/2 ripe avocado

 6 oz. container greek yogurt (any fruit flavor you like)

1/4 c. wheat germ

2 tbsp. flaxseed meal

1.5 cups frozen mango

5-10 ice cubes depending on how thick you like it

1.5-2 c. orange juice

Blend all of these together until rich and creamy.  We swap out the type of fruit daily depending on what we have on hand.  I buy my frozen fruit at Trader Joe’s.  I think they have the best selection and the prices on frozen fruit can not be beat.

Once you try this you will be hooked and proud to give yourself and your family such a delicious snack. We make these smoothies almost everyday after school and I feel good knowing that they are getting lots of vitamins, protein from the greek yogurt, omega 3’s from the avocado and much more. Please let me know how it turns out if you try it.  Happy blending!

What’s your favorite ingredient to add to smoothies?  I would love to hear from you!

If you love avocados as much as I do, check out this recipe for Avocado Egg Salad!  This recipe was create by an awesome blogger who focuses on nutrition and fitness.  I can’t wait to try this!

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How to Get Rid of Mineral Deposits and Hard Water Stains

 

Hard water stains and mineral deposits can leave something that is actually clean, looking filthy. Look at the rack that goes under my dish rack.  I clean this at least once a week, but due to the mineral deposits from the water dripping on it, it never “looks” clean.

I have tried everything I can think of to clean it including harsh chemicals and my favorite tool the magic eraser.  Even the magic eraser did nothing to it.  Well finally I have figured out how to clean off these horrible stains.  WHITE VINEGAR!!!!  I guess I should have tried this sooner as I use it to clean everything else in my house. For some reason, I just did not think it would work. Well I was wrong.

All I did was pour some undiluted white vinegar onto the drain board and let it sit about 10 minutes. Then I scrubbed it gently with an old toothbrush and voila!  It looks like new.  This method could be used on shower doors, sinks or anywhere else that gets mineral deposits.  Put it in a spray bottle to clean the shower. It works beautifully.  Check out the pictures of my drain board.  Seeing is believing.  Good old white vinegar proves to be the champion cleaner again. Click here to see how you can use white vinegar to clean your floors.  You may never buy expensive cleaners again.

Before cleaning with white vinegar

After cleaning with white vinegar!

What other things do you use white vinegar to clean?  I would love to hear from you!

 

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The Best Homemade Floor Cleaner Ever

A while back, I read an article about making your own homemade floor cleaner.  In our house, we have three different types of floors (hardwood, tile, linoleum). I have always had a hard time finding a cleaning solution that worked on all three…until now.  The original article I read made a similar solution in a mop bucket.  While I am much to frugal to use a Swiffer mop, I also detest mopping from buckets.  It seems counter productive to use dirty mop water to wash the floors.

The best mop ever!

Rubbermaid Reveal Mop

The solution to this was buying a Rubbermaid Reveal Mop.  This is seriously one of my favorite cleaning tools. The microfiber pads clean great and are washable. I have washed mine a million times and they still work like new. The best thing about this mop is that you can fill the solution bottle with any solution you want (unlike Swiffer)!!!! This mop costs about $20 but will pay for itself quickly if you are currently using a Swiffer. I have also seen coupons for it in the past so definitely look for coupons before you buy.

A few weeks ago, I experimented a bit with creating a homemade solution for in my mop bottle and I have perfected it.  My floors could not be shinier.  This solution works great to remove dirt and everything else that gets on the floor and leaves a great shine behind. I have had great results with it on hardwood, tile and linoleum.

Here is how you make it in the mop bottle:

5-6 drops of dish soap

1/2 c. of white vinegar

Then fill to top with very warm water.

This is so quick and easy to make and costs pennies per batch. Much better than buying liquid floor cleaner that can easily cost $5 a bottle.  I don’t think I will ever use anything else on my floors. You MUST try this. Just look at my floors!

Have you ever made your own cleaning solution? I would love to hear from you!

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The Latte Factor: Having More Money without Working More!

As I was trying to decide what should be the first post in this series, it suddenly became clear that helping people have more money instantly is important.  This may sound impossible, but it truly is possible if you adjust your thinking and your spending habits ever so slightly.  The idea behind the latte factor is that for a lot of people their financial future weighs on not how much money they make, but on how much they spend.  Think about yourself for a minute.  The last time you got a raise at work, did you increase your savings or spend a little extra or live a little larger. If you are one of the people that saved more than kudos to you. If you were in the other group, than you joined the vast majority of people.  You will often hear people say, “if only I could make more money…”.

While increasing your income is one way to get rich, another way is to decrease how much you spend and therefore save more.  While many of us are aware of our finances and keep track of what we spend, we don’t give too much thought to the little things we spend money on.  This is where the Latte Factor comes into effect.  In David Bach’s book The Automatic Millionaire, he discusses the idea of increasing our awareness of all the little things that we spend money on and turning that money into savings and eventually wealth.   The fact is most of us spend small amounts of money throughout our day and never really think about what it adds up to.  Do you ever really think about the $5 you spend on your morning latte and muffin?  Probably not. We just think of it as a treat that we deserve for working hard each day. Now let me be fair, I do not believe that we should not treat ourselves for working hard, but all those “treats” can really add up.

For the purposes of this article, I am not going to get into all the numbers about how much you can save, but let’s take a quick look at the numbers behind the idea of the latte factor.  If instead of spending that $5 a day on coffee and a muffin on your way to work (5 days a week) you could save $25 a week, $100 a month or about $1200 a year.  If you buy that morning coffee everyday (that’s what I used to do) the numbers are more like $35 a week, $140 a month or about $1700 a year.  This may not sound like too much, but if you put this money into a retirement account that gets roughly a ten percent annual return, in about 40 years that $5 a day would equal well over 1 million dollars!!! Yup, so now that insignificant money spent on your morning coffee is not so insignificant after all.

The thing that I like most about this idea is that it shows that you really can have more money without actually making more money.  Before my first child was born, I was a victim of the latte factor. Every morning on my way to work, I would drive through my local Dunkin Donuts drive through and get a delicious large coffee. Then a couple years later, I started a second job and found that these really long days needed an additional coffee each afternoon.  Some days I would even grab a muffin or a bagel to take with me to my second job as a quick dinner.  That $6-10 a day I was spending began to add up really quickly.  Here I was busting my butt to save money and I was spending anywhere from $180-$300 a month on coffee and bagels.  OMG, what was I thinking?  Now don’t get me wrong, people that know me know that coffee is like my lifeline.  I start every day with it and often end days with it.  I am not suggesting that people deprive themselves of the things they love. I actually probably drink more coffee now than I did then, but I brew it at home and take it with me to work. I also take my meals to work which can save a fortune.  I am suggesting that you take a look at where the little amounts of money are going in your life and decide is this the best use of my money. Will I be glad in 40 years that I had coffee house coffee each morning instead of an additional million dollars in my retirement plan.

This idea goes far beyond coffee. Take a look at your life and think about where all that money goes. How much could you save if you skipped going out to eat once or twice a month.  Could you cut out one or two new outfits or a new pair of shoes each month? If you did this would you really be depriving yourself or is that just an illusion.  My guess is that having more money in your pocket would bring you more piece of mind than having new shoes, a fancy dinner or at the very least, a latte!

The book The Automatic Millionaire by David Bach is one that I truly recommend. I have read it several times and learned something new each time. It is a quick and easy read that will truly change the way you think about spending and saving your money.

Instead of working for your money, let your money work for you!

Have you every heard of the latte factor before?  Have you ever tried to cut out one of your little indulgences to save a few bucks?  I would love to hear about your experiences.

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Homemade Nonfat Peach Frozen Yogurt

A couple of weeks ago, I bought an ice cream maker.  Wow that was the best and worst thing I have ever done.  I mean seriously, homemade ice cream is so amazing. The bad news it is can also be very fattening.  The good news is, I have been practicing making frozen yogurt and I think I have figured it out.  Not only is this fat free, but it is full of all those wonderful probiotics that your body loves and needs. We have made a bunch of different types of frozen yogurt and I am going to post them all, but today’s recipe is peach frozen yogurt.  This was so yummy. We gobbled it all up in one sitting. This is also a great money saver.  This costs less than $5 and will make 4-5 adult servings (or one serving for me) :).  You could easily spend $20 at one of those froyo cafes for frozen yogurt for 4 adults.

Nonfat Peach Frozen Yogurt!

Here is what you need:

1 quart (32oz) nonfat vanilla yogurt

2 lbs. peaches

1/2 to 1 c. sugar

1  tsp. vanilla extract

cheesecloth

Here is what you do:

Take a piece of cheese cloth and double or triple it depending on the tightness of the weave. Then drap the cheesecloth over a mesh strainer and pour the yogurt into the cheesecloth.  Tie the ends of the cheesecloth together and place the strain over a bowl.  Place the yogurt in the refrigerator for 4-6 hours and let it drain. You will be amazed how much liquid will come out of the yogurt. After 4-6 hours, you will be left with something that looks more like greek yogurt.  You could just use greek yogurt for this, but it is much more expensive so I just strain the regular yogurt. Next add the peaches, sugar and vanilla to the food processor and chop.  You could leave it a little lumpy or puree it. Whichever you prefer.  You will also need to taste it to determine how much sugar you need. It will depend how sweet the peaches are.  Once the peach mixture is done, add the drained yogurt to the mixture and stir to combine.  Once it is well combined, put the mixture back in the refrigerator for about an hour so that it is well chilled when it goes in the ice cream maker.  If you have the kind of ice cream maker that has a frozen canister then it is very important that the mixture is chilled.  Once chilled, add the mixture to your ice cream maker and follow the manufacture’s instructions.

This frozen yogurt is as creamy and delicious as any you can buy at one of those yogurt cafes and costs a fraction of the price. Plus, it is great to know exactly what is in it.  Definitely try this, you will not be disappointed!

Have you ever made your own frozen yogurt?  What is your favorite flavor?  I would love to hear from you!

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What’s This “Freecycle” Thing All About?

For the last year I have been a member of my local freecycle group.  If you are not at all familiar with it check out this link that describes what freecycle is all about.  Just to give you a quick idea of what this organization is all about, this is their mission statement.  “Our mission is to build a worldwide gifting movement that reduces waste, saves precious resources & eases the burden on our landfills while enabling our members to benefit from the strength of a larger community”.

Now if you are already a member of freecycle then that is awesome and you know what it is all about.  If you are not, then let me tell you a bit more and maybe persuade you to join.  Like I said, I joined about a year ago. Initially, I found all of the emails they send a bit overwhelming and annoying.  You can opt out of the daily emails if you want.  However, the annoyance of a full inbox is worth it for several reason.  First,  it is a wonderful way to keep perfectly usable stuff out of our landfills.  Freecycle really proves that one person’s trash is another person’s treasure.  One of my first experiences with freecycle was with me having an opportunity to provide something to someone else.  There was a post from someone who was looking for a new glass turntable for their microwave.  It just so happened that we still had the old turntable from our old microwave.  I emailed the person and left it out at the end of my walkway for him to pick up.  I realized at that point just how awesome this organization is.  I was literally days from throwing that old turntable away (it was in the pile of things to take to the dump) and instead was able to give it away. The person I gave it to was so appreciate and happy to now not have to buy a new one. Mission accomplished!  I am also one of those people who does not like a lots of “stuff” lying around the house, so I often reorganize and get rid of stuff.  Freecycle makes getting rid of my old things simple and green.

Basically how it works is you can post things as “Offered” or “Wanted” and then you create a post just like Craigslist only everything is FREE.  I have to admit that about 99% of the posts do not interest so I don’t even open them, but sometimes you find a real gem.  The whole inspiration for this post is that today, I picked up a FREE Craftsman table saw that is in perfect working condition. I mean seriously this was such a great find for me because a table saw is a very handy tool to have if you do any sort of building.  I have gotten a few other good things, but today’s deal was awesome.  MOstly I just use it to offer stuff to others.  The other amazing part is that anytime I clean out my home, I come up with a list of stuff to post and people come and get it.  It is nice that because there is no money exchanged I can just leave the item out for the person to pick up.  No need to wait around or even interact with the person coming to get it.

There is  more to learn about freecycle and many different organization similar to this.  If you are interested in joining your local freecycle group check out http://www.freecycle.org.  The freecycle network is  made up of 5,040 groups with 8,966,874 members around the world. There is likely a group in your town so check it out.  There are many other organizations similar to freecycle.  Check out freecycle alternatives if you are interested.  My hope is that this post will inspire even one new person to join freecycle and do their part of keeping good stuff out of the landfills.  Thanks for reading and happy freecycling!

From a Freecycle tee-shirt

 

Are you a member of you local freecycle group?  Are you a member of any other organizations that are similar to freecycle?  I would love to hear about your experiences with these types of organizations!

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