Losing Weight on a Budget

August 31, 2009 · Filed Under Being Frugal, Cheap Beauty Tips · Comments Off on Losing Weight on a Budget 

There is one way to lose weight: Burn more calories than you take in. Sounds simple, right? We know it’s not! As a frugal mom struggling to lose weight, you may think the only solution is to blow the food budget on those high-priced supplements, diet foods or pre-packaged meals that the “experts” swear by. But that’s simply not necessary! You can lose weight without it costing a fortune by learning some simple strategies to help you rethink your diet and exercise regime.

• Become more active. This one step will help you tremendously when you’re trying to lose weight. You’ll not only burn more calories, but you’ll increase your metabolism, which will make your body more efficient at burning calories. That, in turn, will help you burn more calories and burn them longer. Can’t beat a deal like that!

If you’re looking for ways to become more active, try walking around the block after dinner, parking your car farther away from the door at Wal*Mart, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, playing Frisbee, football or soccer with the kids, joining a volleyball or softball team, going for a hike, rollerblading, cleaning house, and even enjoying active sex! Anything you do to move more and eat less will add to your weight loss success.

• No need to join a gym when there are so many free and low-cost exercise options available. You can walk, ride a bike, jump rope, run in place, dance to the oldies, or workout with an exercise video. While you definitely need to work out at least three times a week, you can do so for no cost whatsoever except your time. And have a lot of fun doing it!

• If you’re more apt to exercise with others, try a church aerobics class, or ask a friend or neighbor to walk with you. You can enjoy the fellowship of others with the same interest in losing weight and getting healthy while meeting your own goal of adding exercise to your weekly routine.

• Hide your frying pan. Eliminating fried foods will go a long way toward cutting calories, which is key to losing weight. Learn to broil, bake or grill your food instead and get rid of hundreds of added calories every week.

• Eat less. While this seems like a simple solution, anyone who struggles with her weight knows that it’s a lot easier said than done. But disciplining yourself to eat only when you’re hungry, stop when you’re full, and avoid between meal snacks will make a huge difference in your weight loss success.

• Eat more vegetables. Many vegetables such as broccoli, green peppers, cucumbers, etc. are considered “free” foods so you can eat as much as you want without adding calories. And if you grow your own, these free foods become truly free–in more ways than one!

• Learn what triggers your eating. Pay attention to when you eat the most. Is it when you’re bored? Lonely? Angry? Are you seeking comfort or consolation through food? By learning what makes you eat when you do, you can learn to find alternative methods for dealing with your emotions and stop sabotaging your weight loss efforts at the same time.

• Change your attitude toward food, if necessary. Let the adage, “eat to live, not live to eat” become your mantra. Eat when your body needs fuel. Never for any other reason.

• When eating out, share a meal with someone else. This will allow you to eat out for half price and will cut your calories considerably. And since restaurants always give larger portions than we need, you’ll more than likely still go away feeling completely full and satisfied.

• Don’t bother with diet foods. Not only are they higher priced than their regular counterparts, but research shows that artificial sweeteners aren’t good for us. Instead, learn to enjoy the regular foods you love–only in smaller portions.

There are many ways you can lose weight without spending any more money than you spend right now on food. Choose the ones that will work for you… your pocketbook and your waistline will benefit!

Looking Beautiful for Less

August 27, 2009 · Filed Under Being Frugal, Cheap Beauty Tips · Comments Off on Looking Beautiful for Less 

Frugal moms, like everyone else, want to look as beautiful as they can, especially when money is tight. Looking beautiful gives a woman confidence that keeps her energetic and productive. But how can we look our best when money is tight and we can’t afford to buy top of the line beauty products? It’s actually easier than you think! You certainly don’t have to spend a fortune to look good.

Baby wipes are an amazing creation. And if you have small children it’s almost guaranteed that you will always have these little wonders at hand. But they’re good for more than just cleaning sticky fingers and removing ice cream from chins… they’re also wonderful cleansing wipes for your face or to wipe off stray eye shadow blotches or powder dust. Sensitive skin or fragrance-free wipes are even delicate enough to be used for eye make-up remover.

You can extend the life of lip gloss to save money. Simply fill a cup with boiling water and drop in your pot of gloss. Let sit for about 30 minutes. When you remove from water, it appears to have “magically” expanded and you have more gloss left! This works because lip gloss tends to sticks to the sides of the container and really only needs a little coaxing to make it usable again.

When you do finally run out of gloss, you can make your own. And it’s a lot easier than you may think. Mix a small amount of petroleum jelly (Vaseline)–that you can buy just about anywhere–with a dab of powdered eye shadow or blush in a color you like. Use a lip brush to apply.

While most of us use curling irons instead of curlers, there are some who still prefer to curl their hair the “old-fashioned” way. If you’re one of those frugal moms, you don’t need to spend a fortune on curlers. Instead improvise and use something you already have around the house such as strips of fabric, newspaper, brown paper bags or even cardboard paper towel rolls cut in strips. Anything that can be held in place on your head with a bobby pin will work.

Instead of spending a small fortune on facials, head to the refrigerator and grab an egg. Carefully separate the whites (put the yolk aside you’ll be using that later) and whisk until frothy. Cover your face with the egg whites and let dry. Once dry, wash with lukewarm water and pat dry. Now break the yolk and massage into your face. Egg yolk has excellent moisturizing properties. Rinse lightly and enjoy your fresh feeling, younger looking skin.

You can save money on a haircut by visiting a local beauty school. Or if you don’t have a school nearby, ask around and see if you can find a recent graduate. They’re often cheaper because of their lack of experience but are typically very conscientious to do a good job. Another option is to look for coupons for haircuts, or see if an area salon is offering a discount for students, seniors, etc. for which you may qualify.

One of the best things you can do to look more beautiful… Relax! Stress not only puts a strain on your emotions, but it shows in your face as well! Smile. Think happy thoughts and let your radiance shine through.

Stretch Your Family Budget with Rice

August 12, 2009 · Filed Under Being Frugal, Frugal Meals · Comments Off on Stretch Your Family Budget with Rice 

To people in many parts of the world, rice is as much a daily staple as bread is to Americans. And it’s easy to see why. It’s inexpensive, easy to cook, tastes great, and can be used in a multitude of recipes. Rice easily picks up added seasonings to create a variety of flavors, and works well for breakfast, lunch, or dinner in side dishes, entrees or even desserts. Rice is truly one of the most versatile foods frugal moms will find. And it can be used for purposes other than food as well. Here are some ideas for using rice to in a variety of money-saving ways

• Use traditional rice rather than quick-cooking rice to save the most money.

• Keep quick-cooking rice on hand for emergencies. Rice makes a quick add-on to a meal that needs to be stretched to accommodate unexpected visitors, or for when your menu plan didn’t include a side dish.

• To make perfect rice, use a heavy pot so it doesn’t scorch the bottom, and a tight fitting lid. Rinse the rice before cooking. Drain thoroughly. Add 1 part rice to 1 1/2 parts water. Cook on low heat for 12-14 minutes. Let rice sit, covered for five minutes before serving.

• Saute rice in 1 T. vegetable oil before adding water to help grains remain separated after it’s cooked.

• Rice is great for handcrafted bean bag filling, but be careful using it around small children as it could cause a choking hazard.

• Rice is often used in beauty products, particularly by the Japanese. Make your own facial toner and scrub with the following recipes.

Rice Facial Toner
2 t. rice
1/2 T. thyme
1/2 c. water
3 T. lemon juice

In a small bowl, crush rice, Add thyme and stir with a fork. Bring water to a full boil in a small saucepan. Add rice mixture and lemon juice. Let cool completely. Strain and apply liquid to face with a cotton ball. Refrigerate leftover.

Rice Scrub
1 t. rice
10 strawberries, chopped
2 T. extra virgin olive oil
1 t. sea salt

Combine strawberries and olive oil with a fork until well blended. Add crushed rice and salt. Mix well. Massage onto face, feet, elbows, knees, etc. Let stand 2-3 minutes. Rinse thoroughly.

• There are hundreds or thousands of recipes available using rice for all kinds of dishes. The following will get you started experimenting.

Spanish Rice
2 c. cooked rice
1 pkg. taco seasoning mix
1 small can diced tomatoes
1 t. salt
1 t. pepper
1 t. chili powder
1 t. cilantro (optional)

Combine all ingredients and mix well. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

Easy Rice Pudding
1/4 c. uncooked rice
4 c. milk
2/3 c. sugar
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. nutmeg
1/2 c. raisins (optional)

Preheat oven to 300° F. Combine all ingredients in a baking dish sprayed with cooking oil spray. Bake 3 1/2 hours, stirring three times during the first hour of baking to keep rice from settling.

Hawaiian Breakfast Rice
1 c. cooked rice, cooled
1/2 banana, sliced
1/4 c. coconut milk
2 T. coconut
2 T. pineapple
2 T. raisins
1 T. chopped almonds

Combine all ingredients and mix well.

Rice Pilaf
2 T. butter
1/2 small onion, chopped fine
2 c. rice
3 stalks celery, chopped fine
1 large can chicken broth
1 t. salt
1 t. pepper

Melt butter in large skillet. Add onion and saute until tender. Add remaining ingredients and mix well. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer over low heat until rice is done, about 15 minutes.

Frugal Hair Care

August 10, 2009 · Filed Under Being Frugal, Cheap Beauty Tips · 1 Comment 

Frugal moms know there is nothing worse than a bad hair day. But finding the money to ensure everyone in the family has beautiful hair is challenging, to say the least. There are ways, though, to keep everyone well-trimmed and looking great without spending a fortune.

• Invest in an electric hair trimmer and learn to cut hair yourself, especially for the kids. You can easily find a book at the library on cutting hair that includes simple styles for you and your daughters. And if you have boys, simply shave their heads or use the trimmers on the lowest level.

• The flip side of that coin is to let your hair grow. This may not work as well for Dad or your sons, but letting your hair and your daughter’s hair grow long and straight requires the least amount of care and cutting.

• Ignore the directions on the shampoo bottle. If you wash your hair every day, or even every other day, there is rarely a need to lather it twice. That’s just a waste of shampoo when once will get your hair perfectly clean.

• Rinse your hair thoroughly. This one thing will do more to keep hair shining and help it stay clean longer than anything else you can do.

• Train the kids to use a dime size amount of shampoo and conditioner. Girls with long hair may need a little more, but kids are notorious for pouring out a “handful” of shampoo when they don’t need nearly that much to wash their hair.

• If you color your hair to cover the gray, do it at home rather than having it done at the salon. You can save a small fortune, and with a little practice will feel confident about the results.

• Rinsing your hair with a batch of strong tea will gradually erase gray hair. Just let the tea steep for 10-15 minutes then wet hair thoroughly and style as usual. It takes a few weeks to see a difference, but hair will eventually begin to turn a light natural brown.

• Thin shampoo with water to make it go twice as far. When you open a new bottle of shampoo, pour half into an empty recycled shampoo bottle and fill both of them with water. It is, of course, thinner but typically works just as well.

• Look for coupons on shampoo, conditioner and hair color. They’re easy to find and can make a huge difference in cost. Double store coupons by using them with manufacturer’s coupons and sale prices for the greatest savings. Or use CVS or Walgreens bonus points/bucks to get free products.

• Make your own detangler by combining one part conditioner to ten parts water in an empty spray bottle. Shake well and spray on wet hair to remove tangles at a fraction of the cost of similar commercial products.

• Let your stylist know up front that you can’t afford the expensive styling products the salons sell and that you prefer she not try to sell them to you. Often, your stylist will comply and will even recommend less expensive products that will do the same things as the high-priced items.

• Ask your stylist to recommend a long-lasting cut. She can help you find a cut that will let you go 8-10 weeks before needing a trim which will save you considerably.

• You can also ask your stylist to give you an easy maintenance cut, for yourself and the kids if you take them to a salon. Something that lets you shampoo and go rather than having to use a lot of styling products will save you money and time.

• While you may think a combination shampoo/conditioner saves money, it really doesn’t because it doesn’t do as good a job. Shampoo is, of course, designed to clean your hair, but adding conditioner before your hair is clean can make it oily. It’s better to use two separate products and only use the conditioner when you need it, rather than as a matter of course after you shampoo.

• Try washing your hair less frequently. Back in the 1940’s and ’50’s women washed their hair once a week. While that may not be enough, it’s unlikely–unless your hair is very oily–that you really need to wash your hair every day. Try every 2-3 days and see how it works. You can always go back to daily if you aren’t satisfied with the results.

• Donate a braid to Locks of Love once a year and get a free haircut. Ask your stylist for details. Many salons take part in the program.

• An easy way to trim bangs that look more natural than a straight-cut across the forehead, is to pull the bangs together in a small “ponytail” and snip the ends. The bangs feather better and look a little uneven which is how a stylist typically cuts them.

You can have beautiful hair without going broke. Just look for options to care for your hair and your children’s hair yourself and learn to use less, and less expensive, products. You’ll be surprised at how easy it is to practice frugal hair care without looking like you need to see a stylist!

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