Recycling as a Frugal Way of Life

August 28, 2009 · Filed Under Being Frugal · Comments Off on Recycling as a Frugal Way of Life 

Recycling is actually one of the easiest ways to live frugally. Whether you’re recycling things you already own, or things you’ve picked up from a thrift shop or yard sale, recycle saves money. And even things you donate to someone else help save the environment by being one less item that thrown in a landfill. So recycling is just a good thing to do all around. Here are some ways to reduce waste, reuse what you have and recycle things you no longer need or want.

• Soda cans and glass bottles of all kinds make wonderful decorations all over the house. Fill them flowers, colored sand or small stones. You can paint them or use as is. Or decorate them with glued on fabric, paper scraps or beads. They also work well to hold small items such as pens or pencils, scissors, rulers, etc.

• These days we eat a lot of carryout meals and many of those foods come in plastic or styrofoam containers. Don’t throw those away just because they’re empty. Wash them thoroughly and reuse them for food storage, carrying leftovers to work or school, or sharing a meal with a friend. No need to buy special plastic storage containers. Just save and reuse the ones you get when you eat out.

• Most of us have been carrying cell phones for several years, in addition to the laptops, cameras, video games and other electronics we buy that become broken or outdated. There are many places that will take these old items and reuse the parts in some way. Some places will even reimburse you. If the item still works you could potentially receive a decent amount of cash, but don’t worry if it doesn’t work. Electronic parts are still a viable commodity and you can usually find someone who wants them.

• On the other side of that coin, when you want to buy a new cell phone or laptop, but can’t afford one, consider buying refurbished instead. Refurbished electronics are typically secondhand or returned items that have been repaired and made as close to new as possible. You can usually buy refurbished electronics for much less than the cost of new.

• Recycle water when you finish washing the dishes by pouring it over your house plants or in your garden. Your plants don’t care if the water’s a little dirty, they’re just thirsty.

• If your blue jeans are starting to look ratty at the bottom, are beginning to fade, or just aren’t a style you like anymore, cut off the bottoms and turn them into shorts or capris. If nothing else, you they can be worn around the house when the weather’s warm, or when you need something to wear to paint, or wash the car in. Makes more sense than ruining your good clothes.

• Cardboard rolls from toilet paper and wax cereal liners can be reused in a variety of ways. Flatten out a small cereal liner and fill it with as many toilet paper rolls as will fit inside standing up with the opening at the top. Remove the rolls and tape them together with clear tape, then replace them inside the liner. Cut the liner to the same height as the paper rolls or fold it back over itself so you have a double layer of wax paper. Decorate if you like or use as is to hold small paint brushes, pens, markers, or crayons. The wax paper gives added protection against ink and paint splatters.

• Empty facial tissue boxes work well for storing small items such as pens, small pads of paper, crayons, craft beads and anything else that will fit inside. And they come pre-decorated so all you have to do is set them in place and start filling them.

• Used envelopes work great for storing things such as stamps, coupons, receipts, bills to be paid, letters from your child’s school, dentist/doctor/hair salon appointment cards and more. Just open them carefully so you don’t rip them and reuse until they fall apart.

• Never throw away an old shirt, blouse, pair of pants, etc. without removing the buttons. Save all your odd buttons in a small can or display them in a canning jar. You never know when you need to replace a button and may have just the right one to fit. Buttons also work wonderfully for crafting earrings, necklaces, bracelets, magnets, etc.

Natural Sunscreen for Frugal Moms

August 21, 2009 · Filed Under Being Frugal · Comments Off on Natural Sunscreen for Frugal Moms 

Most frugal moms will admit the necessity for sunscreen for themselves and their children. Not only does sunscreen protect the skin from harmful UVA and UVB rays, it also hydrates the skin which is extremely important in maintaining healthy skin. Sun exposure not only causes premature aging, but skin cancer as well so sunscreen is critical.

But when commercial sunscreen contains chemical ingredients that we can’t even pronounce, it makes us cautious of using them! There is a solution, though… and that’s to make your own sunscreen. That way you know exactly what it contains and you can feel safe using it on yourself and your family.

While homemade sunscreen contains several ingredients, most of them are easily purchased from a drugstore or health food store.

Natural Homemade Sunscreen

1 T. almond oil
1 T. avocado oil
1 T. jojoba oil
3 T. sesame oil
1 T. shea butter
2 T. cocoa butter
1 t. beeswax
1 t. soy-lecithin liquid
2 T. aloe vera gel
2 T. rose water
½ t. borax powder
20 drops carrot seed essential oil
3-5 drops coconut essential oil

Combine the oils, butters and beeswax in a small pan. Stir over medium heat until melted and soft. Add the soy-lecithin liquid. Mix together well and remove from heat. Combine aloe vera gel with rose water in another small pan and stir over medium heat until warm. Add borax powder and stir until well blended and powder is dissolved. Remove from heat and place in a bowl filled with ice. Combine the oil mixture and the rose water mixture until well blended and creamy. Add essentials and mix well. Store in a tightly sealed container.

Homemade sunscreen can also be made with zinc oxide, but to do so you must set aside pans used to heat the ingredients for use only in preparation of the sunscreen. Zinc oxide can be found in the diaper rash aisle in the grocery store. It’s advisable to wear gloves when handling zinc oxide. Here’s a recipe using that method:

Simple Sunscreen

1 c. olive oil
1 oz. crumbled beeswax
2 T. zinc oxide

In small pan that will not be use for food preparation after making sunscreen, heat olive oil on low heat. Add beeswax and stir until wax is completely melted. Remove from heat and immediately add zinc oxide. Mix well. Store in a tightly sealed container. If separation occurs, shake before using.

There are also foods that are said to boost your body’s natural sunscreen capabilities. These include dark chocolate, green or black tea, cold water fish, tomatoes, peppers. carrots, sweet potatoes, squash, goji berries, watermelon, apricots, strawberries and blueberries. Any food that is said to provide antioxidant properties is also considered a natural sunscreen.

Don’t forget that clothing will protect your skin, too. Hats, caps and visors, shoes with socks, long or three-quarter sleeve shirts (even those made from gauze) and any other clothing that covers the skin is good.

While summers are always too short, and it’s easy to overdo our sun exposure after being trapped in the house all winter, it’s still a good idea to protect ourselves from the harmful aspects of the sun. Healthier, more youthful skin is one reward that makes it worth the effort.

The ABCs of Frugal Living

August 20, 2009 · Filed Under Being Frugal · Comments Off on The ABCs of Frugal Living 

Always return items you buy that don’t fit when you get them home.

Bake your own cookies, cakes, bread, etc.

Christmas shop during “day after” sales and have your gifts ready for next year.

Do it yourself… anything you or a family member can do free will save money. This includes lawn care, hair cuts, car repair and more.

Evaluate every purchase you plan to make–before you buy!

Fix what’s broken. Leaky faucets, cars that burn oil, ovens that waste heat, and other things that need repair cost money every time you use them.

Grocery shop on a full stomach and without the kids.

Host birthday parties and celebrations at home rather than going to the local pizza place.

Invest at least a portion of your money every year, or every month. Penny stocks, gold, even real estate are possible investments that could pay off well in time.

Join a recycle group such as Freecycle and give away what you don’t need or want, and find things you do… free.

Kick the habit! Save your lungs and hundreds of dollars a year.

Leave the oven door open to let it help heat your kitchen in the winter.

Manage your budget. Pay bills on time to avoid late fees, balance your checkbook to save overdraft charges, etc.

Never buy something you don’t want or need because a friend is having a party and earning rewards!

Open a savings account and deposit 10 percent of everything you make every week.

Put your change in a jar every day and see how the savings add up at the end of the year. You may even have enough to pay for a family vacation!

Quit beating yourself up when you overspend. Sure, you don’t want to make excuses or get in the habit of blowing your budget, but a little splurge here and there probably won’t hurt that much.

Rearrange your schedule, if possible, to save on child care. Work while the kids are in school, shop when your husband is home, take classes when a friend or relative can watch the children.

Stop spending! Every penny saved is indeed as good as a penny earned!

Take your lunch to work instead of going out to eat.

Use everything you own until it wears out.

Visit free local attractions, museums, parks and other places of interest that don’t cost anything when you want something to do.

Watch movies you borrow from the library instead of renting them, or going to a theater.

eXamine monthly statements to be sure the charges are correct. Large companies often make mistakes on what they charge.

Yield not to temptation where your money is concerned. If you feel you shouldn’t buy something, then don’t.

Zipper bags are expensive! Wash and reuse any that haven’t contained raw meat.

Save Money Surfing the Web

August 19, 2009 · Filed Under Being Frugal · Comments Off on Save Money Surfing the Web 

According to Nielsen-Online, nearly 156 million Americans are online every month, and while it may be costing you money to allow your family the privilege of surfing the Net, it could actually be saving you more money than you realize. If it isn’t, then you need to know how much you’re missing out on! Here are several ways you can be saving money online.

Shop online. We all know about eBay, Amazon and other online retailers that sell products at a fraction of the store price, but did you know that a lot of store’s sell their own products for less online than in their actual stores? This is especially true with store’s that sell electrical consumer goods such as computers, stereos, and the like.

Compare everything. For years we’ve been told to “shop around” before we buy anything, and while in the past this has meant trawling around the shopping mall for hours, in terms of the Internet, this couldn’t be easier. Many store Websites now offer comparisons of products on other Websites. You should be wary of bias, however. It would still be wise to check individual store Websites for yourself.

There are also many Websites dedicated to comparing products, but as with store Websites, be aware that some comparison Websites affiliate with company’s who offer them a commission for every customer that website brings to in. Make sure you always do your research.

Bank online. Sometimes it’s hard to remember exactly how much money you’ve spent, and it’s not always easy to get to an ATM. But these days, nearly every major bank offers the benefit of online banking, allowing you access to your finances 24/7. This guarantees you always know how much money you have and never overspend your bank balance, and allows you to keep an eye on all of the bills you pay.

Many banks also offer credit card deals and loans that are only available online and that are far better than what you can find locally.

Receive your bills online. With the encouragement to go green and save the planet, many companies actually prefer it if you only receive online bills from them, rather than paper copies–especially electric companies, telephone companies and other utility companies.

This is beneficial to you for more reasons than simply saving the environment though (and that’s a good reason!). Many companies have started charging customers who insist on receiving paper copies of their bills. And if you set up an automatic debit to pay your bill, many companies will reward you for that, too, with added discounts or other perks.

Freebies. When large companies, in particular, launch a new product, they like to give away free samples so people can try the product, love it and tell all their friends how brilliant that company is. While ten years ago these samples would be placed in the mailboxes of a privileged few–most of whom wouldn’t even use the product–in the Internet age, most free samples are offered online to the first 100 or so people who ask for them. This gives the companies more control over their disbursement and while you may not get every one, there are plenty of samples to be found. There are even Websites that specialize in doing the work for you and will find all of the free things they can so you don’t have to.

Travel. If you need to travel a long distance by air, bus or train, then you should definitely consider ordering tickets online. Look around and it’s almost guaranteed that you’ll find early-bird or last-minute fares at greatly reduced rates. And the same applies for hotel bookings and car rentals.

Moving. You can save 30 percent or more on the cost of renting a moving truck through Budget, Uhaul or Ryder when you order online. Be careful, though, if you book a truck and don’t pick it up as promised, or if you wait to long to cancel the rental, you could be charged a cancellation fee of up to $50.

Free is Better than Frugal!

August 3, 2009 · Filed Under Being Frugal · Comments Off on Free is Better than Frugal! 

Obviously, when you’re trying to save money, everything you get free will save the most. The problem is finding things of value, or things that you need, free of charge. Most frugal moms are aware of some places here and that offer freebies, but few know just how many opportunities there are to get something for nothing.

Before you begin your search for free things, consider some of the types of items you can find. For instance:

• Games
• Clothing
• Furniture
• Computer software
• Samples of products
• New products
• Restaurant meals
• Books and magazines
• Posters
• Even cars!

Now, the fun begins to locate all these fabulous free things. Here are some places to begin your search:

• Friends and Family

The first place to look for free things is the people you know. Make friends and family aware of any needs you may have and ask them to keep you in mind if they plan to get rid of something. You may come across a gold-mine through this freebie avenue alone.

• Online

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of free things available online. And while many of them are printables, you will also find a ton of free – and almost free – physical items. Examples include books, CDs, coloring books, crafts, full-size samples, posters and more. Google “freebies” or “free stuff” to see what you can find.

• Government Websites

Most everyone will agree that the government wastes a lot of money on a lot of useless things. But they do produce some items of value as well. You can get a variety of books and pamphlets, posters, coloring and activity books, and more from the Government’s printing office absolutely free of charge. Google “free government publications” for a list of what’s available.

• Public Domain Ebooks

If you’re familiar with the copyright law, you know that after a certain number of years, typically 50, copyright on a document – unless it’s renewed – will go into what is known as public domain. This means that the document is then free for the public to use in any way they desire, including printing for personal use or even selling for profit. There are untold thousands of documents currently available in the public domain with more becoming available each year. Google “free public domain documents” to find enough reading material to last a life time.

• Restaurants

Hundreds of restaurants, coffee shops, ice cream vendors and more offer free email birthday clubs for their customers. Just sign up online and they’ll send you a coupon for a freebie on your birthday. These can range from a free appetizer to dessert, or even a full entree at some establishments. Google “free birthday club” to find the ones you like.

• The Library

Every frugal mom is aware of the value of her local library, but did you know just how much the library has to offer? Besides books, videos and DVDS, you can find CDs, audio books, maps, free classes, story hours, craft sessions, genealogy assistance, and more. Ask your favorite librarian what you may have been missing.

• Yard Sales

Did you think yard sales were only for buying stuff? Well, think again! You can often find a box of items free for the taking at garage sales and yard sales. Usually, the owner just throws some stuff in a box thinking no one would want or use it. But take the time to rummage through any “free” boxes you find. You might be surprised what lies hidden inside.

• Freecycle

Freecycle is modern society’s solution to leaving unwanted items on the curb. If you’re unaware, is a directory of localized email groups that provide a venue for finding or disposing of unwanted merchandise. The adage “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” is the premise behind Freecycle which allows you to offer items you no longer want to someone who would use them, while also finding things you need that another is getting rid of.

Freecycle can link you up with free books, TVs, furniture, camping equipment, gardening supplies and canning, tools, toys, and much more. You name it and you might be able to find it on Freecycle. Visit their website and join the group nearest you. Be sure to follow the rules for posting and take part. You may never want to go shopping again!

• Car

There are organizations that donate cars to people in need, and if you qualify, you could drive away in a decent vehicle. Check your phone book for social service agencies that donate vehicles. Or Google “free donated car” to see if there is one in your area.

Be forewarned that freebie searching can become a frenzy. You may want to limit the time and effort you put into your search, just so you don’t run out of room or places to put things!

You Can Live Frugally Without Being Cheap

July 31, 2009 · Filed Under Being Frugal, Stay at Home Sanity · Comments Off on You Can Live Frugally Without Being Cheap 

Some people still associate living frugally with being cheap, as in chintzy. But that’s simply not the case! Living frugally involves making the most of what you have, looking for – and taking advantage of – good deals on everything you buy, and stretching your paycheck as far it will possibly stretch. Being cheap, on the other hand, consists of disregarding quality, refusing to spend money on what you need, even at times taking advantage of others or a situation. No one wants to be, or even appear to be, cheap. But being frugal is a good thing!

Living frugally is about more than just becoming a bargain-hunter extraordinaire, although that’s part of it. Living frugally also involves:

• budgeting and planning for large purchases
• shopping around until you find just what you want at a price you can pay
• making what you do have last longer
• and even – in grandma’s terminology – learning to “use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.”

Being cheap, on the other hand, is often:

• having a mindset that is more concerned about quantity than quality
• looking for ways to “beat the system”
• not realizing that having to replace an item sooner can cost more in the long run than buying a better-made item in the first place.

Here are six ways you can live a more frugal lifestyle without appearing cheap.

1. Realize that other’s expectations of how you live are not as important as your own. If your family thinks you should be able to go out to eat three times a week or give lavish presents for birthdays and Christmas, don’t let them pressure you into doing so unless you know you can truly afford those things. Live by your own expectations, not someone else’s.

2. Learn to find happiness in life itself – in your relationships, in simple pleasures – rather than in material goods. Anyone who has faced a terminal illness will tell you how little all those “things” mean when you truly grasp how short life is. Make the most of every day and find joy in people, not possessions.

3. Set limits on your frugality. If you’re truly concerned about appearing cheap, it’s not necessary to take your frugal lifestyle to extremes. Washing and reusing coffee filters may seem perfectly sensible to some, but if you’d “die of embarrassment” if your friends knew you did that, then don’t do it. There are many ways to save money. Choose those that work for you without making you feel uncomfortable.

4. If you truly have to live in extreme frugality for awhile, look at as 1) temporary, and 2) a choice. Dave Ramsey says that if you live like no one else, you can live like no one else. What he means is that if you sacrifice some of the things that others enjoy today, later on you’ll be able to live better than most because of your choices. Keep that in mind when the next time you pass up something you really want but simply can’t afford.

5. Consider how much easier it is to live with less. Less furniture and decorative items in your home means less cleaning. Less vehicle means less insurance. Even less food means less cooking! You can, of course, go to extremes… but you get the drift.

6. Shop for quality, even if it means buying used. Some people have a strong aversion to buying “another man’s junk.” But when you realize that you can own a much higher quality item for much less than was originally paid, you may find buying used to be your next best thing.

For instance, you may love name brand clothes but can’t afford the price tag. By shopping yard sales, thrift stores and consignment shops, though, you can buy top of the line clothing for you and your family at a fraction of the cost. And no one has to know they’re secondhand except you.

There are so many ways to improve the quality of your life while still living frugally. Learn to recognize them every day and make the most of what you have now.

Making Room in Your Budget for Some Frugal Summer Fun

July 30, 2009 · Filed Under Being Frugal, Frugal Parenting · Comments Off on Making Room in Your Budget for Some Frugal Summer Fun 

Keeping yourself and your family amused throughout the summer when you’re on a tight budget can be increasingly difficult, but certainly not impossible. Here are some tips on how to budget frugally and leave a little money in the cookie jar for fun and frolicing:

• Don’t waste your money buying expensive books from a book store, instead visit your local library. All you have to do is join, which is usually a simple procedure. Once you’re a full-fledged member all you have to do is pick out some books you fancy reading and it won’t cost you a penny. Also, don’t forget that most libraries aren’t limited to books these days, but are also wonderful places to find DVDs and CDs.

• Thrift Stores are a frugal mom’s paradise and are an excellent haven for cheap second-hand DVDs, CDs and games. The most exciting thing is that you never know what you might find, and you are bound to find some nice bargains!

• Check out your local cinema. These days the majority of cinemas have different prices for different times of the day, and many even have one day of the week that is a bargain day. And, if you happen to have a cell phone on Orange’s network, you’re already eligible for their “Orange Wednesdays” offer that entitles you and a friend to go see anything you want on any Wednesday and only one of you will have to pay (or you could also be nice and split the cost!)

• During the summer, many local newspapers include offers for local theme parks, museums and attractions, so be sure to check them all and see what’s available. The offers are generally two for the price of one, or a free child’s admission with a full paying adult.

• Check the “bargain bin” in local stores. These are usually great places to find DVDs and CDs at incredibly discounted prices. They might not be “Disney quality,” but if it keeps the kids quiet for a couple of hours, everyone is happy.

• Take the family to the local park for a picnic. Everyone loves a picnic! Just make sure you include everyone’s favourite healthy snacks, a cheap Frisbee that you can pick up from your local dollar store if needed, and you’ve got cheap entertainment that will last for hours.

• Brush the dust off the bikes and take the kids out into nature for a family bike ride. Make sure you pack the kids’ backpacks with note books and pens so that they can write about, draw pictures of and collect anything they find. Make up games where they have to find certain objects, for example anything green or anything square. Or maybe you can all see how many different types of flowers or leaves you find.

• Check out your local arts and crafts shop. Give each of the children a little money to spend, or let them bring their own, and have the gather everything they’ll need to complete their own craft project. This could be anything from painting to making cards or even their own jewelry. Many craft shops have bargain bins that selling a variety of odds and ends. These are definitely worth a look.

• Check to see if your local arts and craft shop runs free classes that teach children how to make things. These classes are always fun and teach kids many valuable lessons and skills. Most classes also include allowing the child to take something they’ve made home with them, completely free so charge, so they’re always worth looking for.

Unusual and Wacky Ways to Save Money

July 7, 2009 · Filed Under Being Frugal · Comments Off on Unusual and Wacky Ways to Save Money 

Some people are creatively frugal, saving money in ways most of us only hope to mimic. Others, however, take frugality to the extreme. And most of us probably fall somewhere in the middle. Here are some unusual ways to save money that many of us would even consider wacky. They are gleaned from a variety of sources to offer a glimpse into the wilder side of the frugal lifestyle. Maybe you wouldn’t be comfortable practicing some of the most extreme measures of frugality, but they’ll certainly make you think about other possibilities!

• Marry a handyman (or woman). The ability to make household and automotive repairs will literally save you thousands of dollars every year.

• Wash and reuse foil and plastic zipper bags. (To be safe, though, never reuse them if they contained raw meat.)

• Find a frugal spouse and stay married. Divorce is expensive!

• Save money on your wedding flowers by picking up a couple of floral arrangements from the ground at your local cemetery the night before the wedding. (Never steal them from a grave, though!)

• Stop buying kitty litter by potty training your cat. Most cats can be trained with little effort, though for best results, start when they’re young. The savings may make it worth the time.

• Stop smoking! Forget the health benefits which are too numerable to count. The savings can add up to nearly $2,000 a year!

• Wash your car when you fill up the gas tank using the squeegee and soapy water that most stations provide.

• No car wax? Try furniture wax. It’s said to work just as well and typically costs less.

• Don’t want to drink plain water when you dine out? Add a couple slices of lemon (which most restaurants provide free), and a packet or two of sugar or Splenda to make your own lemonade.

• Hot tea drinkers can take their own tea bags and ask for a cup of hot water. Make it decaffeinated and you won’t seem as cheap since few restaurants offer decaffeinated tea bags.

• Join a local group at and find all kinds of things you need that someone else was going to throw away.

• Stop buying paper products. Instead of Kleenex, use a handkerchief, instead of paper napkins, use cloth, instead of paper towels, use a dish cloth. If you’re really frugal (or broke!), you can even use newspaper instead of toilet paper.

• Save the plastic containers you get from restaurants when you carry food home and use those for leftovers so you don’t have to buy plastic wrap or freezer bags.

• Remember grandma’s old adage, “Find a penny, pick it up, all the day you’ll have good luck” – and you’ll be a little bit wealthier, too!

• Save all the ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, salt, pepper, napkins, straws, etc. that you pick up at restaurants and don’t use right away. Never throw away what can save you money.

• Buy generic or store brand cereal and eat more of it. You can still find cereal for less than $2 for a large box. Add milk and you’ve got several meals for pennies each.

• Set up shop at your local print shop rather than supplying an office in your home. You can plug in your lap top and use their electricity, plus use a stapler, paper clips, rubberbands, etc. that most print shops provide for their customers. You can even use their phone in most cases.

• Need to send a fax? Ask a friend who works in an office to do it for you.

• Instead of renting a house or an apartment, live in a camper. Find a cheap used camper if you don’t own one, or borrow one from a friend. Ask for the monthly rate at your local campground and you can live for around $300 a month – with electricity, water, and Internet included. Don’t have a shower? Not to worry… use the bath house. Just take your own towels.

• Hungry? Dry dog food is safe, nutritious and costs only pennies a day. And people who know say it tastes better than canned.

• Shop the after-Christmas sales for all the gifts you’ll need the following year. Wrap, tag and hide them until next December.

• Use only rechargeable batteries.

• Buy only battery operated clocks and other items that could run all the time and cost money.

• Before you go to bed, unplug TVs, radios, your stove and other appliances that continue to use electricity.

• Check local restaurants, the library and other places that have a lost and found department for items that were left and never claimed.

• Look for new items at yard sales and thrift stores. Use them for gifts or sell them on eBay.

• Get free books by offering to write free book reviews for your local newspaper.

• Recycle an old toilet or bathtub as a planter in your yard. Makes a great conversational piece, too!

• When dining out, choose the largest meal you can. Eat what you want and take the rest home for another meal or two during the week.

These are just some of the many unusually frugal ways to save money and get what you want and need for less. Be bold and take initiative. You can learn to save in ways you never imagined and have fun in the process!

Beauty Tips and Tricks for Frugal Women

June 24, 2009 · Filed Under Being Frugal, Cheap Beauty Tips · Comments Off on Beauty Tips and Tricks for Frugal Women 

Looking good doesn’t have to cost a fortune, though it can if you’re not careful. You can still look good and care for your skin, nails and hair well, with these beauty tips and tricks.

• Drink at least eight glasses of water every day. It will moisturize your skin, give you a healthy color and keep you healthier all the way around.

• Inexpensive baby oil makes a great moisturizer. You can get a bottle at the dollar store for $1 or less. This is great to slather on right after a shower.

• Baby lotion works well as a moisturizer, too. It’s thick and rich and has a wonderful scent (especially the lavender). Try it on your feet every night before bed. Before long your heels will be much softer and smoother.

• If you make homemade beauty treatments, be aware that they can spoil quickly. For best results, make them in small batches and store in the refrigerator or share a portion with a friend.

• Never pay full price for toothpaste. You can almost always find a printable coupon to save $1 or more on a large tube. And who says you have to fill your toothbrush with a long line of toothpaste? A short (1/4″ or less) line will work just as well and cost much less over time.

• There’s no need to spend $5 or more on a can of quick nail dry spray. Use a vegetable cooking oil spray and get the same results for much less.

• Make your own facial scrub with a tablespoon of honey, two tablespoons of very finely ground almonds and a 1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice. Wet your face, and wash with the mixture then rinse well.

• Save money on shampoo and conditioner by washing your hair less. Typically, every other day will work for most people. And an added benefit is that your haircolor will usually last longer as well.

• Another tip to make your haircolor last longer is to make a batch of strong tea. Then wet hair thoroughly with the solution and let set for 10-15 minutes. Rinse well.

• If your skin is oily and needs an astringent, try witch hazel. You can use it full strength then rinse with apple cider vinegar to balance the ph in your skin.

• You can extend the life of your lipstick and get the last usage from a tube by scraping out the remainder and putting it into a small container to use with a lip brush. (Half-size spice containers that have been washed and rinsed well work great for this.)

• You don’t have to use cotton balls to remove eye makeup. Use a wash cloth instead. Not only does it work just as well, or better, but you won’t get fibers from the cotton balls in your eyes either.

• The same is true for nail polish. Keep an old wash cloth just for the purpose of removing polish. When it becomes too stained to use, toss it and get another.

• Save money at the hairstylist’s by learning to cut your own bangs. Simply wet your bangs and gather them together in the center of your forehead. Wrap with a small hair elastic and pull them down to measure the length. Using very sharp scissors snip the ends being careful not to cut them too short. You can always cut a little more, if needed. This creates a nice, rounded, slightly uneven edge for your bangs which is much more natural than a straight-across cut.

• Letting your hair grow will also save at the salon. Long hair doesn’t need to be cut as often as short hair does.

• Want shinier hair? Try rinsing your hair with vinegar after washing. It’s said to give hair a great, healthy shine.

• Minimize your beauty regimen for the most frugal results. Not only will you look more natural and save money, but it will take less time to get ready to go somewhere as well.

7 Tips for Thrifty Living

October 11, 2008 · Filed Under Being Frugal · Comments Off on 7 Tips for Thrifty Living 

It is no secret that life is more expensive today than when our parents were growing up. How can we offset soaring prices without sacrificing quality of life? Here are a few tips to help you save more:

1.) It is no surprise that credit cards represent a trap for many people. Incentives such as “earning” frequent flyer miles or free internet access are only “free” if you can pay off the balance every month. Otherwise, you end up on the losing end of the stick, paying interest rates in the double digits. It makes more sense to save for that ticket to visit the Caribbean or your relatives than to rack up frequent flyer miles on a card you can never pay off. Tip: Only use credit cards if you know you can pay off the balance at the end of the month.

2.) Electricity doesn’t come cheap. Heat-producing appliances such as dryers and refrigerators burn up enormous amounts of energy. Tip: Consider purchasing an energy saving appliance. Turn down the refrigerator in the cooler months. Hang your wash outside instead of using the dryer. It will save you money, and the clothes smell fresh!

3.) It is tempting to spend a lot of money on the weekends “because you deserve it.” That may be true, but you may not be able to afford it, too. Tip: Instead of that expensive weekend at an amusement park or that ski trip that costs a bundle, take a bike ride with your kids or check out a new park to go sledding. You’ll get some exercise and needed fresh air while creating memories with the kids.

4.) Children usually like to draw. If your little Picasso is eating up all of your expensive computer printer paper, think about this. Tip: Consider using paper bags or recycled office paper for some of their artwork. They work fine for collages, and they are free. An added plus? You’ll reduce that pile of bags in the pantry that keeps growing, and you’ll save several trees.

5.) Spending time away from the kids is essential, but babysitters can be expensive. Tip: Consider swapping babysitting with a neighbor, at least some of the time. It will reduce the cost of going out with your partner, and you’ll benefit from a night on the town for less.

6.) Good picture frames can be very pricey. Tip: Purchase one stable picture frame for the kids’ annual school photos. Keep the old photos behind the frame to compare prior years’ pictures. An added benefit? You have all of the school pictures in one place!

7.) Entertainment need not be expensive. Tip: Rent a video instead of attending a movie in a theater. Invite your friends and have a potluck supper. Now you’ve multiplied the fun without the extra cost of parking, movie tickets, and refreshments!

Life can be beautiful. It doesn’t have to be expensive.

Christine Louise Hohlbaum, American author of Diary of a Mother: Parenting Stories and Other Stuff, is a freelance writer living near Munich, Germany with her husband and two kids. She holds a B.A. in Political Science from Smith College and an M.A. in International Relations, German and English Literature from the University of Constance, Germany. When she is not leading a toddler playgroup or writing, she likes to dance, sing with her kids, and generally frolic.

(c) 2003 Christine Louise Hohlbaum. All Rights Reserved.

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