Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Top Tip$ for Back to $chool on a Budget

The Nest Effect ( recommends these

  1. Get Office 365 University: $79.99 USD for a four-year subscription
    At just $1.67 per month, college and university students can’t afford not to get 
    Office 365 University. Get the latest Office applications (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, and Outlook) for two devices, including PCs, Macs, iPads, or Windows tablets. A subscription also includes 1 TB of OneDrive storage, and 60 minutes of Skype PC-to-phone world calling per month. 
  1. Download OneNote: Free app for most popular computers, tablets, and phones and on the web
    This year, make OneNote the single place for all your notes and information. With this digital notebook you can type, handwrite, paste and insert class notes and research anywhere, and organize them in notebooks and sections that are automatically saved and searchable. Additionally, it’s easy to share and collaborate with classmates for team projects and group assignments. 
  1. Keep it in OneDrive: Free app for most popular computers, tablets, and phones and on the web
    Here are five reasons to cross that USB-drive off your shopping list and use 
    OneDrive:  1) You get 15 GB of cloud storage for free; 2) You can’t lose OneDrive; 3) You can easily store and share photos, videos, documents, and more; 4) You can access OneDrive on any device; 5) You get 1 TB of OneDrive cloud storage with an Office 365 Home or University subscription. 1 TB is the equivalent to approximately 50,000 trees made into paper and printed. That’s a lot of trees! 
  1. Use Office Online: Free on the web
    Who said nothing in life is free? Office Online offers free web versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote that let you create, view, edit, and share documents, spreadsheets, presentations and notes. The best part is, no one needs an Office 365 subscription to work together on a team projects. With Office Online, students can collaborate on group assignments more easily, and parents can share the carpool schedule without having to send bulky attachments. 

Ceiling Fan Fact$

If your home has ceiling fans, you've probably never given them much thought.  But a ceiling fan can help you maintain a constant temperature in your home and prevent the air conditioner or furnace from working harder than necessary.

Did you know that in the summer the ceiling fans blades should be rotating counter-clockwise  and in the winter they should rotate in a clockwise fashion?  The different rotations redistribute the air bringing warm air to the ceiling in the summer and pushing warm air down in the winter.

Ceiling fans only cool YOU!  So turn them off when you leave the room!  And while you are at it--turn off that overhead light or reading lamp.

Fans are energy efficient--they require no more energy than a 100-watt lightbulb.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Thing$ You Can Paint Instead of Replace to $ave Money

7 Things You Can Paint Instead of Replace to Save Money

You know a fresh coat of paint can give any room a quick and inexpensive facelift. But did you know that a little paint can also perk up carpets, appliances, and even vinyl floors?
Basically, if it doesn’t move, you can paint it. But only after you’ve paid special attention to prep — cleaning, patching, and sanding (generally) the area.

Painting isn’t brain surgery, but it’s not a breeze, either. Here are some rules of thumb:
  • Prime before painting. Primer will allow the paint to adhere better.
  • Most hard surfaces will take primer better if they’re roughed up a little with fine-grade sandpaper.
  • When using spray paint, multiple, thin layers are better than one, thick coat. Ease up on your trigger finger, and spray in short bursts.
  • Wait for the previous coat of paint or primer to dry completely before adding another coat.
With proper prep, you can paint just about anything. Here are seven of our favorite ideas:

1. Door, Drawer, and Cabinet Hardware

Spray paint can turn builder-grade brass locks and hinges into fashion-forward hardware with an oil-rubbed bronze, pewter, or stainless look.

1. Clean hardware with a fine steel wool to remove grease and grime.
2. Rough up the surface with fine-grain sandpaper.
3. Before you paint, insert a tiny strip of painter’s tape into the keyhole to make sure paint doesn’t gunk it up.
4. Prime with a metallic primer, then paint with metallic spray paint.
  • Insert the door lock’s spindle into a square of Styrofoam, which will hold it upright while you spray around the knob.

2. Brick Fireplace

When you paint your red brick fireplace, you transform the entire room. But beware! Once you paint brick, it’s nearly impossible to return it to the original brick color.

You can paint brick a single color, or achieve some variation — like the variations in real brick — by sponging on slightly lighter and darker hues.


1. Lightly sand away any loose bits of brick or mortar with 120-grit sandpaper.
2. Clean dirt and soot with a wire brush and heavy-duty cleanser.
3. Allow to dry completely before applying an oil-based, stain-blocking primer.
4. Paint with a semigloss latex.

  • Never paint the firebox.
  • Brick is porous and drinks paint, so buy twice what you think you’ll need.
  • Wear safety glasses and gloves when cleaning anything with a metal brush.

3. Ceramic Tile

Imagine how sweet it is to update ceramic tile without having to bust up and cart away tons of old tile.

Play it safe and avoid painting tiles in high-traffic and high-moisture areas. Some good places are laundry room floors, backsplashes under cabinets (but not above ranges where pasta sauce splatters), and walls around tubs you rarely use.


1. Repair cracked or chipped tile with caulk or grout before painting.
2. Give patching material ample time to dry, then lightly sand before applying an epoxy or urethane bonding primer.
3. Sand after priming and between each coat of quality latex paint.
4. Wait several days for the paint to cure completely, then seal with two or three coats of clear, water-based polyurethane.

  • To get a smooth look, apply paint in zigzags, then roll down in one, smooth motion.
  • Use 240-grit wet/dry sandpaper for prep and between coats.
  • Don’t forget safety goggles and masks when sanding tiles.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Travel Tip$

When you pack a suitcase, wrap your shoes in a shower cap – This will prevent the soles from touching your clean clothes.

Call your credit or debit card company before traveling internationally so that you’re authorized for vacation purchases – The last thing you want is to be reported for suspicious activity and not have access to your money.

Store your loose cables/chargers in an old sunglasses case to keep everything in one place.

When packing your suitcase, roll your clothes to save space and avoid wrinkles.
TO safely "iron" your clothes in a hurry buy a spray bottle from the dollar store. -- Pack it in your suitcase.  WHen clothes are wrinkled, give them a quick spritz and SHAKE out.  Hang to dry.  Viola!  Wrinkles removed.  Empty the bottle for travel home.  
To use Google Maps offline, type “ok maps” and the current area on your phone will save for later – It’s good for important places you want to visit or need to go to when out of town so you have the info available in case you lose service.

If you’re heading to a theme park or the beach, put your phone in a plastic bag to prevent it from getting wet – A ruined phone is bad enough. A ruined phone on vacation in a different city/state/country is even worse.

Scan your passport, ID, and itinerary and email it to yourself so you have a digital copy in the event of loss or theft.  This is a good idea to do with your credit cards too (front and back)

To prevent bottles from leaking in your luggage, place plastic wrap over the container and then seal it with the cap.

Bring an empty water bottle to the airport and refill it after you pass security – That way you can drink H2O without having to spend $4+.

If you forget the wall plug-in for your phone charger, check the back of your hotel TV. There’s usually a USB port.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Clean up that Me$$

Getting rid of Grease stains

I occasionally get grease splatters on clothing when cooking.  To remove the grease from clothing I saturate the stain with dish washing liquid before laundering.  Be sure to check to see that the grease came out before placing your garment in the dryer.  If not ,l repeat the process.

Spill the olive oil on the table cloth?  Blot up as much as you can with a clean dry cloth.  Then,sprinkle salt on the mess to absorb the oil and lift some of the stain.  Treat with dish washing liquid and launder as usual.

To make cleanup easier when baking with items like honey or molasses I coat the inside of my measuring cup with cooking spray.  Less waste too.

Clean your cast iron skillets with a paste of coarse salt and water.

Friday, August 29, 2014

31 day$ to a Le$$ Cluttered Life #3

If you've completed the first 10 challenges you are over 1/3 of the way through the month!  Congrats.  It takes 30 days to make a habit!

11) Listen to something you enjoy as you de-clutter.  Perhaps your favorite rock and roll tune or classical music gets you motivated.  Maybe it is a book on tape or your favorite pod cast...

While you are at it, clean out the apps on your phone that you no longer use.  Technology needs de-cluttering occasionally too!

12)  Tackle the coat closet next.
Donate or consign those items that are too small or are never warn,
Repair items that need a button secured.
Launder or dry clean other items.
Place baskets or bins in the closet to house scarves, hats and mittens or gloves.  Find the missing mates or toss.

13)  I love to cook and I regularly tear recipes out of magazines and the newspaper.  I find the change of seasons an ideal time to purge my files and pull out recipes I want to try for the coming season.  Toss recipes you KNOW you'll never make and file the rest in an accordion file by type (chicken, pasta, breakfast).  Purge any cookbooks that just didn't live up to their color photos on the front cover.

14)  This is also the perfect time to purge the spice rack of that cardamom (or any other spice) you bought 3 Christmas's ago and the pantry of expired canned goods .  I make a "bucket list" of 3-5 recipes I want to make and put the special ingredients on my shopping list.    

The pantry purge gives me ideas on how to use up what I have.  This Frugality girl hates to wast good food!

15)  And now to purge the baking dishes and cookie sheets.  I may never really get rid of that pumpkin shaped cake pan but I do remember that I have it and make a plan to use it for the next Halloween neighborhood potluck!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Travel Tip$

Airports are notorious for the high prices they charge for everything.  Try a few of these tips to save a few pennies

1)  Bring your own reading material--especially magazines which can be left behind for the next traveler, thereby, lightening your load as you run for your connection.  A puzzle book can keep travelrs of all ages occupied.

2)  Bring your own individually packaged snacks like peanuts travel well, as do pretzel and cheese in those little cellophane boxes.  Cookies and crackers have the tendency to crumble so I stick with items that weather the trip.

3)  You can't carry a water beyond the check point bu you can make that bottled water a bit more tasty by adding a dry drink powder.  My family likes Wyler's pink lemonade.

4)  Can't go without your Starbucks?  How about a VIA package.  Ask the flight attendant for some hot water and VIOLA--instant breakfast that is quick, filling and tasty!

5)  Speaking of hot water...take along instant oatmeal packages for a filling snack.  Don't forget the spoon.

6)  Make sure your bag has a few health care essentials packed to avoid excessive charges at the shops.  Pain relief meds, lens cleaners, tissues and hand sanitizing wipes are essentials in my bag.

7)  Don't forget your charger to keep travelers of all ages connected.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

31 day$ to a Le$$ Cluttered Life #2

If you've completed the clutter busting ideas for days 1-5 and are ready for a more organized life here are the next 5 days challenges.

6)  You'll find that during the purge process you'll find you may need to purchase replacement items.  Keep a running list.  It's been my experience that I occasionally find an item that i was sure was lost or used up.  Just be sure to cross of those items when you find them in an area you've just cleaned out!

7)  A place for everything and Everything in it's place
I find that I have the tendency to come into the kitchen and leave the details of my day on the counter (Briefcase, purse, lunch box, library books, mail).  This school year I resolve to put away my STUFF rather than laying it on the first flat surface I encounter.  I find that visual cleanliness makes me more relaxed.  Ok... this is not a picture of my kitchen but you get the idea...

Identify a place to stash backpacks, papers that need your attention, lunchboxes and wet umbrellas.

I have a set of hooks in my laundry room which is right inside the garage door
where we hang backpacks. You can use U-shaped curtain rod hooks mounted on the wall to store winter coats and scarves.
I use a discarded dish drainer to store wet shoes.  Use the plastic base and store it in the laundry tub when not in use.

Even the youngest member of your family can be taught to empty their backpack and lunchbox and replace the ice pack in the freezer, discard the garbage and replace uneaten snacks back in the pantry before placing the lunchbox back in its rightful storage place.

8)  I have multiple utensil drawers in the kitchen.  Years ago when I first began the annual purge-I found I had 10 TEN wooden spoons.  I was appalled to find that I had so many of the same item...Use this opportunity to clean out a kitchen drawer.  Donate items that are past their usefulness or you can't remember WHAT the darn thing does (did you really need that lemon zester).  The extra space will make cooking a more pleasant experience.

9)  Now move to cleaning out the silverware drawer.  Remove the storage container if you use one, wash and replace.  Throw away the old chopsticks that have migrated to the back of the drawer.  If you find that you're down to 3 teaspoons, put new silverware on your shopping list so you can keep an eye out for a good bargains.

10)  Linen Closet
I have 3 linen closets.  One in the powder room where I store linens for that half bath and all my "overflow linens.  Its less than 12 inches wide so there is NOT a lot of extra storage space.  I store any rags here for car washing or those towels that will accompany the kids to camp (and not be returned!)

The guest and Master bath Linen closets both require different types of attention.  The guest bath closet stores towels but also lines for both children's beds.  This area quickly gets out of control when the bed linens are not folded properly.  Check out this to see how to fold a fitted sheet. They key is tucking the corners into each other.

The Master bath stores beach towels and extra bottles of shampoo, etc. in addition to Master linens and towels.  If your cabinet has a shelf with toiletries-treat that shelf like a drawer and you can stick to the 15 minute tidy rule.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

31 day$ to a Le$$ Cluttered Life #1

I'm inclined to agree with my dear Daughter, Alayna, who says a new school year is almost better than the New Year we celebrate on January 1 for starting new habits and shedding old...SO it is to that sentiment that this post is dedicated.
Here is my list of suggestions to de-clutter your life in 31 days or less.  If you employ one of these each day for a month, you'll have a less cluttered life and all of the benefits that go with that!

1)  Stash the Trash

When papers come home from school or in the mail employ the TOUCH ONCE and be done policy.
Note from the teacher?  Read and Sign it and place it back in Juniors backpack.
Reminder notice for the PTA meeting next week?  Put it on your family calendar and in your phones calendar and throw the paper away.
If you get these reminders electronically you can employ the same habit.

Art work from your preschool students?  Place in a "pizza box" labeled with the name of the child and the year.  These stack nicely and you can find them years later when Junior goes off to college.   Use these to create greeting cards or wrapping paper for grandparents or far-flung relatives.

My boxes, pictured at right are actually 12x12 scrapbook paper boxes.

2)  Clean out the Junk Drawer:
Get rid of those pens that no longer work or markers that have dried up.
Can't identify the key and it won't fit any doors you have?  Toss or (as I do) use in a Steam Punk art project. If you aren't crafty you could still donate to your high school art teacher (trust me on this...she will be glad to get your cast offs).
Address book?  Enter the information into your phone.
Sequester your rubber bands in a box or Ziploc bag.  Place paperclips in a magnetic holder, put stamps and address labels in a plastic envelope to keep them usable.
Some dollar store divided boxes help keep the clutter at bay.

 3)  New School year always means exposure to more germs, colds and viruses.  Take this opportunity to clean out your medicine chest or drawer and dispose of any outdated or expired  medicines.  At a minimum,make sure you have a thermometer, band aids, hydro cortisone cream, benadryl, pain relief and perhaps a cold/flu medicine on hand for those middle of the night emergencies.  

4)  If back to school means shopping for new clothes to your family then use this time to purge the closet and drawers.  If the kids didn't wear the garment  in the last 12 months or it no longer fits , it goes into my consignment box or donate (if it is worn, stained or out of style).  Many charities are able to use bulk garments even if they are not suitable for wear-so I never throw these items in the trash.  Stained and mismatched socks-GONE!  Worn shoes are donated to Edge ministries to help fund clean water in those areas in need.  If it is missing a button and I KNOW I don't have the replacement or won't fix it then it is recycled.  The only exception to my recycling of clothing rule is that old undies are tossed in the garbage!

Clothing, jewelry, shoes, purses, coats, etc. are taken to a local consignment store that pays for my STASH in CASH.  The items they reject are then consigned to a sale hosted by my church.  Anything that doesn't sell does NOT come home but is donated.

The closet purge is completed when old bent or broken hangers are pitched in the trash

5)  Bathroom Drawers are cleaned out of broken hair-ties, half used lip-gloss and the dried up nail polish.  If I am feeling really motivated, I may reline these drawers with new shelf paper.  Half empty bottles are consolidated or discarded.  Hairbrushes are washed and cleaned of that hairball and readied for use.

We make a list of any new makeup that might be required and add to our back to school shopping list.

Pick a start date
Set a timer for 15 minutes and tackle one of these clutter busters
When the time rings, you're done fro the day.
Check back for 5 more tips in my next post.

Happy Purging!

Building a Wardrobe for the Job you Want

How to build a wardrobe for the job you want.
Easier said than done? Perhaps. If you’re out of work and looking for a job or hoping to move up a level, you may worry that you can’t afford to dress for the job you want.
When budget is a concern or you simply don’t know where to begin, use these tips for building a wardrobe you can be proud of:
  • Stick with the classics. If you’re shopping on a budget, go for classic styles and colors that will last. Avoid trendy items for now, or save your “fashion statements” for inexpensive items you can easily replace, like colored socks or pocket squares for men, costume jewelry and scarves for women.
  • Learn to care for your clothes meticulously. Read the labels and follow them to the letter. Does it mean you will spend a little more time doing laundry? Probably. But your clothes will last much longer. Try to avoid buying lots of pieces that are “dry clean only” because dry cleaning can quickly become expensive.
  • Buy the highest quality you can afford. Price really does determine quality in many cases (up to a point). Bypass any budgetary issues by shopping for gently used items or last season’s styles. Look for a high quality consignment store in your area, which will usually have nicer pieces than thrift stores, and shop outlet malls and discount stores. Familiarize yourself with high quality brands you’d like to buy, then look for them on your discount shopping expeditions.
  • Buy fewer, but better items. You may find you need to purchase fewer clothes to ensure better quality. Look for separates you can easily mix and match instead of dresses or matched suits. Stick with classic pieces in muted colors and patterns so that if you wear a shirt more than once a week with a different jacket or pants, people aren’t likely to notice.
  • Pay attention to fit. Many times the difference between a suit (or any piece of clothing) that looks expensive and one that looks cheap is all in the fit. Find a good tailor who can help adjust all of your clothes — even inexpensive ones. That extra few dollars can make a world of difference. Likewise, get to know your local shoe repair shop that can help keep shoes, belts, and purses looking new.
  • Look for durable fabrics including wool, cotton, silk, and linen, and avoid man-made fabrics like polyester and rayon, which will deteriorate and show wear faster.
  • Choose multi-season pieces. When considering a new piece, think about how you can wear it in different seasons. Aim to have most of your closet be wearable on all but the deepest winter and hottest summer days rather than splurging on items that are only useful for a short time each year.
Even if you’re working at an entry level position and hope to be a senior VP someday, it is possible to dress with your desired position in mind with a little planning and creativity. Do you have any career wardrobe dos and don’ts to share? I’d love to hear them in the comments.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Nature'$ Bug $pray-How to attract Bat$

How to attract bats 

Bats are a lot better to have around than bug spray! By adding some features around your yard, you will increase your chance of having bats to catch bugs and entertain you.

1. Attract moths and beetles by planting native flowers that bloom in the evening or late in the day.
2.If you don't have a natural area of water, you can install a small pond which is attractive for you and it provides a water source for drinking and for insects to reproduce.
3.Bat houses are a great way to attract bats and offer a safe nursery site for new bats. It also provides a safe place away from predators. If you have a fence, you can train vines to grow up and provide even more roosting sites.
4. Avoid pesticides as they are harmful to bats and other wildlife.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Pack your Travel Ca$e

It seems like I never get sick at home and being on vacation or a business trip without some basic first aid items can really break the bank.  Here are my tips for packing the travel case to pack in your suitcase.

I have a Vera Bradley travel bag that have multiple plastic sections.  I purchased some small dispensers from Target and create my own small bottles of shampoo, conditioner and body wash and body lotion.  These are larger than the containers you buy and let me go for a weeks vacation.    I keep a Toothbrush, paste and dental floss in the case (replace the toothbrush the first of the year unless you are on the road so much that you require a more frequent change).  I place a new razor in the bag at the beginning of the new year and replace it after every 2 weeks of travel.  I take travel sizes of my hair products and a high quality cork screw!

Insect repellent or AVONs Skin So soft
Sun Screen--I buy a 3 pack at SAM's and take a NEW bottle (or 2 when traveling with family)
Benedryl (this also helps me sleep the first night in a strange hotel)
Prescription medications in their ORIGINAL containers
Pain reliever such as Advil, Tylenol or aspirin

Nice to have:
Baby wipes or facial cleaning cloths
nail clippers and emery board
hand lotion
travel size perfume or those scented papers from magazines (vacation is a nice way to try a new scent)
feminine protection
ear plugs
moleskin to help with blisters or hotspots
sewing kit

I leave my travel bag packed, replenish when I return home and I ALWAYS have what I need to travel at a moment's notice.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Celebrate Earth Day

Celebrate Earth Day by changing the way you shop and cook
Celebrate Earth day April 22, 2014  & every day!

  • Buy your meat, eggs, fresh produce from local farmers or farmers markets--it's healthier and generally uses lass packaging.
  • Grow herbs in your own back yard.
  • Plan to "pick your own":  Strawberries, peaches, apples are my favorites.  Pick your own incorporates healthy eating with an activity-a 2for 1 event which is always a good frugal option!
  • Grill out suing a gas grill-more eco-friendly and a LOT easier.  Natural gas burns cleaner than propane and high BTUS burn more energy.
  • Choose sustainable seafood for more information check out
  • Read Animal, Vegetable Miracle by Barbara Kingslover
  • Compost.  Read for tips
  • Use cloth towels for kitchen cleanups and cloth napkins instead of disposable
  • Keep your oven pre-heating time to a minimum
  • Make your lunchboxes waste free by wrapping sandwich's in waxed paper which can be composted. 
  • Keep the oven door shut while cooking.  Every time you open the door the temperature drops by about 25 degrees, increasing the cooking time
  • Cleaning your oven:  If you have a self cleaning oven, do this immediately after you've used it to take advantage of residual heat
  • Cooking on a gas stove?  The blue flame indicates efficiency
  • Use your microwave-it's energy efficient
  • Minimize the use of your garbage disposal
  • Refrigerators account for about 12% of your monthly energy bill-buy an Energy Star qualified appliance when replacing
  • Appliance seals minimize energy waste--make sure the seals on your oven, freezer and fridge work properly to help reduce electrical consumption
  • Use the toaster oven for preparing small meals
  • Recycle glass, plastic an newspapers
  • use cloth bags to carry home groceries
  • Run your dishwasher when it is full
  • Use items made from recycled products:  everything from glassware to garbage bags

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Tax day Freebies

You've written the check or filed for an extension so you'll have time to save up the needed cash to pay your tax bill...

So...To ease the pain of tax day check out the link for a full list of all the Tax day freebies...

Arby’s is planning to offer a free Snack-Sized Curly Fry on April 15 at all Arby’s locations nationwide. Guests can or Arby’s social channels to print a coupon.

Hard Rock Cafe
This year, on Tax Day, Hard ROck Cafe is cutting Americans a break across the country by asking them to lay down their wallets and pick up the mic! Warm up those vocal cords as Hard Rock Cafe opens up its stages to give fans a chance to “Sing for Their Supper” on Tuesday, April 15, 2014. On Tax Day, guests will have the opportunity to select their favorite song and take the stage to perform at their local Hard Rock Cafe. Guests who perform a complete song on their Hard Rock Cafe’s live music stage in front of the entire restaurant will receive a free dinner entrĂ©e from Hard Rock’s new menu. Singers can choose from a selection of new menu items and classic Hard Rock favorites, including the Grilled Vegetable Sandwich, Arugula Salad with Shaved Marinated Chicken, Legendary Big Cheese Burger or Veggie Burger as their free meal.

Orange Leaf Yogurt. To help ease the pain of Tax Day (4/15), all of the more than 300 Orange Leaf locations across the country will be offering customers a great deal: fill your cup for $4.15. On average, this amounts to approximately 50% off, depending on how much froyo and toppings the customer chooses. Claim the offer by visiting the Orange Leaf Facebook page and downloading a coupon.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Preventing Water Damage and Leak$

To diminish the possibility of water damage to your home

1)  Check for leaks by periodically inspecting the following areas around:
  • refrigerator (ice maker malfunctions)
  • dishwasher
  • water heaters
  • sinks (watch for a drip, drip, drip)
  • toilets
  • ceilings (roof leaks)
  • yard (water lines)
Check for any discolored flooring or spots on the ceiling which may indicate a slow leak.  Soft spots , warped flooring or warm spots may indicate a slow or intermittent leak that has damaged the underlying flooring.

2)  Pay attention to your water bill.  Even a small drip can consume a gallon of water an hour!

3)  Use steel braided hoses for the washing machine which reduces the chance of them breaking as they age.  These cost more initially but if you've ever had one break you know how much you'll save in the long run.  Think of it as insurance!

4)  If you have pipes that are exposed to the outside walls and live in an area where temps drop below freezing-insulate your pipes to prevent a problem!

5)  Vacationing?  Turn off the water supply to the washing machine, ice maker, toilets, sinks in the event of unexpected issues.  Have a friend or family member regularly check your home...just in case!

If you have a leak:

We once had a ceiling leak that started as a small brown spot the size of a silver dollar.  We called the DAY we notice it.  By the time the adjuster came it covered about half the ceiling.  Before they repaired it water was streaming in through the damaged area and eventually ruined 4 rooms.  Photo documentation saves us a lot of hassle with our insurance agent.

1)  Turn off the water source if you can safely do so (remember water conducts electricity)

2)  Call your insurance agent as soon as possible.  Call back if you don't get prompt service.

3) Don't be afraid to fight for what you need.  We needed a tarp and it wasn't covered!  We argued that the expense to the damaged roof would more than exceed the cost of the tarp and our agent agreed.  Luckily for us (and them) they tarped us 2 days before it rained 6 inches in a 2 hour period!    My bathroom would have ended up in my basement with that amount of rain!

4)  Don't do any major clean up, start repairs or throw items away until you've met with the adjustor and they  have inspected the property.

5)  Take photographs

6)  Relax:  Stuff can be repaired or replaced!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Flo$$ your Teeth

I admit I am addicted to flossing my teeth!  SO much so that I have embarrassed my children because of it!  If you don't floss regularly, you may not understand my addiction...but flossing has so many health benefits some practitioners say it is the BEST thing you can do for your health.  Sounds Crazy, right?

I am lifting this article VERBATIM from the following website in the hopes you'll start flossing!

Add flossing to your daily dental routine and you’ll experience a cleaner, healthier smile. Most people either forget about flossing or put it low on their list of priorities because they are unaware of the importance or unsure how to do it correctly. But flossing helps clean the gaps between your teeth so that you're less likely to get gum infections or cavities from bacteria build-up. And with improved dental health, you may avoid the large bills that come with expensive dental procedures.

What is dental floss?

Dental floss is a tool you should use daily to remove food and bacteria build-up from in-between your teeth. Floss, which is commonly made out of plastic or nylon, is a thin thread that you place between your teeth and pull in order to clean the gaps. As you pull on the thread, you should remove food and debris.

Types of dental floss

The dental care aisle is filled with many types of floss. You can get most of them at your local supermarket or drugstore. Although each kind of dental floss uses some type of thread or ribbon, there are differences in materials and packaging.
Some floss is made out of dental ribbon rather than out of plastic or nylon string. Ribbon floss is smoother and more comfortable than traditional floss. For example, if your gums ache or bleed when you floss your teeth, you might want to try ribbon floss instead.
Automatic flossers are an option if you have a hard time perfecting your flossing technique or find flossing uncomfortable. When you turn the flosser on and touch it against your teeth, it uses a nylon filament to clean the spaces between your teeth for you.
You and your dentist can easily find one that best suits you or your family’s needs.

Benefits of using dental floss

Brushing cleans the surface of your teeth. You need to floss in order to clean out the gaps between your teeth, where bacteria often reside. If you don't floss, you're more likely to have plaque build-up, which can lead to cavities, tooth decay, and gum disease. If left untreated, gum disease can be a risk factor for heart disease, diabetes, and a high body mass index. In addition, bacteria can cause bad breath and having food or debris between your teeth can make them look less clean or white. Thus, flossing can help improve the appearance of your mouth as well as your dental hygiene and overall health.

How often should you floss?

It's more important to take your time and floss correctly than it is to floss often. If you floss several times a day, but do it quickly, you'll miss a lot of the bacteria and debris you need to clean out. This defeats the purpose of flossing. It's far better to floss only once a day and do it slowly so that you clean your entire mouth.
Of course, it's still important to floss regularly; if you don't floss at least once a day, you won't reap all the benefits.

Dental floss for braces

If you or your child currently wears braces, flossing is even more important. Food and bacteria can easily lodge underneath braces and cause permanent damage to teeth. However, you have to be careful when flossing so that you don't damage your braces.
Always use waxed flossing products if you have braces. Unwaxed products have less of a slippery surface and are therefore more likely to get caught or tangled in your braces. If enough floss gets tangled, it can pull a brace out of alignment or even break it.
There's a specific technique you should use when flossing your braces. If your children have braces, you may need to help them with it, as it requires a bit of coordination. Start with the teeth at one side of your mouth. Carefully thread the floss underneath the wire and between two teeth, then gently pull up and down. When you have flossed these two teeth, remove the floss from under the brace wire and throw it away. Repeat this procedure on the next two teeth. It may take a long time to floss using this method, but it’s the best one to use because it reduces the risk of breaking your braces.

Dental floss facts

  • Dental floss was invented in 1815 by a New Orleans dentist who advised his patients to use thin thread to clean between their teeth.
  • Johnson and Johnson patented dental floss in 1898; at the time, it was made out of silk.
  • Manufacturers began to use nylon instead of silk in the 1940s.
  • Some people falsely believe that you can't floss if you're pregnant, nursing, or wearing braces. In reality, there's a technique and material for everybody who wants to floss their teeth. Talk to your dentist about proper flossing techniques if you have any concerns.
Remember, flossing your teeth daily helps improve your general as well as your dental health.

Friday, February 14, 2014

My Fun and Frugal Valentine's'$ Card-2nd Annual

Valentine Cards are so expensive and since I hand make a lot of cards I really balk at the $4.99-$6.99 price tag.  For only a few bucks more I made this Fun and Edible card for my Dear Husband!  

Quickly becoming a tradition, Here is this years Candy Bar Valentine Card--the 2nd Annual. Choose your candy bars depending on the message you want to convey.  I bought one of almost everything I could find and let my imagination run with it.  Next year I plan on a naughtier version!

It Reads
Happy Valentine's SWEET TART!
When we first met I know you were EXTRA special!  We made the perfect DUO.  
Your love SATISFIES me (Back of the SNICKERS bar). 
I ROLO laughing sometimes.  You're my ALMOND JOY.
I'd be an AIRHEAD not to <3 nbsp="" p="" u="">
25 Years ago HE asked HER and SHE said yes.  SKOR!
<3 di="" lady="" odiva="" p="" your="">

Since My name is Diana, I've been called DI since I was a little girl!  

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Paperle$$ Billing and Automatic Bill Pay

I have many of my bills scheduled to be paid automatically from our checking account.  It is usually free and you can often schedule it to coincide with your paycheck auto-deposits.

Here are a few of the bills I have set up on Auto pay
Gas and Electric (I am on the budget plan so I know how much my payment will be each month)
Car payments
Homeowners Insurance
College Education Fund

This saves me the stamp and any late fees that could be incurred if I am not keeping up with my bill paying (this happens when you are on vacation or have a family emergency).  If you have department store cards, another advantage is that you may earn points for signing up which can be redeemed toward future credits or purchases.

Most companies will mail mail a paper-bill if, for some reason, the e-mail is not delivered successfully  so you don't have to worry about that!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Baby, it$ cold out$ide!

My insurance company sent these out to help deal with the cold and snow.  It was -7 degrees in Louisville, KY this morning!

The Polar Vortex is still causing challenges all along the US with record cold temperatures and snow.  Many of our clients have experienced busted or frozen pipes, cracked wind shields and auto accidents all due to extreme cold weather and snowy conditions.  If you have been affected, we are deeply sorry!  

We have compiled a list of some helpful tips to help reduce the threat of some of these, as well as some insurance information to consider.

·     Open cabinet doors under sinks to allow heat to enter and keep pipes from freezing.

·     Keep a small, continuous stream of water running from the cold water faucet (the size of the water stream should be about the size of a pencil).

·     Locate the water shut-off valve in advance.  This is the valve that controls the flow of water into the house.  It's usually located near the hot water heater, in the basement or utility closet.  Turning off the water in the event of a burst pipe can minimize the damage. 

·     Cover the vents to crawl spaces.

·     If exterior faucets have shut-off valves inside, be sure to turn these off and open the exterior valve so it can drain out.

·     If you have a vacant home or building, set the heat to above 58 degrees.

·     Do not leave space heaters un-attended to reduce the risk of fire.

·     Keep a first aid kit and blanket in your car in case of emergencies.

·     We recommend the Comprehensive endorsement on your auto for glass coverage or Collision in the event of running off the road on black ice.

·     Review your insurance policy to make sure you have the coverages and deductible you need before something happens.

Be$t Value Food$

Grocery purchases comprise about 7% of my  income so I am always looking to stretch my food dollars.  With the recent news that food prices are expected to rise 25% (and with no foreseeable raise in our incomes) the need to be smart is even more crucial.  

Some of the most obvious ways to save are in coupon-ing, both paper and digital which are loaded on your loyalty shopping card or smart phones.  Don't forget that many stores allow you to combine MANUFACTURER coupons with STORE coupons to increase your savings.  You can check with your favorite stores to understand their policies as I find that the associates at check out don't always know the rules of their place of employment when it comes to coupon-ing.  

Buy on sale.  I stock up when my favorite marinara sauce is $1.25 a jar instead of $1.66.  Just a week ago I bought 10 cans of chicken broth, leftovers from the holidays but with a use by date of 2015.  I also bought brown and confectionery sugar for $0.25 a 2 pound bag.  DEALS!

But what foods are the most economical to feed a hungry family?  Pair these foods with the strategies above for a bigger savings.  

While grains breads and pastas take longer to digest so you'll feel full longer and they have more nutrients.  Look for labels that indicate "100% whole grain or 100% whole wheat".  

Beans and lentils are high protein foods and are typically less than $2.00 a pound.  A steaming pot of bean soup is a satisfying meal after a long day.  I prepare soups over the weekend and they are ready to reheat one night during the week.  I then store the "leftovers" in a gallon zip-lock bag (lay flat to freeze and they stack nicely in the freezer) for a meal later in the winter.  My family doesn't really enjoy the same meal more than once or twice in the same week.  

Believe it or not, frozen seafood like shrimp and fish is a good value.  Canned tuna in water makes a convenient low cost lunch.  

Frozen fruits and vegetables can offset the cost of out of season fruits.  Frozen fruits are processed at their peak of ripeness and freshness which saves the nutritional value.  Choose veggies without sauces for the best value,

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

30 day$ to a Clutter Free Life

30 days is all it takes to learn a new habit so...Ready, Set, Go!  Choose one or all of the following ideas to achieve a less cluttered home and life, decrease your stress and possibly save money while you are doing it too.  Practice your new clutter free tip daily for a more organized life in just one month!

Paper and laundry cause my home to be in more disarray than everything else combined so I will tackle those first.

1)  The MAIL:
Open it, read it, file it or toss it!
I use a plastic file envelope to store bills.  When they arrive I file them in the envelope to await the bi-weekly bill paying session.  I store any checks that need depositing here too.  I toss JUNK Mail as soon as I know it's junk, place magazines and newspapers in a basket and save them to read later.  No counter clutter!  Daily newspapers are placed in a decorative basket and thrown out on trash day.

Magazines are sequestered in decorative baskets and taken to the Half Price book store periodically to redeem for cash!

2)  The LAUNDRY:
Have hampers or laundry baskets in areas where your family sheds their dirties.  For us that is the teenager daughters bedroom AND Bathroom.   I run a load of  laundry almost every evening.  It gets paced in the dryer first thing in the morning and is ready to be hung up before I go to work.  Hung up=less ironing. Towels and undies can be left to sit in the dryer if I run short of time.

I'm fortunate enough to have a small laundry room that is close to a closet.  I store hangers on top of the dryer in a cardboard container I got for FREE from the local dry cleaner.  When clothes come out of the dryer they are folded or hung up and take up stairs later than night OR put in a closet to be ironed at a later date.

3)  Death or TAXES:
I have a shoe-box that I label with the year in big bold letters.  Any receipt, tax mailing, bank ledgers and statements all go into the box in the event I'll need them at tax time.  (see #1)

4)  A year of SCHOOL items
12 x 12 scrapbook boxes make a great storage place for report cards, art work and newspaper clippings.  If you scrapbook you'll have all of juniors year in one place and in order!  If not, label with the year and store away!

These are OLD boxes that I use to store scrapbook papers in since I never throw anything away but plastic ones are available at craft stores like Michael's or Joann's for under $10.

Check back for more tips to an organized life in my next post!