Summer Snacks For The Whole Family

Easy Summer Snacks

Disclosure: I received several products from Johnson & Johnson Healthcare Products Division of McNEIL-PPC, Inc. and The Motherhood as part of my participation in the LISTERINE® “Totally Take Care Of” campaign. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this post are my own. 

When summer rolls around, the last place I want to be is in the kitchen heating up the house or playing short-order cook to a house full of kids. I love that the grocery stores and farmer’s markets are stocked with fresh fruit and vegetables so I can have easy snacks available. Plus, CycleGuy is the master juicer in our home so delicious treats made with fresh juice are always on the menu.

With a busy schedule filled with camp, sleepovers, travel, and exploring the fun things around town, it’s nice to have easy, delicious, and healthy go-to snacks in the house. To help you get ready for summer and make sure your family is taken care when a “snack attack” sets in, I’ve put together some of my family’s favorite summer snacks. These are great for moms and dads, too, and when the kids have friends over too!

1. Frozen Grapes – one of my snack staples, frozen grapes are a great way to get liquid into the kids when they don’t want water and you don’t want them to have sugary drinks. Frozen grapes make for a fun alternative to ice cubes, too. You can also make frozen bananas by cutting bananas into rounds and freezing them in a single layer until firm. Blueberries work too, but I think they get mushy too quickly.

2. Rainbow Fruit Cups – instead of putting each fruit in a different bowl, use clear plastic cups and layer a bit of each fruit to make a rainbow. This is a great way to get the kids involved in making their own snacks. You can quickly and easily layer watermelon, mango, pineapple, strawberries, blueberries, kiwi, grapes (I usually cut them in half or quarters), and orange or tangerine segments. You can make them an extra-special treat with a dollop of whipped cream on top.

3. Frozen Juice Cubes – even if you rely on your ice maker, head to the dollar store and pick up a few ice cube trays to make your own ice cubes with fresh juice and fruit. Not only are they pretty, they’re a great way to add flavor to water and keep everyone hydrated as the mercury rises. Place a few pieces of fruit in each compartment of the ice cube tray, fill each with fresh juice, pop in the freezer, and now you have a tasty way to take care of that sweet tooth in a healthy and fresh way.

4. Quick and Easy Frozen Pudding Pops – I loved these when I was a kid. My mom would stick a spoon through the top of a pudding cup and stick it in the freezer for a few hours. These were so delicious! You can make your own pudding and pour them in to individual popsicle molds, but there’s something about those store-bought pudding cups that make these seem like such a special treat. Since they come in several flavors you can get whichever ones your family enjoys most. You can also do this with yogurt cups and have frozen yogurt pops, too!

5. Grilled Stone Fruit – while not exactly a quick snack, these are a wonderful dessert. I love grilled peaches, nectarines, and plums. Cut the fruit in half and remove the stone. Place them cut-side down on the grill until soft, about 10-15 minutes. Since every grill is different you’ll need to watch them the first few times you make them. Serve with ice cream, yogurt, or a drizzle of honey and you’ve got a quick and easy dessert everyone is sure to enjoy.

6. Graham Cracker Eclair Cake – this is not an everyday snack, but it’s a no-bake dessert that can be whipped up pretty quickly and is a great alternative to s’mores for a summer evening backyard cookout. When you know the kids are having healthy snacks throughout the day, you don’t feel guilty with this kid-friendly dessert.

And while you’re enjoying a summer evening outdoors, why not make sure you’ve got these 3 stargazing apps on your smartphone or tablet. I have fond memories of staying up late during the summer and looking at the stars. Today, technology makes it easier.

Don’t forget that good oral hygiene is especially important in the summer when the kids are snacking and maybe heading off to bed with a different routine. Walgreens has you totally taken care of on this with a range of wellness products, which includes Listerine Total Care products for the whole family.

With great snack options, fun desserts, and stargazing you’ll have this summer totally taken care of! And everyone will be smiling for the photos.

What summer memories do you remember most from your childhood?

Image Credit: Love From The Oven (edited with permission)

Sara

SEC OKs Use of Social Media To Share Corporate Information, But Do Investors Want That?

SEC Social Media

As a lover of tech and early adopter, I was intrigued when Marketwired contacted me and offered one of their newest research about investing. Along with the info they send me a great infographic that captured the research in visual form. It was very eye-opening.

On April 2, 2013 social media was officially deemed an acceptable venue for publicly traded companies to disclose material information to investors by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

As an “over 40” investor and user of social media, I’m not often the target of financial information that’s served up online. I see a lot of articles aimed at Millenials, but when it comes to most of us Gen-Xers and BabyBoomers we’re often not seen as people who access financial information online. And when you look at  people who are seen as visionaries or “in the know” in the financial industry you’re often looking as people over 40. With their heavy influence, they’re trying to use it to stop many of the changes the financial sector is trying to incorporate with regard to digitally accessing and sharing financial data and information simply because they don’t think it’s a good idea.

Part of me agrees that social media isn’t the right place to disseminate important information to investors, especially given all the crazy changes implemented on social networks that actually prevent us from seeing information we really want. Nonetheless, why should we need to wait days or weeks for a mailing when we’re online enough to get the information in more of a real-time framework?

Marketwired’s April 2013 research shows that younger people (Millennials) want the ability to get their financial information through social networks, if they so wish. Gen-Xers are still more traditional in how they wan to receive their important financial information, although this is such a large group that it’s actually not easy to generalize us “over-40” folks.

Some key findings of the Marketwired study include:

    • Early adopters see change as progress: While Warren Buffet’s Business Wire has stated that they believe the SEC ruling is a disservice to investors, the data shows the opposite. In fact, 70% of investors under 40 believe the SEC ruling to allow companies to distribute information via social media benefits investors. The data shows an emerging generational divide: 60% of respondents under 40 regularly consult social media to research investment options and 53% of respondents under 40 believe information provided through social media is credible when making an investment decision.
    • Resistance is futile: 49% of people say their companies block access to social networks, but that’s not stopping them. 57% of people under 40 regularly access social media on their personal devices, reinforcing their belief that news being shared on social channels is a critical element of the investment research process.
    • The future is already here: 40% say they are already using social media as a key source of information in the investment process. 80% of respondents believe more companies will disclose information via social media.

What do you think of companies using social media to share their important corporate info? Why does this matter? As the next generation of investors, analysts and researchers begin working on larger portfolios, social media will play a critical role in the process. This shift is already underway and will become more pronounced in the coming years. As a result, publicly traded companies can’t ignore social channels as a key investor relations tool.

Sara

6 Ways To Save On (Almost) Everything You Buy

Save on everything you buy

ways to save money

Shopping and saving is like a game to me. A game to get the best value on whatever it is I’m buying. With the advent of the internet, the game got even easier. No longer did I need to run from store to store or call and wait on hold to compare prices. Then came smart phones, which made comparison shopping easier. There are apps for comparison shopping, apps that will scan bar codes and tell you the best price in your area, online shopping apps that take you right to the product, and, of course, the internet to get online and create a great deal while still in the store.

I rarely pay full retail for things. And for those certain items I do pay full retail, well, I often still try to combine it with something to create a better value for me. With such ease of connectivity, it’s pretty easy to save something on almost everything you buy. But whether it’s online, a mailer, or other type of coupon/discount, the ability to save money is all around us.

6 Ways To Save Money On Almost Everything You Buy

1. Plan Ahead – To save the most, planning ahead is often your best bet. Knowing the cycle for the foods you and your family eat will keep you from spending full price. Even if you don’t have a coupon, buying on sale is always a win! Most everyday products are on a 3 month cycle at the store, so a little planning goes a long way. Then, of course, there are holiday and back-to-school sales where you can save on seasonal-type items. Need to replace a kitchen appliance, they often go on sale for Mother’s Day or Memorial Day or President’s Day or … get the idea? Power tools or lawn equipment? Father’s Day, maybe Memorial Day or 4th of July sales. And, of course, for many places the entire store is on sale for “back to school”. If you can wait, chances are you’ll find what you need on sale. Even with travel, there are often deals for people who plan ahead!

2. Google It – Yes, hop online and use your favorite search engine to see if you can find a coupon or promotion code. Even if you’re in a store, a quick online search may reveal a way to save a few bucks. Maybe it says you have to sign up for their newsletter, but if you ask about using a current coupon the associate may be willing to extend the savings to you. Type in the name of the store and the word “coupon” and see what comes up. Some stores use the word “promo” or “promotion” so you may need to check those as well. Usually the SEO is pretty good that either “coupon” or “promo” or “promotion” will return the same results.

3. Use a Price Comparison App – If you’re in the store and you want to see if the price you see is the best price, having a price comparison app can come in very handy. The three I like best are Amazon Price Checker, Red Laser, and Price Grabber. Price comparison apps can often help you find the best deal somewhere else, or even negotiate the current deal at the store you’re at. Sure, most stores don’t negotiate price but there are some items where they may. Especially on big-ticket items, many retailers would rather not lose the sale to a competitor.

4. Shop Where You Are Rewarded – There are certain stores I shop at for items I know don’t go on sale (my favorite Dior Lipstick, for example) because I get points or rewards for shopping. I may not get a dollar savings on that item, but I will get points for free products, discounts on future purchases (when I can then same on my favorite items), or quality sample items. If you’re already going to buy an item regardless of whether it’s on sale, then find a way to add value! This doesn’t apply just to physical products, because restaurants and many service providers reward their repeat clients. Amazon is one of the places where I’m almost always rewarded. There is the convenience factor of not having to pay shipping because I have Amazon Prime and use Subscribe & Save. But, my secret weapon on Amazon has always been Amazon Filler. Long before Amazon Prime I had to get up to $25 to get the free shipping. With Amazon Filler I was almost always able to get free shipping on those items that were in the $23-$25 range. You’d be amazed at what you can get on Amazon for $0.12!

5. Procrastinate – No, I’m not contradicting myself. I know Plan Ahead is on this list. But, let’s be real. We all know there are times we’re rewarded for putting off the buying decision. Travel providers are known for having last minute deals. So if you’re ready for anything, you may be rewarded for waiting around. Bakeries and florists often discount their items before they close, so take advantage of that. Even grocery stores have areas of the store where they discount fresh meats, dairy, and produce that must be used within 24-hours.

6. Ask – Remember when you were a kid and you’d ask for pretty much anything you wanted. Sometimes you got it and sometimes you didn’t. Savings are the same way. If you shop at local stores, and are a frequent customer, maybe the owner will say yes. If you’re making a large order, why not ask for a discount. Are you getting things for your kid’s teacher? Then ask if there is a discount for educators. Naturally, you don’t ask every time. You don’t want to end up being “that customer”. But if you’re strategic about your ask, chances are you’ll be able to save something. Is there a possibility you can barter for what you need? Are you willing to take a floor model for a discount? If you can wait, you can inquire if the item will be going on sale soon and if you buy now is there a price adjustment policy.

It doesn’t matter how much money you make or have in the bank. What matters is how prudently you use that money. Those “millionaire next door” people aren’t throwing money around like a drunk sailor. They’re making savvy buying decisions and spending their money wisely. Being aware of how you’re spending your money doesn’t mean you have to be cheap, only eat beans and rice, or vacation in your backyard.

There are more ways you can save (almost) every time you shop. What are some of your tips?

Sara

Budget Friendly Summer Fun, Is It Possible?

Wildlife Garden image

When I was a kid there were no big family trips. No amusement parks. I’m not whining or complaining, just stating facts. We weren’t the camping type of family and we didn’t have the money to take major trips.

My mom always found a way to get my brother and me to scout camp though. I remember looking through the brochure and figuring out which week I was going to go. My brother and I went different weeks. That alone was like a vacation. For as much as I love my brother now, we were constantly at each other during the summers of our youth. Fortunately for my mom, she worked full time.

Now that I’m a mom, summer activities are a big concern for me. As a homeschooler, for me summer is just more time to learn. But in the paradigm of kid activity, summer is high tide. Activity overload, overloaded. There are entire magazines devoted to sleep-away summer camps. And oh, boy, are some of them pricey!

Sleep away camps? Let’s just say that’s not happening! Sure, I went to sleep away camp for the first time when I was 7. But I had been getting myself to and from school by myself since I was 5. And, well, truth be told, I’m not ready for BabyGirl to go yet. There, I said it! I’m trying to psych myself up for when she is accepted into the youth symphony and has to go on the overnight retreat. I need a few months, so just go with me on this.

Day camps aren’t cheap either. One of the camp I wish I could go to, I mean send BaybGirl to, is $795 for a week. Well, not really a week, week. Rather it is 6 hours for 4 days and then 3 hours for the 5th day. So you don’t have to do the math, that’s about $88 per hour. For $88 an hour, when she’s done BabyGirl better be able to get a part time job! That being said, she won’t be doing that camp this summer.

We do a lot throughout the year, so for us summer is a time when I look forward to less activity. BabyGirl will be on a summer recreational swim team and she’ll attend a week of music camp. There may be one or two other scheduled camps but at $200 – $300 per week it’s expensive.

I was talking with my friend, Sally, at lunch about this. We figured that summer activities for the kids would run about $1,000. That’s crazy! OK, maybe not, but I can’t imagine where a family with a few kids would come up with several thousand dollars for summer activities.

As a frugalista, I’m into finding quality activities that fit my budget. One of the biggest changes I’m making this year is that I’m looking to the city aquatics program for our summer swim rather than the private swim program. I’ve researched it and have heard good things. And for 1/4 the price, I think we can manage for 7 weeks.

We’re pretty fortunate to live about a mile from a terrific community college that offers a summer Kid’s College program with activities that range from art and theater to math and engineering. The classes are very reasonable and are kept small to allow the kids to both learn and have fun.

And although we don’t have a pool, we have a very gracious neighbor who extends an open invitation for us to come over and swim. Some days it’s just nice to know we can go over there and BabyGirl can play with a friend and I can have adult conversation.

I know there are many options to use our garden membership and museum passes, making for inexpensive summer fun. There is always the Stuffington Bear Factory and Cerreta Candy Company, both of which are free and pretty decent. And indoors!

It is possible to have a budget friendly summer with kids at home. It take planning, something I’m probably late to doing right now. And it takes the understanding that fun can be had at home too. Even if it means ones house will likely be covered with glitter by time August rolls around.

How do you plan for summer in your home? I know y’all have great suggestions on how mom can avoid going insane because the kids are bored.

Sara

It’s cold; We Have Electricity; but I refuse to turn on the heat

Cute Penguin

I woke up to the house being 58 degrees. Baby it’s cold outside … and inside. I was toasty and warm all night under my down comforter and extra blanket throw. My house is fantastic in that it holds heat very well and in the summer I don’t have crazy cooling bills because we thought ahead and had it built to work with the blaring sun beating down on all those 100+ days.

Don’t get me wrong. Now that I’m out of bed, I’m freezing. I’m dressed like I’m on an expedition to Antarctica to find the penguin-child I sponsor from a late-night infomercial telling me that saving the penguins is up to me. If a delivery guy comes to the door he may very well laugh. Maybe I won’t answer the door. Or I’ll hide behind the couch while BabyGirl answers. She is, after all, dressed like it’s the middle of July.

I had a conversation this morning on Facebook with a friend who kept calling me cheap for not turning on the heat. I argued back that I’m not cheap. She kept typing in this website name as proof of my cheapness. Emphatically I’d yell ‘I AM NOT CHEAP!’. Really, I’m not.

I’m frugal and I watch what I spend. I would never deny my family a comfortable house. And that’s part of the reason I refuse to turn on the heat. It’s me and BabyGirl and she’s not cold. She’s wearing pants because I’ve insisted. Her first outfit of choice was a skort and a tee. ‘Back to your room’, I tell her. It’s cold outside! It’s chilly in the house.

‘But mommie ….. ‘, I cut her off. I know what she’s going to tell me. That she’s not cold. And she’s not. It’s just how she is. I put my blue-fingered hands on her face and she lets out a sigh and thanks me for cooling her off. It’s now 62 degrees in my house.

I’m cold. But then again, I’m wearing a sweatshirt in the middle of the summer. I can warm myself us easily.

Refusing to turn on the heat isn’t some major statement about my finances or frugality or cheapness or needed to save or anything like that. I’m not turning on the heat because this is Phoenix. In January. The sky is blue, the sun is out. The Phoenix Open Golf tournament is in town. All the people from northern states and Canada are vacationing here, the Valley of the Sun.

I’m not turning on my heat because it hasn’t been on in a long time and I don’t want to start now. Because the cold is just temporary. And my daughter is not cold. Not even when it was 50 degrees in our house last night. Those snugly (notice I used the word ‘ugly’ in there, because I crack myself up!) things are looking quite attractive.

Sara

The Importance of Understanding Food Freshness Dating

1951 Eggs
photo credit: Ethan Prater

We’ve all seen the ‘use by’ or ‘best by’ dates on food. And we know there there to protect us from eating spoiled foods. But recently I learned a little more about these food dates and was surprised to find what all of it means.

These ‘freshness’ dates are on all kinds of food. We expect it on food that has to be refrigerated. Pantry foods, if you’re like me then you know that after awhile things can get stale so you toss ’em. But more and more food manufacturers are highlighting these freshness codes not only so your food is at its peak but also to protect themselves from liability.

You pretty much know when milk has gone bad. Especially if you’ve ever poured it over your last bits of cereal and ….. Well, let’s just leave it at we know when milk has gone bad. But what about foods that don’t really ‘go bad’ but have ‘use by’ or ‘sell by’ dates? I love the great deals on foods the store marks down b/c it’s nearing the end of it’s time on the shelves. But is that really a good idea. And a good use of money?

I thought I’d share with you what some of these food freshness terms mean so you’re able to make better decisions as to how you spend your money and whether something really is a great deal or will you need to eat the 10 boxes of food so quickly or else you’ll end up tossing ’em.

Sell by” tells the store how long to display the product for sale. Buy these product before the date expires. This date is for the retailer, so the store knows when to pull the item. Feel free to reach to the back and get the one with the farthest out date. The focus is quality of the item (freshness, taste, and consistency) rather than whether it is going to spoil soon.

Best if used by (or before)” date. This is a quality issue, not safety of the item. This date is recommended for best flavor or quality. It is not a purchase or safety date. Sour cream, for instance, is already sour, but can have a fresher taste when consumed before this date.

Use by” date is the last date recommended for using the product at peak quality. The date is determined by the manufacturer of the product.

If you can’t consume 45 boxes of pasta in a year, then don’t buy it just because its $0.25 or even free. Dry pasta only lasts about 12 months before it will start to taste stale and flat.

And those marshmallows that go on sale after the holidays that you’re thinking you’ll stock up on and save until next year? They only have a shelf like of about 10 months. So if you do buy them, just double check them before using them after any date printed on the package.

One item in my fridge has always intrigued me. Worcestershire sauce. I don’t use it a lot. It’s more of a product I use to make marinades. But a few years ago I got a pack from Costco. It’s only 3 of us. When am I going to use that much Worcestershire sauce? So I gave one bottle away and kept the other.  That stuff has one of the longest shelf lives! I’m not sure if I should ever use it again, though, because if it can last in the refrigerator up to 10 years I’m not sure if it’s really a sauce or an embalming fluid. It just weirded me out.

Almost every product now has some sort of coding or date on it. Keep them in mind when you’re shopping so you get the freshest foods possible. And, if you’re stocking up try to keep your oldest items toward the front so you don’t end up wasting money.

I hope you found this information to be helpful. Fresh foods taste best and we deserve it! Are you ever concerned about or keep an eye on food freshness dating?

Sara

Deciding What Is Important: Needs vs. Wants and Striking a Balance

Priorities
photo credit: Banalities

At the BlogWorld Conference I met Annabel Candy. Actually it was at an after-conference party hosted by the very gracious Darren of @problogger fame. Thank you, Darren! Your hospitality and kindness are deeply appreciated. Annabel has a successful blog, Get in the Hot Spot, about helping to make work and life better mesh with what you envision for yourself. She even has a book about Successful Blogging!

Today I was catching up on things in my Reader and came across her post about how she and her husband pretty much got rid of everything they owned, packed up their three young children and moved from New Zealand to Costa Rica for 18 months. Talk about getting rid of material possessions. Take some time to read it and you, too, will soon ask yourself if all this ‘stuff’ is necessary.

I’ve been looking at my house for several months now wondering how I’m going to fit all of this into a tiny house in the Bay Area. BabyGirl has even asked if she gets to take certain things. I’ve actually struggled with this because ‘stuff’ is often the outward sign of success. And how do I get rid of this stuff without getting rid of what identifies me and my family as successful people?

Is it the stuff that makes us successful? Because we can show people these things and say ‘look at my new Louboutins!’? For many people that’s what it is. Conspicuous consumption. Telling others that you are important because of the car you drive, the handbag you carry, the shoes you wear, the things you have. But is that true?

Of couse not. I have a growing list of things I want to do someday. And being able to decide what is important will actually get me there faster than if I’m focused on trying to impress others or justify buying things because I deserve them. Needs vs. Wants. Yet I’m conflicted because I like a lot of this stuff. And some of this junk, er, stuff, is sentimental. And I can attach sentiment to all kinds of things. Which explains why my garage is full of what most people would probably call crap and sell for 50 cents at a yard sale.

But this is where it gets a bit weird. Sure, I need shoes. Do I need a pair of Louboutin shoes? Of course not. But, at the same time does it mean I should only spend $5 or buy my shoes from the local Goodwill? I don’t think it means that either.

There has to be some middle ground. A place where I don’t feel like I need to keep justifying why I bought that particular item. The need vs. want dichotomy gets a lot of play from finance experts seeking to explain how to live a frugal lifestyle. No, I don’t need cable. No, I don’t need an iPhone. But do I need to live your way oh financial expert or risk financial ruin? I don’t think so.

Annabel mentions that selling most of their possessions left her feeling free. Not just free because she does’t have stuff. But free because she realized as she ventured through an amazing experience with her family that it really wasn’t the stuff that made her or her family happy anyway.

As we get further into the holiday season keep this in mind: creating experiences is truly what living is about. Things are nice but at the end of the day isn’t it really the experience or the memories of the people, the place, the sight, sounds, and smells that matter? The holidays can easily become overwhelming and out of control trying to get ‘the hot’ items or worrying about missing the next great deal. The stress can suck the fun out of this joyous occasion. Truly, it’s really not worth it.

Do what feels right. And do it with love not only for those who mean the most to you but for you as well.

There are a lot of wants and they’re not always compatible with one another. Take the time to sort them out. Find balance between those things you want and those that are true necessities. It is possible to live with less and truly have more!

Have you ever thought about this idea of living with less so you can have more? It’s been swirling around my head for quite some time. I’d love your thoughts and insight.

Sara

Bubbe Says: Make your savings tangible

My grandmother dispenses wisdom, although now that she’s nearing 90 she often feels that what she offers might be out of date.  That’s a picture of her.  She was blowing bubbles with BabyGirl.  Isn’t she adorable?  Now that I’ve been blogging for a few months though, I’ve been asking my grandma (BabyGirl calls her Bubbe) more about how she’s lived so frugally but has so much and has been so many places.

She grew up at a time when there were no credit cards, personal loans were nearly non-existent and if you didn’t have the money in the bank you couldn’t buy it. So cash it was.

My grandma explained to me that being able to live the life you want is not as much about spending less, but more about actually saving the money you don’t spend. She’s always been a couponer, but I never knew that when she came home she would put aside cash in a special envelope equal to the amount she saved in coupons.

In one of our recent calls she shared the following – Five Ways To Make Savings Tangible:

1. Set aside the money you saved by using coupons.

2. If you go out to dinner with a friend, share a meal and set aside the money you would have spent on a full meal.

3. When you need to buy a gift, set a budget and if you can buy the item at a discount the money you saved should be put aside.

4. Send in for mail in rebates and when you get the check, deposit it in your saving account.

5. If you pay with cash and have coins, take out anything other than the quarters and put them in a jar until it is full then deposit it.

When you make an effort to save money, make sure you have something to show for it!

Sara

5 Ways To Live Below Your Means Without Feeling It

Money Clothesline

When you envision living below your means, what comes to mind?  I often thought that living below ones means meant that you had to make major sacrifices, wear clothes I didn’t really want or drive a car that I was embarrassed to be seen in.  However, over time I’ve discovered that there are ways to live below your means and not necessarily sacrifice a comfortable living.

The most important step in any savings program is to start slowly and proceed at your pace.  It’s much easier to find ways to cut out $5 – $10 a week than it is to eliminate $500 overnight.  I’ve come up with 5 ways you can live below your means, saving significantly, without really feeling it.

1.  Share, Borrow, Trade – There are many local and online resources where you can find items at no cost.  Your local library has new releases of both books and DVDs.  You neighbor may have a yard tool you can borrow.  Online resources such as Paperback Book Swap, Craigslist and Freecycle can help you reap significant savings.

2.  Buy with cash – Many financial experts, such as Dave Ramsey, say that you will spend 10% – 15% less if you use cash instead of credit.  There is something about handing over cash that makes you stop and contemplate just a moment longer.

3.  Check with your service providers to lower your costs – periodically you should call your local providers such as phone, cable, internet and ask if there are better rates available?  If you are given a lower rate, actually SAVE THE DIFFERENCE by transferring it to a savings account.

4.  Never pay full retail – If you are buying online, before you check out ALWAYS search for a coupon code.  It’s easy to do and only takes a few minutes.  All you have to do is type in the name of the website you’re purchasing from along with the word ‘coupon’ or ‘code’.  Whatever you save, make it an actual savings by transferring the money into your savings account.

5.  Eat/Cook at home – eating out can be costly.  Even if it’s the $1 menu at the fast food giant of your choice, it adds up over time.  In addition to saving money, eating/cooking at home can save you calories and help ensure you eat a healthy and balanced meal.  By eating more at home, your wallet and your body will thank you.

By incorporating these 5 simple changes into your daily routine you can see that living below your means without really feeling is possible!

Being Frugal and Being Fit: A Perfect Match?

healthy_weight_loss

Recently I got to thinking about weight loss and the struggles most people have with weight.  All you have to do is turn on the tv or radio and you’ll hear countless ads.  This being January, the whole ‘New Year, New You’ mantra is bantered around and used to hawk everything from fitness equipment to weight-loss pills to everyday groceries.  And then it hit me!

Having lost 65 pounds and kept it off for nearly 5 years, I started to wonder how I could manage my weight AND my grocery budget.  Is it possible?  I think it is!

I come from a ‘clean your plate there are children starving in [fill in country your parents used]’ kind of family.  We were never hungry, but my mom did have to figure out how to stretch everything to make sure there was enough.  My grandparents often had us over for dinner, and their depression-era beliefs were definitely imposed.

When I decided to lose weight I was hovering around 200 (gasp!, I know!) and tried to tell myself it was baby weight.  I knew the truth, though.  So, I signed up for Weight Watchers and thus began my journey toward a more healthful understanding of food.  Don’t get me wrong, I eat plenty of stuff I know I shouldn’t.  But, I am more mindful of what I eat which is definitely a step in the right direction.

But how does being frugal mesh with being fit?  I’m sure you’ve heard of and read about the concept of serving size.  Being of the hunter/gather tribe my brain still thinks that I may not be able to find myself a mastodon upon which to dine and thus I need to gorge myself each time I eat.  Except that I can easily find my mastodon-equivalent at my local grocery store.  So do I really need to eat a 10-ounce steak when a serving size is 4-ounces?  That’s 2 meals!

And then I finally got it.  My A-ha! moment.  If I prepared meals that were appropriate serving size I would (a) save money and (b) lose/control my weight.  I’m brilliant!  Since I don’t need to eat or serve to my family all this excess food I can better control my food budget AND encourage healthy eating habits — especially to my young daughter.

Continue reading “Being Frugal and Being Fit: A Perfect Match?”

Sara