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Simple Savings
05/07/2010
IconSave on Groceries Before You Leave Home By Jill Cooper LivingOnADime.com One of the easiest ways to save money on your grocery bill starts before you even leave the house. It's no extra work, you don't have to deprive yourself of anything and you don't have to clip any coupons. What is it? Stop wasting food. On average most families throw away 50% of the food they buy. If you have trouble believing that then watch your family's eating habits for the next few days. How many times did your child eat only half of his lunch or dinner or drink only half of his glass of milk or juice? How much food gets thrown away when you wash dishes? How many fruits and vegetables have rotted and been tossed? How much meat have you thrown away because it is freezer burned? And what about those leftovers in the fridge or the cartons of sour milk? If this is you, do you realize if you spend $400 a month on groceries you are literally throwing $200 of it into the trash? What would you think if someone you knew took two $100 bills and threw them away?!? That would make dumpster divers out of the most genteel among us. Better planning keeps you from throwing away so much food, saving you money! Here are some ideas on how to help you to stop the waste: Only fill a child's (or adult's) glass half full if they normally don't drink it all. You can always give them more when that is gone. If they do have left over milk or juice at the end of the meal put it in the fridge for them to finish at another time. When you get ready to cook a piece of meat like a roast or chicken, plan ahead. For example, when I take a roast out to thaw I don't think, "Ok, we'll have roast and mashed potatoes tonight." But I think "I will have roast and mashed potatoes tonight, Bar-B-Q beef tomorrow and beef and noodles the next night." That way you won't find yourself three days later gazing guiltily at that dying leftover roast thinking, "I really should do something with this but what?" and then end up throwing it out a week later. Check your fridge the night before you go to the grocery store. That way you can plan your menus and choose what to buy based on the leftovers you have. If all else fails, make one night a week as leftover night. That's when you set out all your odds and ends of leftovers for everyone to polish off. This is especially good if you do it the night before you buy groceries because this leaves your fridge empty for the new things you are buying tomorrow. Jill Cooper and Tawra Kellam are frugal living experts and the editors of LivingOnADime.com . As a single mother of two, Jill Cooper started her own business without any capital and paid off $35,000 debt in 5 years on $1,000 a month income. Tawra and her husband paid off $20,000 debt in 5 years on $22,000 a year income. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com. More >>

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05/07/2010
IconWhen Daughters' Financial Emergencies Cause Financial Strain Tawra Kellam LivingOnADime.com Susan from Texas asks: "As a single mother of two grown daughters, scratching and clawing my way out of substantial credit card and other debt, please give me some ideas about dealing with daughters' emergencies, specifically health issues, not life-threatening but urgent never the less. My daughters work full time and dabble in college. Both have health insurance but the one who needed assistance (I volunteered) did not think that it was in effect at the time of the incident. I was going to have the cost of the dental problem put on a credit card but her Dad intervened and paid for it so I was off the hook." I think the bigger question here is one that I have dealt with for many years and that is, living very sparingly, never having enough to cover unexpected expenses and then putting those unexpected and sometimes living above my means expenses on credit. Now that I live alone I am trying to remedy that as quickly as possible. Guilt as a single parent ends up being very expensive. Tawra: You said "Guilt as a single parent ends up being very expensive." -- I would say that sounds like it right there to me. You don't need to worry about your daughters' expenses. I understand being a parent you want to help out but if they are working adults it's not your responsibility. They need to be responsible with their money and save back money each month to cover what their insurance won't . If that means cutting the cell phone, eating out or whatever then that's their responsibility to do it. If you are paying for your own stuff then start living below your means ASAP and try and get that debt paid off. It's not always easy or fun but it sounds like you need to worry about your expenses and not theirs right now. I'm not saying to be unreasonable. If they get $50,000 in medical expenses and need to live with you or whatever to pay it off, of course help them out if you can. But if it's minor stuff then let them take care of it. Susan: Thanks so much. Sometimes we answer our own problems when we put pen to paper and it jumps right back at us! I will always be there for my kids; however, I want them to grow up and become accountable and learn from their mistakes and life, etc. Tawra Kellam is an expert in frugal living and the editor of LivingOnADime.com . Tawra and her husband paid off $20,000 debt in 5 years on $22,000 a year income. Visit us for money saving tips and free recipes!Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com. More >>

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05/07/2010
IconWhat to Cook When You're Exhausted By Ruth Haag www.manageliving.com You've had a long, hard day at work only to get home to discover it is your turn to cook dinner. You really want something nice, but have only about 15 minutes of energy left. Here is what my husband, Bob would do: Bob's quick dinner solution # 1 Look in your refrigerator and freezer. Find some of these things (it's ok to not find all of them): Onion Garlic Sausage Chicken Green beans Broccoli Zucchini Cauliflower Peas Green pepper Paprika and Cumin or Sage, Basil and Oregano Tomatoes Cut up what you have, and keep in piles on the counter. Get out the frying pan, add a pat of butter and a dollop of olive oil. Put the ingredients into the pan and cook them in the order listed. Turn off the heat and add the tomatoes last, so that they just get warm, but don't get overcooked. Scrounge around for some bread and serve. Bob's quick dinner solution #2 Start some rice cooking Find a steak in the freezer Start the charcoal grill outside (in any weather) Make a tossed salad Grill the steak Serve Set a nice table No matter how tired you are, take a brief moment to set a nice table. Your busy work world will melt away when you sit in the luxury of a good meal and a nice environment. Use a serving bowl, not the skillet, to serve the meal. Make sure that you have all of the proper utensils. This is not a time for sporks; think about adding a cloth napkin. In the winter, candles really make the meal special. About the author: Ruth Haag's "Useable Cookbooks Series" was designed to help her family learn to cook, so that Ruth would have time free to run her company, and to write other books. Listen to Ruth and Bob Haag weekly on their Internet Radio Show, Manage Living, at www.modavox.com/VoiceAmericaBusiness . They will help you manage the work world; and will tell you how to take those solutions home, to better manage your home life. Visit their website, www.manageliving.com . Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com. More >>

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05/07/2010
IconEaster Egg-stravaganza! By Tawra Kellam LivingOnADime.com OK, so the kids noticed on the calendar that Easter is approaching and they want to make a huge production of dying eggs. In the past, the little stickers you bought at the store sufficed, but now they want the real thing. Here are some old standards with a few new ideas for you. One important note: When the kids get really excited about egg dying, don't feel sorry for them and pour the left over egg dye in their bath water so they can have more fun (no matter how much they beg and plead! Especially if it's food coloring). Someone might panic and declare a citywide medical quarantine if they see your kids dyed all sorts of strange colors in their Easter finery. Before you decorate Easter eggs, cover the entire table with newspaper. Keep a huge roll of paper towels or rags handy for messes. Have each kid wear one of dad's old (now disposable) tee shirts. Making Easter Egg Stands: Cut toilet paper roll cores into one inch cylinders and use for egg stands. Decorate with stickers or paint. Decorating Eggs: Traditional method Hard boil eggs. Fill several mugs with boiling water and add 1-2 tsp. vinegar. Place a few drops of desired food coloring in each mug. Place eggs in mugs for several minutes until eggs reach desired shades. Remove with a spoon. Place on paper towel to dry. When dry, polish with a small amount of shortening on a paper towel. Buff until glossy. You can draw or write on the eggs with a light colored or white crayon before dipping. The drawing will remain white after the egg is dipped. To clean out mugs, put a little bleach water in the cups and soak for a few minutes. Natural Easter Egg Dyes If you would like to try dying eggs naturally, try the following: Yellow-- yellow onion skins, turmeric (frac12; tsp. per cup water) celery leaves Orange--any yellow dye plus beet juice Red--beets, paprika, red onion skins Pink--cranberry juice Blue--blackberries, grape juice concentrate, red cabbage Brown--black tea, white oak, juniper berry, coffee, barberry Light purple--blackberries, grapes, violets Green--alfalfa, spinach, kale, violet blossom plus frac14; tsp. baking soda, tansy, nettle, chervil, sorrel, parsley, carrot tops, beet tops or dip yellow egg in blue dye Hard boil eggs with 1 tsp. vinegar in the water. Place dying ingredients in non-aluminum pans, cover with water and boil 5 minutes to 1 hour until desired color is achieved. Use enough material to make at least 1 cup dye. Crush ingredients as they boil to extract as much dye as possible. Strain the dye. Most dyes should be used hot. Let each egg sit in the dye until it reaches the desired color. Some dyes will take longer than others to make the desired colored on the egg. Remove the egg and let dry. Glitter Eggs- Place 1 tablespoon each of glue and water in a cup. Stir the mixture and then paint the eggs with it. Sprinkle with glitter. This can also add sparkle to already dyed eggs! Crepe Paper Eggs- Wet a white or dyed egg. Dab torn pieces of colored tissue paper or pieces of pretty colored napkins on the eggs. When the paper dries, the paper falls off and leaves the color behind on the egg. Decoupaged eggs - Tear small pieces of wrapping paper, napkins, stickers, or clip art. Mix equal amounts of glue and water. Paint egg with glue mixture. Place paper on top and then cover with more glue mixture. Let dry. Spotted Eggs- Place 1 tsp. of cooking oil in dye. Dip the egg. The oil will cause the dye to make an irregular pattern on the egg. Waxed Eggs- Dip a portion of the eggs in melted paraffin or candle wax. Then dip them in the dye. Remove from dye. Dry and peel off the wax. The egg will be white on one half and colored on the other half. You can also dip in dye before waxing to get two colors. Hollow Eggs- Poke a hole in one end of an egg with a very small needle. Poke another slightly larger hole in the other end. Then blow on the small end and the egg will come out the other side. Decorate as desired. Tawra Kellam is the author of the frugal cookbook Dining On A Dime: Eat Better, Spend Less. For more free tips and recipes visit her web site at LivingOnADime.com . Get your own FREE copy of Tawra's Quick Dinner e-book here . Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com. More >>

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05/07/2010
IconKid-Friendly Treat: Best Ever Granola By Cheryl Tallman and Joan Ahlers www.FreshBaby.com Granola can be great tasting hippie food, but buyer beware. On one side, some of the packaged brands cram a lot of unfamiliar flavors in the mix. While these ingredients are often healthy, the flavors can be tough to swallow for kids. On the flip side, the more mainstream brands cram a lot sugar and artificial ingredients into their products which put them on par with the nutritional value of a candy bar. Sticking to basic ingredients is the trick. Simple flavors - oatmeal, pecans and cranberries baked with natural goodness. This recipe is so simple, that homemade granola may soon become a staple in your house for breakfasts and snacks! Best Granola Ever is perfect for family members 3-99 years old. Ingredients: 4 cups of old-fashioned oats 1 frac12; cups chopped pecans frac12; cup packed brown sugar frac12; tsp salt frac12; tsp cinnamon frac14; cup cooking oil frac14; cup honey 1 tsp vanilla 1 cup dried cranberries Directions: Preheat over to 300 degrees. In a large bowl, mix the oats, pecans, salt and cinnamon. In a saucepan warm the oil and honey and stir in the vanilla. Carefully pour the liquid over the oat mixture. Stir gently with a wooden spoon until the mixture is evenly coated. Spread the granola onto a large cookie sheet (15X10X1 inch). Bake 40 minutes, stirring carefully every 10 minutes. Remove from oven and cool completely. Stir in dried cranberries. Storage: Store granola in an air-tight container at room temperature for one week or in the freezer for 3 months. Makes 9-10 servings. About the authors: Cheryl Tallman and Joan Ahlers are sisters, the mothers of five children and founders of Fresh Baby ( www.FreshBaby.com ). They are the creators of the award-winning So Easy Baby Food Kit and Good Clean Fun Placemats, available at many fine specialty stores and national chains including Target and Whole Foods Markets. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com. More >>

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05/07/2010
IconToo Many Oranges? by Tawra Kellam LivingOnADime.com It's that time of year. You found a really good deal on oranges but you purchased a few more than you can eat. Now what do you do with them. Here are a few suggestions from LivingOnADime.com to get you started. 1. Make juice out of the oranges and then use the peels for Candied Orange Peels. 2. Use the leftover syrup from Candied Orange Peels on pancakes or French Toast. The syrup can also be used to make popsicles. 3. Wash peels thoroughly. Grate the peel before using and freeze the zest for later use. 4. Cut up orange segments and use as a garnish for salads. Use in fruit salad or sliced as a side dish. 5. Cut up slices and use a garnish for meat or relish dishes. 6. Cut up peels. In a saucepan add peels, 1 cinnamon stick, a few cloves and fill to the top with water. Simmer for a nice potpourri or dry peels and use in dry potpourri. Easy Orange Marmalade 1 orange* 1 Tbsp. water frac12; cup sugar Cut the un-peeled orange and place into a blender or food processor with the water. Pour mixture into a saucepan with the sugar and boil for 15 minutes. *If a non-organic orange is used wash peels thoroughly before peeling. Candied Orange Peel Peels from 3 large oranges, grapefruits or lemons* 1 teaspoon salt 3 cups sugar water Cut the peel on each fruit into quarters. Pull the peel off in these quarter sections. Slice peel into frac14; inch-wide strips. In a saucepan add salt and cover with cold water. Boil 15 minutes, pour off water and add fresh water. Boil 20 minutes. Change water again and boil another 20 minutes. Drain and cover with 2 frac12; cups sugar and 1 cup water. Simmer, stirring constantly, until all the syrup has boiled away. Do not let the peels scorch. Spread on wax paper. Roll peels in remaining sugar. Let dry. Store in an airtight container. Keeps one week or can be frozen. *If non-organic fruit is used wash peels thoroughly before peeling. Jill Cooper and Tawra Kellam are frugal living experts and the editors of LivingOnADime.com . As a single mother of two, Jill Cooper started her own business without any capital and paid off $35,000 debt in 5 years on $1,000 a month income. Tawra and her husband paid off $20,000 debt in 5 years on $22,000 a year income. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com. More >>

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05/07/2010
IconKymythy's Kitchen Nutrition: Summer in a Glass By Kymythy R. Schultze, CN www.Kymythy.com Question: The sky is gray and the air is cold. I can't afford a cruise to Bahamas; so how about a recipe to lift my spirits and remind me that summer will return! Answer: Okay, but that cruise sounds pretty good too - can I come? In addition to the following recipe, you might consider using full-spectrum lighting in your home and workplace. These bulbs produce light waves that more closely resemble those of the sun. Without the sun's light, some people can become unhappy or depressed. So, screw in some full-spectrum lighting, sip on the following smoothie, and imagine yourself basking on the cruise ship's sun deck! Tropical Treat 1 banana 1 cup pineapple 1 cup peeled papaya 1/2 teaspoon fresh ginger Coconut milk to taste Cut fruit into chunks (use fruit from the freezer section if fresh isn't available). Put the first four ingredients in a blender or food processor and puree; add coconut milk to desired consistency. Garnish with a sprinkle of shredded coconut. Coconut milk is made from the expressed juice of grated coconut and water. One cup contains more than 5 grams of protein, along with important minerals such as magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, copper, and zinc. The medium-chain fatty acids in coconut are easily digested and absorbed. They provide cells with a direct, efficient source of energy and may improve the body's absorption of other nutrients. They also increase metabolism and may help with weight loss. Coconut is also rich in lauric acid, a fatty acid that's antifungal, antiviral, antibacterial, and good for the immune system. Coconut has also been used successfully in the treatment of skin and digestive disorders, chronic fatigue syndrome, and hypothyroidism. Kymythy R. Schultze is a Clinical Nutritionist (C.N.) and has been a trailblazer in the field of nutrition for nearly two decades. For healthy delicious recipes, check out her book "The Natural Nutrition No-Cook Book" and for your pet's health "Natural Nutrition for Dogs and Cats" both published by Hay House, Inc. Please visit Kymythy's website at www.Kymythy.com . Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com. More >>

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05/07/2010
Icon20 Foolish Ways to Spend Money By Al Jacobs With the passing of 2007 and a fresh new year upon us, it's appropriate that we renew our past financial resolutions and vow, once again, to spend our money wisely. Of course simply making the pledge is no guarantee that our dollars will work diligently. Wasteful ways to use resources are easily adopted, and these habits become a way of life. In the hope of dissuading you from blowing your often hard-earned dollars in a fashion you'll later regret, I've listed twenty not uncommon expenditures that are often ill-advised. Pay close attention. If you see yourself in any of the following scenarios, perhaps you should give a second thought to what you're doing. You've just handed the clerk at Rite Aid Pharmacy $4.34 for a package of Marlboro cigarettes. You will repeat this procedure tomorrow. By year's end you'll be $1,584 poorer, while wheezing just a little more. To safeguard your wife and children, you purchase a $250,000 life insurance policy. At the urging of the agent, it is a universal policy with a $3,000 per year premium instead of a term policy at only $350. During a week-end visit to Palm Desert, California, you book accommodations at the Marriott Resort and Spa at $350 per night, despite the fact that an equally suitable room is available two miles away at Residence Inn by Marriott for $120. On the recommendation of your auto Owner's Manual, you regularly fill your tank with 91 octane premium gasoline, even though it performs equally well on less expensive 87 octane fuel. With your insurance representative's assurance of it's suitability as a short-term investment, allowing early withdrawal of your money if necessary, you just purchased a variable annuity. You periodically permit the balance on your bank checking account to drop below the $2,500 minimum required to forestall a $15 monthly service charge. Although the tube of Wet 'n Wild lipstick, available at Target for $1.39, contains the same ingredients found in the Chanel brand sold at Macy's for $25, you prefer to patronize the latter establishment for this product. You make a generous annual contribution to your local branch of United Way, despite the fact that you have no idea how the money is used or in what activities the organization actually engages. To enable your daughter to enroll at Columbia University, an institution with annual tuition and fees of $25,922, plus $7,966 room board, where she will major in Earth Environmental Engineering, you have just placed a $150,000 mortgage loan on your home. To demonstrate your apparent prosperity to friends and relatives, you have assumed the lease on a 2007 Cadillac Escalade Sport Utility Vehicle, at $785.91 per month, with 34 months remaining on the lease. You are not certain what your liability may be at the end of that period. You enthusiastically purchase lottery tickets each week in the hope that you will become a winner. Whenever the advertised jackpot becomes exceptionally large, you increase the number of tickets you buy. Though the effective annual interest rate on your credit card balance is currently 18.24%, you consistently make only the minimum monthly payment required. The hedge fund in which you hold significant investments charges a 2% annual management fee together with retaining 20% of all profits generated. At the local supermarket you can purchase a dozen rolls of Angel Soft, 450-sheet, 2-ply, toilet paper, manufactured by Georgia-Pacific, for $11.85. The same 12 rolls are available at a nearby Wal-Mart for $5.25, but you won't buy them there because you're certain the lower price means they're inferior. The sports jacket you purchased fifteen years ago continues to fit well and look good, but at the urging of your wife you will donate it to the Salvation Army, because it simply isn't acceptable to be seen in old clothes . You cannot resist subscribing to the newspaper advertisement offering a half-pound silver commemorative medallion from The Perfidious Mint , at the "special advance price of only 139 dollars." To deal with the fear and anxiety engendered in you by the widely publicized threat of global warming, you will attend an 8-hour therapy session offered by a noted eco-therapist who will, for $1,750, "sooth your heart and reinvigorate your soul." To realize a lifetime of dream vacations while avoiding the inconvenience and expense of searching for a hotel year after year, you have purchased a timeshare property. The envelope you've just sealed, and which seems to weigh several ounces, must be mailed. As a scale is not handy, you'll affix two dollars in postage on it just to be safe. Unaware of a funeral home's typical 300 to 500 percent markup on casket prices, you authorize the funeral director to provide that item at the forthcoming ceremony for which you are responsible. AL JACOBS has been a professional investor for more than four decades. His business experience ranges from real estate, mortgage, and securities investment to appraisal, civil engineering, and the operation of a private trust company. In addition to managing his investments on a day-to-day basis, he is a featured financial columnist for both online and print publications. He is the author of Nobody's Fool: A Skeptic's Guide to Prosperity . You may subscribe to his financial Newsletter, "On the Money Trail," at no cost or obligation, by visiting www.onthemoneytrail.com . Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com. More >>

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