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05/07/2010
IconBe Creative With Halloween Decorations! By Jill Cooper http://www.LivingOnADime.com I just stepped outside and took a deep breath and then another one and another one. No I don't have a breathing problem or anything. It's just that for the first time in months, I don't feel like I'm breathing in an aquarium. The air is crisp and cool and that means fall is here and the humidity is gone! At one point in our lives, that would have been the signal for us to haul out boxes and sacks full of Halloween decorations and go to work. It would usually take us at least a month to put everything out. We were one of those families who would put out a "monstrous" (Ha!Ha! No pun intended) display. We literally had hundreds of people drive by our home just to see our decorations. It really was a lot of work, especially because back then you couldn't really buy much to use for outside Halloween decorations. We had to use our imagination and make our own. We like to have fun at Halloween and not scare the wits out of everyone, so we try to keep our decorations cute and funny looking. To us, Halloween is a time for children to dress up and for one night a year be what they always dreamed of being, whether it's a fairy princess, a ballerina, Superman or even a robot. They get to be on the "stage" for one night to show everyone how beautiful, strong or funny they look. And to end a perfect night they get tons of candy, bags of candy and did I mention, a whole bunch of candy?? Here are some ideas of things we did to have a whole lot of fun for very little money. You can use these same basic principles for any holiday decorating. You don't have to have a lot of decorations for your display to look nice. I drive by one home every year and each season the owners put out one simple something. For example, in the summer they have one beautiful pot of flowers sitting on their porch. In the fall a pot of mums, for Halloween, one pumpkin with a smiley face and at Christmas one pretty lit up wreath on the door. It's never a lot, but I always get pleasure when I drive by the place and see their one simple decoration. We work all year buying things at garage sales or thrift stores for our decorations. We started out with about 25 plastic pumpkins to set out for a pumpkin patch. The next year we added another 50 and drilled holes in the bottoms so we could put lights in them. After a few years we had 200-300 of them that we had collected. We never paid more then 5-10 cents for them. If you want to have a big display, start small and just add a little bit more to your decorations each year. Cute homemade decorations make Halloween fun! If you see something in a magazine or somewhere that you think is cute but too expensive, try to copy it and make it yourself: I saw a cute rake in a magazine that I loved. It was an old rake that had a few silk flowers tied on it and a sign that said "Free leaves, rake all you want." I just happened to have a dead 50 year old rake in my shed I was going to throw away, so I pulled it out, found an old board and some paint (I could have used a marker too), painted on the words and tied on a couple of stray silk flowers that I had and voila! I had a cute rake and saved about $25. It takes nothing to stuff some old clothes with plastic bags and make a scarecrow family. If you are a little handy, put your talent to good use. My husband took and old metal trash can and motorized it so that the lid moved up and down and when it opened it popped out a Sylvester the cat. We found decorations in unusual places. Once we went to the grocery store where they had a gigantic pumpkin. The thing was about 8-10 feet across. We asked the manager it they threw it out at the end of the season and he said no. We told him what we needed it for and discovered that he had seen our display and liked it. He said "Come by on Halloween morning and you can take it to use and then bring it back." It doesn't ever hurt to ask about anything. Most people aren't mean and hateful, but are usually kind and helpful. Get more bang for your buck. Buy things that have a big impact but cost little. A couple of bags of spider webs and plastic spiders can cover a lot of area and look "cool" but cost very little. I use spider webs for everything. They're great to use to cover throw pillows for a party, put in your hair, hang on the lights or wrap around the handles of silverware. You just can't have too much. Use what you already have around the house. We were having a Halloween party and to add to the effect, we dug out some black sheets and covered all the furniture. It changed the whole look of the room. Another year, my husband found some 10 foot long, thin metal rods. We stuck them in the ground, added styrofoam wig heads to each one and hung some large pieces of sheer fabric I had gotten for free from a friend over the tops of the heads. Everyone loved them. The sheer material had a much more realistic see through look then just a sheet. At night, you couldn't see the rod so it looked like these ghosts were floating 10 feet up in the air. Start the day after Halloween to prepare for next year. If your kids get a bunch of plastic spiders when they go trick or treating, save them and add them to the decoration box. If your child dressed as a pumpkin this year, save the costume, stuff it next year and set it out with the decorations. Try to think of ways to incorporate any old costumes into your decorations. Jill Cooper and Tawra Kellam are frugal living experts and the editors of http://www.LivingOnADime.com/ . As a single mother of two, Jill Cooper started her own home 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. They have helped thousands of people all over the world to save money and get out of debt. Through Oct. 31st. get their Halloween On A Dime for FREE! It has a lot of money saving ideas for Halloween, costumes and of course candy leftover recipes, (like moms let children have leftover candy!). Click here to download. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com. More >>

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05/07/2010
IconSurviving and Saving When Your Sick by Tawra Kellam LivingOnADime.com My husband and I paid off $20,000 in debt and medical bills in five years on $22,000 per year averaged income, and I am disabled with Fibromyalgia and ME/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Here are some of the ways we lived frugally and made it work: Keep meals simple. Try any of these simple meals: Chicken, with a bottle of hot and sour sauce dumped over the top and served with rice. Taco salad made with bagged lettuce, hamburger browned with taco seasoning, sour cream, salsa and olives. Baked chicken with freezer rolls and sliced cucumbers, peppers, carrots, tomatoes and ranch dressing. Most of our meals take under 20 minutes to prepare. Write down 10 quick meals that are family favorites. Keep the "quick favorites" list in a specific spot and always keep the ingredients for these favorite meals on hand. Then, when you are sick and can#146;t spend a lot of time cooking, you can make something quick and easy. Also, make as much of dinner as you can when you are feeling your best. Then if you aren't feeling well come dinner time it will be almost all done and you won't be tempted to send for take out. Get the kids to help with daily cleanup. Kids can help pick up most of the house with proper direction. Mine are 10, 9, and 5 and have been helping since they were 3. I ask each of them to pick up toys. Then I ask each of them to pick up four more things. Later, I might ask them to empty all the trash cans and the dishwasher. Let the kids help as much as possible. Mine spend about 10 minutes a day helping and it makes a world of difference! Use paper plates. They are cheap, come from a renewable resource and can be composted - use them! They cost about one cent each, so spending five cents for our family of five is way cheaper than the $40 take out! Give each person his own color of drinking glass. This way, you can prevent family members from getting confused about whose glass is whose and constantly getting out new glasses. Try to do at least one load of laundry a day. That way you won't get overwhelmed or behind. Let non-critical things go! Ignore the dust, the dirty windows, and other things like that. If you are lying sick on the couch where you look right out a dirty window, then ask your kids or hubby to clean it, but otherwise forget it until later! By doing just these few things, you can keep yourself from going insane and save some money, even when your sick. Tawra and her mother, Jill Cooper (who also has ME/CFS) are frugal living experts and the editors of http://www.LivingOnADime.com/ , a website filled with tips on how to save time, money, and energy #150; all of which are often in short supply for most of us! They have helped thousands of people all over the world to save money and get out of debt. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com. More >>

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05/07/2010
IconMagnificent Muskmelons: Cantaloupe By Cheryl Tallman and Joan Ahlers www.freshbaby.com Cantaloupes, also called muskmelons, have a distinct netted or webbed rind. Dating back beyond 2400 B.C., it is likely the cantaloupe originated in Persia or possibly Afghanistan. In that time, cantaloupes were cultivated over quite a wide span -- from Egypt and across to Northwest India. These sweet and juicy melons were the food of royalty for many cultures. The cantaloupe is 95 percent water, and all that sweetness comes from the other 5 percent of the fruit. Cantaloupes are a low-calorie, highly-nutritious, nearly no-fat treat. One-fourth of a medium-sized cantaloupe provides 80 percent of the recommended daily allowance for both vitamins A and C. Cantaloupes also contain some iron, calcium, fiber and protein. In earlier cultures, cantaloupes were thought to have great medicinal properties that included cleansing the body and the skin. These early herbalist were on the right track. Today we know cantaloupes may be helpful to people with heart disease because they contain an anticoagulant called adenosine. They also contain a high level of beta carotene, an antioxidant that's associated with cancer prevention. Abundant in potassium, cantaloupes may also be beneficial to people with high blood pressure. Age to introduce: 10-12 months (pureed or in small bite-sizes pieces) Toddler Treat: Out of This Galaxy Cantaloupe Treat With just a couple minutes of preparation, you can turn a simple cantaloupe into a fantastic galactic treat. Add a piece of whole wheat toast and this recipe becomes a terrific meal to start the day. This recipe is for toddlers and older. Ingredients: 1 medium sized cantaloupe 1 2/3 cups of large curd cottage cheese 1 Tbsp ground almonds, shredded coconut or raisins (or a mixture) Drizzle of honey (for those over the age of 1 only) Directions: Using a large, sharp knife, cut the cantaloupe crosswise into rings. Trim off the rind and scoop out the seeds. Place each ring on a plate and carefully cut the ring into bite-sized pieces while keeping the ring shape. Using an ice cream scoop, fill the center with a scoop of cottage cheese (about 1/3 cup). Sprinkle a planetary dusting of ground almonds, raisins and coconut over the cottage cheese and drizzle a solar spray of honey on top. Serve. Makes 5 servings. Cantaloupe for the Family At the market: Press gently on the blossom end of the melon. It should be slightly soft. At room temperature, the blossom end should also have a subtle melon fragrance. It is sometimes hard to smell a melon in the store, because they are kept cool. Avoid a melon with a stem, because it was picked too early and will not be sweet. Storage: Once picked, cantaloupes don#146;t get any sweeter. However, they do "ripen" or soften. For best results, "ripen" cantaloupes at a room temperature for two to four days. After this time, they can be stored in the refrigerator where they'll keep another 10 to 14 days. Preparation: Using a long, sharp knife, cut the cantaloupe in half. Using a spoon, scoop out the seeds and discard them. To remove the fruit from the rind, you can use a melon baller which will make little round-shaped melon pieces. Or you can make melon chunks by slicing the melon half into one-inch crescent moon shapes, then slide the knife around the rind edge to remove the rind. Cut the melon into bite-sized chunks. Here are some quick ideas to add cantaloupe into your family meals: Add a dash of flavor: To always have cantaloupe on hand, cut a whole one into chunks, place the pieces in a covered container and keep the container in the refrigerator. Of course plain cantaloupe is delicious, but some people sprinkle their cantaloupe with salt and pepper, others add a dash of powdered ginger or cinnamon. Citrus lovers feel that a sprinkle of lemon or lime juice adds a flavor boost to the cantaloupe. Try them all and you decide which is best. A tisket, a tasket, a colorful cantaloupe basket: Make a cantaloupe basket with a few cuts into the rind. First scoop out the seeds and discard them. Next, scoop out the fruit using a melon baller. To get nice round melon balls, twist the melon baller 2-3 times before removing the fruit ball. To your basket, add a mixture of the melon balls, watermelon chunks, blueberries and kiwi slices. Dress for success -- the edible garnish: Impress your family by dressing up an everyday meal. Place a bamboo skewer of cantaloupe chunks alternated with strawberries and fresh mint leaves. Top the skewer with a lime wedge and place at the edge of the each person#146;s dinner plate or across the center. Awesome Fruit Salsa: This salsa is terrific with tortilla chips, but also fabulous on cheese quesadillas or anything grilled. To whip up a batch of Cantaloupe Salsa simply add the following ingredients to a bowl and toss gently: 1 cup of diced cantaloupe 1 cup of diced fresh tomatoes 2 tablespoons chopped red onion 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro 1 tablespoon lime juice frac12; diced jalapentilde;o pepper (ribbed and seeded), optional Salt and pepper, to taste 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
IconFive Ways to Stretch Your Dollar By Al Jacobs www.onthemoneytrail.com A provocative headline appeared in a recent edition of USA Today: "The incredible shrinking nest egg." The accompanying article described the plight of many middle-age, middle-income Americans as they assess their financial predicament in an economy beset with rising inflation, uncertain investments, and falling returns on savings. A common theme is the fear that retirement may never become a reality. One particular couple, singled out in an interview, illustrated the dilemma. The 49-year-old wife said that both she and her husband enjoy good jobs, but that with the mutual funds in her 401(k) down 4% since the first of the year, continually rising costs of living, and their home value off 25% in the past two years, things look bleak. She added that they're now "focusing on paying off their auto loans and other debt as fast as possible." It's true! The retirees' dollar is not stretching as it once did. The pensions, social security income, and return on savings that previous generations enjoyed can no longer be counted upon. For many persons, a radical change in spending and saving habits during the earning years must be the answer. I'd like to offer the following five suggestions to help make it possible. Beware of interest. The single greatest economic threat to most Americans is payment of interest. The credit card, successfully foisted upon us by our financial institutions, now has this nation by its collective neck, with interest rates exceeding 20% not uncommon. You must break this hold if you are ever to enjoy financial independence. The solution is simple; pay your monthly credit card bill in full, before any interest is charged. In this way, the rate on your card, however high, is meaningless. If you cannot bring yourself to do this, then cut up the card with a scissors and adjust your life accordingly. Harness the horseless carriage. The motor vehicle constitutes the average American's single most important fixation. Far more than transportation, it is for many the embodiment of beauty, pride, status, and individuality. Why that's so is no mystery, as it is our most forcefully marketed product. Unfortunately the need to sport a fashionable vehicle can be an obsession that overrides good sense, and many persons stay locked into auto debt for a lifetime. Resolving this problem is easily accomplished. Whatever your vehicle, it should be paid for in full. If this means that you must drive a 1984 Toyota Corolla, so be it. Later, when your fortune and future are secure, you may enjoy a brand new convertible Rolls Royce if you choose#151;but only as an all-cash acquisition. Buy wisely. The products we acquire and use over a lifetime define what is important to us. Unfortunately, many of the choices we make are based more on illusion than sound reality. Whether your choice of lipstick is the $25 Chanel selection from Macy's, the $7.50 Max Factor brand from Rite Aid Drug, or the $1.39 Wet 'n Wild tube from Target, recognize that the essential ingredients are the same. The difference is packaging, promotion, and mystique, which is what many businesses are all about. If the market manipulators create your preferences, you may expect to pay a premium for everything you buy. There is one good rule to follow if you want to stretch your dollars: The more aggressively a product is advertised and promoted, the greater your resolve to avoid it. Higher education need not break you. It takes no great insight to be aware that the cost of attending the nation's educational institutions is rising rapidly. If either you or your progeny aspire to a university degree, you may already be contemplating massive expense. It's no longer unusual for a graduate to amass a six figure debt burden by the time the diploma is attained. From the information publications issued and the standard advice proffered, it seems inevitable that a fortune must be spent to obtain a first rate diploma. I'll propose an alternative. The first two years are spent at a local community college while living at home. In my state, California, at a $20 per unit cost, tuition for a full 30-unit year comes to $600. The last two years attending a state university, again commuting from home, completes the degree requirement. The tuition structure at the California State University system (referred to as a "fee") is not backbreaking; the annual fee at Cal State Long Beach, for example, is $3,116. In this way, including textbooks#151;used, of course#151;and other campus charges, a sheepskin can be earned for less than $10,000. And don't think the education received is somehow inferior, simply because it's cheap. I can attest that four years spent as I suggest can result in an educational experience equal to four years at Harvard University. Arrange to make your money grow. The adage that time is money is accurate; it depicts the earning power of money astutely invested. Let me suggest a method. Open a self-directed brokerage IRA account#151;preferably a Roth if you're eligible#151;in which you accumulate certificates of deposit, treasury notes, and high grade corporate bonds. Begin at an early age and pursue this program systematically through your working years. An annual contribution of only $4,000 invested at 7frac12; percent, compounded semiannually over the 40-year period from ages 25 to 65, results in more than a million dollars. It's the compound interest that brings this about, a phenomenon as close to magic as you'll ever encounter. You now possess a set of guidelines that, if followed, will put dollars in your pocket and help keep them there. The nicest part of all is that a lifetime of prosperity doesn't demand profound abilities or superhuman effort. It simply requires that you don't do a lot of dumb things. Al Jacobs has been a professional investor for nearly four decades. He is a nationally syndicated columnist and appears regularly on ProducersWeb.com, DrLaura.com and SheKnows.com. He draws on his extensive expertise in real estate, mortgage, and securities investments to counsel millions on how to invest wisely and spend prudently. He is the author of Nobody's Fool: A Skeptic's Guide to Prosperity . Subscribe to his financial column, "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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05/07/2010
IconSave $400 On School Lunches This Year! by Jill Cooper and Tawra Kellam LivingOnADime.com These days in America, it seems that everyone is so busy that preparing school lunches is liable to push a typical mom right over the edge. When you have to choose between making school lunches or spending that extra 15 minutes in bed, it seems like buying ready made lunches at the store is a no-brainer, but your budget doesn't agree The average mom packs $2.00 worth of pre-packaged goodies into each lunch she sends to school with her kids. (That works out to $720 for 2 kids.) What mother hasn't wondered if those lunches are even getting eaten? Try these tips for things you can do in 30 minutes or less on the weekend to make those school lunches a snap! School Lunches don't have to cost a lot! Those snack bags of munchies cost a lot! Make your own by pre-packaging chips, pretzels, animal crackers and other snack items into sandwich bags on the weekends. (Have the kids help!) Store them in a big container or basket and just throw them in the lunch box in the morning. Let the kids create their own Pizza lunch kits- Toast bread and cut out little circles with a biscuit cutter. Add small containers of pizza sauce, cheese, and other toppings. Make fruit gelatin and pudding and put in small plastic containers for the week. Make a large batch of granola bars, cookies, pumpkin bread, banana bread or muffins. Divide them into zip top sandwich bags and freeze so that you can grab one or two when needed. Brownie bites are simple to make. Bake brownie mix in mini-muffin pans and put three "brownie bites" in a sandwich bag for each child's lunch. They freeze well too! Fill thermos (not glass) half full with juice the night before and freeze. In the morning, remove from freezer and fill the rest of the way. The juice will be cold when the kids are ready to drink it and it keeps their food cold too. Clean vegetables, slice into pieces and bag. Preparing a weeks worth of veggies at a time for lunches and snacks saves money and time. Purchase cheese in blocks, cut into pieces and put in sandwich bags. Save napkins, catsup and mustard packets you get from take-out. Use in lunches. Jill Cooper and Tawra Kellam are frugal living experts and the editors of http://www.LivingOnADime.com/ . As a divorced mother of two, Jill Cooper started her own home 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. They have helped thousands of people all over the world to save money and get out of debt. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com. More >>

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05/07/2010
IconA Woman's World of Money By Al Jacobs Over the years that I've dispensed financial advice, I've never distinguished much between the genders.nbsp; It's always been my attitude that an investment approach which suits a man should equally suit a woman.nbsp; I've reasoned that a dollar in the hands of Jack is no different than in the hands of Jill, inasmuch as they both tumble down the hill together. It appears, however, that I've been overlooking something.nbsp; A provocative book by Lois P. Frankel, PhD, a business consultant and psychotherapist, titled Nice Girls Don't Get Rich: 75 Avoidable Mistakes Women Make with Money , points out numerous factors that my male chauvinist focus fails to consider.nbsp; She explains that quot;Our [women's] real roles revolve less around money and more around relationships,quot; adding that quot;throughout our lives we're given multiple, often conflicting, messages.nbsp; This double bind causes little girls to limit their interest in acquiring wealth.quot;nbsp; She further stresses that quot;if you don't think rich, you certainly don't consciously engage in behaviors that will contribute to getting rich.quot; Dr. Frankel's book - of which I've now completed its entire 283 pages - demonstrates her sound understanding of both economics and the feminine approach to wealth.nbsp; Perhaps it's time I altered a few of my previous financial recommendations.nbsp; There are four specific areas of advice I want to direct in ways to better address my women readers. 1. Generosity . If, as suggested, you are more sensitive than men by nature, then channel your caring attitude in ways less financially detrimental.nbsp; Don't loan or give money or possessions to friends or relatives.nbsp; Instead, express your generosity in ways that donrsquo;t cost anything.nbsp; Personal letters expressing condolence, congratulations, or regrets in lieu of loans of money or gifts will give you satisfaction without the sting.nbsp; You may be equally generous with smiles, compliments, and expressions of understanding without an inclination to dip into your handbag. 2. Knowledge . Once you've made an effort to objectively investigate a matter, don't presume that others - particularly men - know more about the subject than you.nbsp; This is especially true of stock brokers, insurance representatives, real estate agents, and financial advisers of all varieties.nbsp; It's probably equally so in dealings with assorted clerks, vendors, and shopkeepers.nbsp; Most importantly, there is no one with a greater interest in your own well-being than you. Your actions should reflect that reality.nbsp; Rely upon your judgment and remember always that if something does not make sense to you, presume it to be senseless. 3. Expenditures . Evidently social pressures that bear heavily on the female community can lead to unwise spending.nbsp; Dr. Frankel describes the lack of sales resistance many women exhibit and recommends that impulse buying can be better controlled by making a list before you shop and always sleep on purchases that exceed $250.nbsp; I have an additional suggestion that may prove even more failsafe. nbsp;We cannot deny that much unwarranted spending is the result of a universal proliferation of credit cards - one of the more insidious devices that ever tempted the unwary.nbsp; For this reason, if you cannot control your purchases, you'll do well to destroy your credit cards and conduct your life on a cash basis.nbsp; The inconvenience it will cause will be preferable to a lifetime in the plastic jungle. 4. Assets . No one should arrive at the later years of life without an assured stash of assets.nbsp; This is in keeping with the shrewd advice of that skeptical heroine Lorelei Lee, portrayed by Carol Channing in Styne and Robin's Broadway musical Gentlemen Prefer Blondes , where she offers these delightful lyrics: Time goes on and youth is gone, and you can't straighten up when you bend.nbsp; But stiff back or stiff knees, you stand straight at Tiffany's. Diamonds are a girl's best friend. Lorelei's opinion as to reliance on we males of the species is also well presented. He's your guy when stocks are high, but beware when they start to descend. Itrsquo;s then that those louses go back to their spouses. Diamonds are a girl's best friend. This requires that you get to work early so to amass what you'll need.nbsp; An individual IRA account (Roth, if you can swing it) into which you systematically accumulate suitable securities over your productive lifetime is a reasonable way to go about it.nbsp; Although I prefer interest-bearing investments such as CDs, treasuries, or corporate bonds, the acquisition of no-load index funds through low-fee institutions such as Fidelity, Vanguard, or T. Rowe Price, is an acceptable substitute. I'll say no more, except to apologize for my past omissions.nbsp; In the future I will endeavor to give greater consideration to the proclivities of the fairer sex. AL JACOBS has been a professional investor for nearly four decades.nbsp;He is a nationally syndicated columnist and appears regularly on ProducersWeb.com, DrLaura.com and SheKnows.com. He draws on his extensive expertise innbsp;real estate, mortgage, and securities investments to counsel millions on how to invest wisely and spend prudently. He is the author of Nobodyrsquo;s Fool: A Skepticrsquo;s Guide to Prosperity. Subscribe to his financial column, quot;On the Money Trail,quot; at no cost or obligation, by visiting www.onthemoneytrail.com . Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com. More >>

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05/07/2010
IconAre Rising Prices Scaring You? By Jill Cooper LivingOnADime.com We are getting e-mails and it has been all over the news - quot;What do we do? They are rationing rice!!quot; I haven't decided if I should just laugh or start tearing my hair out. First everyone panicked over the price of gas... then it was the price of apples, then milk and now rice. What I find so amusing about the whole thing is a lot of those same people who are in a panic are still using their gas to go to the movies, to go on vacations, to travel for sports activities, to go shopping and to go most any place they want to go. So many people complain about the price of gas when it costs $4.00 a gallon but don't bat an eye when going to Starbucks to pay $4.00 for one cup (8 oz. or 1/8 of a gallon) of coffee that they could have made at home for pennies. Despite all the fuss, most Americans have not substantially changed their lives because of gas prices. Then there is another whole group who complain about how they quot;aren't like other peoplequot;. They don't spend a penny on anything and they still have nothing and, because their lot in life is so miserable, they have a right to be afraid of what is happening in the world and in their lives. They have a quot;What about me?quot; attitude all of the time. The Bible says that God does not give us the spirit of fear but of power and love and a sound mind. Even if you aren't a Christian, I want you to really think about those words because they apply to human nature in general. We are living in a world that is crazed with fear and because of that we have lost power over ourselves, our lives and our circumstances. Because of that fear we have very little love for anyone. When you love someone or something your main thoughts are focused on that person or thing that you love. What do you think about all the time? --Your spouse, your children, joyful things and happy things or do you focus on yourself and on how these terrible prices are going to affect you? Do you know how powerless you become when you give way to fear? When you're constantly afraid, you can't function properly at work which leads to not getting a pay raise or worse yet, getting fired. You can't get your mind off of that which you fear and it filters into every area of your life. You become short and angry with your family when they try to talk to you, ask you something or want to spend time with you because they are interrupting your focus on your fear. quot;How am I going to get some rice (or gas, or milk or apples)quot;, quot;If there's a shortage of rice now, I'm sure that is going to lead to a shortage on ALL foodquot;, quot;If there is a shortage of food, that will mean I can't go on vacation this summer or buy that new car.quot; You say but that's silly and doesn't even make sense. No it doesn't and that is where the sound mind comes in. Where there is fear there is total loss of rational reasoning or what I call quot;common sensequot;. When someone isn't of sound mind (not using common sense), they think there is going to be a shortage on rice and they panic. They tell everyone they know. The word spreads and then everyone panics and runs out to hoard rice. All that fear has a snowball effect which then creates a shortage of rice where there wasn't one. If people had not given over to fear and had been of sound mind (using common sense) they would have thought, quot;No big deal, we'll have pasta instead or just do without rice for now.quot; They would go about their daily business without giving it another thought and focus on more important things like how to be a kinder more loving spouse or parent. When people aren't consumed with fear they can think more rationally, which helps them make wiser and more practical decisions. When fear is gone they have peace and joy and patience and most of all they are more loving. Think about it. How much of your life is ruled by fear? If you filter back through most negative emotions, most of them begin with fear of something. Do you buy things you can't afford because you are afraid of what people will think of you? Do you spend more on gifts for your friends and your children's friends because you fear that people won't love you? Take a serious look at the things you obsess about. Do you obsess about them because of some kind of fear? I don't know how to tactfully and gently say this but lately I have seen quiet (and sometimes loud) fear in a new thing called quot;becoming green and saving the environmentquot;. This is really just another form of fear. When people become obsessed and overcome, it is usually out of fear and not out of rational thinking. I'm not saying you shouldn't try to save the environment if you think that it needs saving. I'm simply saying don't let things that stem from fear of something control your life in such a way that you lose all of your life's joy and your capacity for reasonable and rational thinking. 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 home 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. They have helped thousands of people all over the world to save money and get out of debt. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com. More >>

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05/07/2010
IconPacking Food For Road Trips By Jill Cooper LivingOnADime.com If you have some money saved for a trip but you know that the gas cost is going to eat most of your funds, try cutting your budget in another area, like your food. Consider taking your food with you. Going out to eat on a trip does not hold the excitement that it once did. Most families go out to eat so often at home that the novelty of it has worn off. The next time you travel try packing your own food. Don't forget breakfast -- Sometimes getting on the road the first thing in the morning is such a rush that it might be easier to wait and eat breakfast after you have driven an hour or two. This works especially well if you have to start out in the wee hours of the morning. Breakfast Muffins, banana or apple bread Don't forget the butter or cream cheese. Donuts, honey buns If you think it will be easier for you, buy them individually packaged. I'm not sure why, but kids seem to love individually packaged things and it makes everything more fun. Bagels with cream cheese and jam Mix the jam and cream cheese together and place in a small container before you leave. Individual boxes of cereal with milk When I was young I always thought that it was so neat to be able to cut the sides of the boxes open and use the cereal box for a bowl. My mom thought it was neat because she didn't have to bring extra bowls and could toss the boxes. Hard boiled eggs Little smoky sausages (the pre-cooked kind) These can be eaten out of the package, but if you like them hot, place them in a small thermos and pour very hot to boiling water over them. Put on the lid and by the time you are ready to eat them, the water will have heated them through. Lunch and Dinner Sandwiches Sandwiches are always great for a trip. Use hoagie buns instead of regular sandwich bread. It makes them a little more special and they don't crush as easily. Good old peanut butter is great for the kids. Pay just a few more pennies and get the peanut butter in the tube. No messy knives and it's smaller than a jar. If you have spare packets of jelly from eating out, use those or buy jelly in the tube, too. If you put lettuce or tomato on your sandwiches, bag them separately and put them on just before you are ready to eat. Chicken or slices of ham Fried chicken is always a good picnic stand by. See later tips on keeping it cold. Hot dogs As with the little sausages, put the hot dogs in a thermos and cover with boiling water. They will be perfectly cooked when ready to eat. To me these are so much easier than sandwiches and everyone loves them. Potato salad or pasta salad Keep them in a small cooler. Chips, crackers and cheeses Buy chips in the cans. Slice or cut cheeses into cubes before you leave. Cheese sticks are perfect. Baked beans Once again, they keep great in a thermos. Fruits and veggies Apples, Oranges (already peeled) and firmer fruits. Clean and bag carrot sticks, celery, broccoli, cauliflower or other vegetables. Cookies, brownies, quick breads and muffins These are the best desserts. Drinks Of course pop works great, but I like to freeze bottles of lemonade. Lemonade seems more refreshing. You can also have juice or iced tea in bottles and coffee in a thermos for coffee drinkers. Be sure to freeze all your drinks to help keep your other foods cool in place of ice. Don't forget the water! General Tips Kids usually whine and fuss for one of two reasons. They are hungry or tired. This is especially true on trips, so bring plenty of snacks and a pillow for everyone. If you have room, box each family member's meal in his own box like the box lunches they give out at activities. This is really handy if you have to eat while driving. When finished eating, each person can put his empty wrappers in his own box for easy clean up. Be sure to bring those extra ketchup, mustard, salt, and pepper packets you get from fast food. Don't forget the plastic knives, forks and spoons along with napkins and a paring knife. Make sure just about everything is disposable. If money is tight, you don't have to have elaborate meals. I still fondly remember the trips when we stopped and bought a bag of chips, a loaf of bread, a package of bologna and cheese. We washed it down with an icy cold Pepsi and nothing tasted better. If you can, buy the gadget that you plug into the lighter plug in your car to heat water. It works well for instant coffee, oatmeal and hot chocolate. In this day and age with so many convenience foods available, it isn't hard to pack a lunch for the road. Even using those convenience foods, it is usually cheaper than buying food for the whole family at a fast food place. Jill Cooper and Tawra Kellam are frugal living experts and the editors of LivingOnADime.com . They have helped thousands save money and get out of debt by starting with just their grocery bill. To get their free mini e-course on Grocery Savings visit LivingOnADime.com . Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com. More >>

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