When I was shopping my holiday travel plans, I noticed that airfares change based on what day I wanted to fly. Saturdays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays were usually the cheapest. Keep this in mind when making travel plans. By moving travel up or back by a day, money may be saved.
When you get a new “toy” that has a USB cord (or anything else with a detachable cord), take a piece of masking tape, write the name of the toy on it, and wrap it around the cord, leaving a little tab sticking out that shows the name. You'll no longer have to wonder about each cord.
Starting an Exercise Program?
Many of us will be starting to exercise in the new year, but I want to try something different. Instead of using muscles just to improve tone and health, I'm going to work around the house. For instance, I could take a walk, rake some leaves, or empty my closet for some deep cleaning. No one likes to scrub showers or tubs, but isn't that as good as sitting on an exercise machine? Not sure how successful I'll be, but whatever I do will be more than I did before.
I couldn't stand it anymore. My house was always a mess. Everywhere I looked was more stuff. Then I noticed a pattern. Many of the things that were cluttering my house were things that I bought on eBay or at yard sales. I've decided I'm going to stop buying these things and gradually get rid of the stuff that I bought in past years. I hope to have a neat home by 2016!
Can It Be Reused?
I hate to throw things away, especially if I think they can be used again. Recently, we were refinishing a hardwood floor. It's the real old plank kind with varnish. The belt sander was going through belts at a crazy rate. They quickly became clogged with gunk and varnish, and the belts weren't cheap. Finally it dawned on me that I might be able to clean them. I washed one in warm soap and water and used an old fingernail brush to help remove the varnish. It wasn't like new, but I found I could use them three or four times before I had to toss them out!
Ground Meats for Less
I got tired of paying premium dollars for ground meat, so I went on a popular auction site and bought a used electric meat grinder. When I go to the market, I look for the manager's specials, buy whatever looks the best, and bring it home. If the item's expiration date is within two days, I may throw it in the freezer, but on major shopping days, I always plan an hour or two the following day to deal with the meat. Now when I see a bargain on a good cut or just don't want to pay $7.99 per pound for ground turkey breast, I can make my own. The grinder, a digital kitchen scale, and a box of zipper freezer bags cost me about $30 total. I save at least that much every month and eat better as well. It is also a wonderful way to pre-spice the meat if you intend it for tacos, spaghetti, etc. And you know exactly what you are getting!
Janna from Oregon
After the Party's Over
We do a lot of entertaining over the holidays. And, although my wife and I are non-smokers, many of our friends are not. Living in Wisconsin, it's hard to ask them to go outside to smoke, so we try to limit it to our basement game room.
After all the parties are over, I want to get rid of the stale odors. It's mostly smoke, but we serve buffet-style, so there are some food odors, too. In my slow cooker, I put about an inch of white vinegar, add a cinnamon stick, and leave it uncovered on low. After a few hours, all of the odors are gone and we're ready for our next party!
Before You Buy
Good risk management can reduce your insurance expenses by making proactive decisions instead of trying to configure insurance to fit your situation. For example, when buying a house, it's wise to see if it is located in a flood plain. If so, you may need flood insurance. In some cases, this insurance can cost several thousand dollars per year. When selecting a car, check to see what the insurance premiums will be before you buy it. A lot of proud new car owners have been shocked when they receive their first insurance bill after a car purchase.
If you want to save money, it's always a good idea to check with your insurance agent before buying a house or purchasing a car, so they can point out the factors that will influence your insurance premiums.
Rick M. in St. Louis, MO
Extending Produce Life
My grocery store has sprayers over most of their produce section, which periodically sprays a fine spray of (I assume) water over the produce. Most of the lettuce, celery, etc. is dripping wet. When I get it home, I put it on a clean towel or in some sort of drainer and let it drain until it is fairly dry. Then I break off the hard root part to allow air between the leaves and put it in a green bag. I use Debbie Meyer's bags and/or some grocery stores sell a different brand and they are usually in the produce section somewhere. I just fold the top over.
Using this process has saved me from slimy black leaves and really extends the life of the produce. If it happens to wilt a bit, I just sprinkle some water in the bag or put a damp paper towel in with it and it perks right up. I also keep my refrigerator temperature around 37 degrees and everything stays fresh much longer, including milk, leftovers, cheese, fruit, etc.
It's fairly common knowledge that most resolutions are abandoned before the end of January. I think I have a way to make it easier to be successful with mine. I have very specific goals that I can measure. For instance, I want to lower my credit card balance. Each month I plan on adding $100 above my minimum payment. That should reduce the balance. I'll also need to quit using the card.
I also want to reduce my grocery bill. I know what we spent on groceries last year. Each month, I want to reduce my spending by just 1%. If I'm able to do it for 12 months, I will have reduced by grocery bill by about 6% for this year.
I may need to adjust my goals, but by making them measurable, I believe I have a much better chance of being successful. Wish me luck!
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