Frugal Living – Make Your Own Laundry Detergent

Laundry detergent has a huge markup! A lot of what you’re paying for is water! Making your own detergent will not only save a significant amount of money, but it’s also a fun activity to do with the kids.

You should be able to find the ingredients at your neighborhood superstore. The recipe below will allow you to make great performing laundry detergent at 1/10th the cost of store-bought detergent. Let’s get busy!

Make Your Own Laundry Detergent

•       6 cups of water

•       1/2 bar of inexpensive soap, grated (find a soap that smells good to you)

•       3/4 cup washing soda (not baking soda)

•       3/4 cup of Borax

•       10-gallon bucket for mixing

•       4 1/2 gallons of water

Pour 6 cups of of water in an appropriate size pot and heat on low. Mix in the grated soap and continue to heat until the soap has completely dissolved. Add 4 ½ gallons of water to the 10 gallon bucket. Add the soap and hot water mixture to the bucket. Now slowly add the Borax and washing soda while stirring. Continue stirring until the mixture thickens. All the work is done, just let the concoction sit for 24 hours and it’s ready to use.

There you have it, laundry detergent that costs about $0.02 per load. Yes, that’s 2 cents! The name-brand stuff from the store costs 10 times as much. Give it a try – it’s easy and fun! You and your clothes won’t know the difference.

5 Apps to Curb Your Spending and Save You Money

Many mobile phones are capable of helping you save money through the use of third party applications. Both iPhones and Android-capable phones make it possible to track your income and bills, while also allowing you to set financial goals. If you want to control spending, save money, track bills, and start a savings fund, there’s an app for that.

Try these phone apps to help you achieve your financial goals:

1. Finance apps. Quicken and BillMinder are two examples of finance apps worth taking advantage of.

  • The Quicken app allows you to monitor and track your financial accounts no matter where you are, including financial goals, account activity, and even where to go to find an ATM.
  • BillMinder is another popular app and focuses on bill tracking. BillMinder offers a simple and intuitive interface allowing you to keep track of your bills, due dates and payment status. You can export your data through email for easy access and set up push notifications to send reminders of due dates before they occur.

2. Shopping apps. Grocery Gadget Shopping List and Coupon Sherpa are two examples of shopping apps that can help to save you money.

  • Grocery Gadget is a $4.99 app that allows you to upload and share your shopping list and offers additional capabilities including price comparisons among your favorite local grocers and coupons on the products that you’re actually looking for.
  • Coupon Sherpa is a free app that offers in-store coupons and exclusive user-only deals. You can search either by store name or category, look for local and nearby merchants and can even share coupons with your friends by way of e-mail.

3. Food and drink apps. All Recipes and Mixology make cooking and drinking easy and inexpensive. All Recipes is a free app that offers mobile access to thousands of different recipes offering user reviews, directions and photos. The “spinner” feature helps you choose a recipe based on main ingredient, prep time and other details.

  • Mixology saves you the exorbitant costs of a drink on the town by helping you entertain your friends at home. The Mixology app, which is free, features nearly 8000 drink recipes and a “liquor cabinet” feature that allows you to manage your own alcohol inventory.

4. Travel apps. Gas buddy is an indispensible app that can, for $2.99, show you where the cheapest gas stations are across the nation. Because prices can vary by as much as 20% within a single city, this can translate into very large savings at the pump.

5. Communication apps. Cutting down on communication costs is possible through apps like Skype and TextFree Unlimited. The Skype app is free and the TextFree Unlimited app is priced at $5.99.

  • Skype allows you to communicate with other Skype users for free and to communicate with other cell phones and land lines for very low fees. Skype is gaining popularity as an inexpensive source for international phone calls.
  • TextFree Unlimited allows people to send and receive text messages for free as long as the application is running. This app is ideal for light text message users, though not necessarily for someone who texts a lot.

If you have an iPhone or Android-based phone, taking advantage of apps like these is a wise choice. Many of these applications are free or inexpensive to use, but they can simplify your life in a variety of ways.

When you have a phone that works with apps like these, you can improve your productivity tenfold with money saving and tracking applications. These software applications can be a real lifesaver when you want to get a handle on your finances and more out of your cell phone.

Living Frugally – Dating for Less

If you’re in a committed relationship, then planning and having special events with your significant other is essentially mandatory. Many people dread dates because it usually means dressing up, going out, and spending beyond your means for an evening to please your loved one.

Fortunately, there are many things that you can do to make the most out of  special occasions without breaking the bank.

Try these money-saving tips to make your date special:

1. Rent a Movie. Renting a movie is less expensive than ever, especially thanks to services like NetFlix and RedBox. Netflix allows you to rent unlimited movies per month for a nominal monthly fee. RedBox allows you to rent up to two movies at a time for the flat rate of $1 per movie per night.

✴         Netflix has a much wider selection of movies, but you have to request the movie with enough time for it to ship to you unless you use their on-demand streaming service. RedBox allows you to rent movies on the fly, but the system typically only offers recent releases and hit movies.

✴         Consider that the monthly cost for a Netflix membership costs less than a single movie ticket at the local theater.

2. Cook a romantic dinner. Cook a meal at home, but avoid making your typical meal. Instead, experiment with something interesting or exotic. Combine in-season fresh produce with new herbs and seasonings to surprise your loved one with completely new cuisine.

✴         Some of the in-season vegetables and fruits during the month of February include arugula, beets, asparagus, bok choy, carrots, cilantro, clementines, fennel, grapefruits, lemons, rhubarb, turnips, tangerines and tangelos, shallots, pears, parsnips, and sweet potatoes. Buying fresh produce in season almost always nets you a good deal.

3. Make your own sweets. Buying candy and sweets can be costly, especially just before big holidays. Offset these costs by making your own sweets.

✴         For example, make cake pops. Bake cake mix, then crumble the cake up and mix thoroughly with frosting. Roll into balls and skewer with lollipop sticks. Now dip the cake balls in melted chocolate or candy coating and decorate as desired.

✴         Making your own sweets also gives you greater control over the ingredients. There are no surprises about what may be lurking inside each chocolate in the box.

A homemade, customized dating experience can be significantly more memorable than a mass-produced, overpriced, and commercially-driven date night. Just enjoy it!

Living Frugally – Brown Bagging It

When you’re hungry in the middle of the workday, temptation calls and you end up feeding from the snack machine, the drive-thru burger joint around the corner, or the pricy cafeteria.

While these stops can work in a pinch when you have nothing prepared, it’s financially unwise to eat out for lunch everyday when you can build healthy lunches at home.

You can save as much as $3,000 a year in expenses simply by brown-bagging it on a daily basis. Not only are there significant cost benefits, but health and well-being benefits as well.

Keep these brown-bagging tips in mind when considering whether or not to make your own lunch:

1.  Savings. Making your own lunch will typically cost between $1 and $3 per meal, effectively saving you as much as $15 or more for every work week.

2.  Food Preferences. You can make food exactly how you like it. Add your favorite condiments and vegetables to spice up a sandwich, or toss shredded cheese and goldfish crackers into your favorite cup of soup. You can spruce up your own homemade lunches quickly and easily.

3.  Leftovers. Leftovers make excellent brown-bag lunches the next day. Make a little bit of extra dinner to accommodate for a lunch or two and

3.enjoy reheated chili, soup, casserole, pasta, and other favorite dishes from the night before.

4.  Prepare your meals the night before. Because mornings can be

4.unpredictable and hectic, prepare your lunch the night before. Pack

4.everything together in preparation for the next day so you can just grab your lunch and run out the door in the morning.

5.  Keep track of your savings. Saving money by brown-bagging your lunches will only be effective if you keep track of the savings. Take the money you save on a weekly basis and keep it separate so you can enjoy it later on. Make your effort count by ensuring that the money you save actually goes into your savings.

6.  Designate a specific lunch time. Eating lunch at your office, rather than going out, also saves you time and gas money. Designate this extra time to do something relaxing or productive to get even more benefit out of brown-bagging your lunch.

Bringing your homemade lunch to work every day offers numerous benefits. Not only are you benefiting your wallet and your savings, but your health and your productivity at work as well!

Saving on Groceries

Are you spending way too much money on groceries? For many of us, the cost of meat is eating up a major portion of our grocery budget. The answer to this dilemma is simple – buy less meat! The trick to serving less meat is in the vegetables and other protein choices. Vegetarian options can stretch your grocery dollars while providing filling, healthy meals your family will love.

The next time you plan your menu for the week, instead of planning on enough meat to feed your family for seven days, substitute 2-3 vegetarian meals for your dinner.  This one change can save you 30% to 50% on what you normally spend for meat.

If the thought of no meat shocks you, with the right recipes, you can even stretch bits of meat, like a small amount of left-over meat, to make a satisfying meal for everyone in your family.

Consider these menu ideas your family and wallet will love:

  • Grilled cheese sandwich with tomato soup and your favorite salad.
  • Quesadillas: Grilled tortillas with cheese, pico de gallo, and bits of taco meat if you like.
  • Bean and cheese chalupas with avocado. Add some bits of grilled chicken for variety.
  • Cheese enchiladas, Spanish rice, and refried or borracho beans
  • Mexican style pinto or black beans, corn bread, and a fresh garden salad
  • Chef salad with lots of different vegetables, boiled egg, and cheeses. Add bits of ham, bacon, or chicken to suit your tastes.
  • Mini pizzas, home-made with a variety of grated cheeses, Italian-spiced tomato sauce, and other toppings as desired. Some great ideas include fresh tomatoes, chives, walnuts, and spinach. Let everyone design their own concoctions.
  • Tortellini stuffed with cheese and mixed with herb and garlic flavored feta cheese, chopped tomato, kidney beans and a bit of olive oil. Serve on a plate of baby spinach.
  • Roasted vegetable casserole with potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, cream of mushroom soup, carrots, and cheese. Add some left-over chicken if desired.
  • Fried rice with soy sauce, bits of egg, corn, and chopped carrots. Serve with egg rolls.
  • For a fun change, fix omelets for supper using eggs, cheese, mushrooms, tomatoes, and spinach. Bits of ham or bacon flavor it nicely while using only a small amount of meat. Put out a variety of “fixin’s” for everyone to choose from.

These menu ideas are just the beginning. Explore, experiment, and get your family involved in the process. Make it fun! There’s nothing like good old family time in the kitchen. Only your wallet will know that you’re saving a lot of money in the process!