Live Frugally to Stay Sway From Debts

By Guest Contributor:  Jack Reed

Debt is a serious issue in the US today. The national debt clock ticking away at a frightening fast pace is a testimony to the fact that the US is indeed not in a good economic state. A major reason for this scenario is that most of the people have no sense of control over their finances. Using credit cards and spending beyond one’s means has almost become a fashion today. No wonder why a large number of Americans are resorting to debt relief programs. So where does the solution lie? It is just you who has the power to bring your finances under control and the best way to achieve this is to start living frugally!

First of all, get rid of the wrong idea that being frugal is cheap, it’s not. Rather it is smart! When you practice frugality, you make reasonable and economic choices for yourself. So if you are hesitant to take the first step towards frugality then read on to know how you can go about it.

1)    Try the do-it-yourself approach: What is the first picture that comes to your mind if you see your faucet leaking? By most chances a plumber. We have become so used to paying others to get our things done that we fail to realize how much we can save by a do-it-yourself approach. If you are a little uncomfortable with that then you can even check out your local home improvement store which conducts free home repair workshops. Take the help of a friend or research on the internet with a quick search to fix your problems. With this approach, the person who gets paid at the end is you, with a pat on your back!

2)    Stop being too brand conscious: People fancy buying branded stuffs. You can very well end up paying a lot more for a simple pair of branded shoes than what you would have paid had you purchased it from a normal store. Brands might provide you with better quality stuff but it is really not worth to lighten your wallet so much. Unbranded stuffs are the way to go and the good news is nobody really bothers to notice what you are carrying with you!

3)    Don’t let the Joneses bother you: So you are jealous of your neighbor’s shiny new car? It does not really matter how others choose to live their life. You are your best judge, know what you can afford and tread accordingly. You can always spend on things you fancy but before that you need to build up a healthy financial picture of yourself. If your neighbor has the new car and shows it off as an achievement then you also have something to show off- you are free from debt! And you know yourself which is a bigger achievement, got the point?

4)    Prepare a handy list of your finances: Keep a track of your income and expenditure. Know the areas where the major chunk of your income is utilized, it could be food, insurance, bill payments etc. You don’t really need to give up on the little luxuries of life but some compromises are worth it. It is perfectly fine to indulge once in a while but you should be careful to stay within your budget and trim your expenses from other areas if necessary.

5)    Avoid cards as far as possible: This is an old advice but the best and the most prudent one. Credit cards do tempt you to spend beyond your affordability. Make use of cash to ensure that you never become a victim of credit card debt.

Do not be hesitant to practice frugal living. It is your guide to living better for less. It is a wise adjustment with your finances and lifestyle. So get geared to try the frugal side of life so that you can always enjoy being debt-free!

 

Healthy Ways to Feed Your Family on a Budget

Finding healthy ways to feed your family can often be challenging because it’s not always the most affordable option. However, with just a little creativity, it’s very possible to find healthy, budget friendly food choices so your family and your pocket can reap the benefits!

Tips That Can Instantly Save You Money!

Consider the following tips that are sure to cater to your wallet and your palate:

1. Eat out less often. Eating out less often has two wonderful benefits:

  • In one instance, your expenditure on food will be significantly less because eating at a restaurant is often pricier than you might realize.
  • In the second instance, eating out doesn’t allow you to control the ingredients in your meals. Even if you order something that sounds healthy, there’s a strong likelihood that the overall meal won’t be healthy enough for your liking.

2. Grow your own veggies and herbs. You’d be surprised at how much savings you can accrue if you grow your own vegetables and herbs at home. Even if you have a small home with very minimal outdoor space, it’s still possible to have your own garden in pots.

  • Fresh herbs and vegetables are tasty and healthy, yet quite expensive if you buy the organic versions at the grocery store. By growing your own, you’ll know that they’re organic, picked at the peak of perfection and nutrition, and you’ll save money as well.


Cooking Techniques That Are Affordable and Healthy

Try these healthy cooking ideas for a change of pace and more change in your pocket:

1. Go grilled, not fried. If you have kids in your family, then there’s a great chance that they will want kid friendly meals like fish fingers or chicken nuggets. While those items may not necessarily be very expensive in the supermarket, they’re not as nutritious as their grilled counterparts.

  • It’s easy to avoid the unhealthy way of preparing these things for your kids by grilling or oven-cooking their favorites.

2. Use homemade condiments. A great alternative to unhealthy store-bought condiments is to make your own relishes and sauces at home. The added benefit is that they’ll be much less expensive than the grocery store variety.

3. Make your own juices. You’d be surprised at how much sugar or artificial sweetener is contained within many of those “zero sugar” juices on the market. Why not save yourself the extra dollars and your family the extra calories by making juices yourself? Fruits are relatively affordable – especially if you buy them locally and in season – so buying your own and making your own juices is a healthier and more affordable option.

Many people end up choosing the more expensive and less healthy eating options for their families simply because they assume healthy eating is more expensive. While it can be more expensive in certain instances, a little creativity and imagination can definitely allow you to have a healthier option on a budget.

So now is the time to put your thinking cap on and find smarter ways to eat with healthier and money-saving outcomes! Your limited pocket doesn’t have to equate to limited nutrition; find creative ways to make “1+1″ equal healthy and affordable alternatives!

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.

Affordable Spring Break Fun for Families

There are lots of free and inexpensive activities for families looking for affordable spring break fun. These are some ideas for getting back to nature and enjoying the warmer weather with your kids.

Indoor Spring Break Activities:

1. Do crafts. Crafts are always a constructive way to entertain children, giving them an opportunity to express their creativity and develop their motor skills. For a seasonal theme, make a May Day basket or paint Easter eggs.

2. Redecorate. Give your home a new look after you get rid of the clutter with a spring cleaning. Removable wall decals are an easy way for kids to personalize their bedroom. For affordable touches in the kitchen and bath, let kids help pick out dishtowels and novelty soaps with flowers and birds or other spring themes.

3. Prepare healthy meals. Spring produce makes it easy to eat lighter. Take your kids shopping for colorful vegetables and fruits like baby carrots, beets and strawberries. Small children can shuck corn and shell peas while older children can learn to cut radish roses.

4. Develop a nature library. Visit your local bookstore for guidebooks about the flora and fauna in your region. Spend time reading together. Start your own journals about the species you’ve observed and add them to your home library.

5. Conduct your own science experiments. The change in seasons may make your kids curious about how flowers grow and what causes rain. To get ideas for science experiments you can do at home, visit your local library, websites like PBS, and local science museums.

6. Plan your summer vacation. Get a head start on your summer vacation by giving your kids research projects. If you know your destination, they can look for kid friendly activities in the area and local museums and parks.

Outdoor Spring Break Activities:

1. Start a garden. Introduce your kids to the fundamentals of gardening. You can grow your own vegetables and flowers. For young children, break tasks down into simple steps and get them their own child size tools to keep it fun.

2. Go for a picnic. The first picnics of the year always feel special. Let kids help plan the menu and prepare easy salads and sandwiches. Bring along a Frisbee so you can get some exercise.

3. Play ball. Check out your local youth sport leagues or just put up a basketball hoop in your driveway. Look for free or inexpensive venues in your hometown where you can play tennis or golf.

4. Celebrate Earth Day. Plan something special for Earth Day on April 22. Browse through community calendars for organized events or design your own family celebration. You could plant trees or decorate your compost pile. Take a field trip to a recycling center or a bird rescue sanctuary.

5. Become nature artists. Spring is a great time to enjoy the beauty of nature and develop your artistic abilities. Take a walk and bring a sketchpad along. You can make quick drawings of the plants and animals you see and use them to develop your own comic strip. Collect interesting objects like stones and seashells.

6. Volunteer together. Volunteering is a great way for families to spend time together and give back to their communities. Look for opportunities through your church or school, or consult a volunteer clearinghouse. You could help build homes for low-income families or clean up your local park.

Your family can enjoy spring break without having to spend a lot of money. Focus on spending time together and enjoying activities that enrich your lives and improve your community.