Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Buying Big Purchases Frugally and Mindfully

I'm in the US now for the first time in five and a half years, and while I was here, I decided to do some shopping of items that would be beneficial for me to buy here instead of buying where I live. I'm writing another post about what I bought here and why, but I wanted to write a post specifically about one thing that I bought. Not even what exactly I bought, but the thought process that goes behind it, because I think that is more important.

When you're buying a large purchase, how do you know that its a frugal thing to do? I mean, you can say that if it costs a lot of money, then it isn't frugal, because spending money isn't frugal, right? Wrong. At least in my books. Everyone is spending money on something, the question is whether you're getting value for your money, in addition to living within your means. My focus in life lately has not been "Just how little money possible can I spend, period?" (because honestly, buying just the absolute cheapest now often means spending more money again and again and again later, for various reasons), but more: How do I make sure that the money that I spend is being spent in a way that I would like it to be spent, that I'm getting what I want for my money. That my money is being spent in ways that reflect my values, my desires, and my goals in life. And of course, doing that while living within my means.

For me, my focus is not "what is the absolute cheapest" but more "mindful money spending" or as I like to refer to it, the pursuit of money mindfulness.

So how does this work when it comes to making larger purchases?

So Your Kid Wants a Rideable Electric Car: Now What?

When my children were littler, Mike would talk about how he dreams of getting the kids a toy car, an electric one that they could ride around in. He had one as a child in South Africa, and it was one of his favorite things to do, and had so many fond memories involving riding it. He wished that we could give our children that experience and talked to them about hopefully getting them one day.

Meanwhile, I never had one of those and it wasn't something I ever considered getting my kids, especially as we were always short on cash. It seemed like a frivolous waste of money to me, and even once we had more money, it wasn't something that I wanted to shell out cash for. Especially since they are so pricey. However, I found out that, while rideable kids cars used to be really, really expensive, there are ways to make them affordable and doable, even for a family on a budget. So maybe one day...

Monday, September 16, 2019

My Trip to Camp Hi Canoe and Kayak, in Hiram, Ohio

I grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, and haven't really been back (other than an extremely short work trip) since I moved away 15 years ago, and on my current trip that I took to the US to deal with bureaucratic bank nonsense, I had the chance to come back to visit my close friend who moved here within the last two years. On my first half day in Cleveland, I went to Goodwill and got some amazing bargains. Then on my first full day in Cleveland, I spent time hanging out with my bestie and then ended up visiting some old friends and catching up.

But today, Sunday, I had some free time and my friend didn't have to be at work, so we decided to do something fun together. I knew that this was the one day that there really would be time available, so I wanted to pack in as much fun and nostalgia as possible...

So I decided that we'd go to Camp Hi Canoe and Kayak in Hiram, Ohio.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

My Wonderful Clothes Haul from Goodwill

I'm in Cleveland now, on my trip to the US, and my lovely hostess with the mostess picked me up from the Greyhound station, but needed to go to work. While she was at work, I decided to get some errands done, and one of them was going to Goodwill. When I was trying to pack to come, my friend told me to pack very minimal clothing, because it was worth it to stock up on clothes while I was in the US. Yes, I can get cheap clothes second hand locally, but their quality is very low, and its really hard to find enough things that are my size, because the selection is small and its not organized by size at all. My friend, who is an avid Goodwill shopper here told me that there's this amazing Goodwill that I just have to hit up, and she was right.

I'm going to post in a future post about why I decided to go clothes shopping here, but for now I wanted to share what I got.

When is Bankruptcy The Best Option?

Debt sucks. It really, really does. The hardest part about it is that debt repayments can make you drown financially, making it impossible to keep above water with all the monthly debt repayments. Sometimes the only way to get out of that situation is to declare bankrupcy. Here is some more information from a reader about whether declaring bankrupcy would be the right option.

Bankruptcy is something no one wants to experience, but the fact is, sometimes you simply accumulate too much unsecured debt and truly cannot pay it all off. You’ll have creditors calling day and night, overdrawn bank accounts, and a hole in your wallet that you can’t seem to repair. When is bankruptcy your best option, and what is it exactly? Keep reading to learn more about when you should file for bankruptcy and how it will affect you.

Friday, September 13, 2019

Bank Issues... Mostly Sorted

Ok, so as I've told you, I came to the US to deal with horrendous bank issues that my ridiculous bank will only let me deal with in person.

So last night I arrived in NY, got picked up by a friend in Queens, had a BBQ at her house, then went to another good friend's house to sleep and stayed up late into the night to catch up.

In the morning, I took the train from Queens to Brooklyn to go to the bank. I decided not to pay for cell phone service while I'm here since everything is ridiculously overpriced and I can manage without for my trip, using wifi when it's available and the rest of the time going without. But since I didn't have internet service, I decided to take the train from Queens to Brooklyn, even though there were buses that would have been quicker, since I found the train more forgiving with info about transfers posted in a large map on the wall, and if I messed up and went the wrong way, I could easily fix it and get to where I needed to go. Lots of nostalgia since I took that train many times when I lived in NY.

Run Away From Stress

Taking care of yourself is important. Here's some tips from a reader on how to lower your stress levels. 

With all the work environments right now being extremely competitive and our lives being so fast paced, it’s no wonder most of us suffer from stress in some way. Pretty much everyone develops their own coping mechanisms but not a lot of them are healthy ones.
Some turn to food for comfort which can lead to binge eating and bad eating patterns. Others turn to alcohol that has its own long list of health complications. There’re more similar patterns like these ones but they all have one thing in common: they simply don’t work long term. Stress eating won’t make your worries go away for more than a couple of hours but it will definitely make you gain weight. So here are a few way to help you cope with reality that actually work and don’t have any serious consequences.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Arrived Safe and Sound in NY, Against the Odds

Wow. I wasn't sure I'd actually get here, because I had so many things going wrong...

But in the end, all is good.

So first of all, I told you about my American bank issue which is why I had to come to the US in the first place... But I was having another issue with a local bank here, divorce related, and because of it I would have had a stop order on my leaving the country. Fortunately, some amazing friends helped me out and I was able to take care of that issue, so then I was able to leave the country.

But then there was my passport to deal with.

Yes, passports. Ugh.

Getting Your Family to Eat Ethically on a Budget

As someone who cares about ethics, but also about keeping my budget down, I've thought long and hard about this, how one can do both, because ethical shopping often costs more money. How much do you sacrifice ethics for a bargain, and how much do you sacrifice frugality wise, for ethics? Here's a post from a reader on how you can feed your family ethically, while still maintaining a budget.

One of the most potentially difficult things about raising a family is deciding what to eat every day. We're not just talking about making sure all the kids eat their food anymore, either. Raising a family in 2019 means making sure that our diet is ethical, too!
It can seem daunting at first to find food that is ethical AND inexpensive. That's why we created a guide to help your family eat ethically on a budget.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Celebrating My Boys' Birthdays

Both my boys had birthdays within the past week. If you've been reading my blog for a while you'll know that I have a tradition of making my kids a fun and frugal birthday party. It's important for me, even when money is tight, for my kids to know that they are my priority, and I'll do what I can to show how much they matter to me and to celebrate their presence in my life.

But then the last few years haven't been easy ones, to be honest. First I was struggling pretty mightily with mental health issues (though I kept mum about it at the time because I was afraid of being judged) and then I was struggling to balance it all as a new and self supporting full time working single mom. So even though my kids mattered to me just as much and I wanted to do what I could to celebrate their birthdays, I didn't get around to making them birthday parties (and felt quite rotten about it). Midway through this last year things finally calmed down enough that I told my boys I could make them a very belated birthday party but they told me that it would be quite awkward and asked me not to. So I told time that when their next birthday comes, I'd make it up to them and do something really special.

And that was today.
Lee turned 12 on September 4 and Ike turned 10 on the 8th.

Common Causes of Childhood Strains and Sprains

As a child, I regularly got sprains so often that we always had crutches and ace bandages at home, as well as some air casts and splints. My children fortunately have been more lucky there (though one kid managed to break his bone twice and dislocate something another time...) Here's some more from a reader about what causes these types of injuries and what to do about it.

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Scrapes and bumps are an inevitable part of growing up. It doesn’t matter if your child is a bookworm boy or a girl with a passion for football, strains and sprains can occur pretty much anywhere and at any time. It is, therefore, a good idea to know the signs and symptoms.

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Delicious Tofu Sandwich Recipe-- Gluten Free, Vegan, and Easy

One day I was really hungry and looking for something to eat. I had a block of tofu and some bread, and I had the idea to fry up some tofu slices and make them into a sandwich. It was heavenly. One of the best sandwiches I've ever tasted. And I said that I absolutely must share the recipe with my readers.

And then I wondered... if I weren't so hungry, would it have been just as amazing? 

So then I tried again, on a normal day, with a normal appetite. And yup. Still amazing. Still easy. Still delicious. And vegan and gluten free to boot.

Highly recommended.

And yes, this is super simple. But I decided that I'm not going to not share a recipe with readers just because its simple. Because simple things sometimes are the best, and just because something is simple doesn't mean other people will come up with that on their own.

Delicious Tofu Sandwich Recipe-- Gluten Free, Vegan, and Easy

6 Amazing Tips For Keeping Kids Happy On Air Travel

Have any trips coming up with your children? As you may know, sometimes kids can be difficult on flights, so here's some tips from a reader on how to keep your flight as smooth as possible.

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“The Greatest Legacy We Can Leave Our Children Is Happy Memories.”
– Og Mandino.

Many avid travelers, especially women who recently became moms are worried about making their air travel safe while traveling with their children. In my last travel, I found that the woman sitting next to me was not able to handle her toddler so well as she was not aware of the traveling hacks. From that experience, I realized the importance of making people aware of some hacks by considering which they can make their air travel much safer and more smooth for their kids.

If you are reading this post, then you might be planning to spend your next vacation overseas  and are looking to minimize the hassle. In this article, I will share some hacks which will help you to prepare your next trip smoothly and make the traveling entertaining for your child.

Let’s get started…

Saturday, September 7, 2019

They Called The Police On Me

Tonight, someone threatened to call the police on me. And I told them to go ahead and do that. Here's why.

I slept over at a friends house and brought along my dog. On the way home, one of the bus drivers took a look at me and my dog and told me he doesn't let me on with the dog. I got on anyhow, and sat down, putting the dog in my lap.

Snickers had a muzzle on her face.

I know the local laws.

The laws are that dogs are allowed on public transportation with a muzzle and as long as they're small enough to be on your lap.

She was.

How Sports Can Help to Bond with Your Child

I love playing sports and have been a fan since I was a child. It was something I shared with my father and siblings, going to Cleveland Indians games, and playing on teams in our local municipality. Here's some tips from Robert Bell on how sports can help you bond with your child.

Finding a way to bond with their children is one of the biggest concerns for many parents these days. With technology and busy days putting barriers between family members, it is a good idea to explore every possible bonding opportunity that is available.

Enjoying sports together is one of the easiest and cheapest ways of doing this. Why not start adding some sports to your family’s lives and see how it helps you all to feel an even stronger connection?

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Our Frugal and Fun Summer

My kids, after a long summer, are finally back in school. Most kids who were on summer break have already returned to school by now, and so I'd like to reflect on this past summer and how we managed. I asked my children what they thought of our summer, and they all agreed an amazing one, it was the best one yet, which was wonderful, since it honestly was quite the frugal summer.

Ok, not all of it was so frugal. My kids were in camp for the first three weeks of July; Anneliese's was free, Ike's was free, and Lee's school year didn't end until the end of July. Rose's camp was quite pricey and lasted all of July, but I didn't really have much of a choice about sending her since her dad and I both needed to work. Unfortunately, though, the ride that Rose took to her camp was the same one Anneliese took, and it ended when Anneliese's camp ended, so once that happened, Rose wasn't really able to continue on in camp, since I couldn't bring her to camp daily.

Once they all finished camp, I, for the first time, had to deal with the dilemma that parents in my country nearly all need to deal with: how to work when your kids don't have camp in the month of August. Before that I was just a stay at home mom and August was a regular month for me, but since becoming a self supporting single mom I no longer had that luxury.

Fortunately, the kids go to their dad twice a week and every other weekend, so I only was entertaining them the other four of five days. One of the days of the week they were supposed to be with their dad, the kids ended up going to their cousins house where the older cousins made a "camp" for the younger children, so that was fun for them.

But the rest of the time? It's interesting, when the kids said they had a really awesome summer, I was trying to figure out what we even did. We didn't have an official schedule. I can only list things that we did do this summer:

Our Frugal Fun Summer Activities

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

5 South Asian Superfoods You Haven't Heard About

I love fruit, and I love learning about new and exciting and different fruit to me. This post sent to me by a reader is getting me so intrigued, also to learn about the fruit, and to find out about their medicinal uses. If only I could get my hands on them locally!

Hundreds of natural health remedies exist throughout the world. Every region and culture has used their knowledge of the plants around them to develop medicinal strategies. While some have fallen out of use with the advent of modern medicine, others continue to have incredible health benefits.

Because natural medicine is experiencing a revival, new superfoods are being introduced on the market. Regions with diverse, tropical ecosystems have proven to have the biggest variety of these kinds of holistic foods. Some of the most popular represent an Asian heritage. Read on for the run down on these strange, foreign delicacies and to learn how they can help you.

How Do Healthy Couples Budget Together: Eight Couples Share Their Stories

I've shared two posts recently that talked about financial abuse. One, a woman's story about how getting divorced improved her finances, due to the financial abuse in her marriage, and then another, where six women shared their stories of financial abuse, to help educate people about this not too often discussed topic.

After my posts, someone reached out to me and told me that now that I spoke about what financial abuse is, can I write a post about how happily married couples healthily deal with finances, so people can know what to do, and not just what is bad. Which is a great idea and all, but since I didn't have a healthy marriage, hence divorcing, I wasn't the right person to talk about this. But I reached out to my friends and asked them to share their stories, about how they deal with finances in a healthy way in their marriage.

Here's eight stories. And you'll see, everyone does it differently, but the basic underlying premise is that they all communicate and everything is done as a team; even when its not completely as a team its because that's how both people in the marriage want it done. No one is telling the other how to do things, but they work together with teamwork.

Easy Ways Stay-at-Home Parents Can Make Extra Money

Many people choose to be stay at home parents to save money on day care bills, not to mention being able to be more frugal for your family since you have more time available to DIY things. However, you still might find that you need some more cash. Here's some ways to bring in some extra income while still staying at home.

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Staying at home can be emotionally rewarding, but not financially. You work full-time at home, but you don’t get to receive a paycheck. Thus, it can be difficult for some one-income families to earn enough money to make ends meet or even build savings. The good news is that there are ways for stay-at-home moms and dads to earn some extra cash to help with the family budget without having to leave the house or sacrifice quality time with the kids. You just need to have the determination, focus, self-discipline and organization to succeed in this endeavor.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Middle Eastern Greens Salad Recipe -- Easy, Variable, and Delicious

Twice recently at special events, I had this delicious salad, made with various greens, nuts, and craisins, and it was so amazing, I asked my friends what it was called. And I got a bunch of very surprised people who were surprised that I didn't know what it was, because apparently its served all over locally, and I just discovered it after living here for 13 years! And its name is a simple as "Middle Eastern greens salad".

What I like about this salad is it is relatively versatile. You use herbs (the ones I used are terrific, but feel free to play around and use other herbs, like cilantro or dill), and then instead of craisins you can use pomegranate seeds, and instead of the almonds you can use peanuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, or a mix. And while I used honey in mine, sugar works just as well.

And depending on how you make it, this is either paleo and/or vegan, and of course is gluten free as well.

Enjoy playing around with it, and enjoy!

Middle Eastern Greens Salad Recipe -- Easy, Variable, and Delicious

5 Essential Shopping Hacks All Moms Should Know

While I'm quite a bit out of the baby stage, I was in that stage for a while, and I know how expensive it can be. Here's some tips from a reader on how to save money when it comes to your baby essentials.

Every new mom needs to stretch her budget. By now, you’ve probably learned out of pure necessity how to save, recycle and get more out of everything from bottles to baby clothes. While you may be a pro at removing stains from bodysuits and preventing shrunken socks, we know you’ll take every money-saving tip you can get. That’s why we’re sharing our best shopping hacks for parents.

Smart shopping starts before baby is born and continues throughout their life. Whether you’re expecting a little one shortly or need more budgeting help, we’ll reveal how to save the most you can while buying essential baby items for the newborn phase and beyond. With the extra money you’ll have left over, you can put away for your child’s college fund, enjoy a bigger budget for the holidays or go on a family vacation!

Monday, September 2, 2019

A Real Steal at the Scratch and Dent Store

Ok so I'll admit, as much as I know water is healthiest to drink, I don't always like drinking water. I've had a hankering for something more, but try to stick to more healthy options (or at least that's the goal).

I first discovered these drinks made with lemongrass, chamomile, ginger, lemon balm and lavender one time when I was in the scratch and dent store and immediately became a fan.

When I first bought them they were 57 cents a can, which was decent.

But the next time I was at the scratch and dent store, they had them even cheaper!

5 Fall-Themed Baby Bodysuit Ideas

I love making my kids homemade costumes! With Halloween around the corner, if you have a little one you may already be planning what they will wear. But how about a homemade costume, using these great ideas from a reader on costumes you can make using baby bodysuits?

Fall is one of the most family-friendly times of the year! If you’re ready to get out and about, there are so many fun things you can do with bodysuits to celebrate autumn with baby. Of course, your little pumpkin needs to look photo-ready for every fall festival and harvest hayride. To make things easy, we have plenty of playful and unique ideas for the cutest Halloween and Thanksgiving outfits.

Pick a style you like and then grab a few basic supplies. It’s okay if you’re still short on sleep or time—you can finish your favorite styles in the time that it takes for baby to take a nap. Once you put together baby’s outfit, we think you’ll be inspired to DIY even more fall creations. You’ll also have the confidence to design one-of-a-kind outfits for every season!

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