Tuesday, July 30, 2019

How to Have a Frugal Tie Dye Party

My girls proudly displaying their shirts
The other day my friend Tanya invited myself and my kids and also her whole neighborhood pretty much for a fun tie dye party in her yard. It was such great fun and such an awesome frugal summer activity that I wanted to share with you how it was done.

Tie dye itself is relatively inexpensive. Tanya bought six colors for about $5 each locally, but looking online you can get tie dye kits for anywhere from $5 to $15 and you really don't need that large a variety of colors, in my opinion. If you're doing this for the first time, you can use just two or three colors. The amount of dye Tanya bought was enough for at least 30 people to tie dye many articles of clothing.

Why We Started SmartSavers

We all are looking to save money, and many of us know that we possibly could be paying less for different things, but don't have the time, energy, or ability to lower them. Or they have phone phobia. Enter SmartSavers, the company that does the work for you, so you can save money each month, without all hassles. Here's more about them, from the founder.

I was sick to my stomach every time I had to pay bills for TV, WIFI, Internet, and Security because they were just so high. Due to these high four high bills, I was having trouble paying for my car, and the one thing I cherish the most was that I could not even take a vacation with my family anymore! I had to figure out a way to save money on these. I started doing research and realized that these bills are actually negotiable but no walk in the park. It is a real fight and a time consuming process. I really had to learn and figure out the right way to get these companies to be willing to negotiate without having to change my plans; after much trial and error, I figured it out.

 I go over to a friend’s house of mine by the name of Milam every Sunday for breakfast. One particular Sunday, I noticed Milam’s bills for WIFI/TV/Internet/Security on his kitchen counter. Based on my recent experience from negotiating my own bills, I knew Milam was overpaying and I told him this. Milam looked at me and said, please call them for me! I proceeded to call all his current providers and was able to save him $1,865 per year without changing anything about his services. He was so thankful!

 Having been a lifelong entrepreneur, it appeared to me there was a need not being fulfilled in the marketplace, so I started SmartSavers. Through experience we have learned what each provider will negotiate your bills down to. We are now the experts on negotiating your bills to the lowest possible level. With SmartSavers we only charge a modest fee of 29% of what you save. SmartSavers is averaging $1000 of savings per year per customer and we have an 95% success rate. SmartSavers is truly the smart way to save.

Paul Billings,

To start saving today, send an email to Smartsavers by clicking here or sending to this address: SmartSavers456@gmail.com or call 214-991-2558.

Their website will be live very soon, and I'll update this post when it is live, but I didn't want to wait until then for you to be able to benefit.

Start saving today!

See my disclaimer.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

My Astroturf Compromise

I never thought I'd have such a dilemma when it comes to my yard.

I grew up with a really large back lawn and sizable front lawn, and it was where I spent most of my childhood free time. Our yard was mostly lawn, part had a swing set, part a vegetable garden, some had fruit trees and bushes and vines.
Then I moved away and moved abroad and for a time we had no yard at all. After that, we rented an apartment, and though it had a yard we didn't know how long we'd stay so didn't want to invest in the yard so just used the large porch we had.
Once we finally decided to invest in our yard and plant a vegetable garden, we had a falling out with our landlord and ended up leaving not long after that, to a home with no yard, were we lived for five years.
At that point, I had gotten really into both frugality and plants, and it made it really difficult for me that I had no yard. I dreamed about having a yard. Dreamed about what I'd do with it, all the fruits and veggies I'd grow, be self sufficient with produce or at least as much as possible. I researched square foot gardens, learned what I could about gardening, wrote posts about my future dreams for my yard. And in the meantime, tried to container garden, and then failed abysmally there.

And then we basically hit the jackpot and were able to purchase a home with both a front and back yard. As soon as that happened, I tried planning what to do with our yard, since it was small, but still decently enough sized that we'd be able to do something useful with it.

On a Budget: Best Ways to Cut Back on Costs As a Single, Working Mother

As a single working mom, finances are not a walk in the park, but there are so many obstacles to being frugal when you're trying to do it all. Here's some tips from reader Sarah on how working single moms can also save money.

When it comes to being a single mother, things don’t come for you as easily as it would if you had a spouse or significant other. But just because you don’t have a significant other in your life at the moment, that doesn’t mean that you’re a woman destined to fail, by any means… that just means that you have to do things a little bit differently than someone with a partner.

Single mothers are actually some of the strongest people in the world. They don’t let the fact that they are raising their child alone define them… single women do it all the time and live happy lives. In the same breath, just because a woman is a single parent, that also doesn’t necessarily mean that they are raising their child alone. Single parents get help all the time from friends and family and a lot of times, if it weren’t for them, you don’t know how you would have made it.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

My Free Things! And Frugal Shopping!

You all know how much I love getting free things, right?

In the past 24 hours, I lucked out not just once, but twice with free food! I feel like I hit the jackpot!

Last night I was in the city with my son for an appointment, and we had a little extra time on our way there. I knew we'd be passing by one of the scratch and dent stores I like to visit, so we popped in to see what they had.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Sushi Making as a Fun Frugal Family Activity

For those of you who are parents and in the northern hemisphere, you're probably all in a similar boat... Trying to figure out how to entertain your kids while they are out of school, without breaking the bank.

My kids were in camp but it ended, and now I have another month in which I need to figure out how to occupy them.

Today's activity had the added bonus of entertaining the children... As well as feeding them.

Sushi making is a fun activity for the whole family.

Top 10 Ideas on How to Find Inspiration for Your Writing

As a writer, I know what it's like to have writers block and run low on ideas. Here's a post from Jeremy Reynolds with ideas on how to combat that and find inspiration. This can also help with inspiration for other forms of art, not just the written word.

Are you lacking inspiration for your writing?

Don’t worry for a second – it happens to the best of the best too. The question is…what tactics are you using to overcome your current setbacks? Well, in today’s post, I’m sharing the top 10 ideas to discover writing inspiration once again.

Monday, July 22, 2019

Mountaineer Brand Products, A Review

When I got contacted by a representative from Mountaineer Brand to do a review of their products, I took one quick look and said that I didn't think it was relevant to me and my life, as it seemed a predominantly beard balm company, and I'm in the process of divorce, and my oldest child is still to young to need beard care products.

And then I found out that despite its initial impression, Mountaineer Brand has what to offer myself and my family, not just for people with beards, so they sent out their products to me for a review.

First off, before anything, I want to say that I really appreciate a company that promotes transparency and that what you want is what you get. I don't like when companies try to pass off something artificial as "natural" by giving it another name. Mountaineer Brand was started by Eric Young after he lost both his wife and mother to cancer, and he wanted to make sure to sticking to using only natural products without any artificial additives that can contribute to health issues. And every single item in their line has ingredients listed clearly on their website, so you can know what you're buying before it arrives at your door.

I must admit, I'm a sucker for pretty things, and when this package arrived from Mountaineer Brand, I was so excited. I felt like I was getting a gift, and I was so excited to use these things. Packaging is everything, and this company has got it right. I even got a nice thank you card in the box, which I assume regular customers aren't getting, but I felt such a personal touch, like I wasn't buying from some big corporation, but from a company who cared about me, so they got big points before I even tried anything out.

I told them a bit about my family before they sent me this box, but the actual contents of the box were a surprise to me, and a very pleasant surprise to boot.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

My Daughters' Frugal Ballerina Themed Birthday Party

Last week I made my daughters a very belated ballerina themed birthday party. It was such a hit and cost me very little to make, but everyone enjoyed themselves. I wanted to share what we did, so that you could also do a similar party in the future.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Yes, I'm Happy With My Controversial Decision to Get a "Free TV"

Sometimes spending more money can still be a good deal.

Two days ago I posted something here that I knew might be controversial. I wrote about how I got a 49 inch TV for free, as part a deal where I paid 34 dollars a month for 3 phone lines, and the catch was that I am paying that price for 3 years.
OK, so here's the thing.
I knew I'd get flack.
I knew people would disagree with me.
The biggest comment I got was that the TV wasn't free if it meant I was stuck with one phone company.

But you know what?
I wasn't born yesterday.
I am not naive.
I knew full well what I was doing, and I will stand behind it, because that is what works for me.

Six Must-Haves for Any Medicine Cabinet

First aid is important as a parent, here's some tips from Nancy Evans on some basic first aid things to have in your medicine cabinet.

Children can be a handful. They are loud, energetic, and playful. They brighten our lives and we love them for that. Unfortunately, our favorite people can get sick or hurt from all the energy. While children can be expensive, their health is not something to skimp out on. Here are five must-haves for any medicine cabinet.

"I Can't Afford to Get Divorced"; A Case Study

Many of my readers live in a bare bones budget. Some may not be making it through the month financially, and some just barely are making it through. If any of you are or were contemplating divorce, it would be a very logical conclusion that if you aren't making it or are barely making it financially as a married couple, divorce would mean financial ruin for you, and therefore you can't get divorced because you cant afford it. Even if divorce is very necessary for you.

But the question is, is it always like that? Does divorce always mean financial ruin for you? 

My friend, Deb, shared this post with me, about her situation, and how divorce actually eased her financial stress somewhat instead of increasing it. Hopefully her story will give you some insight and hope, that it is possible to get divorced and have your financial situation improve. If anyone else whose situation improved financially post divorce wants to share a guest post with my readers as well, I would gladly take such contributions.

“I can’t afford to get divorced.”

Sound familiar? That was me for several years. Now I realize that financially, separating my finances from my (now ex-) husband’s was the best thing I could have done for myself.

Trying to sell a home with kiddos? 7 tips keeping everyone happy

I've never been in the position to sell my home; we just bought for the first time 3 years ago, and have no plans on moving, but I've heard what difficulty it can be to sell. Here's some tips from a reader on how to handle this stressful time with children.

If you’re thinking about selling your home, summer is the perfect time — especially if you have little ones.

Summer affords a little more flexibility in schedules because the kids are likely on break, and shooting for a summer closing day means you’ll be settled into your next home before the new school year kicks off.

Not only is the timing right, but also 71 percent of top real estate agents across the nation, according to HomeLight data, agree that putting your home on the market at the beginning of summer is the right plan.

However, selling is a process, and it becomes more challenging if there are more (little) people involved. But rest assured, we’ve got you covered.

HomeLight put together some of the top tips from real estate professionals and fellow parents — those who’ve been there, done that, and gone back for more — to help smart, thrifty parents work through all the ins and outs of home selling while also keeping everyone happily involved.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

How I Got a Free 49 Inch Smart TV!

I hadn't planned on writing this post, but I was told by a friend that I absolutely must make it into a blog post, so here it is.

Here is how I got a 49 inch smart TV completely for free.

Until last year, I completely wasn't involved in my cell phone plan. Michael took care of it, found the deals, paid for it, and I really wasn't connected to it at all. Until we started the divorce process, and I transferred my account and number from a joint account to a separate account within the same company, lets call it company H. 

Every month I was paying 34 dollars for my cell phone which included unlimited calls, unlimited texting, and unlimited data, and I was pretty content with that.

Last year one day I needed to get my son Lee a phone plan ASAP, and the store where I got it had a plan with another company, company G. I paid 25 for his plan and it was a bit more limited than mine, but was enough for my son's needs. Maybe I could have gotten better deals, but I wasn't that pressed to look around for more. I was content.

Save Money by Lowering Transportation Expenses

Transportation can be quite pricey, especially if you live in an area like I do with high costs of cars and gasoline. Here's some ideas from a reader on how to cut back on your transportation costs.

Image by Peter H from Pixabay
Want to add more to your savings? Start by saving on your transport costs.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Tomato and Watermelon Salad, Easy, Vegan, Paleo, and Delicious

I first heard of tomato and watermelon salad from my friend, Rosie, and I have to say, I thought the idea sounded really weird. Fruit in a salad? And then I remembered so many other recipes I love that combine fruit with vegetables in a tasty salad, and decided to try it out. Since then this has been a staple in my house.
The nice thing about this salad, in addition to being super easy to make and suitable for so many different diets, from gluten free to paleo to vegan and people with allergies is that its also a good way to use up watermelons that aren't the tastiest. Once you combine it with the rest of the ingredients, it transforms from meh to awesome!

This salad is pretty uniform in color, which makes it a fun surprise since you don't really know what you're eating. One bite may be more tart from the tomatoes and the other a sugary watermelon surprise. Give it a shot, you might fall in love as I did.

Tomato and Watermelon Salad, Easy, Vegan, Paleo, and Delicious

4 Online Shopping Mistakes that Cost You Money

I love online shopping and find that I end up saving quite a lot this way. Here's some tips from a reader as to how to save money when online shopping, or rather, mistakes to be aware of that can cost you more.

The rise of online shopping has completely changed the way we shop. With a few clicks, we can have pretty much anything delivered straight to our front door without having to lift a finger - more often than not, for a fraction of the price in a shop. Although online shopping is pretty amazing and comes with a whole list of advantages, there are some drawbacks to the way we shop online, and some mistakes that you may fall victim to that can actually cost you money. So how can we avoid this? Take a look at these four online shopping mistakes that may be costing you money.

Making Homemade Ballet Shoe Cake with No Special Equipment

I'm really proud of myself for this cake that I made. My kids had an unbirthday party (meaning I never managed to make them a birthday party this year but still wanted to give them a party) and I decided with my girls that theirs would be ballet themed. As soon as this was decided, I already had an idea in my head as to how I'd be making their cake, and I think these ballet shoes cake came out absolutely adorable.

As you can tell, I'm definitely not a perfectionist when it comes to things like cake making, or in general, but I wanted to share with you how I made this cake so that you can make it too (and make it even more perfect if you want). It didn't take any special equipment or any special ingredients and was all made from scratch. Oh, and it was with all natural food coloring, homemade fondant, and gluten free.

How You Can Start Planning for Your Child's Educational Future from an Early Age

My children are getting older, and their adulthood is getting nearer and nearer. I do think about the future and the financial ramifications thereof. Here's some tips from a reader about how you can start preparing for your children's future.

As a new parent, it’s hard to imagine your child as anything other than that – a child. You’re busy being caught up in all their firsts, relishing in all those special moments of childhood, all while time is marching on and they are getting older each year. I mean, how many times have you heard parents exclaim “they grow up so fast”? Before you know it, they are in high school, preparing for college or university, and their whole future is before them. This is when many parents get that sinking feeling in their gut that they wish they had planned ahead, and found a way to have the money necessary for schooling.

So, even though your child is young right now, and university and college are the furthest thing from your mind, this is actually the best time to start planning for their educational future. Here we’ll take a look at some basic steps that you can use that will help in the planning process.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Cooking Ρύζι τηγανητό, Ryzi Tiganito With a Greek Grandmother, Greek Fried Rice Recipe

When I think fried rice, I immediately think of East Asian recipes, Chinese or Japanese, with soy sauce and ginger or garlic, definitely not European, definitely not Greek. But when I was in Crete, staying at my friend Vera's mother's house, her mother Maria was cooking rice that looked interesting and quite different from how I usually make rice. I asked her to teach me how to make Greek rice, and she told me that there are many different types, but she'll teach me to make Fry Rice [sic] (in her heavily Greek accented English) called ryzi tiganito in Greek, spelled Ρύζι τηγανητό in Greek. This fried rice is quite different than any other fried rice I've ever eaten, we made it two different times together, and I've made it again since I got back home, and made sure it worked with our local ingredients.

The recipe originally is with butter, and the first time I made it was with butter and it was amazing, but the second time I tried to see if I can make a vegan version; we made it with olive oil and even though it wasn't traditional, Maria pronounced it perfect, and said she now plans on incorporating it into her repertoire of recipes.

Maria used quite a lot of butter/oil in the recipe when she made it; I significantly reduced it and it came out just as wonderful. but I will admit that it was even better with the larger amount. I've included both amounts in the recipe.
Maria said to use a rice called blue bell or blue bonnet rice, but upon doing research that is just regular medium grained rice. Any will do.

Cooking Ρύζι τηγανητό, Ryzi Tiganito With a Greek Grandmother, Greek Fried Rice Recipe

Help With IVA's in Northern Ireland

Debt is a problem that plagues many of our lives. There are many different solutions to getting out of debt. If you live in Ireland, an IVA might be worthwhile for you. Here's some more info from a reader.

Debt is usually in the form of credit and being in debt is more common than you’d think. A debt isn’t problematic by nature, but once it goes out of hand and you become unable to repay it, it’s bound to cause you some issues. It’s easy to determine if your debt is messing with your financial situation if you keep receiving missing payment letters, borrowing money to keep up with bills, feeling that a creditor is pressuring you, or facing legal action from creditors. Leaving a big debt uncontrolled can make it possible for creditors to legally sue you and even repossess your home. If you have a house with no mortgage or up-to-date mortgage, you’re risking losing the house if you choose not to repay your debt. An IVA is a very popular solution if your debts are over 12,000 pounds with no practical way to repay them. We’ll tell you how you can use an IVA to clear up your debts.

How it Works

Monday, July 8, 2019

Price Wars and My Amazing Shopping Deals

I love price wars. I really, really do. Because stores want to lure you to shop there, they have a lot of loss leaders, and then expect you to buy more expensive things once you're there.

I have a shopping center about a ten minute drive from my house that until now had one large relatively well priced supermarket in it, in addition to the two smaller but also chain supermarkets in my neighborhood, plus a super discount store only open a few days a week and without the largest selection of items.

In that shopping center, though, a new supermarket was opened by a large grocery chain, and oh boy am I reaping the benefits. Forget the fact that lines at the checkout counters are nowhere near as long as they used to be, now we have terrific price wars going on, with both stores trying to compete for you as a customer.

By shopping savvily, you can get some terrific prices.

How to Save Money When You Have Children

There are so many lifestyle blogs out there that give you suggestions on how to save money, that are completely not applicable to families with children. These ideas from a reader are specifically geared towards you, moms and dads, ways that you can save money, taking into account your family needs.

It’s no secret that no matter how much you love them, kids are expensive. Even without children, day to day living can prove to be hugely expensive, but when you have a little one to think about too this can become especially stressful. Of course, you don’t want your child to suffer because you’re trying to save money, and you’ll want them to have everything they need and more. The question is how can you actually save money effectively when you have little ones to take care of? With these top tips, you’ll realise it’s not so difficult, and no one has to miss out because of it.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

My Frugal Greek Vacation, Crete Day 6, Tsikalaria, Souda

My sixth day in Greece... honestly, there's not so much to write about. It was the day after I completed the 14 kilometer Samaria Gorge hike, more than half of it with a sprained ankle and an injured knee. The morning of my hike, the taxi driver bringing me to the gathering point told me not to plan anything for the day after the hike, because I'll be exhausted. And I thought I knew myself better than that, that I was this capable power woman, and don't tell me not to plan anything because I'll be ok and up and running about.

Yea, speaking of that...

My sixth day in Greece was spent nearly entirely in bed, in Vera's mother's house in the town of Tsikalaria, in the Souda (pronounced Sootha) municipality, a few kilometers from Chania.

My whole entire body ached.

See here's the thing. I'm not sure how much it ached simply because it was a strenuous hike, and how much it hurt because of my injury and then using other muscles to compensate for my injured foot during the last 8 kilometers of the hike. Literally the only part of my body that wasn't aching was my face...

I still don't regret doing the hike, though in the future I will follow my advice on how to safely prepare for a hike so I don't have a repeat of last time...

My friend Vera tried to find me a doctor, an orthopedist to look at my foot, but then I called my travelers health insurance and they told me that I couldn't go to a specialist first, first I needed to go to a regular doctor, and then if he refers me to an orthopedist, to go there, and if an orthopedist prescribes crutches, then they would pay for those all, but only in that order.

How to Properly Take Care of the Elderly

Although I'm still quite young, my parents are getting older, and eventually they'll be elderly and need to be taken care of. While that is still some years away for me, here's some tips on how to care for the elderly from a reader, that'll hopefully benefit some other readers.

Image Source: https://images.pexels.com/photos/1877350/pexels-photo-1877350.jpeg
The concept of aging is something that we have to come to terms with at one point of another. The hardest being that many of us will have to watch the closest people to us age before our very eyes. It’s challenging to say the least, and require that we understand what is the proper way to care for the elderly. This will often entail changing your life or making drastic life choices in order to accommodate their comfort and well being. So what are some things that you can do in order to properly take care of someone that is elderly?

Friday, July 5, 2019

Making Banana Flower Salad

On my trip to Greece, most of the food I saw being sold was pretty standard, not things that made me go "huh?" Other than this. This was in Vera's mom's fridge and I had never seen them before. Her mom called it banana hearts, which Vera told me is a banana flower, and that you can use it as a vegetable.

4 Ways A Better Water Faucet Can Lead To a Quicker Home Sale

 Are you looking to sell your home? If you are, you might want to consider replacing your water faucets, as this can help you in the sale of your home. Here's some ideas from a reader as to why.

There are many layers and bits and pieces of what makes a good and quick home sale possible, and some of these points are probably things you’ve never even thought of to be important or at the top of the list in terms of effectiveness for a sale. What we’re going to focus on here is how a better quality water faucet can actually have a big role to play in having a quick and fruitful home sale.

Preparations for a Safe and Successful Hike

I used to go hiking often as a kid and especially as a teenager, but as an adult my hikes in general have been for shorter durations. I'm not the most experienced hiking as an adult when I need to take all the responsibilities for myself. When I hiked last, a 16 kilometer hike, on Monday, I injured myself which wasn't great. But I also learned some valuable lessons about things to do to prepare for a hike. Here's what I learned both this last hike and from previous ones, that I wanted to share with you to help you have as effective of a hike as possible.

Take twice as much water as 'they' say to. Best to have more water and need to carry that extra weight than run out of water in the middle of a hike. Especially if you are hiking during the summer or a place without running water, dehydration is probably one of the most dangerous thing likely to happen to you. The amount of water recommended is for the amount of time they think it'll take you to go, but if any emergency comes up or something that causes it to take longer, the amount of water you need will increase. Don't skimp on the water. It's not worth it. (Speaking from personal experience.)

How to Turn Your Signature Recipe Into Business

Some people are very particular about their recipes, not wanting to share them, guarding them as a close secret. I'm the opposite, I love sharing recipes with people, as you can see from the hundreds of recipes I've shared on this blog so far. But lets say you do have a recipe that everyone raves about, and you are considering turning it into a business. Here's some thoughts from a reader to consider.

You have a signature dish that everyone loves. It has been passed down from generation to generation and every time you whip it out, everybody says you should start selling it.

A lot of people have gone down this route and turned a casual dinner party advice into reality. It may sound romantic, but it is possible to turn a well-loved homemade dish into an effective money making enterprise. Read on to know how to turn your recipe into the perfect business opportunity.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

My Frugal Greek Vacation, Crete Day 5, Samaria Gorge

Yesterday I had quite a day. Originally we'd planned on going to the pink beach in Elafonisi, but because of bad wind, we decided to ditch that. Samaria Gorge is a hike that is really special to Crete, and in fact, is the longest gorge in all of Europe, and has some amazing sights, but we hadn't planned on doing that because Vera isn't physically capable of doing that hike, but she decided to send me on it anyhow without her. And I'm so glad she did, because it was absolutely amazing, stunning, and breathtaking.

However, I chose this picture of a T shirt I saw being sold at the end of the hike to be the header of this post... for reasons you'll see clear further down.

My day started really early with a taxi into the city center, to catch a private bus to Samaria Gorge at 6:10 am.

I intended to sleep along the way, but the view was so breathtaking that I wanted to take it all in.

Healthy Food Choices For Healthy Teeth

I used to have perfect teeth... but as an adult, my teeth have been causing me issues. At first my children had teeth issues, but fortunately they've been improving as of late. I really appreciate these tips from Nancy Evans about how to keep your teeth healthy, via eating well.

Image source
Parenting looks different from home to home. It is not easy and people establish their own way of doing things. Some parents are a little more lenient where food and snacks are concerned. They don't have too many rules about what to eat and what to avoid. Other parents are sticklers when it comes to what their children eat. In these homes, there are set do's and don'ts about what are appropriate snacks and what is being served for meals. Then there are those homes in between; a little of this and a little of that is fine.

Whatever rules you have in your home about food, one thing is certain: there are certain types of foods that are good for your child and their teeth, and there are foods that are not. Choose carefully which foods your child eats, as the wrong ones can cause a lot of tooth decay. Also, make sure they are getting to the dentist for their checkups. Make sure you have a dentist that offers complete dental care such as Canyon Crest Dental.

This article will discuss some of the good and bad foods where teeth are concerned. Let's begin with the good.

Foods Good For Teeth