Thursday, April 29, 2021

Love Knows No Bounds: 6 Ways to Show Your Love From Afar Without Breaking the Bank

One of the hardest thing about the last year plus has been the loneliness for many people. Especially for people who live alone, not being able to see people because of stay at home orders have been extremely painful. Even if you are able to leave your house and see people, many people are still avoiding traveling, and some countries have closed borders so you wouldn't be able to even get to family if you live in different countries. Add to that elderly people who are more at risk and need to be careful about being around people such as their grandchildren, even if they don't live so far. And in non COVID times there also is the issue of many people being unable to travel to see their loved ones because of the expense of traveling.

While none of these are replacements for actually seeing each other in person, here are some ideas for showing affection and reaching out to loved ones so that you can feel their loving embrace even though you can't be together in person without breaking the bank.

6 Ways to Show Love Even When You're Apart

Getting Used To Life In Another Country

After living in one house my whole life until that point, at the age of 16 my family moved abroad. After a year there I moved back to the US, and at the age of 18 I moved back to get married. Trust me, the transition to another country was not easy- many times I attempted to convince my then husband to move with me to the States, but that wasn't so easy since he wasn't American. Over time I acclimated to this country and have definitely gotten used to it. 
The biggest thing I found useful in feeling comfortable in another country is finding people who speak my language as well as expats from my country. Facebook groups have been some of the most wonderful ways to connect with English speakers locally, and moving to a community with a large number of Americans also really helped. They've held my hand as I got used to this place, heard me gripe about my challenges with the transition, and given me tips that I wouldn't have known as a newbie. 
Here are some other tips on acclimating to a new country, sent in by a reader.

Moving to another country is one of the more daunting challenges a person can take on in life, but it’s an exciting opportunity that not many people get to take on. There’s so much to be learning, so much to explore - it’s a whole new life! When you actually get the opportunity to spend time in another country, you start to see how different things are from what you’re used to. Even if people speak the same language, there will always be cultural differences, norms, ways to greet people. It’s exciting to think about, but if you’re thinking about moving, you’ll want to know just what to expect.

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

My Big (Biggest) Money Flop (Ever?)

I was debating if I should post about this on my blog, because this is about saving money, and what I have to write about is how I basically lost a heck ton of money, and what exactly will that teach you readers? And will it make you think badly of me that I screwed up this badly? But... I asked on Facebook if I should write this post and there was an overwhelming response that yes, people do want me to write this post. Also to show y'all that I'm a real person, and that frugal people also flub things up, and maybe also as a life lesson? I dunno. Either way, y'all asked for it, you're getting it.

So here goes it.

Critics, please be nice. I feel gross enough about this already.

Last year I was trying to figure out how to make my home as COVID friendly as possible and yet enjoyable as well. I have a goal to make my house be a fun place that my kids would want to be, despite it being small, and part of that is making a sensory room in my home, with yoga swings, hammocks in the yard, and a trampoline in the back yard. So when I saw a swimming pool being sold at the scratch and dent store at a really affordable price, I jumped on it.

The thing is... I was trying to cut corners and save money, so when I was trying to level out my yard to make the pool flat, I didn't just use dirt or sand. I used some large rocks as well.

We enjoyed the pool for a few months, but at the end of the summer we saw that the pool kept losing water quickly. We found a hole in the corner, exactly where it rubbed against a rock.


I knew I could fix it, I'd get a patch kit.

No biggie, right?


VA Home Loans: Separating Fact From Fiction

It isn't easy to be in the army, and it isn't easy that the pay isn't so great. But there are some benefits that veterans have that can help them save money, VA loans being one of them. If you or a loved one are veterans, hopefully this post from a reader can help you save money.

Buying a home is always an incredibly stressful process and worrying about having enough money to keep you and your family afloat while you complete the purchase is one of those things that can keep you up at night. However, there are support options out there. VA home loans can make all the difference for our military veterans, but it’s important to separate the facts from the fiction. Here is what you need to know.

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Simple Hacks For Cutting Costs Further When Funds Are Tight

Are you trying to save money? Most people are. Here are some tips sent in from a reader.

You might already have a weekly or monthly budget in place that you stick to each week when you do the food shop and head out anywhere, but you’ve started to realise that isn’t enough. Despite having a budget in place and trying to reduce your spending where you can, your finances just aren’t stretching as far as you would like them to, and it’s proving to be a real issue.

You need to get the income that you have to spread further each week, the only issue is that you cannot seem to make it stretch. You’re in a sticky situation and you aren’t sure what to do. The important thing if you find yourself in this kind of financial situation is not to panic - the truth is that there are always ways to make your funds stretch further, it’s just a case of knowing what these steps are, that’s all.

In need of a little budget inspiration? Don’t panic, because we’ve got you covered! Believe it or not, cutting costs is far simpler and easier than you might think, it’s just a case of getting organised with your approach, that’s all. Wondering how you can do that? Below are a few tips and suggestions to help set you off on the right path - read on for everything that you should know!

Sunday, April 25, 2021

Fixing My Garden and Finally Fixing My Wooden Gate

I love working with my hands. I love creating. I love fixing things that aren't working. But sometimes I get very overwhelmed by life and don't manage to do the things that I would love to do, and sometimes things that I should do as well. Because my everyday life is busy, it is hard to find time for the extra stuff.

The other day, though, I was sick of my kitchen cabinet doors needing their hinges fixed (the screws holding the hinges stripped the holes and came out, so I couldn't just screw them back in) and I went to the hardware store to buy larger screws to fix them, and while I was there decided to finally do something about my front gate.

Oh, and the front gate? 

You know the "If you give a mouse a cookie" book? Where one thing leads to another which leads to another which leads to another? That's what happened here.

I bought my kids bikes and I needed to have a place to put them that wasn't in my house. (Sorry kids, I love you, but I still don't want 4 bikes in my living room.) But I also needed to have a way to stop them from being stolen, because unfortunately there have been thefts of bikes in my neighborhood, from people's yards. 

Birthing Blues - 4 Ways to Recover from Giving Birth

I'm a few years past the childbirth phase, but I know many of my readers are in that stage. Childbirth isn't easy and recovery is not either easy. If you're in the recovery stage or about to give birth, here are some tips from a reader on how to help your recovery go smoother.

Giving birth is truly one of life's great miracles. As heart-warming and beautiful the end result is, unfortunately, childbirth can be fraught with intense pain and medical complications. If you are a new mum or are expecting a visit from the stork soon, here are 4 ways to recover from giving birth.

Saturday, April 24, 2021

How Families Can Make Their Money Grow

If you're reading this blog, you probably are looking for ways to have more money available for your family's needs. This reader sent in some ideas about how you can do that.

In this day and age, the idea of growing your money sounds bizarre. We tend to scrape by with what we get each month, and therefore never have the opportunities to save, invest, or grow our money. Making money go the extra mile gets even harder if you have a family. Sure, you love your partner and kids, but there’s no denying that having extra mouths to feed makes it harder to grow your money. That’s why it’s so important to work together as a family to make your money grow. After all, more money would benefit everyone in the family. Keep reading to find out how you can do this.

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

My Frugal Momcation Getaway

Our view of the beach from the promenade

You know what the best way to have a frugal vacation is? Let someone else pay for it! 


Ok, but that is kinda what happened. My dear friend Babs, also a single mom, decided to treat me for a weekend getaway for my birthday. Then we had a snowstorm so it was delayed and we finally went on our vacation this past weekend. In the end, it was nice that it got delayed because then we were able to celebrate my divorce together, and the weather was infinitely better!

So first of all, Babs wanted me to share that she was looking for a place with nice amenities- a pool, a jacuzzi, that type of thing. And this Airbnb was the cheapest one that she could find that still fit the criteria she was looking for. She wouldn't tell me exactly how much it cost, but did tell me it cost less than $285 for 3 nights and 4 days (we only checked out at 8 pm), which is definitely a steal. 

Monday, April 19, 2021

The Best Bathroom Tiles For Your Home

When we bought our home, it was still being built, so I was involved in the design from the start. On the day I was supposed to go pick out the tiles for the house, I was feeling really weird and wasn't focusing well and didn't do a great job (turns out I was at the beginning stage of an illness that literally kept me in bed for the next two weeks) because of that. I didn't pick out the "right tiles" for my bathroom, to the extent that I started really hating the bathrooms once the tiles were installed, and I only made my peace with my bathroom tiles once I figured out how to incorporate their colors into a beach theme.
Bathroom tiles can really make a big difference to the feel of your house. And if your tiles are old and breaking, you can even replace them yourself for a budget DIY home renovation, and make a big difference with a small amount of money. If you're considering doing this yourself, here are some ideas from a reader on what you might want to consider when choosing how to tile your bathroom.

Although arguably one of the more neglected spaces in the house, we believe that even the bathroom needs its time to shine when it comes to interior design. And no, we are not really talking about what kind of furniture you put in your bathrooms or how many plants you have. The secret is in the floor and the walls — that’s how you get your bathroom spaces to really pop. When choosing the right bathroom tiles for your bathroom, it is important to also make sure that they are functional enough to protect the water-vulnerable surfaces such as the walls and floors as well. From natural stone to even glass, there are so many ways to create a spectacular bathroom space that is not only functional but also looks the part. Read on to find out what kind of tiles and materials are suitable for your home, and for bathroom flooring ideas to have.

Friday, April 16, 2021

Dealing with the Wrongful Death of a Loved One

Dealing with death is really tough. Dealing with death with your children is even tougher. And when its a wrongful death, it probably is toughest yet. Here's some tips from a reader on how to help your family deal with such a loss.

Most people agree that dealing with a loved one's death is the most challenging thing they have ever had to endure. Some may even argue that one never really gets over the grief, sorrow, and pain that follow their beloved's death.

It gets even more challenging when the death could have been prevented. Or worse still, when it happened as a result of someone's negligence. Here are ways of dealing with the wrongful death of a loved one.

Thursday, April 15, 2021

A New Way I Learned To Save Money on Public Transportation

This post is dedicated to my friend Babs who is responsible for this way I've been saving money lately.

I live without a car. Once in a while I'll rent one, but I use the bus generally to get around. Where I live there's a bus to the nearest city, and if the intercity bus doesn't reach where I want to go, then within the city I can either take another bus (or many) or take the light rail or a combination.

Our buses to the city cost 85 cents. Within the city buses cost $1.70. It used to be you could get a transfer if you pay cash, but then they changed it and you could only get a transfer within 1.5 hours if you used a smart card to pay for your fare. You could fill up your smart card on the buses. With the smart card, for every dollar you put on you get an extra 25 cents added to the amount of money on your card. With a child's smart card, for every dollar you put in, you get 2 dollars. Then when you used the card the fee would come off the card's total, but because you got more than you put in, you still got a discount, half off for the kids and 20 percent off for you. You also get an automatic transfer when using these cards within an hour and a half.

In addition to this, you can also get a daily pass on your card. Either a daily pass for within the city (and intercity to places with cheap bus service like where I live) or more expensive ones for larger locations, such as between different cities and within them, with different fares depending on where you were going, which was generally significantly cheaper than paying for fares each way. The daily pass within the city was only worth it if you took the bus at least 3 separate times (not within 1.5 hours of each other). The intercity pass was always worth it.

Then things got more complicated.

8 Best Ways to Save More Money

Looking for ways to save money on expenses? Here's some suggestions from a reader.

A good income is no indicator of financial well-being. Some people manage to live without denying themselves anything and even save money earning less than $1,000. Others think that $10,000 per month is not enough. The money disappears somewhere by the end of the first week because they spend it on all from restaurants to the best live casino offers. Money management is a science, and these rules will help you study it.

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Top 20 Natural Pest Control Remedies 

Do you hate bugs in your home? I certainly do. But I'll be honest, I have a hard time calling exterminators because locally there were some really irresponsible exterminators who used dangerous chemicals and ended up killing two small children from it. I prefer to use natural pest control remedies whenever I can; here are some safe and effective natural ways to keep your home and garden free of those little critters.

Safe, non-toxic pest control methods for your home

Pests are a nuisance to everyone, and we all want to get rid of them. Certainly, there are methods that have been tested through the years that we have been battling these unwanted species.

We had some help from our local exterminators Eco Pest Control Brisbane who offered some insight into the advantages of using natural pest control methods. They also gave us 20 everyday items that can effectively work as natural pest control remedies.

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Updated "About Me" For the Blog

After literally 9 years of not updating my about page on my blog, and people nudging me to update the extremely outdated about me section, I finally did it today. I thought about just linking to it within this post but then this post would be incredibly short, so I just copied it here as well.

For those that are new to my blog, this may help you learn a bit more about me. For those who've been here a while, maybe you'll learn something new?

Hello there and welcome to my about page. It has been far too long since I updated it last (9 years ago!!!!), and it was about time. If you've been reading my blog a while you will probably know about most of these updates already, but for the newbies I wanted to introduce myself and share what this blog is about.

This blog was started 11 years ago when I was in a time of great financial crisis. I had heard about a woman who blogged about her extreme frugality and made money from her blog and I loved writing and felt I had a lot of great ideas to share so took a gamble and started this blog. I was truly penniless then- the 10 dollars to buy the domain name was 10 dollars I didn't have, but I took the risk and I'm so glad I have. 

4 Points To Help You Decide Whether It’s Time To Relocate

I abhor moving. Absolutely detest it. If there were a list of the absolute most horrid things a person might have to do, moving is high up on that list for me. Yes, that much. I'm so happy I own my house so I don't have to move. But sometimes moving is a necessity. Sometimes not just moving houses but locations. Sometimes where you live just isn't right for you anymore. But how do you make the decision? Here are some points from a reader to help you decide.

This planet is huge and full of so many different opportunities. Whether we’re talking about professional life, recreational life, or personal life, Earth can give us so many different options. Plenty of people will want to stay in the same place every single day for the rest of their lives. For whatever reason, the idea of moving around just doesn’t seem attractive at all. That’s fine, of course, but humans are meant to travel around – it’s in our nature.

When you get the itch to move abroad or to a place hundreds of miles away, it can be easy to doubt whether it’s a good idea. The brain likes to play tricks on us, doesn’t it? If you’re in this predicament right now, then perhaps these four thoughts can help you out a little and make the answer a little clearer

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Exciting News to Share

You know what that face is?

It's genuine happiness.

A feeling of freedom.


I asked Mike 2 years and 8 months ago for a divorce. 

Mike moved out 2 years and 5 months ago.

Paying for Child Care: When Does it Make Sense?

When my kids were little, the obvious choice for me was to stay home with them, not just from an ideological perspective but also from a monetary one- I wouldn't make enough money to make paying child care worthwhile. So instead I worked from home so the kids could be with me. This is something that many parents debate- is it actually worthwhile to pay for childcare? Here are some thoughts on the subject from a reader. Hope you find it as interesting as I did!

Child care services offer parents a lot of freedom and flexibility, but the costs can be substantial. For many parents living on minimum wage or a single income, paying for a full-time child care program is out of reach. Although costs can vary depending on where you live, they take up a large chunk of an average salary almost everywhere. This situation causes many parents to wonder if it makes any financial sense to pay for child care. It often seems more cost-effective for one of the parents to give up their job and stay at home.

So, when does it make sense to pay for child care?

What To Do When You Flop Your Rice

Usually I am good at cooking rice.

Ok, I take that back.

I used to be more or less fine cooking rice, but occasionally I'd burn it because I'd get distracted.

So I started cooking rice in the oven because it doesn't matter as much when you take it out; it's more forgiving that way. 

Cooking rice in the oven is supposed to be simple. And it usually is. 2 cups water for every cup of rice, cover it, bake it for 30-45 minutes or until ready. If you leave it for 15 minutes longer it's not a big deal.

But yesterday I had really, really bad luck with rice. And it sucked because my daughter was hungry and she asked specifically for rice because I hadn't made it in some time and rice is one of her favorite foods (I know, right?). 

I specifically put in two pans of rice. I put the rice in the oven but -TMI warning- I had to use the bathroom badly so I didn't cover it right away, and I wonder if that was the issue here... 

Because half an hour later, the water was all gone but the rice looked and tasted dry and gritty. I added an extra cup of water to it and baked it for longer but it was still dry and gritty. So I added more water. And when the water was absorbed I had pasty rice.


How To Avoid Debt (and What To Do If You Can’t)

Debt avoidance is much better than debt management. Here are some tips from a reader on how to act to prevent getting into debt and the best course of action to follow if taking a loan is inevitable.

Debt is one of the most dangerous financial situations you can find yourself in. There are several causes of debt: unexpected costs, expensive life events (like moving house), or poor money management. Some of these causes are unavoidable, while others can be planned for. Either way, you want to avoid debt at all costs.

If you go into debt, you will find your lifestyle changed. In the short term, debt can lower your credit score, remove your ability for financing, and even cause creditors to bring lawsuits against you.

In the long term, the effects can be even more disastrous. It can take years to pay off debt, which means years of restriction, tight budgeting and poor emotional health from the strain. If a lawsuit is brought against you successfully, the consequences you may face could follow you around for years.

In summary - avoiding debt is paramount.

DIY Carpet Stain Removal Tips

I used to have a carpet in my kids' room and I needed to throw it out because the kids got slime in it and I couldn't get it out. (Slime has since been banned from my house.) Too bad I didn't have these tips that a reader sent me or I might have been able to save the carpet!

Smart tips to keep your carpet looking pristine 

Getting stains on your carpet is inevitable. You may accidentally spill your drink or drop your food. Then, you rush to rinse it off with water but still find a spot on your carpet. Just like that, your carpet is already stained. 

Even without kids or pets, a carpet disaster can happen anytime. When this happens, a DIY solution to remove the stain is usually the first thing that comes to one’s mind.   

The experts from No1 Carpet Cleaning Melbourne, a local carpet cleaning company based in Southern Victoria, share some easy-to-follow carpet stain removal tips that will make your carpet look spotless again.    

Monday, April 5, 2021

Buying New Chairs and The Importance of Sinking Funds

I haven't had a lot of success with appliances and furniture lately, to put it mildly, as I mentioned recently. Fridge, stove, and hot water all stopped working at once. And I didn't even write in my posts about my issues with my dishwasher and needing to call a repairman out because of a massive flood it was causing in my kitchen. When it rains, it certainly does pour.

But it didn't end there.

Three years ago we bought a table and chair set and we were quite excited about them. But they were cheap and not the best quality and the chairs have really been problematic lately. Like they were wobbly and not so great to sit on. The legs on some chairs bent a bit. And when I stood on one time I felt the seat break a bit.

But they worked.

And while the chairs weren't great and I wanted to replace them, I told myself that that was a want, not a need, and there were enough other expenses that I had that it wasn't right to just buy new chairs- that would be a sign of my being spoiled. I could wait with that, especially since I was having fridge and hot water issues and I was getting a new oven anyhow and paid a little more for a giant oven, which is a bit of a splurge.

It wasn't the right time for me to indulge my "petty" desire for nicer chairs.

And then my friends came over for dinner. And in the middle of dinner two of the chairs around the table literally split in half. Not screws loosening as had been happening for a while with these chairs. Nope, the metal snapped where it was soldered together. Definitely not fixable.

Steps You Can Take to Improve Your Family's Finances

Debt sucks. Unfortunately thanks to college many adults start out their life with significant debt. Another large percentage of people have credit card debt because of their income being less than their expenses. Debt is tough because each month the payments can eat up a sizable amount of your income, making you have even less disposable income. If you're in that situation, here are some suggestions from a reader on what you can do to improve your family's finances.

When you graduate from college with a four-year degree in hand, you leave the hallowed halls of learning behind and are suddenly thrust into the world of adult responsibilities. It's now time to get a full-time job, where you will work endless hours as you try to handle your projects and lengthy to do list. You'll also have to find a place to rent and then you'll have to buy all of the things you need to set up your first home. Once you get settled in, you'll have some time to start exploring your new town and hanging out with friends again.

While the change from college student to adult is a big transition, nothing prepares you for being a parent and strapping on all of those new demands. Suddenly, everything you do has to be considered in terms of how it helps take care of your family. You can't just live anywhere, you have to get in a good neighborhood where your family will be safe and the schools are great too. When you have kids, you quickly find out it's even harder to make ends meet. Your finances take a hit, because it takes money to raise a child.

Sunday, April 4, 2021

Parenting Tips: How to Communicate With Teenagers

Raising teenagers is considered to be quite hard. That is the common consensus. Many teens and their parents do not get along. I am lucky that my teen son and I have a good relationship. However, these things are not a given. Here are some tips from a reader on how to better communicate with your teens, so that you can have a better relationship.

Raising children is fraught with many challenges. After all, no one wants a child to get into bad company, start smoking, gamble at, and the like. And it is natural that the older the child becomes, the more difficult it is to find a common language with him. The greatest difficulties, as a rule, begin with the onset of adolescence.

Let's take a look at tips on how to communicate with your teen children properly.

Friday, April 2, 2021

Buying an Exciting Giant Oven and Rearranging My Living Room and Dining Room

I mentioned in my recent post that I had so many things breaking at a time. What I didn't mention, though, is that my stove had been breaking for a long time, and it wasn't a new thing. I was just suffering with a barely working stove, making everything take longer since I could only cook two pots at a time, and one of those pots cooked very slowly, and the other burner sometimes would either try to explode or flutter out. The oven was problematic from when I got it. For some reason the steam dripping down the inside of the oven made the bottom of the oven rust and flake off from the very beginning. It was gross and I couldn't justify getting rid of it just for the aesthetic, so I kept my nasty looking oven for far too long. It was only after the burners were really affecting my life negatively that I decided I'd get a new oven. (And only once I was able to ascertain that I didn't need to buy a new fridge. I could live with two not so great functioning burners; I do not ever want to live without a fridge again- 8 days was far more than enough!!!)

When I was looking for an oven, I decided to see if I could find a larger one than what I had before. Because even when the burners were working, if I had a larger pot or a wok it often took up half the stovetop and I could maybe cook one other thing on it. As someone who does a lot of cooking and dabbled in catering for a few weeks last year (before my health issues didn't let me continue), I saw how much extra time it took me to cook when I was not able to use all my burners in one go. More burners, I knew, would be very, very useful for me even just cooking for my family, but especially if my body starts cooperating more and I want to attempt catering again. I'd seen stoves with five burners on them but the fifth burner is a small one in the middle of the other four, and it still has the same surface area as the standard stovetop, so it wouldn't help me at all, because you can't use them at the same time. So I decided to look for a stove/oven that had 6 burners, but all of them were ridiculously expensive, at least 3 or 4 times the price of a standard stove/oven, even the cheapest ones that existed. Then I looked on the price comparison website for a 5 burner stove, attempting to see if one existed that wasn't with overlapping burners and I found quite a few that were only about 75 dollars more than the standard one. I was shocked at how little extra five-burner stoves cost, even when they were extra wide. With only that different of a price, I knew I had to get it. 

The only thing was the width. My house is great, but it is small. The kitchen is combined with a living room and dining room, and I had to make sure that everything would fit. There is no nook for my oven, it just goes next to the counter, so I had no actual limitations in terms of size. I did, however, need to be able to fit my furniture into the room. My dining room table was next to the oven and I measured- at 90 cm (30 cm wider than my old oven, I think) it still gave enough room to have my dining room table there. But just barely.

I ordered it. So it would be tight. That's fine. I pull the table out anyhow for meals, more towards the center of the room, so I'd do that whenever our family would have a meal, I thought.

The oven arrived. It was beautiful! So big and wide and with so much room to cook! Exactly what I wanted!

But when I put my table next to it, I saw just how difficult it would be to have the table there. So I decided to switch it all up, and reconfigure my entire space.

The best money-saving apps available to download right now

I love money saving. I love applications on my phone. Apps that save me money are the best kind. Here are some suggestions on money saving apps sent to me by a reader.

Saving money isn’t the easiest of goals to smash, particularly at the moment during these difficult and financially testing times for a lot of people. Fancy dinners can be made on a budget, or the occasional bargain can be found online. Still, overall the cost of living can catch up with people and lead to the rare stressful moment or two further down the line.

As is the way of the world now, there is pretty much an app for everything. That includes money-saving apps also, with an array of popular apps helping people all around the globe to make savings here and there wherever possible. Alongside this, sometimes your finances can feel overwhelming to manage and knowing exactly how much you should put aside for something can cause a headache. We have all been there.