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Nov 29, 2011

This isn't Frugal, It's Just Crazy

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I've heard many people who share this exact sentiment. They believe that frugality is simply being cheap, and that there is no real benefit to doing the tips and tricks withing the frugal realm just to save a dime. Unfortunately for them, frugality and being cheap are two different things. Being frugal means to buy things with quality in mind, while still getting the best price possible. If you didn't, then you would simply be cheap. Being cheap may work in the long run, but lower quality items will breakdown, degrade, and lose it's functionality quicker than a higher quality, yet frugal buy.

When people see these tips they think "What? Save a measly dollar here or there? How is this at all worth it?", and continue to dismiss the frugal mindset. They are woefully missing the point, however.Frugality is a life-style and mindset. Not only that, but it is also a very cumulative and ongoing thing. Sure, if you use one tip and it saves you 5 dollars a year, that's not a whole lot. It's easy to be dismissive and ignore other tips after this. This is where most people who do not adopt a frugal mindset stand. "Really making your own soap? You guys are crazy." We hear it all. Adding these tips together in a cumulative and continuous way, however, can mean a much greater savings. Put 10 tips together, maybe you can 200 dollars a year. Put 10 frugal tips together and maybe you can save $500 or $1000. It's all in how much dedication you are willing to put into this. It will save you money. You will be happier.


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Jul 20, 2011

Dude, You Use Too Much Product.

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Really now. You use way too much product when going about your daily lives and providing luscious positive hygiene techniques to yourself. However, since we are lazy and like to picture rather than read, the quaint descriptions of amount usage on packaging is often ignored contributing to an vast overuse of products such as and ESPECIALLY toothpaste and shampoo or conditioner. You probably use too much toothpaste and shampoo. I've added some very special visual elements to assist in the proper usage amounts of products. Wouldn't you like your toothpaste and shampoo to last longer?

TOOTHPASTE



Nobody needs as much toothpaste as the bottom picture, even if you have the largest recorded mouth in the world. As you begin to brush your teeth, that small but proper dab of toothpaste will turn into something magical. Believe me, this is PLENTY of toothpaste to clean each and every tooth with. Maybe even TWICE! The only thing the bottom picture will give you is a mouthful of sudsy mouth paste and a severely waning bottle of toothpaste. Now you might say, well you had to waste that toothpaste for the picture! That's not frugal! ...and I'd reply and welcome your criticism. However this is for something else. This is for science. Science is always right. Right?





SHAMPOO / CONDITIONER




Before the jokes come in about spray cheese or simple handly pleasures, allow me to make a statement. You probably use way too much shampoo. Let's try and use less shampoo next shower, can we? We want to gently wash our hair after a hard day of looking good, not cover it in laboratory goo and strip our hair of its natural wonder. Hair was not really made to be shampooed in the first place. It strips our hair of natural oils and can sometimes even damage the hair. I'm not saying shampoo is all bad though. It certainly can do the hair good with proper amounts. The top picture is a good estimate at how much shampoo and conditioner you should be using during your shower. The only shower that warrants a little extra shampoo is the god-like golden shower. Yet, this should still not amount to the glob seen in the bottom picture. Want to save even more shampoo? Stop shampooing every time you shower. Do it every other day, or every two days, etc. Your hair will visibly thank you.
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Jul 14, 2011

How to Avoid Heating Up Your House In The Summer...

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(and how the opposite can help in the winter.)

It is now the middle of the summer season for those in the United States who see the season. Temperatures ranging from the 80s, 90s, and 100s. A welcome season for many who grow weak and weary of the bitter cold winter months that seem to last an eternity. Now that summer is in fact here, you'll hear the population convert their complaints of the bitter cold over to complaints of the scorching heat. It seems nobody is content in an area where the climate can drastically change with the seasons such as us here in the Mid-Atlantic and New England.

Under the coercion of the temperate rays of the sun, many seek out methods of cooling down during the summer while at home. Honestly, it is much easier to combat the cold of the winter. You can simply wear heavier clothing around the house and use extra blankets to keep warm without breaking your budget via the energy bill. Summer is a profoundly more stubborn. What happens when you remove all your blankets and your clothing yet remain in a puddle of sweat? When it's 85 degrees outside and 83 degrees in your house it can sometimes feel like an eternal suffocating hell.

Many seek out help with an installed HVAC unit in their homes to allow for central air conditioning. This one unit will send cooled air throughout the house wherever there may be a duct installed. Many houses are not equipped with this technology, therefore others will utilize overhead fans and/or in-window air conditioning units to stay cool. Fortunately for your physical comfort, you will feel great. Unfortunately, air-conditioning or other cooling methods will more than likely be your biggest utility expense during the summer. Considering this, it is important to really understand your house and why and how its indoor temperature is what it is.

You may be forcing your air-conditioner to do more work for you. You won't notice this until you get the bill at the end of the month. There are many things that homeowners do or own that contribute to unwanted heat in the house during the summer. Eliminating these heat leeches can not only lead to a NATURALLY more cool house, but allow for less strain and work on the air conditioner. Think of it as a job being payed based on performance. The less you work, the less you get paid. It is very similar for air conditioners. The less THEY work, the less YOU have to pay.

There are plenty of ways to reduce the amount of heat in your home during the summer that will prevent overworking your cooling units.







  •  The first thing you should check when it comes to anything. Is to check your insulation. Seriously. If you do not have proper insulation, it is just going to be that harder to control your houses temperature. You don't want heat leaking in, and you surely don't want cool leaking out. Also make sure there are no cracks or leaks in your HVAC system as well.

  • If you run your air conditioner make sure that all outside seals are closed. Any cracks in windows or doors are going to grab the cool air and take it with it outside.

  • Unplug your wireless router and modem when away from the house or not in use. Both my router and modem are generally warm to the touch which means some of that heat is getting dispersed into the air. If you're a torrent seeder among other things, this may make this decision harder for you.

  • Unplug your cable boxes, set-top boxes, TIVOs, and TVs. My cable box gets very warm when it is plugged in. This could attribute to room heat. Unplugging your cable box is also beneficial considering the cost to keep it on. Some cable boxes can cost up to $10 a MONTH just to keep plugged in. It doesn't matter if you're using it or not. If it's plugged in, it's giving off heat and wasting electricity.

  • If you have windows in your bathroom, open them while you shower. The hot and humid air from the shower can go outside where it belongs. Make sure you shower with the door to the bathroom closed as well. As you leave the bathroom, close the door behind you and let the hot air dissipate slowly from the bathroom, as opposed to leaving the door open and allowing all that hot air to enter the rest of your house's temperature zone.

  • If your kitchen range has a vent, turn it on while cooking. Allow for the heat of cooking to exit the house, rather than dissipate throughout the house and heating it up. Additionally, try and keep all pots and pans covered to inhibit the heat escape.

  • Eliminate or reduce radiational heating by closing the blinds of windows during the day. Leaving the windows uncovered will attribute to heat gain in the house from the radational heating caused by the suns rays. Some may say "Oh, how depressing. A beautifully sunny day, and you want me to clothes my blinds so I can't see it?". Well, yes. Your house is for living. Why not go outside and enjoy the weather rather than dimly enjoying it inside the house.

  • Turn off your computers when not in use. Your laptops, your desktops, your netbooks, etc. My laptop has a normal running temperature of around 90-95 degrees Fahrenheit. This heat gets filtered away from the computer's integral parts and out of the vents on the body of the computer. If you leave your computer on while your AC is on, you will essentially have a heater (your computer) fighting your air conditioning unit. Why not buy a dehumidifier and a humidifier at that point and have them battle each other too? Steven Wright may have been on to something. (/sarcasm)

  • Inhabit the lowest portion of your home. It is true. Heat rises. The most upstairs portion of your home is generally the hottest. The basement is generally the coolest area. Not only is it the lowest portion, but many basements are partially or fully underground. There is less light to penetrate and less heat underground.

  • Reduce the amount of people in your home. Us humans are small heaters. Our homeostatic body temperature is around 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. Get enough people in a room and the temperature will surely rise. Nearly all of us have experienced this as well. A store or a small space with a lot of people is bound to become hot stuffy and sweaty.  Consider having that summer party outdoors, rather than indoors.

  • If you have an indoor ceiling fan, use it. It will rid of the hot air being stagnant as well as moving and circulating the colder air from an AC unit.

  • When it comes to the air conditioning unit itself, makes sure the filter is clean and in good shape. Also try and position the unit so that it does not get direct sunlight. Direct sunlight can cause an AC to lose its efficiency.

  • Do not set your thermostat low in hopes that it will cool your house quicker. This only puts extra strain on the air conditioner.

  • If you're still using incandescent light bulbs, which you shouldn't be, your house may be warmed up by lights being left on. That's not to say that other bulbs can do the same, but incandescent bulbs are essentially mini-heaters that emit light.
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Jul 13, 2011

Stop Buying Things You Can't Afford

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This should be the first 'to-do' on everyone's list, and the most obvious task at that. Stop buying things. Seriously, put down your wallet. Put down your cash. Put down your debit card. Put down your credit card. Hide it away in your wallet for now. It is time to think. Time to save. Time to gain self control and STOP stop stop buying things. It's hard, I understand. For some, this may be a foreign concept, but if you'd like to begin saving your money and saving your time, it is absolutely necessary.

Imagine what you can do with having extra money. Obviously, first priority of money should be for paying off the essentials in life such as food and shelter. Once that is accomplished, you can use the extra money saved to benefit your own self with increased happiness. Who knows! Maybe you might finally be able to fund that eccentric hobby of smashing pumpkins or eating teaspoons of fish oil on different shores of the world. Anything is possible.

Foregoing any more silly antics, allow me to adjust my tone back to playfully helpful with added seriousness. Stop buying things. I will allow you to buy a small chalkboard and a piece of chalk only to write the message "Stop Buying Things" on it. From then on, keep your promise to the blackboard.

The reason that many of us find that we lack sufficient funds to pay for things really ACTUALLY have to pay for is because we keep buying things that serve no real purpose and add very little value or use to our lives. Another thing is that we should only buy things with money that we have. That means get rid of those credit cards if you don't have the immediate funds to pay them off. If you have $1000 to your name and want to buy a TV for $1400  then DON'T do it. Putting it on a credit card will only put you in debt. Credit cards are not free money. When you don't pay the credit card bill in full for the TV that you couldn't afford but just HAD to have, your TV's price begins to accrue interest. That $1400 television set then turns on you like your best friend and ends up costing $2000+ after the final payment.

Make a list. Track your purchases. Don't let them just fade into a costly abyss. Add up your expenses and realize how much money you are wasting every day, every week, every month, every year. This is entire post is based off the very old idea of "Needs vs. Wants". You need to eat. You want a motorcycle. You need to pay the electricity bill. You want to build a deck. If you are compelled to buy material items because you think it will allow you to gain friends easier, you are going about being social incorrectly. People should like you for who you are, not the material items you own. If it is still a difficult concept to grasp, consider this:

  • You don't need to buy those cute little trinkets for around the house. They look tacky, add to house clutter, and waste money. Don't tell me you HAD to get those window stickers or talking picture frame.

  • You don't need an HDTV. Sure it's nice, but is it that extra resolution worth the cost?

  • You don't need an iPhone and you don't need a Macbook Pro. If you get a contract, you can get free Android smartphones from any carrier. Macbook Pros are unnecessarily expensive. Buy a windows or Linux alternative laptop or netbook instead.

  • You don't need to have thousands of pieces of clothing. Pick your favorite, keep it, and wear it. You are not your clothing. It does not control you. You are you. Wear a few outfits that look nice and be happy with what you have. There is no excuse for spending hundreds of dollars on clothing every time you go out to shop.

  • You don't need to buy a brand new expensive car. There are fine cars both performance and aesthetic that can be bought cheaper especially if used. Do you really need to own a Mustang?

  • The same goes for housing. Don't accept what you can't pay. If you know you rent might be hard to pay, then you can't afford it. The same goes with a mortgage. If your mortgage payment seems too high and difficult to pay, it's going to be. Live in a smaller more efficient house for cheaper. 

Bottom line? You do not need to spend money and gain material items to be happy in life. Your needs should always out weigh your wants. If you feel as if you can afford something, then by all means, give yourself a treat. But if you physically don't have the money to afford something at that exact time, DO NOT BUY IT.  
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Jul 11, 2011

Ditch Cable and Movies for Cheaper Alternatives

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Unless you're stealing cable from a neighbor, you're more than likely paying outrageous amounts of money to watch television. If you live life on the edge, maybe you should steal cable. It will provide you with dual outlets of free entertainment. Stealing and viewing television. Actually, I'm not advocating this at all. Fortunately, there are better methods for obtaining, not free, but cheaper means of home entertainment.

Go back and look at your cable bill for the month. Now multiply that by 12 and you'll have the amount of money you pay per year on cable/satellite television. Now think about the content itself. Laden with advertisements every 8 minutes or so, waning quality programming, sometimes inconvenient times to watch programs, etc. It's really the case of having 500 channels but nothing to watch. There are plenty of reasons to look upon cable and satellite television and be less than impressed. Is this really how you want to be spending your earned money?

Cable companies know they aren't as popular with the public as they once were. Comcast, for example has a low reputation in the eyes of the public and was even rated one of America's worst companies. To boost customer support of the company Comcast has started re-branding their television and internet division as 'Xfinity'. Xfinity is still Comcast.

Instead of wasting your time and money with cable and satellite television ditch these money suckers for cheaper alternatives.

  1. Netflix - Netflix's describes themselves as a company that offers to...
    Watch TV Shows & Movies Online or Streaming to your TV via Wii, Xbox, PS3 & many other devices. For Only $7.99 a month.
    The many other devices also includes your computer, iPod, iPhone, etc., as long as you have an internet connection. Netflix is constantly adding content to their Instant Queue which means you can simply browse and watch without having to wait for a disk to arrive in the mail. If a show or movie is not available on instant queue you can simply send for it to be delivered to your house. Many of your favorite TV shows and movies are in Netflix's database and for 96 dollars a year, it's certainly worth it.  Netflix gains access to new content every week and is constantly expanding its library. As of now Netflix has over 100,000 titles in its library including Futurama, Arrested Development, Lost, etc.


  2. Hulu is an online video service provided free streaming videos of popular and classic television shows as well as documentaries and some full length movies. The huge difference between Hulu and Netflix is that Hulu allows you to watch very recently aired television episodes. Many use Hulu to stay up on Family Guy, 30 Rock, Saturday Night Live, Wilfred, The Office, South Park, Parks and Recreation, and much more. Much of the content comes from frontrunner stations such as NBC, Fox, and ABC but include many other station's and network's content as well. Some shows are even available in a 720p HD stream.  It's great for those who want to watch TV but don't want to pay for the cable subscription.


  3. Network TV stations will often upload streaming videos of their licensed content to watch. For those who missed an episode or those without TVs, both major networks ABC, NBC, and FOX offer streaming episodes of certain shows under their programming. Other Networks such as Adult Swim and Comedy Central  offer streaming episodes of many shows under their programming.


  4. If you are more tech savvy or are looking to become such a person, torrenting is always an option if you are willing. You can simply torrent new and old episodes of your favorite TV shows as well as download movies from 1930 to movies currently in theaters. This is a more morally ambiguous way of going about getting entertainment, however I am simply letting you know of the options. It is best to find private torrent trackers where quality and sharing is rewarded. Public trackers such as the Pirate Bay are still available for use.








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Jul 10, 2011

Stop Eating to Save Money

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This is quite possibly the greatest and best kept secret in staying frugal and saving money. Not eating. Just stop eating. You don't need to eat. We can survive by taking in energy from the sun and water from the rains! Imagine the money you can save by not eating!

Hopefully by now you don't have to read this line to realize that I am simply procuring a playful jest. Of course we have to eat. Our body would begin to eat away our fat and muscle supply if we didn't. The thing is, people seem to not know how to eat very well these days. Go in any supermarket and look at the items that are advertised and especially advertised on sale. These items are laden with processed food materials, fats, high fructose corn syrup, etc. None of these food items are conducive to a healthy body and mind. Coinciding with this is the health of your wallet and bank account.

Consumers buying processed foods and such will find that it yields little to no benefits besides perhaps quickness and convenience. That boxed Kraft macaroni and cheese takes a lot less time to make than real mac and cheese, right? Who has time to cook anymore? Make time to cook. You'll be happier you did.

In fact, buying such processed and unhealthy foods is one of the most least frugal things you can do. Focus your buying less on processed foods and more on more nutritious and frugally beneficial foods. This is how you can improve:

  1. Keep away from sodas and other sugary or high fructose corn syrup drinks. "Consumption of high-fructose corn syrup in beverages may play a role in the epidemic of obesity." This not only leads to health problems which can cost you dearly but it is a waste of money. Sodas and other drinks with high sugar content and HFCS cost extra as well. You are paying a premium to buy inferior merchandise. Try drinking water, fresh tea, or other healthier drink options.

     
  2. Keep away from White Bread and other unnatural grains. White bread is probably the least healthy variant of bread out there. It is also the least nutritious. Try whole wheat if at all possible, or even ryes. Brown rice is healthier than eating white rice.

     
  3. Eat more vegetables and less junk. Use them in your daily meals from breakfast to dinner. Many of your needed nutrients will come from vegetables so do not leave these out of your diet. The same goes for many varieties of fruit as well.

     
  4. These tips go especially well for those who use EBT or food stamps. If you have this, it is a good idea to buy items that will benefit you nutritionally. I've seen people buying the most refined and processed foods a store can sell, along with sodas, sugary soft drinks, ice cream, pastries, etc. Sure these are good, but when you are given a limited amount of money to eat, you should really consider eating more nutritiously.



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Jun 30, 2011

How to Hydrate and Replenish Your Electrolytes Without Drinking Gatorade

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Popular sports drinks such as Gatorade, Powerade, Vitamin Water, etc., aim to hydrate the human body while replacing electrolytes lost during the process of sweating from physical activities. Millions of people drink down millions of bottles of these sports drinks a year in hope of a healthy method of hydration. Unfortunately, the majority of these people have been misled by creatively misleading advertisements. Of course when we see a famous athlete we all want to be like them and drink the same Gatorade they drink, right? Unfortunately, so.


What do drinks like Gatorade aim to do?

We've seen their advertisements everywhere. Gatorade is a 'sports drink' designed to provide adequate hydration as well as replenishing the electrolytes lost from sweating.

What is an electrolyte exactly?

"It's in Brawndo, the thirst mutilator, right?"

To put simply, it is just a chemical that conducts an electrical current. How is this beneficial to us? The most commonly electrolytes used in sports drinks are Na+ (Sodium Ion) and K+ (Potassium ion), considering they are most generously lost during sweating. They are important because they help to maintain proper voltages throughout the cell membrane. This is important because our entire body relies on the proper ordinance of electrical charges whether it be a nerve impulse, muscle contractions, etc. Without proper electrolytes these voltages could be starved of their energy source causing problems within the body. It deals very heavily on the human body's biochemistry.

Gatorade and it's analogues never explicitly mention that their product is healthy in their advertisements. Perhaps it's our innate ideas that athletes are healthy, therefore the product they sponsor must be healthy too. However, I've seen athletes sponsored by fast food joints and soda companies. Very few things scream unhealthy louder than things like that.








Let's look at the nutrition facts of a Gatorade, shall we?


This is  for a 32 fl oz size bottle of Gatorade. We can see that in one serving there are 14 grams of sugar. Sugar is scientifically known to dehydrate the cells in our body which means it dehydrates our bodies. This seems rather counter-intuitive. Make a drink claiming to hydrate yet load 14 grams of sugar into one serving of the drink. The only reason the drink has calories is due to its sugar content too. Even worse, the sugar isn't just sugar. It's high fructose corn syrup. I guess the only way people would drink it is if it had a sweet syrupy taste to it. Note how there are 110mg of Sodium and 30mg of potassium and 14g of total carbohydrates. This will come in handy for later parts of this post.

By now it should be obvious that over priced Gatorade bottles aren't exactly the most frugal option in drinks and hydration.

What to do then? Drink water. Drinking water is most hydrating experience you can get. "But what about my precious electrolytes. You said I needed them!!" Yes, they are still essential especially if you are being active and sweating. Here's a few ideas:


  • There is 110mg of sodium in a serving of Gatorade. This isn't a lot in the grand scheme of things. Take a pinch of table salt and throw it into your water. The amount is so little that you probably won't notice it during your ice cold chug.


  • How to make up for potassium? Eat half of a banana. Half of a medium banana should provide you with 200mg of potassium. You want to make sure your sodium and potassium levels are very similar, which is why eating an entire banana without making up for the sodium isn't recommended.


  • But what about the carbs that are in Gatorade too? Eat a portion of a medium sized potato and forget the banana. A medium potato has nearly 400mg of potassium too along with plenty of complex carbohydrates that will fuel you when you need it.

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Jun 29, 2011

Stop Drinking Coffee and Energy Drinks for Your Caffeine Fix

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As a society it is evident that we can't have too much caffeine. Of course this isn't true because caffeine's LD50 in humans is around 150mg per kg of body weight. Luckily, the vast majority of us don't reach the point of caffeine overdose. However, we certainly pay a premium on how we ingest our daily caffeine. 

Why do we drink so much caffeine?
  • Many people absolutely need it to get out of the bed in the morning. 

  • Many people will drink coffee or energy drinks in order to remain alert while driving, while staying up studying for finals and exams, and other mentally demanding things. 

  • We love the taste of coffee and sodas and drink it anyway. 

Many people drink coffee in the morning in order to wake themselves up the rest of the day. Some have even admitted to not liking coffee that much, but enjoying the buzz of caffeine. Considering this, people jam the drive-thru and create long lines at coffee shops around the country, including Starbucks which lines every square inch of the world.

Next time you are at your coffee shop look at the price you are paying. 2, 3, 4, 5 dollars for every coffee product you get depending on how fancy. Now multiply that by every day you buy one of these drinks. You are wasting an awful lot of money just to have your caffeine fix in the morning. The Consumerist  reported that their prices have increased by 17% even still as of recent. Even more reason to cut back.

The same goes for those who are regular users of energy drinks. A Redbull generally costs around 2 dollars for one can. Have you ever seen the size of the can? And have you ever tasted that yellow sludge? I think that itself is enough to warrant discontinuing its purchase from your list.

Do you want to know what the best substitute is for these drinks?


Completely quitting caffeine. To some this may seem crazy, but think about the money you could save if you didn't drink all those caffeinated drinks every morning of your life. You can save hundreds a year. Thousands if you drink enough. Unfortunately, those who are accustomed to caffeine may have a caffeine dependance. At this point, completely quitting caffeine can result in caffeine withdrawal symptoms due to caffeine addiction. It's best that you slowly wean yourself off of caffeine if this is the case. You may not feel the best for the time being, while your body adjusts to not having caffeine in it anymore.  I had a close friend who lost weight, violently vomited, and shook for awhile, among other things, while quitting caffeine.

Caffeine Pill
If you have no desire in quitting caffeine and you realize the health risk that too much caffeine as well as continued caffeine use can cause such as emotional fatigue, dehydration, memory issues, adrenal fatigue, anxiety and panic attacks, etc., then supplementing with a caffeine pill may be more beneficial. One pill can cover the dosage of caffeine from your cup of coffee or energy drink and more. Most pills are 200mg and come in the form of caffeine anhydrous, which simply means it is dry and "without water".

One caffeine pill supplement would be equal to or even more than the amount of caffeine in the cup of coffee you drink. The same goes for energy drinks.

 If you still want something warm or hot to drink while on the job or on the go, substitute expensive coffees and energy drinks with very inexpensive homemade teas or hot chocolate. Supplies for both are very cheap to make a cup. You can drink that and simply take a caffeine tablet. 
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Jun 22, 2011

How To Find And Save Coins And Other Loose Change

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We could all use a little change, right? I mean, even current President Obama touted the name of change as a presidential platform before his election.

"Change we can believe in." I believe in change just as much as Barack Obama or the American people. However, I believe more in monetary currency change rather than a revolution of governmental change. The pennies, the nickels, the dimes, the quarters, the half-dollars, the Sacajawea dollar coins that were given to me in middle school. This is the change I believe in.

Collecting and saving up coins and loose change is a great way to have extra spending money after a while of saving. Many people take coin currency and loose change for granted, and no I don't mean Loose Change the 9/11 criticism films either. Okay, enough unwarranted political banter.

I've seen people throw change away (literally), or drop it without a care in the world, or other unwise actions taken towards change. It's a shame, because change and coins can really add up big after a while. You can save hundreds of dollars just by saving the spare change you accumulate and find.

I liken it to this sometimes: I am an expeditor on ChaCha.com and make 2 cents a question. Yes. 2 pennies a question. For most people, this garners much laughter to my face saying how I'm essentially working for LESS than peanuts. Sure, it's not a full time job, but when you consistently answer questions, those 2 cents add up to a dollar, to 10 dollars, to 100 dollars. I typically make around $200 of extra money a month using ChaCha. 2 cents a question isn't all that bad in a perspective such as this.


Here's how to maximize your potential change savings:

The benefits are much more visual when you use cash for purposes considering you get change back from purchases. You will already be saving all of your change leftover from purchases if you use debit cards or checks. 

Start off by finding a collection jar. You can use a pretzel jar, sauce jar, mason jar, sock, ANYTHING that you want your change to be held in.

  • When purchasing an item or good with tangible cash, keep your eyes on the change you get back. Put the change into your pocket and immediately put it in your cash jar when you arrive home to it. 




  • Check your clothing washer and dryer (if you use one) for loose change that may have been unaccounted for.  Additionally, before washing, make sure you clear out your pockets of any change that may have accumulated throughout the day.  Note: Drying clothes in dryers wastes money.

  • Check under the cushions of your couch, in the cracks, and under the couch as well for fallen loose change. Coins will often fall out of your pants pockets as you sit on the couch. If you cushions are pinned to the couch, check between the cracks for loose coins and spare change. 

  • If you own a purse, dig through its contents. I'm sure you will find some scattered change and coins floating around the space.

  • Check every inch of your car's interior for coins and loose change. I can't tell you how often I found coins under the seats or between the seats.

  • Check in cabinets and drawers for coins and change. Especially if you keep a drawer specifically for junk and other less important but still retained items around the house. Almost anything winds up in a junk drawer so it's not hard to believe that change will either. 

  • Check in storage boxes and other compartments in your basement or alternative storage area. I cleaned out a box and found $1.86 in spare change. It really adds up!  

  • Check soda machines and vending machines in public. Sometimes people don't take their change from the machines, and even more rare, sometimes when you press the change release button, you will get change. I did this once at a vending machine and it dispensed $1 in quarters to me.  

  • Check the floors for coins and change at any restaurant or coffee shop you may visit. Coffee shops are a good place for this since many people are often in a hurry and may be more quick to forget, drop, or lose their change.  I've picked up more than 3 dollars in a few days at a local Starbucks. Retail stores also have their fair share of dropped change as well as mall parking lots.

  • Scour the ground as you are out and about especially if you live in a larger town or city. You are bound to find some change on the ground, whether it's in plain sight or in the cracks of the pavement. 

  • Check for loose coins and change outside of kiosks and especially drive-thru windows at fast food restaurants. People have a tendency to drop their change when its handed back to them and often many won't care about picking it back up. 

  • If you live near a boardwalk or are vacationing in a town with one be alert of the thousands of tourists who are dropping their change. 

  • Visit arcades. Arcades run off of the input of quarters and many people will drop their quarters and other change without noticing. Get in their and scoop it up!

 Those before us had a very perceptive outlook on the future. It's almost as if they gave us all of the knowledge and information we would ever need as a society even today. "A penny saved is a penny earned" - mouthed by the brilliant Benjamin Franklin understood the importance of saving your change. Do you?

If you're looking to cash in these coins check out a related post on how to cash in coins.

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    Jun 18, 2011

    Supplemental Income for College Students

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    There comes a time in a college student's life where he or she may realize they are running worryingly low on funds for even basic survival. It's very difficult to undergo a heavy course load while working during the same time frame. Even if you do find a job, you probably won't be able to work many hours. You'll then have to find a way to muster up money to provide for yourself to buy food, gas, and toiletries for the week. This can get very difficult when you live in an apartment and have other bills to pay as well.

    What can you do to supplement income in college when a job doesn't pay much?
    • Take part in university studies or experiments. Depending on your university campus you can do can take part in research experiments with fMRI, memory games, etc in the psychology department which can pay around $15 per hour. Of course other departments such as economics, nutrition, and others hold experiments that you can get in to. I've heard an account of someone injected with a small pox vaccine and payed $300 to do so. You have to to know where to look for these experiments. Fortunately, it's not a major commitment or time consumer, so you can still have time for your studies and come back whenever you have the time. 





    • Donate blood plasma. "Blood plasma is the yellow liquid component of blood in which the blood cells in whole blood are normally suspended. It makes up about 55% of the total blood volume." There are generally plasma donation centers on or near many university campuses. You can stand to make nearly $200 a month if you stick with it.

    • Use websites like eBay and Etsy to your advantage. Do you have old stuff that you could sell? Sell it on eBay. Do you enjoy making crafty things? Sell it on Etsy in your spare time.

    • If you have a special talent that would draw a crowd and you live in a college town with enough people, you can try busking or performing on the streets. If you play an instrument, for example, you can set up and play for awhile and leave a jar or box out for donations. If you're good, you may be able to pick up a good amount of money.

    • If you have the skill of cutting hair you can advertise around campus for your skills. Haircuts are a hot item on college campuses.

    • Do you have technological skill? Advertise to help people with their computers and gadgets. Many people are looking for help.

    • Try signing up with ChaCha at becomeaguide.chacha.com. You can make yourself $150+ if done properly.

    • If you are male you can look into sperm donation. If you are a woman, and this takes much more dedication, you can look into egg donation.
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    Get More Life Out of Your Sponges

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    No, I don't mean your living aquatic sponge that you forgot to feed bacteria to in order to sustain its life. I'm talking about dish sponges. Sponges you use to clean dishes and kitchen surfaces with. If you are a regular reader of Stay Frugal, you would know that using a dishwasher saves money. If you can't afford a dishwasher, or have no space or intentions on purchasing one, do not fret. There are frugal ways to save while staying manual and old school with dish washing sponges, cleaning sponges, kitchen sponges, or whatever you may call them. I've heard it all. Aside from tips concerning the conservation of water and dish soap, there are a few things to put into practice to make your dish sponges last longer.
    • When you purchase dishwashing sponge you can double it's efficiency by cutting it in perfect halves. I know this sounds silly, but the area provided by the half sponge is perfectly capable of cleaning the dishes well. Now instead of one sponge, you have two sponges. You can even allot one half of the sponge to a certain area, such as a bathroom, and keep another sponge in the kitchen as a kitchen sponge.

    • Many homeowners will throw their sponges away after awhile because they can become very dirty and bacteria laden. There is a simple and easy trick to learn, and it's how to disinfect a sponge. Disinfecting sponges is fortunately an easy process. Place your damp sponge in the microwave. Microwaving sponges you say? Yes, actually! Set the microwave on high for about 5 minutes. You may want to wrap the sponge in paper towel as it will begin to form bubbles and become wetter than desired. Exercise caution when removing the sponge from the microwave. At first, it will be hot. Once you've learned how to clean your sponge,  it will be disinfected and rid of bacteria due to the high heat of the microwave and ready to clean again!




      Does this work?


      This surprisingly does work. Nearly all bacteria die around the tepid temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Although a microwave doesn't technically produce heat like an oven does, it does heat the material itself up. This is why there are no temperature settings on a microwave. At a high setting on the microwave, however, the sponge should heat up past the point of 165 degrees effectively disturbing and killing the bacteria found on the sponge.

      Why does my sponge have bacteria in the first place?

      Well, it's pretty obvious. Cleaning sponges aren't made to grace surfaces that are already clean, their purpose is TO clean. Whether you use your sponge in the kitchen to clean up potentially harmful liquids from eggs, chicken, to other meats, or in the bathroom where urine and other unsightly matters may be cleaned. Not to mention, people don't clean their sponges very often. Even if you aren't cleaning up after questionable liquids possibly containing Salmonella or other bacteria, you can pick up food particles and other things that can help contribute to an increasingly dirty and bacteria laden sponge.

      How often should I clean my sponge?

      There really is no defined time limit. Some people may feel most comfortable doing it everyday. Others will do it on a weekly basis. I don't believe that it should go any longer than a month without a proper visit from the microwave, however.
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    Jun 17, 2011

    Change Your Dishwashing Habits

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    Many homes these days are fitted comfortably with an area designed specifically for a dishwasher so why not use it right? Automatic dishwashers replace the need for any dirty work. Load up all of the dirty dishes from the last few days and nights and then tap a few buttons to have your dishes mechanically and automatically cleaned. No manual labor required is by the end user save for the far-from-cardio motions of placing the dishes neatly on the rack.

    The first automatic dishwashers were found to be in use as far back 1850, obviously with a much more crude and primitive design. Since then it has replaced much of the manual work done by the homeowner and allows for a more efficient use of time. Reduce labor and increase personal time. Isn't that what we all long for?

    Does washing dishes by hand or in a dishwasher save more money? The answer lies in how the actions are done. There was a study conducted in Germany that showed that dishwashers were more efficient against the use of manual hand dish washing by the human dishwashers. The study found that the dishwasher handled electricity, water, and detergent usage better than a human. The study can be found here, although the text is in German.

    Why is a automatic dishwasher more efficient? Well certainly because we are humans and not machines. Dishwashers may seem like they are wasting energy but the energy expenditure of a human using water and detergent inefficiently is greater than that of the machine designed to replace the job.

    There are a few tips that one should follow to be sure that their automatic drying experience is truly the best course of action. These tips will also help you save money even if you already use a dishwasher as opposed to hand washing.
    • Tend to use lighter wash settings for the dishes. The higher settings are unnecessary.
    • Choose not to do a heated dry. The heated dry will simply waste electricity. 
    • Do a load only when it is absolutely necessary. Fill the dishwasher to capacity before doing a load but do not overload. Make sure there is enough space for the water jet to reach each piece.
    • Wash pots and pans manually. They take up too much space in the dishwasher. Do not leave the water running while doing this. Fill the pot or pan up with a slight amount of water and use this to clean with. 
    • Do not overdo the use of dish detergent. 
    • Using EnergyStar Dishwashers can help save energy.
    • Check parts of the dishwasher and make sure they are working properly. This means checking for clogs and making sure the jet is not obstructed.
    • Scrape off what you can from the dishes before placing them in the dishwasher, but do not use water or other means of cleaning. The dishwasher can take care of this.
     
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    Jun 7, 2011

    How the Yellow Brick Road Got Its Color

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    Extremes are a variable type of occurrence with anything in life. Even when the extreme might be trying to save money. I knew a guy in a freshman class of mine who knew I was really into being frugal and whatnot. He decided to tell about his trials of saving money, especially as a desperately short-on-cash college student. I figured I'd listen and gain some potentially interesting information about saving money and being frugal and the like. I mean who knows, maybe I'd be able to write an interesting blog post about what he mentioned? Unfortunately, only one of those conditions were met and here I am.

    This man liked to save on the water bill in a rather interesting manner. Instead of peeing into a toilet like a normal person, he would pee into a cup large enough to accommodate his own bladder contents. From there he would either pour the cup down the drain in the sink, in the shower, or simply just outside. I put on my best poker face at this point and tried not to laugh. He continued and explained that he was saving a great deal in money from not flushing the toilet all the time when he urinating. I can't imagine what he does for other pertinent toilet occasions.






    Was he saving money at all?

    The average household toilet uses around 3 gallons per flush according to USGS.

    On average it is normal to urinate around 6-8 times a day. This of course changes depending on your fluid intake, but let's stick with the average.

    The average price of water in the United States is about $1.50 for 1000 gallons. Which means it is $0.0015 per gallon of water. Cheap, I know.

    Let's say he urinates 6 times a day at 3 gallons per flush. That's 18 gallons per day.

    There are 365 days in a year. This means that he is using 6570 gallons of water on just peeing per year.

    At $0.0015 per gallon, he is saving $9.86 per year by not flushing while relieving the bladder. Imagine if his family all did the same thing!

    It doesn't seem like much. But you decide that.
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    Other Uses for Old Socks and T-Shirts

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    If many of us were to raid our closets I'm sure we'd find a lot of shirts, especially boring plain white t-shirts with various amounts of different stains in the underarms. Even if your t-shirts are in good condition with no awkward stains, perhaps they are just old and unworthy of being worn on your body, or whatever reason you have for not wearing plain white t-shirts. Anyway, these, along with old socks can prove to have many other uses around the house than just throwing away, getting lost in the laundry, laying in multiple rooms of the house, etc.


    SHIRTS

    I'm sure you're thinking "My, what large text for a seemingly mundane and common household item" and I'd agree with you. However, it is now that shirts become more than ordinary and more than simply just something to add to closet clutter. That's why this is important. For you. For the world. For the universe. Let's go.

    • If you're like any normal homeowner, you have dust that settles on your television, and your counter, and your video games, and your tables, etc. Use an old t-shirt for dusting purposes rather than spending money on a cloth specifically designed to dust. I can attest, it works perfectly fine.
       
    • In addition to just dusting you can use the t-shirt as an applicator rag for a homemade or store-bought (less recommended) cleaning solution. You can also use it to apply polish sprays that will shine your wood tables such as Pledge. Just make sure you store the t-shirt under the sink or where your cleaning supplies are. You would hate for it to make it's way back in to your closet somehow. 

    • If you are willing to give up your ownership to old t-shirts you can format the shirts to fit over the body
      of your dog or cat to keep them warm in the winter. As long as you don't wear matching sweaters there shouldn't be a problem here.

    • Similarly, you can use an old shirt as a toy for your puppy or dog. They love playing tug-o-war with old shirts! 

    • In a true frugal manner, you can use old shirts to make into a reusable shopping bag. It doesn't waste paper or plastic bags and you can... re use it! 

    • I'm sure you've cooked at home before. Use an old t-shirt to pick up hot pots and pans when cooking. Make to make layers of the pot holder. It will serve only to burn you if you don't.

    • Conversion is a fun aspect of owning things. Take one thing and turn it into something else. Why not cut the old shirt up and make a perfectly good headband? Save $10 and make your own! You won't have to feel guilty if you sweat too much into it!

    •  Use the fabric to make a pillow out of!

    • Fashion them into seat covers!

    • Wash your floors and windows with it. You'll get much less streaks than paper towels. It's reusable at that point too!

    • If you can get creative you can make quilts, rugs, and other clothing items out of old shirt fabric!

    • Use a shirt to erase a dry-erase board if you have nothing better.

    • If you're still feeling creative, you can turn an old t-shirt into a scarf for the cold months (if you have cold months). 

    • If you don't have sponges, you can use an old t-shirt to wash your car with.




    SOCKS

    • All of us get injured at one point in our lifetime. Whether we tried to scooter on a patch of ice or jump off a deck into a tree, we all get bumps and bruises. Fortunately, you can take an old sock and fill it with ice and use it as an ice pack. Just fill the sock up with ice and apply it to your battle wound. 

    • Similarly we may need just the opposite of a cold ice pack. Fortunately, our fellow laundry escapists, socks, can cover that too. Fill the sock with rice and make sure the end is closed. Put the sock in the microwave for a few minutes depending on your microwave and how warm you want it. Take the sock out and apply to the desired area! The rice will retain the heat for a good amount of time. 

    • Use an old sock as a carrier for change. A great frugal tip is to save as much change as you possibly can. A cheap and easy way to store it is in a sock. 

    • If you have more exciting socks you don't necessarily want to wear anymore you can cut the socks up and use them as a sort of glove for your drink glasses. It will also prevent condensation from dripping down the glass onto the table. Oppositely, you can use it to dampen the heat of a hot drink of tea, coffee, or hot chocolate too. 

    • Socks too can be used as chew toys for your pets. Dogs will love to play tug-o-war and cats will love to chase and bat at the socks. 

    • Much like an old t-shirt, you can use an old sock for dusting and cleaning. Just put your hand in the sock as you would a foot and dust. However, if you're feeling lucky or silly that day, why not dust with your feet? I'm sure someone would get a kick out of it. 

    • Use socks on your hands as garden mittens, cutting grass, working with tools, etc. It's a good way to reduce the chance of blisters. 

    • Cut socks into patterns and use them as drink coasters. 

    • Socks are great as a storage device. Store screws, nails, pens, pencils, erasers, paperclips, markers,  any other thing inside of a sock. You could even try storing valuable things in your socks, because really...who is going to look inside of a sock? Just don't end up forgetting it's there!

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        Jun 4, 2011

        A List of Cheap and Free Things to Do in Each US State: A-G

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        Finding free or very cheap activities and entertainment is always a staple in leading a frugal life. I've decided to put together a list of free activities and things to do in each state in the United States. This list is NOT exhaustive.






        Free Activities in Alabama

        • Moundville Archaeological Park and Museum in Moundville
        • Birmingham Civil Rights Institute
        • Sci-Quest in Huntsville
        • Rosa Parks Library and Museum in Montgomery
        • Donald E. Davis Arboretum in Auburn
        • Birmingham Museum of Art in Birmingham
        • Little River Canyon National Preserve in Fort Payne
        • Oak Mountain State Park in Pelham
        • Jasmine Hill Gardens and Outdoor Museum in Montgomery
        • Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame in Birmingham
        • Cook's Natural Science Museum in Decatur
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        Jun 3, 2011

        Other/Alternative Uses For Vinegar

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        Having different uses for things increases its worth and makes it even more worth buying. This is a great tip for people trying to be frugal. Look for items that have many other uses besides its main use or most mainstream use. A great item for this is the common household pantry item, Vinegar. Vinegar is most commonly used in culinary practices and food preparation. The main ingredient of vinegar is acetic acid, which has a pH of around 2.4 and is derived from fermenting ethanol. This is the wonder compound that gives vinegar its many uses, as well as its pungent and sour odor and taste. There are over 20 different varieties of vinegar to choose from, including apple cider vinegar, white distilled vinegar, malt vinegar, red wine vinegar, etc., some more useful than the others.
         

        Besides food and culinary purposes vinegar can be used in many other ways including health benefits:

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        Other/Alternative Uses For Soap

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        Knowing other uses for things around the house can benefit anyone greatly. It guarantees that you are getting the most out of your product that you are buying. The more uses, the better the buy the product was. Soap can be used for much more than just simple shower hygiene.
        • Use soap to un-stuck a zipper that wont budge. 
        • Use soap to thread a needle through tougher fabric. Just rub the needle through soap allowing it to lubricate so sewing becomes easier. 
        • Use it to freshen up a closed space. Put a scented bar of soap in a drawer or luggage for a consistent fresh smell. 
        • Soap can be used to detect potentially dangerous gas leaks. Rub soap along with water along the thoroughfare for gas, probably a pipe, and look for bubbles. 
        • Lubricate screws and nails with soap before use with precious wood. It will prevent the wood from splitting and make it easier to hammer or screw. 
        • Use the bar of soap in certain areas to keep bugs and pests away. The best places for this is gardens, garbage cans, etc. 
        • Use soap to remove stains. Sometimes simply soap can work better than some stain removers on the market. 
        • Remove wallpapers and stickers more easily by using soap to dissolve the glue. 
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        Jun 2, 2011

        Other uses for The Yellowbook/Yellow Pages/Other Phone Book

        2 comments
         
        We all know it. The Yellow Book. We get it thrown at our doorsteps every so often and have absolutely no use for it these days with the advent of better technology. Often I see it just laying in other people's yards. Since they don't mail them, and simply placing them in the mailbox is illegal because mailboxes are the property of the US government the moment the box becomes in the use by the USPS, they just lie helplessly on the ground. Rather than just throwing them away there are other things you can do with a Yellow Book. Be creative.

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        Homemade Mosquito Repellent

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        It's the time of year again for us with the climates and areas that permits it. Mosquitoes are our to conquer our bodies and steal out blood. Not only are mosquito bites annoying in that they make us itch endlessly throughout the day and night, but they may carry infectious diseases such as Malaria and West Nile Virus, to name a few.

        Many sprays on the market that are used to repel mosquitoes contain a harmful chemical called N,N-Diethyl-meta-toluamide or more commonly known as DEET.

         Video of a mosquito bite up close.


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        May 29, 2011

        Stay Cool Without The A/C

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        GotTheOrangeJuice redditor gives his advice on staying cool without air conditioning:

        • As a college student who has lived without AC every year, I did a few things to help keep cool.
        • Buy a box fan. You can get them at Walmart for $10. I would buy 2; one would face outwards in one window to suck out the stagnant air, and one would face in to blow in the air.
        • Prop open your doors. Opening your windows is not enough. To get air circulation, open your doors in your house to allow for air flow.
        • Keep your blinds down or curtains closed. While you window is open, you need to try to keep the sunlight from heating your house. That can be done by keeping the sun out. You can also look into getting curtains designed to block UV light. That would be an expensive initial investment, but would help in the long run.
        • Additionally, planting trees where you would want to block the sun in the summer would be another expensive investment, but would be useful for many years to come.
        • Check to make sure your house is properly insulated. It keeps the cold air in during the summer as well as the hot air during the winter.
        • Get used to wearing only your underwear. Sometimes, it's just hot. Be comfortable just walking around in only your underwear, or nothing at all.
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        May 25, 2011

        Use Buckets To Hold Rainwater for Garden Watering Purposes

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        Quick Tip: This can be used in conjunction with another frugal activity, keeping and tending to a garden. A great idea to save money on water and be easier on the environment is to use buckets or other large containers to collect rain water during rainstorms or thunderstorms.  Rather than using water from your home, you can simply pour the water from the buckets on your garden to give it the water they need. Both floral and food gardens can benefit from rainwater collection and rainwater harvesting.
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        Do You Have A Phone With Wi-Fi Capability? Use it.

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        Quick Tip: WiFi is ever increasing in public and even private areas. If you find yourself home a lot in a WiFi environment or in public with WiFi, turn your WiFi capable phone to WiFi mode. This will reduce the amount of data you use per month and will allow you to choose a lesser data plan, saving you money.
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        May 24, 2011

        Don't Pay For Expensive Software - Get Free Alternatives

        1 comments
         


        Many software companies out there have different priorities than others. The top priority should be to provide a great product while remaining honest to the customers and humbling with their pricing. Some companies don't feel the need to follow this and exploit those who have a lesser knowledge of technology. The thing is, for most of your lighter computing needs, you should be able to find a free and perfectly good software to meet those needs. The main culprit I find of this is Norton technology. I've never seen such a waste of money in my life. No body should pay the prices they set for computer protection. There are free analogues available that do the job just as well or even better. Not to mention these free programs are typically lighter (take up less harddrive space) and less of a resource hog (will not cripple your processor or take up too much space in RAM).



        Free Anti-Virus/Spyware Software

        Many name brand computers will come with installations of Norton Anti-Virus or McAfee. Eventually you have to pay for these services. Norton requires a yearly fee for having the software. This is ridiculous. There are plenty of great programs out there that do the job for free.

        Antivirus:
        Spyware: 
        Free Picture/Image Editing Software

        Need more power than Paint by can't afford Photoshop? There are free image editors even available as an applet online to get the job done.

         Free DVD/CD Burning Software

        Microsoft Office Alternatives

        Microsoft Office is expensive, and I know that. Try using OpenOffice as an alternative for Excel, Powerpoint and Word.

        Replacement for Microsoft Office or Eudora

        Does anyone use other free software that should be recognized or added to the list of essential free software?
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        May 22, 2011

        Make Your Own Natural Homemade Shampoo

        4 comments
         
        Most shampoos on the market are overpriced and contain harsh chemicals, detergents, surfactants, etc. The most well known unwanted ingredient being Sodium Dodecyl Sulfate (sodium lauryl sulfate). There are many ways to make your own (sulfate-free) shampoo and the following recipe is the most simple and that can be done. This can save a lot of money especially if you have a large family to bathe.


        Simple Organic Homemade Shampoo:

        The recipe is simple. In a bottle you will mix
        • 1/4 cup of water
        • 1/4 liquid Castile soap
        • 1/2 teaspoon of oil (tea-tree, jojoba, olive oil, grapeseed, etc)
        • Desired amount of scented oils.
        - Other ingredients may be added for different effects. Add 1/4 cup of Aloe Vera and 1 teaspoon of glycerin to the mix for a hydrating hair solution. 

        Try adding 3 tbsp of apple juice, 1 tbsp of apple cider vinegar, and 6 ground cloves for a dandruff solution.

        Remember to shake well before each use!
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        May 21, 2011

        Make Your Own Homemade Deodorant

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        There are plenty of recipes for making your own concoction of deodorant out there on the internet. Doing things yourself is fun, saves money, and you can make it any scent you'd like! The best recipe that worked for me was using:




        • Cornstarch (1/4 of a cup)


        • Baking Soda (1/4 of a cup)


        • A half teaspoon of your favorite scented oil. It could be any scented oil you wish. This is where the fun comes. I love having Cinnamon scented deodorant myself.  Tea-Tree oil works the best in this case however, because it is the best antibacterial.


        • A tablespoon or more of coconut oil.

        Begin by mixing the cornstarch and baking soda together with the oil(s) that you have chosen. After it is well mixed, add the coconut oil in increments until that is at a consistency you feel fit for yourself. Once it is a consistency that you prefer, you can shape your deodorant which ever way you prefer as well. It will have an odd feeling at first because the cornstarch needs a chance to harden before it can feel normal. Put it in the heat or dehydrate the deodorant to your liking. Use your better judgement to tell when it is done. You have homemade deodorant!
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        May 20, 2011

        Stay On Top of Money with Google Advisor

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        Google has just recently released a new free service called Google Advisor. Google calls Google Advisor:
        "Google Advisor makes it easy to find financial offers from multiple providers, compare them side by side, and apply online."
        You can compare mortgage rates of different companies, apply for a credit card that best fits you (be careful of applying for any at all unless you know you're responsible), find the right CD, Checking, or Savings bank accounts, find the accounts with the highest interest rates, and more.

        A similar business is Bank Rate.
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        Make Your Own Homemade Laundry Detergent

        0 comments
         
        Laundry Detergent/Powder is an item that can suck money from our wallets whether we have many loads or few loads per week. There is an quick and easy fix for this. Making your own natural and environmentally friendly laundry detergent that will not only cost less, but last much longer. This method is also safer by being phosphate free.

        All you need for ingredients are

        • Washing Soda (4 cups)
        • Borax (4 cups)
        • Bar of Soap
        • Grater/Shredder (could use a simple cheese grater)
        These items can be found at most grocery stores in the laundry sections. 

        Place the 4 cups of washing soda and borax into a container as well as the finely shredded remains of the bar of soap. Stir these ingredients together until visibly mixed. At this point it should be ready for use. A few tablespoons per load should suffice. This is an insanely cheap and easy way to save a good deal of money while doing laundry. It's also fun! Who doesn't love making things themselves?
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        May 18, 2011

        Summer Frugal Goals

        3 comments
         
        For those of us in the western northern hemisphere summer is quickly approaching. Not only does that mean I finally get to come out of hibernation and come outside to enjoy the wonderful weather, but it also means it's the season for many frugal tricks tips and ideas. Summer opens up many more opportunities than the cooler and colder months of the year. I am setting up goals for myself this summer, my first summer of being frugal. Everyone should make their own goals or list of things to be extra frugal with this summer or follow mine if you wish.




        1. Run the in-window air conditioner only when it is absolutely dreadful to bear the heat or in the beginning stages of going to bed. I love being warm, so I'm sure I'll survive. Once the AC is needed, I won't be setting the thermostat to 66 like I have during previous years. I'm going to set the thermostat to a comfortable 75 degrees. Also, most AC units have a timer on them that can turn off or turn on at a specified time. This can definitely increase efficiency of its use.
        2. Use ceiling fans to circulate warm stagnant air. Make sure your fans are blowing air and not sucking air. The movement of air will create a very cool and breezy effect, lessening the need for the air conditioner to be running.
        3. Dry clothes outside rather than in the clothes dryer to save on electricity (or gas depending on your dryer).
        4. Grow fruits and vegetables in a garden. Not only is it frugal, but you have the enjoyment, fun, and pride of keeping your own garden and growing your own foods.
        5. Have picnics, walk outside, enjoy free outdoor events, visit the river or lake, etc. There are plenty of free and fun activities to do during the summer that won't decrease the size of your wallet. 
        6. Run the pool filter at certain times of the day and only when it's needed. Shut off the filter at night. 
        7. Use water sparingly. If you do tend to keep a garden, leave buckets outside to catch water during rainstorms. You can use this water for gardening purposes rather than using your own water from the house. 
        8. Drive less and walk and bike more often. It's less stressful, less costly, increases exercise, and is more fun. 
        9. Check for insulation errors and keep doors closed at all times when the AC is running. It may be tempting to have the door open during the summer with such beautiful weather, but it can only be one or the other and not both. 
        10. Close curtains and blinds during the day, especially when not around in the house. This will dampen the effect of radiational heating and keep the inside of you home cooler, lessening the need for AC.
        How does everyone plan to save this summer?
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          Protips from a Grocery Store Cashier

          0 comments
           
          Redditor lenniebaby offers tips on how to work you local grocery store.

          If the sandwich meat is prepackaged (in that vacuum sealed plastic thing), don't buy it. Its cheaper, but thats because unsanitary things happens in the back deli. Buy from those people that cut slices off a big hunk of meat.

          Don't put mixed-priced things in one bag. The main offenders are sweet peppers - if green peppers are $0.99/lb, orange peppers are $1.99/lb and you put them in the same bag, I'm charging you $1.99/lb for the whole thing.

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          End of the College Semester | Check the Street For Free Items

          0 comments
           
          Now that the end of the semester is rolling in for most college students, it's time to start checking the streets and the roads around your college campus. Most college students live in dorms or apartments away from their original home and town. Quite often, rather than lugging furniture or ANYTHING really back to their house, they will simply put their dorm/apartment items out on the street or similar areas outside to be taken. This is where you come in. Search college towns at the end of semester for this kind of behavior. You can easily grab furniture, clothing, dishware, and even higher end items such as video game systems, TVs, computers, all in pretty good condition have been reported by college town scavengers.



          Even if you aren't looking to keep these items, you can always put them on Craigslist, eBay, or sell them to pawn shops or other people that you may know that might want or need them.
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          May 17, 2011

          Plato's Closet | How to Wear Designer Clothing and Not Feel Guilty

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          I witnessed a recent opening of a new kind of store in my local area. It opened in a shopping complex where everything else was dying so I figured it was worth at least checking out, however I didn't have time that day to do so. Considering this, I went home and searched the company to see what the hubbub was all about. Plato's Closet was the name of the store in question.

          From the Plato's Closet website, they define themselves by saying this:
          "At Plato's Closet® you'll find a huge selection of trendy, designer styles as well as those every day basics you can't live without - all at up to 70% off mall retail prices!
          Most of our stores buy and sell girls sizes 0/1 to 15/16 and guys size 28 to 40 waist.  However, please check with your local store as sizes may vary.
          We're not your typical secondhand clothing store. The gently used clothing and accessories that we buy are: top-name brands, cool, hip, trendy, clean and in good condition. Typically we buy items that have been in the retail stores within the past 12 to 18 months and are current styles still seen in the mall."
          It seems like a very interesting idea. Bring in your own designer label clothing and get money back for it if you have no interest in keeping it in your college, but also find designer clothing much cheaper than in retail. Like they say, it is much different than just a thrift store. Staying frugal means staying away from designer clothing labels but Plato's Closet seems like a viable option to buy a few items. I noticed there were a lot of Hollister and American Eagle items once I finally got down to looking at the store.  Use the website above to check if there are any Plato's Closets in your area.

          Update: I spent a while in the store and it's quite interesting. I watched the process of handing clothes into the store and actually saw more than person go home with no money. I listened in, and reasons for not taking the clothes were things such as light wear, old labels (which I assumed to mean an out of style piece of clothing), as well as having child sizes. Apparently for certain clothing their is a length requirement as well. I d50id see a woman go home with $27.50 for a medium sized American Eagle bag full of clothing.

          Would you shop or send your clothes into here? It still seems rather interesting.
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          Use Google To Your Advantage When Buying Online

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          Before making any online purchases be aware that coupon codes exist for commerce websites. You may be able to save even further by using this coupon codes with the final price. Generally the coupon codes can get you 5%, 10%, 15%, 20%, 25%, 30%, etc off your purchase price, free or discounted shipping, and other things they decide to use the coupon for. Many companies offer coupon codes for holidays such as Christmas, Thanksgiving, Halloween, Valentine's Day, etc. These offers are generally not advertised very well or at all. That's why searching for these coupon codes can help.

          Use Google to look help look and search for coupon codes. Get creative with search terms to aid in finding the best and relevant coupon codes towards your purchase.

          Say you are looking for coupon codes for your imminent Amazon.com purchase. You can search into Google "Amazon coupon codes" "Amazon coupons" "Amazon coupons 2011" and any other terms that you can think of. 

          Don't think that what you're buying is exempt from coupon codes. You can get coupon codes for Paypal, Amazon, NewEgg, eBay, GoDaddy and other domain name registering services, online pharmacy purchases, among 90,000 other ideas.

          There is also a great website available to us e-commerce buyers that allows users to input company's coupon codes into their database for others to find and use. They include a rating system that is based on whether the coupon code is still available for use. The website is called RetailMeNot and has coupon codes and discounts for over 90,000 different stores.
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          May 11, 2011

          Buying Headphones or Earphones: Know The Quality

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          Headphones and earphones have quite a large market. Everyone seems to have an iPod or other type of MP3 player these days and what are they without a listening peripheral? This is where headphones and earphones come into play. Unfortunately, the market is incredibly saturated with headphones and earphones that it could be hard to choose which headphones sound good, last long, have the most amount of comfort, have the greatest value, etc. Many don't realize that they bought awful headphones or earphones until they test them out for themselves back home. Head-Fi forums did a very in-depth look at the different headphones and earphones collectively called IEM's or In Ear Monitors. Look in the section for the cheapest headphones or earphones that are still very high quality, sound good, and suit you the best. The article can be found here.
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          Use Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs (CFL) rather than Incandescent

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          The Environmental Defense Fund said it best when they spoke about CFL's and incandescent lighting:
          "Though we call them light bulbs, traditional incandescent bulbs are actually small heaters that give off a little bit of light--something you know if you've ever touched a bulb that's been on for a while.  These bulbs were technological wonders when they were patented in 1880, but today they are inefficient dinosaurs.  They waste energy and money, and they are responsible for millions of tons of global warming pollution."
          Although slightly more costly than incandescent lightbulbs, CFL's will very quickly pay for themselves. They are exactly what their name implies, a compact fluorescent bulb. They can emit nearly the same amount of light that an incandescent bulb could, but uses much less energy doing so.


          A CFL bulb rated for 15 watts uses the nearly the same amount of energy of an incandescent bulb using nearly 60 watts of energy. You can see, just by that comparison, what the difference in energy use really is.

          Example: Say you have 10 75 Watt incandescent bulbs at use in your home at a given time and are generally on for an average of 8 hours per day. The incandescent lights will cost you $329 to run per year. Switching the 10 bulbs to CFL's will cost you around $79. A drastic difference in price.

          Pros of CFL bulbs:
          - Incredible reduction in energy costs.
          - Less heat emitted from the bulb (less wasted energy).
          - They last much longer than incandescent bulbs.
          - Less of a fire hazard.

          Cons of CFL bulbs:
          - Contains levels of Mercury and cannot be disposed of in a normal way. (Mercury levels should not deter one from purchasing CFL bulbs. The level is Mercury is far from exceedingly dangerous. The only way one would come in contact with the Mercury is if the bulb were to shatter.)
          - Doesn't immediately have full powered lighting. Takes a few seconds/minutes for the bulb to warm up/ reach its full brightness.
          - Not all CFL bulbs are capable of being dimmed with a dimmer switch. This is unfortunate because even more energy can be saved if the luminescence were to be changed.

          Neutral specs of CFL Bulbs
          - Emits a different color temperature than that of an incandescent bulb.
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