Sunday, February 28, 2010

Homemade Softscrub Recipe

Yesterday, I tried out a new cleaning recipe for my bathtub and shower. I have used store bought cleaners in the past, but I really think I liked this softscrub recipe better than those, and it got the soap scum off better than those other cleaners ever did. Plus, it didn't have all the nasty fumes and chemicals. I have asthma, so the fumes of store bought cleaning products really seem to bother me. All the more reason to continue to find and use homemade cleaning recipes! I found this recipe at .

Homemade Softscrub

1 cup baking soda
1 cup diswashing liquid
1/2 cup vinegar

Mix the baking soda and dishwashing liquid. Then add the vinegar. Use a sponge or a cloth to apply mixture to the surfuce you are trying to clean. Rinse well.

When I tried this yesterday, I used a sponge with a scouring pad on top. I used it to apply the solution to my shower walls and tub. I scrubbed a little bit initially, but I let the solution sit on the tub and shower for about an hour, then came back and scrubbed it some more, then rinsed. I also used it to clean the inside of the toilet bowl, which is now sparkling clean.

On a side note, the rinsing can get very sudsy, since there is dishsoap in the mixture. That was the biggest drawback of this cleaning recipe for me, but since it did an excellent job of removing soap scum, I think I can overlook it. I will be using it again for sure!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Just Say No To The Cashier!

We went out for a bit of shopping at a few stores this evening. One consistent thing that each store did was to have the cashier offer a 10% discount if we signed up for their store credit card on the spot. Then if you say no thanks, they try to tempt you with the extra coupons they send out to cardholders. Despite the floundering economy, these credit card offers persist like a pesky fly that just won't go away.

It never used to be this way. Even just 5-10 years ago, customers were not bombarded with credit card offers every single time they shopped their local department stores. It is rather annoying, and the benefits of their cards are not worth it. Often times, the store credit cards are charging interest rates of over 20%. Insane!

I am not a big fan of credit cards to begin with. I am an advocate for living within your means and using credit as little as possible. We ourselves are still working towards that goal. When you get that credit card bill, will you remember what you are paying for? You will be better off in the long run to just say no to that cashier. That 10% discount on your current purchase will not even begin to cover the interest charges you will get when the bill comes, and the stores are counting on that. Don't just walk away from those store credit card offers, RUN!!!!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Broiled Grapefruit Recipe

'Tis the season for citrus fruits. That means that it is a good time to buy them because they are all on really good sales. We have gotten quite a bit of grapefruit on sale lately, so I thought I would post a recipe for broiled grapefruit, which makes a lovely healthy dessert alternative, snack, or side dish. This is my own version of broiled grapefruit, enjoy!

Broiled Grapefruit

1 grapefruit
2 tsp honey
1 tbsp butter

Halve the grapefruit and cut around each section. Place on a cookie sheet. Sprinkle with cinnamon, as much or as little as desired. Place a half tablespoon of butter on each grapefruit half. Drizzle each half with 1 tsp. of honey. Broil for around 3-4 minutes. Serve warm.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Saving Money On Supplements

I like to make sure my kids have good quality vitamins. It has really impacted their health in a positive way. They are sick less often, and they are good and healthy kids. I recently found a website that offers a huge selection of supplements and health food items for a discounted price, plus a flat rate of shipping for $4.99, no matter what the size of my order. It is called We have ordered several times from them now, and I am satisfied with their customer service, as well as their prices. For the things I want to buy, they generally have the lowest prices on the web. You can also google for a promotion code to use upon checkout to get an additional discount, or a free promotional item. So far we have gotten two reusable bags for free with our orders. I will continue to give Vitacost our business, as they offer high quality supplements at a discount price. And better health is always thrifty!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Save On Paper Products

Quick question. How much do you spend on paper products per month? Things like toilet paper, paper towels, napkins, etc.? This is another area that you can save some money on and cut costs. I like paper towels, but a handtowel works better and is reusable. It's as simple as throwing it in the wash and using it again, and all it costs is the initial cost of the towel. Same with napkins. You can easily switch to cloth napkins and cut costs long term there too. I will keep paper towels and napkins around the house, but they are used sparingly, like when we have guests. The rest of the time we use cloth. I do laundry anyway, so it really is easy to just throw the extra handtowels we use into the wash. If you spend, say $20 a month on paper towels and napkins, that is $240 a year in savings just by switching those two products to cloth products. And the added benefit of being a good steward of this earth God gave us by wasting less.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Saving Money On Your Food Budget

In this economy, it seems we all are looking to cut our costs and make our dollars stretch farther. One area of the budget that is usually easy to cut costs on is the food budget, if you do it right. A few very basic things to do, some of which I have blogged about previously, is to shop the weekly sales ads, only buy the sales items, buy less packaged and processed foods, use coupons if you have them, plan a weekly menu, eat at home more, and cook from scratch as often as possible.

In our city, the grocery ads usually come out on Wednesdays and Sundays. I will buy a newspaper each of those days and go through the store ads. Unless there are really good sales at several stores, I usually pick the store that has the most deals that I would use and shop there that week. Also, if you don't want to go to several stores, Wal-Mart will match competitor ads (there are some exceptions that they have, check with your local Wal-Mart). I generally avoid Wal-Mart as much as possible, but occasionally, I will take my ads with me and have Wal-Mart match the prices for me.

Buying less packaged foods and processed foods not only costs less, it is healthier for you too. Those bags of chips and cookies cost more, and most of the time they are full of all kinds of junk with little to no nutritional value, and lots of salt and sugar. Eating healthier is also thrifty, because it will promote better health. Better health means less unessecary trips to the doctor. You will get better value for your dollar if you spend it on nutritious food.

I occasionally clip coupons and use them, but most of the time the coupons out there are for the packaged and processed foods. Sometimes I have gotten coupons for, say, $5 off my next grocery order. I love those! But since the coupon usually promote junk food, I am finding I don't use them as often anymore (we have been striving to eat healthier at home, so junk food does not have much of a home in our house).

One of the biggest things we have done that has helped tame our food budget was to plan a menu for the week. Seriously, it only takes me around 5-10 minutes to plan, and it utilizes what I have in the house. We waste less food, spend less on groceries, and eat out way less now. I keep it pretty simple. Breakfast is usually cereal, oatmeal, or Malto-meal, lunch is usually leftovers or sandwiches, and dinner is usually a main dish, plus fruits and vegetables as side dishes. The kids snack on things like fruits, veggies, pretzels, etc.

One of the biggest things I do to save money on the food budget is to cook from scratch. Packaged convenience foods at the store are more expensive, usually, than making it yourself. For example, we don't buy frozen pizza most of the time. I use my breadmaker to mix up a whole wheat crust and make the pizza from scratch. I can make two healthier pizzas for less than $5.00, plus it will usually last for more than one meal. I try to make enough of the food so we can have it for more than one meal. Leftovers really are the first convenience food ever invented! All I have to do is pop it in the microwave, it's our own version of fast food, and it costs way less.

I hope some of these suggestions are helpful to you, and give you more ideas about how you can save even more money :)

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

File Your Taxes For Free

Ah, yes, the dreaded season of taxes is upon us! I wanted to let you know that there is a way prepare and file your taxes for free. It's called "Free File", and you can find an online service through . When you get there, click on the "free file" icon. This service is free as long as your adjusted gross income is less than $57,000. As long as you have all of your forms, and you don't have any complicated tax issues, it is really easy to use free file to file your taxes. Generally, they ask you a few questions and take you step by step through the tax forms. We have used free file through H & R Block (just select H & R Block from the website menu when they give you the company choices, if that's the one you want to use). Make sure you go through the IRS website to use free file, otherwise you might not get the free deal. We have used this for a few years now, and will continue to use it as long as our tax stuff isn't too terribly complicated (I know, I know - it's kind of an oxymoron to say that our taxes aren't too terribly complicated!).