Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Steam Cleaner Solution Alternative

I love having my own steam cleaner. It makes cleaning up tough messes easier. Since I have mostly hardwood floors, I don't need a full size one. I have a smaller unit that has a hand held nozzle, but it works well for steam cleaning our rugs and the furniture. In the past, I have always bought the cleaning solution from the store. My only problem with that is the smell, the cost, and the chemicals. I finally used the rest of my supply of cleaning solution at home, so I tried something a little different. Instead of cleaning solution, I put an equal amount of white vinegar in the machine in place of the solution. It works great! White vinegar not only disinfects, but it deoderizes as well. Plus it doesn't bother my asthma, and less chemical exposure in my house is always a goal. From now on, I will be using vinegar in my steam cleaner instead of the expensive cleaning solution.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Cut Your Car Insurance Costs

We have used Progressive for auto insurance for a few years now. Our main reason for that is because they have been able to give us the best rate, hands down. I have periodically tried to get quotes from other companies, and they just could not even come close to matching or beating the price Progressive gave to us (like, by several hundred dollars!). I finally checked with a local insurance agency that represents several different brands of insurance. They were able to beat the price of Progressive, by around $40 for six months of coverage. Spread that out over a year, and that is $80 worth of additional savings.

We carry full coverage insurace on our vehicle, a mini van. To break the difference in savings down, when we have checked around on rates before, most places were asking around $450 for six months of coverage. We checked with Progressive, and they offered the same coverage for around $260. Obviously, most places were not able to beat that price! My husband suggested we try a local insurance agency that sells several brands of insurance. We did, and they were able to give us a rate of $220, and that was for slightly better coverage than we had with Progressive.

So, my main point in all of this is to shop around for the best deal. Even better, try a local insurance agency that deals with several insurance companies. They will usually know which company will give you the best rates, or you could get several quotes in one place because they do deal with several companies.
As for a few more ideas on saving on your car insurance, pay up front for all six months if possible. The reason for this is that if you do monthly payments, or some other payment plan, they often charge you an extra fee of around $5 per month for processing. That is an extra $30 added to the quoted rate for six months. Also, many insurance companies will give additional discounts if you carry other types of insurance with them as well, such as home owner's insurance. It may be worth it to switch things around if they can give you a better rate on that. As for us, when they asked what insurance company we insured our home with, they were upfront with us and said they could not beat the rates that company offers.

Hopefully this has given you a few more ideas on how you can save additional money on your auto insurance!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Saving Money On Handsoap

In our family, it seems like we go through alot of handsoap. The good side of that is that it means people are washing their hands and having good hygiene. Going through alot of handsoap can add up quickly, though. We have found a way to have plenty of handsoap to use for around $14 per year for our family of 5. Pretty impressive, huh?

Here's my secret, revealed to the public at no cost, LOL. I go to Sam's Club and buy the four pack of Dial foaming soap dispensers for around $7. Then I get a ginormous (is that even a technical word? I keep hearing all the cool kids saying it.) container of Member's Mark handsoap, also for around $7. When the foaming soap dispensers are empty, I refill them 1/4 of the way with handsoap, fill the rest with water, put the pump back on, and shake to mix the soap and water. The pump will then continue to dispense a foamy soap for hand washing. In our experience, the ginormous container of soap stretches for a whole year before we have to buy a new one.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Workout DVDs On The Cheap

I have been making an effort to be healthier and exercise regularly. Right now, buying a membership to a gym is expensive and inconvenient for me. Plus, I really do prefer to workout in the privacy of my own home. I have discovered an affordable way to change my workouts around to get more variety, but at an incredibly reasonable price. The last few times I have been to TJ Maxx, I have been able to pick up some new workout DVDs for around $2.99-$3.99 a piece. They also have other fitness equipment at very reasonable prices. Their videos are decent ones too. Tonight I picked up two Kathy Smith videos, and a Denise Austin video for around $10 for all three. Every time I go in to the store, they always have a new variety to choose from. Picking up a few new videos here and there keeps my workouts challenging, plus I can't complain about the price!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Make Your Own Detangler Spray

Several of us females in our house have longer hair. That can mean knotty hair! One of the ways to ease the pain of brushing hair is to use a detangling spray that you can buy from the store. But I saw several places online that have suggested that you can make your own. We recently ran out of detangling spray, so I decided to give it a whirl. I re-used the detangler spray bottle for this endeavor. Any small to medium spray bottle will do, really. First, take some regular conditioner and fill the bottle to about 1/4 full with it. Then fill the rest of the bottle with water. Shake well. Be sure to shake before each use. So far, it seems to be working out just fine for us. I hope it works for you too!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

My Standard Crockpot Chili Recipe

I have a standard crockpot chili recipe that I often use. Depending upon the ingredients on hand, I will sometimes deviate from this recipe for something a little bit different. But usually, this is the main one that I use. It has sort of evolved into its own after years of making chili. The family always enjoys it! As a side note, I should inform you that I have a family sized crockpot, and this recipe has been created using that, rather than a regular sized crockpot.

Crockpot Chili

1 - 46 oz can of tomato juice
2-3 cups cooked beans (black beans or kidney beans), drained if from a can
1 pound cooked ground beef
1 - 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes
1 onion, chopped
6 cloves of garlic, finely chopped or pressed through a garlic press
1/2 cup of uncooked brown rice
1/4 cup honey
1 1/2 tbsp Creole seasoning
1 tablespoon cumin

Place all ingredients in crockpot and stir well. Cook on high for 5-6 hours.

To make this a vegetarian chili, omit ground beef and add extra beans. For a slightly different flavor, try adding a bit of barbeque sauce to the mix. If I have extra veggies on hand, like bell peppers, sometimes I will dice those up and add those as well. For the diced tomatoes, you could always try canned diced tomatoes that come with the green chilis (yum!). Be creative!