Monday, February 9, 2015

My Homemade Cleaner Trifecta


If you've followed this blog for a while, you likely know that I derive more satisfaction and joy from homemade cleaning concoction than a person probably should, even though I'm not a clean freak. I think my love of homemade cleaners is found in the principle of them. To be honest, I don't know if it's the frugal or au naturale part of me that enjoys the idea of homemade cleaning solutions more.

The frugalista in me loves that inexpensive household items like vinegar or baking soda can work just as well as, if not better than, the more expensive pre-made cleaning solutions at the store. Homemade cleaners are cheap! I haven't bought an all-purpose cleaner, powdered cleanser, tub and tile spray, glass cleaner, toilet bowl cleanser, or furniture polish in years.

The eco-friendly granola girl in me likes the homemade cleaners because they give me peace of mind. I don't have to worry about my kids coming in contact with toxic sprays and cleansers. No fumes, no skin irritants, no poisons to ingest. I don't have to worry about the effects of my homemade cleaners on their ever-growing and developing bodies and brains. I also love that I don't have to worry about what kinds of chemicals I'm washing down the drain or flushing down the toilet when I use homemade cleaners.

So, today I'm sharing my homemade cleaner trifecta, the three homemade cleaners I use the most at my house over at the Green Phone Booth. They're super simple to make and you probably have all the ingredients at home already. Check them out and be sure to let me know if you have any favorite homemade cleaners. I'm always on the lookout for new recipes!

Friday, January 30, 2015

Lovely Links: "I Survived My Whole30!" Edition

First of all, Happy New Year!

Secondly, I'm on the last day of my Whole30!

(source: instagram.com/whole30)

After indulging this past holiday season (read: cookies for breakfast! Eat all the chocolate!), I decided a Whole30 was in order and started on January 1. For those of you not familiar with the Whole30 program, it's basically a dietary reset. For 30 days, you eliminate grains, dairy, sugar (white sugar, honey, syrup, any added sugar), legumes, and alcohol (that last one was the easiest part for me, Mormon girl that I am, haha!).

What was awesome this time around (this is my second Whole30 -- I did one this past September, in preparation for my family's trip to Hawaii) was that my husband did it, too. Let me tell you, having someone else doing it with you makes it so much easier, even if that other person doesn't think it's all that hard to follow. As I grumbled over zoodles (basically, cutting zucchini into noodles), he was like, "You know, I think I prefer these over pasta!" Grrr.

So, yeah, Day 30 is here. I survived! It was definitely hard at times, but after a couple weeks the sugar cravings subside and you get used to the program. There were definite ups and downs, times when I felt angry and deprived (I found myself sniffing chocolate cupcakes that a neighbor gave us at one point. Seriously.), but more than that, I feel good. It feels good to not have sugar highs and lows. It feels good to eat nothing but whole foods. It makes things taste better. Take fruit, for instance. Once I was off refined and added sugars, eating a strawberry tasted like candy!

Oddly enough, I haven't lost much weight this month like I did in my first Whole30 (I lost 12 pounds in a month that first time!), but I do have more energy, feel less bloated, my skin looks better, and the whites of my eyes are even whiter (and oddly enough, I swear my eyelashes got longer). My husband has noticed a few benefits, too. The main one for him was that his gastrointestinal issues (he doesn't have a gallbladder so it can sometimes cause some GI troubles for him) got dramatically better. It's been cool to do the program with him, because in the past he's not really cared that much about health and nutrition (he let me do all that stuff since I'm in charge of the grocery shopping and meal prep). Now, that's he's done the program, he understands better the value of it all. He was checking the labels on things more even more than I was (I was bummed when he noticed that the Trader Joe's sriracha sauce had sugar in it. Womp womp.).

The biggest pay-off, though, is the satisfaction in knowing that I did it, that I stayed strong and focused.  I definitely have a clearer idea of how I want to eat from now on, too. I'm glad we did it -- it's certainly been a learning experience for my husband and me.

So for this edition of Lovely Links, I thought I'd share what helped me through my Whole30, just in case you ever decide to do one. I highly recommend giving it a try -- these resources will definitely help.

BOOKS

It Starts With Food: Discover the Whole30 and Change Your Life in Unexpected Ways by Dallas & Melissa Hartwig  -- This is a must-read if you're going to do a Whole30. All the science behind it (written in a totally readable, uncomplicated way) and the why and how.  Really, it's a good read, whether you're going to do a Whole30 or not.

Nom Nom Paleo: Food For Humans by Michelle Tam and Henry Fong -- I love this cookbook SO MUCH. It's seriously one of my favorite cookbooks, period. Everything I've made from it has been so delicious. A few favorites that helped me and my husband with our Whole30 (and my previous Whole30): madras chicken salad, chicken nuggets (no breading and they're awesome!), kai jiao (Thai omelet - so tasty!), curried cream of broccoli soup, uova in purgatorio, and bacon-topped deviled eggs (they've become a regular thing my husband makes -- yum). Her recipes for paleo ranch, Louisiana remoulade, and paleo mayo are delicious and so simple to make, too. You should have this cookbook, no matter what kind of diet you follow. It's that good. (Looking forward to making the walnut prawns recipe next week -- couldn't make it during the Whole30 because it has honey in it. Holy moly, the walnut prawns recipe is sooo good.)

Make It Paleo: Over 200 Grain-Free Recipes for Any Occasion by Bill Staley and Hayley Mason -- This is a good resource for easy paleo recipes -- lots of good basics here. I like the recipes for salad dressings and prepping vegetables as side dishes. One great thing about this book when it comes to the Whole30 is that it has lots of breakfast recipes (a good thing for me since breakfast is the hardest for me to give up. I love my pancakes and waffles. And French toast. And oatmeal. And cold cereal.). Side note: it's worth mentioning that the chocolate chip cookie recipe in this book is surprisingly delicious -- and very NOT Whole30.

Well Fed 2: More Paleo Recipes for People Who Love to Eat by Melissa Joulwan -- I kept seeing this book on all sorts of posts about doing a Whole30, so I picked up a copy. This book is a great resource because it complements It Starts with Food really well and almost all the recipes are Whole30 compliant. There are many great ideas on how to keep your menu full of variety by making your own sauces, dressings, condiments, burgers, and sausages. I really liked the Taj Mahal chicken recipe. This book also got me to try plantains (which truly is something for someone who has had a lifelong aversion to bananas. Still do.) -- I totally recommend Trader Joe's plantain chips now.

INSTAGRAM

I love Instagram -- it has pretty much replaced Facebook for me. Instagram has been a great resource during my Whole30, too. Here are a few accounts that I follow:

@Whole30 -- the official Instagram account for the Whole30 program. It's been so helpful to have it give daily inspiration and information, like "on this day, you're probably feeling ____" or  answering frequently asked questions. I also like getting direct info and answers in the comment section from Melissa Hartwig, the creator of the program.

@Whole30Recipes -- Exactly what the name implies, just a lot of Whole30 recipes. It's hit and miss for me -- sometimes the recipes look absolutely delicious, other times not so much. Every week there is a new contributor that posts recipes and it's been a great way to find people to follow.

@nomnompaleo -- Michelle posted posted daily throughout the Whole30, a new recipe for each day. Lots of the recipes were from her cookbook, but there were new ones, too. Plus, she's just funny.

@Amazon_Ashley -- Her Instagram feed is great. Lots of delicious recipes and encouragement. I really love how real she is. Still need to try her sweet potato bun recipe. I bought her ebook when it was on sale -- it's called Clean & Colorful Cooking and it has some really simple recipes in it. I haven't made any yet, but I'm excited to. (Tip: be sure to have the underscore in her name or else you get redirected to a different, much more adult account. Yikes.)

@littlecoconutty -- This is such a beautiful feed (she's a graphic designer, so it makes sense). Recipes and encouragement to be found.

@pretend_its_a_donut -- Just discovered this one this week, looks fun. And I really like her account name.

OTHER HELPFUL LINKS

Dreading Your Whole30? Just start it now (with 9 planning tips) -- Modern Mrs. Darcy
I read this post last year before I did my first Whole30 and it inspired me to take the plunge. PS -- this is one of my favorite blogs, mostly for book-related reasons.

The Round-Up: 30 Days of Whole30 Recipes -- Nom Nom Paleo
Yep, I'm mentioning Nom Nom Paleo again. (I think I may be becoming a NNP fangirl.) But her blog is a really great resource, too.

Spicy Shredded Pork -- The Pioneer Woman
I made this pork shoulder recipe at least twice (maybe three times?) during this month's Whole30. You can find the recipe in her first cookbook, too. I omitted the brown sugar and it was still good. This recipe is great because you can cook up a pork shoulder (I do it in my slow cooker) and then use leftovers in recipes all week -- I particularly like making a salad with it, with a dollop of salsa and guacamole.

Paleo Egg & Chorizo Muffins - Sweet C's Designs
One thing that got tiring for me with the Whole30 is that there is a lot of meal prep, which can be inconvenient if you're in a hurry. These egg muffins (I used loose sausage instead of chorizo) are super-simple to make and you can freeze them. When you want a muffin, you can just reheat it in the microwave or oven.

Pizza Stir Fry Recipe -- Wellness Mama
Friday nights are pizza + movie night at our house, which is a problem when you're doing a Whole30. I will say that this recipe doesn't come close to the deliciousness that is pizza (not that the recipe is bad or anything, but I just really, really, really love pizza), but it definitely helped on Friday nights, even though I still shot more than a few wistful glances at the pizza my boys were eating. Sigh.

The Whole30 Timeline -- Whole30.com
"Day 1: What's the big deal?
Days 2-3: The hangover
Days 4-5: Kill all the things.
Days 6-7: I just want a nap."  This timeline walks you through the ups and downs of the program. I'll be honest, the first Whole30 I did was an emotional roller-coaster for me and I felt those ups and downs hard. This time wasn't so bad, especially since I had my awesome husband along for support. But I still referenced this a lot to keep me focused and to know what to expect -- and I thought it was kind of funny, too.

So, yeah, I made it through my Whole30. It was hard, but not the hardest thing I've ever done. And you know,  I'm going to keep following it pretty closely. I feel that good. That said, tomorrow is my mom's birthday and I'm totally having a (smallish) piece of her birthday cake. What's more, I'm going enjoy that cake and I won't feel an ounce of guilt because I actually feel in control. No more sugar dragon ruling my life. And that is the best result of this Whole30 experience.

Note: Some of the links in the post above are "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

A Christmas Edition of Random Reuses

If you've read this blog for a while, you may know that I'm always on the lookout for ways to reuse items around my house, even if it's just once, before it goes to the trash. It's been a while since I've done one of these Random Reuse posts, so I thought I'd share a few reuses to help during the Christmas season!


Rolls of wrapping paper can turn into a big, wrinkled mess in no time (especially with kids wanting to wrap their own homemade gifts). One way to keep your rolls of wrapping paper a little more tidy is to keep them rolled with this handy-dandy cuff made from a toilet paper roll. I saw this idea years ago on Pinterest and it works really well. All you have to do is cut in a line down a toilet paper tube so it opens up and then put it around the roll of paper. Easy peasy!


While I'm on the topic of wrapping gifts, one thing I always do is reuse the boxes from cereal and crackers for gift boxes. My mom did this all the time when I was a kid. I mean, why spend the money on gift boxes for family gifts when they're going to be torn apart? This is a good thing to do if you have someone that tries to peek under the wrapping before Christmas, because all they'll see is a cereal box. I like using the cereal boxes because it makes things a little more confusing, adds an extra level of mystery because the shape gives nothing away. Plus, there's the inevitable joking (at least it happened with my family growing up and now) when you open presents Christmas morning -- "I've always wanted a box of Cheerios!".


Maybe this is a super-obvious tip (I never know with these reuses. Am I clever or are these common sense? Oh well.), but if you need a hook for an ornament you can always use a stretched out paper clip. Personally, I think they hang better than those flimsy ornament hooks that get tangled up in the box. 


I'm sure I'm not the only who does a lot of baking during the Christmas season (have you tried my recipe for the BEST gingerbread cookies ever? Because if you haven't, you should). One thing I've been doing is saving my butter wrappers when I've used up a stick of butter. When it's time to bake a batch of cookies, I use the little remnants of butter on the wrapper to grease my cookie sheet. 


Finally, what list of Christmas reuses would be complete without the wrapping paper tube-turned-sword? Having grown up in a house full of boys and now currently being outnumbered by boys again, I know all too well that paper tube sword fights are an inevitability around Christmastime. And, let's be honest, they're one of the best (and most fun) reuses out there. 

Monday, December 8, 2014

Classic Wet Shaving: The New Old-Fashioned (and eco-friendly) Way to Shave


My husband hated shaving. He avoided it. He looked forward to camping and vacations partly just because it meant he wouldn't have to shave. I think avoiding shaving was a main part of his motivation to grow a beard in the wintertime.

However, I've always liked it better when he's clean-shaven. The smell, the smoothness -- all good things. But then I found out why he disliked shaving so much. The various creams and gels on the market really irritated his skin. The razors tugged on his skin, especially on his neck, and left a bunch of little, red bumps on his lower jaw and neck. He would also get ingrown hairs from time to time. Shaving was uncomfortable and unpleasant, but he did it anyway. I could understand why he didn't like doing it.

But this all changed over four years ago. Now he doesn't mind shaving at all. He even looks forward to it a little because he says it's relaxing.

What changed? He learned about traditional wet shaving. Not only does he greatly prefer it, but it also happens to be a frugal and eco-friendly way to shave. Talk about a win-win-win situation (or would that be four wins because I get a cleanly shaven husband more often...)

Now that the holiday season is in full-swing, I thought I'd write a post about the many benefits of classic wet shaving because new (and better) shaving tools would make a great gift for the guys on your shopping list!

You can read the rest of my post about the health, frugal, and eco-friendly aspects to wet shaving at my monthly post at The Green Phone Booth here.  (You can also find my past posts on the topic of wet shaving in my archives here and here.) 

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Homemade vs. Pre-Made: Bread Stuffing for Roast Turkey

When it comes to Thanksgiving dinner, my favorite thing my mom makes is her stuffing. Same goes for all three of my brothers. We've always piled it on our plates at Thanksgiving. And once we all started bringing spouses and significant others to Thanksgiving dinner as we grew up, they all dug into the stuffing and loved it, too. It's just that good!


Contrast that with the first time I tried stuffing that's made from a boxed mix (the Mix-That-Shall-Not-Be-Named. Rhymes with RoveTop.). Ugh. My mom totally spoiled me. I couldn't eat more than a bite of the pre-made stuffing. It was dry and flavorless -- it sort of tasted like it was made of the box it came in. 

Like so many things, the from-scratch version of stuffing is actually really easy to make. My mom's amazing recipe is actually really basic, no fancy ingredients whatsoever. I've never made the boxed kind of stuffing, but I can't imagine that making it from scratch takes that much longer. Seriously. 

Not only does this homemade version of stuffing taste a bajillion times better than the pre-made variety, but it's also much healthier in comparison. The boxed kind is laden with preservatives, high fructose corn syrup, and hydrogenated oils. Ick. Another reason to make your own stuffing: it's actually a frugal dish to make (it's a great way to use up stale bread). You likely have every ingredient already in your pantry or fridge. 

My mom's recipe for stuffing comes from an old cookbook from around the 1940s.  The cookbook actually belonged to my grandmother. There's no cover on it anymore, so I can't even mention the title. My mom doesn't really follow that recipe closely anymore -- she just mixes it up, eyeballing the amounts and tasting it as she goes. Like with her potato salad, I decided to document the process and write it all down. The recipe I'm sharing with you today is sufficient for a 10-lb. turkey, but my mom always makes extra, too. 

So, please, for Thanksgiving this week, step away from the packaged stuff and make your stuffing from scratch. You'll never go back to the box. 


Mom's Bread Stuffing for Roast Turkey
(sufficient for 10-lb. turkey)

One 1 ½ lb. loaf of white bread
2 ribs of celery, diced
2 medium carrots, peeled and grated
1/4 cup onions, chopped
1/4 cup butter
1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning
2 tablespoons of fresh parsley, minced
1 teaspoon fresh sage, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
3/4 cup chicken broth


Remove the crust from the bread and cut into a 1-inch dice. White bread does taste best in this recipe, though my mom has used wheat in the past. This stuffing is a great way to use up stale bread. Mom has used up stale hamburger/hot dog buns and other breads (like French bread) in the past with this recipe.


Dice up the celery, chop your onions, and grate the carrots (I just use my box grater). Want to feel all cool and culinary? These three ingredients together are called mirepoix. Now you can regale your Thanksgiving guests with this bit of knowledge. ("Oh this stuffing? I made it from scratch. So simple. First you start with a mirepoix...") 


The orignal recipe my mom referenced didn't call for parsley or sage, but they do add a really great flavor to the recipe. Feel free to omit if you don't have them, but I highly recommend both herbs. 


In a large skillet or pot (I used my Dutch oven) on medium-high heat, melt the butter then saute the celery and onion until soft and yellow. 


Add carrots and herbs to the celery and onion. Stir and cook for a few minutes.


Add the bread and the poultry seasoning, salt, and pepper. Stir and add broth. Let the mixture cool a little before stuffing it into a turkey.

Sooo, I actually I don't have any pictures of using the stuffing in a turkey. Let me explain...

The reason is that when I made this batch of stuffing pictured it was to take to a Thanksgiving dinner with my in-laws. I didn't have the turkey available. So, yeah, this stuffing can be enjoyed even if it's not actually ever stuffed in the turkey. Just serve it warm (put it in the oven or on the warm setting on a slow cooker) and it's ready to go.

That said, while this stuffing is good when it's not actually stuffed into a turkey, it's even better when it is. When you cook the turkey with this stuffing inside it, the juices from the turkey give the stuffing such a great flavor. Cooking the turkey with stuffing inside does slow the cooking time, but I think it's worth it.

When you stuff the turkey, make sure to do it lightly. Do NOT pack the stuffing into the turkey tightly. If you have extra stuffing, you can bake it in the oven alongside the turkey in a dish. You don't want to understuff the turkey, either -- all the the juices from the turkey can make too little stuffing soggy. From what I've read, a good guideline is 1/2 to 3/4 cup of stuffing per pound of turkey.

There are a few food safety concerns regarding stuffing a turkey. You have to make sure that everything is properly cooked and heated through before you serve the stuffing. All the juices should run clear when the turkey is done (including on the inside where the stuffing is). Stuffing, like the turkey, needs to reach a minimum temperature of 165°F. If the turkey is done before your stuffing has reached this temperature, put the stuffing in a dish and let it cook in the oven longer. 

Another food safety tip: stuff the turkey right before you're going to roast it. Don't let the stuffing sit in the bird for any extended period of time -- that creates a perfect environment for bacterial growth. (For more tips about stuffing turkey safely, you can read here.) 

Once your stuffing has reached the proper temperature, remove from the turkey and put it into a serving dish (alongside a couple of the other sides I've put on this blog: homemade cranberry sauce and the only yam side dish I like). I hope you'll love it as much as my family does!


Happy Thanksgiving, friends! Hope your celebration is wonderful!

Monday, November 10, 2014

4 Green (and Frugal!) Solutions for All Those Autumn Leaves

I love every season. Truly, I do. But there is just something about fall that makes my soul happy. The crisp air, the gorgeous colors, the spicy smells of cinnamon and clove, the harvest, canning, Halloween, pumpkin everything. Seriously, I could go on and on.

One drawback to autumn for many people is raking and cleaning up all those fallen leaves. Don't get me wrong, having leaves scattered all over the lawn is fun for a little while and the kids love playing in them, but eventually you have to face reality and clean them all up. Often, people will rake, bag up all their leaves, and toss them in the garbage.


I don't know if it's the gardening geek or the eco-friendly part of me that balks the most at the idea of throwing leaves into the trash. Fallen leaves totally have a second life in your yard and garden!

Autumn is still in full swing here (though there is snow in this week's forecast) and we still have plenty of leaves to rake up and still more that have yet to fall. To read about how I use leaves to help my garden (a great frugal choice since leaves don't cost a thing!) and how I'm actually excited to make my first batch of leaf mold (I seriously am. Thank you, Alys Fowler.), check out my monthly post over at The Green Phone Booth!

(This post is linked up to Little House Friday DIY Linky.)

Note: Some of the links in the post above are "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Another 100 (Painless) Ways to Live Frugally


This past summer was fun. Full of camping trips, picnics, road trips, hikes, and plenty of lazy days. Fall has been pretty amazing, too -- vacations, birthdays, milestones, and, of course, Halloween.

And I have slacked (yet again) here on this blog of mine. For, like, almost six months.

But nevermind that! I am making up for it today with my THIRD list of 100 (Painless) Ways to Live Frugally. (You can find list #1 here and list #2 here, in case you missed them.)

I'll be honest, I wasn't sure if I'd be able to come up with another list. I mean, that is 300 tips total. But during the months since I last posted (and you thought I was only slacking off...), I stewed over this list, wrote tips down as I thought of them, browsed through some things on Pinterest, did a little research, and checked back and forth through my other lists (so it wouldn't get repetitive). So, after all that, I'm feeling good about this latest list.

Here's the thing about this list and the other two: lots of these suggestions don't seem like they'd make much of a difference on your budget. And that's true -- if you only do a couple, you may save a few bucks here and there. But, let me tell you, the more you apply to your life, the more you will notice a difference. I can totally attest to the way little actions add up and help your bottom line.

So, without further ado, here is the list!

1. Be honest about your budget and money-saving goals. Tell your family, friends, coworkers when things don't work with your budget. There's no shame in trying to live within your means. If anyone gives you any grief, just remember what Dave Ramsey (my personal finance guru) says, "the goal is not to be normal, because...normal is broke."

2. Wash plastic zipper bags. As I read over my previous lists, I couldn't believe I hadn't mentioned this tip. It's like the classic frugal lady thing to do. Now before you think I'm nuts, I don't wash every single zipper bag my family uses. I don't reuse bags that have held meat or other wet/sticky/gooey things, but if I've stored dry items in them like pancakes, waffles, bread, vegetables, etc., I always rinse them out and reuse them. And since I haven't used paper towels in years, I use my old paper towel rack as my plastic bag drying rack.

3.  Every list about saving money has this tip, but I'm totally going to add to the chorus: Get rid of cable TV. On my first list, I mentioned Netflix for cheap DVD rentals. But I wrote that list back in 2010, before the wonder of streaming video. Now, there are so many options to stream TV shows and movies (including ones on cable). Nowadays my family uses Netflix, Hulu Plus, and Amazon Prime to watch the shows we like -- and for way cheaper than cable would cost.

4. Do you garden? If you do, stick to heirloom varieties of fruits and vegetables and save the seeds from your garden produce. Last year, I grew a good portion of my tomato crop from the tomatoes I grew in 2012. This may just be the gardening geek in me, but there's something kind of thrilling about saving seeds that you would've thrown out or eaten and then growing more food from them. As mentioned above, this only works with heirloom seeds, not the hybrid varieties. For more info on how to save seeds, this book is a helpful resource; for the method I used to save my tomato seeds (it takes a few more steps, but is still easy), you can check out this link.

5. Speaking of seeds, it's a good idea to test seeds before you plant them. I don't test out my brand-new seeds, but I do test ones from previous seasons and ones that I've saved from my garden. That way, I don't waste time planting seeds that won't grow and I don't waste seeds that would grow. Often, people will just toss seeds from previous years just because the package says they're meant for a certain growing season. Testing seeds is super-easy -- you can find my step-by-step tutorial here.

6.  Use nature to dress up your home. No need to buy expensive floral arrangements -- just head outside into your yard or neighborhood. In the winter, you could clip pine boughs, boxwood, or holly and put it into a vase. In the early spring, I'll usually put blooms from the pussywillow in my yard in a vase (without water -- that way, the soft buds stay on indefinitely) or force forsythia blossoms inside by cutting a unbloomed branch and putting it in water (you could also force blossoms from cuttings from fruit trees).  In the summer, I like to make bouquets from the flowers and herbs in my yard; sometimes, I'll give myself a dozen roses from my rosebush. In the fall, sometimes an arrangement of leaves does the trick. I've even gone and clipped the weedy sunflowers that grow along the roads here and brought them home.


7.  School book orders are a great source for cheap books. Often, you can find paperback versions of books that usually only come out in hardcover when you order from school book orders. If you don't have children in school and don't have access to book orders, ask a friend or a teacher you know. When my oldest started kindergarten a couple years ago, he started getting book orders and my friend down the street (whose kids weren't school-age yet) ordered books from them, too. I actually just talked to another friend a couple weeks ago who is a teacher and she told me how she gets credit for her classroom library the more people order. She said she'd love it if people she knew did book orders through her!

8. Meal-planning is one of the best ways to save money, but sometimes it can be daunting. One way I've made meal planning much easier is to do theme-nights. At my house, Mondays are soup/sandwich nights in the fall and winter (in spring and summer, it's salad/sandwich night), Tuesdays are for international dishes, Wednesday is fish night, Thursday features a slow-cooker recipe, Fridays are our pizza + movie night, and Saturdays are for leftovers or eating out (I don't plan Sundays because they're usually big family dinners at my parents' or in-laws' houses).  You can read the post that inspired me to meal-plan this way at this link.

9. In my second list, I mentioned using military and teacher discounts, but failed to mention that there are lots of discounts for seniors and students. To get senior discounts, you don't always need to be 65+; lots of senior discounts start at age 50. As for students, I wish I would have known about a lot of these when I was a poor college student. To find a list of senior discounts you can go here and for student discounts, you can check out this link.

10. Speaking of student discounts, Amazon Student is an amazing deal. When you enroll, you get six months free (this includes 2-day Prime shipping, exclusive deals and promotions, and the possibility of earning $10 credits for referring people), then after six months you get all the Amazon Prime benefits for only $49 (half the price of a Prime membership). If only there had been something like this when I was a English major in college, when I had to buy all those books. (Join Amazon Student  FREE Two-Day Shipping for College Students)

11. Don't turn your nose up at hand-me-down clothing, whether for your kids or yourself. Sometimes when we visit my in-laws' house, there will be a big garbage bag of clothes from one of my mother-in-law's friends. I'll usually only end up liking a few things, but, hey, free clothes!

12. Another way to save money on clothes: organize a clothing exchange. It can be with your family, neighborhood, church, any group. People clean out their closets and bring what they'd like to donate and then swap.

13. Skip the toxic herbicides like Round-Up and make your own weed killer. It isn't hard to make at all and only requires vinegar, salt, and dish soap. You can find the recipe I use and proof of the results here.

14. Pay attention at the check-out counter at stores. It doesn't happen too often, but there have been times when I've noticed that I've been charged twice for things. Of course, I've also had times when I haven't been charged for something and let them know - not only are they glad when I tell them, but it's good karma, right?


15. U-pick farms and orchards are a great source for inexpensive produce. Back in September, we picked delicious organic apples for 1.25/lb! It's a great activity to do as a family -- I had both of my boys, plus my niece and nephew, in on the action. There's something pretty satisfying about picking your own food.

16. Keep paper that is blank on one side for scrap paper. No need to waste new paper or Post-It notes. I remember when I was in middle school, the school collected all the one-sided used papers from the students (there were bins in every classroom) and then made it all into pads of paper that students could buy for super-cheap. You can make your own notepad from scrap paper -- this pin I found a while back shows how.

17. If you use Redbox, there are lots of codes for free rentals online. I work with the teenage girls at my church and for a service activity, we printed off a bunch of free codes and taped them to the Redbox machines to surprise people. Who doesn't like saving a couple bucks? There are lots of lists of codes; here's a list I found.

18. Let your lawn grow longer. Longer grass requires less water because the blades of grass shade the soil better so it doesn't dry out as fast.

19. In my second list, I mentioned re-growing green onions, but there are plenty of other foods you can re-grow from scraps. This year, I planted a few ends of romaine lettuce and it totally worked! My mom also tried this with celery with equally good results.You can find a handy how-to chart here.

20. Meat can be expensive, especially if you're trying to buy sustainable, local meat. One way to save on meat: buy a whole animal. I have yet to do this because I don't have a separate freezer (I know, what am I thinking? Just trying to find some space for one.), but I want to. If you don't eat a lot of meat, considering splitting with family members or friends. I'm thinking next year of splitting the cost with one of my brothers or my parents. For an interesting post on the process I found, you can read here.

21. Expecting a baby? A maternity band can extend your regular wardrobe through your whole pregnancy. When I had my second child, I wore all of my regular clothes my entire pregnancy because of that stretchy tube of fabric. Mine came from the maternity store, but I've seen tutorials on Pinterest on how to make them yourself, too. You can read about my experience with the maternity band here

22. We limit our eating out and when we do go to a restaurant, we only drink water (well, except at Mexican restaurants -- it's had to resist horchata). Just skipping the soda or specialty drinks can save a good chunk of change.

23. Witch hazel is a wonderful (and cheap) facial toner. I've been using it for weeks now. At night, after I've washed my face, I'll put a drop of essential oil (I like to use frankincense) on a cotton pad and then some witch hazel. I love it.


24. The bulk section at certain grocery stores can save you a lot of money on pantry staples. I've mostly seen the bulk sections at health food stores like Whole Foods, but they are becoming more common (like at WinCo). The bulk section is cheaper because you don't have to pay for the packaging. I buy my various flours, nuts, popcorn, spices, seeds (like flax and chia), sucanat, and oats in the bulk section for much cheaper than it costs packaged on the shelf. 

25. Another tip about grocery shopping: try to go grocery shopping less often. Set a goal to only go once a week -- no little trips to pick up extras. I know all too well that a quick trip into the store for one or two items can evolve into a whole shopping cart full of things. Do that too often and it adds up! Once you've got once-a-week shopping down, see if you can work your way down to biweekly or even monthly shopping trips. 

26. Do you have a gamer at your house? I most certainly do -- my oldest son plays a couple games, but the main gamer in my house is my husband (who also happens to make video games for a living. Hooray for Disney Infinity!).  The Playstation Plus program is a great way to get games for cheap. It costs $50/year. Every month, my husband gets two free games per platform. That means he gets two games for our PS3, PS4, and Vita each; that's six free games a month and 72 a year! Even if you just have one platform, that's still 24 games a year. Now, my husband is not always interested in the free games that are offered, but he likes enough that the Playstation Plus membership more than pays for itself very quickly. And they don't just offer obscure games to members -- recently, members were offered the newest Tomb Raider game. There are other memberships for different consoles like Xbox and Nintendo, but I'm not as familiar with those. 

27. While we're on the topic of video games, use stores like GameStop to sell and trade your video games and pick up used games that cost less. 

28. Control impulse spending at the grocery store by putting one of the small shopping baskets into your cart. Every time you deviate from your list, put the item in that basket. Once you're done shopping, you will have a pretty powerful visual of how much of your spending was based on impulse. From there, you can more easily and objectively decide what to keep and what truly isn't necessary. (I learned that tip from this helpful book.)

29. Make your own spice mixes. I love Pioneer Woman's taco seasoning and use it a lot. Another one to make yourself is pumpkin pie spice.

30. This Christmas season consider replacing your incandescent Christmas lights (both indoors and outdoors) with LED lights. It's a bit of an investment because they cost more than the cheap strands of incandescent lights, but they totally pay for themselves. LED lights will not only last much longer than the incandescent ones, but they use less energy. Less energy used = lower energy bill. Check out this site to see charts showing the savings of using LED lights -- there is a HUGE price difference.


31. Grow your own garlic in your garden. It's so easy to grow and homegrown garlic tastes amazing! You might still have time to plant yours, depending on where you live (I'm planting mine this week). For my post about how I grew my garlic, you can read here.

32.  Another tip I can't believe I didn't include on the other two lists: skip soda. If you buy a $5 case every week, that adds up to $260 a year. Plus, you'll save money later on in life when you don't suffer from the health risks associated with too much soda consumption.

33. Did you know you can fix broken underwire bras with moleskin? No more stabby bras!

34. When driving long distances, use cruise control to save gas. Using cruise control can save up to 14% on each gallon of gas (the average, though, is 7%). The only time cruise control isn't a wise idea is when driving in the mountains -- all those up and downs can be hard on your engine.

35. Instead of buying the canned stuff (which is usually full of junk anyway), make your own enchilada sauce. It is crazy-simple to make and tastes waaay better than the store-bought variety. Oh, and it's cheap (around 80 cents per 2-cup batch). The recipe I use can be found here.

36. Curling your hair without heat can actually save you money. Heat-less curling eliminates the need to buy an arsenal of tools and hair products, like curling irons, wands, flat-irons, or heat-protectant sprays. Heat-free curling also save you money because it's easier on your hair and undamaged hair means less trims, cuts, and trips to the salon. For ideas on how to curl your hair without heat (and even while you're sleeping), check out this post I wrote about it.

37.  Before purchasing online, check sites like retailmenot.com or freeshipping.org for coupon codes.

38.  Before going to the grocery store, check out Lozo.com. You simply enter your grocery list and the site finds coupons for the things you're going to buy. 

39. Forget store loyalty and shop at multiple stores. There are stores that have better deals than others on certain items. This where keeping a price book really helps (see #70 on my first 100 list). It takes a little extra planning and bit of extra driving, but it's usually worth the effort. I plan my grocery shopping so that I don't have to make special trips to four different stores every week. For example, I only shop at Costco and Trader Joe's once a month, so when I go I stock up on the best buys from those stores so I'll have enough to last the month.

40. When fruits and vegetable start to look a little iffy and wilted, freeze them before they spoil. I use this tip most for berries since they start going bad so quickly. It's a good idea to blanch your vegetables before freezing them because blanching them stops the enzyme process that is breaking the food down. You can find a helpful chart on how to blanch and how long to blanch certain veggies here.

41. Making your own yogurt is surprisingly easy and inexpensive. I made a quart of yogurt for $1.50 (and that was using organic milk, which costs a little more than regular). No special yogurt-maker needed, either -- I use my slow-cooker. Learn how to make your own at my post here. Once you make your own yogurt, you can also make Greek yogurt and, even better, homemade frozen yogurt (which is transcendent) -- tutorial and recipe can be found at my post here.

42. Extend the life of your mattress by flipping and rotating it regularly. I like this helpful way to remember which way to flip and rotate.

43. When you use your clothes dryer, try to dry loads of clothes back to back. This appliance uses a lot of energy (about 13% of a household's average use) to heat up, so loading it again when it's already warm can save on energy costs.

44. I feel like I'm wading into dangerous territory here, but don't be afraid of the re-gift. Granted, this needs to be done carefully, so as not to hurt anyone's feelings. That said, I'll admit that I've passed on items that I knew I wouldn't use and have given them to people who I knew would enjoy them (and they totally did!). Just don't do it the way someone did when my husband and I got married: I will never forget opening one of our wedding presents (an ugly dish set from the early to mid-90s) that literally had a layer of dust on the box. I'm sure the people who gave it to us just went digging around in their basement for something to give away. So, yeah, this tip ventures dangerously into cheapskate territory. Use it with caution. No one wants to be called, with an accusatory finger, "a regifter."

45.  Foraging is a great way to get food for free. It's gotten pretty popular lately and there are all sorts of books on the topic. This past summer, my youngest brother went with a friend up to the high mountain area by my hometown and picked morel mushrooms. They got a lot of them and when you consider that morels cost anywhere from $30-50 a pound, they got a pretty amazing haul. But you don't have to high-tail it to the mountains to forage for food - urban foraging is popular, too. Before you do go out to forage, it's a good idea to do your research or go with someone with experience (like my brother did) so you don't pick something gross or, worse, toxic.

46. Make your own facial masks and scrubs. It's ridiculously easy to do and there are all sorts of recipes for them on Pinterest (you can find some of the ones I've pinned here). One that I've really liked was a simple facial mask made out of oatmeal, milk, and honey (no exact measurements, just mix the ingredients until it forms into a paste) -- it's supposed to help remove blackheads and it actually made my skin feel tighter and softer.

47. Earning college credits is much cheaper if you do it while still in high school. If possible, encourage your high school-age children to take concurrent enrollment and Advanced Placement courses to help save on college tuition costs later. When I was in high school, I paid a small fee and through concurrent enrollment I was able to get college credit for classes I was already taking. I also took an early morning class via satellite at my school (though the credit ended up not applying to my degree...womp womp). Also, for a small fee for the test (I think it was $50, but that was back in the 90s), I took both the AP exams for U.S. History and English and passed, which eliminated the need for me to take some of the introductory history and English courses once I was in college. Although I didn't quite do it, it is totally possible for a high school student to earn their associate degree before they even have their high school diploma!

48. Another way to save on college tuition is to attend a college within your home state. As of this writing, the average cost of tuition and fees at an in-state public university is $8,893 per year. Once you cross the state line, the average cost for a public university is $22,203. That's almost triple the cost for just for leaving your home state!


49. Looking to add a furry friend to your family? Adopt a pet from the local animal shelter or Humane Society instead of the pet store or a breeder . Not only is it cheaper (and sometimes even free) to adopt from the shelter, but often the animals there have already been spayed or neutered (as was the case with our cat). The best part of adopting a shelter animal: you may save a life! We adopted our super-sweet kitty, Mr. Cairo, from the local Humane Society two years ago this month and we could not be happier with him.

50. Experiment with the amounts you use when it comes to hygiene products. You don't need to have a long ribbon of toothpaste on your toothbrush like they show on commercials. I know I use too much shampoo and conditioner (I'm still used to having almost waist-long hair and get a big palmful of shampoo), so I'm trying to use less. See how well things work when cut your amount in half and experiment and adjust from there.

51. OverDrive is a great way to borrow e-books and audiobooks from your local library. You can read my post about it here.

52. Upgrade your appliances to energy-saving and water-saving ones. This is one of those spend-to-save tips, but you truly can save money in the long-run by replacing them.

53.  When booking a flight, choosing a flight with a very early or very late departure can mean a cheaper ticket. When I booked our latest vacation a couple months ago, I picked a late, overnight flight and got a cheaper fare that way. (By the way, both of my boys totally slept through the entire red-eye flight. Woohoo!)

54. When planning a vacation, try to book your flights and hotel stays on weekdays. Leave on Thursdays, not Fridays, and come home on Mondays, not Sundays, if possible.

55.  When booking a hotel, stay in a hotel that serves a complimentary breakfast. Makes such a difference in your food budget. Do a little research, though, to make sure their breakfast isn't terrible (like a hotel we stayed in once by Disneyland. Our breakfasts were days-old pastries, orange-green oranges, and mealy apples. Yuck.).

56. One more travel tip: travel in the off-season of where you're going to go. Not only does it cost less, but the crowds are smaller, too!

57. Have you heard that you can sharpen disposable razors with a pair of jeans? I just learned this tip. Now, my husband hasn't used those disposable cartridge razors in years (you can read my posts about traditional wet shaving here and here), but I still use a disposable razor (it's a little trickier to use the double edge razor on legs and underarms).  You can watch a tutorial on YouTube here.

58. Purchasing memberships to local zoos, museums, and aquariums that you visit regularly can save you money in the long-run. Usually, the membership pays for itself after a couple visits. Take the new aquarium in my area: for adults it costs $15.95/visit and $10.95/visit for kids; a year-long family membership costs $150 (which covers two adults and four kids). One visit for my family of four costs $53.80. By the time we hit our third visit to the aquarium, the cost of the annual membership will have been covered (if we filled the quota for the membership with four kids, the membership would pay for itself in two visits). After that third visit, it's like going for free every time.  My family has annual passes to local museums and the aquarium and we love them.

59. Cancel magazine subscriptions that you don't read. I know from experience how easy it is to keep a subscription going because you have intentions to read that pile of Martha Stewart Living or Real Simple, but they end up still going unread. That's when you pull the plug and cancel those subscriptions. There's a good chance get like 100 notices (okay, I'm exaggerating, but it feels that way) from the magazines, letters that say that you're going to get the very, very best offer ever if stay on their mailing list. Ignore them.


60. Keep a running list for groceries. As you run out of something, make a note. It's so easy to use the last of a jar or bottle of something and then forget to replace it when you make your shopping trip later in the week. If you keep a running list, you'll remember those little odds and ends and avoid extra trips to the store to pick up one thing that usually end with much more than that. I use this one -- it has a magnet attached to the back so I can keep it on my fridge.

61. When fruit gets too ripe, dehydrate it -- either with a dehydrator or your oven. Fruit leather is super easy to make. I use the master recipe from one of my favorite cookbooks, The Homemade Pantry (you can find a couple variations of her recipe here). Or you could make apple chips - another easy way to use up fruit before it spoils.

62. I just learned that you can wash and reuse disposable swim diapers. Of course, this only applies if they have only been wet. (Throw them out if your child has gone #2 in them. And you have my sympathy -- few things worse than changing a poopy swim diaper. I know all too well.) You can read all about this tip here. Of course, I learned about this trick once my little guy was potty trained and stopped wearing swim diapers.

63. It may sound kind of nuts, but don't throw food away just because it has passed the best-by and sell-by dates stamped on it . Those dates are more like guidelines, not hard and fast rules. You can eat food safely when it passes those dates. Lots of people (myself included before I knew the guidelines) waste a lot of food because they think those dates are expiration dates. Trust me, they're not. You can find out more about what the best-by and sell-by dates mean in a post I wrote here.

64. Once you know what sell-by dates mean, look for food at the grocery store that are almost out-of-date. I've gotten really good deals on meat and dairy just because the sell-by date was either that day or only a day or two away.

65. Consolidate the errands you run into one trip. This not only saves money on gas, but it also saves you time, too.

66. Switch from your bank to a credit union. Since members of the credit union are the owners, there are significantly less fees than with a bank. Plus, credit unions often better interest rates on checking and savings accounts than banks do, too.

67. One way to feed babies frugally: baby-led weaning. Basically, instead of giving babies special baby food, you let your child feed him/herself what the family is eating. The term "weaning" in this sense doesn't mean to stop nursing; it actually follows the British sense of the word, which means to add complimentary food. No need for jars of baby food or special cereal. With my first child, I totally bought boxes and jars of baby food until our pediatrician said it wasn't necessary. So with my second child, I just gave him what we ate (for the most part) once he showed interest in what we were eating (of course, keeping in mind certain guidelines, like avoiding honey). Funny thing is, at the time I didn't know there was a term for what I doing. For more information about baby-led weaning, you can check out this site devoted to the topic.

68. Get the most out of that basil plant by propagating it. By using this method I found, you can grow a whole new basil plant using a single stem! From what I understand, you can use this method with other herbs like oregano, lemon balm, and mint, among others.

69. Making an extra mortgage payment a year can save you thousands, if not tens of thousands of dollars over the life of your loan. There are a few ways you can do this, whether it's putting an extra $25-50 a month toward your principle, adding a lump sum toward your principle once a year (like around tax refund time), or setting up biweekly mortgage payments. You really should check out this informative article I found about how to make an extra payment; I especially like the article because it does the math and shows you how that extra payment can save you a lot of money in the long run.

70. Make your own dry shampoo. It requires only two ingredients and takes almost no time to make it. To find out how, check out this blog for the details.

71. Frozen fruit and vegetables at the grocery store are a great way to get healthy produce cheaper. These fruits and vegetables are picked at the peak of freshness and flash frozen. So not only are frozen fruits and vegggies just as healthy as fresh produce (if not healthier), but also less expensive. I love buying produce this way because I don't have to worry nearly so much about it going to waste because it got rotten.

72. Avoid buying clothes that are "dry clean only". 

73. Shop your own house to update rooms of your house. This is a tip I learned from the book The Nesting Place. For instance, that lamp in your bedroom might be just what your living room could use. It's funny how something you see every day in one part of your house could be just the thing that breathes new life into a different area of your home.


74. YouTube is a great (and free!) source for DIY tutorials. For example, my husband used YouTube videos to help him fix both our washer and dryer. Doing that saved the cost of hiring a repairman or, worse, replacing the appliances completely.


75. Refrigerator pickles are really easy and cheap to make -- and they're really delicious. No canning required. You simply mix up the brine, add cucumbers, and let them sit in the fridge. Once you eat all the pickles, simply add more cucumbers to the brine, let them sit for a couple days in the fridge, and, voila!, more pickles! You can find the recipe I've used at this blog. For what it's worth, when I made them the first time, my husband declared that they were the best pickles he'd ever had.

76. Garbage Soup, AKA using up the wilted, forgotten produce in your fridge to make dinner. Check out this post from Nom Nom Paleo (where I first heard the term 'Garbage Soup') for the details on concocting a pot of it.

77. The concept from #76 can also apply to smoothies and juicing: when fruits or veggies start to go past their prime, throw them in the blender or juicer instead of throwing them in the trash a few days later. 

78. Make your own cake flour. No need to buy a whole box or bag of cake flour for recipes you'll only make now and then. You can find the crazy-easy tutorial from one of my favorite blogs here.

79. For a cheap clarifying shampoo, just add baking soda. Instead of buying a separate shampoo to remove all the excess build-up from things like hard water, products, and the environment itself, simply add a little baking soda to the amount of shampoo you're going to use at that moment (that means don't add it to the whole bottle of shampoo, just to the amount in your hand).  The coarseness of the baking soda strips away all the build-up. I do this about once a week or so and every time I do, my hair looks and feels so much better!

80. Skip the store-bought calendars and just print your own off at home. I print off one every month and stick it on my fridge. I particularly like the free printable calendars at The TomKat Studio -- I've used theirs for the last couple years.

81. Instead of buying new furniture for your home, makeover furniture you already have with new knobs, upholstery, covers, shades, paint, or finish. It's amazing what a difference a coat of paint or new fabric can make.

82. Don't waste water when you're waiting for the hot water in the shower or bathtub. If running a bath, plug the drain right away. The cold water will balance out with the hot water that comes later. When showering, let the cold water run from the tap into a bucket or watering can until it gets hot, then start the shower. I totally get if that tip about the shower seems a little silly to you, but collecting that water in the shower (which really adds up fast, by the way) was what allowed me to water my tomato and flower pots outside in the summer of 2013 when we had strict outdoor water restrictions.

83. Limit the number of baths you take and take showers instead. Showers use much less water and energy than baths. An average bath uses 35-50 gallons of water (an average shower uses 10-20 gallons) and a hot shower uses only 20% of the energy it takes to run a hot bath. Treat baths like a treat. 

84. Shorten your showers. I'd feel like a huge hypocrite advocating the super-fast Navy shower (more power to you if you can do it), but just cutting 1-2 minutes off your shower can make a difference, saving around five gallons of water. When you consider, as mentioned in #83, that the average shower uses about 10-20 gallons of water, five gallons is a pretty good fraction of usage.


85. Do you use a Kindle or other kind of e-reader?  In many cases, book downloads are much cheaper than the hard copies. And you don't have to worry about missing out on good deals because there are people who keep track for you! One of my favorite blogs has a regularly updated list of Kindle deals, most of the books featured costing less than $5.

86. While I'm on the topic of downloading books, classic book titles are public domain, so they're often free to download from sites like Amazon and if they do cost anything, it's only a couple bucks at the most. Public domain titles are ones from authors whose intellectual property rights have expired. These authors include people like William Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Victor Hugo, the Bronte sisters, and many, many more. This means you can download some of the greatest works of literature for free. That said, romantic that I am, I still buy hard copies of classics for my home library, but it's nice to have them on my Kindle, too, so I can take them with me anywhere easily.

87. Preserve your herbs, whether they come from your garden or the store. You can find a full post on how in my post here.

88. Pre-bagged produce is quite often cheaper than loose produce. By pre-bagged, I don't mean the pre-cut or pre-washed bagged produce (like baby carrots or salads). The pre-bagged produce I'm referring to includes things like the 2-lb. bags of whole carrots, the 5-lb. bags of onions, or 10-lb. bags of potatoes. Check the price of the loose produce, do a little math to see how much it would cost to buy the amount in the pre-bagged version of the fruit or vegetable you're getting, and then decide. 

89. When you do buy pre-bagged produce, pick the heaviest one and weigh it. Often, the people who pack those bags will add more just to be extra sure they meet the weight requirements. Since the pre-bagged produce is sold by the unit and not the pound, you can sometimes get a little more for free.

90. Instead of buying packaged lunch-meat in the refrigerated section of the grocery store, buy it at the deli counter. There, they'll slice whatever amount of meat you want, how you want it sliced. I often buy sandwich turkey and ham that way, as well as pepperoni for homemade pizza.

91. Shred your own cheese instead of buying the pre-shredded bags of it. If you look at the unit price between the blocks of cheese and the pre-shredded bags, you'll see that there is a big cost different. Grate your cheese either the old-fashioned way with a box grater (still how I shred mozzarella) or do it super-fast with the grater attachment of a food processor.

92. Know the best times to buy things: clothes, cars, electronics, tools, and more. Check out this helpful calendar I found to help keep track of all the different dates.

93. The biggest water user in your home: the toilet (as much as 27% of the water in your home is used here). Watch out for leaky toilets. A leaky toilet that runs all day into the bowl can waste hundreds of gallons of water. To check if you have a leaky toilet, add some food coloring to the tank. If you can see that color in the bowl within 15 minutes of not flushing, you have a leak. Such leaks can be pretty easily fixed and most often don't require the help of a plumber.

94. Actually do those online surveys at the bottom of your receipts. Yeah, they can be kind of tedious, but they can save you money. For instance, for five minutes of my time, I can get 10% off at Old Navy; that could easily be $5 saved in five minutes. I also get extra fuel rewards for completing the surveys from my local grocery store.

95. Make the most of natural light in your home instead of relying on electric ones. I always wait as long as I can before turning on the lights in the house in the evening -- this may be due in part to my money-saving goals, but also because I prefer natural light waaaay more (lights on in the daytime drive me nuts!). You can find a list of five easy ways to maximize light in your home here.

96. Seal your home for winter to save money. You can find a great post that I found about different ways to seal it here

97. Eat out too much? You're not alone; it's a very common thing nowadays. And I get it. Some days are just crazy and it's so much easier to pick something up or go to a restaurant. That said, eating out can be a big budget-buster. Don't worry: I'm not advocating eliminating eating out (this is a list of painless ways to live frugally, after all), but it's a good idea to cut back.  I read a great tip to help you cut back on eating out: track how much you eat out for a period of time (a week, two weeks, or a month, depending on your habits) and then make a goal to cut that number half. That's not too painful, right? 

98. Stockpile. Know what your households staples are, know the best price to get them at, and when you see that price, stock up. One smart idea I read somewhere is to set aside 10% of your grocery budget solely for stocking up on them items you buy most. 

99. Repeat after me: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. I've known quite a few people who have gotten lured and pulled into all sorts of investment schemes, thinking it'll be a fast track to financial security. I've yet to see it work for someone. In all honesty, getting rich quick usually doesn't happen -- and even when it does, it can often be fleeting. Save yourself the money and heartache that comes along with get-rich-quick schemes. 


100. Dream. Okay, that sounds kind of cheesy, but, seriously, make plans. Why do you want to be financially secure? What is your end goal? We have a lot of goals, but one of our dreams in particular is to travel with our family. Last month, the four of us went on an incredible trip to Hawaii, completely debt-free. I'm not sharing this to brag at all, but instead to say that it came after a lot of hard work and sacrifice. It was our first big vacation in a long time (I hadn't even been on a plane since 2008) and it came after many long hours for my husband at work (both at his daytime job and doing freelance work at night) and from with me implementing many of the ideas on this list (and the other two). But, man, it was worth it. When you have a plan and a dream, it gives your work and efforts purpose and direction -- it's what keeps you going when it gets tough.

Note: Some of the links in the post above are "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. 

(This post is linked up to Homestead Barn Hop and Little House Friday DIY.)
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