"A Penny Saved Is A Penny Earned"

Monday, August 31, 2009

Combating High Diesel Fuel Prices

Combating High Diesel Fuel Prices
 
With the gasoline and diesel fuel prices increasing, people have come up with various solutions to go around this situation. One of these solutions is the use of diesel fuel additives. Primarily they are known to increase lubricity of fuel, hence decreasing the wear and tear of engine parts. What is more is that it also can increase gas mileage.
 
Being a highly complex fuel, diesel fuel’s chemical structure changes from the time it leaves the refinery to the time it is pumped into holding tanks and fuel station to the time it gets pumped into the vehicle. Oxidization and structural changes occur in the fuel molecules. The energy per unit volume of the fuel can change during this phase, and this is what will cause your engine to have poor performance.
 
To combat the effects of fuel degradation and increase the fuel’s cetane value (discussed in detail below), the right type and ratio of fuel additives have to be used. Among a myriad of benefits, the engine will be able to obtain more power from a gallon of fuel.
 
Diesel fuel has more energy per gallon as compared to gasoline. The three types of diesel fuel are 1D, 2D, and a combination of the two. The lighter grade is 1D, and it offers less energy than 2D. It is more commonly used to reduce, if not eliminate, the gelling of fuel during cold winter climates; some people combine it with 2D.
 
The cetane rating denotes the diesel fuel’s ignition quality. The higher the rating, the easier the fuel burns evenly and the more power is produced. The average diesel fuel is at the 40-cetane level. Large diesel trucks and diesel pickup trucks prefer a cetane rating in the 45- to 50- level; this is considered as the premium diesel. However, this is not a general categorization—that is, the state’s regulations will dictate at which cetane rating is diesel fuel considered premium.
 
You should check with the fuel station with regard to the cetane ratings of the fuel they are selling. The higher the cetane rating, the better the drivability as well as reduced emissions. Moreover, the driver of the vehicle can feel the change in power (for the better).
 
Choosing the right diesel fuel additive can assure you that the diesel fuel will perform at its maximum because of its optimum quality. Here are some of the effects of a good quality diesel fuel additive:
 
- Reduces Cylinder Wear:
It neutralizes acids during combustion. It minimizes the wear of the acidic cylinder and it reduces the rate of engine oil depletion; thus, maintaining the quality of the engine oil for better protection.
 
- Minimizes Soot Loading:
It cleans fuel injectors and piston rings for better combustion and sealing. This reduces soot loading, controls soot-related wear, and increases engine oil viscosity.
 
- Stabilizes Fuel:
Fuel degradation increases deposits, which can promote the plugging of filter. The additive improves oxidation and thermal stability of the diesel fuel.
 
- Improves Fuel Economy:
It cleans dirty injectors as it improves the acceleration and restores horsepower, and in the long run it will enhance performance.
 
- Improves Water Tolerance:
An alcohol-free additive protects fuel systems against water contamination, helping to prevent emulsions. It also protects the metal against rust.
 
To combat the increasing diesel fuel prices, you can consider using a diesel fuel additive and experience the change in your expenses as well as the drivability of your vehicle.


A penny saved is a penny earned,
--Greg

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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Family Meals Under $5 - Taco Salad

This is one of my favorite dinners because it pleases everyone. With 8 people in our family it's hard to find foods that everyone likes. It's also a one dish meal so there is less clean up and in the summer heat all you have to cook is the ground beef. We serve this "salad bar" style so everyone can just pick what they like and everyone is happy. It's also a good time to raid the fridge for any leftovers that could be added.

I'm putting down the basics. You can go all out with this dinner or just keep it simple. Of course keeping it simple keeps the cost down as does having a wide variety of vegetables to choose from in the garden.

Basic Taco Salad - $4.84

Tortilla Chips - $1.99 22oz bag = .99c for 1/2 bag
1 1/2 lb lean ground beef - $1.47 lb @ Trading Co. = $2.20
3c grated cheddar cheese - $3.98/2lb @ Super 1 Foods minus $1 off coupon Print Free Coupons- $2.98 = $.81c
1 1/2c salsa - $1.98/26 oz = $.84c

The salsa listed is what it cost at Wal -Mart. If you want this dinner to be cheaper, head out to the garden and make your own salsa like we do. Below is a list of what I grabbed to add to the salad. Like I said you can go all out.

Lettuce = free from the garden
tomato = free from the garden
onion = free from the garden
bell pepper = free from the garden
zucchini = free from the garden
shredded carrot = free from the garden

This week in Albertsons weekly circular they had a section that said "Introducing dinner for 4 for under $15" I did the math and for my family the dinner they had shown would be $28.96. If we ate like that all week it would come to $202.72 and for a 4 week month it would be $810.88! And that's just for dinner.

I realize that it takes some doing to keep dinner under $5 and that it's not possible every night. But I hope that you have learned from these posts that it is possible. If you have a dinner under $5 idea please send it in and share with the rest of us. I'd love to hear how you keep your grocery costs down while still feeding your family healthy, delicious dinners.


Live less, Live more
Renee

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What Can You Do About Rising Diesel Fuel Prices?

Diesel smoke from a big truckImage via Wikipedia

What Can You Do About Rising Diesel Fuel Prices?
 
Not to forget those who run on diesel. Diesel fuel is one of the most important commodities on the economic landscape. The reason for this is that the transportation used in almost all aspects of the economy is fueled by diesel engines. Rising diesel fuel prices usually translate to rising costs of products and services. In order to know what can be done to slow down this increase, you as a consumer need to understand its causes.
 
Elements of Worth
There are several basic elements that determine the worth of a gallon of diesel. About sixty percent of the cost of diesel reflects the price of crude oil, which is raw material for diesel production. Crude oil is purchased from oil producing countries and subsequently brought to refineries where the ultra-low sulfur diesel, among other petroleum products, is extracted. Given a barrel of crude, a refinery will be able to distill about one tenth of a barrel of diesel. Refining accounts for nearly twenty percent of diesel fuel cost.
 
The remaining elements of the cost of diesel fuel are government taxes and the expense of marketing and distribution. A ten percent excise tax is levied onto all fuel products that are manufactured in the country. Although foreign fuel avoids this, it is generally cheaper to buy locally refined fuel as import taxes generally translate to higher unit price. Marketing and distribution only makes up five percent of total diesel fuel cost, but this can often be the most volatile factor affecting the value of diesel fuel.
 
Origins of Increase
Basically, the price of everything is dependent on supply and demand. If supply is low and demand is high, prices will go up. If supply is plentiful, the price will stay steady, and may even decrease when demand wanes.
 
Crude oil supply is dependent on oil producing countries, so anything that disrupts their production activities, like wars or economic embargoes, will drive the price of both world crude and diesel up. Refining costs are generally pretty stable, but both local and foreign companies compete for refined fuel. If the demand of foreign countries for the diesel produced by local refineries increases, this can ultimately result in elevated fuel costs.
 
The most unstable factor that affects diesel fuel is undoubtedly local marketing and distribution. Diesel fuel is in such high and constant demand that fuel stockpiles are generally pretty shallow. This means that if there is a sudden spike in fuel consumption, the warehoused supply will not be enough and this will drive the price of fuel up. Another factor is distance; consumers close to refineries tend to pay less because they avoid transportation costs. Local competition also plays an important role in regulating fuel prices.
 
Control Stems from Understanding
World supply and demand, international politics, economic pressures, all of these play interrelated roles in the cost of fuel. Though they seem beyond the comprehension of the non-economist layman, it all really boils down to supply and demand, and this is something anyone can understand. Saving fuel and lowering consumption is not only good for the environment; it decreases demand, and ultimately, cost. Programs which promote peace and goodwill among nations do not only make a better world; they result in less disruption of supply lines, and again, decrease fuel costs.
 
The factors that affect diesel fuel prices seem complex, but an understanding of the basic principles can empower the individual consumer. Unsurprisingly, it would seem that doing the right thing really is the right thing to do.


A penny saved is a penny earned,
--Greg

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Tips to Survive High Gasoline Prices

Container of GasolineImage via Wikipedia

Tips to Survive High Gasoline Prices
 
Gasoline prices have seen its highs just recently. It seems for a moment that there would be no let up for the recent experience of rising of gas prices. It is a good thing that the price of crude oil might have gone down a bit. But it seems that this might just be for a little moment.
 
There would be no guarantee that the recent rise in gas prices already had reached its plateau and on the way of going down. It would only be some time before the crude oil prices may again be rising to record levels. Although the demand for oil in the world has gone down a bit, it does not mean that less and less people might need it. In fact, the demand for oil is still great and that this demand may once again bring a rise in crude oil and gas prices.
 
And with the recent rise in gas prices, car driving has become quite an expensive activity. Cars, for the most part, are a necessity for a great number of people. Only a few might be thinking of giving up driving because of the high gas prices. More people would instead be thinking of surviving the recent rise of gas prices. Surviving for some might be applying some means of saving up on the fuel used when driving. One way that this can be done effectively is by improving the car's mileage. Apart from buying a new car with better mileage, it can also be possible to improve the mileage of your current car. Here are some tips that might help you out.
 
A car's mileage can be substantially improved by simply becoming more efficient at car driving. Efficient car driving is developing careful but effective driving skills. Avoiding aggressive driving may be one. Driving aggressively is handling or driving the car with sudden accelerations and braking which can waste a substantial amount of fuel. You can waste from 5 to 33 percent of fuel of your car. This waste can add up pretty much and can worsen with the rising gas prices. Surviving the rising gas prices can mean driving more carefully and avoiding sudden accelerations and stops. Driving this way can help improve gas mileage.
 
Another way to improve the car’s gas mileage is by getting rid of accumulated excess weight. Some cars can easily accumulate a lot of junk inside its trunk over time. Some people may just ignore them, but the excess weight can actually lessen the car's mileage. By simply making the car lighter by removing some unwanted weight, using less gas on each trip may be possible.
 
Carrying extra weight on the car means that it may require more power and energy to move. The extra energy needed means more fuel being used. Just by getting rid of the heavy junk or extra weight inside the car may be more than enough to help improve gas mileage.
 
Another way to maintain a car’s good mileage is to have it regularly checked. Cars may go through wear and tear every time it is being used. Over time, this could accumulate and affect the car’s mileage. One way of trying to prevent this is by following a car’s preventive maintenance schedule.

Most cars follow a certain maintenance schedule that allows them to remain efficient over time by keeping it properly maintained. A well maintained car can still enjoy good mileage even after many years on the road. Regular maintenance checks will allow even an aging car to be properly tuned up can help it run with good mileage. That can greatly help car owners survive the rising gasoline prices along the way.


A penny saved is a penny earned,
--Greg

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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Dealing With High Gasoline Prices

Old petrol pumps in Nøtterøy, NorwayImage via Wikipedia

Dealing With High Gasoline Prices
 
The rising gasoline prices has everyone concerned about the future. Of course, with gasoline being the fuel of the most common form of transportation today, who would not be? And since gasoline is still a major fuel used by most cars in the world, there is nothing that can be done except deal with the changes. People may not have that much of an influence in lowering the current gas prices especially with the great demand for gasoline elsewhere in the world. The most effective means would be making a collective effort of minimizing gasoline use as well as trying to get more out of every gallon of gas as possible.
 
The pricing of gasoline is a combination of a number of different factors. One of the most important parts is the price of crude oil in the market. You can say that crude oil is the primary raw material from where gasoline is being derived from. In fact gasoline is a major product of crude oil. That is why crude oil accounts for more than half of the price tag of gasoline in gas stations. If the price of crude oil goes up, the price of gasoline also goes up.
 
Another factor that affects gas prices is the refining costs. Different states require certain refining regulations to be followed. This is to follow the certain standards in refining gasoline to make them acceptable for use locally. Certain refining additions to the process would likely add up to the retail price of gas sold in different states.
 
Taxes are also considered a prime factor in setting the price tag for gasoline at retail gas stations. Different areas in the country follow different tax standards for gasoline. Aside from the federal taxes, states also have their own set of taxes being placed on petroleum products. The higher the taxes placed on gasoline, the higher its retail price eventually becomes. The difference in state, federal and local taxes is also one of the reaosns why different states have different gasoline prices.
 
Dealing with the high gasoline prices for the car owner does not depend on these factors however. It has more to deal with trying to get the most out of every drop. And this usually means that car owners try to get the best mileage out of their vehicles when using them.
 
Good mileage does not usually mean having a new car. It also has a lot to do with a number of factors. For one, driving habits can also affect a car's mileage. Aggressive driving can lay waste to gasoline use and reduce a car's mileage quickly. Drivers who are prone to sudden and quick accelerations and fond of hard braking can put some strain into a car's performance after awhile.
 
Another means of improving mileage that car owners can actually do is keeping up with their car's scheduled maintenance. As the car is used day in and day out, it can aquire certain wear and tear along the way. A car's scheduled maintenance process would enable the car to get much needed repairs and maintenance work even before things get worse. This can help maintain a car's good mileage. The longer the car enjoys better mileage the better chance a car owner would have in dealing with the rising gasoline prices.


A penny saved is a penny earned,
--Greg

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Monday, August 24, 2009

Car Mileage and Gasoline Prices

1895 Benz Velo. Along with its contemporary Du...Image via Wikipedia

Car Mileage and Gasoline Prices
 
Car mileage matters especially when you have become concerned with the rising gasoline prices. Using a car with a good mileage for every gallon of gasoline that you use would allow you to save up quite a lot. Bette mileage is not just reserved for newer and better cars. In fact good mileage can also be enjoyed even by older vehicles. Mileage of your car actually depends on several factors.
 
One of the main factors that affect a car's mileage is how you drive. Driving manners and habits have a great deal to do with car mileage. For example, a driver prone to sudden accelerations and heavy braking can use up quite an amount of gas per distance traveled. This is because quick accelerations and sudden braking can use up more fuel since it puts the vehicle into sudden strains. In fact, aggressive driving can actually affect fuel economy by as much as 30 percent in highways and about 5 percent in town and city inroads.
 
High speed driving may also affect a car's mileage. Driving fast usually increases a car's aerodynamic drag. This means that the faster that a car travels, the greater the wind resistance becoming a factor in fuel economy. Habitual idling can also affect a car's mileage. Frequent idling uses gasoline but adds zero miles on the counter and therefore affects the car's mileage.
 
Another factor that may affect a car's mileage is the overall condition of the vehicle itself. A year old car not properly maintained can use up and waste more gasoline than a two or three year old car that has followed the proper maintenance schedule. Drivers should realize that a poorly tuned and maintained car engine can burn more fuel.
 
Car maintenance is not only limited to the engine if improving car mileage is the aim. Even tire inflation can account for a car's mileage. Properly inflated tires can help reduce rolling resistance and therefore help a car enjoy better mileage. Other important areas of the car to look into to improve car mileage are the air filter and brakes. Dirty air filters and poor brakes can make the engine work double hard and use up more fuel.
 
The type of gasoline being used in a car can also affect its mileage. There are certain variations of gasoline fuels that offer lesser energy than others. Using reformulated gasoline, for instance, may cause some changes in fuel economy due to their lesser energy content. Not only is the type affecting the gasoline's energy content, seasons may also have some effect. The reason for this might be behind the refining process. But generally, gasoline products sold during the summer usually have a higher energy content rating than gasoline products being sold during the winter.
 
With gasoline becoming quite an expensive product, car owners should try to improve their car's fuel economy and mileage as much as possible. Better mileage and fuel use means that the car has to use lesser fuel in traveling a certain distance. This can result in lesser fuel being used. The less fuel used the less amount of gasoline needed. And with gasoline prices rising these recent months, it could account into substantial savings that may help ease the concerns brought about by the higher gasoline price tag.


A penny saved is a penny earned,
--Greg

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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Rebates – Reward or Rip Off?

Future Shop, Halifax, Nova ScotiaImage via Wikipedia

Rebates – Reward or Rip Off?
 
Rebates have become increasingly popular in the last few years on a lot of items and certainly on electronic items and computers. Rebates of $20, $50 or $100 are not uncommon.
 
I’ve even seen items advertised as "free after rebate". Do these rebates come under the heading of "too good to be true"? Some of them do and there are "catches" to watch out for but if you are careful, rebates can help you get some really good deals.
 
The way a rebate works is that you pay the listed price for an item then mail in a form and the bar code to the manufacturer and they send you a refund thus reducing the price of what you paid for the item except with a time delay of several weeks.
 
Rule #1. Rebates from reputable companies are usually just fine.
You can be pretty sure you will get the promised rebate from Best Buy, Amazon or Dell but you should probably not count on getting one from a company you’ve never heard of. If you really want the product and are OK with paying the price listed then buy it but don’t count on actually getting the refund.
 
Rule #2. Check rebate expiration dates.
Many times products will stay on the shelf of a retailer after the date for sending in the rebate offer has expired so check that date carefully.
 
Rule #3. Be sure you have all the forms required to file for the rebate before you leave the store.
Rebates will almost always require a form to be filled out, a receipt for the purchase and a bar code.
 
Rule #4. Back up your rebate claim.
Make copies of everything you send in to get your rebate including the bar code. Stuff gets lost in the mail all the time and if the rebate is for $50 it’s worth the trouble to back up your claim.


A penny saved is a penny earned,
--Greg

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Spend Wisely to Save Money - Buy Bulk

Preserved food.Image via Wikipedia

Spend Wisely to Save Money - Buy Bulk
 
Have you ever noticed that the things you buy every week at the grocery and hardware stores go up a few cents between shopping trips? Not by much… just by a little each week but they continue to creep up and up.
 
All it takes for the price to jump up by a lot is a little hiccup in the world wide market, note the price of gasoline as it relates to world affairs.
 
There is a way that we can keep these price increases from impacting our personal finances so much and that is by buying in quantity and finding the best possible prices for the things we use and will continue to use everyday… things that will keep just as well on the shelves in our homes as it does on the shelves at the grocery store or hardware store.
 
For instance, dog food and cat food costs about 10% less when bought by the case than it does when bought at the single can price and if you wait for close out prices you save a lot more than that.

Once you start buying in bulk you develop a backlog of supplies, so that you can wait for the sales or when things are in season and save a fortune. Stores often have case lot and closeout sales and if your budget isn't tied up with replacing the basics, you can focus on the deals.
 
Set aside some space in your home and make a list of things that you use regularly which will not spoil. Any grain or staple products like sugar and salt will need to be stored in airtight containers that rodents and bugs can’t get into so keep that in mind.
 
Then set out to find the best prices you can get on quantity purchases of such things as bathroom items and dry and canned food.
 
You will be surprised at how much you can save by just buying a twenty pound bag of rice as opposed to a one pound bag but don’t forget that it must be kept in a rodent proof container.
 
You can buy some clothing items such as men’s socks and underwear because those styles don’t change, avoid buying children’s and women’s clothing, those styles change and sizes change too drastically.
 
Try to acquire and keep a two year supply of these kinds of items and can save you hundreds of dollars.


A penny saved is a penny earned,
--Greg

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Avoiding Impulse Spending

Banknotes from all around the World donated by...Image via Wikipedia

Avoiding Impulse Spending
 
Answer these questions truthfully:
 
1.) Does your spouse or partner complain that you spend too much money?
 
2.) Are you surprised each month when your credit card bill arrives at how much more you charged than you thought you had?
 
3.) Do you have more shoes and clothes in your closet than you could ever possibly wear?
 
4.) Do you own every new gadget before it has time to collect dust on a retailer’s shelf?
 
5.) Do you buy things you didn’t know you wanted until you saw them on display in a store?
 
If you answered "yes" to any two of the above questions, you are an impulse spender and indulge yourself in retail therapy.
 
This is not a good thing. It will prevent you from saving for the important things like a house, a new car, a vacation or retirement. You must set some financial goals and resist spending money on items that really don’t matter in the long run.
 
Impulse spending will not only put a strain on your finances but your relationships, as well. To overcome the problem, the first thing to do is learn to separate your needs from your wants.
 
Advertisers blitz us hawking their products at us 24/7. The trick is to give yourself a cooling-off period before you buy anything that you have not planned for.
 
When you go shopping, make a list and take only enough cash to pay for what you have planned to buy. Leave your credit cards at home.
 
If you see something you think you really need, give yourself two weeks to decide if it is really something you need or something you can easily do without. By following this simple solution, you will mend your financial fences and your relationships.


A penny saved is a penny earned,
--Greg

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Monday, August 17, 2009

The Budget – The Ultimate Financial Management Tool

The Budget – The Ultimate Financial Management Tool
 
A carpenter uses a set of house plans to build a house. If he didn’t the bathroom might get overlooked altogether.
 
Rocket Scientists would never begin construction on a new booster rocket without a detailed set of design specifications. Yet most of us go blindly out into the world without an inkling of an idea about finances and without any plan at all.
 
Not very smart of us, is it?
 
A money plan is called a budget and it is crucial to get us to our desired financial goals.
 
Without a plan we will drift without direction and end up marooned on a distant financial reef.
 
If you have a spouse or a significant other, you should make this budget together. Sit down and figure out what your joint financial goals are…long term and short term.
 
Then plan your route to get to those goals. Every journey begins with one step and the first step to attaining your goals is to make a realistic budget that both of you can live with.
 
A budget should never be a financial starvation diet. That won’t work for the long haul. Make reasonable allocations for food, clothing, shelter, utilities and insurance and set aside a reasonable amount for entertainment and the occasional luxury item. Savings should always come first before any spending.
 
Even a small amount saved will help you reach your long term and short term financial goals. You can find many budget forms on the internet. Just use any search engine you choose and type in "free budget forms".
 
You’ll get lots of hits. Print one out and work on it with your spouse or significant other. Both of you will need to be happy with the final result and feel like it’s something you can stick to.


A penny saved is a penny earned,
--Greg

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Saturday, August 15, 2009

Family Meals Under $5 - Farmers Casserole

Family Meals Under $5 - Farmers Casserole

This is a great meal that can even be made ahead and frozen. I made a couple of changes to keep it under $5 but it's still delicious. Instead of running to the store to get the exact ingredients I used what I had on hand. It just goes to show how you can tweak something a little bit to save money on your grocery bill. The changes that I made are in parenthesis.

Farmers Casserole - $2.68
Mixed Veggies - $.78
Corn Muffins - $.78

Total - $4.24

Farmers Casserole
6c Frozen shredded hash browns (I just shredded 4 potatoes to get 6c - huge savings. If you are going to freeze this you should blanch the potatoes first) - 4 potatoes = .32c
1c Pepper Jack cheese (I used mild cheddar that was on sale for $3.50/2lb loaf at Fred Meyer. Sharp would have been better) Cheese = .31c
1c diced fully cooked ham (I used Jennie O Turkey Ham/$1.42lb) = .76c
1/4c sliced green onion (I used the tender green tops of the onions in my garden) = free
4 eggs = .44c
1 12 oz can evaporated milk (too expensive for me - I just used regular 2% milk here) =.18c
1/8t pepper
1/4t salt

I also added a 4 oz can of diced green chilies since the cost was so low and I didn't use the pepper jack cheese = .67

In a large bowl beat eggs & milk. Stir in potatoes, onions, salt, pepper, ham and 1/2 of the cheese (and chilies). Pour into greased 13 x 9 baking dish. Bake at 350 for 40-45 min or till center is set. Top with rest of cheese during the last 5 min of baking. Let stand 5 min before serving.

16 oz bag of frozen mixed veggies = on sale for .78c

Corn Muffins
1c flour = .11c
1c cornmeal = .20c
2-4T sugar
1T baking powder = .03
1/2 t salt
2 eggs = .22c
1c milk = .12c
1/4 c cooking oil = .10c

In a mixing bowl combine dry ingredients. In a separate bowl combine wet ingredients. Mix the wet ingredients with the dry and stir till just combined. Spoon into greased muffin cups till 2/3 full. Bake in a 425 oven for 12-15 min.

As I was writing this I decided to go a little farther and see just how much I saved by making the changes that I did. Below is the cost of the ingredients as they are on the recipe and the cost of my substitutions.

Potatoes -1.32/.32
Cheese -.72/.31
Ham -1.48/.76
Onion -.09/free
Eggs -.44/.44
Milk -.88/.18
Chilies - na/.67

Total 4.93/2.68

As you can see with just a few tweaks I saved $2.25.

Most recipes can handle a few changes here and there. Before you run to the store (and spend even more money on gas) look in your fridge and see what you can do with a little creativity. Who knows it may even turn out better.

Live less, Live more
--Renee

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Why Should I Make a Budget?

Why Should I Make a Budget?
 
You say you know where your money goes and you don’t need it all written down to keep up with it? I issue you this challenge. Keep track of every penny you spend for one month and I do mean every penny.
 
You will be shocked at what the itty-bitty expenses add up to. Take the total you spent on just one unnecessary item for the month, multiply it by 12 for months in a year and multiply the result by 5 to represent 5 years.
 
That is how much you could have saved AND drawn interest on in just five years. That, my friend, is the very reason all of us need a budget.
 
If we can get control of the small expenses that really don’t matter to the overall scheme of our lives, we can enjoy financial success.
 
The little things really do count. Cutting what you spend on lunch from five dollars a day to three dollars a day on every work day in a five day work week saves $10 a week… $40 a month… $480 a year… $2400 in five years….plus interest.
 
See what I mean… it really IS the little things and you still eat lunch everyday AND that was only one place to save money in your daily living without doing without one thing you really need. There are a lot of places to cut expenses if you look for them.
 
Set some specific long term and short term goals. There are no wrong answers here. If it’s important to you, then it’s important period.
 
If you want to be able to make a down payment on a house, start a college fund for your kids, buy a sports car, take a vacation to Aruba… anything… then that is your goal and your reason to get a handle on your financial situation now.

 
A penny saved is a penny earned,
--Greg

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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Tips on Budgeting

Money on GreenImage by Darren Hester via Flickr

Tips on Budgeting

Money can disappear so fast if you don't manage it. It's amazing how all the nickel and dime stuff adds up. My old friend use to say, "money is like gas it expands to fill the space".

What he meant was that even though he would make more money it always got spent. There always seemed to be more month than money and he never seemed to have extra. But, at the times in his life where he lost income (because of a job change, etc...), he always seemed to make it work or just barely get by.

Over the years because of a unique position I was in, I had the opportunity to look at a lot of people's finances and one thing I realized is that it doesn't seem to matter how much money you make. I would see the family making $20-30,000/yr doing just fine and then the family making $200-300,000/yr getting behind each month OR the reverse, with the family making $20-30,000/yr getting behind each month and then the family making $200-300,000/yr doing just fine, along with every income level in between.

What's all this mean? It doesn't matter how much you make, it matters how you manage it.

There's an old saying that rings true when it comes to budgets, "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail". A budget is a plan for your money, so let's learn how to plan.

To follow a budget, you need to first establish where you are. So a budget that has both an "actual" and "planned" section is what you re after. What you need to do is list what you're currently spending and then right next to it list what your budget goals are or the budget you want to follow.

Remember these points:

Your income should equal your expenses. If not, the extra will disappear or "expand to fill its space". Your goal is to live under your means, so any extra should go to debt first and then savings.

Always have a "spending cash" item or "misc. money" item, where you can spend the money on anything you want and it's not accountable to any other budget item. If you don't have this item on your list, most people will spend it anyways, but if you do most will stick with the amount allocated. For example, say you only have an extra $5 every month, but you don't budget it and so when you're out you stop and get a meal which cost you $10 and then your spouse spends another $20 on something they wanted and now you're over budget by $25.

Sound familiar? Now, if you knew you only had $5 most people have a tendency to only spend $5 or darn close. Personally, there's been times in my life when the budget only allowed $5 and so my wife got $2.50 and I got the other half. She would go garage selling with her half, so she could get her shopping fix and I would buy off the dollar menu. But there's also been times when the budget allowed for hundreds of dollars for spending cash.

Reality is that most will blow money anyways, so always set aside something no matter how small, the trick is to not be surprised at the end of the month and know what you're going to spend beforehand.

Budgeting for specific time periods is crucial, prepare a new budget each and every pay period, until you can become stable.

Don't forget "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail".

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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Save Money and Get Healthy by Planting Vegetable Gardens

Save Money and Get Healthy by Planting Vegetable Gardens
 
Instead of setting up a swimming pool or a Zen garden in your backyard, why not plant vegetables instead? Planting vegetable gardens is a great way to spend a quiet time de-stressing while getting in touch with nature. Having a steady supply of vegetables will also lessen food expenses and improve the health of your loved ones.
 
Money-saving strategy

Raised bed of lettuce, tomatoes, 6 different t...Image via Wikipedia


It’s not easy to ignore the soaring prices of food items these days, including vegetables. Although your backyard may be small and your vegetable garden may not provide all that you need, it will have a dramatic effect in reducing your food bill. Imagine not having to run to the grocery store to buy some of the ingredients for your cooking. Some of the most common vegetables that you need are already right there in your very own backyard. Depending on the kind of vegetables you plant and your methods of preserving them, the economical benefits you get from your vegetable garden may be felt all year round.
 
You may also think that your kids will likely to eat less each time your serve them vegetables. It is obvious that kids would prefer to eat burgers, hotdogs and others. However, there are several cookbooks available in bookstores that can show you a variety of vegetable meals to prepare that are appetizing even for the kids. When what you serve on the table does not look and taste boring, your kids will surely dig it.
 
More nutritious meals
With a variety of vegetables practically ready to pick right in your backyard, you will find it more pleasing to cook and serve vegetable dishes to your family. This means that everybody will get to enjoy the numerous health benefits of eating fresh produce, since vegetables are packed with tons of nutrients. Aside from the fact that they are low in fats and calories, and contain no cholesterol, you will also get a steady source of the following:
 
• Dietary fiber - This is important for normal bowel movement and good for your entire digestive tract. Dietary fiber is also known to reduce the amount of bad cholesterol in the body, lower the risk of heart diseases, as well as fight off certain forms of cancers. If you are on a diet, you will also feel much fuller faster. Some vegetables rich in dietary fiber are peas, carrots, cabbage and spinach.
 
• Potassium - This is necessary for keeping blood pressure at a normal level. It is also important in keeping the brain, muscles and other tissues in the body functioning normally. Vegetables that are loaded with potassium include potatoes, squash, tomato, eggplant and celery.
 
• Vitamins A, B and C – Vitamin A is great for the eyes and skin. Vitamin C is necessary to maintain healthy connective tissues and is known to boost the immune system. Vitamin B is important for extracting the energy in the carbohydrates in several food sources. Carrots, asparagus, broccoli and green pepper are rich in Vitamin A. Broccoli, peas and beans are a great source of vitamin B. Your dose of vitamin C is supplied by red cabbage, kale, parsley and turnip.
 
Other vitamins and minerals you can get from vegetables include calcium, phosphorous, sodium, magnesium, iron, niacin, folate, zinc and manganese.
 
Save money and help your kids stay in the pink of health through planting vegetable gardens. Plus you get that sense of pride each time your family enjoys the meal on the table, whose vegetable ingredients you cultivated yourself in your backyard.

For great tips checkout our Raised Bed Gardening Blog.


A penny saved is a penny earned,
--Greg

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Friday, August 7, 2009

Family Meals under $5 - Italian Meatball Soup

I realize soup doesn't sound like something you'd want to have in the middle of the summer but with the thunderstorms and cooler weather we've been having up here in the Pacific Northwest, soup sounded good.

One frugal skill I've learned is to check the discount section of the various departments in the grocery store. I mentioned the bakery in my last post. This week I found a good deal on ground Italian pork sausage in the meat dept. This is a good place to look before you buy your meat. Packages are often marked up to 50% off. Just make sure you check the dates for freshness and use or freeze the meat right away.

Italian Meatball Soup - $3.86
French bread - $0.88
Sauteed Zucchini - free

Total - $4.74

Italian Meatball Soup
3 qt water
8 beef bullion cubes - .64c
1 lb Italian Pork Sausage -$1.59
3 eggs - .33c
1 t salt
pepper
1/2 c bread crumbs - free
1t dried oregano - free
1 T oil - .02c
1 onion, chopped - .27c (free)
2 cloves garlic, minced - .08c
3 c chopped fresh spinach - .50c
3 carrots, chopped - .27c (free)
2 stalks celery, chopped - .16c

In a large stockpot, dissolve bullion in water. Bring to a boil. Meanwhile beat eggs in a bowl. Add meat, bread crumbs and seasonings. Form into balls and drop into boiling stock.

Heat oil in skillet and saute onion, garlic, carrots and celery. Add to soup and cook about 20 min or till meatballs are done. Add spinach and cook 2-3 min more. Season to taste. Serve with the french bread and sauteed zucchini.

The zucchini was from our garden and just sliced and sauteed in oil and seasoned with salt & pepper. If you don't have zucchini in your garden maybe you'll be lucky enough to have someone give you some on National Sneak some Zucchini on you Neighbors Porch Night, August 8th (tonight).

There are a few things to note in this recipe. First I never buy bread crumbs, that's why their listed as free. My children don't like to eat the ends of bread and consequently leave them out to dry. Instead of throwing them away I put them in the blender and grind them up into bread crumbs.

The oregano is listed as free for two reasons. One is that I have some in the garden and use that. The other is that when I run out of what I harvest from my garden I buy my herbs in bulk at the health food store or in the health food or bulk section of the grocery store. The cost is really infinitesimal so I don't list it. I promise to post about buying herbs in bulk in the future. You won't believe the difference in price.

I put free next to the carrots and onion because for this meal I had my little ones run out to the garden and pull some carrots and an onion. I realize not everyone has a garden or has these veggies in their garden so I listed the price of each and included it in the total. My total for this meal was actually $4.20


Live less, Live more
--Renee

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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Picnics: Free Fun!

A tone mapped HDR image of a picnic setup on t...Image via Wikipedia

Picnics: Free Fun!

by Barb Roehler

The summer months are the perfect time of year to enjoy the outdoors, and there is no better way to really have a great afternoon than by having a picnic. Picnics are fantastic because they are easy to put together, easy to clean up, and they can be as large or as intimate as you would like them. So if you are in the market to plan a picnic then dont wait, but you will want to spend a bit of time figuring out what type of picnic supplies you will want to have on hand to make it more enjoyable.

Where to sit? Depending on where you are having your picnic you will need to plan out where you are going to sit. Traditionally, most picnics take place on a blanket. They key to choosing the right blanket as part of your picnic supplies is that you want it to be durable, and most importantly washable. However, not all picnics take place on the ground. Many people take advantage of the tables and benches available at many park shelters or beaches. If this is more what you are looking for you might want to think about whether you are going to want something to cover the benches with? Do you simply want a tarp to protect your clothing, or are you looking for comfort? In that case you might want to choose a seat cushion as part of your picnic supplies.

What to take? Obviously picnics center around food, but the real question is how you are going to get it to your location. Picnic baskets are a fantastic option to help you cart your meal around. There are so many different styles and varieties of picnic baskets around that you will really have your pick of what you are looking for. Typically when thinking about picnic supplies you will want your basket to have cups, plates, flatware, and ample room to store your food. Those are the basics. However, there are fancier varieties that include wine baskets, wine glasses, salt and pepper shakers, cutting boards, and even cloth napkins. What you really should do is think about what your personal needs and wants are regarding picnic supplies, and then find yourself a basket that is tailor made to fit those.

What to do? A picnic is not made complete by simply eating outside. Instead, the activities are really part of what makes a picnic so memorable. The great thing about picnics is that they can provide a truly economical option for a days worth of entertainment. When packing your picnic supplies do not forget to pack some fun sports equipment like Frisbees, hula hoops, and/or a football. If you are headed for the beach what about packing up some water balloons and squirt guns? Or for a hiking adventure, why not print out a list for a nature scavenger hunt. And do not forget those relaxed moments in your picnic. Simply having a great book or new magazine can provide some quiet entertainment.

Barb Roehler is an avid Boat and Beach enthusiast, and has been in the Retail Design Industry for more than 20 years. Boat To Beach Decor opened for business in 2008. This article may be distributed freely on your website, as long as the entire article including links and this resource box, are unchanged. Copyright 2009 Barb Roehler All Rights Reserved. Boat To Beach Decor For more info, check out this link: Picnic Supplies

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