Friday, August 8, 2008

Money savings tips I have acquired (and wished I had been using more regularly!)

OK, times are tough for all of us. The budget in this house is being stretched thinner then ever before! So, aside from the obvious (eating out less, buying new things less often, not going on as many “road trips,” etc), I have been looking into some tips on extending the meager dollars that come into our household & I thought I would share with you. This is a compilation of ideas we have come up with along with things I have found at other websites, but I have tried hard not to plagiarize. Where a link is necessary, I have included it. Hopefully, these tips will make it easier for you to save some money too:

  • Sign up for customer rewards programs in all stores in which you shop, even if you don’t shop there often. Yeah, I know this is a pain. I have had to add an extra ring to my key chain just to hold all those little key cards. However, I just found a GREAT site to fix this problem: where you can add up to 8 barcodes from your various cards and create just one card! Also, set up a Gmail or Hotmail account for the email so you don’t fill your email account with spam.
  • Don’t charge anything that will not outlast the time it takes to pay it off! Boy, I wish we had stuck to this rule when I read it years ago!
  • Clean out those closets! If you don’t like the idea of having a yard sale, head to the consignment shop or ebay (how to sell on ebay link). This will give you more space, take away some of that guilt for not fitting into those pants, and simplify your life a bit.
  • Avoid convenience foods (premade foods, microwavable, etc.). I know, this is a hard one if you work outside the home. But, try to move towards freezer meals you make yourself. “Once a month” cooking is a great way to save money AND creates less insanity during dinner-time on the weekdays after work (also can help you buy less take-out and ready-made meals). When I was working full-time I did a lot of this type of cooking. Now if you have CFS or fibromyalgia, it might not be the best choice to spend the weekend cooking a months worth of meals (can you say: F-L-A-R-E?!) however, one good alternative is: when you do cook a meal, make it double or triple what you would normally do & freeze the balance. Eventually, you will have a nice stash in the freezer, and buying in bulk (larger packages or meats, etc) can help you save money as well.
  • Invest in a few (well-reviewed) books that offer budget tips, investing tips, etc., that fit your lifestyle – One that seems to be really well-respected is: The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness by Dave Ramsey. I actually just ordered this on Amazon and I am anxiously waiting for it to arrive.
  • My new favorite site is CRAIGSLIST! It is amazing the things you can find on there. Not only a plethora of yard sales and some free stuff, but lots of other stuff that you might need for your home & family. There is also a “barter” section where people can let you know what they have & what they would like to barter for. We recently got a great (and large!) dining room table for $40 and some retaining wall bricks (we have been wanting to put a small one in since we moved into our house) for less than half the price in the store. They were new, the people just got too many for their wall. We got almost our whole wall finished with these bricks (we need 17 more)!
  • I guess we have all thought about it, but I think there is no avoiding it any longer…it is time to start clipping coupons again. I used to do this a lot of in the late 80s, early 90s, but had stopped until recently (I didn’t have the time, it was too much of a pain, didn’t want to mess with the organizing, etc). Since I have started collecting coupons again I have found that a lot has changed! We are no longer limited to the Sunday paper inserts. There are many coupons you can print online. My favorite site is: (this site has most every coupon online at any given moment; saves a lot of time searching). Also, I found out you can buy coupons on ebay as well. Well, not the coupons per se but the “labor of clipping.” You can regularly get 100 coupons for $1-2 (plus shipping, which can range from $.50-2.00 – so, pay attention to shipping costs). In fact, while I was writing this I just won 100 coupons, all over $1.00 ea for $.99 + .59 shipping. Also, try doing some coupon exchanges with neighbors, friends, and relatives. This is something you can even do through the mail. But, make sure you are using the coupons wisely...see:
  • Buy a membership to your local children’s science & technology museum. They usually have great kid-friendly exhibits and a cool playground. You can then visit there as often as you wish AND, the pass usually allows you free (or 2 for 1) entrance into tons of other museums all over the country. Many museums have scholarships as well if you cannot afford the yearly pass.
  • Speaking of scholarships: back when my girls were younger (and I was a single mom) we have very little money to do any kind of recreational activities. The city parks & recreation department often had not only affordable activities, but scholarships. I usually ended up paying a very small fee or nothing for them to participate in swimming lessons, ballet, karate, art classes, etc.

OK, this post is getting rather long! Let’s call it “part one” and I will add a “part two” later.


Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Are you addicted!?

OK, I have been “shamed” into posting a new blog :-) Things have been up & down for me lately. I guess I have been neglectful. Anyway, here is my BIG tip for the day as part of my “Jane of all Trades” and in the spirit of leading to some sort of recovery of health.

Addictions abound in our world today. However, few seem so innocuous yet in reality are as awful is addiction to over-the-counter nasal sprays. I don’t care what the Mayo Clinic says, those of us who have spend decades PHYSICALLY ADDICTED to these things can tell you that it is an addiction! I had a 20 (yes, twenty!) year addiction to the stuff and I can tell you, it is an addiction!

Most every addict of this stuff knows the drill: one in the car, one in the nightstand, one in the bathroom, one in your desk at work…and so on. You don’t use it every 12 hours (as the directions suggest), but every 4 or 2 or even 1! Without it, the rebound congestion makes you feel as if you cannot breathe. It is not just stuffiness…it is a feeling of suffocation! Addiction seems better than suffocation!

Most know of the possible damage: we are destroying our nasal cavity. Blood vessels can burst in the sinuses the mere cycle of engorgement & shrinking of tissues eventually destroy the nasal passages. “The nasal lining may become atrophied over time. Atrophy is scarring of the inside lining of the nose, which may cause irritation, bleeding and over drying.”
It is rare, but sometimes the erosion of the lining is so bad that septum perforation occurs. Nasal surgery may be required when the damage is this severe. I firmly believe that all the dental problems I have with (almost exclusively) my upper teeth are a result of my abuse of nasal spray.

Often the suggestion given to those of us who suffer is to use saline spray instead. Well, saline may help in some ways but it does not even come close to dealing with rebound congestion.

Another alternative that has been created is a hot pepper nasal spray!!!!!

No thank you!

Steroid nasal sprays are often an alternative given my doctors. That never helped me.

Then there is the “school” of detoxing one nostril at a time. That still drove me over the edge! Or, the suggestion of surgery (most often for a deviated septum) however, what you end up with after that surgery is a sinus cavity full of packing. You cannot breathe out of your nose for at least a week! !!!!!

Finally, there is an idea that jala neti, or nasal irrigation: “Nasal irrigation is a personal hygiene practice which involves flooding the nasal cavity with warm saline solution (salt water). The goal of nasal irrigation is to clear out excess mucus and particulates and moisturize the nasal cavity.”

OK, maybe healthier, but not all that convenient.

But, GOOD NEWS! There is way to get off nasal sprays!! It is actually pretty simple. It takes a little while but it is cheap & relatively painless. What you need is: 1) your brand of nasal spray in a “squeeze” type spray (this will not work with the fine-mist pumps because you cannot remove the top); 2) a bottle of saline nasal spray; and 3) a nail file, tweezers, or whatever you can use to take the top off the nasal spray bottle…you just have to pry it off a little.

Put away, throw away, or otherwise get out of reach any other bottles of spray, only work it one (a brand new, full one). Carry it with you. Put a mark on it, rubberband, whatever so you know which bottle you are working with.

On the first day, use it as you normally would. At the end of the day (or the beginning of the next), open the nasal spray & put about 12-15 drops of saline in the bottle of nasal spray. Return the cap. Use it as much as you normally would, or when needed the next day. At the end of the day open the nasal spray & add about 12-15 drops of the saline spray. DO NOT use any full strength sprays during this time. You can use the bottle you are using as often as you normally would or a little more. But if you use any full strength stuff it will set you back.

Do the same thing EVERY DAY and in about a month you will be using almost 100% saline, if you even need to use it at all!

This actually works!

After 20 years of almost daily use I have been off this stuff for over three years!

Stay tuned next time for a cheap & effective way to get rid of toe fungus…oh boy.

DISCLAIMER: I am not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV. Before implementing any of these suggestions see your healthcare provider. Seriously. And don’t blame me if you haven’t checked with the doctor first!