Sunday, February 28, 2010

Green and Frugal -- Book Review: Get Financially Naked

Here's another great post and book review from our friends at The Greenest Dollar...


Most of you have probably heard that money is the #1 reason why people get divorced. But, you might not know that over 70% of couples get divorced because of money issues. Either they don’t have enough of it, or a couple’s philosophy about money is completely different.

I just finished reading Get Financially Naked: How to Talk Money with Your Honey, and it’s a book that I think everyone, married or not, needs to read. Why?

Because it teaches us how to communicate with our partners about money.

The authors, Manisha Thakor and Sharon Kedar, both CFAs, make an excellent point in the introduction: if you’re willing to get naked with someone in a committed relationship, then you should be willing to get financially naked as well. This means openly discussing your income, what you owe, what your spending and saving habits are, and what your financial goals are.

Think about the consequences of not doing this.
  • What if you’re an avid saver, but you’ve married someone who spends as if money’s going out of style? Every time you try and talk to them about it, the conversation quickly dissolves into a power struggle.
  • What if you’re a shop-a-holic, but feel you have to hide your credit card statements so your partner won’t see how much you’re spending? Every time they confront you about it, you feel attacked. Instead of communicating, you withdraw or fight back.
  • What if your partner seems like he or she has their financial house in order, but you’re too afraid to ask because you don’t want to seem like a “gold digger”. As a result, you stay in the dark.
  • What if you want to ask about your partner’s finances, but can’t bring yourself to do it because you feel it’s just too intrusive? Again, the result is that you stay in the dark and don’t know where you stand, or what you’re getting into.
These situations are common, and they should be a warning flag that the relationship could be headed for trouble. The biggest hurdle for most people is the first step: starting an open, honest conversation with their partner about money. But, Get Financially Naked teaches us exactly how to do that.

The great thing about Get Financially Naked is that although it’s a financial book, it’s written in a very warm, conversational tone. This book reads like you’re sitting at your kitchen table with a trusted friend. The book is written mainly for women, but it’s by no means “for women only”.

I also loved this book because it was so empowering. With each chapter you start to feel stronger. Why? Because the authors give concrete, useful strategies for taking control of our finances, defining our dreams, and for talking to our partners about our financial goals.

The authors use the stories from real, everyday women to drive these points home. And some of them just make your heart hurt.
  • Nicole is a stay at home mome who wants to spend some money to travel and broaden her kids’ horizons. But, she fights with her husband because he think it’s not a good use of their joint funds, and won’t allow it.
  • Kit is an experienced family law professional whose day-trading spouse took the household’s hard earned savings and gambled it away-all while she watched, without the heart to tell him to stop. Now, at 60, she’s divorced and starting all over from financial ground zero.
  • Anika is a newlywed who can’t stop fighting with her husband about money, something they never discussed when they were dating. When she asked him about funding and IRA for her, he accused her of thinking about leaving him.
These heartfelt stories are peppered throughout this book. But the good news is that this book can help stop these cycles from happening again and again. Get Financially Naked teaches us that money does not have to destroy a relationship. But we have to know how to communicate in order to grow together.

One of the sections I liked best was called “Are You Dating a Deadbeat?”

This was a great little list of red flags that could mean your partner is not financially compatible with you.

For instance…
  • Does your partner avoid answering calls on his or her phone? It’s possible that bill collectors are calling.
  • Does your partner ask you to co-sign or buy things in your name, promising to pay you back? Um…something smells fishy here…
  • Does your partner have a large but sparsely furnished home or apartment? They could be living beyond their means.
There’s also an awesome questionnaire that helps you see if you’re financially compatible with your partner.
I wish I could go into everything this book covers. The authors did a great job covering issues that many of us don’t like talking about. For instance…
  • What financial obligations do you have with your partner’s family (parents, kids from another marriage, etc.)
  • What do you do if your partner doesn’t think you need to talk about your shared finances?
  • How do you talk to your partner about retirement, and then create a sustainable, long-term plan together?
  • If your boyfriend/girlfriend owns a home, and you’re moving in, should you pay for part of the mortgage and home improvements?
I don’t often say that a financial book is easy to read, but this one is. It has tons of sub-headings and bullet points, which makes relevant information really easy to find. And because of the authors’ warm writing style, and all the personal stories, you can easily see how much this information applies to you.

Have any of you read this one yet? If so, what did you think about it?

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Friday, February 26, 2010

TGIF: Get Cookin' With Some Frugal Recipes

If you're anywhere near the Northeast, chances are you're snowed in. What better way to pass than time than with some frugal cooking? Here are some recipes I found:
Let me know what your favorite snowy day recipe or meal is -- I'd love to hear from you!

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Thursday, February 25, 2010

Frugal Tip Thursday: Buy Coupons on Ebay

Have you ever shopped Ebay for coupons? Yes, I was shocked too when my husband told me about it. We're in the middle of completing some home renovations. Many of the supplies are coming from -- you guessed it -- Lowes.

Here's the deal my husband was able to score:

10 coupons for $10.50 for 10% off Lowes (savings of up to $500 through June 2010) (shipping was a first-class stamp)

We just purchased $4,000 in new flooring and a $350 ventless heater. Just those two purchases alone saved us $435, well worth the cost of the coupons.

When making large purchases, be sure to shop Ebay for coupons.

Have you used Ebay to find coupons? Do you have another way of scoring coupons?

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Monday, February 22, 2010

Green and Frugal: Gotta Save More Money

My husband and I are shopping for a new car, or I should say a new/used car. We're close to buying and it's dawned on us that we're going to shell out $15k-$16k. Needless to say, we're getting buyer's remorse before we've even made a purchase.

What's really eating at us is how much money we need to put up. So today's post is focused on SAVING MONEY! Everyone can use a few more ways to either generate more money or save what you're already making. Here are some great posts to help you (and me) get on the road to more savings:

What's your favorite money-saving tip? I need all the suggestions I can get!

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Thursday, February 18, 2010

Frugal Tip Thursday: Slow Down

Here's another great post from our friends at The Greenest Dollar...

A Novel Idea: The Slow Home Movement

My life has been feeling pretty hectic lately. It feels as if I’ve got too many balls in the air,  that I’m too plugged in, too “in motion” all the time. It feels as if I’ve just been skimming on the surface of things, going too quick to really absorb and reflect on the thoughts and information I’m processing all the time.

I’m sure you’ve had that feeling before. In fact, I’d be willing to bet that most of you feel like this a good deal of the time. Rushed. Overstimulated. Out of control. Stretched too thin.

It’s not good!

The point here is that I’ve just been feeling frazzled, and I’m not sure when I became so obsessed with Getting Things Done. I’ve been trying to figure out how to fix it, but I couldn’t really put my finger on what was wrong, you know?

Well, I was on Facebook yesterday (of course!) when Planet Green posted a great article on the Slow Home Movement.

As soon as I read it, I was like YES! This is what I’ve been searching for!

I was so excited that I couldn’t wait to share this with all of you.

The Slow Home Movement

Author Shannon Honeybloom just wrote a book called Making a Family Home. And, it’s all about how to create a slow home.

According to Shannon, a slow home is all about creating a slow, nurturing environment where you do everything from cleaning to cooking with thoughtful intention. It’s about putting rhythms and rituals back into your life. It’s about giving yourself permission to do nothing. It’s about creating enough time to be bored and to let your mind wander.

To me, this just sounds lovely. After all, when was the last time you were bored? For me, it’s been ages. I’ve always got too much to do to be bored.

But, that’s the whole point. Most people do too much. We’re Facebooking and Twittering. We’re watching hours of TV a day. We’re taking our kids to endless events and playdates, helping with homework, cleaning, cooking, checking email on the Blackberry…it never ends!

As a result of this crazy pace. we’re more stressed out than ever. The human mind needs, and craves, empty time to think and be creative. But, most of us are too busy to give it this luxury.

The Slow Home Movement is the direct response to this frenetic pace. It’s a way for us to learn how to slow back down.

So how do we do it?

How to Create a Slow Home

So, how can we create a slower home?

Well, I couldn’t find a ton of information online. And, I haven’t bought the book (since I just learned about it yesterday) so I don’t know what’s in there.

But what I did find, and come up with on my own, is this:
  • Set limits on TV and Internet time. Close the door to your home office.  Lock it if you have to.
  • Take time to have a slow breakfast with your family at least once per week. Light candles, make pancakes, and visit with each other.
  • Take baths. Long ones. With candles.
  • Stop multitasking. Science has proven that our brains truly can only focus on one task at a time. So, do one task well, instead of two poorly.
  • Stop being afraid to take a nap. They’re not just for seniors and toddlers.
  • Drink a cup of tea. But instead of drinking it while you’re on the phone, or writing an email, or vacuuming the floor, drink it in an actual chair, while you’re staring out the window.
  • Talk slower. Instead of just using words to get information out as fast as possible, think about what you’re saying. Remember, conversation used to be an art form. To learn more about this, read Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.
  • Consider reading Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort of Joy. I bought this book years ago, and forgot all about it until I was looking for ideas to slow down. I dug it out of my bookshelf this afternoon, and wondered why the heck I hadn’t picked it up in so long. This lovely book is full of essays, geared towards women, on how to slow down and find your “authentic self”. The writer, Sarah Breathnach, is amazing. She’s warm and intuitive, and reading this book is like getting to talk to a great friend who understands exactly how frazzled you are, and who has the wisdom to guide you through it. There is one essay for every day of the year, and they’re all delightful.
  • Follow the advice of Zen Habits: if you were going to take tomorrow off, and spend it entirely by yourself, what would you do? This no-holds-barred look can really put you in touch with what your heart’s been trying to tell you you need.
Last Word…
I’m declaring, here and now, that I’m going to make the effort to create a slow home. I have to. All I have to do is look at my desk, which is currently scattered with papers and books and unfinished projects, to know that I’ve been doing too much.

I need to get back to a time when I don’t wake up at 6 a.m. and immediately head upstairs to start working. Or, rush through my workout so I can “get back to work”. I need to get over the fierce drive to create something everyday, to knock stuff off my list, to have an uber-clean house. It’s just too exhausting!

I’d love to hear back from all of you on this. What do you do to slow down? Have you heard about this Slow Home movement? If so, how have you created a slow home?

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Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day -- 21 Worst Valentine's Gifts

I hope your enjoying some quality time with your loved one, family or friends. Enjoy!

Today's post is courtesy of our friends at

Breaking Up is Easy to Do: 21 Terrible Valentine's Gifts

The saddest Facebook Group I've ever seen is dedicated to Valentine's Gifts and has only two members -- both of whom founded the site. I'd like to think this represents a wholesale rejection of the commercially bogus holiday, but possibly it just reflects poor marketing or a lack of interest on the part of the founders. More likely it's the latter as a 2009 study revealed eight-million Americans send themselves Valentine's Gifts each year. As one of the millions of singletons definitely not looking forward to Valentine's Day this year, I thought it only appropriate to compile a lengthy list of gifts to give your loved one if you'd like to join the ever-expanding crowd of single Americans.

bittersweet bathroom scale
1. Bittersweet Bathroom Scale
UncommonGoods -- $95
Also recommended by our good friends at the InventorSpot, this bathroom scale is insulting decorated with bon-bons and replaces the numbers on the dial with such sickening-sweet affirmations as, "simply ravishing" and "I'm a perfect 10." (Excuse me. I think I just threw up a little bit in my mouth.) The product description says it will "lighten the mood," but reminding a woman why she has a fat tire around her waist isn't usually a great way to cheer her up or get her in the mood for some romping.

anatomically correct chocolate hearts
2. Anatomically Correct Chocolate Heart
From, "a mortuary novelty shop." -- $16.95 says, "Our favorite is the one-pound, anatomically correct, solid milk chocolate heart, which...would make a perfect Valentine's Day gift for that heart surgeon who saved your life after performing a triple bypass on you. Although he'd probably then lecture you about avoiding animal fat and milk chocolate, so as not to need his services in the future."

3. Biojewelry From Your Own Bones
Biojewellery Project -- Priceless says, "Why go to Tiffany's for a wedding band when you can have one grown from your own bones? Biojewellery of London uses a four-step process to turn bone chips from your jaw into skeletal circlets of your everlasting devotion."

breast implants
4. Gift Certificate for Breast Implants
See the plastic surgeon of your choice -- $4 ,000 to $8,000
The viral YouTube video "5 Worst Valentine's Day Gifts" suggests you're likely to get a slap in the face when she opens this gift certificate -- unless you live in L.A., of course.

hello kitty contacts
5. Picasso Contact Lenses -- $25/pair
These truly disturbing, three-toned lenses will turn your lover's eyes into a cubist Picasso painting. Not into fine art? Try their Magic Disco Lenses in day-glo colors. The Klyque Lingerie Blog recommends the "Hello Kitty Contact Lenses," but the illustration appears to be Photoshopped. Watch out if she squeals with glee when you present these babies.

adult footie pjs
6. Adult Footie Pajamas
JumpinJammerz -- $44.95
Recommended by HipMomsWhoWork, who says, "No one over the age of seven should ever wear footie pajamas." Guess I'm a major dork because I immediately ordered a pair. Still, I'd be pretty appalled to receive a babyfied PJ on Valentine's Day -- particularly the "drop drawer" style.

high maintenance underwear
7. "High Maintenance" -- $18.40
The fabric may be 95-percent cotton and oh-so-breathable, but what woman -- or man, for that matter -- wants to be informed quite this bluntly you think they're "high maintenance.

8. The Razorba Back Shaver
From -- $29.99
You may be totally grossed out by his (or her) fuzz-covered back, but it's less than wise to tell your Honey Bear he needs to loose the back rug. humorously (we hope) asks, "if they make an extended handle so you can shave your butt?"
flat-d fart filter
9. The Flat-D Fart Filter
PrivateWay -- $14.99
Men might find this the perfect gift but women will smack you over the head for suggesting they ever fart. PrivateWay proudly says, "Now you can enjoy farting without hurting others. The comfortable filter pad fits inside your underwear and diffuses the smell of bad gas." Apparently the Flat-D (stands for flatulence deodorizer) was originally designed to defend against chemical warfare.User Comment: "Maybe I can get my co-worker to put one over his mouth?" --BM

Cell phone flask
10. The Cell Phone Flask -- Because You're a Lush
CellPhone Flasks -- $10.95
Because nothing says "I love you but you drink too much" like a four-ounce flask advertised as the perfect accessory for those who never want to be without their vice. The carrying case features a convenient belt clip, so you can keep your liquor close.

lice meister
11. LiceMeister Comb -- $9.95/16-count box
What better way to tell your loved one his/her love doesn't really scratch your itch -- it's the microscopic bugs that have you jumping. As a special bonus, the LiceMeister with a Critter Card, helps you identify the difference between lice eggs (nits) and normal hair debris (dandruff).

head whipes
12. Bald Guyz Head Wipes
BaldGuyz Consumer Products -- $4.99
Let your baldy know his sweating chrome dome appalls you with these handy head wipes. says, "Not only are you pointing out your guy is losing his hair, you're accusing him of being unable to perform possibly the most simple hygiene task imaginable. Who needs special head wipes to care for a bald scalp? I mean, if he could wash his hair before he started balding, I'm pretty sure he can wash his bare head now."
love bandit
13. Love Bandit Bear

From Vermont Teddy Bear  -- $69.95
This sickeningly sweet stuffed bear is dressed in a "dashing" black shirt with an embroidered red heart and carries a bag of heart-shaped candies "to sweeten the deal." In PointlessBanter's insightful post "Crap Women Don't Want for Valentine's Day," the blogger notes, "The last time a grown man gave her a pantless stuffed animal and used the phrase “Love Bandit” she ended up having to testify in open court. And don’t believe the commercial, guys."
musical framed love pjs
14. Personalized Musical Framed Love  -- $54.99
Talk about ewwwww! Because there's nothing quite so egotistical as giving your lover a framed photo of yourself with a tiny music box that tinkles, "Having My Baby" or "Muskrat Love."
lunar acre
15. One Acre of Land on the Moon, "Earth's oldest, most recognized celestial real estate agency." -- $29.99 to $59.99
You promised her the moon and gave her a lousy lunar acre? Since 1980, over 300 million moon acres have been sold as entirely useless gifts. But wait, there's more! The premium package includes lunar documents listing the actual location of your acre by quadrant. Upgrade to continent-sized parcel of five-million-plus acres for just $13 million and she'll be thrilled you blew all that money on something so utterly inane.User Comment: "I’d much rather have a membership in the Bacon of the Month Club than, say, an acre of moon property. Heck, I’d rather have one slice of bacon than lunar real estate." --Jax

stuffed animal faces
16. Stuffed Toy Version of Your Face -- $65
Makes the perfect punching bag if you're planning to dump your partner on Valentine's Day. Just add a few strands of your hair before wrapping.

flutter faries
17. Flitter Fairy
Top Notch Gift -- $19.95
An excellent gift for any girl, as long as she's under 10 years of age. Give a fairy to an adult woman and she'll begin to wonder if you truly are just a Metrosexual. According to the sucrose-sweet copy, "Flitter Fairies™ magically flit and fly all around you with enchanted flapping wings! It’s easy to guide your fairy with your magic wand!" Make sure you check out the promotional video on the product page.

adam and eve photos
18. Your Faces on Adam and Eve Artwork
MyDavinci -- $44.45
Imagine your photos seamlessly transformed onto Adam and Eve's faces by professional artists. Ack! Also available in 27 other styles. Fig leaves included. Older couples may enjoy the American Gothic version.

i comes before you
19. "I Comes Before U" T-shirt

Better Than Pants -- Reduced to $9 from $17.99 (Can't imagine why)
Let your love know they're a raging egotist with this white cotton shirt. Comes in up to 5XL, for that extra added insult. But the "You'll Do" T-Shirt for yourself and sleep on the couch for a year.

marriage counselor
20. Electronic Matrimonial Mediation Marriage Counselor
Uncommon Goods -- $125
Why pay for a marriage counselor when you can let a machine solve your disputes. A spin of the wheel offers 10 different humorous, yet helpful, illustrated suggestions. "Makes a great gift for newlyweds." Yeah, right!

8 bit dynamic life shirt
21. 8-Bit Dynamic Life Shirt: Measures Proximity to Your Lover
ThinkGeek -- $24.99
I've saved the tackiest for last. One shirt's for you, one for your lover. Whenever you're both "in range," the pixilated hearts on the chest start brightly glowing, "letting you know you're close enough to hug." If you can't figure that out without a shirt, something is drastically wrong with your relationship. Make sure you check out the  lame sales video on the ThinkGeek site.

What's the worst Valentine's Gift you've ever received?

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Saturday, February 13, 2010

Green and Frugal -- 9 Tips for Better Fuel Efficiency

I'd like to share some tips on reducing your fuel consumption from our friends at

With gas prices slowly climbing back toward the $3-per-gallon range, its both environmentally and economically vital that drivers become more mindful when it comes to using gas. 

1. Choose Wisely
Not everyone can afford to replace a gas guzzler with a fuel-efficient car. If you are in the market for a new car, however, why not invest in a high-mileage, fuel-efficient vehicle? The U.S. Department of Energy has compiled a comprehensive list of the most fuel-efficient cars, beginning with the Toyota Prius (51 mpg city/48 highway) down to the Lamborghini Roadster (8 mpg city/13 highway). Of course, if you can afford a Lamborghini, you likely don't care about the price of gas.

2. Maintenance Tips
Keep tires inflated properly and next time buy low-rolling-resistance tires. Keep an eye on your mileage and, if you notice it slipping, check for engine or brake problems. Regularly schedule oil changes and tune-ups, according to the guidelines in your user's manual. Check for worn spark plugs, dragging brakes, and low transmission fluid. While you're at it, have your wheels aligned, tires rotated and replace a dirty air filter.

3. Drive Sanely
Drive like Evel Knievel and you'll pay for the thrill. Wind resistance increases dramatically with speed so, for every mile per hour over 55 you drive, your fuel economy goes down by 2 percent. Speeding, sudden braking and jack-rabbit starts are notoriously inefficient ways to drive. Not only will driving sanely maximize your fuel efficiency but it will also reduce wear and tear on your vehicle.

4. Smooth It Out
The Environmental Protection Agency recommends "smoothing" your driving by accelerating and decelerating gradually and anticipating stops and starts. If you have an overdrive gear, use it as soon as your speed is high enough. If you drive a manual transmission, shift to a higher gear smoothly and as soon as possible without bucking. As the Car Guys say, "Believe it or not, due to an unexplained Einsteinian time warp, you'll also get to your destination in about the same time."

5. Think Ahead
Plan your stops and combine trips to avoid extra driving. A warmed-up engine and catalyst operates more smoothly, so combining several short trips into one can make a big difference. Avoid rush hour and you'll spend a lot less time idling and wasting gas.

6. Clean Up Your Act
Remove all that extra crap you've been toting around for ages. Carrying an extra 100 pounds reduces fuel economy by roughly one percent.

7. Don't Warm It Up
Unlike many older cars and trucks, modern vehicles don't need to warm up. They have automatic chokes so you don't need to step on the gas pedal before starting the engine. The majority of vehicles only need 30 seconds to warm up in cold weather. The best way to warm up a vehicle is to drive it slowly until it reaches proper operating temperature.

8. Fill-er-up With Regular
Unless your owner's manual says otherwise, your vehicle will be just as happy with regular gasoline. Premium, high-octane fuels improve neither fuel economy nor performance and will just waste your money.

9. Prudent Parking
Park in the shade on hot days to minimize fuel evaporation. Clean out the garage and use it as much as possible to keep your vehicle cool in summer and warm in winter. If you have to park outdoors, windshield shades can cut down on summer heat and reduce frost in the winter.

Want more money-saving tips? Check out

How do you save money when it comes to your gas tank?

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Friday, February 12, 2010

TGIF: Get Ready for Valentine's Day

Not quite ready for Valentine's Day? (It's on Sunday in case you were wondering.) I plan on making some heart-shaped pancakes for the kids and hubby. This is a true treat considering I'm rarely found cooking in the kitchen.

Here are some last minute, green and frugal Valentine's Day ideas no matter how you plan on spending the day:

Let me know what you did for Valentine's Day.

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Thursday, February 11, 2010

Sick of the Snow Yet?

If you live anywhere near the East Coast, you've probably had your fill of snow this week. And supposedly there's more to come next week -- NOOOOOO!!!

It's funny how you don't think about what a snow day costs you (aside from the aggravation of your children fighting all day while you're trying to work from home and your husband is trying to dig out).

Here are some costs you may not have thought about:
  • Sick or personal day if your job doesn't enable you to work from home
  • Gas (if you're plowing your own driveway)
  • Cost to pay a plow service
  • Ice melt
  • Snow shovel
Regardless of what it costs you, the pictures are usually priceless...

Doesn't look like we'll be gardening any time soon.

The kids couldn't get enough of the their mouths.

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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Valentine's Chocolate Choices

A better, luscious, chocolate choice for Valentine's Day

Chocolate is a beautiful thing. Aside from the fact that it tastes good, chocolate, especially dark chocolate, contains a dizzying mix of over 300 naturally occurring chemicals and compounds including high concentrations of flavonoids, (plant-based pigments that act as antioxidants, decrease inflammation, and lower blood pressure and cholesterol). 

Chocolate also is known to make us feel less depressed (thanks to substances that stimulate a pleasure center in the brain), and more alert (due to a substance often confused with caffeine).

But while chocolate has all these amazing qualities, there is a dark side (pun intended). Chocolate as most of us grew up with in the U.S., contributes to deforestation, loss of wildlife habitat, pesticide use and injustices such as forced slavery and child labor. Makes the idea of chocolate as a gift, a little less sweet.

Fortunately, more and more companies are voting for people-, animal- and planet-friendlier practices when it comes to chocolate and sourcing cacao from ethically and ecologically sound sources.

There are three things to look for if you want to choose chocolate with a clear conscience:

1.      Certified Organic means not only that the cacao beans are organic, but other ingredients like sugar and flavorings are as well.

2.      Certified Shade Grown. The reason? When forests are cleared in order to grow cacao, more chemicals are necessary and migratory birds are deprived of territory and begin to disappear. Shade grown coffee creates habitat for birds and contributes a diverse ecosystem. (Look for the Rain Forest Alliance Certification.)

3.      Fair Trade Certified. Workers harvesting the beans are paid and treated fairly

Is triple certified chocolate more expensive? Often, yes. But here's a suggestion. Instead of purchasing a heart-shaped box filled with chocolates that are not so good for your love or the planet, buy fewer, but make them count. 

Place them on a beautiful dish and set aside a time to enjoy them together with your love on Valentine's Day. Make eating them a premier event. Notice how beautiful they are. Unwrap each carefully, Inhale their aroma, then slowly let them melt on your tongue. Talk to your love about the sensation. A single chocolate--shared--and enjoyed in this full-sense way, can obliterate any thought of a big red box.

For the consumer this Valentine's Day, it's easier than ever to find chocolate that is Certified Organic, Fair Trade Certified and even Certified Shade Grown (though the last is not as commonplace as the first two). In this case, more is better. When you find chocolate with all three certifications, you know you've chosen the best, safest and most ethically produced chocolate for your love. 

But if you can find chocolate with two or even one certification, you're still making a better choice. And while you're buying, you can always suggest to the chocolate maker that you'd love to see their chocolate triple certified. 

You can make a difference by buying chocolate! Who knew? 

Top picks for great chocolate choices this Valentine's Day
  • Lavender truffles from Sjaaks
  • Dark ornage chocolate from Equal Exchange
  • Dagoba's raspberry bar
  • Endangered Species milk chocolate with peanut butter

    Lynn Colwell and Corey Colwell-Lipson are mother and daughter and co-authors of Celebrate Green! Creating Eco-Savvy Holidays, Celebrations and Traditions for the Whole Family, available at  

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Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Frugal Tip Tuesday -- Create a Price Book

This week's tip is one I've been meaning to do since 2010 kicked off. And now I'm finally going to start it.

The best way to know whether or not you're getting a good deal is through a price book. What's a price book? Essentially, you track your most purchased grocery items and see what is the best price that you can get the item. When you see it at that price, you know to stock up.

It can seem overwhelming at first (hence the reason that I've waited so long.) To get started, pick your top five most purchases groceries. Then, create a column for the store name, price and weight. Tracking the cost per unit will enable you to get a more accurate view of the cost.

As you get more comfortable with your price book system, you can gradually add more grocery items. The best part of your price book is always knowing when you'll pay the lowest price.

Do you currently use a price book? How does it work? Any tips you'd like to share?

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Friday, February 5, 2010

TGIF: Best Blog Posts of the Week

Let's celebrate Friday with some great green and frugal blog posts. From recipes to money-saving tips, you'll find it all right here:

Did you see any posts that I may have missed? Let me know!

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Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Frugal Tip Tuesday -- Hit Those Sales

As a Green and Frugal Momma, I try to limit clothes shopping for myself (it's such a weakness of mine). However, over the past few days, I've hit some amazing sales where I was able to get discounted, high-end clothes for a fraction of what they normally cost. Plus, I got a bag full of clothes for my kids at Children's Place for free!! (Okay, almost free...but I consider gift card shopping 'free').

Tues., Jan. 26 -- Children's Place
I head to Children's Place to use a $25 gift card that my daughter received as a birthday gift. My son desperately needs jeans (nearly every pair have a hole in one knee and they're short (aka floods), so I also check out what's available in his size. The prices are considerably marked down. Boys jeans on the sale rack are $7.99 (a bargain from the original $19.50 price). However, when I get to the register, every single item rings up for $3.99. So I run around the store like a crazy lady grabbing more clothes.

Final spend: $24.62
What I bought: 2 shirts and one pair of jeans for my daughter and four pairs of pants (cargo pants and jeans) for my son.

Wed., Jan. 27 -- Talbot's
Next stop is Talbot's. They feature lots of 50% signs, so I head right back to the sale racks. The 50% discount is for the lowest marked price. Score!

Final spend: $80
What I bought: lime green sweater twin set, two ruffled button-down cardigans, sequined burgundy shell/tank top (most of these items are normally $40-$80 a piece)

Thurs., Jan. 28 -- Ann Taylor
I had plans to meet a girlfriend for dinner at a restaurant in the Shops at Riverside, one of the more high-end malls. It includes Tiffany's, Louis Vitton, Coach, Burberry, etc. I head straight for one of my favorite stores -- Ann Taylor. Once again, I make a beeline for the sale racks. And once again, I score paydirt.

Final spend: $60
What I bought: black trouser pants, gun-metal gray sweater with funky ruffles down the front and a fuschia shell with cap sleeves. The pants were $19 (normally $80), the sweater was $29.99 and the shell was $9.88 (normally $65).

If you haven't figured out this week's tip, it's this: this time of year the stores are turning over their winter merchandise in preparation for the spring collections. Head for the sales racks and work those deals!!

Any recent sales where you scored a major deal? We want to hear about it!!

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