Friday, October 26, 2012

TGIF: Best Green & Frugal Blog Posts of the Week

I'm not sure where exactly October went. It was a blur of a month. Here we are just two short months from the December holidays. *Gasp*

But there's always time for some great blog posts. Check out this round-up and feel free to add any I may have missed:

    Let me know what you think, especially about the Life Hack blog post. Happy Friday!

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Thursday, September 27, 2012

4 Easy Ways to Make a Small Business Environment Greener

The thought of going green as a business owner sometimes feels a bit lofty. With payroll and
larger expenses to worry about, knowing that going green will take large commitment of both
your finances and time, it often feels like something better left alone. However, there are plenty
of ways you can take charge as a business owner to make sure you're doing what you can for the
environment, and do it much more easily that you would have thought. Read on for some simple
ways to help your small business go green:

1. Use mugs instead of plastic or Styrofoam.
Using and re-using dishes in an office environment can get a little hairy. You never know how
well something has been cleaned, who has used it, and why that plate has been left in the sink for
two days. The trials and tribulations that often go along with sharing a kitchen space can just be
a little too distracting to bring into the workplace. So, you may have to provide things like paper
plates and plastic utensils just to keep the peace. But one easy way to help out where you can is
be mandating that employees bring their own mugs and use them every day, instead of providing
Styrofoam cups. This is a great way to cut down on your daily waste and keep one of the most
harmful landfill components out of the trash.

2. Recycle office-wide.
Make sure to place recycling containers throughout the office. If you only keep a place for your
recyclables in one area, employees will be less encouraged to head there every time they need
to throw a recyclable item away. Take the time to consider the work flow of your office, and
place recycling bins in corresponding areas. Place paper recycling under printers and next to
the trashcans near desks. Place plastic and aluminum in the kitchen. Also, consider purchasing
recycled paper products for your in-office needs.

3. Have employees turn off computers when they leave.
This simple step can save tons of electricity, depending on the types of computers you use in
your office. PCs use much more power than laptops, so, if your office depends heavily on PC
use, then you can save quite a bit of energy by taking moves to conserve power. And, with any
device, by turning the setting to sleep or hibernate, you will be using about a third of the power
you would normally use if you had kept it on, which is still significantly more than turning it of
all together. So, if possible, have employees completely shut down their computers when they
leave for the evening.

4. Don't print out what you can provide online.
Businesses get into the habit of printing out every important HR document, but there is no reason
to print anything out unless you actually need to. We may not think twice about the things we
print, but it really can be a waste of paper. Not to mention an unnecessary use of funds. Make
sure to speak with your office coordinator to let them know which types of documents should be
printed and which are better dispersed online.

Eliza Morgan is a full time freelance writer and blogger. She often writes where she specializes in small and independent business topics. If
you have any questions, email her at

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Monday, September 24, 2012

Four Free Outdoor Escapes to Reboot Your Green Spirit

Enjoy this guest post from John Egan...

When it comes to invigorating the human spirit, almost nothing beats time spent immersed in nature. Many of today's children are growing up with "nature-deficit disorder," a term coined by author and activist Richard Louv. Technology is not a substitute for the real-life experiences of exploring a pond, stream, or forest.

Finding a place to truly be surrounded by nature can be difficult, however, depending on where you live. Although simply watching two dragonflies play in the backyard can calm our nerves, there's an added benefit to getting to a place where no distractions exist from the natural world. City, state and even national parks are a great escape, but we often have to head far down a trail to escape the crowds.

In my travels, I've come to appreciate and enjoy the network of preserves owned and maintained by the Nature Conservancy. Unlike national and state parks, these sites are typically free to visit, an added bonus to families or individuals on a budget. Although they're easily searchable on the group's website, the preserves are well off of the typical tourist's radar, largely kept as local secrets.

If you're looking for an escape close to home or a chance to experience a city's underlying natural history on your next visit, here are four spots around the country worth visiting:

Hope Goddard Iselin Preserve -- Long Island, New York
Just west of Queens, this 42-acre preserve is free and open to the public during daylight hours. With deciduous forests left undisturbed for over 100 years, the woods of the Hope Goddard Iselin tract are an excellent place to find wild berries and birds, including white-winged crossbills and black-capped chickadees. Less than 30 minutes from the heart of New York City, the chance to disappear into the forest on a hiking trail is a rare treat and cherished escape.

Herrick Fen Nature Preserve -- Cleveland, Ohio
South of Cleveland, Herrick Fen offers a year-round respite into the much-vanished natural beauty of northern Ohio. Consisting of 140 acres with a boardwalk traversing over the boggy fen, the area is an herbalist's dream, full of St. John's wort, pennywort, goldenrod, and sundew (although the preserve asks that visitors stay on the trails and boardwalk to protect the species). The low-lying area was created by the slow progression of glaciers across the Great Lakes area. After a snow, the boardwalk can provide a protected traverse across a white wonderland, with the tracks of small mammals appearing throughout the preserve as they burrow through the snow.

Kathy Stiles Freeland Bibb County Glades Preserve -- Birmingham, Alabama
Just a short drive from Birmingham, this preserve is one of two places in the world to find the dwarf horse-nettle plant, a tiny flower that was believed to be extinct for 150 years until being rediscovered here in 1993. The Little Cahaba River flows through the preserve, which is open and free to visit during daylight hours. It's also home to the Brighthope Furnace, Alabama's earliest known ironworks, and trails through mature pine and hardwood forests.

Cosumnes River Preserve -- Sacramento, California
Minutes from California's capital city, the only remaining undammed river on the western slope of the Sierra Nevada mountains flows majestically and calmly through the valley. This massive 46,000-acre preserve includes hiking trails and canoe and kayak throw-ins, but biking and pets are not allowed, to protect the pristine natural environment. Wildlife flourishes here, including thousands of sandhill cranes who stop here during their migration. Hang out until sunset to watch the thousands of bats emerge from under the bridge over the Cosumnes River, and keep an eye peeled for otters playing in the water down below.

Take time to discover the beauty of the natural places where you live, and share your discoveries with your family. What hidden natural gems have you discovered close to home or on your travels?

John Egan is managing editor of the website Insurance Quotes, which provides online car insurance news and services to consumers in all 50 states. John's goal is to deliver high-quality content and Car Insurance Resources to drivers so they can make informed decisions about choices that affect their pocketbooks and their driving experience.

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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

5 Eco-Friendly Green Living Tips That Save Money

Scientific evidence for global warming is clear and irrefutable. According to Worldwatch Institute, an organization that focuses on environmental issues, the steps that people can take to reverse climate change are simple and lead to cost savings. An awareness of the need to protect our environment will lead people to implement these steps on a daily basis.

1. Reduce Energy Usage

There are many things that you can do each day to reduce the amount of energy consumed by your household. Less energy usage will show up every month in the form of lower bills for gas and electricity. One thing is to lower your thermostat during the winter heating season and raise it during the summer cooling season. Another is to use cold water to wash your clothes in situations where warm or hot water is not needed. When the washing cycle is over, you can save energy and money by drying your clothes on an outdoor clothes line or on an indoor drying rack instead of using a gas or electric clothes dryer. One other energy- and money-saving thing you can do at home is to replace your incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs). These bulbs help to reduce greenhouse gases by going through about 75% less electricity than ordinary incandescent bulbs while producing the same amount of light.

2. Avoid Bottled Water

Bottled water is expensive, and it generates a great deal of waste that often times winds up polluting the environment. You can save a lot of money and cut down on environmental pollution by installing a water filtering device on your kitchen faucet. This way, you get pure water without having to spend money on bottled water.

3. White Vinegar

Commercial household cleaners frequently contain harsh chemicals that get flushed down the drain and into the public waterways. White vinegar is a cheap alternative to commercial cleaning agents, and it cleans and disinfects without causing environmental harm.

4. Automobile Usage

If at all possible, you should cut down on the use of your car by walking or biking to wherever you need to be. Driving less reduces the amount of greenhouse gases released into the environment, and saves you money because you need to buy less gasoline. In addition, walking and riding a bike can help to keep you healthy so that your costs for medical care can be kept to a minimum. 

5. Use Rechargeable Batteries

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, batteries contain toxic metals like nickel, cadmium, lead and mercury. Simply throwing batteries into the trash when they are used up can lead to environmental pollution when the toxic metals get into ground water or into the air if the disposed batteries are incinerated. Buying rechargeable batteries not only reduces environmental contamination but also saves you money on battery purchases over the long term.

It is important for future generations that every citizen be a good stewart of our environment by keeping our air and water clean and free of pollution. It is also important that we take steps to reduce the emission of the greenhouse gases that come from burning fossil fuels. Everyone has the power to help accomplish these goals by making a series of small lifestyle changes that in the aggregate have a very large positive effect on the environment. It is a happy coincidence that many of these changes also lead to significant cost savings.

Jan Spears writes about green living, personal finance & more at

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Sunday, August 19, 2012

Best Blog Posts of the Week

How on earth is it Sunday already? Somehow Friday sneaked right by me, so this week's round-up will help you kick off a new week. I hope you enjoy this green and frugal blog posts:
  • 5 Rules for Handling Hand Me Downs -- If you have young children, hand-me downs and gently used clothing is a fabulous way to save money. They outgrow their clothes so quickly!
  • 15 Easiest Baby Gifts to Make -- Love when you can make a gift. Not only can you save money, it makes the gift that much more thoughtful and appreciated.

Are there any posts I forgot? I'd love to know which ones you enjoy.

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Monday, August 6, 2012

$5K in Savings: July Update

The summer is just flying by! Somehow we're already into August. Let's see how my little $5K savings experiment is progressing:

July Savings (as stated on the receipt)

Date          Store                            Total Spent        Savings (coupons and/or sales) 

July 1           ShopRite                                    $97.54                    $29.58
July 3         Five Below                         $20.33                  $5.00
July 8         ShopRite                            $143.92                $57.71
July 10       Bed Bath & Beyond             $68.66                  $12.00
July 13      ShopRite                              $68.78                  $9.24
July 14       A&P                                  $20.94                  $.70
July 16       ShopRite                            $141.03                 $78.22
July 23       ShopRite                            $139.14                 $56.88
July 23       Old Navy                           $66.16                   $39.88
July 27       ShopRite                            $77.30                   $10.59
July 28       Michael's                            $18.68                   $4.00
July 29       ShopRite                            $21.94                    $51.67

TOTAL SPENT = $455.47

I'm still striving for $400+ per month in savings hit the $5,000 mark.

Here's how the year is shaping up:

Jan. $481.66
Feb. $502.31
Mar. $585.83
Apr. $375.69
May $214.63
Jun. $347.64

July $455.47


So I'm now more than halfway. I need $2,036.77 in savings before Dec. 31, 2012 to reach my goal.

Stay tuned for more updates. I'd love to hear your tips on how I can save even more. Any tips for me?

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Monday, July 30, 2012

Ready to Win? Enter the Green and Frugal Living Giveaway

It's be awhile since we've hosted a giveaway. As someone who struggles to organize my meal prep, grocery shopping and menu planning, I think you'll enjoy our giveaway sponsor,

Food on the Table is both a web and mobile service that creates meal plans and generates grocery lists. After selecting food preferences and dietary needs, members can choose from various recipes that fit their lifestyle, and Food on the Table automatically builds a grocery list for each item needed. It then goes a step further by showing the user local sales on grocery list items. There is a free membership, but the paid membership gives you access to thousands of recipes and allows you to plan meals for a full week. It is meant to take the stress out of meal planning by providing recipes, organizing a grocery list, and fitting into your budget.

Food on the Table sounds like an ideal solution to organizing those frenzied evenings when you're trying to figure out what to have for dinner and then what you need from the store. What's not to love?

If you're interested in participating in the giveaway for a Food on the Table membership, here's what you need to do:
  1. Follow @allyjackson on Twitter
  2. Tweet about the giveaway
  3. Sign up for the Green and Frugal newsletter
  4. Follow the Green and Frugal blog
  5. Leave a comment below and let me know which of these you've completed.

For every step you take, you'll be entered into the giveaway. So you could have 5 possible entries.

The giveaway will end Aug. 12 at midnight. Winners will be announced by Aug. 15.

Good luck!!!

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Thursday, July 26, 2012

Top Blog Posts of the Week

The summer is flying by! It's been awhile since I shared the Top Blog Posts of the Week:

These are the just a few great articles. I'd love to hear from you. What posts did you enjoy this week?

Enjoy your summer and stay tuned for more green and frugal tips!

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Monday, July 16, 2012

What to Expect in Your Wallet’s Future: Frugality in the New Age

Once upon a time there was something called a wallet, which was used for holding cash, and something else called a phone which was used for conversing with people from far away. 

Technologies are developing at speeds that are no short of jarring, and today wallets and phones are no longer what they used to be.  Now you can use your phone to send email, plan your day, check the stock market, get cutting edge news, and wake you up in the morning amongst many other things.  Wallets too are going digital, and they are no longer going to need to be huge eyesores that men put in their back pocket, they are going right into the phone along with everything else. 

The Giants
I want to tell you about two of the payment processing giants, PayPal and Google, and how they are creeping out of cyberspace and into your wallet.  PayPal and Google have each released their respective versions of the newest concept in offline shopping.  The mobile wallet is a sort of hybrid payment processing concept that allows the consumer to have internet-like capabilities when shopping offline. 

Here are some of the features of the mobile wallet…
  • Security -- The security code makes the mobile wallet more secure than a regular wallet since, even if it is lost or stolen nobody can use it without knowing the code.

  • Convenience -- In many cases it is easier to pay for things using the mobile wallet, often allowing shoppers to skip the check-out counter altogether.

  • Financial Organization -- PayPal actually allows you to change your payment options even weeks after a purchase is made.  For instance, if you purchase something through Mobile PayPal with a visa card and without indicating that you want to pay in installments, you can change your mind later on and pay with a MasterCard with installments. 

  • Price Comparing -- Through a mobile it is now possible to scan a barcode on a product and find out about other stores in the area that offer the same product, including being able to compare prices.

  • Frugality in the New Age -- While the basic concepts of living frugally, like spend less than you earn, will probably never change, frugality strategies will need to develop with the times.  One way of preventing the inevitable difficulties of dealing with a mobile wallet is simply to avoid using that option.  But since there are definite financial advantages to using a mobile wallet let’s consider how best to use a mobile wallet frugally.

    Don’t spend money that you don’t have.  The newest PayPal advertising campaign is “Buy now pay later,” since even PayPal is now offering the option to users to purchase things without processing the order until later.  For anyone that reads this blog, the dangers should be obvious.

  • No Impulse Buying -- The mobile phone is making self-control more and more difficult for consumers since merchants can now send offers to mobile phones in their vicinity.  

  • Bargain Hunting -- Being able to compare prices by scanning bar-codes means that you can always find the best deals.  I just have two things to say about that though. If you find something that you like in one store and it is $5 cheaper in another store across town, considering the cost of time and transportation makes the “cheaper” item more expensive.

Be fair to stores, even though we all want to be more savvy consumers, if somebody helps you to find what you want at a store that is an expense for the store.  If the store is offering the product for a fair price it is arguably unethical to go and buy it somewhere else.

My suggestions and observations are certainly subject to debate, if you have anything to
add to what I said I would love to hear from you in the comments section.

Author’s Bio:
Rachel Walker is a FastUpFront Blog contributor and business consultant. offers an alternative to a small business loan based on future sales.

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Monday, July 2, 2012

$5K in Savings Update -- May & June

I seemed to have missed a month, so it's catch-up time. I've been plugging along on my cost savings journey. Let's see how we're faring:

May Savings (as stated on the receipt)

Date          Store                            Total Spent        Savings (coupons and/or sales)
May 4         ShopRite                        $7.71                       $1.30
May 5         ShopRite                        $13.81                     $3.14
May 6         ShopRite                        $13.12                     $7.48
May 7         ShopRite                        $129.41                   $76.26
May 10       CVS                               $3.21                      $0.54
May 16       ShopRite                         $32.43                    $22.74
May 16       Five Below                      $27.82                    $1.00
May 24       ShopRite                         $54.30                    $31.04
May 25       Kohl's                             $29.73                    $5.25
May 29       ShopRite                         $98.81                    $65.88

June Savings (as stated on the receipt)

Date          Store                            Total Spent        Savings (coupons and/or sales)
Jun. 1        Kohl's                                       $53.17                         $19.39
Jun. 1        CVS                                            $1.04                          $3.79
Jun. 3        ShopRite                                 $34.27                       $5.47
Jun. 7         ShopRite                                $55.44                       $38.51
Jun. 8          ShopRite                                $49.18                       $9.58
Jun. 13       ShopRite                                 $75.68                       $39.78
Jun. 15       ShopRite                                 $140.40                    $34.72
Jun. 16        A&P                                         $13.03                        $2.00
Jun. 19     ShopRite                                  $109.49                      $64.29
Jun. 20      Kohl's                                       $19.45                        $12.80
Jun. 21        ShopRite                               $5.82                           $12.99
Jun. 24        ShopRite                               $40.58                       $45.90
Jun. 26       Pathmark                              $11.39                        $8.58
Jun. 28       Kohl's                                      $27.26                       $10.92
Jun. 29       Old Navy                              $119.42                      $27.20
Jun. 29       Stop & Shop                       $30.85                          $11.72


While I was training for my figure competition (you can read all about it at, the food bill was a little crazy. So I didn't exactly hit my goal of $100 per week for my grocery shopping. Yikes! I'm still striving for $400+ per month in savings hit the $5,000 mark.

Here's how the year is shaping up:

Jan. $481.66
Feb. $502.31
Mar. $585.83
Apr. $375.69
May $214.63
Jun. $347.64

TOTAL = $2,507,76

So I'm now more than halfway. I need $2,492.24 in savings before Dec. 31, 2012 to reach my goal.

Stay tuned for more updates. I'd love to hear your tips on how I can save even more. Any tips for me?

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Thursday, June 21, 2012

Paneling Up: Making The Switch to Solar

(Photo from Dept of Energy Solar Decathlon)
Switching to solar power doesn't have to require a second mortgage and a team of workers on your roof. Advances in solar technology now make it possible to take baby steps, switching a portion of your house's energy usage over to solar. In this article, we delve into the latest advances in the solar industry, explaining how these can be applied in your own home.

The first thing you want to do when consider solar technology in your home is to check the incentives. There are various websites that will give you regional incentive summaries. One great site for this is, which breaks down the rebates and incentives for solar power, state by state.

The following thing you should consider is the number of years you will be in your home, the affordability of traditional electricity in your state, and does your home even receive enough sunlight?
Solar panels only make sense if you plan to stay in your home for an extended number of years. When you move, you can't simply pickup your panels and throw them in the back of a U-haul. It's only a reasonable option if you don't plan on moving for the next 10-15 years. It's also worth noting that the upfront costs for a solar panel system can be expensive, and that's why you should be in your home for a long time for those upfront costs to pay for themselves.

Also, if you live in a state where traditional electricity is very affordable, solar may not even save you much money and it may ultimately not be worth it. Places with high costs make the most sense for solar like Hawaii, where electricity costs are through the roof.

And not all homes and parts of the country are created equal. You want a lot of roof space, you want that roof to be pointing towards the sun, and you want to live in a very sunny area of the country. Solar panels in the upper northwest of America – which receives much rain, may not make the most sense. Nor do densely wooded areas. You can get a solar panel installer to come to your home and give you a report on the viability of solar paneling for your home.

Lastly, you can get into the solar panel game slowly. Panels can be easily expanded so you can start small before ultimately working your way off the grid. There are a lot of DIY resources online that will give you tips and tricks like what to buy and where to buy. A good first hand knowledgebase is YouTube. People love showing off their customized solar panel systems. Solar panels can start as a pet-project and advance into a new way of living. There is nothing more fulfilling than saving money and going green! What are you waiting for?

About the Author
Bahram Nasehi is a Vice President and partner at Dulles Glass and Mirror. He is instrumental in the development and manufacturing of commercial and residential glass products including tempered glass, glass table tops and shower doors.

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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Green & Frugal Living: The Nuts & Bolts of Natural Building

Using Natural Materials in Various Aspects of Residential Construction
The philosophy behind natural building borrows heavily from natural resource conservation and principles of sustainability, but it takes those concepts to a new level. Rather than relying on technology to create new ways minimize environmental impact in the construction process, advocates of natural building rely on nature for the raw materials used in construction. With natural construction, resources readily available in one's local surroundings are collected and used to create shelter. The resurgence of natural building, as an alternative to traditional construction processes that rely on synthetic and processed materials, provides creative ways to use abundantly available natural resources in virtually all aspects of the construction process.

Using Natural Materials to Create a Home's Structure
Although wood framed construction has become the standard in the American residential construction industry, proponents of natural building often favor using locally available soil and sedimentary materials to lessen the burden on our nation's over-harvested forests. For example, adobe, cob, and rammed earth buildings use a mixture of sand, clay, and water, usually with some sort of binding materials included, to create the building blocks for a building. Adobe structures are built by stacking blocks made of the dried mixture of sand, clay, and water. In contrast, cob homes are created by shaping the sand, clay, and water mixture into a monolithic structure. Rammed earth involves the same process as cob, however, the sand, clay, and water mixture is packed onto a temporary surface which is removed when the mixture dries.

Although the process of constructing an adobe, cob, or rammed earth home is often labor-intensive, these homes are becoming more and more popular in the United States because the raw materials are so inexpensive. In addition, if constructed carefully, earthen homes have thick walls that are resistant to the elements and are very durable. Further, depending on the climate, structures built using these processes can conserve energy, resulting in lower utility bills.

For the ultimate in using nature to create a home's structure, earth-sheltered homes permit homeowners to basically live underground. Although not for everyone, living underground (or partially-underground) offers many advantages, including decreased energy consumption, fire resistance, and a quiet, sound-proof environment. Detractors point to the lack of natural light, but many designs of earth-sheltered homes are built into the side of a hill, for example, to make room for windows.

Cladding a Home with Natural Resources
Perhaps the most popular natural material used in exterior cladding in the United States is stone. Locally available rocks or stones can be stacked with natural mortar mixtures to create attractive, strong exterior walls. Cordwood provides another potentially environmentally sensitive cladding option. If small-diameter trees are abundant in an area, they can be cut into short pieces and stacked crosswise with mortar to secure them as cladding for a wood framed house. Even if this kind of wood is not plentiful locally, scraps from sawmills can also be used.

Wattle and daub could be a viable exterior cladding option for areas of the country that have a particularly mild climate. Wattle and daub is made by weaving thin branches that are reinforced with some sort of organic mixture made from natural materials such as mud, clay, sand, or manure. While the thin walls created by wattle and daub don't provide good insulation, thus making it uncommon in the United States, it has become more popular for certain interior applications.

Sustainable Roof Options
Thatched roofing was once regarded as an outdated craft, reserved for the inexpensive shelters of inhabitants of very poor parts of the world. However, today, thatched roofs are enjoying a resurgence in the United States, where environmentally conscious homeowners appreciate the rustic look and good insulation qualities that roofs created from dry vegetation provide. Although well designed thatched roofs can be pricey, they can be created by using local resources and can last up to twice as long as standard roof shingles. In contrast to thatched roofs, which are made of gathered or discarded dead vegetation, living roofs are covered with growing plants. Because of the cost of protecting the interior of a structure from leaks and accounting for root growth and irrigation, in the United States living roofs are most often associated with large commercial or multi-family buildings. However, some homeowners drawn to the concept have embraced the idea on a smaller scale by incorporating living roofs on outdoor patios and gazebos.

Nature-Inspired Floors
Two of the most common sustainable flooring options in the United States are bamboo and cork. Bamboo is a popular renewable resource because it is one of the fastest growing plants in the world and because harvesting it does not affect its roots. The attractive look of bamboo floors has made the product extremely popular throughout the country in recent years. The materials used in cork flooring come from the bark of the cork oak tree. Removing the bark does not damage the tree, and the resulting cork provides a floor covering that is durable, soft, and sound resistant.

If you have more traditional taste, several varieties of all natural carpet, which use no dyes or chemicals, are available on the market. In many cases, the carpet is biodegradable, so once it's removed from the home, it won't languish in a landfill for years.

This guest post is brought to you by Brent Hardy, the driving force for Extra Space Storage corporate responsibility through energy management and sustainability programs at Brent leads a conversation about sustainability at

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Monday, May 7, 2012

New Year's Resolution Update: $5k in Savings

Here we are in April. While I didn't save as much as the last few months, I'm still making progress.

Here are my April savings (as stated on the receipt):

Date          Store                            Total Spent        Savings (coupons and/or sales)
Apr. 2        ShopRite                        $100.97             $50.61
Apr. 4        Lowe's                           $886.86             $81.90
Apr. 5        Kohl's                            $8.04                 $19.50
Apr. 6        Bed, Bath & Beyond      $33.13               $7.00
Apr. 7        ShopRite                        $10.70               $11.45
Apr. 10      ShopRite                        $116.60             $44.30
Apr. 15      ShopRite                        $140.67             $65.92
Apr. 22      ShopRite                        $55.80               $16.96
Apr. 22      McDonald's                   $6.29                  $1.00
Apr. 23      Pathmark                       $26.55                $3.70
Apr. 29      ShopRite                       $197.94              $73.35


I fell off the wagon on hitting $100 per week for my grocery shopping. Ooops!! I've been trying to stock up when there are sales. I need to reel it in a bit. I'm hoping that I can start paring back from $150 a week, to $140, $120, etc.  My monthly savings goal in order to hit the $5,000 mark is $400+ per month.

Here's how the year is shaping up:
Jan.   $481.66
Feb.   $502.31
Mar.   $585.83
Apr.    $375.69
TOTAL  = $1,945.49

I'm just shy of the halfway mark. June will be telling. I need $3,054.51 in savings before Dec. 31, 2012 to reach my goal.

Stay tuned for more updates. I'd love to hear your tips on how I can save even more.

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Thursday, April 19, 2012

Save the Planet…Earth Day and Every Day With These 5 Delicious Tips

Get ready for the Earth Day with this great guest post from Tracy Adler -- Enjoy!

Every April 22nd, when Earth Day rolls around once again, we see the public renew its interest in protecting the environment and finding practical solutions for sustainability. There are benefit concerts, clean-up days, and eco-rallies; all dedicated to spreading the word on ways everyone can help preserve our planet's natural resources. However, one way we can all help is right there in front of us, every day. It's the food we choose to eat, and how we choose to eat it.

Here are five simple, “foodie” ways that you can help make a difference for the earth:

1)    Go organic. Yes, it’s more expensive sometimes. But pesticides and industrialized growing methods take a toll on our planet, our community, and even our own health. It's a good use of your money, and well worth the investment. And the more Americans that demand organic food – as most people in Europe now do – the more competitive the pricing will become.
2)    Support local food. This ties into going organic quite nicely, and often makes it more fiscally viable for those with tight budgets. Find the farmer's markets in your area and make the trip there a weekly, or even family, event. Another great movement gaining steam is CSA's (Community Supported Agriculture). With this, you make an initial deposit, and then you get weekly or monthly delivery or pick-up of fresh veggies and fruits from a local farm all through growing season (typically 6-8 months of the year). In most situations, you will save money, and be eating like a king! And if you don't have those options available in your community, at least take a second look at the labels on your food at the supermarket before you make your choices. For example, try not buy apples from Washington if you live in New York. It took precious fossil fuel for them to get there, and the local ones are probably also fresher. Going local is a win-win.

3)    Package your own. One of the worst things about packaged food is just that – the package! Our landfills and recycling centers are incredibly overburdened, and when we grab a “snack-size” bag of chips because it's “easier” we are doing the earth a bit of a disservice, and also often spending more money in the process. So when you know you have a family outing ahead, buy the larger package and divvy it up into snack-sizes for the kids. And it doesn't have to go into environmentally questionable plastic bags either. Eco-conscious companies such as Yum Yum Dishes are now selling snack-size, reusable, earth-friendly ceramic containers with lids. Less trash = better.

4)    Eat seasonally. We all get those occasional cravings for out-of-season food, and with most supermarkets offering tropically sourced produce year-round, it’s easy to forget foods even have a season. But again, we’re using a lot of precious energy to transport those more exotic choices. It doesn't have to be “all or nothing”, but next fall, think about making a pumpkin pie instead of a strawberry cobbler. It just makes more sense.

5)    Choose vegetarian… at least one day a week. There are tons of fabulous and delicious vegetarian meal choices out there, so make a commitment to trying one out even just once a week. Besides being a healthy idea, even one meat-less meal a week can and will make a difference to the planet. Eating meat is a personal decision, but the environmental effects of industrial ranching as it exists now are well-documented, and as we find better solutions, a once-a-week “bye” on meat helps the situation immensely.

Of course, you probably noticed that the benefit to all of these ideas isn't just on a global level. You are also helping your community, your family, and yourself by eating fresher and healthier, consuming more sustainably, and supporting local business. And long after Earth Day has passed us by, try to keep in mind that the environmental choices you’re making at the supermarket are way more than just “paper or plastic”. Responsibly choosing what you eat, and how you eat it, is a key decision in working towards a better planet for everyone.


About the Author:
A strong advocate in the fight against childhood obesity, Tracy Adler is a former restaurant owner and mother of two. She created Yum Yum Dishes™ to help parents teach their children about correct portion sizes. For more information, visit

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Tuesday, April 3, 2012

New Year's Resolution Update: $5k in Savings

Happy April! I feel like March was gone in the blink of an eye.  Before you know it, summer will be here!

I'd like to provide an update on my New Year's Resolution of saving $5,000 in sales and coupons.

Here are my March shopping trips (stated savings on receipts):

Date        Store          Total Spent          Savings (coupons and/or sales) 
Mar. 1       Macy's          $49.99                       $20.00
Mar. 3       McDonald's  $5.33                          $1.00
Mar. 4       ShopRite       $183.35                     $74.70
Mar. 10     Macy's          $15.34                       $48.25
Mar. 11     ShopRite       $89.94                       $46.29
Mar. 18     ShopRite       $139.51                     $97.62
Mar. 21     Target           $81.08                        $5.29
Mar. 22     ShopRite       $9.78                          $2.88
Mar. 24     Kohl's           $76.61                        $221.37 (they had some killer deals!)
Mar. 24     Macy's          $60.68                        $14.00 (this is a $300 Tahari suit!!)
Mar. 24     A&P             $8.70                          $3.18
Mar. 25     ShopRite       $13.51                        $4.40
Mar. 25     ShopRite       $89.73                        $45.97
Mar. 30     ShopRite       $4.56                          $0.88


I'm doing a little better on hitting $100 per week for my grocery shopping (except in the beginning of the month. LOL!). As that monthly cost goes down, so will my savings. As I say to my husband, you have to spend money to save money.  My monthly savings goal in order to hit the $5,000 mark is $400+ per month.

Here's how the year is shaping up:
Jan.   $481.66
Feb.   $502.31
Mar.   $585.83
TOTAL  = $1,569.80

Stay tuned for more updates. I'd love to hear your tips on how I can save even more.

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Friday, March 23, 2012

TGIF: Best Blog Posts of the Week

Was it me, or did this week seem especially long? I think I say that every week. Let's bring on the weeknd with the top blog posts. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.
  • 7 Times Not to Use a Coupon from Five Cent Nickel -- You heard that right, and I’m just as shocked as you are! But this article offers very good advice, including not using a coupon if buying the store brand is cheaper.
  • Save up to $1500 a Year on Laundry from Being Frugal -- While I haven’t tried making my own laundry detergent yet, I didn’t realize how much it could save you annually ($200+). Great tips you may – or may not – have already tried.
  • Segment Their Allowance from The Simple Dollar -- We recently started giving our 8-year-old an allowance and it’s been very interesting to see him try to stretch his money (e.g., sales, coupons, etc). Stay tuned for a future blog post on it.
  • Do You Know Your Monthly Nut? from My Journey to Millions -- This article clearly outlines where you need to start in order to figure out how to create a monthly budget. Knowing what your monthly bills are and how to optimize them are essential to the budget process.
As always, I'd love to hear which posts were your favorite. Which ones did I miss?

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Saturday, March 10, 2012

New Year's Resolution Update: $5k in Savings

How did March sneak up on us? Only a few short weeks until spring -- you've gotta love it!

As I mentioned in my New Year's Resolution post, one area I'm trying to focus on is creating a decent price book (still working through that -- way more work than I first thought) and saving $5,000 in sales and coupons.

Here are my February shopping trips(stated savings on receipts):

Date        Store          Total Spent          Savings (coupons and/or sales)

Feb. 3       KFC          $26.95                  $9.40
Feb. 5      Shoprite      $124.98                $75.34
Feb. 11     Target         $21.98                  $2.00
Feb. 11    B&N           $0.49                    $3.74
Feb. 12    Shoprite      $178.38                $89.31
Feb. 18    Staples        $0.79                    $10.00
Feb. 18    Kohl's          $102.48               $236.66
Feb, 19    Shoprite       $114.42                $91.90
Feb. 20    CVS            $5.90                   $15.99
Feb. 20    Jun Lung      $26.21                  $3.00
Feb. 22    Kohl's          $130.33                $53.69
Feb. 25    A&P            $5.98                    $2.00
Feb. 26   Shoprite        $46.14                  $52.12
Feb. 27    A&P            $33.56                 $6.82


I still have some work to do to get my grocery shopping under $400 per month. But with a goal of saving $400+ per month to reach $5,000, I'm pretty much on track. Last month, I saved $481.66, so I'm ahead of that savings.

I have $4016.03 left to save after saving $481.66 in Jan. and $502.31 in Feb. Stay tuned for more updates.

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