admin / April 26, 2018

The Added Cost of Being on Auto-Pilot

 

We all know being disorganized can cost us money. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve rushed out to buy something I know I already own but can’t remember where I put it. I’m getting better at being organized but one thing that can also eat away at your budget is payments that are on auto-pilot.

I’ve signed up for services, memberships to sites etc. without thinking about how payments are made during the second year. A couple of times I’ve been sent e-mails saying thank you for staying on as a customer for another year.

But what, you say, I didn’t make a payment to you. In fact, I wanted to cancel.

I’ve lost count how many times it’s happened to be in the last year or so. When I’ve checked if they are indeed right and were able to automatically renew my membership or service for a year, I’ve discovered that yes, they can and it’s my own fault for not being diligent.

These days it seems like it’s a default setting for most companies to put your account on auto-renewal and by the time you realize it, you’re paying for another year. That’s fine if you really want it but if you don’t, well, it’s wasted money.

I’ve been slowly checking all my services and memberships and going through the process of unchecking the auto-renew box on anything I no longer want to keep.  Some of them don’t let you do that and instead you have to simply cancel. In those cases, and so I don’t lose the remaining part of the membership I’ve already ready paid for, I’ve made a note on my calendar that a few days before the subscription or whatever ends, I’ll cancel it.

It’s also a great opportunity to look at all the things you’re still paying for that you may no longer use or have an interest in. I have three this year that fit that category and I’ve worked out I’ll be saving close to $300. That’s $300 that would have wasted had I not been watching for the auto-renew feature on these sites. If it’s a service or something you do use, it’s a good time to also check if they’re giving you the best price. I switched my domain registrations off of auto-renew and changed to a service offering much lower prices.

So bottom line is look at payments that are on ‘auto-pilot’. Are they still things you need and if they are, is someone else offering you a better deal?

 

admin / April 19, 2018

Going Green Means Saving Green

Earth Day is this Saturday and here are five easy ways I’ve found to go green and save money at the same time-

 

 

Showers

You can buy low water flow shower heads or even buy adapters to go on your current one. Neither are that expensive and if you’re think the water will just dribble out of the showerhead, you’d be surprised how the new versions are so good that you hardly notice the difference.

 

 

 

Dirty Laundry

Where I live, putting laundry outside to dry isn’t something I can do year round but when the temperature heats up a great way to save money on electricity (and your clothes too), is to hang everything outside to air dry. It also prevents heating up your home in the summer.

 

 

Fan Favorites

If  you live in a humid climate, fans won’t always work but on the days when it’s just hot but humidity’s low, how about turning off the air conditioning and turning on a fan or two.

 

 

Dirt Cheap Gardening

Here’s something I’ve going to do this year instead of buying compost at the store…make your own. Buy a compost bin or even put your DIY skills to use and make your own. Another way you can save money in the garden is to install a rain barrel and catch all the free rainwater.

 

 

 

Walk or Bike

This one also gives you some free exercise too. Leave the car at home and either bike or walk to your destination.

 

Do you have a favorite eco friendly idea that saves money? Leave a comment and share your tip for us.

 

Also, be sure to subscribe to Budget Smart Girl so you don’t miss a post. You’ll find the sign up form at the top of the site.

 

admin / April 11, 2018

Three Ingredients and a Slow Cooker Dessert

Most of you know I like to keep a full pantry. A couple of times a year I sort through it and begin using the older supplies. Last week (a surprisingly chilly one for this time of year), I wanted something gooey and sweet for dessert. I had a box of Devil’s Food cake mix that needed using and soon. A quick search of the rest of the pantry yielded candied ginger and a can of sliced pears. The combination sounded too good to pass on and with the help of the slow cooker, this dessert was ready in a couple of hours. I topped it with Greek yogurt but I’m guessing ice cream would be good too. Serving size is around 6-8.

 

Ingredients

1 box Devil’s Food Cake Mix (don’t follow the ingredient measurements…I went with ¼ oil and just 1 egg)

2 tablespoons finally chopped candied ginger (more if you like the heat)

1 15 ounce can of sliced pears (drained)

 

 

Spray the slow cooker with non-stick cooking spray.

Place the pears and ginger at the bottom.

Make the cake mix and pour on top of the pears and ginger.

Turn on low and cook for about two hours.

Serve warm.

 

admin / April 4, 2018

YouTube a Goldmine for The Budget Minded

 

I don’t know how many of you ever spend time on YouTube but over the last year or so I’ve discovered there’s a goldmine of information there for budget savvy people like us. With that in mind, I decided to put together a list of some of my favorite channels in various categories so here they are-

For the Budget Minded

A YouTuber based in Utah has this fun and informative channel called The Melea Show-

https://www.youtube.com/user/Freebies2Deals

Another one of my favorites is the Do It On A Dime

https://www.youtube.com/user/DoItOnaDime

And who can leave out The Krazy Coupon Lady

https://www.youtube.com/channel/

Or even discovering free stuff…free is always good.

https://www.youtube.com/user/freestufffindercom/about?

 

Organizing

I’m a firm believer in that being organized can save you money and time which actually does save you money too and one of my favorite organizing channels belongs to this lady-

 

https://www.youtube.com/user/OrganizedClutterbug

 

Crafts and Hacks

What budget smart girl doesn’t love crafts and finding easy (yes cheap) ways of doing stuff around the house

https://www.youtube.com/channel/

 

Cooking

Did you think I’d leave out the food? Here are some of my favorite cooking channels

Mind Over Munch

https://www.youtube.com/channel/

The Domestic Geek

https://www.youtube.com/user/thedomesticgeek1

 

 

Exercising

And last but by no means least, a channel I discovered last year when I realized I had to start exercising again, a fitness channel belonging to a fellow Brit named Lucy. Believe me when I say if you eat right and do these exercises (I can finally get pants and skirts zipped up again), you’ll get results. Best thing is if you’re a super busy BSG they don’t take up a lot of your time. Thank you Lucy!

https://www.youtube.com/user/LWRFitnessChannel

admin / January 2, 2018

Plant Based, Budget Friendly Meal Challenge

I just received an e-mail about this and thought I’d pass it along to you. If you’re thinking about eating a plant based diet this year or just looking for ways to eat on a budget, Plant Based Meals has a New Year’s challenge you can join, here’s the link if you want to check it out.

 

https://www.plantbasedmealplan.com/

admin / April 27, 2017

Earn Money While Spring Cleaning

 

Spring is the perfect time to not only give your house a deep clean but also the ideal opportunity to do some decluttering and organizing too.  And yes, you can even make some money doing it.

While cleaning isn’t one of my favorite things to do, and yes, I’ve even done it for a living, there’s something gratifying about knowing that your surroundings are clean and organized.

Here are some tips I’ve used to make cleaning as painless as possible-

Do a Little Each Day

I used to clean every room, nook and cranny in my house on one day but I began to realize just how crazy that was. By the time I reached room number three I was tired and cranky and after that nothing got cleaned that well. Now I pick one cleaning chore on each day of the week. For example, laundry on Tuesday, vacuuming on Thursday, cleaning bathrooms on Friday. Spread it out and it won’t seem like such a chore.

Keep Your Cleaning Supplies in One Place

This is a trick I learned when I cleaned for a living and that was keep all your cleaning supplies in one place so you don’t have to keep running backwards and forwards for various cleaning products. I put all my supplies in a carry tote so I can have it by my side wherever I’m cleaning.

Play Music

For the majority of people, cleaning probably doesn’t top the list of favorite things to do but if you pair it with something you do like it takes some of the sting out of it. I play some music whenever I clean and once I’ve finished I reward myself with a cup of my favorite tea. You might have different likes so give them a try as a way to pat yourself on the back for getting something done.

Divide and Conquer

One thing that cleaning is good for is teaching you a valuable lesson that the more junk you have sitting around your house the harder it is to clean. Next time you clean think about items that maybe you no longer need, things you have to move in order to vacuum, things that need dusting every week? And yes, you can even make yourself some money by holding a garage sale to get rid of the unwanteds or even selling them online.

Organized

Cleaning is also a chance to see how you can become more organized. Maybe you could buy boxes to put books or toys in rather than have them sitting out, gathering dust for you to clean. One place I always look for cheap organizing boxes and containers is the local dollar store.

Make Your Own Cleaning Supplies

I began making my own cleaning supplies when I discovered the reason I always got a headache after I cleaned the bathtub and sink was because of the cleaning product I was using. My great grandmother used to say you can’t beat soap and water for cleaning and I  think she was right. I use basic ingredients like baking soda, vinegar, and just some  dish soap and water in a spray bottle to clean mirrors and windows and they’ve never looked so good. Best thing you save money and it’s better for your health too.

Do you have a favorite cleaning tip or cleaning product recipe you’d like to share with your fellow Budget Smart Girls, if so, just leave a comment.

 

admin / March 29, 2017

Quick and Easy Supper-Mediterranean Cod

Here’s a quick supper that uses cod (or any similar fish), along with peppers, onions, some herbs and olives for a good for you but budget friendly meal.

In a large skillet, over medium high heat, add about two tablespoons of oil and then add one onion, sliced thinly and one green pepper that’s been thinly sliced.

 

Sprinkle in some salt and pepper and sauté until the onion and pepper is slightly softened.

 

Add a 15 ounce can of diced tomatoes.

 

Stir in one teaspoon each of dried oregano and basil.

Add one pound of cod to the mixture, cover and let simmer for about ten minutes or until the fish is opaque and flakes easily.

 

Sprinkle in ½ cup of chopped Kalamata olives and 2 tablespoons of capers.

 

Serves 4.

Serving suggestion-serve with rice and steamed green beans.

admin / March 15, 2017

Are You too Busy to Save Money?

Posting something on the site was on my to do list for today, but then as usual my morning got busier and I thought I’ll put it off until tomorrow.

That’s what I’ve been doing a lot lately, and the main reason the posts have been less frequent over the last year or two.

This time’s different. I’ve forced myself to sit and write something which actually made me realize what the topic of the post should be-

Are we all too busy to save money?

Making the most of our money and budget is all about being on top of things like bills and payments we make every week.

Sometimes I’m so busy that paying bills becomes automatic and I don’t check if I’m being overcharged or charged for something I didn’t receive or order. Other times I’ll think about a subscription I took out or something I signed up for and think, you know I really don’t need this any more. I think I should cancel it when it comes time to renew it.

I have every good intention of doing just that but guess what? I never do because I’m often too busy and forget when renewal time comes around and I end up being stuck with it for another month or even a year. And sometimes I know I can buy something cheaper at the store that’s farther from home, but guess what? I’m too busy to get in my car and drive there.

Today made me think about this more than ever and how being too busy can drain our budgets.

So how about putting cancelling a service or subscription or even trying to get a better deal on something on our schedules. Write it on the calendar or planner like you would any other appointment and see what happens.

I’d love to hear if this works for you and how much money you saved by freeing up some time to manage your pennies.

 

admin / March 10, 2017

Friday Round Up-Organizing and Decluttering

 

Happy Friday to you. The weather took a downward turn and it looks like winter is back. I guess last week’s 60 degree temperature spoiled me and I have to face up to reality. Roll on spring and summer.

 

Speaking of which…

Getting Ready for Canning Season

I’ve been on a decluttering and organizing binge. One of the areas in the basement that was in most disarray was the section where I keep all my canning jars and equipment. After searching online for some ideas, I stumbled upon an item called a Jar Box that’s not only a way to organize your canning jars, but keeps dust, dirt…and yes, sometimes we have the old mouse or two running around, keeps pesky intruders from running over them. While I was on the Fresh Preserving site I also saw they have some other accessories that are on sale. I thought the wooden tags are perfect it you want to give jams and jellies as a gift. And one other thing I was excited to finally see…dissolvable labels. Yay, no more soaking the jars every year to get the old labels off.

http://www.freshpreserving.com/all-accessories/

Dollar Stores

A related topic of organizing is the high cost of things to organize with, like bins and dividers. One place I’ve come to rely on to keep my organizing budget in check is my local dollar store so definitely pay it a visit if like me you’re doing some tidying up.

It’s Almost Spring which Means…

It’s almost Easter and yes, all things chocolate eggs and candies are in the stores. While you won’t get the rock bottom deals until after Easter Sunday, now is a good time to stock up supplies for future baking. Plus, the price of eggs goes down too. And what better source of cheap protein than an egg.

What’s Your Budget?

Those are four words I’m hearing more of these days. I guess retailers and companies need to catch every consumer’s dollar these days to stay in business. It’s good for us because it means we do have some haggling clout. Don’t be afraid to tell a salesperson that you are on a fixed budget because I’ve found many times they’ll at least meet you half way, if not all the way.

Coming Up on BSG

I’d hoped to put some posts on the site this week but it was yet another week that got away. I’ve been teaching, tutoring, working on books and before I knew it I was sitting down to write the Friday Round-Up. No idea where the week’s go but my goal is to get at least one post added to the site next week.

 

Have a fun weekend and a money saving week.

 

 

admin / March 2, 2017

Homemade Ginger Ale

I come from a family of migraine sufferers so a bottle of ginger ale has always been a staple in the pantry. (For those of you who haven’t tried it ginger ale helps with the nausea that often accompanies a migraine).

While a bottle of ginger ale won’t break the bank, I thought I’d try making my own and use cane sugar instead of regular white or brown sugar.

Yesterday was my first attempt and the results were so good I thought I’d share the process with you.

You’ll need-

A piece of ginger about two inches long. Peel it and chop it and place it in a food processor along with the juice of one lemon.

 

Add 2 cups of cane sugar…or whatever sugar you’re using.

 

 

Pulse for a few minutes and then add the mixture to a saucepan

 

Pour in about 2 cups of water and let the mixture come to a boil.

 

Lower the heat and let the mixture brew for about 30 minutes.

 

At this point the mixture should have reduced and look like honey. Turn off the heat and cover the pan and let it brew for another 30 minutes.

 

 

Strain the liquid and store in in a jar and place it in the fridge.

 When you’re ready to make your ginger ale, pour about 3-4 tablespoons of the syrup into a glass and top with soda water a(nd ice if you like). Give it a stir and voila, homemade ginger ale.

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