Friday, June 2, 2017

GRILL OUTSIDE AND SAVE BIG BUCKS

I have just gotten done with a delicious lunch featuring ground chuck burgers. They were spectacular. Not only did they taste delicious but, the cost of cooking them was free.

In the past week I have had the local electric utility company come out to my home twice to try to figure out why my electrical use is so low. In other words they are trying to figure out why I am not paying them a lot more money. One thing I do to save money is that on nasty days I eat sandwiches, fruit etc., and on nice days I cook outside. Not heating up the stove on hot days keeps fan and air conditioning costs down which saves a tremendous amount of money.

This all gets back to grilling outdoors and saving money. I do not own a fancy gas grill. I bought a small grill called a hibachi at Rite Aid for $1.99 on clearance a few years ago. It is a very efficient grill and will cook up to 8-10 hamburgers or hot dogs at a time. That is more than most parties need at a time. The only problems that there is no top to keep flies off the food but guess what, someone invented aluminum foil so for a few cents you can easily keep little monster insects off your food and not pay extra dollars for an outdoor stove with a top.

I hate using gas to grill with. That costs more than grilling on the stove and you loose all the outdoor flavors and textures of grilling outside. My little hibachi is a very efficient cooking machine. All I have to provide it with is fuel. Of course many people dabble in buying expensive charcoal or other wood products to heat their food and of course, I never spend even a penny in such endeavors because, all the fuel I use for my hibachi grill I can find in my own backyard.

Fruit trees make some of the best wood to use in your grill although, wood from almost any bush or tree can be used as fuel for your grill. If you have trees like maple, oak etc, you might think about finding a place to set aside your trimmings for a future outdoors party. I have lots of trees on my property so when I am cutting wood I chunk up wood like apple and maple into 2-4 inch chunks. I then let them cure for about two years and then they are better and more efficient at holding a fire for grilling than anything you can buy

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

INCORPORATE FRUIT TREES INTO YOUR LANDSCAPE AND SAVE A FORTUNE

In one of my previous incarnations I managed garden centers.  Gardening has always been one of my favorite hobbies as it was for my parents and grandparents.  My mother has a copy of a will that one of her ancestors left back in the 1600’s  in which the most valuable asset he had to leave his family was his orchard.  The second most valuable asset he had to leave his family was his collection of  household pots and pans.  In those days having something to harvest and eat was slightly more valuable than having something to cook your harvest with.

 With the brief history that I have noted above I think it should be obvious that having things growing on your property that are edible should be part of your planning as you develop your property.   Although having an orchard or large vegetable garden may not be the way you want to see your yard aesthetically, there are ways of blending in edible vegetation which might in fact compliment your yard’s overall view.

A strawberry jar on a porch might be one way of maximizing a small area for some niche delicious fruits.  Strawberry plants are really quite luscious looking when cared for properly and a nice red ripe strawberry is always beautiful either on the plant or on the table.

There are many types of  easy to grow fruit trees that have nice leafy vegetation, ample flowers in the spring and colorful fruits in late summer or fall. Dwarf varieties mature much faster and produce fruit much earlier that conventional fruit trees however, their harvests are equally limited by their smaller size  When it comes to fruit trees apple, plum, pear, peach and apricot are most peoples favorites.  There are also nut trees you might plant however, many nut trees take decades to mature to the point that they actually produce any nuts.

The great thing about fruit trees is that you can plant them in your yard just as you would any other tree that you plant for aesthetic purposes.  A nice apple or plum tree will add both shade and decoration to your front or backyard and in the spring the blossoms will add ornamentation to your property just as well as a flowering shrub or any other flowering tree. An added benefit is that your unwanted fruits will help feed the wildlife in your area.  Birds, squirrels, deer, raccoons and other creatures not often seen will no doubt visit your trees for their vitamin rich manna.

Finally, with the cost of food going ever higher it might be good to supplement your yearly grocery store harvest with some free or nearly free healthful foods.  Insects, bacterial infections and  small animals are the primary creatures who deplete your fruit harvest however, some lemon flavored dish soap suds applied sparingly to your trees about once per week will handle most unwanted consumers of your harvests.  And, a couple of bug bites or patches of  “scale” can be cut out of your fruit.  Furthermore, at least if the fruit has a bug bite on it then it is most likely safe for human consumption unlike the pristine fruits you find in some stores.  The toxins used to make fruit unblemished might do more harm to the human system then  fruit grown naturally with all the scars and bug holes that are common to a healthy environment.




 

Sunday, April 2, 2017

SAVE A FORTUNE WITH HOMEMADE FROZEN DINNERS

Make up your own frozen dinners and save a fortune. The price of prepackaged individual meals has been increasing steadily over the years in response to the ever increasing demand for quick dinners for working, on the go people. However, eating out every meal can be both time consuming and very expensive for the consumer so, finding ways to save money and get quick food is a priority for most people.

One way to getting a nutritious meal of foods that you like is to make up your own frozen dinners and entrées and freeze them for future meals. You can find reusable, microwavable dishes in most discount and dollar stores. You can also reuse microwavable dishes from previous TV or entrée meals that you have bought in the past. If your dishes do not have a top then you should cover them with plastic freezer wrap. Remember that when cooking in a microwave you must always make a hole in the wrap to allow air to escape. Expanding gasses inside any dish will build up and cause an explosion in your microwave and could even damage your machine as well as destroying your meal.

One great advantage with making up your own meals versus purchasing already made-up meals is that you can include in them only the types of foods you like to eat in the proportions you want. If you want to keep calories and/or fats low than making up your own frozen meals can help you maintain your diet. You will need a scale and calorie counting book if you really want to know exactly what you are consuming in terms of calories. A book on nutrition can help you know if you are packaging your desired levels of nutrients in your meals.

I like to use leftovers from large meals to make up TV dinners. Sometimes if you had a big turkey dinner for instance, you might not want to eat turkey and fixings for the next several days. Again, TV dinners help to save all that food, (freezing keeps food from spoiling), without making you sick of eating the same thing night after night.

Once you have started making up your own frozen dinners and entrees you will wonder why you never did it in the past. If you have a busy schedule you might want to designate a day and time to make up TV dinners for the entire week. Sunday night after having a large dinner was always a favorite time for TV dinner making in my house. I do have one warning about dinner making and that is that not all foods cook at the same time at the same temperature. This is true of store purchased dinners as well. However, over time you will get the knack of cooking the dinners. As long as you use only precooked foods in your dinners then, mainly you will be just defrosting and heating the meals.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

CONSULT EXPERTS BEFORE MAKING ANY LARGE PURCHASES

Before committing any of your hard earned money to any purchase, make sure that you have some advice from an objective third party expert. By objective third party expert I mean that said expert will not be paid based upon whether or not you purchase the item. In short, salesmen do not count as objective third party experts even though, they should be an expert on the item they are trying to sell to you.

Accountants, lawyers, mechanics, building inspectors and financial managers are examples of some of the people you may need to talk to before you make your decision. Do not allow anyone to push or bully you into making commitments before your expert has looked at the situation. In fact, if someone is insistent that you act without advice that is a sign that your salesperson might be trying to cover something up.

The major investments most people make are: housing, automobiles, life insurance and, investments. For housing you will need to hire a building inspector to make sure your property is both safe and is free of hidden structural problems. You should also consult an attorney to make sure that there are no liens, back taxes or, other legal problems with your property. The attorney can also look over the paperwork of the closing organization. You would be surprised how many foolish errors are made by companies and people who have spent decades handling closings. Unfortunately, these errors can cost the purchaser a lot of time and money to fix once the closing is over.

Most people know that when they are purchasing an automobile that has a limited or no warranty on it then, a mechanic should look the vehicle over to find any hidden problems that might cost you a lot of money in the near future. Having a mechanic look over your vehicle might seem expensive but, if the mechanic finds any problems you can insist that the problem be fixed at the seller’s expense or you are going to walk away and look for something else. Either way you will more than recoup the cost of the mechanic.
Life insurance is something that most people need to cover debts when they die and/or to take care of dependents. To determine the proper amount of life insurance you should consult a financial councilor and pay them for the service they render and not for any insurance product they may offer to sell to you. They will also give you an idea of the proper amount of insurance you will need and how long you will need to carry it. As you grow older you generally need less life insurance because you have fewer dependents.

Finally, you will need to consult a CPA before you make any major investments. Many investments may have tax ramifications that might haunt you the entire time you own the investment. The tax code is very complicated and changes every year. Limited partnerships, apartment buildings and, commercial real estate are among some of the investments that can easily become tax nightmares both in terms of ease of filing taxes and, ease in which you can sell the property.

Overall, get advice when making large purchases. Don’t be afraid to hire an expert for a few hundred dollars when you could potentially lose tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars or more. Sometimes you do have to spend a little money in order to save a  fortune.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

PICK A COIN AND SAVE A SMALL FORTUNE

You can save a small fortune by starting really small. Saving money can begin coin by coin. So just pick a particular coin and start saving that coin out of your change on a daily basis. If you’re tight with your finances maybe pennies or nickels could be your savings vehicles. If you have a little more money to spare then dimes and quarters will help you build up your own personal stash of treasure at a much faster rate.

A trip to any store shows just how little a hand full of coins in your pocket will buy. If you can buy a small candy bar with the change you carry around then you should consider yourself lucky. However, just saving on average ten quarters each week out of your change will build up to a whopping $130.00 in just one year. Over a ten year period this can add up a tidy sum of $1,300 which could be a nice little bit of money to help out a struggling college student or to make a mortgage payment should you be caught short some month. Setting a goal for what you want to spend your savings on will help to keep you saving coins religiously out of your change and act as a deterrent should you decide you wanted to run down to the nearest ice cream stand and buy a large ice cream cone double dipped in chocolate.

Now saving $1,300 might seem like just a small stash to save but remember you saved this money out of coins that by themselves would not buy anything in most stores. So, saving that change is a painless way to build up some savings. Saving ten quarters out of your change each week amounts to only $2.50 out of (literally) your pocket. And, since you are saving just a single type of coin out of your change you will still have plenty of other loose coins to give to a clerk so you don’t have to break a bill. Having no change in my pockets would be psychologically devastating for me since I would cringe having to break dollar bills all the time because I saved all my change and brought none with me to the store.

There are a few things you should consider as far as managing your little treasure. First of all you should put them in a clear container. Physically watching your treasure grow over time will inspire you to hunt down every single coin in your home just to get your pile of coins to grow another half an inch. Taking pride in watching your treasure grow will make it less likely that you will raid your savings for a pizza or to visit the local Casino. Of course having another type of coin that you save for junkets to the local pizza parlor or casino is alright and actually a good idea. Having a separate savings for impulse spending is like an insurance policy against thieving from your main treasure.

Remember, the most important thing in saving money is to actually save it. Simply putting money in a jar when you get home from a store one day and then raiding that jar for money to go shopping with the next day is not really saving money. Instead, you are really just storing the money overnight. In order to save your stash of coins you must adopt the mindset of a leprechaun guarding his gold and guard your coins against anyone who covets your treasure. Of course the worst coveter of your coins will be yourself. Marking on your coin container what exactly you hope to save the money for might help keep you from filching from your treasure. If you have a clear container with a screw on top then gluing or taping the top onto the container and just leaving a slit open to deposit coins will at least make you think a little bit before raiding your savings.

Monday, January 2, 2017

HOW TO SHOP THE SEASONAL CLEARANCES

It is great to shop the seasonal clearance items. You can get the best deals on many items by shopping for deep discounts on seasonal clearance end caps, tables and even in the main aisles. Seasonal clearances occur at least four times a year and are in every section of the store. Even items that are not really seasonal are sold off at deep discounts to make way for the short season holiday items. One large retailer I worked at sold off much of the regular furniture it carried (beds,desks,chairs etc), when it was time to set up displays of patio furniture. Space in a retail store is not cheap so they will sacrifice carrying a full line in order to make a fast buck.

Seasonal items are often clearanced at 30% off or more. Clothing and live nursery plants are often clearanced at 50% or more off. Don't be afraid to ask for a further discount particularly if the box is a Little shop worn (faded, scratched or,taped). You can also get a better deal if there are limited items left. A manager might just want to get the items out of the way rather than store them until the next season and by then, the items may be damaged by accidents in the backroom or, the item might be discontinued in favor of a newer item or different brand. In any case, don't be afraid to ask for a further discount then what is being advertised on the sign or in the paper. Make sure you ask a manager since most clerks don't have the authority to give discounts. The floor clerk is usually instructed to not give further discounts.

The garden center is a great place to get fall discounts. Most trees and shrubs do well if you plant them in the fall. And, most garden centers shut completely down all winter and have to get rid of all their shrubs,trees and perennials. Always ask for a further discount on seasonally clearanced trees and shrubs. If you are willing wait for the item and take a chance on it being sold, keep checking back with the garden center manager to see what kind of further discount you can get. On the last few days the garden center is open the manager just might ask you to make an offer for any live plants he has left.

The clothing section of the store is usually where seasonal discounts occur first since they must be set up for the next season up to six weeks in advance. Areas like housewares, toys and sporting goods often have a few aisles or least end caps that change over from season to season. Most departments have holiday items that will be discounted before and after the holiday is over.

Groceries change over less than other areas but, items like candy, produce and even deli may have some seasonal discount. Many wines may also be cleareanced to make way for the latest vintage. If you collect local wines than seasonal change over times are heaven sent. You can really build up your wine cellar at up to 50% off of the sticker prices.

Overall, don't be afraid of shopping for seasonal bargains. Of course, don't be afraid of asking for even greater discounts from the store or department manager. When you buy seasonal clearance items you win but, the merchant also wins. They get the cash back on the item and some space freed up for the latest items for the current season.

Friday, February 1, 2013

SAVE MONEY ON ENERGY DURING ANY SEASON

Energy costs are one of the few things in life that you have some control over. There are limits to controlling these costs such as maintaining a level of warmth in your home so you don’t freeze or have to replace some burst pipes. However, just stepping back and looking around the house and seeing where you may save a little money on heat be able to save you at least a modest fortune.

Caulking around windows and doors is an obvious way to save on heating costs in the winter and cooling costs in the summer. Keeping doors shut and shutting them as soon as possible can be a valuable way of saving some hard earned dollars over a hot summer or very cold winter season. Another less costly way of controlling the temperature in your home is to open windows early in the morning to cool your house naturally during those horrible summer months. Not only will this give your air conditioner a break for a few hours but you will also get a little fresh air inside your home.

You can change the thermostat’s temperature settings depending on the time of day. This is another way you can save money without much difficulty. Keeping heat mainly in rooms you live in is another way to save some money. One house I owned had extra bedrooms that I seldom used so during the winter months I would close the heating vents into those rooms. Just make sure there are not pipes in the walls or floors in rooms that you shut the heat off. Otherwise you might be in for some expensive repairs.

Dressing appropriately for the season should help you stash some excess cash. Cool cloths in the summer and layered cloths in other seasons will allow you to personally adjust your body comfort without turning up the thermostat until you feel warm.

Over the past years I and many people I know have gone to rechargeable flashlights and outside lights as a means of saving a little bit of money on lighting. My solar lights are bright enough to light up the front porch for a few hours after the sun goes down. You might try adjusting outside lighting use depending on the moon and the clarity of the sky. When the moon is out and the sky is clear it is just like twilight all night long and I can see almost my entire front yard. The moon is a great natural security light and what I find best about it is that moonlight is free.

Rechargeable flashlights have been around for years. You can even find crank rechargeable flashlights, camp lights and radios in many sporting goods departments. I use a camp light as a night light in my bathroom and I always use crank lights when I get up and around at night. These flashlights do have to be cranked (recharged) often but the savings in battery costs alone more than makes up for the slight inconvenience of using a small amount of muscle energy to charge the flashlight.

Saving energy by using less electricity on lighting can be as easy as opening a window to let sunlight in instead of using artificial light. Even the use of a night light in your bedroom can be eliminated just by leaving your blinds open enough to see around your room. Finally, painting your rooms in lighter colors will make it easier to see at night. It’s all about that old physics thing again which tells us that dark colors are better at absorbing light and lighter colors will reflect light better.

Finally, there are many ways of saving money on energy as the seasons change. The most important thing is to plan for these changing seasons by making a list of things you can do to save some money when either the snow is blowing or the hot summer sun is beating down. All in all if you plan, you can save a fortune.

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