This week I looked over the coupons in the paper and the new grocery store circulars and realized that there were not many great deals out there for my style of eating. I don't eat hot dogs much and I've stopped eating most of cold cereals that coupons come out for.

What all this means is that the monthly grocery shopping will be almost coupon-less. But I'm not worried, I can still keep my food bill low by shopping without coupons.

List and Calculator
I keeping a running list on my whiteboard and then when there are sales weekly, I jot down what I need and grab them for the week. When the monthly grocery run comes up, then what is left over on the list goes with me. I have a $110 grocery budget for food when it comes to food items. Of course the weekly runs take me over that, but it is easily covered by setting aside $20-50 for those runs.

If I come under the $110 budget for the month, that is then a good time to start stocking up on Thanksgiving or Christmas food. Recently, duck was on sales at a good price per pound and there was room in the monthly budget to get it, so that will go into the freezer until Thanksgiving.

The calculator is just for me to stay on budget. I round up to the next dollar (since I can't keep track of what is taxed and what isn't.) and use that as my guide to trimming my list down or adding more items for an upcoming special meal.

Food Circulars
I do my monthly shopping at a specific grocery store and then the weekly shopping is usually done at the stores nearest my house, depending on the deals. But I do look at them and check for items on my whiteboard grocery list.

The best deals for each store circular are on the front page or the flap that promotes deals for the weekend only. But since my list is pretty small during the week, it takes at most 5 minutes to glance through the weekly ads to King Soopers or Safeway to decide what has the best deals.

Loyalty Cards
I don't like it that if you want the better price (sale price) you have to have a loyalty card to get it. I do like it better that a sale is a sale whether you fill out personal information or not. However, since it is already done I can't complain much. The downside is if the card is forgotten or you used the card to scrape the windows last winter and haven't gotten a new one. Most grocery stores allow you to enter your phone number.

I have heard that if you try the popular phone number song, 867*5309 with your own area code, you may still be able to get a good deal or two. But I haven't personally tried it. I know that lately some grocery stores will give a money back if you buy a certain number of name brand items on top of the usual weekly savings, so cards do come in handy.

Dump Brands
In most cases, if I don't have a coupon for the brand name item, the store brand comes in under the name brand. There are a few items where there are no store brands or the item's store brand didn't cut the quality test for me. At those times I take the name brand, coupon or not.

Walk the Circumference
I would say that over half of the items I buy are on the "outside ring" of the stores. Milk, bread, poultry, fruits and vegetables. The items in the middle are more processed than I would desire, except for the baking aisle and frozen area (ice cream).

Go Clearance
For markdowns on meats I ask the employees when they mark down the meats, in one store they do it around 8-9am. Another store has set aside half of a freezer area for marked down milk, eggs, cheese and the like. And most all grocery stores have an area in the back - usually around the entrance to the back room, where they mark down shelf items like dented soup, bread and bakery items. I get most of my bread from these areas.
flickr/cc- Genista
That sums up my plans for this coming week on how I'm going shopping without coupons. A little planning and a budget. Then I keep my eyes peeled for clearance items I need and store brands that area cheaper in price. And finally I mostly keep to the outside ring of the store to stay healthy and I usually make sure to use my loyalty card for the extra discounts.

I always seem to find excuses not to go to garage sales but I know the deals are out there and I just need to find the time to figure out what ones are around my location. May be that is the main reason really. The hassle of trying to find the ones nearby my home and when I'm running errands.

When I upgraded to a Droid recently, one of the prerequisites for putting out money to get the Droid was that it had to help me save money and time, besides being fun to play with. And one of the first items I looked for in the marketplace were frugal related apps to help me do that.

I only wanted to stick with apps that were free, that way no money was lost and this made it feel like I was going to the library to check out a book; if I found one that rocked my world, then I might buy it later. Eventually I came across the Garage Sale Rover (free app) and it had the highest star rating for garage sale apps, so why not.

Garage Sale Rover (GSR) has a free app and a premium version for 2.99, I'll get to the difference below. GSR pulls it's garage sales from the craigslist site in your area and plants it on the droid map in relation to where you live.  Since I use craigslist already to find garage sales, this fit perfect for me.

The free version gives you the location and details about the sale with the address, or whatnot, in the craigslist post. The 2.99 version allows you to link the address to your navigation on the phone for the directionally challenged like myself. I upgraded to try it out today, but I uninstalled it later (refunded if done within 24 hours).

First, the pros:
* Link with navigation is very handy (on the premium version)
* Details pulled from craigslist also helpful to know if the sale is worth it
* Quite a few sales in my area of south Denver
* Gives sales available up to Sunday (updates on Sunday night, maybe?)
* No paper to hassle with while driving for directions
* Can call if phone is in details to verify sale is going on (☞ see below)

Next, the cons:
* Not able to add other garage sales I may have found in the paper
* Doesn't seem to update enough to give dates in the future. Today is Sunday as I write this and there is nothing to pull up for next week.
* If you want to link the address to the navigation, the 2.99 charge is needed. Otherwise the free version will give you only the map information.

☞ When I went out today, I had 3 garages sales that I wanted to go to. It was a bust with only 1 garage sale running. It would seem that the other 2 sales were never pulled from craigslist when the owners decided to not have the sales. Not a fault of GSR, but annoying to find nothing and waste gas. Later I did realize I could have called ahead to verify they were having it before I took off.

In the end, I removed the 2.99, premium version and went back to free since I do know how to read a map and I rarely go to garage sales alone; which means I can be the navigator. And overall I'm glad I had it with me, though the people didn't pull their garage sales from craigslist, the GSR app did do what it was supposed to.

Do you have any FREE Droid apps that save you money?

Nothing beats having the the slow cooker going and enjoying the delicious smell that flows from it, every time you lift the lid. Recently we tried a pulled pork recipe since there was a roast in the freezer that needed to be used up. The roast had been picked on when it was marked down on clearance since it would be expiring the same day.

flickr/cc - stevendepolo
It was quite a large roast for two people, 5.5 pounds, and required that the recipe be doubled. It was served with rice that had pineapple stirred into it and a vegetable.

1 large onion, sliced
2 1/2 pounds boneless pork loin roast
1 cup hot water
1/4 cup white sugar
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon ketchup
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 dash hot pepper sauce, or to taste

1. Arrange onion slices evenly over the bottom of the slow cooker, and then place the roast on top of the onion. In a bowl, mix together water, sugar, vinegar, soy sauce, ketchup, black pepper, salt, garlic powder, and hot sauce; pour over roast.
2. Cover, and cook on Low for 6 to 8 hours, or on High for 3 to 4 hours.
3. It was very easy to take and shred the pork to make sandwiches, since it was so tender by this time.
NOTE: I did not have any hot pepper sauce, so I used a half teaspoon of red pepper, which did the trick for me and all still came out delicious.


I've decided to pickup the Sunday paper and try again with the coupons. I get the updates to the Groupon site (aff.) and last week they had a really good deal on the local weekend paper. Usually I can get a deal for 87 cents on the Sunday only (40% off cover) and this Groupon ad had it at $17 for 13 weeks (with a $10 Grocery gift card) and that worked out to 54 cents a paper (63% discount), plus I receive the Saturday paper as well.

Now that I have the Sunday paper coming again with the coupons, I'm trying to stay up to date on the coupons with sites like Couponmom and other forums. However, I have a learning curve in the forums for all the terms - like "Hang Tag", which is a coupon hanging from the neck of a bottle.

Thankfully, the Consumerist recently posted a glossary of coupon terms that are used. Here are a few more:
MIR: Mail-In Rebate.
OOP: Out-of-Pocket. Your cost after coupons, catalinas, ECBs, etc.
OOS: Out of Stock.
Peelie: A coupon that is adhered to a product and that must be peeled off to use


My only concern with coupons is the desire to stockpile items. I don't like to go overboard and nothing helps me clean out my storage area like watching an episode of Hoarders. Did you see the recent episode of CSI that included hoarding in the subject matter as well. I feel like Nick Stokes and want to sort through everything after watching an episode of Hoarders.
Over at ThriftyFun, Sandi has been relaying her behind the scenes situation on cleaning and maintaining a house with a couple of hoarders. And if you missed it, here is the earlier article on too much stuff.
Sandi offers these questions to start with in regards to know when to stop collecting:
  • How much room do I have that I can control?
  • How much work do I have time and energy for to care for it?
  • What do I want to spend to clean and maintenance?
  • Can I enlist anyone's help or is this problem just mine?
  • Do I want to admit to anyone that I can't do this on my own?

I really enjoy the VW Jetta commercial that I see on tv. Not because of the car, but because of the spirit behind the commercial.

A guy has a goal to buy a car, he figures it will run about 30,000 dollars and sets out to pickup any job possible. He works in a medical center, he picks up a second job cleaning up golf balls, he picks up a 3rd job in a women's defense class, and a fourth job walking dogs. He has a goal and keeps his focus on that goal.

To keep his focus, he places the picture of the goal in his locker, at work and by his side at all times as inspiration to keep going despite the not so fun times he may be having while making that extra money. And in the end he had more than enough money saved to buy two cars.

And all the while, Wynn Stewart sings him through the day:
"Another day another dollar daylight comes I'm on my way
Another day another dollar workin' my whole life away
The boss told me I'd get paid weekly and that's exactly how I'm paid
Another day another dollar workin' my whole life away

I connected to this commercial because it made me think of my own goals. Sometimes, I carry the physical evidence around with me and sometimes I just try to remind myself that if I get off track I won't reach my goal.

Much like the Fidelity Investment commercial, I need to stick to green line I have set before me and take one step at a time. There will be distractions along the way, but with reminders of what my goal is and the occasional reminder from friends and family, I too can have that feeling of accomplishment.
And if you don't have anyone to remind you, just writing down your goal(s) does help. In a study done on 149 people, they concluded the following:
1. The positive effect of written goals was supported: Those who wrote their goals
accomplished significantly more than those who did not write their goals.
2. There was support for the role of public commitment: those who sent their
commitments to a friend accomplished significantly more than those who wrote
action commitments or did not write their goals.
3. The positive effect of accountability was supported: those who sent weekly
progress reports to their friend accomplished significantly more than those who
had unwritten goals, wrote their goals, formulated action commitments or sent
those action commitments to a friend.

I have notebook that I have taped pictures of my fat self into and then I write down what I did in the gym for the day. Above the pictures (side and front) is my goal weight and along the way I will take more pictures of myself to inspire me to do more and keep walking that line to get to my goal.

Otherways to keep yourself on track, online:
* Google Calendar - You can email a friend when you update or keep it private
* Joe's Goals - Use the simple single page interface to setup daily goals and track them with just a click. Watch your daily score to gage your success...
StickK - A social site designed to "show that people who put stakes - either their money or their reputation - on the table are far more likely to actually achieve a goal they set for themselves."
* GoalMigo - Set. Track. Share your goals
* Blog about it - Get a free account on blogger and start writing daily to keep yourself motivated. For example, Wade lost 100 pounds and blogged about it.

What ways have you found to inspire and keep yourself moving towards your goals?

There are two ways to become rich in our world:
1. Acquire great wealth
2. Acquire few needs

Initially, my response would be to acquire great wealth. Because who doesn't want more and better items? But then the question pops up, "How do you know when you have acquired it all? When is it finished?" And in trying to come up with an answer to that question, you might say that you will know when you find it or, when you feel complete.

Ultimately, the first choice for becoming rich in our world will be a life-long endeavor and I know that I would like to retire from that type of pursuit. But, I want to be complete now.

That then leaves the other choice, to acquire few needs. It is in those limitations that freedom is found. To live life fully now, I believe we must start to live more, but with less.

It is within each of our spirits to want more for ourselves and to take a peek into the next tomorrow. But some how, we have lost track of that goal and settled with technology and material things to bring us that completeness. Instead, technology and material things tie us down, they don't liberate our spirit and complete us. They just leave us empty and wanting more. Like a taste of caffeine we sigh in relief at the wonderful way it perks us up. But then the feeling goes away and we need more, and more, and more to get the same effect as our bodies build up a tolerance to it.

If we limit ourselves now to those things that are most important and purge the extra, we release the chain of slavery to them, whether in time or money.

Living with limitations, few needs, is a risky idea. There is always the thought that creeps in when something new comes to the horizon, "Will this make me a better person? Will this make me more successful? Will this make me happy?" It is like walking down a very steep and narrow road with footing that isn't so certain. And taking that narrow and steep road is very scary; it is like going the wrong way against rush hour traffic. No matter the analogy, to navigate well, we need help.

flickr/cc - swanksalot
The writer of Ecclesiates wrote:
"Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion...Furthermore, if two lie down together they keep warm...And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him."

We have sought the comfort of acquiring great wealth as our companion and no one now feels obligated to catch us if we fall. We given up our tight communities for a lonely "do-it-yourself" freedom.

How do we transition from acquiring great wealth to acquiring few needs?
Beyond the connections made through work, school, and religious groups. There is still technology, the spirit of community does rise from digital ashes. People gather in forums to inspire one another and ask for assistance.

And when that is not enough, meetings are arranged for those who are traveling down that steep and narrow road to be a guide, a comfort, and help in overpowering the idea that only great wealth leads to a rich life.

If you don't have work, school or other outside groups that have people of similar goals, there are online forums to participate in and ways to meet-up in person.

+ Simple Living Forum: Learning to do more with less.
+ Dollar Stretcher Community
+ Frugal Living Forums

+ Do something, learn something, share something, change something
+ A community dedicated to providing a casual social environment

Why worry about the small things, they aren't worth much and waste time. There is an Ethiopian proverb that talks about the power of small things: "When the spiderwebs unite, they can tie up a lion."

In the Bathroom
Shampoo - I was watching a shampoo commercial on TV and found it interesting that the person in the commercial had used enough shampoo that they could spike their hair into the shape of a Mohawk. That meant that they had used more than the recommended quarter size amount, or in his case, since it was shorter, nickel or dime shaped amount.

The shampoo bottle doesn't have a recommended amount to use on the bottle, they just hope you will think of their highly suds out commercial and use enough to make your own Mohawk.

Toothpaste - Toothpaste commercials again show us the way not to use toothpaste. That large amount of toothpaste looks really pretty on the brush, but is a waste. (If it all even makes it into your mouth and not onto the sink.) The dental association says, "Simply squeeze on a pea-sized dab of paste on the top half of your brush....the paste should foam enough to cover all of your teeth."

Toilet Paper - This subject can get kind of stinky with some people, such as when Sheryl Crow suggested we only use one square or even before that, Elaine from Seinfeld begged the person in the next stall to "spare a square".
But think about it, is it our goal to make the toilet paper into the size of a catcher's mitt in order to wipe. There isn't a square we can spare before we wash our hand's anyway? During World War II, it was rationed and you would only use a few squares of TP as your way to help the troops.

Water - It runs throughout the house, but doesn't have to run down the drain. There are 25 ways you save water and I have one way to save hot water in the shower, not including a low-flow shower head.

In the Laundry Room
Laundry Detergent - They give you a measured cup for the load size you are using, but do you have to use that amount? Based on responses over at the Dollar Strether, they say  to agree on ¼ to ½ of what the suggested amount is.

Hot Water - Using cold water cleans just as thoroughly as hot water and keeps your clothes in continued good shape and retain their color. Plus you don't have to wait for it to heat up. Then save the hot water to wash towels/linens and underwear to kill bacteria.

In the Kitchen
Boiling water - Just enough water to cover the food and a cover over the pan saves on heating water.
Dish Soap - If you do it by hand, a few dollups of soap are all that is needed. Most of the time you can have the pan soak while washing the other dishes and not have to use as much soap in getting the grime off.
For dishwasher detergent they have packets that can be used and if you compare that against the size of your compartment, you don't have to fill the compartment up - about 1-2 tablespoons.

Electricity - Using less electricity can be viewed the same as using a car to run errands, bundle it in one trip. That saves you the time to heat up for each item you want to cook each day. An already warm oven can allow you to move the food in and out faster, saving time.

This idea can be used for the dryer as well. An already warm dryer allows the 2nd batch of clothes to dry quicker because the dryer is not having to ramp up to the warmth needed.

I mentioned last year that I freeze my milk to save money when it is at a good price ($2 a gallon). This freezer has saved an unquantifiable amount of money, time and stress.

Back in the day, before sexy sold, they had practical advertising that wasn't limited to small print or a footnote. It would appear this was carry over from the days of WWII posters that promoted growing victory gardens and recycling your waste.

This practical ad from General Electric in the 1947 edition of Better Homes and Gardens sells us on the 5 benefits of a freezer at home.
Since the writing is very small, I'll enlarge the 5 sections for you to read. At the time of this ad, these types of freezers had been around for 10 years already, according to the advertisement.
Tip #1- You don't have to shop in bad weather! An 8 Cu Ft Chest freezer that holds 280 pounds of food. They still come with 2 baskets (plastic) and Energy Star wasn't even a twinkle in anyone's eye yet. Today you can buy this freezer for around 300-350.00.
Tip #2- You eat better food and pay less for it! Flash frozen fruits and vegetables can keep for up to a year when you find a good deal at the store. That way you can make that 150 calorie strawberry shortcake dessert in the picture above.
Tip #3- You can do a month's baking in one day. (No exclamation point there, must not be as exciting.) They suggest you freeze pies, cakes and rolls. We freeze homemade soups and spaghetti sauce for use through the winter and into the spring. Some people even freeze leftovers in ice cube trays.
Tip #4 - You can feed unexpected guests at a minute's notice! Also nothing says love from family and friends, when they bring over food for you to keep in the freezer and heat up later, while sick or after having a baby.
Tip #5 - Dad's fish and game add to your larder. (Not as exciting either, I guess.) I had to crack up at the picture. It looks like Dad hit a deer on the road, driving home from work and just decided to bring it on home to toss into the freezer! I also noticed they don't want to promote the killing of animals illegally just to fill up the freezer - "depending on local game laws".
I had to look up what a larder was- "A larder is a cool area for storing food prior to use. Larders were commonplace in houses before the widespread use of the refrigerator."

There you have it, a 1947 steel GE chest freezer that probably weighed more than the 124 pound hard plastic ones we have today. I love taking a step back in time and grabbing the timeless wisdom, enjoying a historical moment and laughing at the rest.

Major gift giving season is 73 days away and I hate fighting crowds for gifts. I also miss some of the "Black Friday" specials, but this year I'm going to try homemade gifts. You have been warned family!

I have a couple of gift ideas based on what I could find and think of. Obviously it isn't all the ideas out there and I'm sure you have some great ideas of your own. Let's hear them!

Frame Tray by AFC
  1. Cookie Mix in a Jar (recipes) and Brownie Mixes (recipes)
  2. Framed Classic Photo, blown up in size
  3. Framed Artwork of your own making. Poem, Picture, Collage
  4. A Secret Hollow Book
  5. Small Scrapbook with photos and moments from their life
  6. Small Jars of Spices, grown yourself (About)
  7. Bottle of Vanilla Extract (TSD)
  8. Burned CD of Songs
  9. Burned DVD of Videos 
  10. Hand Written Letter of Gratitude, with all the reasons you appreciate them
  11. Cut Plant from your own home
  12. Necktie Pouch for cell phone, money, business cards (About)
  13. Personalized T-shirt, Shorts, Bib or Apron. Handprints, written love notes, iron-on pictures
  14. Stapled Coupon Book of Services Provided. Dinner, babysitting, mowing and hugs
  15. Knit or Crochet 
  16. Homemade Jams, Jellies, Grape Juice and Breads, Candy
  17. Fragrant Soy Candles (guide)
  18. Homemade Beer (TSD)
  19. Make Soap at Home (TSD)
  20. Record Album Bowl (Wikihow)
  21. Bottle Cap Magnets
  22. Personalized Ornament (e-How) using light-bulbs (TWSm) or paper (Not Martha)
  23. Snow "Globe" Jar (AFC)
  24. Holiday Wreath made with plastic bags, fabric and pine clippings
  25. Chocolate Covered Spoons for coffee or hot cocoa (AFC)
  26. Personalized Garden Stepping Stones. DIY stones or buy at the hardware store
  27. Double-sided "no-sew" Fleece Blanket. Favorite colors or sports team (instruction vid)
  28. For Kids: Melt Crayons to make "rainbow" crayons as gifts
  29. Personalized Calendars for the upcoming year, printable calendar blanks, write in special occasions and personalize with pictures
  30. Wood Shoe Rack (Not Martha)

I was reading some different articles about shredding paper while I was doing research into the type of paper shredder I wanted to buy as my current one is starting to die. It seems that the range of people who use a paper shredder are between 18% - 51%. That's at least 49% or more who don't shred paper and are susceptible to identity fraud.

I haven't had that happen yet, thankfully. But reading the stories in the paper or seeing news on TV definitely makes me aware that I don't want to be part of that club. Since dumpster diving is perfectly legal in most areas of the country, you don't want your information floating around. I also read that some of the ID theft is by people who know you and have access your trash, wallet and checkbook.

Nearly half of all victims have no idea how their information was stolen, and only about 1 in 4 knows who did the stealing, according to a survey by Javelin Research.

Of those who do know, however, half pointed to friends, relatives, neighbors or in-home employees.
However it is the small percentage that always seems to ruin things for everyone and make life difficult.

Did you know:

Individual victims lost an average of $1,180. Where the thieves solely used a victim’s established accounts, the loss to businesses was $2,100 per victim. For all forms of identity theft, the loss to business was $4,800 and the loss to consumers was $500, on average.

Through my search I have found that cross-cutter paper shredders are better than the the strip cutters, which is good as they appear to be taking over the market lately. Strip cutter shredders still allow the criminal to reassemble the document so that it can be used. Where as cross cutters make the process MUCH more difficult if not impossible.

What does this information have to do with frugal living?
1. Shredding documents helps keep a good credit score (interest rates) without criminal intrusion
flickr/cc - llamnudds
2. Shredded documents make great stuffing for packages, without much added weight. But I would suggest filling plastic bags and tying them, instead of loose in the box or you will have a mess!

For more information on Fighting Back Against ID Theft - Read the following .pdf pamphlet

flickr/cc - Sir Stig
Some people have a want that can seem like an 'all consuming' need; they won't fight the urge and will let it get out of control. I was reading through some posts and found the following story by withoutmusic to be inspirational. It's a great example of thinking before you buy....
Since, I first saw an iPod two years ago, I decided I wanted one, I figured I could earn one in two years if I put about .37 cents away, a day for two years I would earn 270, (which is how much my Ipod cost, student discount). And most of this .37 didn't come from me, I would always check in vending machines, to see if people forgot change (they ALWAYS do). 

I would mange to find about 2.80 every week in change at laundry-mats, school, parking lots, vending machines, pay-phones, counters, cans i saw laying around, and extra change I got from cashiers. I made at point, that I would get this iPod for free by collecting change, and it worked I am now a proud owner of a 30gb color video ipod, all from collected change. (and some times dollar bills!)
An Ipod isn't the only thing you can do this with, you can do it with ANY luxury/want item. Start small (under 500) and break it up into small chunks of savings.

Think about this, beyond the 7 little hacks I wrote previously,  if you save 1¢ a day for a year you have $3.65, 10¢ a day = 36.50, 25¢ a day = $91.25,  $1 a day = $365.00 and so on. All possible ways to save for something fun.

“Drink lots of water and go to the bathroom” ~Dad

This was his answer to fixing a cold, fever, flu, or on the occasion it felt like you were coughing up a lung. Of course, being a teenager, this was a horrible idea; duh, he was a dad, not a doctor.  But as I have gotten older, I have to admit it works quite well. The answer in most cases is fluids, flush and sleep to get over what ails you.

But to be on the safe side, I got my, bird, pig and regular flu, flu shot last week as a preventative action against working with people who don't call in sick, cough without covering their mouth and don't wash their hands before leaving the bathroom.

flickr/cc - The U.S. Army
The only other way to keep myself from getting sick is to rent a hazmat suit to go to work in. And I really don't have the 300.00 for even the cheaper one, so I will have to find existing ways to keep myself healthy. Although it could double as a Halloween costume.

For now, here are the ways I keep myself from being sick and limiting the length of time I may be sick.

Wash hands
Here's the drill: Scrub vigorously with water and soap until lather appears, making sure to get between your fingers and fingernails. Use a nail brush if you have one. Briskly dry with a towel. It's not about the water, it's all about a good 20-seconds of vigorous scrubbing

"Eighty percent of infections are transported by touch, so hand washing is the No. 1 thing you can to do prevent infection"

Eat as healthy as you can 
– Cut out the junk food, especially while you are sick; you need good food to help your white blood count in fighting off the virus.

Take your vitamins 
– This can also help with stress and lack of sleep you may have had and fills in the gaps of nutrition that you may not be getting. It is found that store brand multi-vitamins are on equal footing as name brand multivitamins.

Get some sleep 
– Go to your car and sleep on part of your lunch hour if you can. 10-15 minutes does wonders for your mind and body. Check out the "The Sleep Project"

A Homemade Electrolyte Solution
– To replenish your body's electrolytes, science has backed up the idea of having chocolate milk after a work out or when sick with the flu. "The findings suggest that chocolate milk has an optimal ratio of carbohydrates to protein to help refuel tired muscles, researcher Joel M. Stager, PhD, Indiana University kinesiology professor, tells WebMD."

Open up your house
– If you keep your house closed up a lot, you may want to open some doors/windows to air things out. You've heard of sick buildings? Your home can harbor sickness on a smaller scale as well.

Change out your toothbrush regularly 
– Bacteria build-up decreases your immune system. If buying a new one every 3-4 months is expensive, consider boiling the toothbrush in water and some vinegar. But don’t melt it

What are some other frugal ways you stay healthy? What are some ways you beat a cold/fever without spending a bucket of money?

If there is one thing that can't be reused to it's full effect, it is electronic cords. Each piece of electronics comes with it's own cord and they never seem to be the same when the update the item either and when the plug is lost the electronics can become worthless or when the video camera dies, the plug must to tossed as well; if you can find it.

My solution to making electronics and cords last as long as possible comes via my Sharpie. The minute I pull the new item out of the box, I mark the plug. This way, if the cord isn't paired with the item, I will be able to find it amongst the other cobweb of cords.

Metallic silver is perfect for all those black cords and red or black for other cord colors.

This is also very handy for when you have cords plugged in to a 12 count surge protectors. Don't want to unplug the tv, but need to reboot the cable box? Once you get the right one, write on it C.B in a small corner and you'll be ready for when the phone tech tells you to unplug the power to your cable box to reboot it.

Now when you open your desk drawer you will know which cords go to which electronics and will be able to declutter faster when a piece of electronics dies.

Other frugal ways to make life easier with cords:

Back in February, I wrote about the shock that resulted from being notified that we would be laid off in 90 days. Being a person of action to keep depression at bay, I immediately started reducing and thinking of ways to tighten my belt financially.

Then in April we were again notified that the lay off date would be pushed out by 5 months, to give the company more time and budget to move our customers to the new regions. I certainly had no trouble with staying on as I was still deciding how I was going to handle my job situation afterwards.

I participated in all the work sponsored programs at fixing up my resume and checked out the workforce options provided by the county. But nothing I did felt right. I have high school diploma and many years of call center work under my belt and I was burning out.

I believe that things happen in life for a reason, whether they are obvious while I go through them at the time or afterwards, they make me a better person for them. Up to this point I had been taking a comfortable path for the last decade that really was the same, even though the company names had changed. It was time to branch out and challenge myself, which is why I am going to go back to school.  It all sounds well and good to think about until you leave that job on the final day, then panic flares up like acid indigestion.

Today was the first full day off at home. I do have a part-time job that I am truly grateful for and glad to have it as an option if extra hours are ever needed. However, now my health insurance is temporarily gone, my connection to co-workers are cut drastically and I still have that sub conscious dread that I better get to bed to be ready for work tomorrow. My new life habits will have to change for the better.

Flickr/cc - nayrb7
But I was prepared for some of this and didn't want to be a total couch potato (though it is fun to watch Oprah again), so I made a to do list.
  1. Start 5 day a week workout at apartment complex gym - Done!
  2. This handy little gym will help me fight stress and keep my health in check until medical insurance kicks in at my part-time job.
  3. Fill out unemployment online - In process
  4. Settle bills and reduce monthly expenses. - Done!
  5. Thanks to the severance, I have rent paid ahead, bills paid off and a budget put together for the coming months, including x-mas, with an emergency pot ready to go.
  6. Fill out forms for school and check out scholarship options - To be done.
  7. This is the item that frightens me more than being laid off. I don't want to add extra expenses and I want to make sure I go to school and do my best. Of course I would like to be graduated yesterday, but all in good time.
  8. Sort through paperwork and items I have put off for months - In process.
  9. The main reason for this is just to keep me in a working mental state. This means getting up and dressed every day and doing at least one item on my list, whether it is steam cleaning the carpet or disputing items on credit report. I need to have a feeling of accomplishment each day.
This time off from working 60+ hours a week, means that now I have time to look inward and challenge myself more, branching out and making myself a better human. Plus, my desk and home will never look cleaner than now!

Also wanted to let you all know that with random number generator's assistance, comment #11, Annie, has won the book, How To Make Your Car Last Forever. Thank you all for reading and entering in the contest.