Friday, September 30, 2005

Student Loan Refinancing

There are many students and graduates out there that are struggling with paying for their student loans. Often times, these people have heard of refinancing student loans in order to make their payments lower and more manageable. But before you consider refinancing student loans, there are some things you should first consider. Let this be your guide to the truth about refinancing student loans.

Refinancing student loans often seems like a good idea. In fact, refinancing student loans is a good idea, if you use it to your advantage. We shall go over that in a minute. First, you need to know that most student loans are often of a variable percentage rate until the rate is locked through means of a loan consolidation, or by refinancing the loan. Currently, interest rates are quite low so it is a good time for refinancing student loans.

Refinancing student loans is only available to students who have always paid their student loan bill on time. If this does not sound like you, then I wish you good luck trying to refinance your student loan. Refinancing rates are often offered between one and two percent lower than your original student loan rate. Most refinancing rates will save you up to 60 percent. But this is where the drawback is that most people don't realize when they refinance their student loans.

The drawback is a hidden drawback that most people never really see. I will explain. In order to get your payment lower through refinancing, you are given a much longer time period to pay the loan off. Instead of 5 years, it may be 20! This may sound good in the beginning. At the time, it will leave you with extra money that you may need for other bills. But in reality, it just costs you more money in the end because you will be paying interest much longer to the lender.

The smart way to do it is to pay more towards your lower interest rate student loan bill that you have just refinanced. This way it is cheaper and you will pay it off much quicker than normal. But only do this if you can afford it. If you refinanced your student loan because you couldn't afford the payment, then just pay it off as best you can at your own pace.

This is the truth about refinancing student loans. This information can either be welcomed, or a hard thing to hear. Try to use this information to help you when you refinance student loans. If you utilize all of the information at hand, you should be able to pay your loan off faster and save some money.

Tripp Taylor offers expert advice and great tips regarding all aspects concerning Student Loans. Get the information you are seeking now by visiting Refinancing Student Loans

Thursday, September 29, 2005

The View Get it cheap

I was folding clothes in my cheap jeans and t-shirt from Walmart (probably $25 cost total, $40 if you count socks, underwear, and bra) and decided to watch The View. These women have no idea how to live on a budget, but they decided to do a shop on how to get it cheap for the 5th Avenue crowd.

I understand about trying to find bargains and shopping for a good deal-heck those are thoughts that go through my head most of the time...

Two of the Gadget deals...

Philips 42" Widescreen Digital-Cable-Ready Plasma HDTV
Model #: 42PF9630A
List Price: $3,700
Best Buy Price: $2,999.99

Epson MovieMate 25
Model #: V11H181020SC
List Price: $3,000
Estimated Epson Price: $1,199.00

If you are living paycheck to paycheck, you don't need a 42 inch TV. Paying for $3000 for a TV is nuts.

Then Star Jones took out a kindergarten teacher shopping... The kindergarten teacher has kids and a self-employee husband. They mentioned the yearly salary was like $20k a year. Star's budget shopping included a mark down scarf from $150 to $50 and a jacket to go over a dress from $700 to $200. I don't think I ever spent that much on a piece of clothing. (Heck my wedding dress was only $150 I got it at the Filene's Basement Wedding Dress Sale) Star did take the the teacher to Filene's basement which has good deals. If you want designer clothing shop at stores like Marshalls and TJ Maxx. Good quality dresses, suites. coordinates there for the workforce.

I didn't get to see the rest of the show but it focused on health and beauty products. From the website it seemed a little more realistic for people on a Walmart budget rather than a Park Avenue expense account.

The View

Enjoy your savings!

Theresa

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Flooded Cars for Sale

CBS's early show just did a consumer alert segment on people being scammed by buying flooded cars. Con men clean them up and then sell them!

Titles can be altered falsy. When we bought our used mini-van earlier this year, we used Carfax.com. It was well worth finding out the car history for $25.

If you are buying a used car, whether or not from a dealership, or just an individual, factor in the cost of a carfax report. It could be well worth the cost and save you many headaches.

Enjoy your savings!

Theresa

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Dave Ramsey says: Variable Life Insurance?

Dear Dave,

My financial counselor is trying to interest me in variable adjustable life insurance for retirement. I’m 47-years old, married, have two teenage girls and own my own business. I was wondering if it’s just as good, or better, than a mutual fund investment?
Dave Ramsey answers

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Gas Shortages in Georgia

I just heard on the news that the Governor of Georiga is closing school on Monday and Tuesday to save gas. Are we really in that much of dire straits? That puts parents in a bad position-now they have to arrange child care or skip a day of work.

Let's focus on car pooling, getting more people to use public transportation or allowing people to telecommute or do a 4 day flex schedule would be more cost effective than closing down school for 2 days. Let's focus on conserving energy.

Next time we are going to hear that North Dakota it is too expensive for kids to go to school during the winter.

Enjoy your savings.
Theresa

Frugal Menu Planning week of Sept 25th

Fall is here... but not weather wise yet. I can't wait to do more soups.


Sun Sloppy joes, green beans, french fries


Mon Bruschetta Chicken Bake- New Recipe I'm trying
Chicken bruschetta  bake


1 19oz can of Italian Stewed tomatoes (I buy stewed and diced tomatoes by the case at Costco and use this- it's something like $3.50 for 12 cans)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 package Stove Top stuffing (or something similiar)
1 1/2 lbs chicken cut up into bite sized pieces
1 tsp dried basil (even better if you use fresh that you grew in your yard- $1 something for a package of seeds! use more if it is fresh)
1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded


Tuesday Leftover sloppy joes, add some recipe and some extra tomatos.

Wednesday Leftover Bruschetta Chicken Bake

Thursday Sandwich Crazy soceer and cub scout night!!

Friday Pasta dish

Saturday Homemade pizza

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Lowering the electric bill

Higher electricity costs are going to becoming my way. My hometown electric company is now asking for a 27% price increase. Between gas costs and electricity costs I am going to have no more money.

Tips for lowering the electric bill give some real world saving ideas. Add a few of your own.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

100 things about my money life

100 things about my money life.


1. I don't need a plasma tv My 27 inch tv that cost less than $300 is fine.
2. I don't need tivo, if I want to record something. I got a vcr.
3. I don't have an Ipod, I got plenty of CDs and the radio
4. satellite radio doesn't interest me. My local talk and music stations come in fine in my house and car. I do not mind the commericals.
5. I rarely go to the movie theatre these days unless it is free movies for the kids.
6. Instead we rent them via netflix
7. We do have cable tv, but I refuse upgrade to digital tv.
8. I am nervous about heating costs so we locked in the rate this year.
9. I am nervous about retirement savings.
10.I had dh bump up his 401k contribution to 11%.
11.I have zero credit card debt
12. I haven't used a credit card since July 2000.
13. I found out I was a credit card tart
14. Since I surfed our credit card balances in England they call that tarting.
15. We use our debit cards.
16 I do get mad at DH when he charges on the debit card for a few dollars.
17. I manage the budget. DH could care less.
18. I do have list for him, just in case.
19. He did have to use the list when I ended up in the hospital during my pregnancy for several weeks.
20. I do have one car loan which should be paid off within 18 months.
21. I am on Dave Ramsey' Baby step number 3 but I don't follow all of his rules.
22. Like his advice about stopping retirement contributions while paying down your debt.
23. I am building up my emergency fund to 6-9 months worth of income.
24. I listen to money shows on the radio including the Money Experts onin Boston and Bob Brinker. I listen to Dave on his website.
25. I worked in the insurance business before becoming a work at home mom.
26. I first worked in the whole life and variable life departments
27. I sold annuities. Alot of financial experts are not crazy about it.
28. I had my securities licenses but it is no longer valid
29. Since I no longer work. it expires after two years.
30. I don't have whole life insurance but a term life policy on me and my husband.
31. I own my house.
32. I do have a mortgage that will be done in 2028.
33. I hope to pay it off sooner
34. I did refinance the mortgage in 1998.
35. I did have to pay PMI for years.
36. I have to review my house owner's insurance to see about replacement costs.
37. I doubt we will move from this house
38. Some consider it a starter house but it works out fine for us.
39. I like my town, good schools, nice neigbhorhoods.
40. I live in Walmart
41`. I have a budget catagory called Walmart
42. I buy Walmart brand diapers
43. There are no Super walmarts in my state
44. I buy my food at the regular grocery store.
45. I use a pricebook at the grocery store.
46. I use a menu plan to keep my food budget down.
47. Saturday nights that menu plans usually goes out the window.
48. I am not organized enough to use coupons.
49. I buy a lot of generic brand foods.
50. I go to the bread store and get good deals there
51. I have a Christmas budget.
52. DH and I always say don't buy each gifts let's focus on the kids.
53. That never works.
54. We do a yankee swap with all of my cousin on my mother's side of the family
55. I try to think of unique gifts to give the teachers
56. or atleast things they will use
57. My mother used to give Jean nate each year to my teachers.
58. The past few years, I have give Movie baskets to the teachers which include a gift card, popcorn, a drink and some snacks.
59. I did that for the yankee swap but included a 6 pack of beer instead.
60. DH has a yankee swap at work and he did the movie basket as well, it was a bigger hit there than with my family.
61. I do regift
62. I do reuse gift bags
63. I have to buy wrapping paper from my son's school this year for a fundraiser.
64. Atleast it is better than the crap they sold last year.
66. I hate school fundraisers
67. We need to buy new 4th grade textbooks for social studies since they are from 1987.
68. I was still in high school and working at a bakery.
69. My first job was in a library ,My second in a bakery I worked in a Duncan Donuts for 2 weeks until one of the bakers got a little two close for comfort. I worked in convenience store during my senior year of high school. The night manager was a little creepy.
70.I got paid very little but gave me enough spending money. Minimum wage was at $3.35.
71. I have no idea what minimum wage is now.
72. I worked during college.
73. My parents paid for college.
74. I went to a state college
75. I don't have any student loans
76. My brother and sister went to private school and still have college loans.
77. I met my husband at college.
78. I was a cheap date.
79. He never used a credit card or had a checking account before me.
80. We merged funds before we were married but never lived in sin
81. I managed the money back then too.
82. I don't beleive in separate checking account for married couples.
81. I often wonder if I would be able to survive if I become a single mom with 3 kids.
82. I think we need more life insurance. DH smokes so that is probably unrealistic
83. Our life insurance would cover our mortgage plus give us another $100k.
84. I would need to get back in the workforce
85. And give up my nice cushy work at home business to pay the bills.
86. Well really just health insurance
87. I hate dealing my health insurance company
88. They lost one my son's records not once but twice in their system
89. Said two children in the same family could not have the same Date of birth,so they thought it was a mistake.
90. I have twins. Twins have the same date of birth Nuff said
91. I will make sure my kids go to college
92. We are saving for their college in 529 plans.
93. I will not take out a home equity loan to pay for college
94. I am filling up my gas tank today. It was $2.75 at the station down the street.
95. I haven't filled up my tank since the week before Katrina.
96. I don't drive much.
97. They just said with gas could go up to $4.00 a gallon with Hurricane Rita on the radio.
98. I will have to adjust the gas budget again.
99. DH's work isn't that far.
100. To borrow one of Suze Orman phrases "It's people first, then money, then things".

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Frugal Christmas Gifts Free Silver Jewelry

Hi everyone!
This is a great site to get some good deals on Christmas gifts.

I have found a site that lets you get FREE silver jewerly. You only have to pay $5.99 for Shipping and Handling.

Silver Jewelry

By the way every 15 minutes they change what they are offering.

Check out our

Frugal Christmas and Holiday Guide Homemade gifts, cheap decorations.

Free Cookbook Magazine

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Monday, September 19, 2005

Keep food cold during a power outage

I got this great tip from the www.mompack.com yahoo group.

I know this is off-topic, but I just have to say that if you are in
the path of hurricane Rita (like I am), turn up your fridge and
freezer to the coldest setting that it can go, from now. That way, if
your electricity goes out for a few hours or maybe even most of the
day, your food will/should still be okay. Just don't keep opening up
your fridge, lol. I learned the hard way with hurricane katrina and
had to throw out all of my food in both the freezer and
fridge...costly mistake! But, the power was out for almost 2 days, so
maybe it would not have been able to stay good that long anyway, but
who knows!

Patrice
http://www.prettymommasling.com

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Suze Orman on what to do in a disaster

I watched Suze Orman show on CNBC last night. She was talking to survivors of the Hurricane Disaster and how they were doing plus gave some great resources on how to handle it and even file a claim.

What should you ask your insurance agent? Do you know how much you would get if your home was destroyed? What about flood insurance? What can I do for living expenses.

I highly recommend everyone check it out What to do in a case of disaster

Enjoy your savings!

Theresa

Frugal Meal Planning Week of Sept 18th

It is hard to imagine that it is already near the end of September. I hit the bread store this past week and got a ton of bagels. They are in the day old bin, I put them in the freezer and they are perfect to come out and toast. They also had some Boboli pizza crust on sale for $1.00 each. Great deals :)

Sun Pork ribs, roasted potatos and green beans.

Mon Chili (didn't make it on the menu last week)

Tues Chicken legs, veggies

Wed Leftover chili

Thurs Sandwiches crazy night with soceer and cub scouts


Fri Spaghetti or some pasta

Sat Homemade pizza


Enjoy your savings
Theresa

Frugal Christmas Gift Ideas

Frugal Christmas Gift Ideas

With Christmas just around the corner it is time to start
thinking about gift giving, it you have not done so already! As
a single income family we are on a budget and I am always on the
look out for frugal fun Christmas gift ideas. The ideas I am
sharing with you here are a few of the different things I have
done over the years as well as some ideas that I may be doing
this year. Perhaps it will spark some new ideas for you this
Christmas season!


Gift Baskets are always popular:

Breakfast Basket

Pick one or two food type gifts:
Pancake & waffle mix along with homemade syrup
Homemade granola http://www.thefamilyhomestead.com/granola.html

Homemade raisin bread
Homemade cinnamon rolls
http://www.thefamilyhomestead.com/cinnamonrolls.html

Then add any of the following:
Homemade pot holders
Dish towels
Spatula
Coffee mugs

Dish towels, spatulas, coffee mugs can be found at dollar stores
or Wal-Mart very inexpensively.

Whole Wheat Cinnamon Pancake Mix


2 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour, freshly ground if possible
2 T baking powder
4 t cinnamon
1 t salt

To this mix add:
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
1/4 cup light olive oil or oil of your choice

Add extra milk if batter is too thick. Cook pancakes as usual.


Sucanat Syrup


2 cups Sucanat
1 cup water
2 t. maple flavoring
pat of butter, opt.

In a saucepan heat the Sucanat and water until just boiling and
the Sucanat has dissolved. Remove from heat and add the maple
flavoring and butter, if desired.

Another option that gives this syrup more of a maple taste and
still cuts down on the cost of pure maple syrup is to substitute
1/3 c. pure maple syrup for the 2 t. maple flavoring.

Put this syrup in small canning jars and top with a canning lid
and ring. Seal in a boiling water bath for 5 minutes or give
directions to store in refrigerator if you do not want to can it.


Bath Basket:

This can be easy to put together with items from a dollar store.


Possible items to add:

Hand lotion
Homemade bath salts
A bar of moisturizing soap
A loofa sponge or bath mitt
A bag of homemade bath tea
http://www.thefamilyhomestead.com/bathtearecipes.htm
Homemade Shower Gel
A candle or two
A CD of soothing relaxing music, look on Half.Com
http://half.ebay.com/index.jsp for inexpensive used CD's

For the hand lotion: you can buy large quantities of hand lotion
and scent it yourself with some essential oil or fragrance oil
and then put it into smaller bottles for gift giving. Small size
plastic bottles can be purchased at Wal-Mart in the cosmetics
section.

Homemade Shower Gel
Crystal Miller

1 cup of unscented shampoo
1/2 cup of water
1 1/2 tablespoon salt
12-15 drops of essential oil or fragrance oil.

In a bowl mix together the shampoo and water. Add salt and mix
well. The salt will help the shampoo to gel. Then add your
essential or fragrance oils a few drops at a time. You don't
want to over due the scent. If you want to add some food
coloring to give it a bit of color you can, but that is totally
optional.

Basic Bath Salts
Crystal Miller

3 parts Epson Salt
2 parts baking soda
1 part table salt
Essential oil or fragrance oil, your choice

Mix all ingredients together well. I find using my hands to do
this does the best job. Put in glass canning jars or zip-type
bags for gift giving.


Gift basket items can be put in a basket or a nice decorated box.
I have done both. I have found beautiful looking baskets at
thrift stores for 50cents. If I do not have a basket I will
often just take a cardboard box and wrap the box only, leaving it
open, with some pretty looking, foil type Christmas wrap.

Food always makes a good gift:

Small loves of pumpkin bread or yeast bread or cinnamon rolls on
a plate.

Cookies: peanut butter, chocolate chip, oatmeal, lemon bars,
sugar cookies, gingerbread men, or any of your family's favorite
cookies. Bake them ahead of time and freeze them. Then when you
are ready to make a pretty cookie plate simply pull a couple of
each type of cookie out of the freezer and put on your plate.

You can cover a plain white paper plate with foil and lay your
food items on this. Cover with Christmas looking plastic wrap
and top with a bow.

One year that we were struggling financially I even made
different types of flavored popcorn and gave this away in
zip-type bags with a bow on them.

Also you can give your own popcorn seasonings. Popcorn seasoning
in a small plastic bag and some popcorn that you put in a small
jar would be a cute, inexpensive gift as well.

Chili Popcorn Seasoning
Crystal Miller

1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon dried onion flakes
Cayenne pepper to taste
1/2 cup popcorn, popped
Butter to taste

Combine all ingredients. Pop your corn and butter as you would
desire. Sprinkle your desired amount of seasoning over hot
buttered popcorn and enjoy!


Cheesy Italian Popcorn
Crystal Miller

2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon Italian herb seasoning
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix all ingredients in blender until well mixed. This may take 2
to 3 minutes.
To Use:
Pop some popcorn, butter according to your desire and sprinkle
desired amount of seasoning on your popcorn. Toss everything to
coat evenly.

Cake or cookie mixes given in jars or zip-type bags. The
internet is full of recipes for this. A few that I have made
are, M&M cookie mix, Peanut Butter Cup Cookie Mix, and Brownie
mix.

Another frugal Christmas gift I have given over the years is
cocoa mix. I will often pack it in ziplock-type bags and then
look for inexpensive Christmas gift bags at the craft store to
put it in.

Big Batch Hot Cocoa Mix

16c. powdered dry milk
1 1/4 cup cocoa powder
5 cups Sucanat or cane juice crystal's or sugar
1/2 t. salt

In a large bowl mix all ingredients well and store in an airtight
container or zip lock bags.
To use measure 1/3 cup of mix into a cup and add hot water and
stir.

Gourmet type coffee is really simple to make. Add your favorite
extract to regular ground coffee and mix well. Some good flavor
choices are, almond, mint, cinnamon, or orange.

Flavored coffees or coffee creamers and tea mixes are always a
good choice.

Cappuccino Coffee Mix


1 cup powdered coffee creamer
1 cup powdered chocolate milk mix
2/3 cup instant coffee granules
1/2 cup sugar or cane juice crystals
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

In a medium size bowl combine all ingredients and mix well.

To use: place a heaping tablespoon of mix into a coffee mug and
add about a cup of boiling water. Stir and enjoy!

Amaretto Coffee Creamer


3/4 cup non-dairy coffee creamer
1t. almond extract
1t. cinnamon
3/4 cup powdered sugar

Mix all ingredients very well. Add your desired amount to a cup
of hot coffee!

Fruit flavored Tea Mix


1 cup instant tea
1 3-oz box of fruit flavored gelatin, your flavor choice
2 cups sugar or cane juice crystal's

In a medium size bowl combine all ingredients well. Package in a
canning jar or zip-type bag.
To use: Add approximately 2 teaspoons to a cup of boiling water
and enjoy!

Crystal Miller is a mother of 8 children and enjoys her God given role aswife, homemaker and mother! She has a homemaking and country living web site called The Family Homesteadhttp://www.thefamilyhomestead.com and has a free monthlynewsletter, "Homestead Happenings". You will find sign upinformation on her website.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Homemade Cleaning Products

Do Commercial & Homemade Cleaning Products Clean Equally?

My daughter Amanda and I spent the good part of 2 weeks, including her Christmas vacation, working on a science project for school to find out which household cleaners work best.

We did three tests: one with window cleaners, one with carpet cleaners, and one with laundry stain removers.

Each test was performed six times with my husband and I each judging the results without knowing which product cleaned what. The results were very interesting.

We decided to try cleaning a mirror coated with a mixture of toothpaste and water with 409, Windex, and a mixture of ammonia and vinegar. The ammonia and vinegar solution far outperformed the other two with 409 second and Windex last.

Next we tested three carpet cleaners (Woolite, shaving cream, and Resolve) by staining some carpet samples with cola.

Overall, the cleaners all did a pretty good job of getting out the stain (it seemed at first), but the Resolve and Woolite were not successful in preventing the carpet from stiffening when the carpet dried. The stains also re-appeared slightly after drying. You could definitely feel where the stains had been. Believe it or not the shaving cream removed almost all traces of the stain every time. You couldn't even feel where the stain had been. I'm converted! Just rub a little shaving cream into the stain and wipe with a sponge. (Shaving cream also does a great job cleaning upholstery stains.)

Last we tested laundry stain removers. The only homemade version we could come up with was rubbing salt into the stain before washing. This is supposed to work pretty well on fresh stains, but didn't work so great on dry stains. Shout worked the best and Spray ‘n Wash worked second.

All in all we were very pleased with the test results. We went into the project with no expectations about how things were going to turn out, curious to find out which cleaners really work best, and it's exciting to share the results with you knowing the tests were done in a completely scientific manner.

Amanda would like to caution, however, that you be careful with the ammonia and vinegar solution. The ammonia is very toxic and you should wear rubber gloves and be very careful not to inhale it.

Window Cleaner Recipe

1 spray bottle (any size)
Ammonia
Vinegar

Take your spray bottle and fill it up with the ammonia and vinegar, using 1 tbsp. vinegar per 3 tbsp. ammonia. Spray very slowly, and very lightly for safety.

Rachel Paxton is a freelance writer and mom of four. For inspirational articles and tips for everyday living, visit her web sites at http://www.creativehomemaking.com and http://www.organized-mom.com

Easy Halloween Costume Ideas

Easy Costumes Kids Can Make

The kindergarten class I was teaching was scheduled to perform a dramatic recitation. We needed several flower and bumblebee costumes. Since I have found that kids love making their own costumes, I wanted the class to be able to participate as much as possible in the process. Therefore, I came up with an easy costume idea and had the grade 7 class come in and assist, one student per kindergarten child. In about 1 hour all of the costumes were complete and the kindergarten class looked adorable. It was a great experience for everyone.

How did we make the costumes? Easy!

The bumblebees were made with ...

Yellow Garbage Bags (one per child)
Black Electrical Tape
Hair Bands
Pipe Cleaners
Small Foam Balls (available at craft and dollar stores)

The yellow garbage bags were laid flat on a desk and while the kindergarten children held them down, the grade 7 children put four stripes of electrical tape across, front and back. Each stripe had 3 widths of the tape. Finally, arm and neck holes were cut out of the garbage bags. Note: If you make a mistake, clear packing tape or scotch tape works wonders.

The antennae were made by twisting 2 pipe cleaners to each hair band and then, pushing a foam ball onto the other end of each pipe cleaner (the wire inside the pipe cleaners makes this easy). Note: Before adding the pipe cleaners, we wrapped them around a pencil to give them that curly look and add strength.

The flowers were even easier to make than the bees. The garbage bags only needed arm and neck holes cut out.

The flowers were made with ...

Green Garbage Bags (one per child)
Coloured Paper
Scotch Tape

To make the head of the flower, we first cut a 2-inch wide strip of paper for each child and wrapped it around each one's head from the top of their head to their chin, being sure to create a comfortable fit. We then taped it and removed it. Next we cut out several colours of petals about 5-6 inches high by 3-4 inches wide and let each child pick the colour they wanted for their flower. We did the cutting by eye, so the measurements are approximate. Next, we attached the chosen petals all along the inside edge of the bands we had just made and finally, folded the petals outward. Note: The number of petals varied with the preferences of each child.

For most of the children the flower head piece stayed on perfectly. For the ones who had trouble with it slipping off, we added a second strip of 2-inch wide paper to the first one from approximately ear to ear, around the back of the head on the day of the performance.

The final result was amazing. The kids were absolutely thrilled with their accomplishments and the performance was a great success.

Important: Please remember that plastic bags are not a toy and should be used with caution, under adult supervision.

The author has hosted hundreds of kid's and youth programs and events, ladies' events, community events, showers, birthday parties, slumber parties, and camps over the last 25 years. She also directs local theater productions and teaches drama at a small private school. If you are planning a costume party, shower, scavenger hunt or any other gathering or event visit http://www.diva-girl-parties-and-stuff.com for party games and ideas.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Watch out for Payday Loans

Most any large city has a number of small shops offering payday loans. They’re often found in strip centers; sometimes they double as pawn shops. They have a simple business – they lend you money until your next paycheck. The system is pretty convenient; you write them a postdated check for the amount you’re borrowing plus interest. On your next payday, they cash the check and your loan is paid off. What many people who use payday loan services fail to realize is that the interest rates charged by these firms are substantial, often reaching the equivalent of four hundred percent per year!

The interest rates charged by payday loan stores varies from state to state, but a rate of 15-17% for two weeks is not unusual. This translates to 390-440% per year, which is a staggering amount of interest to pay on a loan. The lenders say that these amounts are fair, and are necessary to cover the overhead associated with running a business and to account for a substantial number of borrowers who fail to repay the loans. That may be true, but that high of an interest rate can turn the “convenience” of a payday loan into a nightmare. Many borrowers are relatively low paid blue-collar workers who live from paycheck to paycheck. Someone who is a “bit short” this week may also find themselves short again on their next payday. If they fail to pay back the payday loan, the interest continues to accrue and additional penalties, such as returned check fees, may apply. It is quite common to see loans of $300 or so turn into debts of several thousand dollars, especially if the borrower compounds the problem by borrowing funds from a second payday loan store to pay the loan from the first one.

Several states have already passed laws capping the interest rates that may be charged on payday loans. Others will undoubtedly follow. A good alternative to the payday loan would be to take a cash advance on a credit card. There is usually a fee associated with a cash advance, but the annual interest rate, combined with the fee, is still a lot cheaper than a loan at 400%. Anyone who is considering taking out a payday loan should read the terms carefully. Otherwise, that “loan until payday” could be there to haunt you for a long time.

©Copyright 2005 by Retro Marketing. Charles Essmeier is the owner of Retro Marketing, a firm devoted to informational Websites, including End-Your-Debt.com, a site devoted to debt consolidation and credit counseling, and StructuredSettlementHelp.com, a site devoted to information regarding structured settlements.

When to refinance your mortgage

Home Refinancing Rates - When is It Worth It to Refi?

When interest rates were two points below your current mortgage rate, it was considered a good rule of thumb to refinance. But with today’s low closing costs, a difference of one percent can save you money on your interest costs. Even with low fees, it only worth it to refinance when you can be sure you can recoup the mortgage costs.

Figuring Up Costs

Refinancing is simply paying off one loan and taking a new one. The same fees that you paid with the first mortgage, you will probably have to pay for the second mortgage. Usually, loan cost range between $2000 to $6000 for a $200,000 loan. You will also have to add in points for lower interest rates, adding additional thousands. The only way to recoup these costs is to keep your mortgage for several years.

Interest Rates

To make refinancing worth it financially, you need to be sure that interest rates are low enough to pay for the cost of refinancing. One simple way to figure this out is to use a mortgage interest calculator from one of the lending sites. These calculators will give you an estimated monthly payment and the total cost of the interest. By punching in different interest rates, you can see your potential savings.

Short Term

Besides interest rates, you also need to compare terms. The shorter the loan the less you will pay in interest. Ideally when you refinance, you should choose a loan with a shorter term. You can also choose a biweekly mortgage, where you pay half a mortgage payment every other week, which can reduce your loan by years.

Finding Low Cost Lenders

Not all lenders charge the same fees or interest rates, so you can save thousands by searching for lenders. You can easily go to the big name mortgage lenders and request quotes, but some smaller financing companies offer better deals. The easiest way to find them is through an online mortgage broker site. Basically, you enter some basic information about yourself and income, and then you receive several different quotes. From this list of offers, you can decide who is offering the best refi package.

To view our list of recommended mortgage refinance lenders online, visit this page: Recommended Mortgage Refinance Lenders Online.
Carrie Reeder is the owner of ABC Loan Guide, an informational website about various types of loans.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Answers to your Roth IRA questions

In this week's issue Living on a Budget in a Non Budget World
Newsletter.
Money Saving Tips
Featured Article Roth IRA Basics
Top Conversations on the Money Saving Forums
Free Sample, Contests, Coupons and Surveys
The Frugal Five
Frugal Food Spare Change and Calories



Read this issue at:
Answers to your Roth IRA questions


Enjoy your savings!
Theresa

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Financial Preparation kit

Since the aftermat of Katrina, people are thinking about how the finanical emergency kit they should have. http://www.patelco.org/tools/prep_kit.aspx has organized a comprehensive financial preparation kit.


Life is not short on examples of situations that take people by surprise. Whether they're natural disasters or unexpected health emergencies, you can be prepared when such occurrences happen so that you can
respond immediately.

That's why we created the Financial Preparation Kit. With this kit, you can collect important information such as names, phone numbers, and addresses of important contacts and put it in one convenient location so that you can get to it when you need it. There are separate sections to enter financial, insurance, and investment information.

There's also a checklist of important documents to make it easy for you to find documents such as birth certificates, passports, and automobile titles. When the worksheet is complete, file it in a safe place, along with the supporting documents, and let your loved ones know where it is.
Download the Financial Preparation Kit*:
Comprehensive version
Minimal version
Extra Sheets

The Frugal Gene

I realize now why people don`t like ``thrift`` or ``frugality`` or anything that denotes being aware of money. It isn`t just the media brainwashing (don`t you love that? We`ve found the source of society`s ills — ``media brainwashing.`` It`s all Judith Miller`s fault.) The idea of being aware of money is, for some, the antithesis of fun. Consider the opposite of thrifty; free spending, free wheeling. Free. Yes, that`s it. We want to be free. Free of the requirement that we be aware. How much is it? The sky`s the limit. Well, no Read more

I am pretty sure... I got the frugal gene????

Enjoy your savings!
Theresa

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Total Money Makeover Dave Ramsey on Oprah!

My financial guru Dave Ramsey hit the big time. I didn't get to see the entire thing due to having to run to the dentist plus screaming kids in the background. I hope to see it when it is rerun in a few months but you can check out the transcripts plus some short video clips at
Oprah.com

I did get to see the spoiled kids. Oh my oh my. Rick spoiled brats was my only thought. I think Dave did a good job of putting them in their place.

Also check out the Oprah after the show clip... Dave get real!!

Grandma's way of doing things works—it's common sense. If you don't have the money, honey, don't buy it."
— Dave Ramsey, author of The Total Money Makeover

Enjoy your savings!

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Frugal Meal Planning Wk of Sept 11, 2005

Making a menu is my main way of keeping our food budget in check.

Today will be making a batch of french toast for breakfast this week. I am letting my first grader do hot lunch at school. It is $1.50 for the day which includes milk. So I don't think that it is a bad price.

Sun Cheeseburger pie

Mon Mexican Lagansa

Tues Homemade chicken nuggets, pototos,

Wed Leftover mexican lagansa

Thur Sandwiches in the car got soceer and the cub scouts.

Fri Chili

Sat Homemade pizza

Cold Medicine savings

Time to stock up on the cold medicine

Get $3 off Dimetapp and Robitussin DM! (Ends 9-30-05)

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Dave Ramsey on Oprah

Dave Ramsey will be appearing on "The Oprah Winfrey Show: Total Money Makeovers" on Tuesday, Sept. 13. Check local listings or go to oprah.com to find the station and time in your area. You don't want to miss it!

Enjoy your savings!

Theresa

Government Car Auctions

Buying a car at an auction can save you a lot of money. I haven't done it personally we have friends who have done it several times.

There are 1000s of cars that become government and bank properties every day! Due to surplus laws and the cost to store the extra vehicles, cars are constantly being sold at extremely cheap prices! With Icarfinder.com you can find out how to get a great repossessed or seized car for bids starting as low as $200!

These cars are fresh, almost new, in great conditions and are just waiting for you to buy them. Stop paying your car notes and get the same car for three, two or even just one of those payments through the government funded auctions that were the dealerships secret until now. There’s no hidden costs, there’s no difficult applications. All you do is sign up for the ONE TIME fee of $35 and get a lifetime pass to our constantly updated databases!

Friday, September 09, 2005

Frugal Christmas Gifts Homemade candles

How to make candles

Making homemade candles can be a fun hobby, whether making them as gifts or for yourself to enjoy. Candle making usually requires some experimentation, but when you discover how to make those perfect candles, it’s well worth the effort.

There are a few basic supplies needed for making most candles:




wax


wicks


mold or containers


wax melter


candle making thermometer


fragrances


dyes


putty for molds



First decide on a wax you would like to start with, there are three different kinds to choose from: paraffin wax, soy wax, and beeswax. Paraffin wax is most commonly used in candles, this wax is found at most candle making stores. Soy wax is all natural, made from soybeans, and cleans up easily with soap and water. Beeswax is all natural too, and making beeswax candles is often easiest because you simply wrap a sheet of beeswax tightly around a wick then seal it with your thumb, which means no melting is required.

To begin, spread newspapers around the candle making area. First you melt your paraffin or soy wax and it must be double-boiled. Usually you place a large pot that is about half-filled with water on a burner over low-medium heat, place a melter in the water, then gradually place wax pieces into the melter. When the wax has melted, you can add coloring or fragrance as desired.

To make molded candles, cut the wick two inches taller than you want the candle to be, then thread it through the hole at the bottom of the mold, then plug the outside of the hole with putty. Place a pencil or similar item over the top of the mold and tie the top of the wick to it, centering the wick. If the mold is cardboard, plastic, or glass, heat the wax to 130 degrees Fahrenheit. If the mold is metal, then heat the wax to 190 degrees. You can use a candle or candy thermometer to measure this. When the right temperature is reached, lift the melter by the handle and slowly pour the wax into the mold. Let cool for twelve hours then refrigerate for twelve more hours, then your candle is ready to be removed.

To make votives and other small container candles, you can use pre-tabbed wicks by simply placing them in the center of the votive candle molds or containers, then pour the wax mixture over and let stand for twelve hours, refrigerating the votives.

This should give you a good start in this enjoyable hobby.

Jennifer Hall is a writer who provides information on shopping online for candle making and aromatherapy candles. When she's not online, Jennifer's spending time with her family, gardening, or playing the piano or accordion.

Also check out
101 Gel Candle Recipes

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Where to get coupons?

The Coupon Clippers We organize, clip and ship coupons upon request. Find out how you can save more with clipping coupons. Lots to chose from.

Want to hear success with coupons
I just wanted to mention a couple of deals I found recently with coupons I got from The Coupon Clippers I purchased 5- 32oz. bottles of Fantastik Cleaner for 49 cents a bottle. Our local Kinney drugstore had these on sale for $1.99 and I used the $1.50 off coupons I had for the savings. ( I wish I had bought more of these coupons to purchase more bottles at that sale price, but the sale was off at the end of the day.) Our local Wegmans grocery store has been selling Edy's ice cream for $1.99/ctn. I have coupons I got from this site for $1.00 off the new slow churned Edy's, so my final cost is just 99cents/ctn. (56oz.) My large capacity, stand alone, freezer( a practical accessory for the serious couponer) is filled with Edy's now.LOL my kids are happy. I'm very happy that a site such as this exists as now I can purchase just the coupons I need , and I can look at the Sunday store ads and then go to the site and buy just what I need and have it arrive in time to take advantage of these sales.

My local Kroger's only will double up to $1.00 about once every one or two months for 3 days. Otherwise, they will double up to 50 cents on coupons. My very best shopping trip took 3 hours, 3 shopping carts, one male teenager who is very good at math, a zillion coupons that all doubled,
and lots of patience. I bought real food items - boxed, canned goods, fresh fruits & veggies, fresh & frozen meats, for a total of 3 shopping carts full.
Took 30 minutes to check out. Spent over $720.00 worth of groceries.....
paid...... $220.00. This gave me a very nice stockpile of groceries.

Enjoy your savings!
Theresa

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Verizon DSL 14.95 a month

I had to pass along this great bargain! Can you believe just $14.95 for high-speed internet access. I have had Comcast for years but I am seriously considering switching to get this great deal.

Verizon Online DSL : Broadband high speed internet access starting at $14.95 a month. When you order online, get one month free. Experience the Internet like never before with Verizon Online DSL with MSN® Premium

Enjoy your savings!
Theresa

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Find out your credit score

I thought I would pass this along since many of you are looking for for your credit card. Here is a way to find it out.

Before applying for Any new credit... any new home loan, auto loan, credit card, etc., know your Credit Score.

Did you know that each time someone checks your credit, your score falls lower and lower?

Put yourself in the driver's seat. Check your Credit Score totally free, then search for a lender that is
guaranteed to accept your unique score!

! Credit score challenge

No Credit Card Required.
No signing up for unwanted services.
No inquiry will appear on your credit file.

Enjoy your savings!
Theresa

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Grandparent's Day gifts

The first Sunday after Labor Day
It is only right and fitting that one day of the year is set aside to honor our grandparents. It is time to celebrate those special people who are always there with a hug, a kiss, a cookie, something special, or take us somewhere.
National Grandparent's Day originated in 1978. Then President Jimmy Carter declared it to be the first Sunday after Labor Day.
If you can, enjoy the day with them. That is the greatest gift they can receive from you. If you can;'t see them, call them. When you call, make sure you have the time for a long conversation. Remember, grandparents will always ask about you first and listen intently to everything you have to say. They are never rushed or in a hurry. They are there just for you.

Frugal Grandparent's day gifts:

Scrapbook page of pictures of the grandkids and the grandparents.

Get a mousepad with a picture of the grandchildren.

Stepping Stones

Homemade bookmarks

Enjoy your saving!

Theresa

Frugal Christmas gifts Homemade Leather Wallet

As part of trying to keep Christmas gift costs down, we will be finding unique frugal gift ideas.

Enjoy your savings!
Theresa
_____________________________


Here's the skinny on how to make a leather wallet by hand. A handmade leather wallet is a gift that will be treasured for years.

How To Make a Leather Wallet
I suppose if you search far and wide enough you could find the pattern to make a leather wallet from scratch, but why go to all that bother? If you don't get the holes lines up perfectly and each piece cut just right, it'll be a mess. Leather wallet kits are made in bulk, precision cut by machine.

Leather Wallet Kits

If you've been curious about making a leather wallet, it's much easier than you think. Buy yourself a leather wallet kit and you're off to the races. Novaleather.com has a great selection of leather wallet kits, and practically anything you can imagine in leather crafts. A quick search online for "leather wallet kit" will give you lots to choose from. There are tons of pre-stamped designs to choose from, so you should be able to find something to match the leather wallet theme you're looking for. Some designs even come with a blank area to let you stamp your name on it. If you want to design the cover of the leather wallet by hand, you'll need a few tools and an idea of how to stamp the pattern. If this is your first time, you might want to talk to somebody about which tools to start with. There are a lot of stamping tools available, but you only need a few to get started. Here's a quick "how to" guide to give you some ideas.

Preparing The Leather Wallet Cover

The ideal condition for stamping is leather that has been wetted, and then dried until it is cool to the touch. Success depends upon accurate placement of the stamp, and correct pounding of the mallet. A lighter mallet works best on small, delicate impressions and gives more control than a heavier version. Sharp blows leave a nice, crisp impression in the leather. The leather should be a darker brown color at the bottom of the impression. Make sure you hold the stamp firmly on the leather so that it doesn’t wiggle when you’re pounding it. Practice makes perfect here, like anything else in leather working, do some samples first and get a feel for how much pressure you need to exert with the mallet. The leather wallet cover you get in the kit is thick enough to make leather wallets that are quite attractive with the embellishment of various stamps. Seal the leather wallet or any other small leather items you might want to make with Super Sheen leather sealer for a protective barrier that protects against moisture and stains.

Stamping the Leather Wallet Cover

You simply wet the leather, place alignment marks on the leather so that you know where to place the stamp, and then pound the design of the stamp into the leather. Use the skin side of the leather for stamping rather than the flesh side. Try out your stamping skills out on a scrap piece of leather first to get a feel for it.

Tools to Use

Stamp
Mallet (lighter for more delicate stamps)
Board on which to pound the leather
Summary

After wetting, make sure the leather is allowed to dry until just cool to the touch
Position the stamp over the leather exactly where you want it
Hold the stamp firmly when pounding with the mallet
Use sharp blows of the mallet for crisp results

ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Hey! Need To Know More About Leather?

Here's How to Get Your Answers Quick and Easy
Click Here ==> Leather Craft Secrets

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Five Secrets for Long-term Financial Success

Five Secrets for Long-term Financial Success

Five future proofing financial steps that we can all take to protect our current financial status, improve our future financial prospects and secure our long-term financial success.


Future financial success is not a guarantee that any one of us can rely upon, no matter how wealthy we are now or intend to become.

There are however five future proofing financial steps that we can take to protect our current financial status, improve our future financial prospects and secure our long-term financial success.

1) Know The Different Between Good Debt & Bad Debt

Bad debt is any debt that accrues interest month after month on outstanding balances and includes credit card debt of course, which is now the most common type of bad debt that we are all burdened with. Other examples of bad debt include store card debt, home secured loans other than your mortgage and any money borrowed from lenders dealing with high risk borrowers as they charge the highest rates of interest and have the most restrictive and inflexible terms and conditions.

Good debt is really only your mortgage, although some people would argue with me and include car finance in this category even though a car is not an essential item for most people – if we’re honest with ourselves! Good debt in the form of your mortgage enables you to afford the roof over your head and for most of us it is the only way we will ever be able to afford a home.

A mortgage with an attractive and affordable interest rate will of course cost you money but at the same time it enables you to purchase a capital growth appreciating asset that you can later sell and redeem cash from or pass to your heirs upon death and that will be a positively tangible asset to benefit their financial futures.

2) Get Out Of Bad Debt

Examine all of the bad debt you have and prioritize the amounts to be paid off first by beginning with the most expensive debt in interest and charge terms. Every month pay off as much as you can afford from your number one debt and proceed with this approach right through every bad debt you have until you have no outstanding amounts remaining.

Then – take on no new bad debt! Keep out of credit card and loan hell.

3) Pay Off Your Good Debt

Having worked hard for as long as it takes to pay off all of your bad debt you can now turn your attention to your mortgage – some mortgage lenders penalize for early repayment so consider re-mortgaging if you can get a better or same rate of interest and you won’t incur arrangement fees, or try to arrange new terms with your current lender that will allow you to make regular lump sum repayments.

The shorter the life of your debt the less interest you will pay and the sooner you will own your own home – your most significant financial asset – outright. This will give you massive security and also free you up financially to enjoy life to the full and save more towards your retirement.

4) Save For Retirement

Most governments of the civilized world reward their citizens with tax breaks on retirement savings made. Furthermore many conscientious employers add to an employee’s contribution to a works pension scheme. Find out what benefits you’re entitled to and get a retirement savings plan in place immediately. It is never too early to start saving for retirement.

Whilst paying off your debt is an essential step on the road to long-term financial success, so ensuring your future is secured through saving today for your own financial wellbeing is an essential step. After all, if you don’t look after your best interests, no one else will.

Put as much as you can possibly afford each month into the best savings or investment product to suit your requirements and circumstances – and start today.

5) Protect Your Personal & Financial Assets

Insure your life, your family, your health, your business and your home – then use the services and advice of qualified taxation and trust professionals to find out whether there are legal and legitimate ways in which you can reduce your overall taxation burden and your estate’s future inheritance or death taxation burden.

Look after your personal interests today and ensure that your financial assets are protected for life.

Rhiannon Williamson is a freelance writer whose many articles about onshore saving and offshore investing have appeared in financial publications around the world. Visit this link to read her latest articles about Offshore Investment

Friday, September 02, 2005

For the Hurricane Vicitims

As I am sit here in the comfort of my own home, I feel guilty. I have my family, running water, electrity and my all the luxeries of a typical American life. While my family sometimes lives paycheck to paycheck, we have to donate. www.redcross.org or 1-800-Help-Now It is not the time to be thrify or frugal.

For volunteer opportunties http://redcross.volunteermatch.org/results/opp_detail.jsp?oppid=153508

A Texas work at home mom also wants to do something specifically for the kids Coloring for Katrina's Kids

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Save Money on your clothing budget

Hello and Welcome!

In this week's issue Living on a Budget in a Non Budget World
Newsletter.
Money Saving Tips
Money Saving Tips
Featured Article Save Money on your clothing budget
Top Conversations on the Money Saving Forums
Free Sample, Contests, Coupons and Surveys
The Frugal Five
Get Organized for back to school
Frugal Food Italian Chicken Spaghetti


Read this issue at:
Saving Money on your clothing budget

Enjoy your savings!

Theresa