How to Save Money on Your Grocery Bill

As I make my way to the grocery store for my bi-monthly trip I notice that the price of food keeps rising. It seems that every where you look prices are rising faster then ever before. Everyone is looking for ways to save and most people are cutting out items that they can live without. But food we cannot live without. Here are some simple solutions to saving big on your grocery bill.

1. Cook from scratch. Pre-made items are much more expensive than cooking from scratch.

2. Try meatless meals. You can substitute meat with beans or tofu for a much cheaper meal. Check out allrecipes.com for some great meatless/vegetarian recipes.

3. Buy fruits and veggies that are in season. Check your local farmers market for those items that are in season. In season fruits and veggies are much cheaper than buying out of season.

4. Always use coupons when shopping. Check out your local ads before your trip to see what you can save on and correspond those items with the coupons in the Sunday paper.

5. Check out HotCouponWorld.com for the best ways to save on groceries. They have forums that let you know whats on sale at each major grocery store and what coupons you can use with those sales.

6. The Grocery Game is a website that can save you hundreds of dollars on your grocery bill each month. Log in, spend a few minutes with a pair of scissors, and your off to win The Grocery Game. For first-timers you can join for $1 for a 4 week trail membership and than after that it is $10 for every 8 weeks.

7. Eat at home more. Eating out will cost you as much as it would to cook two to three times as many meals depending on the size of your family and where you eat out.

Other coupon sites to check out: CouponMom.com, Wow-Coupons.com, and TheCouponClippers.com.

Green tip of the day

When shopping for fruits and veggies, try to stay away from ones that were shipped from out of state or outside the U.S. Buying local helps your community. Also its good to know that a tremendous amount of fossil fuel is used to transport foods long distances. Combustion of these fuels releases carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, particulate matter and other pollutants into the atmosphere, contributing to global climate change, acid rain, smog and air pollution.

Stop the Credit Card Abuse!

Its the sign of the times, people are using credit cards as a means to survive. The average household now carries an average of between $6,000 and $10,000 in consumer credit card debt. When is it past the point of no return? And what can you do to help end the credit card abuse? Here are some helpful ways to move past the credit card and back into the land of living within your means.

1. Take the Credit Cards Out of your Wallet! If you don’t have them with you, than you cant use them.

2. Make a budget and stick to it. This is hard for some, but it will save you so much money in the long run. NOLO has written an article on How to Make a Budget and Stick to it. It takes you step by step through the process of making a budget.

3. Carry cash. If you know you are going somewhere, carry only enough cash to cover that expense so that you don’t over spend.

4. Check the interest on the credit cards. When you see how much is going towards interest every month its going to help you stop spending.

5. Contact the creditor and explain your situation to them, together you can work on a plan so that obligations are repaid. They would rather have you pay them back then default on the loan and stop paying your bill.

What will it take to pay off your credit cards? Check out this credit card calculator from Bankrate.com.

Home Office Paper Clutter – To Keep or To Toss

Do you ever wonder when to get rid of receipts? Or How long you need to keep credit card bills? Here’s a guide to help you clean up the overflowing mess of receipts, tax documents and other paperwork that clutter your home office. Get your trash can ready.

Document

Stock Certificates – If your brokerage firm has them electronically; then you can toss them

Receipts – If its not needed for a warranty or tax filings, then toss it

401(k), IRA, and Keogh Statements – You can toss the old one when you get a new one

Social Security Statements – You can toss the old one when you get a new one

Tax Returns and Supporting Documents – You can toss after 7 years. You can also scan the returns into your computer before you toss them .

Bank Deposits – You can toss them after you reconcile your statements

Check Registers – You can toss after one year

Check Statements – You can toss after one year

Credit-Card Bills – You can toss after 7 years, in case they are needed to support tax filings

Annually Renewed Insurance Policies – You can toss after renewal

Brokerage/Investment Statements – You can toss old ones when new ones arrive, but hold annual statements

Savings Bonds – Cash them in when they mature or convert them to electronic form at the Treasury’s Smart Exchange program

A Safe Deposit Box is a great place to keep important papers safe. Check out All Financial Matters for What Belongs in your Safe Deposit Box.

Green tip of the day

Now that your trash bins are overflowing with paper, make sure and put those papers in the recycle bin. But first don’t forget to shred them if they have any personal information on them.

Holiday Air Travel – Now is the Time to Book

Its hard to think about Holiday travel when summer isn’t even over? Experts are saying that we should start booking flights NOW for Holiday Travel. They feel that if we wait for the date to get closer we will miss out on getting any flights or have to pay an unsightly amount, due to fewer flights.

In a report from USA Today, Holiday travel will get costlier, they mention how “Nearly all U.S. airlines are making big cuts in their schedules this fall in response to record jet fuel prices. Airlines’ domestic flying will fall about 9% in November vs. a year ago, according to a USA TODAY analysis this week of schedule data from OAG-Official Airline Guide. More cuts are likely.” Some flights will go from 10 flights a day at present to 4 flights a day come October when the cuts begin.

“This is going to be one of the most expensive holiday travel seasons ever,” warns Tom Parson at BestFares.com. Not only are airline prices going up but we will see an increase in Rental Cars and Hotels also. Even some travel agents are reporting that 90% of their Mexico and Hawaii travel are already booked for the holiday season.

So what is the moral of this story? Book your flights NOW if you want to travel at Thanksgiving or Christmas time.

Top 10 Free Stock Photo Sites

For those of you out there that like to blog and add images to your blog, or you need photos for commercial website design, or you just want wallpaper for your computer, I have compiled a list of sites that offer Free Stock Photos.

1. Stock Xchng – The leading free stock photography site. They have a gallery containing over 350,000 photos. You can browse their photo gallery or you can share your photos with others free of charge. Very easy to use website.

2. Stock Vault – We love to share photos. You don’t have to sign up to download their images. They have 10,632 stock photos.

3. Free Stock Photos – Free photography for personal or commercial use. They have a variety of what look like older type, vintage photos.

4. Public Domain Photos – Large collection of public domain photos and clipart. 5,000 free stock photos and 8,000 free cliparts.

5. Every Stock Photo – This is a search engine for free photos. The photos come from many sources and are license-specific. Membership is free and allows you to rate, tag, collect and comment on photos.

6. Free Range Stock – Sign up is free. All images are at least 2400 X 1600, and photos can be used for commercial or personal projects. This site has high-quality, high-resolution stock photos. I was impressed with the quality and variety.

7. Geek Philosopher – Premiere source for royalty free stock photography, wallpapers, and desktop backgrounds. If you use an image, post a link to GeekPhilosopher from an active page on your site. They offer web hosting for $5.95 a month.

8. Free Stock Photography – Free royalty free stock photography: Unlike other sites with free images, these are also royalty free. They offer good quality images.

9. Pixel Perfect Digital – Free stock photos – Upload and download free high resolution photographs, textures, and 3D graphics. They have some very interesting photos that have been manipulated, also have backgrounds, and 3D rendered. If you need odd, you will find it here.

10. Photo Gen – The source for quality, high-resolution, Free stock photos and images. You have to register to download images. These images are free for commercial and personal use.

This is just a small list, there are many more out there but these are ones that I found to have quality, high resolution images.

Whats the Best Laptop for You?

Buy the best laptop for your lifestyle and budget

For the Business TravelerApple MacBook Air, 13-inch. For about $1800, this is the lightest of the light at just under 3 pounds. Its super comfy to use and it has a 4-hour battery life. It has no CD or DVD drive but you can add an external one and it doesn’t have a removable battery.

For the Bargain Hunter Dell Inspiron 1525. For about $675, this is perfect if you are on a budget. Its powerful enough to do all the basics and it has lots of ports, a decent 3.5 hour battery life, and a webcam for phoning home. It does not have the greatest processor or fabolous speakers.

For the Best of the Best Apple MacBook Pro, 17 inch. For around $2,900, this is for those that want the best in class with lots of power. It has speedy performance, comfy ergonomics, and lots of extra features. It has a 5.5-hour battery life and relatively light at 6.6 pounds.

For the Desktop ReplacementHP Pavilion HDX Entertainment Notebook. For about $2,700, this laptop has the power and features of a full desktop in a luggable size. The screen is 20 inches, the speakers have great sound quality and its super fast. Its a tad bit too heavy for sitting on your lap at almost 16 pounds.

For the Budget GamerDell Inspiron 1720. At about $1,290, this is great for the gamer on a budget. This laptop can handle light gaming and is great for watching movies. It is loaded with useful features like five USB ports and a remote control. This weighs 8.3 pounds.

Green Tip of the Day

If your new computer is replacing an old one, remember to ask the company you are buying from if they will recycle your old computer. Don’t let your computer be tossed into a landfill. Also make sure and wipe the old hard drive clean before handing it over to be recycled.

5 Recalls You Should Know About

Little Tikes Chit ‘N Chat toy cell phones – The hinge cover can detach and is small enough to pose a choking hazard. Products with a screw visible are not included in the recall. Take the phone away from your child immediately and call Kids Station Toys International toll-free at (888) 620-0930 or visit the firms website at www.kidsstationtoys.com.

DeWALT Job Site Table Saw – It is possible for the pivot bracket to separate, causing a mis-alignment between the blade and the fence, posing a kick-back hazard. Model numbers DW744X and DW744XC. Products stamped with an X following the date code are not affected. Stop using the table saw immediately and call DeWALT toll-free at 1-888-742-9168 between 8 am and 5 pm Eastern Time.

Munchkin Deluxe Bottle and Food Warmer – The bottle and food warmers can overheat, posing a fire hazard. Stop using the bottle and food warmers with lot number TP-1487 and contact Munchkin at (866) 619-8673 between 9 am and 5 pm Pacific Time.

Lowe’s pastel green and pink Childrens Storage Bins – The surface paint on the storage bins could contain excessive levels of lead, violating the federal lead paint standard. Immediately take the storage bins away from children and return them to any Lowe’s Store for a full refund.

Lifetime Brands Dinnerware – Nautica J Class and Villa della Luna dinnerware exceed the Food and Drug Administration’s guidance levels for lead and/or cadmium. Stop using the dinnerware and for Pfaltzgraff dinnerware contact (800) 499-1976 or for Nautica dinnerware contact (866) 928-0060.

Clean your Computer Screen & Keyboard with Products at Home

You don’t need to spend big bucks on cleaning supplies to clean your computer screen and keyboard when all you need is already under your sink or in your cleaning closet.

To clean your computer screen –

1. Dilute isopropyl alcohol (not rubbing alcohol, as it may contain oil) into a solution of no greater than 50% alcohol and 50% with distilled water.

2. Put the solution in a small atomizer bottle, the type that you push from the top to get a fine mist. Don’t use this, however, to spray on the screen itself.

3.Apply the solution to a cotton cloth, such as an old T-shirt, lint-free microfiber cloth, or other very soft cloth. A large cloth is best, since it will help to reduce the risk of leaving streaks across the screen from finger pressure.

4. Wipe the cloth against the screen in a circular, or other consistent motion. Rapid circular movements generally eliminate streaks. Apply an even pressure to the cloth but take care not to press your fingers into the cloth or screen.

To clean your computer keyboard –

1. Take the cord and wrap it around itself.

2. Place the keyboard face down in a dishwasher. (You can wash it with dishes.)

3. Turn on “Heat dry”.

4. Add detergent.

5. Let the dishwasher run full cycle.

For laptop computer keyboards –

1. Turn off your laptop. Give it a minute or so to totally power down and then unplug it.

2. Wipe down the keyboard. Remove crumbs and debris using your toothbrush (or compressed air or vacuum). Wipe again.

3. Remove dust and debris from vents with the toothbrush.

For more tips on cleaning your computer check out the Good Housekeeping website.

Tipping Etiquette for Around the Globe

Are you a miserly tipper, someone your friends are embarrassed to go out with? Does your significant other add more money to the tip when you turn your back? Or maybe you’re one of those people who like to feel important by leaving a huge tip? Either way this tip guide will help you in your travels and journeys around the globe.

New York – Restaurant: 15-20% Taxi: 10-15% Airport Porter: $1-$2 per bag

London – Restaurant: None Taxi: 5-10% Airport Porter: $1-$2 per bag

Moscow – Restaurant: 10% Taxi 5-10% Airport Porter: $1-$2 per bag

Tokyo – Restaurant: Some have a 10% service charge; if no service charge, no tip Taxi: None Airport Porter: No porter tipping

Dubai, United Arab Emirates – Restaurant: Not obligatory, but some have a 10% service charge Taxi: Locals rarely tip, but 10% at the most Airport Porter: $1

Paris – Restaurant: 5-10%, though many add a 12-15% service charge Taxi: None, or round up to the next euro, but no more than 10% Airport Porter: Tip not necessary

Buenos Aires, Argentina – Restaurant: Not obligatory, but some may have service charges Taxi: Not obligatory but no more than 10% Airport Porter: $1

Lagos, Nigeria – Restaurant: Many add a 10% service charge Taxi: None, fare is negotiated Airport Porter: $1-$2

Mumbai, India – Restaurant: 10% service charge Taxi: 10% for private hired taxis; otherwise round up Airport Porter: $1

To avoid those awkward moments of discomfort when tipping, arm yourself with small change in local currency and familiarize yourself with these current tipping procedures. Also check out the International Tipping Guide for more Countries.

8 Ways to Whiten Your Teeth at Home

I have always used those over the counter teeth whitening systems but my teeth started to get amazingly sensitive, that I had to stop. And don’t get me started on the price, some of them run close to $50 for a weeks supply. So I decided to look through the Internet to find ways to whiten my teeth naturally, without harsh chemicals and without going broke.

Here is a list of things I found and want to try:

1.) 1 ripe crushed Strawberry combined with 1/2 tsp Baking soda – Brush onto your teeth and leave on for 5 minutes, then brush thoroughly with toothpaste to remove. Rinse well.

2.) 1 tsp Baking soda combined with a dash of salt and a few drops of vinegar – Brush with your toothbrush.

3.) Combine hydrogen peroxide with a heaping teaspoon full of baking soda – Make a paste and brush thoroughly.

4.) Rub the inside of an orange peel on your teeth.

5.) Make a paste of ground, dried bay leaves and dried orange peels (you may need to add some water). Use this as a whitener in between brushing teeth.

6.) Burn a piece of toast, then scrape off the black layer of the toast (it is charcoal) and mix that with your toothpaste. Brush your teeth with this at night before you go to bed.

7.) Mix equal parts of lemon juice and salt – Brush with your toothbrush.

8.) Mix mustard oil and salt to make a paste – Brush with your toothbrush.

Our everyday practices are what cause our teeth to become yellowed or stained. So make sure and brush your teeth daily, after every meal is great but if thet’s not possible, try to make sure you do it twice a day. The second thing to always do is floss, this keeps food from sticking around your mouth too long and causing plaque build up. Another way to help keep the stains away is to give up coffee, black tea and red wine, these are the biggest culprits in teeth stains. Another important thing you can do for your teeth is to stop smoking, not only will your teeth thank you, but your body will thank you. And most important make sure and go to your dentist every six months.