10 Ways to Beat Insomnia

1034045_56715244Everyone needs sleep, in fact they say a person can die from lack of sleep after about 10 days. So what do you do when you need to sleep but cant? Here are some helpful tips to help you get back into the sleeping groove.

1. Take a bath: Relax in the bathtub. This soothes both body and mind. Try adding some sleep inducing scents into the tub like lavender oil.

2. Drink some warm milk: You thought this was just an old wives’ tale, but it actually works! Warm milk has a tranquilizing effect on the body that can calm you down and prepare you for sleep.

3. Read a book: Try reading a book or watch something on TV. Then once your eyes get droopy get into bed.

4. Write down your task: It seems everytime you lay your head down, all these thoughts invade your mind about what you have to do tomorrow. So instead of laying in bed worrying that you may forget or that you wont get done what you need to get done, get out of bed and make a list of your chores for the next day. Once you have done this, get back in bed and leave those thoughts on that piece of paper.

5. Add some noise: Adding some white noise to the background, such as a fan or natural sounds of nature on a cd, can actually help you sleep. These steady, quiet sounds will block out other, more disturbing noises that might keep you awake.

6. Lower the thermostat: Too hot or too cold and you will keep waking up all night long. Various research has found that temperatures around 62 F (16 C) are very good for restful sleep.

7. The bed makes a difference: Obviously, the type of bed that you have can make a huge difference in the quality of sleep that you get. Changing an uncomfortable mattress to a comfortable one has been found to have many positive sleep benefits, including sleep of a higher quality and a reduction of restlessness at night.

8. Eat a litte midnight snack: Eating something before you go to bed does help some get to sleep, but in most cases the opposite is true; eating rises your metabolic rate, which raises your body temperature and gives you energy.

9. Get a message: Have your spouse give you a massage just before going to sleep. Have them make the massage strokes slow, gentle, yet firm, to work the tension out of your muscles and soothe you to sleep.

10. Get your exercise: Try making sure that you get some physical exercise into your daily routine. Even 15 minutes a day of exercise will give your body the activity and oxygen it needs to help you relax more and sleep better.

Save & Budget with the Envelope System

808239_67282262For years I have heard about the Envelope system. Where you separate your money into different envelopes, which you label to pay certain bills, or for spending money or whatever you have designated it for. This is a way to keep you from spending above and beyond what you have. For some this is pretty tough but this is a great way to get you on your way to sticking to a budget.

Dave Ramsey has a simple way to help you get going:

  1. Budget each paycheck. Budget is a dirty word to most people, but you must budget down to the last dime if you’re going to successfully implement the envelope system.
  2. Divide and conquer. Of course, there will be budget items that you cannot include in your envelope system, like bills paid by check or automatic withdraw. However, you can create categories like food, gas, clothing and entertainment.
  3. Fill ‘er Up. After you’ve categorized your cash expenses, fill each envelope with the money allotted for it in your budget. For example, if you allow $100 for clothing, put $100 in cash in your clothing envelope for the month.
  4. When it’s gone, it’s gone. Once you’ve spent all the money in a given envelope, you’re done spending for that category. If you go on a shopping spree and spend the $100 in your clothing envelope, you can’t spend any more on clothes until you budget for that category again. That means no visits to the ATM to withdraw more money!
  5. Don’t be tempted. While debit cards can’t get you directly into debt, if used carelessly, they can cause you to over-spend. There’s something psychological about spending cash that hurts more than swiping a piece of plastic. If spending cash whenever possible can become a habit, you’ll be less likely to over-spend or buy on impulse.
  6. Give it time. It will take a few months to perfect your envelope system. Don’t give up after a month or two if it’s not clicking. You’ll get the hang of it and see how beneficial the envelope system is as you dump debt, build wealth, and achieve financial peace!  See….simple!

Now you have to have room to change this a bit because you will have some bills that come up out of the blue or things that happen that need immediate attention but aside from those things, the envelope system seems to be a big help for those that need a push in the right direction and help with a budget. For all your envelope questions, check out Dave Ramsey‘s website for more information.

5 Ways to Enjoy Spring Break on a Budget

Spring Break starts next week and as some already have plans, many don’t because they couldn’t afford to shell out the money to go on vacation. In these tough economic times its seems all have to cut back. There still is plenty of things you can do to enjoy the week of spring break and not spend a lot of money.

1. Take a Trip to Visit Family: If you live with a few hours of family, or close friends, take a trip to visit them. Keeping the cost down my staying with them in their house.

2. Be a Tourist in Your Own Town: Most of us drive by some of the best museums, libraries, and attractions that people from out of town come to see and we usually  have never ever visited them. Take your city by storm and enjoy the many wonderful touristy things it has to offer. A lot of museums and historical sites are free or have a minimal fee. Visit usa.gov and select your state for fun places to visit and outdoor activities.

3. Volunteer: This is great for children and adults alike. Show them how others live by taking them to shelters or soup kitchens to help those less fortunate. Check in your local area for opportunities.

4. Get Outside: Now depending on where you live this may not be the easiest of most fun way to spend spring break but if the weather is conducive to spending time outside than take advantage of it and enjoy a hike, or a walk on the beach. Take a trip to a near by park, throw a Frisbee, pack a picnic and just enjoy being outside.

5. Stay Home & Relax: Why go anywhere? Sometimes all we need is a nice long week of relaxation. Just enjoying being together as a family with games, movies and some homemade cooking, is all it can take to make a great week.

Familys Meals Under $10 for a Family of Four

Everyone is cutting back and food seems to be where we cut back the most. With the food prices rising and the economy falling apart, we all need to make some sacrifices. But you don’t always have to skimp on the good food either. I have compiled some recipes for a family of four that are all under $10.

Fresh From The Oven has an awesome homemade hainanese chicken rice recipe and she explains how she came to purchase everything for under $10.

The Bargainist also offers 3 scrumptious recipes, including Chili Cornbread Pie, Homemade Pizza and Turkey Meatball Gyros.

Who’s The Boss on Feb 25, 2009, wrote an article; 4 Meals Under $10. She has four suggestions and dont forget to check out the comments, they are full of more suggestions on how to save money and cook on the cheap.

Rachel Ray has a section on her website marked meals $10 and Under. You can even sign up to receive the Budget Friendly Meals email every Monday.

In the recent issue of Everyday Food they have 5 Great Meals for Under $10. I couldnt find the article on their website but if you have the magazine around or you can borrow it from a friend, you should check out the great recipes in their.

8 Tuition-Free Colleges

mentalfloss.com – During difficult economic times, the cost of higher education leaves many students wondering if they can afford to go to college. For those who want to avoid being saddled with huge loans, the U.S. government offers one of the best deals around: Enroll at one of the five service academies tuition-free and receive free room and board. But if military service isn’t for you, here are eight other schools that offer tuition-free educations:

1. College of the Ozarks: Where students pay no tuition and work at least 15 hours a week at a campus work station. Jobs are taken seriously at the school of 1,400; students are graded on their work performance in addition to their academics.

2. Deep Springs College: Deep Springs is a two-year, all-male liberal arts college located on a cattle ranch and alfalfa farm in the Inyo-White Mountains of California’s High Desert.

3. UC-Irvine School of Law: In an effort to attract the best and brightest students for its inaugural class, the UC Irvine School of Law is offering a free ride to all 60 students admitted this fall. Dean Erwin Chemerinsky, a constitutional law scholar, told reporters, “Our goal is to be a top-20 law school from the first time we are ranked.

4. Berea College: Every student admitted to Berea College in Kentucky receives a full-tuition scholarship valued at more than $90,000. Students are required to work at least 10 hours a week in one of more than 140 departments, and while room, board, and books are not covered, the work-study program enables some of the 1,500 students to lighten their financial load even more. Berea offers degrees in 28 fields.

5. Olin College of Engineering: Where every admitted student receives four years of free tuition valued at $130,000. The school is funded by a $400 million grant from the F.W. Olin Foundation and ranks as one of the top undergraduate engineering programs in the country. There is great emphasis placed on philanthropy at Olin; students are encouraged to develop creative ideas that address societal needs and help make the world a better place.

6. Cooper Union: Located in Manhattan, Cooper Union offers degree programs in art, architecture, and engineering, and every admitted student receives four years of free tuition valued at $130,000.

7. Curtis Institute of Music: Like Juillard, the Curtis Institute of Music is considered one of the most prestigious performing arts conservatories in the world. Every student admitted to the school of 160 in Philadelphia is provided a full scholarship, and all piano, harpsichord, composition, and conducting majors are lent Steinway grand pianos. As part of their training, students at Curtis host over 100 public concerts each year, and receive one-on-one instruction from the musically accomplished faculty.

8. Alice Lloyd College: All students at Alice Lloyd College in Pippa Passes, Ky., are required to work at least 10 hours per week in exchange for free tuition. Students who need additional financial aid to pay for room and board may work up to 15 hours per week.

For the complete article check out MentalFloss.com; 8 Tuition-Free Colleges.

How to Slash Your Monthly Grocery Bill

Plan meat-free meals at least once a week – Leaving meat out of a meal once or twice a week can really cut down on the amount of money spent. VegCooking.com has a lot of recipes, shopping guide, blog, dining out and they have a guide that will take the guesswork out of vegan cooking. Also Allrecipes.com has an expansive vegetarian section.

Shop at warehouses every few months -Don’t head to the local warehouse every week or you will spend too much and not have much from your trips. Try to stick to making those trips every other month or every third month and only purchase the items that are better deals than the grocery store, such as cheese, meat and milk products.

Pick recipes based on what’s on sale – Before heading to the grocery store, check on-line to see whats on sale and what store is offering the best deals. Then Plan your meals by whats on sale.

Buy meat in bulk – Meat companies rarely offer coupons, buy in bulk when you can and if you find a great deal on meat, buy a few packages and freeze them. The general rule of thumb is that meat can be kept in the freezer for up to a year.

Pressure Cooker: Save Money While Getting Dinner on the Table Fast

There never seems to be enough time in the day to get food on the table in a timely manner with all the after school activities and practices. It seems we run from one event to the next without a chance to slow down. And the way that most parents deal with this pressure is to run through a fast food restaurant for their next families meal. And although that may be the fast way to deal with it, its not the cheapest nor is it healthy for you.

My friend was telling me about their latest purchase: The Pressure Cooker.

I have never used one but what she said was that their daughter had practice to be at and she was crunching the numbers in her head and didn’t know how she was going to make dinner and feed her daughter a healthy meal and get her out the door in a little over a half hour. So she grabbed the Pressure Cooker she had bought at Christmas time and got out some turkey she had in the freezer and thawed it for a minute or two while she was browning some veggies and than stuck the turkey and veggies in the pressure cooker for about 20 and it came out perfect and her daughter ate and made it to school on time. She did say their was a trick to it, you had to make sure you put the right amount of water in it, but that if you followed the instructions that come with it, you would be fine.

How it works: From WikipediaPressure cooking is a method of cooking in a sealed vessel that does not permit air or liquids to escape below a preset pressure. Because the boiling point of water increases as the pressure increases, the pressure built up inside the cooker allows the liquid in the pot to rise to a higher temperature before boiling.

Saves Time – Food cooks up to 70% faster in a pressure cooker, making it a wonderful tool for when you come home after work and have to get dinner on the table in a hurry. You can put ingredients in the pressure cooker and by the time you’re finished tidying up the kitchen you can have a wholesome, hearty home cooked meal.
Amazon has a Presto 6-qt. Pressure Cooker.

5 Ways to Help You Save Money

1. Americans, on average, buy 250 cups of espresso from coffee shops per day. With all of that money spent, save a little at least one day a week:  Mcdonalds is offering Free Lattes every Friday from 7am – 11am, no purchase necessary. And they are pretty good. You have the choice between, hot or iced, vanilla, mocha and a few other flavors and whole milk or skim. That will save you a few bucks every week.

2. Make a monthly trip to Walgreens. Each month they have Free After Rebate items. Check out what they have, most of the items are things you will use at one time or another if not daily. Also if you get the rebate in the form of a Walgreens card you get a 10% bonus on top of the rebate. I usually do this and then keep the Walgreens gift card until the next free after rebate items are offered, that way after the initial time of paying, you are only using the gift card. No more out of pocket!

3. Grocery Store Trips: Lately while making my way through the stores, I have seen so many items marked down. I don’t know how long this will last because the store will make adjustments and not order so much due to the fact that customers aren’t buying as much. But while there are steals and deals, take advantage of them. I have found so many items for half price or cheaper due to it being close to date. Also you can still use coupons on these items, making them sometimes free. For meat, if you freeze it right away, it will keep for a couple months.

4. Buy the Sunday newspaper. Every Sunday they put out ads and coupons. I have noticed that more companies are offering coupons due to the economy and they need people to buy their products. Also you can find a ton of coupons on line too. Check out Coupons.com for more help.

5. Check out Gasbuddy.com before you leave. Gas Buddy can help you find the cheapest gas in your city and help you stay away from the most expensive gas prices. If you are planning to travel outside the city, even if its just 40 miles, check to see if there are better prices so that you can stop and fill up on the way. The difference of a quarter a gallon really ads up.

Keep checking back here for more money saving tips.

10 Easy Money Saving Tips for 2009

This last year has been a bit tough in the money department for most of us. Many have made new years resolutions to start saving money and get our bills paid off but how to put that in effect is a bit more difficult. I have put together some simple money saving tips that you can start implementing today and the savings will be noticeable right away.

1. If you have internet, phone and cable with separate companies, try combining them to one company. Usually you will save an average of $25 a month. Making that a savings of $300 over the course of the year. Wave Broadband and Comcast both offer bundle packages.

2. If you have a cell phone and you don’t need a home phone, disconnect your home phone. Average savings about $15.00. Making that a savings of $180 for the year.

3. Turn down the thermostat. Turning down your thermostat at night at least 3 degrees will save you approximately 5-10% on your heating bill.

4. Combine trips, walk, bike or ride the bus. If you can cut your vehicle miles traveled by just 5% through combining trips, walking, biking, or taking public transportation, you can save up to $100 per year on gasoline costs. Walking and biking are good for your health too!

5. Cut back on eating out. Eating out for a family of 4 can put you back about $50 on average. Try to cut back to twice a month.

6. Request a reduction on your interest rate on your credit cards. Credit card companies sometimes are willing to reduce the interest rate. It can’t hurt to ask.

7. Get a library card. Its free! Start picking up books from the library, saving you an average of $8 a book.

8. Take your Lunch to work. Average savings of $6 per day, which can save you about $120 every month.

9. Bring coffee from home. Along with the #8, bringing coffee can save you daily. Try bringing coffee at least 3 days a week to save an average of $9 every week.

10. Buy online when it saves you money. Amazon is a great place to save money on everyday things.

10 Shopping Tips to Help you Save Big

1. Keep checking the ads after you buy. Sometimes the item you bought ends up going on sale in the next week or two and you can take your reciept in(at most’s store) and get a refund for the difference. Also you can keep track of dropping prices by using a site like PriceProtectr.com that can track prices for you.

2. Try it on, then go online. Try clothes on at the store and then look for them online to go on clearance. Trying them on helps you know the exact size that you need. Keep checking online until the item goes on clearnace.

3. Always Check the Return Policy. When buying online, make sure and know before you buy what cost you will have to pay to return the item you bought if you are not satisfied. Sometimes the price to return ends up being more than you paid for the item.

4. Get Softeware for Less. If you have a student in the house you qualify for the student edition of many software packages. Like Microsoft Office and Adobe Photoshop. Check out AcademicSuperstore.com.

5. Alway Check Receipts. Many times stores prices are wrong or coupons don’t end up coming up right. Make sure and check your receipt before you leave the store. Its best to try to follow along, if you can, when the clerk is ringing you up.

6. Find a Grocery Store that Price Matches. Finding a store that honors all competetors coupons makes for an easy one stop shopping experience, saving you gas and time. MyGroceryDeals.com lists sale items at supermarkets in your area.

7. Check Ebay First. Most of the time you can save 50% or more off retail.

8. Don’t Shop when you are Exhausted. If you try to shop when you are tired you will most likely not pay attention to the deals and just try to get the job done. Its better to wait for a day when you have more energy and care about saving money.

9. Print Coupons before You head out. Most stores have some sort of coupon out there. If you know where you are going check online before you go for any coupons. Also when you get to the mall or outlet, ask the customer service rep if they have any coupons.

10. Put Sale Items on Hold. If you know a store is going to have a sale, try shopping the night before, when there are no crowds and ask the salesperson to put the items on hold until the sale starts.

These are just some of the tips from the Shop Smart January 2009 Issue “Shopping Secrets that can save you hundreds.” For the complete article click here.