MORE than Finances

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Frugal Finances: Raising a Big Family on a Small Budget

travel-933171_640If you’re taking care of a big family on a small budget, it pays to be frugal. That means looking for ways to save money wherever you can from feeding the family to gassing the car. Here are some tips to help you manage your personal finance and save money.

Gassing the Family Car

Your Dodge Dart is an economical ride, but there are also ways you can save money when you’re topping up your gas. The first thing to remember is where to buy gas. Avoid stations close to the highway because their prices will be higher. Combine your errands into one trip instead of going into town several times, so you drive less. Buy gas early in the morning or late in the day when it’s cooler. The reason for this is that gas density falls as the temperature rises so you get less of it when you pump. Don’t wait until you’re almost empty before you fill up, otherwise, you’ll be forced to pump at whichever station you are closest to, which may not be the cheapest.

Feeding the Family

Planning your family’s meals is the first step to saving money on your grocery bill. Why make an impromptu trip to Burger King when you can make a healthy meal for the family for under $2? Plan the meals a week in advance then you can make your shopping list and you’ll know exactly what to buy. Using coupons and buying in bulk at the grocery store are two other good ways to save money. Believe it or not leftovers are great for lunches. You can also incorporate them into other meals.

Buy Used Stuff

Buy as many ‘used’ items as you can, such as used furniture, car, electronics, and clothes. If you know where to look, you can get great deals and find stuff that has hardly been used at all. Look for ‘open box’ items. This means they have not been used but because the packaging is damaged they cannot be sold as new. Check out your local Goodwill store and neighborhood yard sales.

Find Free Entertainment

The average American spends $2,504 on entertainment. Think of the money you can save by finding cheap or free ways to have fun. Instead of going to the movies, rent some DVDs and make popcorn at home. Find out about places in your neighborhood you can visit for free or very cheaply, such as museums, galleries, parks, nature preserves, and local events.

Get Rid of Your Clutter

De-clutter your house and make a few bucks at the same time. Have a yard sale and get rid of all your unwanted items. If you don’t have enough stuff to have a yard sale, sell your items on eBay. Those things you tired of seeing piled up every day could be just what someone else is looking for.

Raising a big family on a small budget doesn’t have to mean you can’t have fun and enjoy life.          Being frugal is a good way to live, whatever your income.

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How Blue Apron Can Save You Money

I’ve always wanted to be a professional cook like on TV.  When I got my Blue Apron box, it was a little like having a secret fantasy come true.

If you know you want to sign up already click here. If you need to know more about it then please keep reading.

Ordering Your First Blue Apron Box

The ordering process is quick and easy. Simply go to Blue Apron’s webpage and sign up. After inputting your information and any coupon codes you find you select which meal plan you want.

Blue Apron will let you pick your favorite types of meat to eat, or rather your least favorite. In the settings menus, you can check or uncheck meats you do or don’t like. This allows Blue Apron to tailor the meals to what you like rather than what they just currently have available.

Blue Apron also offers vegetarians a wide array of options. As someone who loves to eat meat, I can say that the vegetarian meals they sent so far have been some of my favorites.

If after you sign up you don’t want to get a box every week you can “skip” a box. Or you can go in like me and skip all the boxes. Not that I’m never going to order again but I don’t want to accidentally forget that I’ve got a box coming and I’m on vacation and can’t get it.

When It Arrives

The box itself is not that large, or at least not as large as I thought it would have been. Once you open it though you see everything packed perfectly. It’s in an insulated bag with several ice packs and has so much food in it that it looks like you’ve just gone grocery shopping.

I took everything out of the bag and cleared a shelf in the fridge that was designated for Blue Apron meals. There were some things that came that I already had like limes, garlic, and oranges that I didn’t want to mix.

Preparing The Meal

Have you ever been jealous that TV has perfectly portioned out amounts of whatever they need? The first 15 to 25 minutes of making this meal will be making that for yourself.

Blue Apron comes with recipe cards that have instructions so detailed anyone could do it. Starting with chopping, mincing, slicing, etc. all the food. What I like is that it will have you start cooking one thing and then the instructions tell you when it’s time to start working on another portion of the meal instead of waiting.

According to the recipe cards, the meals I made should have taken a total of 30 to 45 minutes. It took me about an hour on each. Probably because I’m not as comfortable with a knife and don’t chop as fast as they are expecting. I also had to stop and read the card over and over again in an attempt to make sure what I’m doing is correct.

Once you start the process though it is really fun and relaxing. A warning however, it does dirty a lot of dishes. I used a small plate or bowl for each ingredient as I was prepping so I could just dump the whole thing in when needed. There are ways that you can decrease that but, to me it’s part of the fun to be able to just pour it in the dish.

How Filling Is It?

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Having just two people in my family made the choice of sizing easy. One of the dishes I made I had several people over and turned into 4 dishes instead of 2. They were very filling and we all were happy with what we got. Making me think that had I eaten a whole amount myself I wouldn’t have been able to move because of how much food we had.

Not all the meals were as filling. The first meal, Oaxaca Cheese and Plantain Torta, was not nearly as filling. It fed both of us and we were full but had no leftovers. So there was no way we could have fed more than just us.

Should You Use Blue Apron Every Week?

We loved Blue Apron so much we want to do it every week. The food is great, better than anything I make on my own, but the cost is also pretty steep. I can usually make a meal for the two of us for half the price that these meals cost.

However, my wife and I also go out to eat from time to time and that can get pretty expensive. So we consider Blue Apron meals more as a special night type thing and it actually cuts down our budget. Instead of spending $35 to $50 at a restaurant by using Blue Apron we spend $60 for 3 nights of amazing meals.  In fact, it might also be cheaper than going to the grocery store in some situations. Savingadvice.com did a neat analysis of a Blue Apron meal and found it was about half as expensive as supermarket prices once you factor in the unit costs (here).

Not only will Blue Apron save money, but it also teaches me how to make things I would never have thought to make before. The plantains are things I’ve never really had before, especially in a sandwich. But, they were amazing and I would gladly eat them again. Not to mention I can get them at the produce store for less than $2, making it a very inexpensive meal.

If you have ever wanted to cook like the pros making delicious meals you can brag to your friends about then you need to sign up for Blue Apron. This link is good for $30 off your first order.

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Blue Apron reviews:

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How A Dry Ice Air Conditioner Can Save You Money

How A Dry Ice Air Conditioner Can Save You MoneyIf you live in a place that’s hot year round (like me in Florida) then you are always looking for ways to stay cool. Whether that’s wearing lighter clothing, staying in the shade, eating ice cream, or anything else it’s always on your mind.

One way is making your own air conditioning units, especially if you can make it with dry ice.

Where Would A Home Made AC Unit Be Used?

Growing up in Maine, the summers could get hot. Because we only had hot weather for about a week we never had an air conditioner. But for the price, a dry ice air conditioner could have helped, especially since we wouldn’t have had to cool the whole house just a room or two.

I would say the best benefit would be to save money, cool one room but leave the others hot, cool the rooms you’re actually going to be in verses a whole house. It won’t take as much electricity, so you’ll save money.

 

How Do You Actually Make It?

You will need a

  1. 5-gallon bucket
  2. PVC pipes
  3. a small fan
  4. a drill
  5. and a knife
  6. duck tape
  7. dry ice

Cut holes on the side of the bucket for the PVC to be taped to. Then cut a hole in the lid large enough for the fan to lay on top. Then simply put the ice in the bucket, turn the fan on and enjoy the cool air. Below is a video that explains it way better.

 

Dry Ice VS Regular?

Regular ice is likely going to be cheaper (depending on where you live). However the thought of mixing water and electricity makes me uneasy. However, if you put the pipes high enough, and make sure not to put too much ice in, then the water won’t be a problem.

Dry ice may concern you because you will be in essence putting CO2 into the air you breath. That sounds really bad so I dug a little deeper. If you have ever been to a party and a punch bowl had fog coming off of it, you have probably had punch that had dry ice IN you drink.

DryIceInfo.org shows the many different things dry ice can be used for, one of which is for food. So if it’s put in the things we drink, why wouldn’t it also be ok for it to be in something we use to cool our house. Obviously I’m not an expert and this is my own opinion, but if you use only one unit and the room it’s in isn’t a closet you should be fine.

Ultimately either ice will work, they both have positives and negatives, and when you are dying of heat all you want to do is be cool. So whichever is easier to get use that.

Survive The Heat With A Dry Ice Air Conditioner

If you live where you don’t have central air, or just want to only cool one room, then this may be a great solution. It costs less then $20 and takes less then 20 minutes.

Though regular ice may be a great alternative, dry ice can work without the risk or electrocution.

By using this you can stay cool no matter what the temperature outside is.

Image by bulldogza at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Chicago’s Newest Start-Up Helps you Save Money by Comparing Services

Bootler Full Logo Green-01Ever feel like you want to try out some new restaurants, but do not have the time or the money? I for one know how easy it is to get into the routine of eating the same things every single day, but it gets boring quickly. Luckily, I recently stumbled upon something that has helped me mix it up and change the way I eat meals.

While at work the other day, I felt like I wanted to try something new for lunch. My usual turkey sandwich and chips from the shop down the street were just not going to cut it for me. Unfortunately, I was not left with many choices. I could walk further and cut into my lunch time or I could order something. Ordering something seemed like the better option, but I didn’t want to waste extra money on delivery expenses. I began searching online to fulfill my appetite and I came across a new website called GoBootler.

GoBootler is a new Chicago Start-Up that makes ordering food online a lot easier and helps you save money. The directions are pretty straight forward, it’s really no nonsense. You can browse through restaurants by cuisine type or even just search a place you have been wanting to try.  You click on items you want, thus building your meal and then voila, GoBootler compares different delivery companies for the best price. I seriously had no idea how many delivery companies there were. After using this new site, I have saved money and my meals keep getting better and better!

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What Are Prepaid Cards and Are They Right For You?

Prepaid cards have become popular alternatives to credit cards in recent years for two reasons: they help people build or rebuild credit, and they help people control spending.  Just like it sounds, a prepaid credit card is a credit card that you put down an initial deposit, and your spending limit is equal to that deposit.

Why Get a Prepaid Card?

Prepaid cards sound very similar to a debit card, but they do allow you to build credit.  The reason is, when you apply, you put down a deposit.  That deposit is a guarantee that allows you to spend up to that amount.  Think of it like a security deposit when you rent an apartment.

However, unlike a debit card, you still pay off the prepaid credit card monthly like a normal card.  That deposit only comes into play if you don’t pay your bill.  So, they everything is still treated like a normal card except for that special security deposit.  And if you don’t pay your bill, the company will then use your deposit to pay off the balance and fees incurred, and they will close your account afterwards.

Is This Right For Me?

These cards are right for people who may not have credit.  The reason is that if you don’t have a solid credit history, lenders may be leery to loan or extend credit to you.  Using prepaid credit cards, you can build a credit history and show that you are responsible in making payments.  Just never be late and always pay off the balance in full.

These cards are also great for individuals rebuilding credit for the same reasons.  If you have a poor credit history, you may not qualify for traditional cards.  These prepaid cards can help rebuild your credit score if you use them responsibly over time.

Finally, these cards are great for people who are trying to watch or limit their spending.  Since there is a low set limit based on the amount of cash you deposited originally, there is no way you can buy something that you can’t afford.  If you feel like spending may be a problem for you, a prepaid card can help you by taking away frivolous spending options and making you focus on purchases that you can afford and need to buy.