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Celebrate Earth Day Everyday

Posted by The Frugal Diva on March 29th, 2016

The Frugal Diva thinks every day should be Earth Day. Recycle, repurpose, and replenish, it’s the best way to be thrifty.
Since no one is an authority on everything,  here are my favorite resources for going green.

Let’s start with one of my favorite activities, spring cleaning.  Yes, I am a bit of a neat freak and love nothing more then to take everything off my pantry shelves, clean, and reorganize. Sometimes you just  have to admit that you are truly never going to use that bottle of caraway seeds. This site has so many great tips About Green Living on how to use kitchen staples instead of toxic cleaning products.

Find ways to celebrate Earth Day 2016 0n April 22nd.  You can start now with small acts that will help you and your community.

Learn that green in terms of clothing no longer means hemp sacks at Care2.  This site also gives great tips on crafts and healthy homes.

Energy Star is a government backed program with energy saving tips for home improvement.  Learn how to lower fuel bills by getting rid of drafts and having better insulation.

And for those who garden, check out Rodale’s Organic Gardening which has great tips and even tells you how to grow herbs indoors for apartment dwellers.

Let me know if you have other helpful sites and I will update this post.

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Do’s and Dont’s for Packing and Moving

Posted by The Frugal Diva on March 3rd, 2016

·       DO all of the packing and labeling before moving day.

o  You’d be surprised how many people get stuck in the last minute rush to pack everything and move it all in one day. Make sure everything but a change of clothes is packed and ready to go.

·      DON’T forget to color code your boxes for each room.

o  Most people know to label their moving boxes but unpacking is much easier for you and your movers is your boxes are color coded according to room.

·      DO find free boxes at the grocery stores and online.

o  You can save tons of money on packing materials if you take advantage of the free packing materials at grocery stores or check online for free boxes. Craigslist’s free section is a great place to start.

·      DON’T forget to hire a babysitter or a pet sitter.

o  If your children are old enough they can be helpful throughout the process but if not, it’s better to have them secure and out of the way while you’re packing up and moving. The same goes for your pets, they tend to get underfoot of movers.

·      DO use packing materials you already have.

o  Suitcases are perfect for transporting items, especially things that are heavy or awkwardly shaped.

·      DON’T forget to pack an overnight bag to use on the first night.

o  After a long day of moving, you’re not likely to want to go through all of your boxes just yet. Pack and overnight bag with the essentials such as toiletries, a few outfits and pyjamas for use on the first night.

·      DO keep important documents with you.

o  It’s best to travel with your most important items in hand. Keep a file of important documents with you while you move so that they are less likely to get lost in the shuffle.

·      DON’T place small objects directly in boxes.

o  Keep sandwich bags handy for little pieces of electronics and label the bags specifically. These tiny pieces tend to get lost in the shuffle and can make life difficult when putting everything back together.

·      DO give specific tasks to any friends helping.

o  Make sure you plan out their specific jobs before they come over, this way they will be able to help out in the most efficient way possible.

·      DON’T forget to plan out a floor plan before you move.

o  Try to plan out where each item, especially the big ones, will go and how everything will look. This will make it easier to put things in the right place immediately upon arrival.

About Ross Sapir:

Ross Sapir is the Founder and CEO of New York City’s premiere moving and storage company; Roadway Moving. Since the inception of Roadway Moving in 2008, the company has grown from six trucks into a fully functional and full-service moving company with over 130 employees available to assist the 5,000 to 6,000 customers they serve a year. Born in Israel and raised in New York, Ross cites his company’s success to his employees, and customer service. From quote to cleanup, Ross takes personal care to ensure that each Roadway customer is treated the “Roadway Way” — enjoying a hassle and stress-free move without fail. His everlasting commitment to quality, efficiency and transparency, is the true testament behind how Roadway has become one of the leading and highest rated moving companies in Tri-State area, and the #1 moving company on Yelp.

About Roadway Moving:

Roadway Moving is New York’s premier moving company providing professional and stress free moving services to the Tri-State area. It offers a full range of moving services and storage options, while executing a seamless moving experience to clients.  From quote to cleanup, Roadway Moving’s highly trained team is committed to quality, transparency and efficiency — staples of a company known for the highest caliber of customer service in the industry.  Roadway Moving is certified by the American Moving and Storage Association (AMSA), a consumer protection and certification program called ProMover. This initiative fights imposters, known within the industry as “rogue operators,” like never before by giving consumers an easy way to separate reputable, professional movers from con artists out to make a quick buck at their expense.  It is also the #1 rated moving company in New York City on both Yelp and Angie’s List, for its quality of services, pain-free moving experience. Roadway Moving is accredited by the Better Business Bureau and received an A+ rating for its commitment to make a good faith effort to resolve any consumer complaints. For more information on Roadway Moving and its services, please visit www.roadwaymoving.com.

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Pet Insurance and Matters of the Heart

Posted by The Frugal Diva on February 24th, 2016

Insurance is a gambler’s game. You and the insurance company are playing the odds. You can be sure, the game is rigged in favor of the insurance companies. When it comes to health insurance, the deck is stacked against you. There is no way most people can afford to risk the possibility they will suffer a chronic illness or catastrophic accident that will be financially devastating. So health insurance is pretty much a necessity. Automobile insurance is required as is homeowner’s insurance if you have a mortgage. Life insurance is the biggest gamble of all, and the only way you win is by dying.

Now, it is possible to buy health insurance for your pets. Of course, the standard concerns apply. Does it pay? You have to ask yourself some pertinent questions:

  • How much is the monthly premium, and how does it change over time and with respect to the age of your pet when you start the coverage? How does it change if you use the policy especially if you end up with a chronically ill pet?
  • Can the policy ever be cancelled by the insurance company because you have used it too often?
  • Are there limitations on the amount of the payments and acceptable fees? Does it take into account where you live? A specific operation might cost $1,000 in a big city and $600 in a smaller community. The insurance company might only allow $400 and pay only 80% of that.
  • What is the deductible and how does it affect your premiums?
  • What is covered and, more importantly, what is not covered?
  • How long has the company been in business, and what is their track record?
  • What does your vet think about the different companies and pet insurance in general?

In the end, it comes down to one thing. What will you do if your pet comes down with a chronic illness or has a serious accident? If you think you could let your pet go, you might be wrong. Faced with the prospect of losing your companion, you might not be able to do that. You might find yourself spending the thousands of dollars it will take to care for the loving creature that keeps you company and accepts you for who you are, warts and all.

That is the big question and, ultimately, the one that matters the most. If you are certain you would do whatever was necessary to take care of your pet, then insurance is probably a very good idea. If you are absolutely sure you would not and have had the experience that allows you to know this is true, insurance may be a waste of money.

Here is a suggestion. Sit on your couch and call your pets. While they are busy wagging tails, snuggling up and purring, make your decision. If your heart melts, and you can’t imagine life without them, pick up the phone and start to learn everything you can, so you can make the best decision. Otherwise, take a look at the numbers and make your decision based on the cold, hard facts. Regardless of why you choose to take out a policy, if you do, remember to read the fine print.

Guest post by Nancy Richardson who writes for Key Insurance Quotes.com and has four dogs and two cats. They were all rescues that didn’t even make it to a shelter. They were street rescues, and she loves them all.

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Feed Fido Like Family with Natural Pet Food

Posted by The Frugal Diva on February 23rd, 2016

Mommy guilt isn’t limited to children. Fido is family, too—so when you’re  choosing what your tail-wagging baby will eat, it can feel pretty awful lugging home a big bag of kibble you know isn’t the best. Sadly, healthy, organic food options, for both people and pets, bump up numbers on the grocery bill, making it more likely you’ll buy generic than GMO free.

But many pet owners are shuffling budgets to make room for better-quality pet foods, with sales of organic varieties increasing in the U.S., despite the down economy. According to the Organic Trade Association, Americans doled out $84 million for organic pet food in 2009, a tenfold increase in the amount they spent in 2002.

Knowing organic foods are better for their own health, and for the environment, people are looking for the same safe, chemical-free options for their pets. A quick glance at any commercial pet food label is reason enough for many to make the switch. While manufacturers claim quality and wholesomeness, most pet foods are loaded with questionable ingredients, from animal by-products and cheap fillers to artificial flavors, colors and preservatives.

Luckily, increased demand for natural and organic pet foods has led to better availability—and better prices. But before you grab any bag with “green” or “healthy” on the label, know that not all natural pet foods are created equal. Here are some things to look for when making your purchase:

USDA Organic seal
Just as with human food, pet food must meet strict standards set by U.S. Department of Agriculture to carry the official USDA Organic seal. To be labeled “Organic,” a product must contain at least 95 percent organic ingredients. Those with 70 to 94 percent organic ingredients can state “Made with Organic Ingredients” on the label.

Natural label
According to the Pet Food Committee of the Association of American Feed Control Officials, the term “natural” is acceptable on a pet food label as long as none of the ingredients are synthetic, or chemically made. All content must be derived from plant, animal or mined sources, with the exception of added vitamins or minerals (if the product is not intended for use as supplement).

Essential nutrients
Whether pet food is organic, natural or conventional, it’s usually processed, which means important nutrients may have been stripped during production. Look for products labeled “complete” or “balanced,” to be sure they have the vitamins, minerals and other nutrients your pet needs for best health.

Vitacost.com has been selling discount vitamins since 1994. Since then we have grown into one of the biggest online marketplaces for healthy living essentials-with vitamins and supplements being just one of our many helpful categories! Get the best price on vitamins, nutritional supplements, pet products and diet products. Our customers mean the world to us, and it’s our goal to provide you with the best nutritional supplements, natural foods and sports nutrition to help with your health and wellness.

By: +Rebecca Chopin writer for Vitacost.com

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When to Splurge & What to Save Money on for Your Pets

Posted by The Frugal Diva on February 22nd, 2016

Today we have a guest post from Jeffrey O’Brien who blogs about food and entertainment. When he is not writing about the latest and greatest, he is hiking or fishing in Howard County, Iowa.

Americans have a love affair with their pets. So much so that in 2011 they were willing to drop over $50 billion on pet needs. Almost two-thirds of the spending was on basics: food and medical bills. Services for pets made up almost $4 billion of the splurging. The other third went to toys, accessories, and beds. Why not let them sleep on your comfy mattress from Sleepys.com instead of spending money on their own. As both families and their pets get older, this particular service segment is expected to grow in 2012, increasing spending overall.

The spending begs the question how much is enough? There are plenty of areas for saving, but some make more sense than others.

Potential Savings

Training is a big service cost that many pet owners will pay just to get some peace of mind. That puppy or kitten is so cute when it first comes home, but six months later when the $10,000 couch is destroyed, it’s another story. Because we tend to be a convenience society, we want quick solutions. So we pay people to train us to care for our pets. With a bit of studying and researching, many owners can learn what’s needed to self-train. That alone saves $25 to $50 an hour for training sessions at a minimum (private lessons reach $100 an hour).

Toys are a cheap, addicting expense, especially if an owner takes his pet with him to the pet store, which many now allow. Keep in mind, dogs especially and cats will stick their nose in everything new; it doesn’t mean they want that toy! But we think they do, so we buy them. Savings are easy here; buy the cheapest toy possible. If it squeaks and rolls, good enough, doggy or kitty will be more than happy with something new. They don’t care if it came from the 99 cent bin either.

Cleaning supplies in the form of cat litter and puppy pads are necessities which add up over time. The big box stores tend to have the best discount deals for bulk purchasing, allowing a pet owner to save up to 30 or 40 percent on retail cost. They also have good pricing on dog chew toys, pet beds, and bulk pet food. Alternatively, a pet owner can save further money on his dog or cat by letting them sleep on his own mattresses or floors rather than a distinct pet bed.

Pet daycare has become a hit service for pet owners, but it costs a pretty penny. If you like to see your dog running around with other dogs, find a dog park in your area. Dog parks are popping up as cities are finding they are good resources for spending tax dollars on recreation. Dog parks are far cheaper to use, your dog is happy as can be, and most parks tend to be free to use.

Potential Splurging

Yes, there’s a lot of cheap pet food out there, but that doesn’t mean it’s the best, healthy option for the ol’ pooch. For a long, healthy life in a pet, the best food mixes tend to be a better path. A bit more in food spending could save hundreds or thousands in vet bills later on in the pet’s life. Cheaper foods tend to include a significant amount of filler material that is eventually unhealthy. More expensive brands tend to have direct, organic food components which digest far better.

When working with a vet, the right pet care is essential. With a serious condition, trying to go cheap could permanently disable a pet or worse when treating a condition. However, directly paying vet bills can be expensive. For example, an eye scratch in a dog with surgery and drugs can run upwards of $2,500. So consider pet insurance to lessen the financial hit. Still pay for good care, but with an insurance plan you can offset some of the bigger hits at least partially. In some cases, the insurance can cover as much as 40 or 50 percent of treatment cost.

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Valentine’s Day 2016

Posted by The Frugal Diva on January 27th, 2016

Here is a holiday designed for spending money-flowers, chocolates, overpriced restaurant meals rivaled only by New Year’s Eve. Let’s put a stop to this right now. Flowers will die (and quite quickly), chocolates and a heavy meal will only stand in the way of romance. After a five course meal and dessert, The Frugal Diva is not in the mood for romance. If she wants to unbutton her dress, it’s simply to get a bit of breathing space.

That’s why The Frugal Dude knows to spend Valentine’s Day dining at a great Chinese restaurant. In Los Angeles, we might head over to Monterey Park after checking out the Yelp reviews or go to the old school restaurants in Chinatown. This is also a great night to get sushi, Greek, Thai or any other ethnic group that is still not planning an over the top and over priced experience.Even better, rent a movie, prepare a meal together, and I’ll leave it to your imagination what to have for dessert.

The dreaded holiday of Valentine’s Day looms like a dark cloud on the horizon for singles. This year it falls on Sunday and before President’s Day which means an entire weekend of love, hearts, and hiding behind the curtains for the uncoupled. The Frugal Diva says come out into the sunshine and make plans to party. Get together single friends for a potluck and have each of them bring another single. You may enter with a vegetarian casserole and leave with a new relationship, friendship, or recipe. It’s better than weeping into a microwaved meal.

Let’s not restrict love just to the narrow definition of one on one. Now I’m not talking about anything kinky, though that is a personal choice. What about finding a soup kitchen, hospital, senior center, or shelter that needs volunteers? If you are looking for options, check out my post.

Now there is also self love. No, not what you are thinking. Well, maybe but that’s another personal choice. The Frugal Diva means to find a yoga class or go for a walk weather permitting, take a bubble bath, and relax with a good book. It’s okay to ignore your phone, computer, television, and all other flashing lights for an evening.

There is nothing worse than watching a co worker swoon over a dozen roses from their fiancée. What if we revert back to the classroom habit of getting everyone something? If you work in a small to mid size office, bake some brownies, after they cool arrange them by twos in a goody bag, tie off with a red ribbon, and deliver to every desk on Friday before Valentine’s Day

All these ideas have a few things in common. They involve minimal expense. They take a bit of imagination. They connect you to others or reconnect you with yourself. Isn’t that what love is all about?

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Singles Mingle Valentine’s Day

Posted by The Frugal Diva on January 27th, 2016

Singles always want to hide out during the February romance fest however if you are looking for a kind heart on Valentine’s Day try out these volunteer events throughout the country.

Feed the Soul While Helping Feed the Hungry — February 13th

Date & Time: Saturday, February 13th, 2016 – Registration is from 8:00 am to 8:20 am – volunteer project starts at 8:30 am to 12:00 pm. Please bring your e-ticket and release form on the day of your service project

Address: Los Angeles Regional Food Bank is located at 1734 E. 41st Street, Los Angeles, CA 90058. Street and on-site parking is available.

Hunger doesn’t end after the holiday season, hunger happens in Los Angeles County 365 days a year. Volunteers are needed to help sort, inspect, and repackage donated food items from local food drives. Help us help those in need by donating your time to fight hunger in our community.

Check out VoluteerMatch.org for more opportunities around the country.

You get the idea, just google valentine and volunteer plus your location.

Opportunities will pop up for making this a heart warming day.

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How to Manage Without a Garage

Posted by The Frugal Diva on January 26th, 2016

Garages are quite an important part of every house. There simply has to be a place where you will keep your car and store all of that stuff your do not really use too much. But what are you supposed to do when there is no garage at your home? Building one may seem as a good option but it is a really complicated process that can take up much time and money. You can instead choose to go with some alternatives which will be much easier to build. Here are some of them you might want to consider.

Build a shed in your backyard

One of the best things you can do is build a small shed in your backyard. Simple construction and inexpensive material make building a shed a great choice. A shed can store a lot of things and it does not take up a lot of space so you will still have a place to park your car. You can do all the work by yourself and spend much less money than you would if you had opted for building a whole garage. A simple wooden construction with a single window is just perfect for this purpose. A shed can be built with a minimal set of construction technique skills and in no more than 3 days.

Set up a carport

Even though it will not give much space to store stuff, a carport is a great choice when it comes to protecting your car from rain and snow. A carport can be built out of metal or wood, depending on the climate of the place you are living at. Do not be afraid to play with the material and customize the carport anyway you want. Do not forget to prep the ground before you actually start constructing. Level the ground if you have to and if you want you can concrete parking lot beneath the carport. You can also install a couple of shelves within the construction where you can keep some of you car maintenance equipment or anything else you would keep in the garage.

Put up shade sails

Putting up shade sails can also be a proper alternative for a garage. It is quite easy to install and can be really effective. Before you start putting it up think about the movement of the sun and find the right angle for the shade sail. You will want it to provide maximum protection for whatever you are keeping beneath it. You can park your car or store some of your stuff beneath it. If there is some space left, you can buy some outdoor furniture and make yourself a place for relaxation. Look up for shade sails online and find just the one you need. Make sure you choose a waterproof material for maximum protection.

No matter which option you choose make sure you think everything through before you actually get to work. Grab your tools and build a new place for your car and all that stuff you just do not know where to keep.

About the author

Marie Nieves is a student and a blogger who loves unusual trips, gadgets and creative ideas. Marie loves to share her experiences and talk about practical solutions. She is an avid lover of photography interested in interior and exterior design and regular author on Smooth Decorator. You can find Marie onFacebook or follow her on Twitter and G+.

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Organize Your Deals

Posted by The Frugal Diva on December 29th, 2015

The Frugal Diva knows how hard it is to remember all the various discounts, coupons, and special offers that are out there. They come through the mail, on line, in newspapers and magazines. What is a diva to do?

In the email realm, open a dedicated email address just to register for online discounts.  Your own internet provider usually gives you that option or you can sign up for free at gmail or hotmail. Use this address when registering for sites that send you coupons and alert you to sales.

Quickly skim over the offers, jump on the ones you want, and be on your way.  Chico’s sends a $10 off coupon on your birthday and it can be used with another offer or on sale items.  Celebrate with new clothes that are on sale, use one of their coupons, and add in your B Day gift. Now we’re talking a real deal.  Sephora sends some free goodies your way on your B-Day. Origins has a discount birthday offer.

Your personal main email address will remain easily readable for your personal or business correspondence that needs to be answered.

Before going shopping or ordering  or eating out just type in the name of the store, restaurant, or service with the word sale or promo code. It is very likely that a deal will pop up on the first page of the google search.

For the paper coupons, there are several serious organizers for food coupons. For others, buy yourself a pretty wallet size organizer about the size of a checkbook. There are lovely ones to be found in Chinatown. They hold the millions of Bed, Bath, and Beyond discounts, restaurants specials, and other one of kind discounts. Remember to go through them and throw out expired offers.

After all being frugal is a life enhancer not a life clutterer.

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School Days

Posted by The Frugal Diva on December 28th, 2015

This is the great thing, you never have to stop learning.  At Santa Monica College you can try a new  language, improve your writing skill, or get a handle on Microsoft Excel. At Pasadena City College you can take self defense, history of Asian art, or beginning tap dance. The catalogs have many choices and different opportunities are available every semester.  And continuing education classes are given on nights and weekends.  There are also other community colleges in the LA area with preferred pricing for residents .

Imagine two or three hours a week where you can put away all your other concerns and concentrate on something interesting, interact with others, and come away with knowledge.  We are always looking for something new to do, trying to meet  people, and find networking opportunities. What could be better then a class where you have stimulating conversations, excitement over a topic, and new information.

Public libraries are also a great resource for classes and lectures.

Divas want more out of life and this is a fantastic way to get it.

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