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All You Need Is Less

Posted by The Frugal Diva on April 8th, 2014

The Frugal Diva likes the style of this book – easy solutions for living a greener life which inevitably costs less.  Madeleine Somerville has a breezy way of helping you concoct your own shampoo, laundry detergent, circumvent the flu, and all manners of taking care of your garden, baby, and sex life with the best environmental outcomes.  Yes, even your sex life can be more eco friendly.  You’ll have to read the book to find out how.

Short Excerpt From Chapter Two – Body “Basic Hygiene Boot Camp (And I Mean Reeeally Basic)

All You Need Is Less by Madeleine Somerville

It goes a little something like this: Use soap.

Oh, I know you are a clean person and you probably smell nice too. In fact, I have no doubt that your personal hygiene is beyond reproach.

But choosing to use plain old bar soap instead of that pump hand soap, body wash, shower gel, or super-expensive foaming, miracle-moisturizing mousse you got on sale can do wonders for your skin, your local landfill, and the crowded shelves of your shower caddy too.

People tell me that the reason they use body washes instead of soap is that soap is too drying or too harsh on their sensitive skin. With conventional bar soaps this is often true, and I mean, fair enough, no one likes walking around in a skin suit that feels two sizes too small. Nevertheless, I didn’t usually have this experience and am a huge fan of natural bar soaps, so I wanted to find out why so many people were passing them over in favor of the plastic-packaged stuff.

Because I sometimes like to pretend that I am a girl detective like Nancy Drew, I hunted down some answers from my very own soap lady, Kirsten French of Be Clean Naturally. Kirsten was a regular at the farmer’s markets in my old hometown of Squamish, BC. Starting with soaps and gradually working her way into shaving creams, laundry detergents, and other personal care and home products, she always sought to use minimal packaging, offered product refills when possible, and had a real passion for getting clean the natural way. She helped me get to the bottom of The Case of the Natural Bar of Soap (aka, Why good-quality natural soap is actually better for your skin than anything found inside of a bottle and also, Why do you have to be so lame, Madeleine?)

“Typically, commercial soaps and shower gels are made from a detergent base, which strips the natural oils away from our skin, leaving us dry and scaly,” French explained. “This causes many people to then slap on skin cream to combat the itchy, tight post-shower feeling. Detergents are very inexpensive to make and are derived through a laboratory process. They also have a lower pH than traditional soap, which means that they need synthetic chemicals, such as triclosan, added into them to make them antibacterial.”

After briefly mocking me for pretending to be a girl detective, Ms. French went on to explain that triclosan is rapidly accumulating in our oceans and impacting the ability of whales to reproduce (save the whales!). And whereas shower gels are often laden with synthetic fragrances and preservatives that can be irritating to the skin, sinuses, and eyes, soap is inherently antibacterial without needing anything nasty added.

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Six Healthy and Inexpensive Foods

Posted by The Frugal Diva on March 31st, 2014

Our guest post is written by  + Stu Lieberman the writer for Nutri-Health.com, an online High Quality Probiotics and Health Store.  Assisting people and helping them find quality natural supplements and health products online is what Stu hashttp://www.nutri-health.com been doing for over 2 years.  Nutri-Health.com carries Digestive Supplements to Probiotics to Joint Health.

According to research from Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH), the healthiest diets cost about $1.50 more per day than the least healthy diets. That ends up being nearly $550 per year, per person. A family of four would be looking at an additional $2,200 annually. That can be a pain in the pocketbook!

Luckily, there are healthy options at that won’t leave a dent in your wallet.

Beans: Beans are available in both canned and dry varieties. Buying dry beans in bulk is the most economical option. Beans are a great source of protein and dietary fiber. They’re also rich in folate and magnesium. Use beans to make a hearty chili, serve them as a side, or add them to soups. Cost: About 25 cents per serving (1 cup cooked).

Brown Rice: To produce brown rice, only the outermost layer—the hull—is removed, leaving most of the nutritional value of the whole grain rice intact. Brown rice is a good source of manganese, selenium, magnesium, and protein, among others. You can add brown rice to soups, serve it as a side dish, or incorporate it into a stir fry. Cost: About 20 cents per serving (1/2 cup cooked).

Canned Tuna: Tuna is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids that support your heart and brain. Available in both chunk light and albacore (white), it’s the chunk light version that has been shown to contain less mercury—and is less expensive! To keep your tuna healthy, be sure to skip the mayonnaise. Add tuna to salads, or make your own sandwich on whole grain bread. Cost: 75 cents-1 dollar per serving (5 oz.).

Eggs: Eggs had a bad rap for a while, but recent research has found that consuming eggs will not raise your cholesterol or increase your risk of heart disease. Eggs are low in calories, a good source of protein, and provide a good dose of choline, selenium and iodine. Cost: A dozen eggs can range from $1-$3 depending on where you live. Even if you use the high end of the price scale, the cost for a 2-egg serving ends up being just 50 cents.

Oats: Oats are a filling, and a high in fiber to help support digestion. Once only available in a canister, you can now get oatmeal in pre-packaged, flavored packets. However, those packets are not only costly, they’re also loaded with sugar. Keep your oats healthy and inexpensive by sticking with the canister. Cost: About 50 cents per serving (1 cup cooked)

Bananas: This sweet yellow food is one of the few fruits available year-round. Bananas are a great source of potassium, providing 400mg per serving. Eat them on their own or add them to cereal. For a delicious dessert, stick them in the freezer for a few hours. The peel will turn brown, but the inside tastes like banana ice cream. Cost: About 40 cents per serving (1 banana).

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Order Some Law With Legal Zoom

Posted by The Frugal Diva on March 24th, 2014

Being totally phobic about all things legal, the frugal diva was really happy when a friend recommended Legal Zoom.  Personal recommendations rank very high on my list of reasons to use a service – especially one on the Internet.  Being nervous about the process also generates a high need for great customer service. In my case more like hand holding, reassurance, and letting you ask many questions along the way.

I got all this and more. This company has the best customer service ever.  They inform you by mail and by phone each step of the way and you never have to wait more then a few minutes for a real, live person to walk you through the process.

And that person is soooo patient, soooo informed, and will make sure you understand everything before the conversation is over.  There is no rush, no attitude, and they are interested in your concerns.

You do pay for the service however you are saving time, aggravation, and gasoline. Instead of driving around, finding parking, making mistakes filling out forms, and dealing with clerks, you are taking care of your business.  Their prices are very reasonable given how much time you would spend getting the same service yourself or using the higher priced services of an attorney.   Legal Zoom proved that the law can be very orderly and efficient.

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Who Has The Best Shipping?

Posted by The Frugal Diva on March 21st, 2014

And  by “best” the Frugal Diva means free.

With the big news last week that L.L. Bean was joining an exclusive list of retailers offering free shipping on all orders every day, FreeShipping.com thought it only appropriate to list the top 20 merchants offering this great deal on a regular basis. Some merchants offer free international shipping in as little as three days, while others give shoppers free overnight shipping or free return shipping.

This is such a savings when you are in a rush and want something across the country for a wedding, baby shower, birthday, or anniversary.  Thanks to FreeShipping.com for letting us know who are the companies grateful for our business.  Use their codes to save even  more!

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Home Office Tips

Posted by The Frugal Diva on March 10th, 2014

Home office, it sounded so good when we first thought about it. Working in our bunny slippers, never having to dress up, showering at our whim, and sipping coffee from our own mugs.

Now we order our own paper, find our own printers, and try to get supplies at the best prices. Like everything else loyalty matters, pick a club and stay with them except for exceptional bargains.  I am a proud member of the Staples Club. They give me points for purchases and every three months send me a check.  Recycle used ink cartridges for a $2 rebate per cartridge.

My personal paper goods favorite is Envelope Mall for that all important first impression. What variety, what fabulous colors, what a deal. For business I want the best quality to tell my clients they are worth it. For a few pennies more you can have something that makes a terrific impression.  Do your own invitations. Euroflap envelopes bring a touch of elegance and no one will know whether you bought them at that expensive stationary store or ordered them off the Internet.

My pick for an online printer is uprinting.com- the site where you can talk to a real person and they actually care about your order. You can send up files for a technical review at no charge and receive an on line PDF to verify your order. If you live in Los Angeles you can pick up your printing and skip the delivery charge. They deliver a high quality of customer service along with great printing.

If you are also your own publicist, go to PRWeb.com - they will teach you how to write a press release and then deliver to multiple markets. Not bad for getting your name out there in a hurry.

Start receiving emails from HARO, Help A Reporter Out. This might be the day that CNN or any of a number of outlets needs your expertise.

You are receiving this newsletter from Mailchimp.com. They will let you have 12,000 sends per month for up to 2000 subscribers for free. This is a great way start out your mailer and see what works before making an investment. The dashboard is user friendly and they have many templates to choose from.

If you have a straightforward legal issue, Legal Zoom is reliable with top notch customer service. I used them for a DBA after a friend recommended them.  They were so good at explaining every step that it was a very relaxed process for a legalphobe such as myself.

Use that travel time that you are saving for walking, meditating, or reading a good book to transition from office mentality back into your home environment.

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Play It Again Sports

Posted by The Frugal Diva on February 26th, 2014

We’ve all been there – wanting to exercise and never finding the time, thinking equipment is too expensive, and worried that our investment will never be used. Play It Again Sports makes the initial outlay reasonable and encourages you to try something new. If you can never make it to the gym this is a great place to buy a stationary bicycle, treadmill, or weights. For a fraction of the cost, see if this option works for you. Sometimes a small investment makes a big difference in your health, plus you might be able to sell it back if this isn’t your type of workout.

Knowledgeable salespeople know all the right items and how to best fit your child for a glove or bat. Kids pass through sports crazes quickly and there is no reason to pay full price when they will only be playing for a few months. Check with your local store to see how they can help you fundraise for your team.

Now Play It Again Sports also carries some never used items they picked up at reduced prices during  manufacturers closeouts.

This store is a good resource for  ski season or for walking off those extra pounds indoors for next swimsuit season.

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Spring Yard Sales

Posted by The Frugal Diva on February 25th, 2014

Those novels you read on vacation, the shirt you haven’t worn for five years, the toys your college bound student won’t need, and the sheets for a single bed that you don’t own anymore. Sound familiar. We all put things away for a rainy day or because they remind us of a favorite event.

This is a great time of year to reorganize, declutter, donate, and stash stuff  in boxes for a future yard sale.

In fairness to yourself before selling or donating anything that you feel might be worth something check the ebay price of the same or similar item.

If you feel something is very valuable check with a professional auction house. Bonhams Auction House . Is it treasure or trash?  They are a neutral party who can provide an auction value estimate.

If you decide to go forward with a yard sale here are some good rules to follow:

Put a price on all items! You can have individual prices or grab bags where everything in the bag goes for a set price. Put stickers on everything and you can also segregate areas for different prices. All fifty cent items on one table. Remember nobody comes to yard sale to spend big bucks. Everything you sell is one thing you don’t have to carry back into the house.

Don’t let early arrivers throw you off. Post a sign that says when you start and don’t let anyone into your home. You want good coverage so if you don’t have enough family members, invite friends to help out or sell stuff along with you. If you can get your neighbors to join in – all the better.  Everyone has a unique inventory so the more the merrier.

Get change the day before and post that you will only give change up to $10 or $20.  Most yard sale shoppers know the drill and will come with appropriate coinage.  Since many items will be $.10 or $.25, get a few packs of quarters, dimes, and nickels plus twenty to  fifty in singles. Keep your cash on you or with a helper who is designated the cashier.

Feel free to sell sodas or lemonade for a modest price. This is a great learning experience for small children. Let them set up a stand and feel they are part of the experience.

Now to let people know about your sale.  Many local papers have free listings, put it up on bulletin boards at your grocery store, school, church, and gym, and post signs at all major intersections in your neighborhood. Many people still drive around looking for yard sales and neon colored paper will attract attention.

The most important thing about a yard sale, have fun, watch your stuff enhance another person’s life, and make a few dollars in the process.

Whatever is left over can be boxed up and delivered to Goodwill.

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FIDM

Posted by The Frugal Diva on February 24th, 2014

Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising is a great place to visit, shop, and explore an interesting area of downtown LA. Now for the Diva it’s always more fun if there is some discount shopping involved and FIDM has a wonderful Scholarship Store with some of the best deals in town. For those not in LA, there is an online store, prices are not as good however there are original and unique items.

All the merchandise sold in the Scholarship Store is donated by over 400 successful manufacturers, retailers, and wholesalers, many of whom employ FIDM Alumni.  They send overstock and end of season items at great prices.  All the money you spend goes to scholarships so feel good about splurging.

Now they also have exhibits of movie and television costumes plus a gallery devoted to perfume. The FIDM Los Angeles campus houses a Permanent and Study Collection of over 12,000 costumes, accessories, and textiles from the 18th century through the present day, including film and theatre costume. It is one of the largest such collections in the United States, and top designer holdings include Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent, Dior, and Lacroix.

A current exhibition is 22nd Annual Art of Motion Picture Costume Design February 11 – April 26, 2014. On view are actual costumes from 2013 movies nominated for Oscars. This exhibit is free to the public and will be open Monday  – Saturday from 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.

Check it out and watch Project Runway like a fashion insider.

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Mega Bus

Posted by The Frugal Diva on February 23rd, 2014

The wheels on the bus go round and round and you end up with a great price. Riding the bus used to be for the poor and downtrodden now with airport security, delays, less leg room all the time, it seems like this might be the best option. Megabus will take you from Los Angeles to Las Vegas in about 5 to 6 hours for as much as $24 and as little as $9 (please check prices online). If this seems like a lot of time, let’s add up the time it takes to fly.

Arrive two hours before flight for security check in

Flying time is about 1 hour and 5 minutes

Deplane and get transportation into town could take 1 hour and a half

These times reflect no delays on the ground or landing

So for 4 hours you can rush to the airport, pay for a cab or parking your car, go through security, hope your plane gets off on time, land, get a rental car or find a cab to your hotel OR for an extra hour or so you can board the bus and be dropped off in town. This is a great way to get kids home for the holidays or grab a few days of vacation.

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Valentine’s Day 2014

Posted by The Frugal Diva on February 14th, 2014

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 Friday 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, the Volunteers of America has an extensive nationwide network.

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.

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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