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Free And Low Cost Fun For Kids

Posted by The Frugal Diva on February 25th, 2015

A Big Thank You to Jennifer Moss of  BabyNames.com and author of Town Red, for providing this great list of activities that are free or low cost, build creativity and skills for kids, and are bonding experiences between parent and child. She did forget to mention how much fun it is to look up names on her site and find things like character tips for writers, what are cool names now and in the past, and games for baby showers.

1. Your local library – get your child his/her own library card, it makes them feel very important and introduces them to the awesome library system. Make it a weekly trip and allow them to pick out 3 books at a time.  Some municipal libraries even have bookmobiles that may be in your neighborhood!  The library is also an inexpensive place to rent videos. At the Los Angeles Public Library they are usually free!

2. Your local recreation center. Many rec centers (like Westwood on Sepulveda) allow you to swim for a couple dollars per person.  Hours of enjoyment for little money! Rec centers also have affordable summer programs for kids, since they are sponsored by the city.

3. After school day care: LAUSD public schools have a free after school program called “YS” (Youth Services).  Take advantage of this if you can’t pick up your child and don’t want to pay a babysitter! YS coordinators are usually teachers from the school and they do outdoor activities with the kids they know.

4. Make your own restaurant! For dinner one night, make it fancy without going out!  Type up a little “menu” and play restaurant with your kids. Decorate your table with candles and let them make a centerpiece. Take turns being the “waiter!” Variation:While eating dinner, let your kid pretend they’re you and you pretend to be them. It is very revealing what they say, how they act and how you’re seen from their eyes!  You can also use this opportunity to point out some of their bad habits (like whining or chewing with their mouth open).

5. Have “pioneer night” where no electricity is used. This is harder for the adults than the kids! Can you go one whole night without power? No internet, no tv, no videos! Be creative and spend a whole evening with your kids in the dark! Stock up on candles and flashlights before you do this. It saves on the electric bill AND prepares your kids for emergencies!

6. Don’t have bikes? Rent them! Many of the L.A. beaches have bike rentals. If you don’t have bikes of your own, take the kids down to the beach for the day and rent bikes. For less than $10 you can have a great active day that they’ll love.

7. Bowling! Remember bowling? There are still lanes out there and you don’t even have to keep score anymore! Bowling alleys have many “off” times that are only a couple dollars a game. Check out your local bowling alley and ask for the bumpers for the kids!(Bumpers guaranteed to improve your game too!)

8. Baking. Bake with your kids. It’s fun for them to be part of the creative process and only costs a couple dollars for cake mix and frosting (or cookie dough).

9. Walks, parks and playdates. Take advantage of walking in your neighborhood and local parks. Walk slowly and point out flowers and interesting landmarks to your child.  If they are younger, practice colors and counting (“what color is that flower?”, “How many red cars can you count during our walk?”).  Barter play dates with your kids and their friends.  Play dates are a great way for parents to get “alone time” without paying for sitters.  Take the kids and their friends to the local park!  Better than video games and they won’t get bored as easily! Take a picnic lunch or snacks so they have some downtime between running and jumping! Bad weather? Take them to the mall — most malls have child play-places for free.

10. Share your picture/video camera with your kids. Most kids pick up on electronics quickly, so show them how to use the video camera and tell them to make a TV show all by themselves–with commercials!! It keeps them busy for hours and the result is usually hilarious!

If you don’t have kids, many of these activities are fun for adults too!

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National Consumer Protection Week 2015–March 1-7

Posted by The Frugal Diva on February 24th, 2015

With all the hacking and scams, the Frugal Diva says information is the best protection. Use the resources below to find out about buying a used car, making investments, and much more.

March 1-7, 2015 is National Consumer Protection Week (NCPW), an opportunity for organizations around the country to show their commitment to consumer protection by teaching people about their consumer rights. More than 80 Nonprofit groups, businesses and federal, state and local government agencies are partners in NCPW and hundreds of other agencies and organizations host events for the week (and beyond) throughout the country. NCPW partners share resources and have created a toolkit to help people coordinate events during NCPW.

NCPW.gov – in Spanish at protecciondelconsumidor.gov – has free resources from NCPW partners on topics from managing credit and debt, to avoiding identity theft, to staying safe online and more. These resources help people learn about their consumer rights and how to spot and avoid scams and identity theft. If you spot a scam, the site tells you where to file complaints with federal, state and other partners.

On March 3 at 2:00 p.m., the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) will host a Twitter chat in conjunction with National Consumer Protection Week 2015. Follow @FTC where consumers can join the conversation. The hashtag is #NCPW2015. See FTC Twitter chats to learn more.

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Vita Cost

Posted by The Frugal Diva on February 24th, 2015

There are so many fantastic deals on the Vita Cost site I don’t know where to begin. Vitamins, shampoos, organic foods, protein powders, herbs, and homeopathy are just a few of the items covered.

Let’s start with organic products – 22 ounces of  Raw Honey for $6.99, organic peppermint tea for $2.68, 16 ounces of Arrowhead Mills organic flax seed for $2.70!

Moving right along to shampoos- 11 ounces of Kiss My Face Whenever Shampoo for $4.19, 32 ounces of Avalon Nourishing Lavender Shampoo for $10.67,  18 ounces Nature’s Gate Pomegranate Sunflower Shampoo for $3.90!

Organic Agave sweetener 23.5 ounces for $6.53!

Seventh Generation Natural Laundry Detergent White Flower and Bergamot Citrus 7 lbs for $13.73!

(all prices subject to change, please check with website)

And Aubreys, Alba Botanica, Burts Bees, Jason, Zia!

So many types of vitamins and herbs that you are going to have to see for yourself. Check out their recipe center for great meals.

Now The Frugal Diva knows what you are thinking. What in the world is it going to cost to ship all this? $4.99 per order – that means if you get one item, two items, or ten items it will cost you $4.99 shipping. Sign up for their emails and find out when they have a special free shipping offers.

And as a diva it’s so nice to have things appear at your doorstep without having to schlep out to the store.

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Posted in Category Test, Fitness/Beauty | 2 Comments »

New Research Finds Volunteering Improves Health and Happiness

Posted by The Frugal Diva on January 28th, 2015

If you have 2-3 hours to spare each week, you might want to consider volunteering, particularly if you’re 50 or older. Not only can the experience be incredibly fulfilling, new research finds that it might just make you healthier, happier, and more physically fit.

The group of researchers led by the Rotman Research Institute at Baycrest Health Sciences analyzed data from 73 studies involving people aged 50-plus who were in formal volunteering roles. The results were published in August 2014 online in Psychological Bulletin. Here are some of their key findings:

  • Volunteering is associated with reductions in symptoms of depression, better overall health, fewer functional limitations, and greater longevity.
  • Health benefits may depend on a moderate level of volunteering. There appears to be a tipping point after which greater benefits no longer accrue. The “sweet spot” appears to be at about 100 annual hours, or 2-3 hours per week.
  • Adults considered “vulnerable”, meaning they had chronic health conditions, may benefit the most from volunteering.
  • Feeling appreciated or needed as a volunteer appears to amplify the relationship between volunteering and psychosocial well-being.

Earlier studies had also found a moderate amount of volunteering was related to less hypertension and fewer hip fractures among seniors compared to their non-volunteering peers.

“Taken together, these results suggest that volunteering is associated with health improvements and increased physical activity – changes that one would expect to offer protection against a variety of health conditions,” said lead investigator Dr. Nicole Anderson.

No matter where you live, you can find places in need of volunteers. At my kids’ elementary school, neighborhood volunteers serve as “Reading Buddies” to some of younger students to help boost their reading proficiency. Community theaters often rely on volunteers to serve as ushers, answer phones and other tasks. If you love animals, an animal shelters could be just right for you to dedicate a couple hours each week. Local hospitals and churches are also often in need to volunteers. Reach out and find a cause that’s meaningful to you to start reaping the many rewards of volunteering

SOURCE:

Evidence mounting that older adults who volunteer are happier, healthier. News Release. Baycrest Center for Geriatric Care. Aug 2014.

This article 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 probiotic supplements enzymes and health products online is what Stu has been doing for over 2 years.  Nutri-Health.com carries Digestive Supplements to Probiotics to Joint Health.

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The Grove Date Night

Posted by The Frugal Diva on January 27th, 2015

When walking in the Grove, I stumbled upon this great deal. During the week from Monday to Thursday, the Grove offers a $35 per person Date Night available for two.  This goes until Feb. 15 on week nights only.

FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION DATE NIGHT AT THE GROVE

THURSDAY, JANUARY 15 – THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 19

Miss some of the 2014 Contenders? Catch them at The Grove beginning January 15th!

Enjoy a nominated film, dinner and complimentary valet for $35 per person.* Restaurants and movie schedule to follow shortly!

Call our Concierge Services at 323.900.8080 for reservations.

MENUS:

Bar Verde at Nordstrom

Maggiano´s Little Italy

Morels French Steakhouse

Umami Burger

The Whisper Restaurant & Lounge

Package sold in pairs and includes dinner for two at one of our participating restaurants, two reserved seat movie tickets to one of the nominated films playing at Pacific Theatres and one complimentary valet ticket.

*Theatre seats subject to availability. Gratuity included. Monday – Thursday, reservations must be made prior to 3pm. Friday, reservations must be made by 1pm.

And complimentary valet  parking. And you don’t have to do anything  except call the concierge at (323) 900-8080 and make your reservations.

So let’s go over this again. For $35 per person you get dinner, movie tickets and valet parking for a total of $70.  If you can swing a night out during the week, this is a great deal.

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Singles Mingle Valentine’s Day

Posted by The Frugal Diva on January 26th, 2015

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.

In Los Angeles – By popular demand, the Los Angeles Regional Foodbank has its Feed the Soul While Helping Feed the Hungry!  Saturday, February 14, 2011 from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm.

Date & Time: Saturday, February 14th – Registration is from 8:00 am to 8:25 am – volunteer project starts at 8:30 am to 12:00 pm. Please bring in your release form on the day of your service project.
Address: Los Angeles Regional Food Bank is located at 1734 E. 41st Street, Los Angeles, 90058.

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. *Once you register you will receive an email confirmation with all the logistics and forms.

***All volunteers must wear closed toed shoes***
***Minimum age requirement to volunteer is 14 (sorry, no exceptions)**
Check out VoluteerMatch.org for more opportunities around the country.

You got 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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Even More Valentine’s Day Tips For Guys

Posted by The Frugal Diva on January 26th, 2015

Guest post is by Gabrielle Greene who co-blogs on TipsOnHowToSaveMoney. Her friends often refer to her as “Gaby Gabs A lot,” especially if it has anything to do with freebies and saving money!

I was reading, “Valentine’s Day 2014,” and I just had to laugh at some of the things that were said because I can relate to them. I’m really not a fan of Valentines Day and never have been. In fact, my best V-Day was spent with my best friend when I was still single.

Seems now that I’m married there ultimately seems to be a fight that occurs on this day, but of course and it just stinks!

First I declared that I didn’t want to even participate in V-Day at all. Like the Frugal Diva herself, I don’t need the chocolates (my low-carb diet is already killing me, but that’s another story) or the flowers that will die (I swear mine die even faster than they should).

You would think he would be happy about this, but I think in his mind that even though I was saying I didn’t want to participate that I secretly did so if he didn’t do something then it would be yet another fight. Wait, did that make sense?

Men, generally speaking, women fall into two categories and you should know which one. We either swoon over the cliché and typical Valentines Day or we hate it. So take the time to know your woman and what will make her happy. Here are the things that we worked out and I am now looking forward to the dreaded V-Day for the first time in years.

Flowers – Instead of roses buy tulips, a plant or an herb. They last longer and they smell just as good. Rosemary, Sage and Lavender are all good choices.

Chocolates – Again, I’ve been killing myself on this diet (most women are always on a diet, sigh) and I don’t need any stinkin chocolates. But I would love some Starbucks! I will never say no to coffee; if I could get a caffeine IV drip, I would! I’m not the only one. If she doesn’t like coffee, get her tea. If fountain sodas are her thing, do that too. You get the idea.

Favorite things – Every girl has favorite things, two of mine happen to be Bath & Body

Works and candles. So buy the things you know she will love. In fact, Bath & Body Works is having one of their famous sales and it’s Buy 3, get 3 free. Retail Me Not has a great app for finding coupons for almost any store that you can access right on your smartphone. I recently started using it myself.

Household Items – There are some women that will have a complete meltdown if any sort of home appliance or bath room accessory is bought as a gift. I definitely do not fall into that category, although without a doubt, my best friend does. Please do redo my bathroom
cabinets or buy me a Keurig. Heck, I will even take a new vacuum or blender, even a new comforter. With age I have learned to appreciate these things.

The moral of the story? Guys, are you paying attention to your woman? We aren’t hard to figure out, we just want to know you are paying attention and know what we like. It took me years to convince my husband that I WANT BOOKS. He doesn’t like buying them  (or even a gift card) because he says that is not a proper gift. But if I love books and I want books why does he get to tell me it’s not a proper gift? Can you see how some of our arguments start? It’s totally his fault. Get her what she likes, even if you think it’s crazy.

Trust me, it’s just easier.

Now, I have to say, ladies, be fair and do the same for your man in return. I did buy him a bottle of cologne (because I liked the smell) but I also ordered him some things for the garage that he has been wanting but hasn’t bought for himself. Valentines Day is sold as a holiday for flowers and chocolate but it doesn’t have to be. Buy gifts that are more personable for the person you love. You don’t have to get it, or even agree, but it’s a good time to spoil the person you love and to make it count!

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Free Days At The National Parks

Posted by The Frugal Diva on January 16th, 2015

When The Frugal Dude suggested going to Yosemite, The Frugal Diva replied that it was just a bunch of trees.  I could not have been more incorrect. The magnificent vistas, the fresh air, the beautiful meadows of wild flowers, and spectacular waterfalls made me realize that there was a whole world that awaited outside of urban areas. And the other good news, it did not involve any camping. I also believed that you had to pitch a tent and gather berries for sustenance.  Many National Parks have food and accommodations that are reasonable and don’t involve building your own fire. Of course for those who enjoy sleeping in the great outdoors there are numerous camp sites.

feb_22_08-1042Just to make this more fun, these are the 2015 dates when entrance fees are waived.

January 19-Martin Luther King Jr. Day
February 14-16-Presidents Day weekend
April 18-19-Opening weekend of National Park Week
August 25-National Park Service Birthday
September 26-National Public Lands Day
November 11-Veterans Day

Many of your 392 national parks NEVER charge an entrance fee. So start planning your visit!

And if you are over 62 get a Senior Pass for a one time $10 fee.  This is for a lifetime of free admissions.  The pass admits the pass holder and passengers in a non-commercial vehicle at per vehicle fee areas and pass holder + 3 adults, not to exceed 4 adults, at per person fee areas (children under 16 are admitted free).

If you plan to visit several national parks in one year, consider the $80 one year pass.

The Frugal Dude was right, the national parks are a fabulous vacation and we have since been to the Grand Tetons, Glacier, Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon (the north and south rims), Bryce, Zion and many others.  It is a great reminder what a vast and beautiful country we live in.

Let me know your favorites!

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Posted in Entertainment | 1 Comment »

Tips for Surviving Holiday Parties without Weight Gain

Posted by The Frugal Diva on December 9th, 2014

When you’re watching your weight, or just trying to be healthy, holiday parties can be a challenge. And, they seem to multiply every year. There’s your office party, your neighbors’ parties, your kids’ parties at school, and of course, your own family gatherings.

If visions of yule log cakes, cookies, and cheese balls have you panicked, take heart. You don’t have to forgo healthy eating this season. And you don’t have to skip out on all the merriment. Here are some tips to help you stay on track and avoid weight gain from all those holiday parties.

  • Eat Breakfast. When you start your day off with a healthy, nutritious, and satisfying meal, you’re more likely to continue to make healthy food choices throughout the day. The morning of a holiday party, start your day with a morning meal that includes healthy protein, like eggs or low-fat yogurt, lean meat, and fruit.
  • Keep Moving. The holiday season is busy. If you don’t have time to go to the gym or do your regular workout, look for ways you can incorporate physical activity into your day. Take your dog for a walk, have a dance party with your kids or grandkids, or anything else that gets your heart pumping.
  • Bring Your Own Healthy Dish. If you’re attending a potluck, offer to bring a healthy main course or side dish. That way, you’re guaranteed to have a lighter, healthier option to eat.
  • Use Small Plates. When making a plate at a party, choose the smallest plate available. Smaller plates help keep your portions in control, as they limit the amount of space you can fill.
  • Load up on the Veggies. Once you’ve grabbed your small plate, head over to the vegetables. Fill half your plate with raw veggies. Raw vegetables are best because you know they haven’t been cooked in, or covered with, calorie-filled sauces. If you want to add a some flavor, drizzle a little balsamic vinegar over your veggies.
  • Make Sure Your Plate is Colorful. Once your plate is filled take a look down. You should have a variety of colors represented. A plate of brightly-colored foods is often a sign that you’ve made wise choices. Just be sure those colors are not coming from candies and sweets!
  • Have a Nibble of Chocolate. That’s right… chocolate. Dark chocolate has been shown to promote satiety, so you feel fuller longer. Having a little nibble of the dark variety can also help to satisfy your sweet tooth, so you don’t overindulge at the dessert table. Note that milk chocolate does not provide the same health benefits. Look for dark chocolate containing at least 70% cocoa.
  • Socialize and circulate. If you’ve finished eating, keep yourself busy talking to family and friends, away from the table of food, so you’re not tempted to go back for seconds or thirds. Parties aren’t just about the food. Use this time to get to know someone new, or catch up with an old friend.

This article is written by  + Stu Lieberman the writer for Nutri-Health.com, an online High Quality Health Supplements such as PQQ.  Assisting people and helping them find quality natural health supplements online is what Stu has been doing for over 3 years.  Nutri-Health.com carries Digestive Supplements to Probiotics to Joint Health.

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Sun Trust Holiday Means

Posted by The Frugal Diva on November 25th, 2014

To help people better manage holiday spending and avoid stress, SunTrust is offering tips, tools and advice on a website called holidaymeans.com.

Resources include a downloadable budgetworksheet to track spending; planning guide with steps to achieve a stress-free holiday; ideas for creating holiday memories; inspirational videos; and posts from guest bloggers that offer advice for a meaningful holiday.

“Holidays should be less financially stressful and more meaningful,” said Rilla Delorier, consumer channels executive at SunTrust Bank. “Our purpose at SunTrust is to help people achieve financial well-being, and that’s especially hard to do this time of year. Through holidaymeans.com, we’re showing people how they can think differently, spend thoughtfully and take specific steps to stay in financial control.”

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