It’s the first newsletter of the year. Yes, I can’t believe January’s almost gone. There’s lots of good stuff to tell you about this month and a special section on Valentine’s Day. And be sure to check out next week’s First Annual BSG Valentine’s Day Gift Guide.
My Attempt at a Cookbook
I’ve always wanted to write a cookbook and this year I thought I’d give it a try. I’ll be posting some of the recipes along with photos throughout the year and hopefully by December I’ll have enough for a cookbook. I haven’t posted any recipes yet but if you want to follow along check out http://budgetsmartgirl.mycookingblog.com I’m trying to cook with products that are in season and if you’re interested in seeing what they are, visit www.eatwellguide.org
I’m always looking for natural products to clean my house. One problem I’ve run into is finding a carpet stain remover that doesn’t make the house smell like a laboratory and make my eyes water. I finally found one. It’s from one of my favorite company Seventh Generation and it’s the Whiteflower and Bergamot Citrus Natural Carpet Spot and Stain Remover. Best of all it wasn’t any more expensive than the regular cleaners. www.seventhgeneration.com
And while on the topic of natural and green cleaning, I came across this site, looks like some good prices
And be sure to check out this site all about going green and saving energy…money too
Sites to Save and Make Money Too
My husband bought home a copy of a computer magazine and if there’s something to be read sitting around, I’ll pick it up. These companies were mentioned so I decided to check them out
These two sites are places where you can swap and yes, I believe sell unwanted items. As per usual proceed with caution as I’ve never checked them out or used their services-
And you know one of my pet peeves is the price of ink cartridges, this site www.inkgard.com claims you can print for less using this software. Once again I haven’t tried it for myself, but if anyone has or does, I’d love some feedback to see if it actually works.
I was reading an article about ways to stay warmer this winter and someone recommended fleece sheets with a link to this site www.simplygoodstuff.com Looks like they not only sell sheets but other items too.
The New Buzz Word
Seems recession is the new buzz word and sites dedicated to it are popping up every day. I found this interesting site www.recessionwire.com
While Surfing the Web
Here are two articles of interest I found this month-
If you’re looking for a fast dinner, here’s an article from Rachael Ray about the top new and improved dinners-
And if you’re thinking of selling your home or just want to make some improvements, check out
Inexpensive Ways to Spend a Winter’s Day
It’s mid winter, a time when I start dreaming about sitting on a tropical beach, sipping a margarita while the sun beats down on me. Yes, it’s only a dream, but if the cold and snow, and maybe having to watch your pennies, are giving you a bad case of cabin fever, here are some things to do around the house or town that will won’t break the bank.
Cross Country Skiing
Skiing the slopes at Aspen is probably beyond most of our budgets, many cities and suburbs across the country have areas where you can cross country ski. For example, my local park system not only has groomed trails, but also rents equipment, and some even have lighted trails for nighttime skiing, and all at minimum cost.
Movies and a Pizza
The price of going to the movies and buying a drink and popcorn isn’t as cheap these days but who says you need to bundle up and head out into the cold to see a movie. Rent a movie from the library and grab a pizza. Most pizza chains have weekly coupons with deals that often include free drinks. Plus, if you have a fire all set to go you can even try making toasted marshmallows.
Some people like to do most of their reading during the lazy days of summer, but who doesn’t love to curl up with a warm blanket and a good book. This is the idea time of the year to get to know your local library. Try reading a book in a genre you’ve never tried before, or even reading a couple of non-fiction titles.
Be a Student
Okay, you might not want to go back to school, but lots of community education programs offer a wide selection of courses from now until the end of the school year. And winter’s the ideal time to learn a new skill, maybe something you can put to good use in the summer.
I have to admit that my basement does house one or two of my unfinished craft projects. You could try knitting, painting, maybe even something you could make and sell at craft fairs in the summer.
With Every Good Intention
And speaking of unfinished things. How many of us have little chores and DIY jobs to do around our house but never seem to find the time to complete? If you don’t do it now, remember spring’s just around the corner and the patio will be calling. So spend a weekend getting all the inside stuff out of the way so you’ll have more time to spend outside this summer.
If you really do feel you need to head out, many local attractions remain open, but have lower attendance during the winter. Why not check if any of your local museums, or even zoos offer reduced admission fees. Check your local tourist board or chamber of commerce for discount coupons and passes to local attractions.
Valentine’s Day Ideas…on the cheap
When I put the call out for ideas for inexpensive Valentine Day gifts, I got a couple of responses from people offering low cost ideas. The first one is from Rahman “Chef Rock” Harper who is a celebrity chef, adjunct culinary instructor at Stratford University (www.stratford.edu ) and season three winner from Hell’s Kitchen. Here are some of his tips-
“Going out for a romantic meal is a great experience, but if you want a budget-friendly option, you can easily pull it off at home. And you may even earn brownie points for putting in the extra effort of doing it on your own.”
• Focus more on the time you will be spending with the person, rather than the food you will be serving.
• Find romantic background music to play softly and dance to.
• Think about some fun and romantic things you can do, such as playing games, looking through old pictures, or reading love poetry together.
• Opt for a different setting than where you usually eat, if possible, such as the dining room, patio, etc. Make the table look different than on a normal night, by adding a table cloth, special place setting, cloth napkins, and a candle.
• Make sure that every day distractions are off, such as the television and cell phone. The last thing you need is to have a text message ruin the romantic moment.
• Popular romantic foods include chocolate, coffee, ice cream, and seafood. It’s also a good idea to have a dessert that you can feed to each other, such as strawberries dipped in chocolate.
• Avoid tasting or smelling foods like garlic and raw onions, as the smells can ruin the moment. Or if you must try, be sure to use a breath freshener afterward.
• If you don’t want to have your romantic meal at the table, think creatively about other places, such as having a picnic. Even if it’s too cold outside, an indoor picnic can help create a new and festive mood.
• For those who don’t want to cook, find a good place for take-out food, one which will provide you with a beautiful and tasty dish to serve, much more affordably than dining out.
And here from www.ingdirect.com are 5 Savings Tips to Make Your Love Life and Your Money Last Forever f
Love don’t cost a thing at home. Dishing out big bucks for one day to show the significant other in your life how much you care is silly. Celebrate at home – cook his/her favorite meal, dim the lights, wear his/her favorite outfit, pull out your favorite drink and top it off with a special serenade handwritten by you. Trust us; a little goes a long way.
Reminisce. If you’re afraid of messing up the homemade surf and turf and insist on going out to dinner, try taking your love to the place where you had your first date. It’s a thoughtful gesture and it’s totally romantic. The restaurant probably won’t be too expensive and besides it’s a special way to bring back memories and re-kindle the flame.
Sweet deals. Sometimes local retailers have special V-Day rates, menus and discounts for you and a loved one. So do some research and take advantage of the “buy one get one free” meal deal for you and your sweetie pie.
And Neil Ellington from CESI Debt Solutions has the following ideas-
Neil urges sweethearts to be creative this year and look for ways to celebrate Valentine’s beyond the traditional dinner out, candy and roses. For moms, dads and kids, that could include the most valuable gifts you can give – the gift of time. A visit to a museum, park or historic site, for example. More ideas below to share with your readers to show that sometimes free gifts can be just the thing when they want to give the most.
Why? It seems that everyone is on a budget this year, but even so, the National Retail Federation reports that sweethearts will still spend on average close to $100 this Valentine’s Day, which is about $20 less than last year.
“I don’t call that cutting back. That’s a lot of money, and I imagine many people are putting it on credit cards,” said Neil Ellington of CESI Debt Solutions. “Many people will not have paid off their bills from holiday shopping when they start spending on Valentine’s Day.”
Instead of a romantic dinner for two, consider a leisurely Saturday lunch. You can enjoy the ambiance and food at a favorite restaurant for a lower price, and then head out for an afternoon activity you both enjoy.
Love movies? Take advantage of less expensive matinee prices. Enjoy literature? Buy a coffee and browse in a bookstore, or even head to your local library. Love travel? Be a tourist in your own town and check out a museum, park or visit a historic site.
Acts of Love
Sometimes the best gifts don’t come in a box. Is there something you can do for your spouse of loved one to show you care? Take the kids for the day to give your spouse time at home alone. Clean their car. Cook a great meal. Make homemade cookies.
It’s the Thought that Counts
If you can’t let Valentine’s pass without giving your sweetie a gift, challenge yourself to consider things that are under $20. A book of poems or quotations. A photo book of pictures of the two of you. Something from a second-hand store such as a money clip, cuff links or ring dish. A DVD of a classic movie – think Casablanca. Best of all, an original love letter.
“It’s easy to let holidays like Christmas and Valentine’s lure you away from your financial goals and your budget,” said Ellington. “Of course we all want to show our loved ones we care, but that should not require breaking your budget and making poor spending decisions. Giving on a budget requires a little more creativity and thought, and in the end it can make for a more meaningful way to spend Valentine’s Day.”
Hope you all have a wonderful Valentine’s Day.