Coffee & Grounds
Glass, Easiest Way To
Clean Up Broken
Mattress, Sheets, Pillow
Solar et al.
Tidy House tips
Where to Move
Top 10 Home Remedies covers household and health
S.A. SOLID WASTE MANAGEMENT Recycling pgm. ph. 207-6428. To schedule compost deliver in bags, call Mr. leonard Silva at 207-6437.
Free mulch giveaway at Nelson Gardens Brush Recycling center.
Bundle and throw plastic bags in blue recycling cart.
Covers garbage, recycling, organics, brush collection, bulky item collection, household hazardous waste, et al.
Note: In order for residents to use an HHW center or participate in the mobile events, customers must bring a recent copy of their CPS bill and a picture ID as proof of residency.
Frio City Road Center 1531 Frio City Road, 78226. Tuesday - Friday 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m., Saturday 8:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
The Bitters Bulky Waste & Recycling Center is open. 1800 Wurzbach Parkway 78216. The entrance to the center is located off the new Wurzbach Parkway. Customers need to access the facility from Jones Maltsberger and Wurzbach Parkway. Bitters opens only on the first Saturday of each month during the months of February - August. Saturdays, 8am to 3pm.
Culebra Bulky Waste Collection Center. 7030 Culebra Road, 78238. Normal hours of operation Tuesday-Friday 8 a.m.- 5 p.m. and Saturday 8 a.m. - 12 p.m.
Rigsby Road Bulky Waste Collection Center 2755 Rigsby Road, 78222. Normal hours of operation Tuesday-Friday 8 a.m.- 5 p.m. and Saturday 8 a.m. - 12 p.m.
What to recycle:
Lennox AC Class Action Lawsuit a class action lawsuit against Lennox (our air conditioner mgr.) It seems they had defective coils, which we had a problem with. Do you have access to the records?... Was 'e by Tiger.
Odd Taste & Smell of WaterKinetico tech. came [8/25/15] and tested everything. He said the problem was that we had galvanized pipes with a lot of crud in them. The soft water is gradually cleaning them out. That is the source of the taste, smell, and yellow look of the water. He said it will slowly get better. In the meantime, the reverse osmosis water does not test for any of the sediments, so drink that.
What the Latest Currency 'War' is All About By Pepe Escobar. It took the Bank of China to devaluate the yuan on two consecutive days — moving within the 2 percent band that it's allowed to — for the proverbial global financial banshees to go completely bonkers.
Forget the hysteria. The heart of the matter is that Beijing has stepped on the gas in a quite complex long game; to liberalize the yuan exchange rate; allow it to free float against the US dollar; and establish the yuan as a global reserve currency.
As Beijing interprets it, keeping a strong link to the US dollar has interfered with China's being competitive with its top trading partners — Japan and Europe.
So now it's time to rock the (wobbly) boat. Thus the "currency war" hysteria — because the practical result, in the medium term, will be a new boost to Chinese exports.
When the US embarks on perennial quantitative easing (QE), that's OK. When the EU does QE as well, that's OK. But when the Bank of China decides it's in the best interest of the nation to let the yuan go down a bit instead of infinitely up, that's Armaged'.
Peter Schiff Says Impending U.S. Dollar Collapse should be Getting Attention, not China’s Devaluation By Andrew Moran. Peter Schiff, CEO of Euro Pacific Capital and bestselling author of “Crash Proof,” believes the impending collapse of the United States dollar should be getting the attention of investors and news outlets and not the devaluation of the Chinese yuan.
He noted that the yuan’s value has substantially increased over the past several years compared to the U.S. dollar.
“So this move was motivated not by the exchange rate between the yuan and the dollar, but between the yuan and all the other currencies because the dollars is in a bubble right now,” he said. “The dollar is very overvalued … and the dollar is a bubble. This dollar bubble is going to burst.”
He added that the U.S. economy is in a much worse situation right now than the Chinese. This is something, Schiff says, the Federal Reserve will have to admit. He also averred that the Fed won’t raise interest rates this year (SEE: Federal Reserve rate hike could cost indebted consumers $9 billion per year) and will have to do another round of quantitative easing.
“That’s going to sink the dollar and then the Chinese are going to have to revalue their currency much higher in the future against the dollar and it’s the dollar collapsing that’s going to hurt the US. Not this recent move by China,” Schiff posited.
The reasons why the U.S. dollar has been trading well since the financial crisis is because of hope, hype and speculation.
Flea-proof Your Pooch in 5 Minutes with Dawn Dishwashing liquid Deodorize your dog with Arm & Hammer® Baking Soda! This dry shampoo is a great way to clean your pet during the cold winter months.
This Homemade Drain Cleaner Will Banish Clogs For GoodIf your drain isn't flowing as easily as it should, then it's probably a bit clogged. Instead of paying big bucks for chemical-filled concoctions, try fixing the problem yourself with a homemade drain cleaner. It costs basically nothing to make and can be used weekly to help prevent buildup. Safe to use in the bathroom or kitchen, the drain buster will have your sink or tub flowing freely in no time. Have a really plugged pipe? We've even found the solution for seriously stopped drains.
What You'll Need:
Yes, it's a bit gross, but start by removing the drain trap and giving it a good cleaning. Use a paper towel to wipe around the drain of your sink or tub, removing any bits of food or collections of hair.
Mix together the baking soda, salt, and cream of tartar in a small container. The salt and baking soda work together to help scour pipes and break up buildup, while the cream of tartar naturally cleans metals. Shake the mixture and sprinkle half down the clogged drain.
Pour in the boiling water and let the drain buster work its magic for about an hour. Then rinse with cool water. You should notice a difference in your drainage.
If the drain still is still clogged, get serious by pouring one cup baking soda down the drain followed with one cup vinegar. The two create a fizzing reaction, which will attack nasty obstructions. Allow the baking soda and vinegar to work overnight, and then pour two cups boiling water down the drain.Still not draining? ' old duds, fill the sink or tub halfway with warm water, and grab your plunger. Yes, it's also gross, but giving your sink or tub a plunging should clear that clogged drain.
Maintain your free-flowing pipes by using the homemade drain cleaner once a week.
est Ways to Unclog Your Drain
HOW TO KEEP DRAINS FROM CLOGGING PREVENT AND CLEAR BLOCKED DRAINS
Let plenty of water run down the drain by keeping the faucet open for up to a half a minute each day.
Sink lines commonly plug because not enough water is flushed through them, especially after the garbage disposal is used. Run the faucet for about five seconds after you turn off the disposal. This helps flush the line.
Never pour hot oil or grease down the sink—whether or not you have a disposal.
About once a month fill the sink to the top with very hot water. Using a fork or other kitchen utensil so you '’t scald your hand, remove the sink’s plug. As the clean hot water swirls down through the sink line, it takes much of the grease buildup with it.
HOW TO UNCLOG DRAINS: NO CHEMICALS
Many people try chemicals before hiring a drain cleaning expert because they want to save money. Then they call the drain cleaner anyway because the chemical hasn’t cleared the drain.
Chemicals can solidify in a drain line and aggravate the blockage. If the chemical doesn’t eat through the blockage, therefore not flushing down the drain, the chemical sits in your sink line. It crystallizes, and then there is no way you can easily clean a sink line after chemicals harden in it.
It’s a good idea to keep a simple plumbing snake in your home. The snake can help you unclog your sink, bathtub, or shower drain if hair and other gunk happens to block them. Simple plumbing snakes can be bought online for only a few dollars.
GVN 4 Packs Drain Cleaner with 3 Pieces Clog Remover Drain Snake Cleaning Tool Sticks, 1 Pack Gripper Claw Relief Tool, Sink Drain Cleaner ( Steel Cleaner as the lengthen version] 5* $9.99 Contains two kinds of cleaning tools: 1 stainless steel drain cleaner captures solid obstructions and 3 flexible drain snake tools hook for hair and debris. Multi-tooth stainless gripper claw is fit for catching hair, food and other blockages efficiently. Flexible drain clog cleaning tools can snake into small pipes or strainers that may be easily clogged. 9/3/17
Bright Nest great tips on housecleaning, et al.
Cornmeal to get rid of ants
Stop Using Dryer Sheets Immediately! What if I told you those dryer sheets are caked with ingredients you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy. And those “blossoms and flowers” depicted on the dryer sheet box? Don’t buy it. Dryer sheets are really a toxic ripoff. That means you’re paying more for a product that could actually be making you sick.
I’m talking about things like known carcinogens, hazardous pollutants, endocrine disruptors and things that target specific organs in the most unpleasant ways. Let’s examine what we know about dryer sheets and your health, then get into simple alternatives for a safer laundry routine.
As crazy as it seems, the current United States Consumer Product Safety Commission does not require dryer sheet manufacturers to list actual ingredients, including the chemicals used in fragrance blends.
To help us figure out what’s actually in these products many people use day in and day out, scientists have been studying the sheets and dryer vent exhaust to get a better picture. The results aren’t pretty. Here’s a rundown of some of the compounds detected in dryer sheets and dryer vent exhaust.
What was coming out of those vents? (And into people’s lungs?) Seven hazardous air pollutants and 25 volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Some of these, including acetaldehyde and benzene, are not safe at any level. (These are also pollutants that commonly spew out of vehicle tailpipes.)
Better Alternatives to Store-Bought Dryer Sheets
You can avoid the chemicals in dryer sheets by using some of these laundry room tactics:
Add a quarter cup of white vinegar to your washer’s rinse cycle.
Prevent fires and dry more efficiently by deep-cleaning your dryer Dryer fires are more common than you think. Use these tips to improve your dry cycles and avoid any mishaps.
LINT TRAP: Wiping the lint from the filter is fine most of the time, but sometimes it needs a little more attention. Fabric softeners can leave a waxy buildup on your filter, preventing good air flow. Every few months, clean it with a little dish soap, warm water and an old toothbrush. Rinse it and dry it well before putting it back in your dryer.
Wait! Before you pop that filter back into place, take a good look at the vent your filter covers.
No doubt it is full of lint, gum wrappers, Legos and other things that shouldn't be in there.
Grab your vacuum and clean the vent out using a narrow hose attachment. Do this at least once a year to keep your dryer working well and to prevent fires.
Pull your dryer out from the wall just a smidge. Do you see a big silver tube coming from your dryer and going into the wall? That's your vent tube. It carries all of the moist air from your dryer to the outdoors.
Like your dryer vent, the vent tube needs to be cleaned once a year, as well.
Loosen the screw on the metal band around the tube or pinch the metal wire that connects the vent to the dryer. Pull the vent off and disconnect it from the wall. Since fabric softener can make the vent sticky, wash the vent in a sink of warm, sudsy water, rinse it and dry it well before putting it back on the dryer.
Every 18 months or so, your dryer's motor and other mechanics will need to be cleaned because lint gets on just about everything. This kind of cleaning should be 'e by a professional, unless you feel confident with your mechanical skills. If that's the case:
1. Disconnect your dryer from the electrical outlet. If you have a gas dryer, consult with a professional before attempting any disconnection of the gas line.
2. Take the back panel off of your dryer by removing the screws.
3. Vacuum any dust or lint that may have accumulated on the dryer parts or on the floor of the dryer. An upholstery attachment on the end of the vacuum hose is your best bet for getting the most lint out of nooks and crannies.
4. Put the back of the dryer back in place and replace the screws.
Civilization Collapse Is Coming how to prepare
Road To World War III: Turkish Army Enters Syria After Second Day Of Shelling As Saudi Warplanes Arrive "The Syrian government says Turkish forces were believed to be among 100 gunmen it said entered Syria on Saturday accompanied by 12 pick-up trucks mounted with heavy machine guns, in an ongoing supply operation to insurgents fighting Damascus," Reuters reports.
Video of Marjory Wildcraft - Grow Your Own Food discusses economic collapse
Groceries18 tips for saving money on groceries
Food Waste numbers If the amount of food wasted globally were reduced by just 25% there would be enough food to feed all the people who are malnourished according to the UN.
Each year 1.3 billion tons of food, about a third of all that is produced, is wasted
Environmental impact: the carbon footprint of food produced but not eaten is estimated to be 3.3 gigatons of CO2 per year.
How to revive old food and make it delicious again The statistics are getting repetitive, but they bear repeating ad nauseum: 40 percent of food in the United States today goes uneaten, equaling on average more than 20 pounds of food waste per person every month. Americans throw out the equivalent of $165 billion each year; the impact is staggering.
Much of it has to do with a wildly inefficient food system, but we consumers are to blame as well. The average American consumer wastes 10 times as much food as someone in Southeast Asia; we waste more than half [more] of what we did in the 1970s. We’re spoiled, we need to pay more attention. And one of the things we can do is not be so squeamish about imperfect food.
If apples, bananas, potatoes, avocados, artichokes, and others become brown
If fruits or vegetables are bruised
If lettuce has brown or pink spots
Driving / CarsOne Thing You Hate About Driving is About to Change no more parking
Where To MoveThe 23 cities with the best quality of life in the world -- and not a single one in the USA. If you want to live in a healthy, prosperous and safe city, you should probably look outside the United States, according to the Mercer 2016 Quality of Living City Rankings.
1. Vienna, Austria
InsuranceWhy Did No One Tell [Texas] Drivers with No Tickets in 3 Years About This New Rule?
Are you aware that you could receive a large discount just for not having a ticket or accident in the past 3 years? In addition, if you are currently insured and live in a qualified ZIP code you can get an extremely high discount. Probably not…as car insurance companies want you to be left in the dark.
For a long time, there was no easy way to compare all of these huge car insurance companies. You’d have to check one site and then jump to another and put in all of your information all over again. Drivers would be stuck doing all the work to save money. Now, fortunately, all that has changed. Thanks to Provide Savings™, it is now so much easier to find the information you need. Just like Expedia or Orbitz saves you money on travel and flights, Provide Savings™ saves you money on car insurance.
Solar; EnergyTexas Homeowners Use New Solar Program to Go Solar at No Cost. Here’s How… Installing solar panels can cost the average Texas homeowner $25,000, making it too expensive for most people to go solar. The good news is that a new state-funded initiative wants to change that. This new program aims to help middle class homeowners make the switch to solar at no upfront cost through rebates and incentives.
Thanks To Google, Now There’s an Awesome Tool That Can Help You Switch to Solar Panels Project Sunroof, an online tool that helps people assess the costs and benefits of installing rooftop solar panels. Using their extensive mapping data, paired with weather pattern information, and potential shadow obstruction, Project Sunroof tells customers how much money they could save by switching to solar. It’s as easy as entering your address and average monthly electric. The program will then give your estimated costs and savings if you switch to solar. It’ll also direct you to the nearest solar provider so you can get started!
House TemperaturePart of email from Organic Bytes:
Many also keep their homes too warm at night, especially their bedrooms. Time Magazine cites a study in the journal Diabetes, which "suggests that simply blasting the air conditioner or turning down the heat in winter may help us attack belly fat while we sleep." This has to do with your so-called brown fat, which helps keep your body warm by burning stored fat. Brown fat also plays a role in regulating blood sugar.
According to the article:
"Participants spent a few weeks sleeping in bedrooms with varying temperatures: A neutral 75 degrees, a cool 66 degrees, and a balmy 81 degrees. After four weeks of sleeping at 66 degrees, the subjects had almost doubled their volumes of brown fat. (And yes, that means they were able to lose belly fat.)"
Moreover, keeping the temperature in your bedroom below 70 degrees Fahrenheit will help optimize your sleep. Research shows the optimal temperature for sleep is actually as low as 60 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit. Temperatures above 75 degrees Fahrenheit and below 54 degrees will interfere with your sleep.
GreaseHow to Clean Grease From Kitchen Cabinet DoorsGrease stains have a tendency to go unnoticed, allowing them to build up to seemingly impossible proportions. This grime can damage the wood of your cabinets if allowed to remain for a long period of time. However, as unpleasant as these stains may seem, they are easily remedied. Try the most gentle method first and if necessary, move to more aggressive solutions until you find the best formula for your situation.
Mix 2 tablespoons of Dawn dish soap with 2 cups of warm water and scrub the cabinet with a clean cloth, following the grain of the wood. Rinse the area clean with a sponge, and dry it with a clean towel.
Sprinkle baking soda onto a clean damp cloth and scrub the cabinet. Rinse with a clean sponge, and dry the area with a clean dry towel.
Add 1 cup white vinegar to the Dawn dish soap and water mixture. The solution is now 2 cups water, 2 tablespoons dish soap and 1 cup white vinegar.
If you need to be still more aggressive, add half a cup of borax to the dish soap, vinegar and water mix. Repeat the scrubbing action with a soft cloth and wipe with a dry cloth.
LaundryBlack Pepper Will Change How You Do Laundry Forever Add a teaspoon to the wash cycle (along with your regular detergent) the next time you’re doing a load of colors. Set the water temperature to cold.
How it works: The abrasiveness of the pepper exfoliates the soap residue that causes clothing to fade. Then it just washes away with the rinse cycle.
How to Make Washing Soda Washing soda is a chemical compound that can be used to remove stubborn stains from laundry. It's commonly used in homemade laundry detergents and dish detergents, and is known for its stain-lifting abilities. Washing soda can be bought at most big box stores in the United States, but isn't widely available around the rest of the world. The good news is that you can make your own washing soda using one ingredient, and it is extremely inexpensive.
Things You'll Need
Step 1: Preheat the Oven
Step 2: Add Baking Soda to a Baking Dish
Step 3: Bake
Step 4: Remove from Oven and Store
11 Ways to Wash Clothes in Vinegar Put versatile vinegar to work in the laundry room to brighten colors, kill odors and eliminate tough stains. A staple in any homemade cleaning arsenal, distilled white vinegar is a multitasking must-have for your laundry routine. The inexpensive ingredient is an effective natural cleaner and is safe to use on everything from towels and sheets to delicates and baby's clothing.
For a laundry boost, add 1/2 cup of vinegar to clothes before washing. It can help your detergent work more effectively as well as protect colors from fading and dissolve the dulling residue that soap and detergents can leave behind on clothes. The result is brighter colors.
Replace expensive commercial fabric softeners with white distilled vinegar. Vinegar acts as a natural fabric softener that softens clothes without leaving any residue. Add 1/2 cup of vinegar to the final rinse cycle.
Dryer sheets will be a thing of the past! Add 1/2 cup of vinegar in the final rinse cycle of each wash load to prevent static cling.
Eliminate Soap Residue: The acetic acid in white vinegar breaks down any soap residue that may have built up on clothing, towels, blankets and sheets. This residue can irritate sensitive skin, especially in babies and young children. Add 1 cup of white vinegar to the rinse cycle to eliminate soap buildup.
Add 2 cups of vinegar to the final rinse cycle when washing towels, sheets and blankets. This will remove all soapy buildup that has accumulated over time and leave your towels softer and fluffier than they have been in a long time.
Minimize Lint and Pet Hair: Not only will vinegar reduce static cling, but it will also help minimize lint and pet hair build up. Adding 1/2 cup vinegar to the rinse cycle will help keep lint and pet hair from clinging to fabrics.
Whiten Whites: Keep white clothes white and remove yellow or dingy stains with vinegar. To prevent stains, add 1 1/2 cups of vinegar to the last rinse cycle in a load of white clothing.
To remove stains, bring a large pot of water to boil and add 1 cup of vinegar. Remove pot from heat and add your whites. Soak overnight, then wash as usual.
Stain Treatment: ''t cry over spilled coffee. Keep a spray bottle of undiluted white vinegar in the laundry room to pretreat coffee, wine, soda, chocolate and jelly stains. Apply vinegar to stains on washable 100% cotton, polyester and permanent press cotton fabrics until saturated. Let the fabric absorb the vinegar for 10 minutes, then gently scrub with a soft brush and launder according to care tag instructions. For accidental deodorant stains, saturate one corner of a washcloth with vinegar and gently wipe away stains.
Eliminate odors: Vinegar is great for eliminating funky odors and even works on smoke or mildew smells. Add 1 cup white vinegar to the last rinse cycle to deodorize an entire load.
Forgot to take clothes out of the washer and now they smell sour? No problem! Run the load again with hot water and add 2 cups of vinegar. Then wash again with detergent to get rid of the musty odor.
Prevent Fading: Brightly colored clothing tends to run in the wash (hello, pink socks!). You can prevent fading and extend the life of colored clothes by making them colorfast before washing. Soak new colored clothing in solution of one part vinegar and one part water for 20 minutes to prevent them from bleeding in the wash. Test on an inconspicuous spot before immersing fabric and then launder according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Wash Delicates: Use vinegar instead of detergent to hand-wash delicates and swim suits. Add 1/4 cup of vinegar to a sink full of lukewarm water and soak delicates for 15 to 30 minutes. Rinse thoroughly and air dry.
Clean Your Washing Machine: Soap residue and mineral deposits can build up in your washer’s barrel, dispensers and hoses. Remove soap scum and freshen your washing machine by adding 1 cup of vinegar to an empty washing machine and running it through a normal wash cycle without clothes once a month.
Pour the vinegar into any automatic detergent or fabric softener dispensers to remove any soapy residue that has accumulated in there as well.
THE EASIEST WAY TO CLEAN UP BROKEN GLASSTHE EASIEST WAY TO CLEAN UP BROKEN GLASS What you need: A slice of bread (or bagel, your call) What you do: First, carefully pick up large glass pieces by hand. Then for the smaller, hard-to-get ones, place the soft part of the bread on top of the shards and gently press down.
How does it work? The porous surface acts like a sponge for any and all splinters and fragments. It's the best thing since...well, you know.
Pure Green 100% natural latex mattress topper review it's not always necessary to replace the entire mattress in order to refresh our beds. Sometimes, a mattress topper is all that's required to bring a whole new level of comfort and support to our nightly slumber, and if you'd like a more eco-friendly option than the uber-popular 'memory foam' toppers, one great choice is a 100% natural latex topper.
Clearing ClutterSlideshow: Bust Your Clutter
Entry Hall DumpIt's clutter ground zero: raincoats, purses, backpacks, and gym bags.
What It May Mean: Your family is distracted and eager to move on to the next activity when they get home. So they simply drop things as they walk in the door.
Think of the foyer as a launching pad, not a dumping ground. Leave only things that are ready to go out the door.
Overstuffed PantryYou can cram a lot of stuff in there -- cookie sprinkles, low-fat snack bars, industrial-sized bottles of ketchup -- even though it's probably hard to find what you need. You may even forget what's in there.
What It May Mean: You're an impulse buyer -- you like to try new things or you can't resist a bargain. Or you buy foods you want to or think you should eat, but you never eat them.
Prune the Pantry
e-Mail MountainSnail mail clutter, like email inbox clutter, is often about putting off decisions, organizers say. You need to decide what to do with each piece, which takes time.
You can sort and shred, but it's easier to cut down on mail... Snap a cell phone photo of junk mail you want to stop. There are free apps that can cancel it for you.
What about those piles of catalogs, with pages you've marked for things you'd like to buy? Take a photo of the page instead.
Less Is More on the Frig DoorFirst, take down everything. Put mementos in a bag for two weeks. If you find you can live without them, discard.
Move reminders like dry cleaning tags to your car or wallet. Once a week, like when you get gas, go through them and toss out the ones you ''t need.
Rotate magnets, photos, and artwork so you see them with a fresh eye.
Bathroom Counter ChaosHow many bottles of conditioner or lipsticks in the same shade can a person use at once? Limit it to one of each item per person.
Give each person a shower tote or basket for his stuff. Keep them in cubbies or cabinets.
Arrange things that must be within easy reach on a tray to make bathroom cleaning easier.
Make a rule: No one opens a new shampoo or other product until she finishes the one she already has.
The Junk-Heaped Garage [Shop]Find a good home for items you won't use again. If you're not sure about something, put it in a box, tape it up, and date it. If you ''t need to use it in 18 months, get rid of it.
Use shelves to hold bulk supplies.
Borrow or rent costly gear for a new hobby until you know you'll stick with it. Before you buy more seasonal decorations, check to see if you have room to store them.
Beloved Junk DrawerEveryone's got one. Some people have one in each room. Many people love their junk drawer. It's home to all kinds of random things: batteries, birthday candles, stray buttons and tacks, change from various countries, stamps, tools, take-out menus, receipts, SIM cards, stamps, flash drives, and rubber bands.
There's no need to get rid of your junk drawer. But clear it out when it gets too crazy to be useful:
Coffee [Grounds]What to do with Leftover Coffee Grounds Your coffee grounds are great for all sorts of things, from cooking and cleaning to gardening.
Clean Your Grill, Pots and PansAbrasive coffee grounds are great for scrubbing greasy grills, pots and pans. Put grounds on a rag and gleefully scrub away, knowing you're using a natural product to eliminate hard-to-clean grime.
Add Grounds to Your Compost PileIf you keep a compost pile, add the grounds to help improve the soil you use for your plants. Serious Eats says, "Worms love the stuff: They'll munch your day-old coffee happily, turning it into black gold by digesting it and producing nutrient-rich castings."
Use Them as Fertilizer for Your PlantsSpeaking of which, as an organic fertilizer, coffee grounds improve "drainage, water retention and aeration in soil." Mixing grounds directly into soil helps plants get essential elements like phosphorus and potassium without the use of chemical fertilizers. Be sure to rinse the naturally acidic grounds first, however, or add them to compost before using them in soil.
Rid Your Hands of Garlic and Onion SmellsOniony and garlicky odors like to linger on the hands. If you find yourself struggling to completely rid yourself of the gnarly stench, try rubbing your hands with coffee grounds when you're finished handling these pesky alliums.
Keep a Bowl in Your Fridge to Eliminate OdorsJust as coffee can remove the stubborn smells from your hands, so too can it rid your refrigerator of lasting odors. Dry out leftover grounds, stick them in a bowl in your fridge and say so long to whatever food smells are creeping around in there.
Hide Scratches on Your FurnitureCoffee's naturally dark color makes it perfect for hiding scratches on wood tables, chairs or other furniture. Let the grounds sit for up to 10 minutes to stain unwanted marks, then wipe away with a rag for a more polished appearance with almost no effort.
Mattress, Sheets, PillowHow Casper Became a $100 Million Company in Less Than Two Years everyone needs a mattress, meaning the $14 billion industry was ripe for reinventing. Enter Casper, the online bed-in-a-box maker that launched in April 2014. The concept was simple: Produce the best mattress possible at an affordable price, sell a single model, and deliver it quickly, for free, with a 100-day trial period. It worked: Casper had sales of $1 million in its first month.
In the beginning, it was "Let's disrupt the mattress industry. It's broken." That quickly morphed into "Let's invent an industry around sleep." My father is a sleep doctor, and I went to a year of medical school. The mattress industry is a racket. You walk into a store expecting a confusing experience, but you ''t expect the 35 models offered to be basically the same product with different labels. It's worse than buying a used car--at least there you have data points like horsepower, air conditioning, and a Carfax report. But who knows how many springs are good for you?
After eight months of testing hundreds of mattress types, we learned that people need similar things, like back support, so we decided to make one mattress. Memory foam is super supportive, but it gets hot and it's not very bouncy, so we added a layer of open-cell latex foam, which keeps you cool and adds just the right bounce. We're the first company to put memory foam and latex together and have a patent pending.
I lived in a fourth-floor walkup and realized there was no way to get a queen-size bed up our stairs easily. We said, "What if we could compress a mattress to fit into a box the size of a dorm refrigerator?" This way, we can deliver it via UPS so it costs us a 10th of the price to ship. Plus, people can test the mattress in their homes. You have 100 days to try our mattress. If you ''t like it, we'll come get it for free. Now, a few companies do this, but not long ago most stores required a several-hundred-dollar restocking fee.
Our return rate is low, and we try to 'ate those mattresses to a local charity, which is more cost-effective than taking them back halfway across the country to refurbish and resell.
People usually buy a mattress about every eight to 10 years. Most companies ''t care who you are--they've made their sale. For us, that's the start of a long-term relationship. Half of our customers talk to someone in-house. The questions are technical, as in "Do I need a box spring?" (No.) "Does it work on this type of bed frame?" (Yes.) We use every conversation to learn something about the customer. We know how long you've had your bed, and if you have kids or a pet. We keep track of all that, and then send people anniversary gifts, or dog beds. It's not about just selling you a bed. It's "How do I make this person our biggest advocate?"
There are many more ways to create an ideal sleep environment. The day after we launched, we started working on pillows and sheets. We questioned how both are produced and then made prototypes. We tried 100 different densities of materials for pillows, including buckwheat, and had customers try many of them. It took 16 months to come up with one pillow that works for everyone.
We did a similar process with our sheets and found most people want them to breathe well and last a long time. We've been taught to believe that 1,000-thread-count hotel collection sheets are what everyone wants. It turns out, the more threads, the more filler fiber, which means the sheets are going to sleep really hot. Our perfect balance is 90 threads one way, 110 the other.
Casper Mattress Queen is $850. Pillow is $75.
Refrigerate?6 Surprising Foods You ''t Need to Refrigerate Jams and Jellies ''t Need to Go in the Fridge
Butter Does Not Go in the Fridge--Butter is mostly fat, with a very small amount of protein, not enough to support the growth of bacteria. Salted butter, by the way, has an even longer shelf life... Butter can go rancid if exposed to oxygen, light and heat, just like we talked about with peanut butter.
How to Ditch Your Air Conditioner Without Melting Draw the curtains.. can reduce heat gains by 33 percent.
Close the blinds.. can reduce heat gains by 45 percent.
Pantry, KitchenWhy Open Shelving Makes for a Better Pantry Use these seven ideas to create the most organized pantry with open shelving.
Organize Your Pantry by Zones Zoning your pantry helps you see what food you have, what you need to restock, and where the groceries belong.
How to Organize a Kitchen
Even worse, a fruit fly problem can escalate quickly. Females can lay up to 500 eggs at a time, which hatch within three days. Pretty soon, those two little flies have spawned into an entire army.
ELIMINATE THE SOURCEFirst, figure out what’s attracting the flies. They can congregate on overripe or damaged fruit left out on countertops, around dirty garbage bins, in a garbage disposal that hasn’t been run in a while, and even on damp sponges. Put fresh produce away in the fridge—bananas or other fruit that shouldn’t be refrigerated can be stored in a container with a lid. Thoroughly clean any part of the kitchen where you see flies congregating.
HARNESS THE POWER OF HERBSFlies '’t like all fresh foods—in fact, a few herbs will actually repel them. Lavender stalks (or even a few drops of lavender essential oil) in a small dish on the counter will ward them off. Rue will work as well, although it can be a little trickier to find.
SET A FUNNEL TRAPIt’s time to get crafty. Grab a mason jar, tall glass, or slim-necked bottle and fill it with fruit fly bait. They seek out sugar, so try:
Roll a piece of paper into a cone with a very small opening at the point and tape it together. This is the funnel, which goes in the top of the trap. The flies will zoom inside toward that intoxicating sweet smell, but won’t be able to escape.
Once you’ve caught several flies, you’ll need to kill them before you dispose of the trap. Make a solution of warm water and dish soap, then, working quickly, remove the funnel and pour it in. Dump out the contents and thoroughly clean the container you used.
CREATE A BOWL TRAP
You can make another variation of the same trap with a small bowl and plastic wrap. Fill the bowl with any of the bait options above, then cover it tightly with plastic wrap. Poke miniscule holes in the plastic with a toothpick or the tines of a fork—you want the flies to be able to enter but not get out.
When you’re ready to dispose of the trap, remove the plastic wrap and pour in the same dish soap solution. You may want to do this outside so the flies '’t escape into your kitchen.
SPRAY THEM WITH RUBBING ALCOHOL
'’t want to wait around for a trap to work? Fill a spray bottle with 70 percent rubbing alcohol and then spritz directly on flies—it’ll knock them right out of the air. Spray once more, to make sure they’re dead, then sweep them into the trash.
USE AUNT FANNIE’S FRUIT FLY TRAP
When you have a full-blown invasion on your hands, it’s time to bring out the big guns. Aunt Fannie’s is known for their food-based cleaning and pest solutions, and for good reason. Their fruit fly traps use a blend of natural ingredients and a specialty industrial-strength vinegar that flies find intoxicating. Just pick up a trap, open the lid, and wait—it’s that easy.
Once the flies touch the liquid inside the open jar, it disables them and actually starts to break down their exoskeleton. (Brutal, but effective.) Next, they’ll start to sink, effectively drowning any flies that are still alive. Even better, the trap is totally self-contained, so there’s no need for clean-up afterward!
6 tips to freeze food like a pro
FiltersDiscount Filters email@example.com (888) 407-5688
16" X 25" X 1" MERV 13 Pleated Filter - Healthy Living
Tidy House Tips8 clever tactics for keeping your house tidy Learning a few new habits can make it a lot easier to stay on top of the daily mess at home. Cleaning the house is one thing, but staying on top of daily clutter and messiness is another task altogether.
1. Have an upstairs/downstairs bin. “Families may wish to employ a bin or basket system, where everyone in the house gets assigned a basket, and their items get placed in the basket.”
2. Hands Full--Use your hands to their full capacity. When you leave a room, fill your arms/hands with items that need to be moved elsewhere, saving you the trip later. Drop it off in the correct place.
3. 'ation Bin--Always have an empty box or sturdy shopping bag on hand for unwanted goods. That way, any time you come across something you no longer like or use, you can put it directly into the 'ation bin, rather than allowing it to return into household circulation.
4. Be a ‘ruthless reader.’ If you subscribe to magazines or newspapers, toss them in the recycling bin as soon as you’re 'e with them... Resist the urge to stockpile issues, and if there’s something of real interest, take a picture of it on your phone.
5. Use snippets of time to tidy. Never underestimate the power of a few short minutes to get ahead with a task. Whether it’s waiting a minute for the microwave to reheat your coffee or oatmeal, a commercial break on TV, take advantage of these moments to do a quick tidy, wipe-down, or load some plates into the dishwasher. It all adds up.
6. Try the 40/20 rule. Work for 40 minutes, do housework for 20. Repeat all day long. You can do a lot of chores in only 20 minutes, and it also gives you a mental break from working.
7. Switch out dirty towels and cloths immediately. '’t let smelly washcloths, dish towels, or hand towels linger.
Solar Air ConditioningSolar powered air conditioning is finally here, and it's totally boring Instead of fancy new technology, it's all about combining improved efficiency with low cost solar panels.
Keeping the Home Cool10 overlooked low-tech ways of keeping your home cool Lloyd Alter (@lloydalter) Design / Sustainable Product Design July 7, 2009
Summer is here and the air is full of the the sound of whining air conditioners, all seriously sucking kilowatts. Yet much of that air conditioning load could be reduced or the air conditioning season shortened if we did simple things, many of them common before air conditioning was common in North America. Here are some low-tech tips for keeping cool.
The best ideas are those that keep the heat out of your home in the first place, rather than paying to pump it out after it gets in.
1. Use awnings
According to the Washington Post, The Department of Energy estimates that awnings can reduce solar heat gain—the amount temperature rises because of sunshine—by as much as 65 percent on windows with southern exposures and 77 percent on those with western exposures. Your furniture will last longer, too.
2. Plant a tree
I ''t own an air conditioner. The house immediately to the south does it for us, completely shading the south side of our house. What it misses, a huge ancient maple in its front yard gets, so in winter I get a lot of sun in my window, and in summer I am always in shade. A tree is as sophisticated as any electronic device around
3. Plant vines
Frank Lloyd Wright once said "a doctor can bury his mistakes, but an architect can only advise his clients to plant vines." It turns out he could have been a mechanical engineer, for it is surprising how effective vines are at keeping a house cool.
Vines such as ivy, Russian vine and Virginia creeper grow quickly and have an immediate effect; according to Livingroofs.org. Many complain that vines can ruin buildings, dig out mortar or cause wood to deteriorate, but it depends on the vines and the building.
Climbers can dramatically reduce the maximum temperatures of a building by shading walls from the sun, the daily temperature fluctuation being reduced by as much as 50%.Together with the insulation effect, temperature fluctuations at the wall surface can be reduced from between –10°/14°F to 60°C/140°F to between 5°C/41°F and 30°/86°F. Vines also cool your home through envirotranspiration
4. Tune your windows
The windows on your home are not just holes in the wall that you open or close, they are actually part of a sophisticated ventilation machine. It is another "Oldway"—People used to take it for granted that you tune them for the best ventilation, but in this thermostat age we seem to have forgotten how.
For instance, everyone knows that heat rises, so if you have high windows and open them when it hot inside, the hot air will vent out. But it can be a lot more sophisticated than that.
When air passes over your home, it works the same way as it does over an airplane wing: the Bernoulli effect causes the air on top and on the downwind side of the house to be at a lower pressure than on the upwind side. So if you have double hung windows, you can open the bottom section of the upwind side of the house and the upper section of the downwind side, and the low pressure will suck the air through your house. Make the outlet openings larger than the inlet opening, it increases the draft. That is why I love double hung windows; they offer the most flexibility and options.
Others say that casement windows are best because they can open up to 100%; double hungs can never be open more than 50%. However I have seen studies (which I cannot find) that show that double hung windows actually work better because of the many options in setting them.
5. Get a ceiling fan
work on the same principle, that moving air evaporates moisture from your skin and keeps you cooler.
they can save you some cash since they operate at a fraction of central and window air-conditioning units (and they can work great in tandem with your A/C if global warming has you sweating it out). As Energy Star reminds us, ceiling fans help keep you cool, rather than cooling the entire room. So there is no point in leaving them on if you leave the room
6. Paint your roof
In much the same way that more ice/snow reflects UV rays instead of absorbing the heat the way the oceans do (think: feedback loop that results from melting polar ice caps), cities are now giving white roofs a second look as a way to cool cities and fight climate change. The Los Angeles Times reports that the Climate Change Research Conference, held this week, advised that if buildings and road surfaces in 100 of the largest cities in the US were covered with lighter and heat-reflective surfaces the savings could be massive.
White Roofs to Sweep the World, Fight Climate Change It's long been known that white roofs reflect more heat back into space, reducing the amount of electricity used for A/C and thus drastically cutting down on energy consumption. Some estimates say they save billions of dollars annually. And they've just gotten their most public, most official shout out yet--Secretary of Energy Stephen Chu has recommended that the world should try to have "white roofs everywhere to help fight climate change"--remarks that were carried in hundreds of news wires around the world.According to Bloomberg,
7. Install operable shutters or external blinds
The best way to deal with unwanted solar gain is to keep it out in the first place. One can do that with properly designed overhangs or bris soleil, which keep out the sun in summer but are designed to let it in during winter. However this is not very flexible. Another option is the exterior blind, quite common in Europe or Australia but expensive and hard to find in North America, where upfront cost always loses out to operating cost.
Shutters really are the most amazing overlooked technology. They provide ventilation, security, shading and storm protection in one simple device.
8. Get an attic fan
A lot of people run expensive air conditioning when it is actually pretty cool out- after the sun has been baking a California house all day it can be cool in the evening but the house is still holding a couple of hundred thousand BTUs of heat. In more temperate parts of the country, just moving the air and having good ventilation could eliminate the need for AC much of the time.
9. ''t cook hot food inside
There is a reason our ancestors built summer kitchens; those stoves put out a lot of heat and you didn't want them in your house in summer. Outside summer kitchens are all the rage in the luxury house/ mcmansion set as well. It really makes no sense to run a stove inside, just to then spend money to run air conditioning to remove the heat again. So get a gas barbecue and grill your vegetables, take advantage of farmers markets to get fresh stuff, and eat lots of salad.
10. Be smart where you put your money and energy
John's graph from the Florida Solar Energy Center says it all. When the weatherization contractors come to get you to insulate your house, (the most expensive thing you can do to save energy) you can show them that this makes no sense, only 7% of the cooling load is coming through the walls. A couple of hours with a caulking gun to reduce infiltration would do more.
When they tell you that you need to install expensive new low-e tinted windows, remember that an awning or a shutter is more sophisticated and flexible; you have the choice whether to let the sun in or not.
Tape up your ducts, turn off your computers and save your money. The simple, low-tech tried and true methods cost less, save more energy and work forever.
Cupolas are as functional as they are decorative. As warm air rises cupolas allow hot air to escape at the high points in the house while bringing up cooler air from below. They also create a steady air-flow even when there is no breeze outside. In some homes, cupolas provide soft, indirect sunlight that illuminates the home without bringing in the heat.
Disaster Kit et al.Email from The Old Farmer's Almanac, 8/13/17:
Everyone should have a disaster kit to be prepared for the worst storms. Include a flashlight, fresh batteries, cash, water and canned food. Make sure your first aid kit and all your medications are current. You should also have a list of emergency phone numbers. See our suggestions on what to keep in an emergency supply kit.
Keep your cell phones and battery-operated devices charged up if a storm is forecasted. Have alternative charging methods for phones ready if the power goes out. Sign up for FEMA text messages (text PREPARE to 4FEMA).
Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed during a blackout to avoid spoiled food.
Have a backup home generator.
Avoid going outside during a power outage. You often risk falling trees and dangerous downed power lines that may have live electricity running through them.
EMERGENCY SURVIVAL KIT WHAT SUPPLIES DO YOU NEED FOR AN EMERGENCY?
You should have a three-day supply of non-perishable food, including ready-to-eat canned goods. Try to choose high energy foods, such as granola, dried fruit, nuts, protein bars, and jerky. Avoid overly salty foods, like chips and pretzels, as they will make you thirsty.
Keep on hand a three-day supply of water. You should have one gallon of water for each person, per day. To ensure safe drinking water, it is recommended to buy commercially bottled water.
HEALTH AND SAFETY SUPPLIES
First Aid Kit, including non-prescription medication and antibacterial gel.
CLOTHING FOR YOUR SURVIVAL KIT
Plan accordingly for the climate you live in. Layered clothing can help you stay warm and dry.
SURVIVAL TOOLS FOR EMERGENCIES
Flashlights, with extra batteries (or mechanical, squeeze-type flashlights)
IMPORTANT FAMILY DOCUMENTS
Keep these records in a waterproof, portable container.
Will, insurance policies, contracts, deeds, stocks and bonds
EMERGENCY CAR KIT Keep these items in a bag in your trunk:
Battery-powered radio, flashlight, and extra batteries
WINTER EMERGENCY CAR KIT LIST
A snowbrush and ice scraper
WINTER DRIVING TIPS FOR CAR SAFETY
Keep your gas tank filled above halfway to avoid emergencies in bad weather.
BugsINSECTS INVADING YOUR HOME? It’s that time of year again! As temperatures cool, various flies, bugs, and beetles slip into your walls, and sometimes into your home’s interior, trying to find somewhere to stay warm for the winter.
They appear suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, massing (sometimes by the thousands) on the west wall and windows of your kitchen, or perhaps as swarms of lazy flies buzzing annoyingly and aimlessly around the room.
If you live in a part of the nation where temperatures can dip below freezing from late fall into early spring, the cold-weather insect invasion can be a real nuisance
These are the five main culprits, with links to learn more about them:
Multicolored Asian lady beetle
Harmonia axyridis, most commonly known as the harlequin, multicolored Asian, or simply Asian ladybeetle, is a large coccinellid beetle. This is one of the most variable species in the world, with an exceptionally wide range of color forms. It is native to eastern Asia, but has been artificially introduced to North America and Europe to control aphids and scale insects. It is now common, well known, and spreading in those regions, and has also established in South Africa and widely across South America.
The cluster flies or attic flies are the genus Pollenia in the blowfly family Calliphoridae. Unlike more familiar blow flies, such as the bluebottle genus Phormia, they do not present a health hazard because they do not lay eggs in human food. They are strictly parasitic on earthworms; the females lay their eggs near earthworm burrows, and the larvae then infest the worms. However, the flies are a nuisance; when the adults emerge in the late summer or autumn, they enter houses to hibernate, often in large numbers; they are difficult to eradicate because they favour inaccessible spaces such as roof and wall cavities. They are often seen on windows of little-used rooms.
Western conifer seed bug
The western conifer seed bug, Leptoglossus occidentalis, sometimes abbreviated as WCSB, is a species of true bug (Hemiptera) in the family Coreidae. It is native to North America west of the Rocky Mountains (California to British Columbia, east to Idaho and Nevada) but has in recent times expanded its range to eastern North America, and has become an invasive species in parts of Europe.
The boxelder bug (Boisea trivittata) is a North American species of true bug. It is found primarily on boxelder trees, as well as maple and ash trees. The adults are about 12.5 millimetres (0.49 in) long with a dark brown or black colouration, relieved by red wing veins and markings on the abdomen; nymphs are bright red.
Brown marmorated stinkbug
Halyomorpha halys, also known as the brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB), or simply the stink bug, is an insect in the family Pentatomidae that is native to China, Japan, the Koreas, and Taiwan. It was accidentally introduced into the United States, with the first specimen being collected in September 1998. The brown marmorated stink bug is considered to be an agricultural pest, and by 2010–11 had become a season-long pest in U.S. orchards. Currently it is widespread in Europe, and recently has been found in South America.
Depending on the structure and exterior finish of your home, as well as environmental factors such as the surrounding vegetation around and near it, some years you may see a lot of these critters, other years, few or none.
None of these cold-weather invaders will eat your food, bite, sting, spread diseases to people or pets, infest stored foods, eat fabrics or paper, destroy wood, or cause any kind of structural damage. What’s more, they won’t mate, lay eggs, and reproduce within your walls or inside your home. They live off their stored bodyfat until spring.
However, when swatted or squashed, stinkbugs, as the name suggests, emit a foul odor emitted by the scent glands when the insect is disturbed. When stressed or dying, a mass of Asian lady beetles may also smell bad and release a yellow fluid that can stain fabrics. Also, the feces of any large mass of insects may help trigger allergies in some people.
How do they get in?
These insects crawl in through loose siding, cracks, crevices, vents, holes in screens, etc. They may fly in through open doors and windows.
What can you do about them?
Prevention, as always, is the best way to deal with these unwelcome visitors. You know the drill: Seal cracks in doors, windows, and openings where air conditioners, plumbing, phone and TV wires enter the home with weather stripping, caulking, polyurethane foam or other appropriate materials.
Make sure your doors and windows shut tightly and keep them closed. Also window screens need to be in proper shape without any holes; keep screens shut tightly, too.
Once the insects have come inside, you can brush the crawlers into a bowl of soapy water (add a bit of detergent). This method gets rid of their odor, too. You can also sweep/vacuum* the bugs up. If you vacuum, empty the bag or canister immediately to prevent the insects from escaping or they will simply reappear back inside the home. Swat the flies.
Please '’t spray insecticides! Most insecticides have some degree of toxicity to people, and spritzing these products around inside a home or car will increase exposure to humans and pets. Besides, you aren’t likely to kill the ones hibernating inside your walls. If you did kill some of them the scent of the dead ones might attract other insects to scavenge their remains.
The insects that do survive in your walls or attic will leave with the return of warm spring days, and it’s not likely you’ll see them in or around your home again until fall.
Would You Refrain From Having Children to Save the Planet? Hayes has the last word in The Guardian’s article. “If a large British family lives as sustainably as it can,” she said, “they will still need the carbon-emitting infrastructure of homes, transport, schools and hospitals. Vast areas of our planet are going to be uninhabitable as climate change progresses but we can reduce this impact by limiting our families to replacement size.
FinancesWhere do you fall on the personal finance spectrum? Treehugger, 3/21/18
I love reading The Simple Dollar [https://www.thesimpledollar.com/], and Trent Hamm's articles in particular. He offers great insights into saving money in practical ways, which I appreciate as a mother to young children. Sometimes his articles are more philosophical, such as a recent one called "The Spectrum of Personal Finance." It got me thinking hard about my family's savings rate, which is something I need to do more often.
The idea of a savings spectrum, as described by Hamm, intrigues me. It makes it easier to understand the differences between households and how one can save so much more than another, and how lifestyle choices affect that. Seeing an actual savings rate portrayed in percentages is helpful too; it makes it easier to see where I fit in, relative to where I want to be -- and what I need to do in order to get there.
Hamm's finance spectrum consists of seven categories. These are differentiated by colors.
RED are those people living paycheck to paycheck, with a savings rate of 0% to 2%. These people usually have nice things, expensive homes and new cars, take swanky vacations, and treat their possessions as disposable. This comes with a downside:
"They’re usually carrying some debt and paying it down slowly. They typically struggle mightily to come up with money during an emergency and usually deal with emergencies with more debt by putting it on a credit card and then paying that debt off slowly."
Shockingly, this describes 75 to 80 percent of Americans.
ORANGE has a savings rate of 2% to 8%. These people plan to retire at a normal age (around 65) and do not want to compromise their lifestyle. They still have nice vacations, new cars, big houses, but are a bit more frugal in day-to-day life. Hamm estimates that 10 to 15 percent of Americans fall into this category.
YELLOW folks save between 8% and 15%. They may plan to retire somewhat early, want a comfortable lifestyle, and so live slightly below their means (i.e. making coffee and meals at home instead of getting takeout).
"A large portion of the personal finance books you see in libraries and bookstores are written with this area of the spectrum as a destination."
GREEN is the financial independence / early retirement crowd, with a 15-25% savings rate. These people want to retire in their fifties, so they are frugal on a daily basis, although willing to splurge on high-quality, useful items. They do maintenance on their own and take rustic vacations.
BLUE are what Hamm calls the optimizers, saving up to 40%. These are the real frugality experts, who take pleasure in DIY projects and squeezing savings out of every possible place in their lives. These people are resilient:
"Their lifestyle can tolerate major twists and turns, and they’ve usually got a very healthy amount in savings to handle almost anything that might happen."
INDIGO save up to 80% of their income. In order to do this, one has to spend a lot of time thinking and planning financial decisions. These are homesteaders, extreme DIYers, true minimalists.
"There’s usually a development of a set of strong internal principles which that person tries to live by to the best of their ability, and those principles often aren’t in line with what’s 'mainstream' in society."
Finally, VIOLET are the "Walden" crowd, the hermits and recluses willing to remove themselves from ordinary society, and saving more than 80 percent. This sounds a bit like my parents, living in the forest with no internet or TV, chopping firewood for their cookstove, and eating their meals by lamplight.
"They often try to avoid wasting anything, which can end up making their homes look like a shack or a rust-bucket on wheels, but those homes and vehicles are usually incredibly functional and they can explain every square inch and detail of them. They tend to have a deep understanding of how almost everything works that they own, but they’ll eschew a lot of things that people in America usually take for granted, like internet or some utilities."
I'd have to put my family in the yellow group, which doesn't make me terribly proud. I'd rather be green, or even blue, but I think it's hard with young children. (Not that I'm trying to make excuses -- there definitely are places where we could tighten things up significantly.)
I liked one point Hamm made, that one's place on the spectrum is not static or permanent; we will sit at different points throughout our lives, according to our circumstances. This reassures me somewhat; for example, once my youngest kid is in school, I won't have to pay for childcare anymore. As our kids grow older, we'll be able to travel off the beaten track more easily. (Camping with diapers is not fun.)
Having a spectrum makes it easier to set goals, too. Every percentage point increase in savings moves one closer to a more desirable category. Where do you fall along this spectrum, and where would you like to be?
1. Check your spending
You can’t cut your spending unless you know where your money is going. Before I started my challenge I reviewed a year’s worth of spending and was shocked to discover I had shelled out £400 on coffee alone.
As someone who isn’t even that bothered about the roast of beans or frothiness of a cappuccino, that was a huge amount. How had I spent that much? The short answer is all those small amounts add up without us realising.
I know if someone gave me £400 in cash, I definitely wouldn’t spend it on coffee, and my flask means I never have to spend money on takeaway coffee again!
2. Needs versus wants
We’re all guilty of telling ourselves we really ‘need’ that new pair of shoes/gadget/whatever it is that we like to spend money on. But do we really need it or do we just want it?
The line between needs and wants has become blurred in our consumer-focused world of seemingly endless credit. It is very easy to talk yourself into buying an item that you don’t really need.
Before you open up your wallet or hand over your card, think about whether what you are buying is something you really need, if it’s not then ask yourself why you’re buying it. This is particularly important if you’re getting into debt to make a purchase.
3. Set a goal
Don’t try and rein in your spending with the vague aim of ‘saving’ or you’ll soon lose focus. What you need is a longer-term goal to work towards.
My goal was, and still is, overpaying my mortgage because I don’t want to be beholden to the bank for 25 years, but yours could be building up an emergency fund, paying to re-train for a new career, or treating the kids to a holiday of a lifetime.
4. Pay yourself first
Once you’ve set your goal, make it a priority. Work out how much you can save and set up a direct debit into a savings account that isn’t easily accessible.
This payment should go out with your direct debits for rent, utilities and all those things you have to pay for each month. By including a payment into savings as part of your essential bills, you are acknowledging that your goal is important.
Paying your future-self first means you can then see how much money you have to spend guilt-free each month and can budget accordingly. I like to use a basic, and free, spending app on my phone from the Citizens Advice Bureau called ‘Budget Tracker – CAB’ to ensure I stay within my budget.
5. Get organised
If there is one thing that the no spend year taught me it’s the value of being organised. If I forgot to bring my lunch into work there was no opportunity to pop into the supermarket for something to eat, so I had to stay on top of my schedule at all times.
Similarly, if I wanted to socialise I had to spend time searching for free events and organising my friends to attend, and making sure I had enough time to cycle there.
The website Eventbrite became my best friend throughout the year as it details loads of free events across the country.
The trade-off for saving cash is often spending time, whether that’s planning and making your meals, remembering to take a flask instead of buying takeout coffee or searching for free events. I think it’s a trade-off worth making.
6. Pay cash
It’s a simple tip, but it works wonders for making you think about what you’re spending. The use of cards, and in particular contactless spending, detaches us from the idea that we’re handing over our hard-earned cash.
Food shopping is one area where lots of people overspend and I was guilty of this too, but I now take out a set amount in cash for food shopping each week and hit the shops with a calculator to track what I’m spending. By leaving the cards at home, I only buy what I need because I don’t have the money for anything more.
7. Get others on board
I couldn’t have got through my no spend year without my husband, family and friends getting on board. Although it was tough at first as I and they tried to come to terms with socialising without spending, by the end they were coming to me with free events to attend.
8. Don’t get sucked into ‘deals’
Strangely, not having any budget to spend made me aware of the number of so-called deals that we are presented with. Whether that is emails telling us about sales, TV advertising telling us to grab a bargain, or two-for-one offers in supermarkets, everywhere you look you are being offered a discount.
Except are we? It is only really a deal if you actually need the item in the first place and would have bought it full price. If not, you are spending money on an item that you probably don’t need and wouldn’t have bought at full price.
9. Look to the past
I took inspiration from my grandparents during the challenge and returned to the discipline of old-fashioned housekeeping and in doing so reduced my grocery bill to just £31.60 on average a week to cover three meals a day for both me and my husband, basic toiletries, such as soap and toothpaste, and essential household goods like washing powder.
I didn’t do anything revolutionary – I was just very organised. I did weekly stock takes of the cupboards and freezer to see what I already had, planned meals for the week ahead, wrote precise shopping lists (and stuck to them), shopped in multiple shops for the best prices and batch-cooked vegetarian meals weekly.
This ensured we never went hungry, never ran out of loo roll, and kept the food spending to a minimum. Yes, it took time to do but once you get into a routine it becomes less of a chore (and I now have an encyclopaedic knowledge of prices in my local Lidl).
Although the meal plans could get a bit boring as we ate the same lunch for a week solid (usually a veggie chilli, spaghetti Bolognese or curry), I actually ate far better than I had previously. Processed foods and chocolate treats were replaced with plenty of vegetables and lentils, and I actually lost a stone [14 pounds] unintentionally over the year.
10. Get out of your comfort zone
When it came to spending, I was stuck in a rut of trips to the pub, meeting my friends in restaurants and buying stuff because I was bored. With no budget for socialising or anything else, I had to find a new way to live and live happily.
I spent more time outdoors riding my bike, walking and wild swimming, and even managed to go on holiday with my husband. We strapped our tent and sleeping bags to our bikes and cycled from London to Suffolk and up the coast to Norfolk.
I would never have even considered doing those things before, but you have to embrace the new and sometimes unusual, and be willing to be more adventurous if you want to live a frugal life and have some fun.
The top 10 money bloggers' guide to making and saving money in 2017 For great money-making and money-saving ideas, take inspiration from the UK’s top money bloggers. If they can do it, then so can you…
18 ways to be better off in 2018 Many of us will be resolving to get into better shape in 2018. But that shouldn’t only be a physical resolution: there are plenty of things we can all do to ensure our finances are in a healthier state too.
1. Move your debt
Are you sitting on credit card debt? If so, you certainly aren’t the only one - figures from The Money Charity reveal that in September 2017, the total credit card debt in the UK stood at a whopping £69.4 billion. That’s the equivalent of more than £2,500 per household.
3. Move your bank account
A host of banks pay a welcome bonus to new customers, though you will generally need to be a customer for a few months before you receive the payment. However, if you switch now, then that bonus will still arrive in your account in the first quarter of 2017.
6. Sign up to a cashback website
11. Track down old bank accounts
Cashback WebsitesTop Cashback Amazon.com: up to 10% back at TopCashback.
Cashback Tips for Success:
Not Logged In – Make sure you are logged into the cashback site before you shop.
Visited Another Site First – Do NOT click on another cashback or coupon site before going to the cashback site you intend to use.
Didn’t Complete Purchase in 1 Session – If you don’t add items to your online shopping cart (and make the purchase) in one shopping session, your order won’t track.
Used Invalid Payment Method – Don’t pay with gift cards or reward points as they are NOT eligible for cashback.
Browser Cookies Not Enabled – Make sure you enable cookies on your browser before you use ANY cashback site. Here are the instructions [Chrome: At the top right, click More Moreand then Settings. At the bottom, click Advanced. Under "Privacy and security," click Content settings. Click Cookies. From here, you can: Turn on cookies: Next to "Blocked," turn on the switch.
Returned Items – Keep in mind that you won’t earn cashback on items you return.
Number of Merchants: 3,500+
Top Merchants: Amazon (up to 10% back), Groupon (up to 10% back), Walmart (up to 6% back), Lowe’s (6% back), Gap brands (8% back), Macys.com (8% back), American Eagle (6% back), and Overstock.com (5% back).
Payout Methods: PayPal, Direct Deposit, Amazon Gift Cards (with a 3% bonus added) and AmEx Gift Cards (with a 3% to 5% bonus).
Double Cashback Days: Several times per month they offer double cashback days at a bunch of different retailers. Visit their Double Cashback Hub to be kept in the know.
How does TopCashback work: Once you sign-up for free, you simply start all of your shopping at their website, or via their mobile app, and they’ll take care of the rest. Make a purchase and your account will get credited with a cashback percentage automatically. Money will be credited to your account within 7 days and they’ll send you an email to confirm.
Why TopCashback is awesome: TopCashback offers the highest cashback rates in the country, higher than Ebates pretty much across the board. They do this by passing on 100% of their affiliate commissions to their members. Also, they don’t have a minimum required on withdrawals and you can take money out whenever you want. Once your cashback hits the pending status, you’re free to withdraw any amount.
Important: Be sure to authenticate your account by clicking the link in the initial Welcome Email to guarantee you get your cash back.
Final thoughts: I love the fact that TopCashback passes all of their affiliate commissions on to their users. This is clearly the feature that makes them stand out from the competition. This begs the question, how the heck do they make any money? I was told by a PR rep for the company that they earn money through advertising on their site as well as charging retailers to be featured “above the fold”. Pretty cool business model.
Be Frugal Claims to be #1 site for cashback and coupons. Earn up to 40% Cash Back at 5000+ top stores.
Number of Merchants: 5,000+
Top Merchants: Walmart (4% back), Sam’s Club (3% back), Rite-Aid (4% back), Dell (6% back), Shutterfly (7% back), Eddie Bauer (5.3% back), Under Armour (8% back), American Eagle (5% back), Macy’s (6% back), and Hotels.com (6% back).
Payout Methods: Check, PayPal, or gift card.
Sign-Up Bonus: $10 Bonus just for signing-up. Bonus is payable when you earn $10 or more in cashback and verify your BeFrugal account via email.
How does BeFrugal work: Do all of your shopping via BeFrugal and get money back. Since BeFrugal guarantees the highest cashback rates, I’m guessing they work similar to TopCashback and give 100% of their affiliate commissions to their users. They’ll then charge retailer a premium fee to have featured placement on their website, mobile apps, and newsletters.
Why BeFrugal is awesome: Walmart shoppers will want to use BeFrugal exclusively as they offer the highest percentage (4%) of any cashback website. Also, the fact they guarantee the highest cashback rate makes them awesome right out-of-the-box. But it gets better. Not only will BeFrugal match the cashback rate from a competitor, but they’ll “match 125% of the higher Cash Back rate.” They also guarantee that all of the coupons they post will work.
How BeFrugal could be better: Hmmm, with the guaranteed highest cash back rates and coupons, they’re doing a lot of things right. If I had to nitpick, I’d say they could get rid of the large ads they post at the top of every page. Although I’m guessing they use that ad revenue to make their profits as they give away all of their affiliate commissions to their users. So I think we can live with those ads. UPDATE 8/26/16: I was just told by a company rep that the large banner ad is going away next month.
If you find an online coupon on BeFrugal that doesn’t work, tell them about it (within 24 hours) and get $5 added to your account.
Final thoughts: While BeFrugal doesn’t get the same publicity as the Ebates or SwagBucks of the world, they offer a strong service with high cashback rates along with a generous $10 bonus for new members. Plus, I love their tagline, “We are a bunch of cheap, thrifty, penny pinchers who believe that a dollar saved is two dollars earned.” Amen.
Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org, Colby Glass, MLIS, Professor Emeritus