Start a garden. Whether you opt for a full-out vegetable garden or a small window of fresh herbs, the taste of freshness will be unmistakable!
Shop locally! Visit local farmers markets or choose locally produced produce whenever possible.
Bring your own bags when you visit the grocery store.
Switch to energy-efficient light bulbs.
Save time and energy by cooking a double portion and setting half aside in the freezer for a quick meal at a later date.
Get energized and leave the appliances alone. Whenever possible, mix and beat ingredients by hand, cook multiple items at the same time, and avoid washing dishes unnecessarily. Use energy-efficient appliances such as the slow cooker or toaster oven, which can use up to 30% less energy. Be aware of energy wasters such as excessive pre-heating or simmering.
Ditch the wraps (such as saran wrap or foil) and make the switch to reusable containers for lunches and leftovers.
Put a lid on it! Did you know that cooking with lids could save up to three times the energy? Keep all that steam inside the pot for a more energy-efficient (and faster!) meal.
Go fresh-say goodbye to excessively packaged foods, which are often produced using processes that are harmful to the environment. Cooking meals from scratch using fresh ingredients is not only healthier, it’s often less expensive and better for the environment.
Decide what you are looking for before you open the fridge, and never keep the door open longer than absolutely necessary.
Spring cleaning is a seasonal tradition that can give your home a boost as you gear up for summer. It is also a good time to replace the batteries and test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Here are some tried-and-true items that may need your care this spring.
•Organize your seasonal storage, whether it is a shed, garage, attic or basement. Display the outdoor furniture and stow away winter items like holiday decorations, salt, snow shovels, sleds or pool cover.
•Store winter clothing and have your warm weather attire easily accessible. Donate any articles that you do not wear.
•Power wash or paint summer outdoor furniture that may appear dingy.
•You may want to hire professionals to clean indoor carpets and upholstery for a thorough job.
•Clean your windows inside and out.
•Change the door mats for the season. They are your last line of defense against dirt and are an inexpensive way to spruce up entryways.
•Dust blinds, light fixtures, and under beds and furniture.
•Steam, dry clean or vacuum your curtains.
•Wash and wax floors to protect them against wear and tear.
It’s true: the little things add up. As anyone who has ever had a piggy bank knows, small everyday actions can help you save big. Hoping to create a financial cushion for yourself this season? Follow these 15 easy tricks to help you save at least a dollar a day:
1. Hold the milk. In your coffee, that is. If you regularly stop at the coffee shop on your way to work, order it black to avoid any extra costs.
2. Go generic. At the grocery store, pick the generic variety of different foods to save big on pantry staples.
3. Keep the change. Sure, sometimes it’s annoying to have change littering your purse or jangling in your pocket, but you’d be surprised by how quickly those nickels add up.
4. Swap soda for water. If you can’t give it up altogether, vow to sip water instead of soda during at least one meal each day.
5. Trade CDs with a friend. Hoping to add the latest Rihanna song to your workout playlist? Reach out to a friend and burn CDs for each other to gather new music for free.
6. Fuel up for less. Unless it’s required for your specific car model, nix the premium gas habit and use gasbuddy.com to find the cheapest gas in the area.
7. Find free WiFi. Work in cafés or libraries with free WiFi. Not sure which spots offer Internet? Use the Free Wi-Fi app to scope out local places with wireless access.
8. Practice your sewing skills. Skip a trip to the tailor and learn to do the simple adjustments yourself, like shortening a hem or taking in a blouse.
9. Video chat to save minutes. Rather than spending an hour on your cell phone, use free services like Skype or Google Chat to catch up with your friends.
10. Choose free apps. Are the premium features really that great? If not, pick the free version of your favorite smartphone apps to avoid unnecessary costs. Check out Free App a Day for daily app offers to help you save.
11. Use a rewards card. Get major price cuts at the grocery store by using a rewards card. Even better? Look online before shopping to see if there are any coupons available for your must-have items.
12. Check out free ebooks. Search Amazon for free titles to save big on your reading habit. You’ll be able to explore new authors and genres without spending a dime.
13. Pick takeout over delivery. Too busy—or, OK, lazy—to cook? Dodge extra delivery fees and tip dollars by ordering takeout instead.
14. Turn off lights. Leaving multiple lights on throughout the day can cost you, so lower your electricity bill by making sure to turn off every light before you head to work.
15. Skip the condiment extras. Sandwich add-ons like avocado and cheese quickly add up. If you need more flavor, ask your server to pile on a little more of the free stuff.
16. Choose app over print. Save on your New York Times subscription by switching to digital access. For $3.75 a week, you’ll have unlimited access to the publication’s website as well as their smartphone app.
17. Use a thermostat. Automatically adjust the temperature of your home by using a thermostat. To save energy, remember to leave it on rather than turning it on and off when you start to feel hot or cold.
18. Dry your clothes on a rack. Instead of putting a dollar into the dryer—and possibly another dollar if your items are still damp—hang your clothes on a drying rack.
To a family that is renting, it comes as no surprise to hear that rental rates are going up. With these rates continuing to rise, buying a home looks better and more practical than ever.
Not only does purchasing a home provide a more secure future for you, but the advantages of home ownership are numerous: build-up of equity; a tax shelter; remodel and redecorate as you see fit. But most important of all, it provides you with a buffer against inflation and rising rental rates.
Every situation is unique. It would be my pleasure to provide you with a personalized analysis of home ownership costs vs. your present rental costs. This analysis is provided free of charge with no further obligation required on your part.
In my experience, many people who live in apartments continue to do so because they feel that they cannot afford to own their own home. In fact, if you’re like most people, you can’t afford not to.
The advantages in home ownership can make more financial sense, in both the short and long term, than continuing to pay rent each month with nothing to show for it. By owning a home, you build equity and are able to deduct the interest from your income tax. Also, you can now remodel and decorate to suit your own tastes. And with current market conditions, home ownership is now more affordable than ever.