Weekend Round-Up: Homemade Natural Household Cleaning Products

Katie Schmidt has a degree in Environmental Health Science, and she uses her blog Katie Thinks to share homemade natural household cleaning products and other ways to “go green” and get healthy.

She has a huge collection of “recipes”, and here are some of her favorites:

Making your own chemical-free All-purpose Cleaner

Homemade, non-toxic household cleaners save you money and reduce the amount of chemicals in your home!

Household uses of essential oils, including the all-purpose cleaner, air freshener, and a lot more!

Homemade powdered laundry detergent, which is great for sensitive skin and a HUGE money saver.

And homemade dishwasher detergent cubes!

Homemade, non-toxic household cleaners save you money and reduce the amount of chemicals in your home!

Not only do all of these homemade products reduce the amount of chemicals in your home, they also save you a lot of money. For even more homemade, chemical-free household cleaning products, follow Katie’s DIY Household Cleaners Pinterest Board. 

Do you have favorite “recipes” for homemade natural household cleaning products, or personal care products? 

Follow Katie for more ways to go non toxic, reduce chemicals in your home, and save money. She’s on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google Plus.







Saving Money on Groceries With Meal Planning and Once a Week Shopping

When I looked at our budget recently, I noticed that over the past few months, our family’s food spending kept creeping higher and higher.

Right away, I saw that we were making several trips (usually 2 or 3 or sometimes more) to the grocery store each week. In addition, there were usually a couple of trips to the corner store on the way home from work.

Usually, the trips were for one or two things – often milk or bread. Though that was the intention, what inevitably happened is that we ended up buying a near cart-full of extras. Sometimes I tossed things in because I was hungry – I typically stopped mid-afternoon, when everything looks especially tasty – or, more often than not, because something was “such a good deal.”

These extra trips were adding big $$ to our weekly grocery spending.

I decided to try to reduce the number of trips needed by planning all of our meals – breakfasts, lunches and suppers – for the entire week and shopping for those needs. One grocery trip per week – the prospect was a bit scary.

Once a week meal planning to save on groceries!

Here are some things that I have done to make one trip last:

List, list, list

I have a list app on my phone that I use now, but before that, I was a pen and paper devotee. Whatever your method, lists will keep you organized. I plan our meals first, based on what we had on hand, what was on sale in the weekly flyers,  and our family’s preferences.

Once I know what we are going to be eating for the week, I sit down with the flyers and my phone and make the lists. I have separate lists on my phone for each store if I need to make more than one stop.

When we run out of something during the week, I put it in my phone right then. Otherwise, I will forget.

Know Your Family’s Eating Habits

Planning meals and shopping for weekly meals for the family means know what your family eats, and making sure it is on hand. Once you take care of the basics, the rest is easy.

For example, we are simple breakfast folks at my house – it is fruit and cereal for the boys and toast for David and me. I make sure we are stocked on those items for the week and BOOM! Breakfasts done.

For lunches, we tend to rotate the same few lunches that the boys prefer: sandwiches, bagels and pizza. I make sure we are stocked on the extras (granola bars, fruit and cheese) to round out their mid-day meals.

Then I plan our suppers.

And don’t forget the snacks!

If we don’t have it, we don’t eat it. 

I am bad for deciding that “I feel like tacos tonight.” I get cravings and decide that nothing else will do. If I don’t have the necessary ingredients, a quick trip to the store and voila! Craving quenched. Now, if I start thinking about a meal, I put it on the meal plan for the next week. Then I have a start on a menu and something to look forward to next week.

So, after 4 weeks, how are we doing?

I have made 1 extra trip in that time – when I needed a quick meal and had forgotten to take something out of the freezer. Oops! I still mess up. (I have started to set up reminders on my phone to take things out the day before.)

Other than that, we have made our one weekend grocery trip and that is it.

No more scrambling through the grocery store midweek, with hungry children in tow. No more wondering what we will eat for supper and thinking it would be easier to just pick something up.

Eliminating the extra trips is giving us predictability in our grocery spending. Even though the planning takes time, I think that one stop saves time over the course of the week.  And we are eating what we have, so we are wasting less food.

Do you meal plan? What are some of your time and money saving strategies?  

Kim writes at Co-Pilot Mom, about her adventures with her husband and two boys. You can find her on FacebookTwitter, and Pinterest.

Teach Kids the Value of Money

Kids these days seem to think that money grows on trees.  Ok, maybe not just kids these days but it seems that the younger generation just thinks that parents are rich and can buy them whatever they want.   I know when I was growing up that is what I thought.  But, my folks didn’t really let us kids know how bad their finances were until we got a little older.  My Mom would go without so that us kids could get the latest cool barbie, or music cassette (yes, I am that old), or clothes.  It wasn’t until I was older and I really realized that a kid should have to have some responsibilities in earning money to pay for the things that they want so they learn about the value of a buck.

When I was 15 I got a job at a local grocery store and also did some baby-sitting for local people.   I enjoyed earning my own money, and when it came to spending it I learned fast that it left my pocket faster than it was put in there.   I learned there were things I wanted that I needed and things I wanted that I didn’t need.  That is a lesson that I have tried to instil in my son all his life.   My son has always had chores he needed to do to earn a buck.  And, he also learned fast as he watched me sell stuff online that when you are done using an item that you once wanted you can sell it because someone else might want it.   I introduced him to selling online and he fell in love and does it all that time. Not that he is 21, he is thankful for what I have shown him.

There are so many places online to sell your unused items.   For kid, they generally have lots of video games, dvd’s, and cd’s laying around they no longer play, watch or listen too.   So, when teaching your kids about the value of earning their own money tell them about musicMagpie and how they can turn unused items into cash.  I am sure if your kids are like mine, they have a ton of goodies they can sell.   It will make them feel great to clear out their stash, and fill their pockets full of money.

Disclaimer ~ This is a sponsored post.   All opinions are 100% Living Smart Girl’s.

Top five Christmas money-saving tips

Top five Christmas money-saving tips
If you’re a little short of cash this year, you can still enjoy the festive season without going over your budget. Christmas doesn’t have to be an expensive time, so take a look at these money-saving tips and hold onto your hard earned cash.
Look for deals on the internet
One of the best ways to cut the cost of Christmas is to look for deals on the internet. Thanks to voucher code website, you can get access to some of the best offers around – and have everything delivered to your door for free. Many sites will also send out complimentary vouchers after you make a purchase, so it’s definitely worth seeing what’s out there. If you plan to buy expensive items electronically, it’s a good idea to put them on a low interest rate credit card in order to avoid extremely high charges.
Write down what you want to buy
Without a Christmas list, it can be easy to get carried away and overspend – especially when there are so many lovely things available these days. To stop this from happening, think carefully about what you want to buy each person and write your ideas down. Once you have a final draft, take it with you wherever you go and tick the items off when you make a purchase. If you can’t afford to buy for everyone, think about setting up a secret Santa gift exchange and look for something nice for a friend or relative. Not only will this save you money, but you won’t have to spend hours wrapping presents.
Get creative and make what you can
Christmas is the perfect time to get creative, so get hold of come felt-tipped pens and glitter and make your own holiday cards. Show your loved ones how well you can draw, trace and sketch and have fun designing your very own festive characters. This is a great activity to do with the whole family and is the perfect way to brighten up a wet and windy weekend. If a little arts and crafts leaves you feeling inspired, you could even decorate plain, cheap baubles or spray pine cones a variety of colours, as these look great in a glass bowl. It’s certainly convenient buying things from shops, but it’s often nowhere near as much fun.
Ask everyone to do the cooking
If you’re worried about the cost of knocking up a festive feast, you could always invite a group of people round on the big day and ask them all them all to bring a different course. If you’re good at cooking turkey and roast potatoes, for instance, offer to do the main and ask someone else to make a Christmas cake or bring the starters. This will take the pressure off you as a host and will help split the cost. If you can’t get people to go along with this idea, ask them all to contribute to the price of food or go out to a reasonably priced restaurant, where you can just pay for what you eat and drink.
Make the most of Air Miles
Did you apply for a credit card online without the hope of earning Air Miles? If so, check how many you have accumulated over the year and see if you can put them towards a winter getaway. You might be able to spend the festive season lapping up the sun in a foreign land, so don’t forget to check what you’re entitled to. Many travel cards also give you money off hotels, transfers and airport parking and will help you get the most of your holiday without breaking the bank.
Saving money is not as difficult as you may think, so try to make a few cutbacks this year.