6 Common Budget Busters: Slow Down and Save Money



It doesn’t occur to most people the kind of major difference that it can make to a monthly budget to simply slow down. It does occur to some who are thrust into this kind of life against their will, though. When a person is laid up with an illness for a few weeks and cannot take in his usual pursuits and activities, he usually finds at the end of the month that he has a great deal more of money. At first, he may have no idea why. Not commuting to work would save some gas, but it wouldn’t account for most of the money saved.


A general slowdown is the real reason


A number of things happen when you’re forced to tone down the pace at which you live life.


  • When you’re sick, you eat at home – you don’t eat out.
  • While you tend to be depressed when you’re sick, you don’t have the option to act it out by wasting money – going to a movie, going shopping and so on.
  • When you’re home sick, you have plenty of time. If you do need to shop online, you are able to take your time comparison-shopping.


Slowing down can be a good way to save money when you’re well, too.


Slow down when you drive


Driving at 35 mph (or whatever the posted speed limit in an area is) may make you feel like you’re on a horse buggy.  According to the US Department of Energy, though, your mileage goes down starting at 35 mph. At 70 mph, you fuel efficiency goes down more than 20%. At £1 33p a litre, driving at 35mph, rather than 50mph or higher can save you between 13p and 26p on every liter. That’s not a small sum.


Slow down in the food department


When you have the time, you will be able to plan out your meals, write down a list of all the ingredients you need and shop at the stores with the most reasonable prices. You will be able to plan the exact right amount of food to make so that you don’t have leftovers. When you have leftovers, you’ll be able to plan how to use them quickly, rather than have them go to waste.


You’ll be able to lay out your plans for extreme couponing


To begin it can save a great deal of money to not jump on every unaffordable health trend. Buying a gluten-free food, organic food and diet foods can ruin your budget. You do have a sensible shopping list, you need to plan to make it as cheap as possible by dedicating yourself to keep running. Websites like www.sumocoupon.com have a wealth of coupons it help you save hundreds of pounds each year.


Eliminate the unnecessary


If you have a good broadband connection at home, it can easily replace other wired connections – cable and landline phones, for instance. Many people hang on to their landlines simply because it makes them feel better to be connected with a real wire. You may not be able to shut down your landline if you have a DSL broadband connection; if you have a fiber connection, though, you can easily save a few pounds each year by closing your landline down.


While it can be difficult to get the best sports without cable, you can easily get all the movies you want on streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Video. Depending on the way you watch TV, it may be possible to take your cable connection down to save some money.


Cut down on expensive (and unhealthy) entertainment


Each evening that you spend at the local pub can cost £20 right there. The cab fare home can cost even more if you’re too unsteady to find your way home the normal way. While the pub scene may be an important part of your social life, it can end up bankrupting you over the years. Many people actually borrow money to keep up appearances when they can’t afford a night at the pub at the end of the month. It’s a much better idea to quit the public house and simply turn elsewhere for a social life – a gym, a running club and so on.


Finally, in whatever way you can, try to make your own


While people do make their own toothpaste and detergent at home, they don’t tend to save much money there. You can save plenty of money making your own beauty products at home, though. Whether it’s moisturizer or face packs, the natural ingredients in your kitchen can do so much more for your beauty than any store-brought back product can.



 GUEST BLOGGER: Russell Matthews has always been a numbers man. From managing household budgets to making smart choices for loans and investments, he enjoys writing about how to keep money under control. Follow Russell on Twitter.


A Girl’s Gotta Spa! Campaign to Launch Natural Bath and Body Line

My name is Shannon Smyth, founder of A Girl’s Gotta Spa!, a beauty blog that just celebrated its 8th year!

I’m SO excited to tell you about our newest venture–creating our namesake natural bath and body line!

body scrub

Just like you, I too, am tired of hearing all about the next “trendy” ingredient. Brands are launching products just based on this ingredient alone (and most of the time it is the last ingredient on the label, which means it is barely in it!)

Just like you, I too, am tired of hearing how this or that product is the next “miracle” product that will solve all your skin care woes…heck it’s even a multi-tasker and it’s going to de-frizz your hair, make your nails grow stronger AND make you feel better about life in general. How could you possibly not want it??

Just like you, I too, am tired of reading advertisements and brands boasting the amazing effects of their products, even photoshopping to try to make you believe this is JUST what you NEED.

I don’t claim to have developed a bath and body line that is so unique that it will blow you out of the water–no trendy ingredients, no miracle solution.

What I do have, is something purely honest and simple, something effective and natural. No marketing hype. No photoshop.

body butter

My product line is for women who read the labels. Women who care about not only what goes IN their bodies, but ON their bodies. Women who are looking for an effective skin care solution that aren’t persuaded by hype, but by proof.

A Girl’s Gotta Spa! Bath & Body will be a product line with ingredients that are 94-100% natural and are cruelty free.

It is purely without:

    •Synthetic Colors

Sounds great, right? But we need YOUR help! While we are in the works of creating the line, we need the funding to actually launch it. Our crowdfunding campaign ends on November 8, 2013 at midnight PST. As I write this post, we are only 8% funded. Our goal is $4600. Perks begin at a $25 donation (can you say Lavender Lip Balm? I can!) However, every donation– no matter how big or how small, MATTERS and makes a difference.

Click here to donate/read all about it: http://igg.me/at/a-girls-gotta-spa

Thank you so much for your consideration! I look forward to bringing you a line that you’ll love and use for years to come!

Our T.J. Maxx Summer Self-Expression Style Challenge!

We teamed up with our good friend Betsy from A Few Goody Gumdrops again to participate in another T.J. Maxx Style Challenge! This time we decided to rock this Fall’s hottest trend – METALLICS!

Here’s a tidbit about the challenge…

A Few Goody Gumdrops thoroughly enjoyed participating in the second T.J. Maxx Summer Self-Expression Style Challenge. Naturally, we enlisted the help of Sarah-Jean Ballard, our fashionably stylish friend from The Fashionable Housewife to help pull this off! If you recall, we recently partnered with Sarah-Jean and T.J. Maxx, your favorite off price retailer to take part in The Maxx Style Scout Blogger Challenge earlier this year.

T.J. Maxx provides their shoppers with endless possibilities to express their personal style. Sarah-Jean and I decided to express our personal style with one of this season’s hottest trends….metallics! We specifically decided to work with gold metallic for this challenge. T.J. Maxx carries the hottest on-trend, brand name and designer fashions. Sarah-Jean and I had no trouble selecting some fabulous pieces to fulfill our challenge. Not only did we find some absolutely perfect metallic pieces for Sarah…she updated the look with gold nail polish, shimmering gold eye shadow and gold lipstick. As you can see Sarah-Jean rocked the metallic look like a true fashion model! Sarah’s ultra-trendy metallic look is perfect for day or night.[more...]

Read the rest of the post >>

Here are a few pictures from the photoshoot including a behind the scenes shot after the jump…

TJ Maxx Fashion Blogger

TJ Maxx Fashion Blogger

TJ Maxx Fashion Blogger

[Read more...]

How To Avoid Belly Bloat And Other Tips

If you are a fan of this blog then you might remember that last summer I lost 18 pounds in 8 weeks on the Dukan Diet. I learned SO much about health and nutrition, reading the book The Dukan Diet: 2 Steps to Lose the Weight, 2 Steps to Keep It Off Forever. It helped me learn what foods would help me lose weight and keep the weight off and which foods I should avoid all together.

I have done a pretty remarkable job (*pats self on back*) at staying around or under my target weight all winter, even though I did gain about 5 pounds over the holiday season… I’m still thinking about getting “bikini perfect” soon though because Lord knows I wouldn’t want to bare-all right now! Good gracious…

Did you know there are “good for you” foods that can actually make you look and feel fat?

Franci Cohan - NutritionistWe are excited to share with you these tips and tricks on how to avoid belly bloat from certified nutritionist Franci Cohen suggests these meals that will not give you a bulging belly.

For a girl’s night out: Don’t be afraid to have a large meal beforehand (large meaning more than just a PB&J). If you are planning for an active night, whether dancing, bowling or party hopping, you will need the fuel. Franci Cohen has created the perfect meal for this situation:

  • 1 grilled chicken breast (approx 4 oz)
  • 1/2 cup cooked brown rice and lentils
  • 1 cup steamed string beans

This combo will fill you up without weighing you down, and will give you the energy you need to dance the night away!
For a dinner- date: You’re wearing a stunning new BCBG dress that already had to be zipped up by your roommate. When you’re at the restaurant with your guy refrain from ordering a salad to make it look like you’re being healthy. All the veggies in the salad will actually cause your stomach to bloat more. Franci advises that a fish dish with one side of grilled veggies is the way to go! “Wild Salmon is jam-packed with heart healthy vitamins and omega 3 fatty acids. If Salmon is not an option, mackerel, sea bass and lemon sole are all good options as well. As for the veggies, try to steer clear of cruciferous veggies (such as cauliflower, broccoli) that can cause bloating. Instead opt for grilled zucchini, asparagus, or carrots – which will keep your tummy tamed!”
For a day at the beach: It’s finally getting warm out and you can take that bathing suit out of hiding. If you’re going to the beach you need a healthy, energizing meal to get you through the morning but you don’t want it to show in your stomach.  You’re probably thinking that the easiest thing to eat before you head out is some Special K with skim milk. It’s low in calories after all, right? It doesn’t matter how low-cal it is, the dairy and multi-grains will expand in your intestines, causing your gut to stick out. Instead of cereal, Franci has an awesome recipe for oatmeal pancakes. Take 1/2 cup raw oats, 3 egg whites, 1/2 apple, and a dash of cinnamon and throw in a blender to create the pancake mix. This high fiber non-fat breakfast choice offers whole grain fiber plus additional fiber from the apple, and protein from the egg whites. It’s a great filling way to start the day, and will not create any abdominal gas or bloating, so you can go bikini-bare with ease!

For an afternoon luncheon: Eating a well-balanced lunch is essential for boosting energy and productivity; giving you power over that mid-day slump and keeping your metabolism active.  A lot of times people want to skip lunch in hopes of losing weight and grab an energy drink to keep them going. This is so bad! The carbonation from an energy drink will make you more bloated then a light lunch. Franci says, “For a mid-day luncheon, your best bet is a salad chock-full of fresh veggies and greens, and topped with a piece of grilled fish, low-fat tuna salad, or fresh turkey breast slices. Throw a few walnuts or almonds on top and dress with a low fat/low sugar dressing, to finish off your delicious salad creation!”

For traveling days: These days airports are getting bigger and so are the food courts. It’s tempting to give in to the convenience of fast travel food, but the combination of a high-sodium smorgasbord and air travel equals a very bloated body from head to toe. You absolutely must resist because there are better options. Eat before you leave for the airport.  Franci suggests packing your carry-on with fruits, veggies, and granola bars. Believe it or not these are available at kiosks. Also, avoid the beverage service on board. Stick to water, you will have a happier flight and feel revived upon arriving at your destination!

Above Tips From: Franci Cohen, Personal trainer, Certified Nutritionist & Exercise Physiologist


If you want to lose weight and have a healthier lifestyle, I personally recommend trying The Dukan Diet. (See: The Dukan Diet: 2 Steps to Lose the Weight, 2 Steps to Keep It Off Forever) The high protein/low fat diet may not appeal to everyone though. If you don’t think the Dukan Diet is right for you, please check out Slimmer: The New Mediterranean Way to Lose Weight by Harry Papas.

About “Slimmer”…

Join the hundreds of thousands who are eating well and getting slimmer with the new Mediterranean diet book. Featuring delicious, fat-burning, easy-to-make Mediterranean diet recipes, a simple plan, and the psychological tools to stay slimmer, this international bestselling diet sensation takes the incredible flavors of the Mediterranean and adds new fat-burning ingredients that get amazing results.

Harry Papas, a certified dietitian in Greece, lost over 100 pounds by creating a revolutionary nutrition plan: a delicious, fat-burning Mediterranean diet coupled with the self-awareness he needed to combat the triggers that contributed to his weight gain.

You can learn more about the book on Amazon.com.


I have an enormous library full of excellent cook books and health books. Here are a few that I’m reading right now and would recommend that you check out if you are trying to live a healthy lifestyle and/or trying to lose weight…


Interview with Hollis Wilder, Celebrity Chef and Author of Savory Bites

Hollis Wilder headshot

Hollis Wilder

We interviewed Celebrity Chef, Food Network Champion Hollis Wilder who recently authored the new book Savory Bites: Meals You Can Make in Your Cupcake Pan that will be released this Saturday – April 6th!

I can’t wait to see her new book because I’ve heard of making cool recipes in cupcake pans but I haven’t had the chance to try any out. I think the kids are going to love this too!

Here are the questions we had for Hollis Wilder…

1. What veggies are the best ones to “push” onto your kids and what’s the best recipes you know of that will get kids to eat their veggies?

I don’t think of it as “pushing” as much as I think of making it my child’s idea to eat and enjoy vegetables. When my children come home from school they are starving. I have a crudité of fresh green beans, carrots, peppers, red and yellow tomatoes, and hummus waiting for them. I can get them to eat all 5 servings of vegetables at that snack. This is much easier for me to do when all they have to eat are veggies. When I send veggies in their lunches with other choices, the veggies come back home. When we make Savory Bites, meals in the cupcake tin, I use clear bowls filled with the very same vegetable options and I add sautéed spinach, blanched broccoli, artichoke hearts, roasted peppers and tomatoes, grilled vegetables, so that when they are making “personal pan pizzas” or penne pasta gratins they can layer in the Colors they are attracted to first, instead of thinking about the taste. I have tricked not only my children but other children into using the cupcake pan as there pallet for creating the meals they want to eat, just because I have given them an edible paint brush to work with.

pic from Hollis Wilder's new book "Savory Bites"

Photo Credit: Tina Rupp

3. What’s your favorite quick & easy family meal to make?

I like to keep it simple, protein, vegetables, are the main part of our meals. My children like Spinach Soufflé, easy ladies it’s Stouffers (freezer section) Salmon pan seared, fresh lemon and a Salad of romaine, apples, avocados, grapes, and a seasoned rice wine splash. We pretty much eat like this every meal.

Pic from Hollis Wilder's new book - "Savory Bites"

Photo Credit: Tina Rupp

4. Do you have any tips of tricks for busy moms that want to entertain?

Whether you are entertaining for your neighborhood friends with families or having an adult only party, the most important piece of the meal is keep it simple sisters. I am with you! Don’t feel that you have to impress anyone, just make food that will make your guests feel like they are coming home and you will succeed.

Prep everything in advance. You can fill the wells of the cupcake pan the day prior and wrap in plastic wrap for fresh cooking the day of the party. Make sure that all of your side dishes are diced sliced and chopped ahead of time, so that you can make yourself and your home pretty prior to the guests’ arrival.

Get the rotisserie chickens from the grocery, cut them up into portions and brush orange marmalade or pesto, or BBQ sauce on them and re-heat. (No one will know)

Make more food than you think you will need. The best part of Savory Bites is that you can pack up leftovers in 6 inch square plastic containers so they guests can live your magic all over again the next day.

Pic from Hollis Wilder's new book - "Savory Bites"

Photo Credit: Tina Rupp

Thanks to Hollis for taking the time to answer our questions!

If you like her tips and trick, be sure to get her new book Savory Bites: Meals You Can Make in Your Cupcake Pan and follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for more info!

Twitter: @HollisWilder

Create More Room for Storage this Spring

Tips for How To Create More Room For Storage

If the old saying that you can “never be too rich or too thin” were re-written for a home, it would say you can never have too much storage. Time and time again, houses are short on precious space to hold all our belongings. So, while you’re decluttering this spring, why not take a look at where you can add some more storage?

With the right furnishings, you can literally create more space in your home. Furniture should be put to work and the furnishings that do double and triple duty are good choices. For instance, if you’re thinking of adding a new coffee table, opt for one with storage. Another good choice for your home is to select pieces, such as small chests, to stand in for side tables and consoles. Sofa tables that have shelves or storage are a better option than tables that only have legs. A long, thin dresser used as a sofa table, can anchor the room and offer valuable storage.

Create more function from your furnishings by making them do double duty. A short filing cabinet can be fitted with a round top and table skirt and stand in as both a table and filing cabinet. Or, add a round skirted table to store items out of sight. A collection of pretty hat boxes can be used on top of an armoire for decoration and hold papers or other items.

Rolling storage carts can be put into closets for jewelry or lingerie and can be added to coat closets to store hats, gloves and scarves. Another option is to add wire drawers to create more drawer storage in the closet, add shelf dividers to make your shelf more useable and, if space is available, add a second shelf for more storage.

Coat Closet Beforecoat closet after

If your ceilings are tall, it may even be possible to add a clothes rod up high for seasonal clothing. Storage bins and boxes are still more ways to add more storage to your closet. Homes often need more storage, but by being resourceful and using the storage space you have more creatively, you can greatly improve the amount of storage in your home with just some simple changes.

Living Space: Simple Steps to Transform Your Home can be purchased as an eBook on Amazon for $6.49

Guest Post by Kathryn Weber, author of Living Space: Simple Steps to Transform Your Home


Kathryn Weber is the publisher of the Red Lotus Letter feng shui e-zine for wealth, and writes Living Space, a nationally syndicated newspaper column on decorating for Tribune Media Services. A lifelong Texan, she approaches the home with her true-to-Texas style — no fussy froo-froo stuff going on here. She developed the Red Lotus feng shui jewelry line for Home Shopping Network where almost all her styles quickly became customer favorites. Candid and straightforward, Kathryn has written two scripts, two newspaper columns, multiple features, and over 500 weeks of ezines.

Her family and home are her world—and she shares it with three rescue pets. She’s been happily married over 20 years to a guy she met on a desert island working with chemical weapons. In fact, domestic terrorists stealing chemical weapons were the subject of her first screenplay in 1995. “On Edge” was a quarter finalist in Action Scripts for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting. Her son, Steve, is an avid traveler, hunter and fisherman who enjoys golfing with his dad and homeschooling with mom. Kathryn has a degree in English from the University of Texas at San Antonio where she grew up. A fifth generation Texan, she’s a straight-shooter and a trusted friend.

Tips For Those Who Use Computeres All Day

We interviewed Dr. Richard Norden of Norden Laser Eye Associates in Ridgewood, NJ to find out what we could do to reduce the strain on our eyes while we’re sitting at the computer all day.

glassesThere are many folks that work in offices, glued to a computer screen all day and this can be stressful for your eyes. Check out the tips below from Dr Norden on how to lessen the negative effects to your eyes.


Tips for those who sit at their computers all day:


  • Wear your glasses or contact lenses and don’t read “naked eye” as it could cause eyestrain. If your eyes feel fatigued on a regular basis, you could wear a light pair of reading glasses (+1.00) or have “computer glasses” made up for you.
  • Take frequent breaks. You should plan on taking at least five minutes for every hour on the computer. This will allow your eyes to blink a bit and rehydrate whether you wear contact lenses or not.
  • Keep contact lens eye drops at your desk to use once or twice an hour to hydrate your contacts. Prolonged staring without blinking at a monitor can cause evaporation and dryness.
  • If your eyes are still feeling dry, you can put a small personal humidifier on your desk to improve the ambient humidity.
  • Adjust the font size on your computer so that you’re comfortable and not straining. Also consider turning the contrast down a bit.

Dr Richard Norden

As much as all this can be a nuisance, there is no harm that will come to your eyes if they are dry, strained and “overused” – just a temporary discomfort. You will not make your prescription worse permanently.

Richard A Norden, MD



Thank you to Dr. Norden for offering those great tips for our readers! Not only is he a good looking man, but he’s smart too. :-)

It’s also good to have your eyes checked at least once a year to make sure you are wearing the proper prescription for your eyes. I personally like Lens Crafters. I was most impressed with their eye exam process, I didn’t feel rushed and I felt like they actually cared about my vision (unlike Wal Mart).

When I need extra glasses (or just want a different style) I go to Zenni Optical where you can get a pair of glasses for as low as $6.95. All you need is your prescription!

Do you wear glasses? Contacts? Let us know in the comments below!