10 Tips for Successful Summer Entertaining

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They say the kitchen is the heart of your home. I find that’s especially true for me. My roommate Bambi loves to cook, so we are always hosting a weekly dinner night with significant others or friends. With summer on the way, we expect to do more summer entertaining than ever.

Top ten tips for successful summer entertaining! If you're as excited about getting into the swing of summer entertaining as we are, check out these great tips for opening your kitchen, and the rest of your home, to guests this summer. Plus the best pet friendly, non-toxic cleaning products for cleaning your home!

We recently moved my patio table into the backyard to use for summer entertaining as the weather heats up. Bambi loves to grill. So we have a grill on our list of things to buy this summer. There’s nothing more magical than BBQ and great friends as the sun goes down. We’re even thinking of making our own string light solar lanterns.

As Bambi is also a gamer, not just an incredible cook, we’re also looking forward to hosting more game nights. While I prefer games that are more in the realm of Exploding Kittens and Cards Against Humanity, Bambi prefers games of strategy. Hosting guests for summer game nights gives us both a chance to enjoy the games we love.

And of course, I’m looking forward to hosting a few ladies only craft nights as well. There’s something about the warm weather and shaking off the final remnants of those winter blues to inspire extra socializing.

Top ten tips for successful summer entertaining! If you're as excited about getting into the swing of summer entertaining as we are, check out these great tips for opening your kitchen, and the rest of your home, to guests this summer. Plus the best pet friendly, non-toxic cleaning products for cleaning your home!

Before summer entertaining gets into full swing however, it’s nice to take a minute and create an inviting space we feel proud to entertain in. Bambi and I are both a bit obsessive about both cleaning and creating the perfect space for hosting guests. It’s one of the many reasons we work so well as roommates – especially post divorce. It’s also why we are both such big fans of Grove Collaborative.

We both love the non-toxic and pet friendly products that Mrs. Meyer’s has to offer. (Bambi and I are both mommies to fur babies!) Not only are they effective at cleaning our home, they also look great by the kitchen sink.

Top ten tips for successful summer entertaining! If you're as excited about getting into the swing of summer entertaining as we are, check out these great tips for opening your kitchen, and the rest of your home, to guests this summer. Plus the best pet friendly, non-toxic cleaning products for cleaning your home!

If you aren’t already a Grove Collaborative member, you can get a free kit of Mrs. Meyer’s dish soap, hand soap, and lotion and replaceable head dish brush with your first order of just $20. We received this fantastic cleaning kit when we signed up and loved it! (You’ll want to hurry though as supplies are limited.)

Grove Co. offers more than just eco-conscious, non-toxic cleaning essentials. They also offer other homemaking and personal healthcare products from brands I trust. I buy Lovebug Here’s the Skinny Daily Probiotic at a discount from Grove for my own gut health. (Many of you know I suffer from fibromyalgia so vitamins and supplements are a must.)

Bambi on the other hand is crazy about Grove Collaborative’s Walnut Scouring Pads. In fact she ditched her regular brand of scouring pads for these after she tried them for the first time. She also loves Grove’s Cleaning Concentrate Essentials which are scented with natural essential oils. They’re another great way to get a pet safe, non-toxic clean we can both feel good about.

We also both found the Grove Collaborative Reusable Bag Essentials Set extremely useful. (I got these as a free gift as a part of Grove’s VIP member program.) These bags are super high quality and are great both in and out of the kitchen. We use the large bag for leftover Naan when Bambi makes curry. And the others for easily stashing personal care essentials when traveling and camping.

Place your first $20 order with Grove now to receive your free Mrs. Myer’s cleaning kit. Or, if you’re already a Grove Co. member, you’ll receive a free set of the Grove walnut scrubber sponges that Bambi is so fond of. Then keep reading for some great tips for entertaining guests in your home this summer.

Top ten tips for successful summer entertaining! If you're as excited about getting into the swing of summer entertaining as we are, check out these great tips for opening your kitchen, and the rest of your home, to guests this summer. Plus the best pet friendly, non-toxic cleaning products for cleaning your home!

If you’re as excited about getting into the swing of summer entertaining as we are, check out these great products and tips for opening your kitchen — and the rest of your home — to guests this summer.

Great Products & Tips for Successful Summer Entertaining

1. Hand wash summer accessories that have been in the cabinet all winter. Grove’s replaceable head dish brush has curved bristles and a sturdy bamboo handle that’s perfect for washing pitchers, platters, and prep boards.

2. Wipe down the counters to create a clean and tidy space for food prep and serving impromptu midnight snacks. All you need is some warm soapy water and a microfiber. I love the ones from Grove because they have a hanging corner for easy drying and storage.

3. Your sink gets a workout during the summer, from washing grilling utensils to cutting flowers. Make sure it’s up to the task by giving it a good scrub with a paste of baking soda and Mrs. Meyer’s dish soap.

4. Set up a beautiful sink side experience that makes everyone happy. Mrs. Meyer’s soaps and lotions come in a variety of cheerful scents like honeysuckle, lavender, and lemon verbena that guests of all ages will love.

5. Everyone’s always hungry after a day at the pool. Now is a great time to stock up on supplies like Bees Wrap and Grove reusable snack bags for storing cut-up fruit, cheese, and pretzels!

6. Cool drinks are a must for successful summer entertaining. Make sure your blender is ready for fresh fruit smoothies or frozen cocktails. Simply add a drop or two of dish soap and two cups of water and blend on high for 30 seconds. Then pour out the suds, rinse, and dry with a microfiber cloth.

7. Punch up your home decor with a pop of happy color, from new throw pillows to a fresh kitchen towel. I’m feeling inspired by lush greens like Grove’s garden tea towel.

8. Create an inviting entryway with plenty of space for guests to stash sandals, hats and pool gear. I like to stash my Full Circle dust pan and brush from Grove near the front door for quick cleanup of dirt and grass clippings.

9. The powder room is a small space, which means a little bit of effort goes a long way. Freshen it up for summer by laundering and fluffing up the rug, putting out a fresh hand towel, and switching out the hand soap and lotion for a summery scent.

10. Once you’ve submitted your Grove order, you’ll be signed up for the free 60 day VIP trial. The VIP program is a great way to keep your home streamlined all summer, with perks like free shipping, free gifts, price matching, exclusive sales and personal service. Now, it’s time to light a rose candle and enjoy the quiet while it lasts!

For more great summer entertaining ideas, be sure to check out these must have wine and cheese night party essentials. Or grab a few ladies craft night ideas. You can discover even more entertaining ideas on my Party Ideas Pinterest board.

You’ll also want to follow Soap Deli News across all of your favorite social media platforms including G+FacebookTwitterBlog Lovin’, and Instagram as well as subscribe to Soap Deli News via email for future updates, DIY projects and recipes.

Spring Entertaining: How to Prep Your Kitchen for Guests

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Learn how to transform your kitchen for spring entertaining with this collection of eight easy life hacks and cleaning tips to get you started! You’re going to love these spring cleaning tips & tricks! Plus discover the perfect eco-friendly cleaning products to help with the task.

Transform Your Kitchen for Spring Entertaining

Learn how to transform your kitchen for spring entertaining with this collection of eight easy life hacks and cleaning tips to get you started! You're going to love these spring cleaning tips & tricks! Plus discover the perfect eco-friendly cleaning products to help with the task! #springcleaning #spring #diy #green #ecofriendly #grovepartner

Lately, I’ve been drooling over all the bright, clean kitchens on Instagram.

Even though a full kitchen makeover isn’t in my budget, I’ve found some affordable ways to rediscover pride in my home, so I wanted to share them with you. (My roommate LOVES all of these ideas! Being a little OCD herself – like that’s a bad thing? – she’s always excited when my order from Grove Co. arrives.)

It’s amazing how something as simple as a good spring cleaning or a bouquet of fresh flowers on the counter can help you fall in love with the home you have — whether it’s a tiny apartment or your dream home.

Learn how to transform your kitchen for spring entertaining with this collection of eight easy life hacks and cleaning tips to get you started! You're going to love these spring cleaning tips & tricks! Plus discover the perfect eco-friendly cleaning products to help with the task! #springcleaning #spring #diy #green #ecofriendly #grovepartner

First, you must grab this free set of Mrs. Meyer’s spring hand soap + dish soap + multi-surface spray + spring kitchen towel! You can can get them all here with your first order of $20 from Grove Collaborative. Choose from three limited-edition Mrs. Meyer’s spring scents: mint, lilac, or peony. (I LOVE the mint!) If you’re already a Grove customer, you’ll receive free Grove walnut scrubber sponges.

Then follow my tips to create a dreamy kitchen — just in time for spring entertaining! 

Learn how to transform your kitchen for spring entertaining with this collection of eight easy life hacks and cleaning tips to get you started! You're going to love these spring cleaning tips & tricks! Plus discover the perfect eco-friendly cleaning products to help with the task! #springcleaning #spring #diy #green #ecofriendly #grovepartner

Green Cleaning Tips & Tricks for Spring Entertaining

Step 1: Instead of treating spring cleaning as a chore, set the tone for an enjoyable day by opening the doors to let the spring air in and brewing a fresh pot of coffee.

Step 2: Start with a clean slate. Mrs. Meyer’s multi-surface spray makes quick work of cleaning appliances, the inside of the fridge, countertops, and backsplashes. Plus, it leaves your kitchen smelling like a spring garden!

Step 3: To get your pots and pans ready for new spring recipes, make a paste with Bon Ami and water and apply it all over. Let it sit for about 10 minutes, then wipe away those scorch marks with a sponge. I prefer Grove’s walnut scrubber sponges because they don’t scratch your cookware!

Step 4: The sink is probably the most used area in your kitchen, but gets the least love when it’s time to clean. Grab the Bon Ami again and sprinkle it on your sink and faucet, rub with a wet cloth, and then wipe clean. To freshen up your garbage disposal, squirt Mrs. Meyer’s dish soap into the disposal and run the disposal with hot water. The mint scent is especially good for neutralizing odors!

Step 5: Just like a statement necklace can make an old outfit feel new, sink-side accessories can totally transform your kitchen. I love Mrs. Meyer’s hand and dish soaps because they add a pop of cheerful color to my kitchen and smell amazing! 

Learn how to transform your kitchen for spring entertaining with this collection of eight easy life hacks and cleaning tips to get you started! You're going to love these spring cleaning tips & tricks! Plus discover the perfect eco-friendly cleaning products to help with the task! #springcleaning #spring #diy #green #ecofriendly #grovepartner

Step 6: Treat your kitchen to a fresh new towel in a spring color. I consider these Grove chef’s towels an essential, since they work for everything from wiping hands, to drying spills and dishes, to grabbing hot pans. The cornflower blue color is brand new, and you’ll be among the first to get one! 

Step 7: Trick your guests into thinking you redecorated with strategically placed accessories like a bamboo cutting board, a wooden handle dish brush, or a stoneware tray. I got all of mine from Grove! (And, if you’re a soapmaker like me, these are also the perfect props for photographing your homemade soaps to sell.)

Learn how to transform your kitchen for spring entertaining with this collection of eight easy life hacks and cleaning tips to get you started! You're going to love these spring cleaning tips & tricks! Plus discover the perfect eco-friendly cleaning products to help with the task! #springcleaning #spring #diy #green #ecofriendly #grovepartner

Step 8: Of course, you can never go wrong with cut flowers. But lately, I love filling glass jars with fresh herbs like cilantro, mint, or chives. Decorative, and useful! 

Bonus tip: I’m a huge fan of Grove Collaborative because they help me create a healthy, beautiful home I can feel proud of. When you submit your first order using my link, you’ll be signed up for the free 60 day VIP trial. For 60 days, you’ll save even more with free shipping, free gifts, price matching, exclusive sales and personal service. 

Want more great tips and DIY ideas for spring? Then follow Soap Deli News across all of your favorite social media platforms! You can find me on PinterestG+TumblrFacebookTwitterBlog Lovin’, and Instagram as well as subscribe to Soap Deli News via email for future updates, DIY projects and recipes.

Creative Instagram Accounts That Will Inspire You

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Need some inspiration to spark your own creative side? This collection of creative instagram accounts reflects the talents of artisans and small businesses that you’re guaranteed to fall in love with!

Creative Instagram Accounts That Will Inspire You! From small artisan businesses to creative artists, the wonderful people behind this collection of ten creative instagram accounts are just a few of the gems you might not have stumbled across otherwise. I hope you enjoy their creative spirit as much as I do. And, that in turn, they are able to inspire your own creativity and style.

There are so many wonderfully creative people in the world. And many times, a large number of them go overlooked. Not because we aren’t looking, of course. More like a sign of the times.

The information overload that comes with our rapidly evolving digital age means that we are able to explore and discover more than ever before. Google maps can give us a street view, for example, of what it’s like to walk down a road in Dublin, Ireland without ever leaving home.

At the same time however, just as it was before the age of the internet, there are wonderfully creative people we simply never get the chance to discover.

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With trends a constant popularity contest to see who can come out on top it’s no surprise. Those who’ve already been discovered rise to the top while many of us feel like we’re still sitting on the sidelines. Hopefully this collection of creative instagram accounts will open up your world a little bit more and give some less known artists the chance to shine.

Creative Instagram Accounts

From small artisan businesses to creative artists, the wonderful people behind this collection of ten creative instagram accounts are just a few of the gems you might not have stumbled across otherwise. I hope you enjoy their creative spirit as much as I do. And, that in turn, they are able to inspire your own creativity and style.

BONUM Atelier Soap

A soap artisan and teacher from South Korea, this account inspires with creative handmade soaps and a behind the scenes look into the world of soapmaking.

L’Apothicaire Plush

Samantha of L’Apothicaire Plush shares unique one of kind and limited edition bath and body products available in her Etsy shop. From bath bombs and shower steamers to soaps and wax melts, all of Samantha’s products are given individual attention – many of which are hand painted to resemble tiny works of art.


Silver Lining Soap

Did you know that black light soaps are actually thing? Silver Lining Soap pushes the limits of creativity on her YouTube channel where she shares her soapmaking process for making blacklight soaps – inspired by 80’s posters, of course! – planetary galaxy soap and even a fresh take on unicorn soaps!


Stonebridge Soap Company

Launching in August 2018, this Canadian soap company reminds us of the beauty that is present in simplicity. Her wonderful collection of handmade soaps reflect simple yet elegant designs that remind us of the beauty that can be found in nature.


Brooklyn Floral Delight

If ever in New York City I would not miss the chance to visit this awe inspiring bakery! In addition to simply stunning floral, succulent and even unicorn cakes, you can also take floral icing classes to learn how to make your beautifully decorated desserts from master artist, Jiahn Kang.

This creative instagram account is a wonderful source for those of you who enjoy decorating artisan soaps with soap “icing.”


AstroBarn Design

Sometimes deciding on packaging and labels for your own handcrafted products is even harder than making them in the first place. This is where AstroBarn comes in.

This creative shop offers a stunning collection of roller bottles like you’ve never seen like pastel colored bottles as well as frosted bottles with gold foil lettering. In addition you’ll also find fun pre-made labels and essential oil journals. Her instagram account is a mix of all of these things with warm photos of her family and her watercolors sprinkled throughout.

A post shared by Lindsey @ EUCCA Floral (@eucca) on

Eucca

From Martha Stewart and David Tutera accredited designers, Eucca shares their love of carefully crafted flowers and succulents on this instagram account that reflect the offerings in their Etsy shop of the same name. So whether you’re looking for inspiration to create a stunning spring terrarium or you’re shopping for on trend succulent creations for your wedding, you won’t be disappointed.

A post shared by Victoria (@shimmerluxe) on


Shimmer & Luxe

If you love sparkles, shimmers, pastels and mermaids, then you must explore the world of Shimmer & Luxe! Another one of my favorite creative instagram accounts, the UK company Shimmer & Luxe sells affordable little luxuries for a blissful bathtime on Etsy where you’ll discover a unique collection of bubble bars, body butters, cream soaps and wax melts.


Sunbasil Soap

After a decade of soapmaking, Sunbasil Soap – who can also be found on Etsy here – continues to bring us bright, cheery and whimsical soaps for every occasion. With new products and photos added with each new holiday and every new season, there’s always something new and fun to discover!

A post shared by Beata (@soapzone) on


soapzone

While there’s not a lot of information attached to this instagram account, the photos speak for themselves. Filled with bold colors and metallic micas, these artisan soaps will encourage you to stretch the boundaries of your own soapmaking talents.

Are You a Maker or Artisan?

Do you make your own homemade bath and beauty products or crafts? I’d love to see them! Simply add the hashtag #soapdelishowoff to your instagram posts!

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Then be sure to also follow Soap Deli News blog across all of your favorite social media platforms! You can find and follow me G+FacebookTwitterBlog Lovin’, and Instagram as well as subscribe to Soap Deli News via email for future updates, DIY projects and recipes.

Odor Neutralizing Spray DIY with Just 2 Ingredients!

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This DIY odor neutralizing spray tackles tough odors your pets – and teenage boys – leave behind. Made using naturally sanitizing & deodorizing witch hazel in combination with an odor neutralizing fragrance oil, this homemade household product effectively conquers even the toughest smells.

Best DIY Odor Neutralizing Spray! This 2-ingredient odor neutralizing spray DIY tackles tough odors your pets - and teenage boys - leave behind. Made using naturally sanitizing & deodorizing witch hazel in combination with an odor neutralizing fragrance oil, this homemade household product effectively conquers even the toughest smells. #cleaning #odorneutralizer #homemaking #homemade #lifestyle #lifehack #living #pets #parenting

As the picture above suggests, I am indeed a dachshund owner. Or rather a dachshund companion. Because anyone who’s ever owned a dachshund knows that these stubborn little darlings always have their so called “owners” wrapped around their chubby little paws.

Now that my own (human) son is in the midst of applying to grad school for a PhD in clinical psychology, my dachshund Jasper is my baby boy. And while he’s actually considered elderly at the ripe “old” age of nine, he is quite stuck with me until his end of days. After all, there’s no going off to college for this darling little creature.

Seeing as how Jasper has no recourse other than to simply put up with me, he manages to let me know when he’s not pleased. Meaning he gets stressed or put out and he lets off a funk. Literally this funk smell comes and goes based on his mood. And then, of course, there’s what my friend Bambi and I refer to as “fish butt.” Yeah. No kidding. So you can imagine the not so fresh smells he can leave behind.

Regular air fresheners of course only mask the odors, leaving them to come back once the air freshener has fully dissipated. So to tackle Jasper’s awnry odor production, I turn to an odor neutralizing spray.

Rather than shell out money for similar commercial products, I decided to make my own DIY odor neutralizing spray. Similar to Febreze, my own concoction neutralizes tough odors and freshens the room with a fragrance. However, because I use witch hazel as a base for my odor neutralizing spray, it also has the added benefit of sanitizing surfaces.

Ready to make your house smell amazing? Following you’ll find the recipe for making an easy 2-ingredient odor neutralizing spray using an odor eliminating fragrance oil. However, if you prefer making natural products instead, I do share a natural essential oil substitute that you can use in place of the fragrance oil.

Best DIY Odor Neutralizing Spray! This 2-ingredient odor neutralizing spray DIY tackles tough odors your pets - and teenage boys - leave behind. Made using naturally sanitizing & deodorizing witch hazel in combination with an odor neutralizing fragrance oil, this homemade household product effectively conquers even the toughest smells. #cleaning #odorneutralizer #homemaking #homemade #lifestyle #lifehack #living #pets #parenting

Odor Neutralizing Spray Recipe

© Rebecca D. Dillon

Ingredients:

16 oz. T. N. Dickinson’s Witch Hazel
1 oz. odor eliminator fragrance oil

Instructions:

Combine the witch hazel and the odor eliminator fragrance oil in a 16 oz. container. (I used my favorite Grove Co. spray bottle.) Then simply shake to mix and spray as desired to tackle tough odors in the air and on linens.

For an all natural odor neutralizing spray, substitute the fragrance oil with .4 oz. Spark Naturals Refresh Cleansing Blend Essential Oil. You can also empty a few capsules of shelf stable probiotics into your odor neutralizing spray for extra odor eliminating power if desired.

DIY Odor Neutralizing Candles! These handmade odor neutralizing candles smell great and really neutralize odors! Plus learn how to make your own super effective DIY odor neutralizing spray that gets rid of even the toughest odors while also sanitizing surfaces and leaving behind a fresh scent!

If you like my odor neutralizing spray DIY, then you may also want to try making my odor neutralizing candles. Made from a combination of soy wax and beeswax, these DIY odor neutralizing candles neutralize odors in the air as they burn. Learn to make them here.

More Homemaking Recipes

You may also be interested in these other recipes for creating your own homemade cleaning products.

Don’t Miss A Single Post!

If you enjoyed this DIY for making your own odor neutralizing spray, then be sure to follow me across all of your favorite social media platforms for more great DIY ideas! You can follow me on PinterestG+TumblrFacebookTwitterBlog Lovin’, and Instagram as well as subscribe to Soap Deli News via email for future updates, DIY projects and recipes.

Frugal Tips for Saving Money

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Feeling the sting from the expiration of that 2% payroll tax credit that expired at the end of the year? It affected everyone who works as it raised social security taxes another 2% on our income – back to what we all paid before the tax credit was passed. I know I could still use that extra money, so I’m always looking for frugal tips for saving money in the everyday little things I buy. (And so I can have a little extra to occasionally splurge on the luxuries I love – like handcrafted artisan goods. *wink*) Following are some ideas on how you can stretch your budget.

Frugal Tips for Saving Money

Frugal tips for saving money - One way to stretch your dollar is to make your own diy household cleaners - Distilled white vinegar is a key staple in my home!

One huge way to save money is to make your own household cleaners.

If you have sensitive skin you can start by making your own handmade soaps. Try using soybean oil in lieu of olive oil for a great bar of soap that’s much cheaper to make. You can also go in with a few friends to buy a 50lb. bag of lye from a local chemical supply company for soapmaking for a lot less than buying individual 2lb. containers of Roebic lye from Lowe’s or buying online and having it shipped.

Use your handmade soaps to make your own laundry detergent. Or, if you don’t have the time or resources to make your own soap, you can use Fels Naptha Heavy Duty Laundry Soap – beware if you have sensitive skin as I’ve heard this has a strong perfume like odor – Zote Laundry Soap, Kirk’s Hardwater Castile Soap or Ivory Soap. (Basically you’ll want to use a true soap, not a body bar that’s made with cheap commercial foaming agents.)

Simply grate your soap, then mix in a blender or food processor until it is rendered into a powder. Then combine two parts Arm & Hammer All Natural Super Washing Soda – or Nellie’s All Natural Laundry Soda– with two parts 20 Mule Team Borax and one part grated soap. Use 1/8 cup to 1/4 cup per load depending on load size. You can also use Borax to clean your toilets and baking soda to clean your sinks and tub. Add orange, lemon, or lime essential oils to your concoctions for any application in which you need to cut grease.

Buy distilled white vinegar by the gallon at the grocery store for a fraction of the price of smaller containers and use it in most all of your household cleaners. Not only is great straight out of the bottle for cleaning windows and mirrors, but it’s also super effective at preventing mold and mildew in the shower. You can also use it in lieu of fabric softener. Just add 3/4 cup of vinegar to your final rinse cycle.

Handmade Wool Dryer Balls - Great Way to Save Money - Never Buy Fabric Softener or Dryer Sheets Again
Handmade Wool Dryer Balls from Devon’s Creative Design

Alternately, you can use Nellie’s Dryer Balls which are re-usable and act as a lint and wrinkle remover, soften clothes, and help your clothes dry faster. (I used these for a long time with great success. Though they now offer a newer version that is PVC free and has a place for inserting scent sticks if you’re a fan of fragrances.)

You can also make your own homemade wool dryer balls or buy them from any number of sellers on Etsy, including Devon’s Creative Design. These dryer balls help to soften clothes and reduce static cling and drying time. (It’s the same principle as Nellie’s dryer balls but these are made from a natural material rather than plastic.) You can scent them by adding a few drops of essential oil to them before tossing them into the dryer. They are also great if you or your family have sensitive skin.

Here are a few recipes for crafting your own DIY cleaners:

More Tips for Saving Money

Additionally, you can also craft and use reusable Swiffer covers that get tossed in your laundry instead of buying more which is healthier both on your pocketbook and the environment. Switch to cloth napkins versus buying paper towels – I never buy paper towels anymore because they are so expensive. Instead I own quite a few handmade napkins I have purchased from various Etsy sellers over the years. (I just love her fabric choices and color combos!) You may also try hanging more of your clothing out to dry, such as on a drying rack – or drying part of the way in the dryer, then hanging to dry the rest of the way. You can also use the energy saver option on your dryer if hanging clothes to dry is just not an option.

Other ways to save money including changing your habits.

There are so many pre-paid phone options now available that almost doesn’t make sense to pay for a cell phone contract. Plus you can keep your smart phone – even your iPhone – and use a pre-paid plan. I personally use Virgin Mobile with an HTC smart phone and pay just $35 a month for my phone. $35 a month gets you 300 minutes a month with unlimited texting and internet. (I don’t really make a lot of phone calls except for doctor appointments.) $45 a month gets you 1200 minutes with unlimited texts and internet and $55 a month is unlimited everything! You might also consider getting rid of your home phone and switching to a mobile only.

Stop paying for cable or satellite tv. These luxuries are insanely expensive if you can’t afford the luxury. Most of the people I know who have cable or satellite tv pay over $100 a month for it. You can use a digital antenna instead and get all of your local stations. I pay $8 a month for Hulu Plus – which also takes place of a digital recorder – to watch all of my favorite shows. In the summer I put my subscription on hold while it’s only re-runs showing. I also pay $8 for Netflix streaming for movies and other shows. My dvd player also lets me stream shows from these services on my tv – although I am currently without one at the moment. And if there’s a movie I really want to see I wait and rent it from Redbox. Redbox often sends out coupons for fifty cents off so I can usually get a movie for eighty cents. All in all, Netflix, Hulu Plus and a Redbox or two a month is still less than paying for basic cable. And if none of these are options, most networks offer free streaming of various shows online.

Of course, the less options you have for watching television, the more likely you are to get up and do something which can be a very good thing. Or try reading a book instead. Amazon offers a free free kindle reading app for your Android phone or tablet, iPad, iPhone, Mac, Windows 8 PC or tablet, Blackberry or Windows phone. With this app you can download hundreds of free books from Amazon’s Bestseller list without having to make any additional purchases!

When grocery shopping, plan your meals ahead of time. There are so many great recipes online now as well as sites that will spit out a grocery list for you, that you don’t need to wing it in the grocery store. Planning out meals saves a lot of money in long run as it’s much cheaper to buy this way rather than buying pre-packaged or ready made meals. It also makes sense to stock up on staple foods with a longer shelf life by buying them in bulk when you see them on sale. You can also use coupons, though this is the one thing I have never been able to really grasp as it’s a little too time consuming for me. Also, don’t go grocery shopping when you’re hungry. This is one of my worst downfalls.

You can also save money on clothing necessities by bargain hunting. I have heard time again that shopping at thrift stores and the Goodwill are great ways to get clothing cheap. Personally, I have a hard time shopping at these places and finding things both in my size and that fit properly so I don’t frequent them. Having worked in retail for many many years, I have found that it is possible to buy clothing new at a comparable price as buying something used. And you can find name brands for not a whole lot more. Hit stores at the end of a season and buy for the following year. Generally these are the times to find the best sales. Last year I found three pairs of pants for work at Sears for just eleven dollars and change with tax. One January, I was able to buy a dress after Christmas from Ann Taylor Loft for just $12 – it retailed at over $100. And don’t forget to shop online. Don’t impulse buy and wait for sales. I have been able to find clothing at Abercrombie & Fitch for example for just $12 per article – shorts, shirts and jeans that ran $60-$90 full price. If you have a brand you really love, sign up for their emails. They send out multiple coupon codes every month so you never have to pay full price.

Stop buying things on credit – especially if it’s not something you don’t have to have. Buy what you need, not what you want if your budget is especially tight or if it means you’ll have to charge something on credit. Instead, save for those things you really want. Look at how much money you can afford to put into a savings account if you are budgeting. Allow yourself a little for entertainment luxuries so it doesn’t feel like punishment putting money into savings. Whether you can only put away $5 in savings a week or $50 or more, the point is to save. Once you have the money to buy that item you wanted, you may realized you don’t want it so much anymore or a better option may have come along. And sometimes a newer version of whatever it is you wanted may come out by the time you have money saved, and you’ll find you can get last year’s model for a hundred to several hundred cheaper than the version that was just released. Even better, if you no longer want what you were saving for, you’ll have some money put away for emergencies like tires or car brakes.

But more importantly, as my ever so brilliant son likes to point out, you should always be grateful for what you do have because there is always someone who is worse off and less fortunate with less than what you have now. Putting perspective on what you do have and not the things you want to own can go a long way in helping you to budget better and curb your spending habits. And when you do have some extra flexibility with your budget, be sure to put some of the money you spend back into your community by supporting local farmer’s markets and craft artisans!

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Save Money on Natural Household Cleaners

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