7 Easy Ways to Reduce Household Costs

Do your bills make you cringe? I know mind do. To me it seems like for every penny I earn there are at least two service providers or bill collectors ready to take it. Yet as I learn to be more financially aware, I’ve come to find that there are a LOT of things my family and I could be doing differently to cut back. With a few lifestyle changes and creative thinking, we could actually have money left over each month to do something we enjoy.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

So here’s what we did:

1.Write Down Expenses

Accounting for every penny that comes into your home is ideal for cutting costs. When you see where your money is going you have a better idea of what you need to cut back on. For example, we found that we were spending a great deal on ATM fees. While one transaction may only be $2, if you withdraw from the ATM 10 times per month, that’s $20 plus whatever your actual bank charges you.

2.Shop for Better Insurance Rates

When it comes to costs like auto insurance, you should continually be on the lookout for a better deal. As car insurance providers look to find new business, they offer incentives that might include lower prices, additional services, and so on. Not to mention the fact that an improved credit score can get you a better quote. It’s a good idea to compare insurance rates at least once per year to get savings. This can apply to things like home and/or renters insurance as well.

3.Ditch the Coffee

Okay, so I love my caffeine fix just as much as the next goddess, but when I realized how much my habit was costing me, I had to reconsider. In fact, according to ABC News, the average American spends about $1,100 per year on coffee alone! I could think of a ton of things I could do with that instead. If you need your caffeine fix, invest in a good coffee pot and brew it at home or take advantage of the free stuff from the office.

4.Cut the Cable

On average, we were spending about $200 per month on cable, Internet and telephone services. However, with modern technology, you can watch your favorite movies and shows without a cable subscription. A more affordable alternative might be to pay for Internet service while utilizing a streaming service like Netflix or Hulu. These subscriptions are under $20 a month.

5.Compare Electricity Rates

This one was new to me as I always though you were stuck with the same energy provider, however, new laws provide a bit more flexibility. Deregulation in the U.S. allows residents to choose an energy supplier. Because energy companies now have to compete for your business, the rates are going to be a lot more affordable.

6.Buy Generic

Don’t be afraid of generic brand food items as they can save you a lot of money. Most people assume, you get what you pay for, but store or generic brand products can actually be very good. Since they don’t advertise through commercials and other costly avenues, they can afford to offer you products for less. Of course there’s nothing wrong with having a few brands that you’re loyal to, but if it’s not on sale or you don’t have a coupon, generic versions are usually just as great.

7.Ask

This last one really shocked me, but did you know that many companies have deals to offer and all you have to do to get it is ask. Contact your utility, cell phone, credit card, or car insurance companies and ask them about deals and discounts they have for existing customers. Since they want to keep your business, they’re going to do what they can to get those prices down for you. Whether it’s a one-time deal or an ongoing thing, a penny saved is a penny earned.

If you feel like all you do is work to pay bills, it may be time to give your household budget a once over. When you actually record your spending habits, you get a real understanding of what expenses are draining the most income. From there, it is a matter of coming up with a plan of action to eliminate or reduce the costs. Hopefully, I’ve given you a few ideas to get started.

*This is a partnered post

Temporal Thermometers from Exergen

Temporal thermometers are relatively new for me. When I was pregnant with my son, I was given a digital thermometer. It came with directions on how to use it. You could either stick it under their tongue (not doable with an infant), under their arm or in their bottom. I remember praying like crazy that I never had to take his temperature using that last method. Thankfully my son was always very healthy so I never had to use the thermometer with him. As we had our second child and they got older, we picked up an ear thermometer and one that you place on your temple and hold it there until it beeps. Neither of those were ever very accurate. What I always wanted was the Exergen Temporal Artery Thermometer model tat 2000c. That was the one that the nurses used at urgent care.

*I received the following product for the purpose of this review. All opinions are 100% my own*

temperal thermometer

About Exergen Temporal Thermometers

Any and every parent knows that when their child is sick, the first thing that happens…take their temperature. However, sometimes being sick makes kids really sleepy so the last thing you want to do is wake them up. That’s where the Exergen Temporal Thermometers come in handy! These non-invasive thermometerstemporal thermometers simply slide across the child’s forehead over the temporal artery to the side of their head (hairline) and you will get your child’s current body temperature. Interestingly enough, and I did not know this until just now, the best place to measure your child’s body temperature is in the center of their heart. Obviously we can’t do that at home, so the next best thing is to measure temperature over that temporal artery since the temporal artery is connected to the heart via the carotid artery.

Exergen Temporal Thermometer Accuracy

I tried out the thermometer a few moments ago and I found it to be a pretty darn accurate temporal thermometer!

temperal thermometer exergen

How did I know? Well, every time I go to the doctor and they take my temperature, my normal body temp when I am not sick is 98.2 or 98.3. As you can see in the image above, my temperature today was 98.3! I honestly don’t know how I lived all these years without this thermometer. This is the best temporal artery thermometer I’ve ever used! I’m thinking about picking up another one so I can have two temporal thermometers in the house…one upstairs and one downstairs. Last thing I want to do when my kids are sick is run up and down the stairs to get the one thermometer!

Cocktails for Your Oscar Party

Everyone loves good cocktails! With the Oscars quickly approaching, some people are thinking about hosting an Oscars party. In order to have a successful party, you need to have good food and drinks. If I were throwing an Oscars party, I would have lots of finger foods like my delicious party meatballs recipe, but the thing I would want to knock out of the park and have people really excited about are a few signature cocktails!

cocktails oscar party

Best Cocktails for Your Oscars Party

Celebrity Colada

celebrity colada cocktails

Ingredients

  • 1/2 Crushed Pineapple
  • 1 cup Crushed Ice
  • 1 cup Vodka
  • 2 cups Cold Coco Joy Water
  • 2 Limes

Directions

  1. Combine the pineapple, crushed ice, vodka and Coco Joy Water in a blender and pulse until smooth.
  2. Garnish with limes.

I personally love vodka cocktails so I would definitely make (and drink!!) this Celebrity Colada!

Best Dressed Blueberry

Blueberry Pom cocktails

Ingredients

  • 4 oz. Blueberry Pomegranate SPARKLING ICE
  • 2 oz. Pomegranate Juice
  • Blueberries
  • Pomegranate Seeds
  • Splash of vodka or prosecco

Directions

  1. Fill a glass with Blueberry Pomegranate SPARKLING ICE.
  2. Add Pomegranate juice.
  3. Add your splash of vodka or prosecco (or more than a splash…)!
  4. Top with 5-6 blueberries and a small handful of pomegranate seeds.
  5. Stir to combine.

Mmm! This sounds like something I would like, for sure! If you haven’t had SPARKLING ICE before, you’ll definitely want to pick some up! They make GREAT mixers!

Red Carpet Ready

cranberry-apple cider punch cocktails

Ingredients

  • 4 cups Apple Cider, chilled
  • 2 cups Cranberry Juice Cocktail, chilled
  • 2 cups SPARKLING ICE Crisp Apple, chilled
  • 1 can (12 oz.) Frozen Orange Juice Concentrate
  • Splash of Vodka or Prosecco
  • Apple slices for garnish
  • Rosemary Cranberry sprig for garnish

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, mix all of the ingredients and allow it to sit overnight.
  2. Serve chilled.

Black Cherry Bombshell

black cherry cocktails

Ingredients

  • Frozen Black Cherries
  • 1 1/2 oz. Kentucky Bourbon
  • 1 oz. Black Raspberry Sparkling ICE

Directions

  1. Crush cherries into the bottom of the glass.
  2. Pour bourbon and Sparkling ICE over crushed cherries and ice.
  3. Add more cherries for garnish.

So…what do you think? Are these the best cocktail drinks or what? The only thing that would make these better is if they were frozen cocktails!!

What is your favorite Oscar nominated movie this year?

2016 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Limited

Do you remember your first car? Mine was a used turquoise 1995 Chevy Cavalier. It was a good car. In fact, just before we got married, my husband got one of those new VW Bugs and we traded cars and he drove the Cavalier until he got a work vehicle a couple years later. Over the last few years, I started doing car reviews. I love trying out new cars that I wouldn’t otherwise get a chance to drive like the Kia Sedona I drove a month ago. This past week I had the pleasure of driving the 2016 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Limited. I didn’t have much experience driving a hybrid, so I was really interested to see how they drove and what the gas mileage is like.

Hyundai Sonata hybrid

 About the 2016 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Limited

Upon first glance, I really liked the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid. It is a good size car with loads of leg room and a VERY LARGE trunk! While the trunk size is huge, I do recommend, if you drive this car or any car really, is to get a trunk organizer. It will prevent things from going all the way to the back of the trunk AND it has a lifetime warranty!! My husband is 6’2″ and he had the passenger seat all the way back and my son still had plenty of room behind him! My other favorite feature, one that I think EVERY car should have (especially if you live in a cold state like Michigan) is the heated steering wheel! I love turning that on and warming my hands as I drive!

Hyundai sonata hybrid limited

Other great features about the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Limited that the car had are…

Standard Features

  • Vehicle Stability Management (VSM) with Traction Control
  • ABS w/Electronic Brake Force Distribution and Brake Assist
  • 4-Wheel Disc Brakes with Integrated Regenerative Braking
  • Front, Front Side-Impact, Side Curtain and Driver Knee Airbags
  • Blind Spot Detection System with Rear Cross-Traffic Alert
  • Rearview Camera
  • Tire Pressure Monitor with Individual Tire Pressure Indicator
  • 2.0L Gasoline Direct Injection 4-Cylinder Hybrid Engine
  • Combined Hybrid System Power
  • Permanent Magnet Synchronous Motor
  • 270V Lithium Polymer Battery and Hybrid Starter Generator
  • 6-Speed Automatic Transmission with Shiftronic®
  • 17-inch Eco-Spoke Alloy Wheels and P215/55R17 Tires
  • HID Headlights and LED Daytime Running Lights
  • Rear Lip Spoiler and LED Taillights
  • Proximity Key Entry with Push Button Start
  • Color LCD Trip Computer with Hybrid Technology Display
  • Leather Seating Surfaces with Power Front Seats
  • Heated and Ventilated Front seats and Heated Rear Seats
  • Integrated Memory System for Driver Seat and Side Mirrors
  • Leather Wrapped Stearing Wheel
  • Dual Automatic Temperature control and Floor Console-Mounted Rear Vents
  • Auto-Dimming Rearview Mirror with Compass and Homelink®
  • 60/40 Split Folding Rear Seat and Rear Side Window Shades
  • Premium door Sill Plates
  • 5 Inch Color Touchscreen Audio display
  • SiriusXM® with 90 day Trial
  • Bluetooth® Hands Free Phone System
  • Hyundai Blue Link® Telematics System
  • Blue Link Connected Care Complimentary Trial
  • Emergency Tire Puncture Repair Kit in lieu of Spare Tire
  • Full Tank of Gas

The added features that the particular Hyundai Sonata that I drove had are:

  • Panoramic Sunroof with Tilt and Slide
  • High-gloss Window Surround
  • Lane Departure Warning
  • Forward Collision Warning
  • Automatic High Beam Assist
  • Rear Parking Assistant System
  • Smart Cruise Control with Stop/Start Capability
  • Electronic Parking Brake with Automatic Vehicle Hold
  • Navigation System with 8-inch Touchscreen Display
  • Infinity® Speakers with Subwoofer and Amplifier
  • HD Radio® Technology with Multicasting
  • SiriusXM® Travel Link®
  • LED Interior Lights

With the added features, the Hyundai Sonata I drove retailed for a little over $35,000. Not a bad price at all! The car drove nice, the gas mileage was AMAZING. I drove the car for a solid week and it was at about 3/4 of a tank FULL when it was picked up! One other feature I really liked, besides the heated steering wheel are the LED interior lights. The way that car lit up when you opened a door was really great! You could see in every nook and cranny! I will say, every time I turned the car off, I got this sudden urge to watch the Today Show.

All in all, I really liked this car. There are a couple things I would need to get used to, but that’s like that with any car you drive!

Buy the trunk organizer HERE

Mango Guacamole Recipe

The Super Bowl is this weekend. My son has talked non-stop about staying up and watching the whole game. We even called a guy my husband works with who lives in North (or South…now I’m drawing a blank) Carolina to see if he could pick up a Cam Newton t-shirt for our son. Every store that had Super Bowl shirts for sale only seemed to have men’s medium and up in size. Whether you are rooting for the Carolina Panthers or Denver Broncos…or just watching the game for the half-time show and commercials, you want to make sure your food is Big Game ready! This Mango Guacamole, courtesy of IMUSA definitely fits that description!

Mango Guacamole

Ingredients

  • 3 ripened Avocados, diced
  • 1 ripened Mango, diced
  • 1/4 cup Lime Juice
  • 1/2 cup Cilantro
  • 1/2 cup White Onion
  • 3 tsp Salt

Directions

  1. In your IMUSA Molcajete, add half of the diced mangos and mash with the pestle into a pulp.
  2. Then add one avocado and mash into a pulp with the mango.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix the remaining ingredients, including the mango, and add more lime juice if needed.
  4. Fold mixture with pulp inside the Molcajete and serve with tortilla chips.

mango guacamole

Sounds great, doesn’t it?!? If you are looking for some other great Super Bowl party worthy appetizers, check out this post HERE! I’ve compiled a list of some really delicious looking recipes, perfect for any Super Bowl party! Please let me know if you try any of them!! If you are looking to take a soup with you, this Chorizo Chicken soup is better than good! I made it last week and I will be making it again this week. That’s how much we loved it! You will definitely wow your guests by serving it. Goes well with chips and guac!

So…tell me…who are you rooting for this weekend? The Panthers or the Broncos??