Springtime FAMILY Photographs the “Frugal” Way – A How To

Filed under :MISC

Spring is the perfect time to plan taking family photographs.  The weather is warmer (but not too hot) and everything is beautiful, green and blooming!  But you don’t have to spend a small fortune on a professional photographer when you can “do it yourself”!

First things first – outfits for your family…. you want to make sure that your families’ clothing doesn’t “blend in” with the landscape.  This is a great time to chose more solid color clothing that is simple and basic.  As an example, you would want to wear a big, bright floral shirt while you take your photos with a backdrop of big pink azaleas.  So think of the photo, the subjects, the surroundings, and the background.   The object of the photograph is your family – so highlight the people, not the place.  Another tip for clothing – make sure that everyone’s clothing will go well together and will not clash.

Chose a place that is natural with lots of greens (grass), browns (trees) and is colorful (flowers).  It is spring :-)

Think about the poses.  Not all photographs need to be of your family standing side by side.  Think about mixing things up a bit!  Take photos of family members sitting on the ground or a bench or leaning up against a tree.  Use the available landscape in your photographs.   Get a few “head shots” with someone standing behind a grouping of flowers or peeking out from behind a tree.

Take several photos of each pose.  Just ‘click, click, click’ – and you’ll have a better chance of getting everyone with their eyes open and smiling.
Take candid shots when the family isn’t looking or they think you aren’t taking photos.  You’ll find that they are some of the best!  Catching your family members in a more natural state, not posed, can actually highlight them better than a more formal “stand straight and tall” photograph.

Action shots can really highlight each family members’ character and personality!  And some of the photos are just amazing.  So don’t be afraid to step up and snap some photos of your family just having fun!

Not all photos are of peoples’ faces – be creative with your environment and snap some photos of family members walking away, holding hands, or looking at something.  These photos can be iconic!

Bring a tripod so that you can be in the photos too!
Get photos of just two or three family members together.

And the last tip is for you to just relax – enjoy this time with your family and make this a fun and event every year that everyone will look forward to.

Saving $$$ on Bottled Water for Your Family

Filed under :MISC
In an effort to improve our family’s health, we’ve started drinking bottled water in place of soft drinks, juices full of sugar or other “canned” or pre-packaged beverages.  But, what we’ve found is that sometimes bottled water is more expensive than soda!
First, let’s look at the WHYs of canned soda and pre-packaged beverages – including water.

Convenience — I would say that this is the reason that we purchase items like sodas.  It is just too darn easy to grab a “Coke” from a dispensing machine or when we go thru a drive-thru or fast food.   It’s quick, easy, cold and refreshing without much hassle.  There are “bottles” and “cans”… sometimes there are pouches (like Capri Suns).Bottled water, Coke, Sprite, Diet Code

1 to 2 Serving Size — Usually there are 1 to 2 servings per can or bottle.  So, it’s the perfect size or amount.  You usually have enough time to finish drinking the beverage while it is still cold.

Reseal-able –  If you purchase the “bottled” beverage, you can drink from it and then put the top back on to prevent spilling.

Now, I’ve just listed all of the reasons that these bottled and canned beverages are so convenient and attractive for busy people to purchase and consume.  But let’s take a closer look at the price and the labels:

Canned 12 oz Coke LabelThis is a 12 oz can of “Coke”.  There are 140 calories per serving and the serving size of this can is “1″.  But let’s also look at the Sodium content — 45 mg and the Sugars — 39 grams!  This is not healthy – there is basically no nutritional value at all and the drink is loaded with sodium and sugar.   Think about drinking several Cokes a day and how after a period of time it will impact your health.

The cost – a canned “Coke” out of a vending machine is usually around $1 each.   The price for a 24 pack at Walmart is $6.98 (or about 29 cents each).

Let’s compare that to bottled water – cost from a vending machine is usually around $1 each.  The price for a 24 pack of Nestle PureLife at Walmart is $13.47 or about $0.56 per bottle per 16.8 oz bottle.NestlePureLifeWater

So what can we do as a family to be more frugal with our money and healthy?  Let’s look at a possible solution that will still give us the convenience that we want, the water that we need to drink, and save us money at the same time.

First, for frugal minded individuals, the tap is the cheapest source of water.  So let’s look at a filter that works right at the source.  It’s the Brita On Tap Water Filter.

With this filter, you have a choice of filtering the water or not filtering the water — it’s just a quick twist of a lever on the unit.  The cost (as of this writing) is $21.49 at Walmart or on Amazon (available on Prime).  The unit also includes a filter that is good for 100 gallons of filtered water.  That’s only $0.21 per gallon.   The filter is replaceable at a cost of $12.77 (about $0.13 per gallon).

So in just buying the On Tap unit with the filter, here’s a cost comparison:

On Tap – 16.9 oz of filtered water = $0.028 VERSUS $0.56 for 16.9 oz bottle of Nestle Pure Life at Walmart

In our home, we use the Brita On Tap filter to fill our Rubbermaid 1 gallon pitcher.  We place this pitcher in our refrigerator where it is convenient for our family to use.  It keeps the water cold and ready to drink.

For convenience, as well as durability and keeping our water cold when we take it with us, we use the Yeti 30 oz tumblers.  These tumblers are like taking our cold water with us in an ice chest.  And they last forever.


STEP #2 — Planning Your Family’s Meals

Filed under :#2 - MEAL PLANNING

Mealing planning is so important – every family has to eat.  If meals are not eaten at home, then you have to go out to a restaurant.   And eating out is one of the largest wastes of a family’s money.   It is one of the most UNfrugal things you can do.   Planning and preparing your meals at  home is a way that not only will save your family a lot of money, but your family can eat much more healthy meals.

I have written about STEP #2 on my How To Be Frugal With Food blog.  It’s a great post with tons of information and steps to get you started with meal planning.  So take a visit!


Filed under :#1 - SLEEP, STEPS

The first change that you need to make in your life (and everyone in your household) is SLEEP and REST.   It seems like we are sleeping less time because we have so much to do.  Well, the number one rule is that without proper rest, you are never going to be able to give any task 100%.  That means that anything you have to do is going to take you longer to accomplish.  So STEP #1 is SLEEP and REST.  Plan for you and your household to be home in time to unwind, take baths, etc and get into bed at 9 PM or 10 PM.  You’ll hear that the necessary amount of sleep that your body needs is 8 hours per night.  So, let’s start with that….   For example, if you need to wake up in the morning at 5 AM, make sure that you are in bed by 8:30 PM (you’ll need at least 30 minutes to fall asleep if you are not used to going to bed this early).

If you have children, make sure that their time to go to bed is at least 30 minutes before the adults in the house go to bed.  Not only do they have additional sleep requirements, it will make your life easier and less stressful if you can make sure that they are in their bed and asleep before you go to bed.  The last thing you need is to be awakened by the sound of a cabinet closing just as you’ve drifted off to sleep – to find that one of your children is up getting a glass of water.  AND, a child without enough sleep is grumpy and hard to wake up in the morning!   Children who do not get enough sleep perform below their classmates at school too.  So, if you want your child to be the best they can be, make sure that they get the amount of sleep they need every night.

You need to have UNINTERRUPTED sleep to effectively rest.

If you have to wake up at 2 AM to let the dog out or at 4 AM to go to the bathroom, your body is not getting the required rest that it needs.  In this way,  you need to plan and prepare before hand.  What is going to be required to make sure that the dog does NOT need to go out to pee at 2 AM?  Maybe it is something as simple as removing his water bowl at 7 PM and taking him out for the final time that night at 8:15 PM.    Are there always going to be circumstances that come up?  Sure there is.  But, what I am talking about is YOU taking control and doing what you can to make sure that those “circumstances” do not take over your life.   Of course everyone is going to experience something like a wrong phone number at 1:30 AM, a child with a bad dream waking up at 3 AM, or a host of other “unplanned” and “unavoidable” circumstances.  Those things are going to happen – it’s life.   But for the majority part of the time, you should be in control and you should plan and schedule your family’s sleep time.

What can you expect when your body is getting the amount of sleep it needs on a daily basis?  After just a night or  two, you’ll notice that you are not as tired in the middle of the day or late afternoon.  You’ll have more energy and stamina.  Focusing will not be such a problem.   Sleep deprivation leads to anxiety and depression.    My mother always warned me about “burning the candle at both ends.”   Well, she was right!   Foregoing sleep will not get  you ahead – it will just bury you in stress and anxiety.  You’ll accomplish less and feel even worse.

Your first STEP is to determine your family’s sleep schedule based on

  • work schedule
  • time you need to wake up in the morning

Now, you need to determine any factors that take away your ability to get a full-night of uninterrupted sleep — research what you can do to help improve or eliminate the problems.   Work those solutions into  your plan.

Please email me with your “circumstances” – what keeps you from getting uninterrupted sleep at night?    My email is information (at) simplefrugallife (dot) com.

First ‘STEPS’….

Filed under :STEPS

How do you even begin to be frugal with your family?   It begins with planning and organization.  If you can get your family’s mindset modified and your day-to-day scheduling PLANNED and ORGANIZED, you’ll find that it will make your family’s life less stressful.  General “living” on a day-to-day basis will become easier and, you and your family will be able to lead a much happier, frugal lifestyle!

What I have found within families is that without planning and organization, there is no “defined” schedule, set goals or expectations.   Most everything that happens is in a “re-active” mode instead of a “pro-active” mode.  You always feel as though you are putting out fires.  How does this have anything to do with your family being frugal, you might ask?  Well, let me give you some examples (first hand accounts, I might add!):

Problem — Dinner has not been “planned” :  Reaction — Go out to eat : DISCUSSION – Because your family does not take a few minutes to plan your meal for this particular day, now, instead of preparing your meal at home with store bought ingredients, your family has to go out to eat which is going to cost as much as five to ten times the cost of preparing the meal at home.  I might add, it’s even more dis-heartening when  you think that you probably already have all of the ingredients for the meal purchased and sitting in your pantry and freezer at home!

Problem — Your vehicle has left you stranded on the side of the road : Reaction — call the tow truck, the mechanic and the rental car company : DISCUSSION – You’ve been putting off having maintenance on your vehicle for quite some time now…. you knew this was going to happen….. but now, instead of being pro-active and having the vehicle fixed before hand, you are being re-active and it’s going to cost you even MORE!   Tow trucks are not cheap – neither are rental cars – and now, you could have made matters worse with your vehicle and damaged something else.   Wow, just to think, if I would have taken care of this problem last week when I wasn’t on the way to a job interview, a family birthday gathering, or the birth of my baby niece (as examples) and, this could have cost me $500 to $1000 less!

It’s better to be prepared and to have planned — it will just about always cost you less money and definitely less stress and heartache.  But you’re probably thinking, “my family’s life is so out-of-hand – how do I even begin to pull things together?”  The “family lifestyle” here in the U.S. has drastically changed in the last 50 years.   Moms didn’t work full-time jobs back then to the extent that they do today.  Dads didn’t have to put in 60 to 80 hours per week in their jobs either.  AND, there weren’t nearly as many single-parent families either!  In today’s world, the economy is bad, unemployment is through the roof and prices for everyday items just keep going up and up!  It seems that no one has the time to do what they need to do – how many times have you heard someone say, “if I just could add another 8 hours to my day maybe I could get everything completed that I need to do”….   It seems like we are always just putting out fires!  And let me address the STRESS issue – stress can kill you.  PERIOD…. Not only does stress lead to problems like anxiety and depression, but it can lead to ulcers and a host of other medical problems.  Bottom line – stress can kill you.  And I know that a few of you reading this post right now, completely understand exactly what I’m talking about because you are at the end of your rope as well.

I do have some good news for you – your first STEPS to accomplish a change in your life is easy… We’re not talking rocket science here either.  You’d be surprised how just a few changes in how you do things can make your life and your family’s day-to-day schedule and activities less stressful.  And, everyone will be happier.  It begins with planning and organization.  It begins with being frugal – not only with your money, but with your time.  Let’s face it, most people are not just limited with the number of dollars they have to spend, but also with the number of hours they have available in the day to accomplish everything they need to do.  FRUGAL = HAPPY….    LESS STRESS = HEALTHY….

I’d love to hear from you – what are some of the problems that you are facing as a family — what are you having to be RE-ACTIVE to instead of PRO-ACTIVE?   Your problems and examples can help me to better address your situations.  Email me at information (at) simplefrugallife (dot) com.

What? Christmas?? But It’s Only August 1??

Filed under :Christmas


Yes, it is only August 1st but to be your best FRUGALLY, you need to start planning like LAST MONTH….