Personal Finance 
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Organic Beauty & Cosmetics – Where Do I Begin?

Elena wearing All-Organic CosmeticsIs it easy being green?

The question that comes up most frequently from women who want to make healthier and eco-friendly choices in the makeup aisle is: “Where in the world do I begin?” It’s easy to simply hunt for the perfect new shade of lipstick. But when you stop and think about what is actually in that lipstick, it can be very scary indeed. We all know by now that anything we put on to our skin will ultimately, in some amount, end up in our blood stream affecting our health. If you don’t think this happens, just ask any doctor you know about medicated creams that are all the rage in everything from hormone creams to topical headache roll-ons.

Making the shift to reading each label and having ingredient awareness is like going to the gym for the first time after a long break. The hardest part is that first step in getting yourself up and going. Once you’re there and getting your body moving, you are ecstatic that you jumped over that first hurdle. That’s because you know it’s good for you! The same scenario rings true for making the leap to reading every label and gaining awareness for the extensive list of ingredients in the beauty and skincare products you buy.

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 Cars 
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Cash For Clunkers Program

Beater Used CarUpdate: The bill has passed both chambers of Congress, getting through the Senate on Thursday, and President Obama is expected to sign it into law soon.

The Cash for Clunkers program would provide a voucher worth $3,500 to $4,500 to consumers trading their vehicles in. The vehicles have to be in running condition and get less than 18 miles a gallon in fuel efficiency. The value of the voucher is determined by this schedule:
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 The Home 
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Poor Man’s Guide to Rain Barrels

Rain BarrelsFor those who have been following our exploits in gardening, you may recall that we put our plants in pots and leave them on our deck. This ensures they get the maximum amount of sun. There is a downside to our strategy, the spigot for the hose that sits on our deck is on the ground floor. To water our plants, we have to go down downstairs, turn on the spigot, walk up stairs, water the plants, then go back downstairs to turn off the spigot. Unfortunately we can’t get downstairs directly from the deck, we have to go back into the house, and through the carpeted basement.

At first, this sounds like not a big deal right? How lazy could I be?

It’s not that big of a deal but that, coupled with my growing appreciation for being as ecofriendly as possible, has turned me onto the idea of rain barrels. Why pay for water when I could be catching what falls for free from the sky? So, I started researching rain barrels and the first thing I learned was that they are expensive!

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 Frugal Living 
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5 Easy Ways to Save Money Going Green

Going green can seem like a mammoth chore when the reality of life includes an already eventful schedule. For many of us, making huge changes to turn EVERYTHING green can seem overwhelming and quite frankly impractical. The best way to advance towards living a lifestyle that is a brighter shade of green is by taking baby steps. Each day, or each week, (or even each month) you can choose something that is important to you and simply give it a try. No pressure, no expectations…just give it a whirl and see what happens. You might find that you’ve had fun, saved a bit of dough and possibly inspired others around you to join in and bite off a bit of green as well.

Here are a few ideas to get you rolling on your ride to a life that features a slightly lighter footprint and adds the benefit of a slightly fatter wallet. So, choose one or two, or all and let me know what you think.

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 Personal Finance 
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5 Reasons You Should Go Paperless

Stack of PaperworkDespite what you feel about recycling or renewable fuels, there’s one thing that every person should be able to agree on – the fewer resources you consume, the better. It’s better on the world, it’s better on your wallet, and it’s better for your children. You might not believe recycling helps, but no one can dispute the fact that not using something is the best way to help sustain our world.

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 The Home 
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Investigate Larger than Average Bills

JD shared a story last week about how their winter heating bill increased 50% compared to last year. Unfortunately for him, the increase wasn’t large enough to raise any red flags. He only did a post-mortem calculation but in looking back he saw energy use had increased 30% and the cost has only increased 50%.

He says it was a “lot more energy” but if it were me, I wouldn’t have noticed even if I was checking my bills as it was happening. I would’ve attributed the increase in energy costs to fuel being more expensive and it being a colder winter. I know I wouldn’t have noticed. That being said, higher than average bills are usually a sign that something is wrong.

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 Frugal Living 
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The Fine Art of Line Drying Laundry

When it comes to energy hogs, did you know that your electric dryer, when on, consumes the most electricity compared to every other appliance in your home? It’s true, it easily beats your refrigerator and your water heater (those in total energy consumption, those appliances use more because they are always on). So, if you’ve ever considered line drying your clothes to cut down on your electricity usage, you picked the right appliance to target. Not only will it save you big bucks on your electricity bill, line drying your laundry will make your clothing last longer, saving you money on clothing expenses too.

Many people don’t like to line dry their laundry though. They cite too much work, too many wrinkles, and “still” clothing as some of the top reasons for not line drying laundry. Fortunately there are some techniques to make line drying clothing a little easier and more practical, so you can keep money in your pocket.

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 Frugal Living 
125
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Why Homemade Laundry Detergent Rocks!

Laundry LineFrugal Dad recently wrote a post about why he doesn’t make his own laundry detergent. He wrote that there are some things he refuses to give up, and store bought laundry detergent is one of those things. To his credit, he correctly stated that frugality is an individual thing, tailored to each person’s priorities in life.

I, on the other hand, proudly make my own laundry detergent (here’s my homemade laundry detergent recipe).  While saving money on homemade laundry detergent is nice, it’s not the only reason I take the time to make it.

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