All Entries For saving money

13+ Budget-Friendly Ways to Work Out at Home

I remember the days when I had time to drive to the gym for a workout multiple times a week.  Now as a busy mother of four, those days long gone! However, that doesn't mean my fitness level has to suffer.  I'm still able to squeeze in a good workout in the morning before the rest of my family wakes up.  By investing in a few key pieces of equipment, I've been able to create quality, low-cost workouts without ever leaving the house—and you can, too! 
Posted 3/7/2014  12:00:00 PM By: Jen Mueller : 2 comments   54,597 views
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15 Easy Ways to Go Green on the Cheap

During the past few years, "green" living has gone mainstream. Words like "carbon footprint" are commonplace and many companies are trying to highlight (sometimes even fabricate) how eco-friendly they are so that consumers will view them more favorably.

I have long considered myself an environmentalist, and the fact that eco-friendly options are more readily available and accepted by the masses excites me. But one thing you may wonder, whether you've considered switching to plant-based cleaners, energy star appliances, organic cotton clothing, or a backyard composter made from recycled plastic is this: Why does "doing good" for the earth have to be so darn expensive? Organic, natural, plant-based, recycled, biodegradable, and fair trade do—for the most part—cost more. And that higher expense, unfortunately, deters many consumers from changing their ways.

I care about the planet, but I also live on a budget and want to save money. Luckily, monetary constraints haven't stopped me from incorporating green products and practices into my daily life. In fact, many of the choices I make actually SAVE me money instead of costing more. If you're willing to spend a little time and think creatively, there are plenty of zero- and low-cost options to green your lifestyle, diet and home. In honor of Earth Day tomorrow, I wanted to share some of the cheap ways you can go green to protect our planet.
Posted 4/22/2013  6:00:00 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 126 comments   39,365 views
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$20 Food Showdown: Fast Food vs. Healthy Food

Budget constraints prevent many people from eating right.

"I can't afford to buy healthy food."
"Fruits and vegetables are too expensive."
"Grocery store prices are astronomical."
"It's cheaper to eat fast food."

We hear these "excuses" every day--and they're good ones. But we don't give up that easily and believe any excuse can be overcome. Today we're setting out to prove that healthy eating is possible on any budget.

We compared the cost of unhealthy foods from the drive-thru, freezer section and snack foods aisle to the cost of healthy foods. By making even one of these swaps, you can make room in your grocery budget for a few new healthy foods.

The photos below aim to show the diversity in healthy foods available. Prices may vary in your area (some items were on sale when we shopped), but we think you'll be shocked at how far you can stretch a buck at the supermarket when you buy healthy foods!
Posted 4/18/2013  6:00:00 AM By: Stepfanie Romine : 702 comments   1,852,748 views
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6 Ways to Combat Rising Food Costs

This summer was hot, with temperatures averaging in the 90s for months here in Cincinnati with no rain for weeks on end. The heat took its toll: Gardens wilted, fields dried up, and farmers struggled. With summer fading fast, you might think that the worst is behind us, but a new report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture suggests otherwise. The drought that plagued much of the country this summer will mean higher food costs for all of us in the next year. While it's still too soon to say exactly how much the costs of specific foods will rise, the effects will be seen as early as this fall.

According to the USDA, the first price increases will be seen in beef, pork, poultry, and dairy--especially milk--in the next couple of months. In 10 to 12 months, we'll see the prices of processed grain products rise. Retail food prices rise on average between 2.5-3% a year due to inflation, and next year that increase will be between 3-4%. That means your gallon of milk that cost $3.43 in July, according to the Consumer Price Index, could cost 10 to 13 cents more next year. If you bought a gallon a week, that would add up to an extra $6.76 a year.

The good news is that those increases should be mostly in a few areas. The bad news is that those sharper increases are in foods most of us eat quite often--and they're the foods that already are costly: eggs, meat, and dairy. Rather than dwell on the negative, let's focus on finding ways to combat those rising costs while still enjoying the foods you like.

Posted 9/26/2012  2:00:00 PM By: Stepfanie Romine : 33 comments   91,515 views
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10 More Healthy Foods Under $3

Our original top 10 list was so popular, Healthy Eats readers asked for more. Here are 10 more healthy foods that won’t break the bank.

#1: Carrots
Cost: $0.89 per 1 pound bag (about 9 carrots)
The benefits of carrots, “They give you healthy eyes, mom” they always tell me. But beta-carotene has more benefits than meets the eyes. It also helps promote healthy bones, skin and hair. Make carrot soup, add to a stir-fry, or slice into strips for an easy kids snack.

#2: Low fat cottage cheese
Cost: $2.75 per 16-ounce container
This perfect combo of protein, carbs and fat will help keep you satisfied. It’ll also give you a boost of calcium with 10% of your daily recommended dosage in every ½ cup serving. If you’ve been passing this underappreciated food in your dairy aisle, check out more reasons why we love it. 
Posted 5/23/2012  2:00:00 PM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 18 comments   16,721 views
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Eating Healthy on a Budget: It Can Be Done!

Prices for everything have been going up, including groceries. Whether you are trying to stick to a budget or not, it always feels great to eat healthy AND save money on groceries. At times it may seem impossible to eat healthy on a budget, but it can be done! We've rounded up a variety of resources to help you learn all you ever wanted to know about saving money on groceries and eating healthy on a budget.

Slash Your Grocery Bills: A Dozen Smart and Simple Tips from Food Bloggers

How Members Eat Well for Less

Printable Cookbook: Delicious Dinners on a Dime
Posted 9/9/2011  2:00:00 PM By: Denise Tausig : 13 comments   38,962 views
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7 Fun Ways to Get Slim without the Gym

Do you find yourself holding even tighter to your purse strings these days? I'm always looking for ways to cut my expenses, especially with gas and food prices on the rise. This can be challenging to do when you're trying to lose weight and adopt a healthy lifestyle though. After all, they say it costs more to be healthy: "Health food" is usually more expensive per calorie than junk food (although that isn't always the case); going to the doctor for regular checkups can add up, too. And exercise? Well, moving your body safely and effectively isn't always cheap: Workout shoes, clothes, classes and gym memberships can really add up.

As a fitness instructor, I don't have to pay for access to a gym. But if I did have to (knowing my cheap self), I probably wouldn’t. Beyond the three classes I teach per week, I rarely set foot in the gym. Partly because the gym feels like "work" to me, and partly because I need a change of scenery, most of my workouts take place outdoors or at home.

So whether you're trying to save a buck, spend more time at home (and less time in transit), or simply don't like the atmosphere of a gym, don't worry. There are plenty of ways you can get fit and healthy without ever signing a contract or forking over even a single month's worth of membership fees. Here are some of my favorites!
Posted 5/25/2011  9:00:00 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 52 comments   42,994 views
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Benefit from Coupons Without Being Extreme

They can make a reality show out of just about anything, including the use of coupons. TLC's Extreme Couponing show allows us to meet people that have taken the art of bargain shopping to a completely new level. For some people highlighted on the show, tough times created the need for using coupons to stretch their food budget. For other people, using coupons to save or take advantage of deals seems to have triggered compulsive tendencies such as buying 35 bottles of heartburn medicine because it is an awesome deal or hoarding 75 boxes of cereal and dozens of other groceries in a closet.

There are a variety of tips that can help you save money at the supermarket. Here are some coupon tips and resources to help you get the most from coupon savings without having to go extreme.

Posted 4/25/2011  6:00:54 AM By: Tanya Jolliffe : 34 comments   13,473 views
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Stock Up on Homemade Stocks

Whoever invented store-bought stock is a genius! Talk about product markup. A box, can or bottle of stock can cost three times as much as the homemade version, and in many cases, stocks can be made with food that you would ordinarily throw away. It's a frugal cook's dream! Even better, you can control the salt. In most of my stocks, I don't even add any salt. (If my final dish needs it, I add it later.)

Stocks are not something you make on a busy weekday night, but the hour or two you spend making them on a slow Saturday afternoon will make your rush-hour meals that much more flavorful.

Another funny thing about stocks: You should never taste one and go "Oh my gosh, that's the best thing I've ever tasted!" You also shouldn't want to spit it out. It should be flavorful without overpowering the other ingredients in a dish. Use it instead of water when cooking grains, steaming vegetables, and thinning sauces.

Some people have a few bags or containers in the freezer for stock supplies. I do, too. I store shrimp shells, chicken bones, mushroom stems, and extra bits of chopped onions, carrots, and celery when I've chopped too much for dinner. You can also save parsley stems. However, I do not recommend saving any part of a vegetable you wouldn't normally eat. That is, save carrot tops, peelings, onion skins, and garlic paper for your compost bin, not your stock pot.

Here are a few basic stock recipes to help you boost flavor with almost zero fat!

Vegetable Stock

Making homemade stock is so easy! Try reducing the stock and freezing it in ice cube trays; once frozen, pop out and keep in the freezer until you need homemade stock.

This entire recipe costs $1.90--three times the stock for less than what one box of supermarket stock costs.

Posted 4/11/2011  6:04:47 PM By: Meg Galvin : 47 comments   13,876 views
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How to Save on Groceries, Fight Hidden Food Inflation

How much attention do you pay to the cans, boxes and bottles you buy at the supermarket? If you pay close attention, you might have noticed your favorite products--even healthier ones--shrinking. If, like most consumers, you just grab an item and toss it in your cart, you might not have observed the change--and that's what food manufacturers and marketers hope.

From a NYT story:

“Whole wheat pasta had gone from 16 ounces to 13.25 ounces,” she said. “I bought three boxes and it wasn’t enough — that was a little embarrassing. I bought the same amount I always buy, I just didn’t realize it, because who reads the sizes all the time?”

Ms. Stauber, 33, said she began inspecting her other purchases, aisle by aisle. Many canned vegetables dropped to 13 or 14 ounces from 16; boxes of baby wipes went to 72 from 80; and sugar was stacked in 4-pound, not 5-pound, bags, she said.

Five or so years ago, Ms. Stauber bought 16-ounce cans of corn. Then they were 15.5 ounces, then 14.5 ounces, and the size is still dropping. “The first time I’ve ever seen an 11-ounce can of corn at the store was about three weeks ago, and I was just floored,” she said. “It’s sneaky, because they figure people won’t know.”

Commodity prices are rising; there's no arguing that. What guests on NPR's The Diane Rehm Show debated this week was whether it's deceptive to charge the same amount for products when consumers are getting less--without knowledge. They used examples such as tuna fish that's now sold in 5-ounce cans instead of 6-ounce cans, 64-ounce bottles of OJ that now have just 59 ounces, and potato chips with 20% fewer chips.

That's the bad news. But there's good news: You can still save on groceries, despite shrinking products. Here's how.
Posted 4/5/2011  10:26:42 AM By: Stepfanie Romine : 63 comments   16,314 views
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Poll: How Do You Splurge on a Budget?

I'll just come out and say it: I'm cheap. If I can go without something, I will. If it's not a "necessity," then I don't need it, which means I don't buy it. I repair and mend broken appliances and holey socks. I use coupons and wait weeks for items to go on sale. I drive a 15-year-old car that gets me from place to place and that's about it. I don't own a Smartphone—or a phone that can even send a picture message. When I do go out to eat (a rare occasion), I usually order my food to-go just to save on tax and tip! Some people may view my penny-pinching ways as problematic, but I think frugal living is a virtue. After all, during hard economic times, living within a budget is a real challenge for many people.

I admit though: Living on the cheap can get old…fast. If you're not going on vacations, buying expensive clothes or toys, or spending much on entertainment, life can get boring. But only if you let it. Cheap as I may be, I realized recently that I do splurge on myself in little ways that add big pleasure to my everyday life. This led me to wonder: How do you splurge on a budget?
Posted 3/11/2011  10:00:00 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 175 comments   23,478 views
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How Much Will Your Thanksgiving Meal Cost?

My mother-in-law is a retired home economics teacher and a great cook! Thanksgiving in her home each year includes many traditional favorites. Of course the centerpiece is a beautifully roasted (on the grill) turkey surrounded by many delicious side dishes such as fluffy mashed potatoes, homemade stuffing, three bean salad, homemade yeast rolls, a relish tray, molded strawberry Jello salad, cranberries, broccoli and rice casserole and sweet potato casserole. After dinner has settled, there is the difficult decision between homemade apple and pumpkin pie for dessert. Even using helpful tips to survive Thanksgiving temptations, the meal still causes most of us to end the day with an excessive caloric intake.

A recent report by the American Farm Bureau suggests this year's meal cost will only be slightly higher than last year. Although inflation rates have remained fairly flat, statistics show there has been a steady rise in the cost of a traditional Thanksgiving for nearly two decades. There is the option of enjoying a Veg-friendly Thanksgiving this year to save some money. However, if you are planning to put a traditional meal on your table here is some information to help you maintain your meal costs.

Posted 11/18/2010  9:04:03 AM By: Tanya Jolliffe : 30 comments   16,830 views
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Healthy Eating Tips for Singles: 5 Ideas to Help Your Waistline and Your Wallet

Editor's Note: Cooking for one can be tricky! It's even more challenging to eat healthy on a budget when the world (and the grocery store) seems to cater to couples and families instead of singles. So what's a healthy eater to do? Coach Nicole recently asked her good friend Lauren (that's her in the picture to the left), a single gal who loves to cook and eat healthy herself, to share some of her best tips for eating healthy when you live alone. Maybe the other singles out there can learn some good tips from this list!

By Lauren J. Finefrock

Cooking for one can be tremendous challenge that many feel isn't always worth the effort. You don't have anyone there to support you, except yourself, and no one to appreciate the fruits of your labors in the kitchen. So what's the point? Well, as with any challenge in life, if you break it down into pieces, you will find that what you thought was a mountain in front of you is in actuality just a small hill. I love to cook for myself, have friends over for dinner and try new recipes. But it can be challenging since I live alone and don't NEED a lot of food in the house. To prevent waste, save money, and stick to a healthy diet, here are the strategies that I've put into place.
Posted 10/13/2010  6:41:02 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 53 comments   24,721 views
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How to Shop for Workout Clothes without Going Broke

Specialty workout clothes might not be a necessity to your exercise program, but the sweat-wicking fabrics and body-hugging designs sure can help! Clothes designed for exercise are made for bodies in motion; they're designed to fit right and stay put when you're on the go so that you stay comfortable. Both high-tech synthetic fabrics, and natural ones such as wool, can help pull sweat away from your body so you stay dry. That means you'll be cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter—and that's more than a comfort issue. Regulating body temperature also keeps you safe. But beyond functionality, workout clothes are just plain motivating! Unfortunately, all that motivation comes at a price.

Last year, I confessed that I tend to spend more on workout clothes than I do everyday attire. $50 for one pair of pants. $15 for special wool hiking socks. $45 for a winter performance top. And I won't even get into the shoes, which need to be replaced every few hundred miles.

More than 60% of SparkPeople members agree that new workout clothes motivate them to exercise, but when asked what they tend to wear during their workouts, a whopping 75% wear "any old clothes" they have. The high cost of workout wear is a major deterrent for many.

Luckily, it doesn't have to be. Although I occasionally splurge on the high priced items, most of the time, I am a bargain shopper who wants high quality at a low price. Since I've been buying workout clothes for more than a decade, I have a few tried and true tricks that I use to refresh my own workout wardrobe on a budget. Here are some of my best tips on how to save money on workout clothes!
Posted 5/14/2010  1:00:00 PM By: Nicole Nichols : 106 comments   41,606 views
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19 Cheap and Easy Tips to Make Over Your Next Meal

This post started as a list of ways to use hummus. Then it evolved into a bit of a foodie braindump. All these great tips and tricks have been floating around my brain for the past few months. It's time I shared these quick, affordable kitchen tips and healthy eats with you! I hope you find them useful and inspiring.

  • Make your own nut butter. It's so much cheaper, and there's no added salt! Toast raw nuts until they're barely fragrant, then run through the food processor. I start by running them through the slicing attachment, then put in the chopping blade and let them break down, stopping to scrape the sides of the bowl from time to time. Add cinnamon, maple syrup or dark cocoa powder for extra special treats.

  • Poached eggs are delicious: atop a bowl of pasta and tomato sauce, on a salad, and on a bowl of savory oatmeal. The broken yolk makes a delicious, creamy sauce. Trust me. It's life-changingly delicious, especially atop the pasta.

  • Shredded carrots tossed with hummus that's been thinned with a tablespoon of water is a wonderful side salad. I grate a bag of carrots (using my food processor) every week and use them in stir-fries, casseroles and salads.

  • Hummus is a secret weapon:

    • Add it to tomato sauce instead of cream or milk.

    • Hummus and salsa is even better than cheesy Mexican dip. Warm it for an over-the-top guiltless treat.

    • Use hummus instead of mayo. More flavor, less fat!

    • Hummus makes a great salad dressing, and you can even thin it with broth or water to make a dressing for pasta salad--great with peppers, onions, cucumbers, olives and other Mediterranean staples.
    Posted 5/10/2010  2:14:36 PM By: Stepfanie Romine : 112 comments   28,445 views
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