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Jamie Foxx’s Frugal Workout

Written by Brett McKay

foxx.jpg

This month’s issue of Men’s Health had a feature on actor/singer, Jamie Foxx. Mr. Foxx has had a pretty interesting career. My first exposure to him was his role as Wanda on In Living Color. It’s amazing to see where he has gone with his career.

Part of his Mr. Foxx’s success and current classification as one of the best looking men in America is staying in tip top shape. But Foxx doesn’t fork over thousands of dollars for membership to exclusive gyms or personal trainers. Instead, Mr. Foxx does a simple workout at home consisting of pushups, situps, and crunches each morning – four sets of 25 each.

Quite the lifehacker, Mr. Foxx breaks up his workout by doing chores between sets. He’ll do a set of pushups and then brush his teeth; a set of situps and then take a shower; and so on until he has done all his sets. By doing it this way, Mr. Foxx says that exercise has become part of his morning routine.

The point is you don’t need to spend tons of money to get in shape. My wife and I recently stopped going to the gym and We’re now taking advantage of an outdoor fit center along our town’s running trails. Not only do we get a super intense workout for free, we get to do it while looking at the Arkansas River. Very nice.

Start the Jamie Foxx workout. If you need to do some cardio, go running for 20 minutes. There. You’re done and you haven’t spent a dime.

Lose Weight, Not Money

Written by Mrs. FLS

One of the ways to save money in the long term is to maintain good health. And one of the main ways to maintain good health is to exercise and be physically fit. The only problem is that while getting in shape may save money in the long term, joining a gym takes a whack at your wallet in the short term. Recently our gym membership expired. We had gotten a very good deal at a very no frills gym. But the prices for renewal had gone up and made our frugal eyes pop out of our heads. So what to do? We both like to work out almost daily, so giving up exercising altogether was not an option. Instead we explored some cheaper options. Here are some ideas we considered, and you might find helpful:

Joining the YMCA. The Y has come a long way since being a place for people down on their luck, complete with “everything for young men to enjoy.” Most YMCAs are now decent fitness centers for all kinds of people. While their membership fees are comparable to other gyms, what many people don’t know is that if you are financially strapped you can apply for financial aid. The Y wants to make health available to all comers. You fill out a form about your income, talk to someone at the Y, and work out what you can pay each month. My friend did this and only had to pay $6 a month for her membership.

If you are a student, look into your school’s gym. This is probably a no brainer. Most colleges and universities have very decent fitness facilities these days that students can use for free. But something we had forgotten is that they also have reduced rates for the spouses of students. This is what Brett and I decided to do. It is only around $10 a month for me to join, and free of course for him. The school is far away from our house, but since we have only one car, we’ll just go when I have to pick him up at night.

Exercise outdoors. This is an option that you can either use to supplement a membership at a small, cheaper gym, or, if you live in a year round warm climate, you could potentially forgo a gym membership altogether. With out last gym membership up, and the next school semester not yet started, Brett and I are between gyms. So we have been trying out different outdoor work-outs. And we have been having a great time doing it! The fresh air makes you feel healthy and strong. Here are some ideas for exercising outdoors:

  • Find a nice scenic trail to run/bike/skate on. There is a great trail here in Tulsa along the Arkansas River which provides the perfect setting for exercise. Exploring new locations adds fun and variety and will keep your motivated
  • Vary your routine. Running/jogging is an obvious choice. But the same old thing will get boring. First you can vary your running routine. Interval work-outs mix things up and burn far more fat than running at a steady pace. You can also do a hill work-out, or run the stairs at a local stadium. Next, try activities other than running. Varying your form of exercise burns more fat (your body gets used to the same exercise routine) and will save the wear and tear on your joints that doing the same thing over and over causes. Depending on what equipment you have on hand, try biking, rollerblading (my personal favorite), tennis, or basketball.
  • Look for outdoor “exercise equipment.” Many trails have stations with things like pull-up bars, push-up bars, and dip bars built along them. These outdoor exercise stations seem to have been a fad in the 1970’s, which is the era most seem to have been built in. But they have held up over time, and are an excellent way to supplement your cardio exercise with some strength training. Brett and I tried it this week and it was wonderfully intense and satisfying.

So now you know that being frugal is no excuse for being out of shape. In my next post I will further explore some exercises that can be done outside, without a gym membership or home exercise equipment.

Featured Resource

Finding ways to lose weight and stay Healthy can require an entire lifestyle change. There are millions of ways to slim down, reading various Health Articles can help you stay current on Health Related News and the latest developments in Weight loss strategies.

A Broccoli Floret a Day Keeps the Doctor, and the Debt Away

Written by Mrs. FLS

Today there was a interesting article on “MSN Money” about how adopting a vegetarian diet can save you money. The article notes that this sometimes seems counter intuitive since produce can seem pricey and the Junior Whopper on the dollar menu, is only, well, a dollar. But generally speaking, while chicken breasts and ground round cost around $3 a pound; beans, lentils, and rice cost less than a $1 a pound.

Of course man (or woman) cannot live on lentil soup alone. And fruits and veggies don’t come cheap. To save money the vegetarian shopper should choose produce that is in season, look for deals on locally grown food, and buy frozen items because they can be cheaper, and best of all do not go bad before an urge to snack on those asparagus spears strikes.

Vegetarian shoppers should avoid products that are meat product posers-you know the veggie “hot dogs” that wouldn’t even fool someone who’s sense of taste had been horribly managled in an accident. In all honesty there are some tasty meat replacements out there (delicious BBQ “riblets” anyone?) but many can cost more than $5 a pound! The meat may be fake, but the hit to your wallet is very real. Also, if you have been free basing “Chik Nuggets” it is worth looking into the dark side of too much soy.

By sticking to the basics-things like oatmeal, rice, beans, and lentils bought in bulk-and accented with fruits and vegetables, a vegetarian can live frugally and deliciously. And what really saves them money in the long term are the benefits to their health. Some studies have shown that a plant based diet can add years to your life, and ward off ailments like cancer, heart disease, and dementia. By not having to pay the big hospital and doctor bills that come with these diseases, you can save a ton of money in the long term.

So put down that drumstick buster! Your wallet, and your body, will thank you.

Tijuana Health Care

Written by Brett McKay

I recently found this article about how to get your teeth fixed in Mexico. The author explains how he saved a bundle of money crossing the border to get his teeth capped. Instead of paying $750 for each tooth in the US, he paid $250 for each tooth at a dentist in Tijuana. He goes on to explain how impressed he was with the Dr.’s know how and technique.

The story reminded me of my experience living in Tijuana. During that time, I had to make a few visits to the Dr. I‘ll admit that when I first went, I was expecting crappy health care. Mexico is after all a third world country. To my chagrin, I found the health care in Mexico to be awesome. The doctors were really knowledgeable and friendly and the facilities were comparable to many American Drs. offices. The best part was that it was hundreds of dollars cheaper than in the United States. Medications were also cheap and easy to get a hold of. I also liked how you could buy many medications without a prescription. Yeah, I’ll concede that a system like that is open to abuse, but when you know what medication you need to take for certain illnesses, why spend the money so a Dr. can tell you to take it?

Have any of you been to Mexico to have medical treatment done? Would you consider it if it would save you a ton of money?

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180 Money Saving Tips to Turn Your Financial Life Around 180 Degrees

Written by Brett McKay

Here’s a list of 180 money saving tips that can turn your financial life around 180 degrees. These are things that I have learned while reading blogs or other books. I’ve tried to provide links to blog posts and other articles that elaborate more on the tip. This was a fun exercise. While I personally don’t practice every single tip listed, it was a good way to find out how I can do better on saving money.

Automobile/Transportation

  1. Wash and vacuum your car at home.
  2. Buy a used car. New cars drop significantly in value as soon as you drive off the lot.
  3. Get rid of your car. If you’re married, just have one.
  4. Keep your tires inflated at the correct pressure.
  5. Do not carry unneeded weight in your vehicle. Excess weight puts a heavier load on the engine.
  6. Accelerate slowly and smoothly. Avoid jackrabbit starts. Get into high gear as quickly as possible.
  7. Use your air conditioner only when absolutely necessary.
  8. Avoid unnecessary stopping and braking. Maintain a steady pace.
  9. Do not rest your foot on the clutch or brake pedal. This causes needless wear and poor fuel economy.
  10. Keep the front wheels in proper alignment. Improper alignment not only causes faster tire wear, but also puts an extra load on the engine.
  11. Rotate your tires regularly. Rotating tires slows down tire wear.
  12. Wash your car regularly. A dirty car can damage paint.
  13. Avoid heavy traffic. You’ll save on gas by not idling as much.
  14. Change your own motor oil.
  15. Observe speed limits. You’ll save money on gas and avoid costly speeding tickets and the resulting increase in insurance rates.
  16. Pay your auto insurance premiums annually instead of every six months. You’ll get a lower rate.
  17. Use the bus to get to school or work.
  18. If possible, ride your bike or walk to your destinations.
  19. Carpool with co-workers.

Clothing

  1. Find an image consultant in your town and ask if you can have the clothes their clients get rid of.
  2. Don’t buy into trends. Keep a wardrobe of classic pieces, so you don’t have to update your clothes every year.
  3. Buy clothes at a thrift store.
  4. Wear clothes more than once before washing them. You’ll reduce wear on your clothes and save energy by not washing so often.
  5. Shop at outlet stores.
  6. Avoid buying clothes that require drying cleaning.
  7. Cut dryer sheets in half to double the value of each box.
  8. Buy your winter clothes at the end of winter/beginning of spring. Buy summer clothing at the end of summer/beginning of fall.
  9. Shop at discount stores like TjMax and Ross.

Food

  1. Forage for food. Check out a book on local edible plants and start stocking up on them.
  2. Buy a water filter and make your own bottled water.
  3. Buy bread at the bread outlet store and freeze excess loaves.
  4. Make meals that are left over friendly, like soups and casseroles.
  5. Join a food co-op.
  6. Make dinners in a crock pot
  7. Buy in bulk.
  8. If you buy soda, buy 2 liter bottles instead of cans. It’s much cheaper per unit price.
  9. Have potluck dinners.
  10. When you eat out, share meals. Most restaurant meals are big enough for two people.
  11. If you don’t have someone to share it with, split the meal and half and put when half in a to-go box for next day’s lunch.
  12. Skip the soda when you go out to eat, and drink water.
  13. Quit smoking.
  14. Make your own coffee. Better yet, stop drinking coffee.
  15. Quit drinking alcohol.
  16. Quit drinking soda.
  17. Find cheaper café’s and restaurants to go to.
  18. Cook your own meals.
  19. Take a list when you go shopping and stick to it.
  20. Buy generic brand products at the supermarket.
  21. Bring your lunch to school or work instead of buying it.
  22. Grow your own vegetables.
  23. Use coupons and loyalty cards at grocery stores.
  24. Reduce meat consumption.
  25. Eat cereal instead of fast food. It’s cheaper and usually healthier.
  26. Have a late lunch/early dinner when going out to eat. You can save on lunch menu items.
  27. Buy cheap food coupons on eBay.
  28. Join clubs at school and take advantage of free food at meetings.
  29. Don’t buy prepackaged cheese or meat. Go to the deli and have them slice it for you. You can get more for you money.
  30. Collect vegetable scraps in a bag in the freezer. As soon as it’s full, make a soup out of them.
  31. Buy whole roasted chickens. When you have used all the meat, throw the bones into a soup.

Housing

  1. House sit. Older affluent couples often leave their house for months at a time for vacations and need someone to watch it while they’re gone. Not only can you get free rent, you might get some extra cash.
  2. Become live in help. Some older people need help around the house, someone to cook meals for them, or just someone to talk to. You can live rent free this way.
  3. Relocate to an area with a cheaper cost of living.
  4. Share an apartment. Better yet, move in with your in-laws.
  5. Make an extra mortgage payment each year. You can save money on interest.

Household

  1. Buy furniture at a consignment store.
  2. If you need a tool, see if you can borrow it from someone before you go out and buy it.
  3. Don’t throw away “dead” batteries. Remove them from your radio and use them in quartz clocks. These clocks take such a small amount of power that batteries too weak to run anything else may have enough power to run a clock for a while.
  4. Wash and reuse plastic bags.
  5. Clean your own carpets. You can rent carpet cleaning machines for about $10.

Health Care

  1. If you take a prescription medication on a regular basis, ask your doctor to write a three month prescription. Instead of paying three co-pays, you only pay one.
  2. Go to the dentist at your local dental school. Students need people to practice on. You can get all your dental needs fulfilled at a reduced cost.
  3. If your doctor gives you a prescription, ask if he has samples that he could give you.
  4. Use your local park’s playground as a workout station. Monkey bars can be used for pull-ups and leg lifts. The park will also have a trail where you can run.
  5. If you go to school, use the school’s gym. It’s free.
  6. Brush and floss your teeth. You’ll save on dental expenses.
  7. Eat right and exercise daily. You’ll reduce health costs.
  8. If you join a gym, find one that offers a month to month contract. That way if for some reason you stop going, you won’t be stuck with a 1 year contract that you have to pay for.

Beauty and Hygiene

  1. Use baking soda for toothpaste.
  2. Use baby shampoo for a makeup remover.
  3. Buy makeup online.
  4. Use makeup samples.
  5. Don’t throw out small pieces of bar soap. Wet the small piece and the new bar and stick them together.
  6. Add water to your shampoo to get more uses.
  7. Stop using shaving cream. Shaving cream’s purpose is just to keep your beard wet. You can maintain a wet beard in the shower.
  8. Cut your own hair.
  9. Simplify your beauty products. Do you really need 5 different types of body lotions?

Travel

  1. Pack your travel meals in advance.
  2. Buy snacks at the grocery store, not at roadside convenience stores.
  3. Plan trips where you have friends and family. You might be able to score free room and board.
  4. Go camping.
  5. Stay at a college dorm room when traveling. Many universities rent out dorm rooms at a decent price during the summer.
  6. Book your flights and cruises way in advance. You can get lower prices.
  7. Always negotiate hotel room prices. Hotel rooms are like highly perishable food: if they’re not used that day, they’re wasted. You can almost always get a better deal just by asking, but do it with a nice smile face-to-face when you check in, or with friendly calls direct to the hotels you’re considering. It won’t work if you just call national 800 numbers, because they can’t negotiate. If your flight is overbooked and the airline offers a voucher if you take a later flight, take it.
  8. When flying, bring your own snacks. Airport food is expensive.
  9. Avoid renting a car at the airport. You’ll find more competitive rates, plus avoid extra surcharges at car rental agencies away from the convenience of the airport.
  10. Time your stay for best hotel deals. Plan the timing of your stay according to the type of place you visit. Hotels in cities are usually cheaper on the weekends, when business travelers aren’t staying there, but hotels in resort areas or other places that are popular with leisure travelers are often cheaper during the week
  11. Tourist spots sell everything from film — to capture those special moments — to sunscreen, bottled water and aspirin for prolonging your fun, at a higher cost. Purchase these items before and save.
  12. Travel after peak season. This might not be an option if you have school-age children. But families with infants and toddlers can take advantage of discounted rates by traveling in the fall.
  13. Bring an empty water bottle with you to the airport. Bottled water at airports is expensive. While you can’t bring any liquids past security, you can bring an empty bottle. Put it in your carry on and fill it up as soon as you get past security.
  14. Stay in hostels when traveling overseas. While you do have to share a bathroom and a room, you can stay for as little as $5.
  15. If you need a quick get away with your significant other, spend a night in your local bed and breakfast.

Entertainment

  1. Buy an Entertainment book. The initial investment is about $20, but there’s hundreds of dollars in entertainment savings in it.
  2. Join Gamefly for cheap video game renting.
  3. Trade video games, DVD’s and books with your friends.
  4. Start a book or film club. After reading the book or watching the film, discuss it.
  5. Have a game night with friends.
  6. Attend movies at dollar theaters.
  7. Take advantage of your local university. Colleges often have free entertainment events.
  8. Join the library.
  9. Read magazines for free at bookstores.
  10. Check out DVD’s from the library, rather than renting them from the video store.
  11. Find cheaper hobbies like blogging or jogging.
  12. Go on a hike, take a walk in the park, or go to the beach. Some of the nicest things to do in life are totally free.
  13. See if your local zoos, museums, entertainment parks and water parks have annual passes. Often the annual passes may not cost more than the price of a couple of visits.
  14. Save money on movies by going to the matinée.
  15. Watch amateur sports. High school athletic competitions are cheap and can be just as exciting as the pros.

Banking and Investing

  1. Start an automatic savings plan with your bank.
  2. Use your credit card to make all purchases, but pay it off each month. That you’ll earn cash back or travel points.
  3. Invest in index funds. There are hardly any costs in purchasing and owning index funds.
  4. Open an online savings account. Most online accounts offer a 4% interest rate. That’s much better than the 1% you get at your current bank. E-mail me for an ING referral.
  5. Avoid ATM fees. Only withdraw money from machines approved by your bank. 7-11 doesn’t have a surcharge.
  6. Pay bills by direct debit. You save on postage and avoid the risk of paying late fees.
  7. If you use checks, don’t buy them from the bank. You can get a better deal with other printing companies.
  8. Don’t overdraft on your account. You’ll save yourself money on penalties.
  9. Invest with a cheap online brokerage company like Sharebuilder.

Children

  1. Buy gender neutral baby clothing so you can use them again with the next baby.
  2. Make your kids Halloween costumes. It’s cheaper and more fun.
  3. Buy your baby toys from the thrift store. Toys suck these days. Give your child the gift of old school toys that actually requires an imagination.
  4. Buy your baby’s and tot’s clothes from the thrift store. Your kid isn’t going to notice the difference between a thrift store onezy and a Gap onezy.

Utilities

  1. Use a clothes liner to dry clothes. You’ll save on your energy bill.
  2. Replace old appliances with ones that have Energy Star approval.
  3. Regularly clean the coils on the back of your refrigerator. A clean coil uses less energy.
  4. Make sure your freezer is full. An empty freezer requires more energy to keep cold.
  5. Use washable coffee mug instead of Styrofoam. You’ll save money and help the environment.
  6. Replace all your incandescent light bulbs with fluorescent lighting.
  7. Turn off the lights when not using a room.
  8. Turn off your appliances when not using them.
  9. Don’t use a cell phone.
  10. If you have a cell phone, don’t buy the extra features like text messaging and web access.
  11. If you have a cell phone, get rid of your land line.
  12. Get rid of cable. Who needs 100 channels of crap?
  13. Use the internet at school or the library. Not only will you save money, you’ll save time.
  14. During the winter, leave the oven open after you cook to heat the house.
  15. Sign up for Skype for long distant phone calls.
  16. Turn your heater thermostat down 2 degrees in winter and up 2 degrees in the summer.

Miscellaneous

  1. Get a digital camera. You save money on film.
  2. Don’t own a pet. You’ll save money on food and shots.

Shopping

  1. Avoid impulse buying. Practice tantric shopping.
  2. Buy as much as you can online.
  3. Negotiate the price on big ticket items like cars, electronics, and large appliances.
  4. Use cash as a negotiating tool. Nothing makes a seller’s mouth water than cold hard cash in their hand.
  5. Before you buy something, ask if the item will be put on sale in the near future.
  6. Don’t buy extended warranties. Eighty percent are never used, and they’re a major profit item for the vendor. That’s why they push you so hard to buy them!
  7. Keep receipts and send in rebate slips. Very few consumers actually return rebate coupons. Which is, of course, exactly what the manufacturers are hoping for.

Low cost ways of making extra money

  1. Sell your old stuff, like CD’s and books on eBay and Amazon.
  2. Turn your hobby into a business. Pretty much anything you do can be turned into a business of some sort.
  3. Sign up with an online survey company like Survey Spot.
  4. Become a mystery shopper. Not only can you make some extra money, you might get some free stuff as well.
  5. Have a yard sell.
  6. Start a blog and put Adsense on it. You might only earn 4 cents a week, but it’s something.
  7. Become a consultant. Do you know a lot about a particular skill? Put that knowledge to work by helping others.
  8. Do freelance work on the side. If you’re a good writer, photographer, artist, or programmer you can make some extra money by selling your talent to companies.
  9. Start an errand Service. Offer to pick up groceries or dry cleaning for others.
  10. Waiting service. People these days don’t have time to wait on the plumber of cable guy. Charge by the hour to do the waiting for other people.

School

  1. Check out study supplements from the library. Don’t buy them.
  2. Buy used text books.
  3. Take advantage of free pens and pencils at business conferences.
  4. Keep track of your pens and pencils. You’ll spend less on them if you don’t lose them all the time.
  5. Buy back packs that your kids can use for years. While they might think the Sponge Bob Square pants one is cool in 2nd grade, they probably won’t think it’s cool in 4th.

Computers

  1. Use open source software like OpenOffice for your computing needs. Here’s a huge list of all the open source software you’ll ever need.
  2. Refill ink cartridges instead of buying new ones.
  3. Print off your documents in draft mode. It’s faster and saves ink.
  4. Use free online storage for all your digital storage needs.
  5. When you buy new computers or printers, keep the old cables. You never know when they’ll come in handy.

Gifts

  1. Make your own greeting cards.
  2. Make your own wrapping paper.
  3. Agree with family and friends to NOT buy each other Christmas presents this year.
  1. Offer to give a service, like a night of free babysitting as a gift, instead of buying stuff.
  2. Give baked goods. Everyone loves cookies!
  3. Learn the art of the re-gift. If you get something that you don’t like, keep it and give it to someone else later. However be careful to keep track of who gave you what. You don’t want to give a gift back to somebody.

Can you think of any more? Add to the conversation!
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Featured Resources

A great way to avoid spending extra Money is by avoiding Credit Card Offers that have a high Interest Rate. When you signup with a new Credit company be sure to check their APR rates and find out if a free Balance Transfer option can help you save money.
[tags]saving, frugality, personal finance, clothing, food, cars, beauty, health care [/tags]

The American Medical Scam

Written by Mrs. FLS

Here’s a great New York Times article about a cardiologist who focuses on preventive medicine. The article points out how he’s a shinning example preventive medicine’s one problem in America: there’s no money in it. The economic incentive in American medicine is to treat, not prevent. Tests, medicines, and operations are how most doctors make their money.

Don’t buy into the system. Start preventing health problems before they become a problem. My wife posted on this subject last month here.