Easy and Affordable Eco-Friendly Swaps

I’ve been wanting to do better in regard to making better choices for the earth. I realize there is a lot of changes I need to make. It’s a little overwhelming. One thing I started doing was to keep a stash of reusable shopping bags in my car so I wouldn’t forget them when I’d go shopping. Here are a few more changes I’m making

Choosing Eco-friendly Stores

I’ve been shopping at Aldi more. Even though it’s a bit out of the way they’ve been more eco-friendly for a while and continue to make changes to do better, themselves. Aldi fairly recently announced they would be moving to fully sustainable packaging by the year 2025. There are tons of options for reusable shopping bags out there. I’ve actually got quite a few from local events, swag bags, etc for free.

Making Eco-friendly Swaps

So one issue I kept having was disposable utensils. We have a lot of get-togethers with a lot of people multiple times a year. The idea of washing that many dishes and utensils was daunting but the reality is, I don’t own enough for the amount of people that come to our parties. Initially when looking into biodegradable or sustainable disposable products they were pretty pricey for a minimal amount.

A fate, facebook post helped me to find Avoplast. Avoplast is 100% eco-friendly disposable utensils and straws made from avocado pits! As if there was any more reason to love avocados. How affordable are these? Well as a an example the Avoplast forks come in a 24 pack with free Prime delivery.

It doesn’t appear that Avoplast makes disposable plates or napkins though but there are lots of options for biodegradable plates and biodegradable napkins.

I also found this 114 pc set from Earth’s Naturals that has service for 16 people at a reasonable price.

Everyday Eco-friendly choices

My nieces have some kind of crazy obsession with straws. I keep stainless steel straws handy when they visit. What i like about stainless still straws is, they’re sturdy, they hold up well, and they come in different sizes. They have everything thing from regular size straws to Boba straws. I tried glass straws but they just didn’t hold up in our house. The stainless steel straws definitely do better.

Check out this set of 10 stainless steel straws with silicone tips (a little safer for the kids). It also comes with cleaning brushes. They actually gave me a coupon code to share with you too that is valid until Sept 9, 2019. Use code: METST5FF to get this set for only $5.99 with free shipping! (expires 9/9/19)

Some local convenience stores allow you to buy a branded reusable travel mug and refill coffee for a lower price or even offer so many free refills. Save money and the environment but using reusable water bottles too. There are plenty of different sizes and options from glass, stainless steel, BPA free plastic, and more.

Earth Friendly and Family Friendly Cleaning

There’s lots of reasons to swap out your cleaning products. Not just environmental but for your families health. Fumes and chemicals in some cleaning products can actually cause more harm than good.

There are more eco-friendly options in your grocery store with reduced packaging and free of chemicals but you can also make your own. A simple vinegar and water solution can be great for cleaning windows, counters, and more.

There are also essential oil companies that offer safer cleaning options and essential oil recipes. Simply Earth actually has a subscription service that send you several essential oils each month with natural product recipes. Everything from cleaning products, hygiene products, cosmetics, and more.

You can also choose products that are reusable and let you clean without chemicals using water. E-cloth is an affordable alternative with chemical free options to clean windows, scrub dishes, even remove make up with just water. I’ve used these products myself and they work better than I ever thought. Who knew you can get a good clean with just water?

Are you trying to make earth-friendly changes? I’d love to know what you are doing.


Why You Need Renter’s Insurance

We’ve been homeowners for many years now. But there was a time when we rented. We’ve rented an affordable 2 bedroom apartment in a no-frills small apartment complex. We’ve rented a 3 bedroom apartment with lots of amenities in a large apartment complex. We’ve rented a townhouse in a cute little are in South Carolina. The one thing we always had was renter’s insurance.

For some it’s easy to dismiss renter’s insurance because most of the time you’re not required to have renter’s insurance like you are home owner’s insurance. Some people think “Why should I pay for renter’s insurance if the landlord has insurance?” The landlord’s insurance will only cover repairs to the building. It will not cover all your personal belongings. This could include things like: prescription glasses, jewelry, TVs, appliances, and other expensive items that you’d have to replace in the event of a disaster.

Renter’s insurance is often very affordable. When we had our 3 bedroom apartment we had about $25k in coverage and only paid about $18/mo. My brother had $10k in renter’s insurance and only paid about $8/mo. But he ended up finding that amount of coverage just wasn’t enough.

My brother ended up having a house fire in the duplex he was renting. The fire started from faulty wiring. They lost just about everything either from the fire itself, smoke damage, or water damage from the water to put out the fire. They’re now finding that $10k will only be able to replace appliances and some of their needs. So it’s important to really think about how much coverage you really need. What would need replaced if there was a catastrophe? If you’re ever in that moment you’ll have enough worries.

Another thing my brother learned is to make sure you update your policy regularly. The coverage might have been enough at his old place but not at the new place. Also he never took his ex’s name off the policy so now she is entitled to half of the money even though she never lived in that house or paid anything towards living in that house. This issue is currently being decided between the lawyers.

My brother does have a GoFundMe for his recovery from his house fire. If you can donate or share it would be greatly appreciated.

Now that we’ve talked about the sobering truths of renter’s insurance check out these insurance fun facts.


Benefits of Talking to an Insurance Broker

I’ll be honest, up until a few months ago I didn’t even know what an insurance broker did. I honestly thought it would be more expensive to go through an insurance broker rather than dealing with a company directly. I thought they’d get some kind of big commission which would translate into extra fees on our insurance.

When we were getting ready to add our oldest son to our insurance and saw the crazy numbers that were coming up, we figured it couldn’t hurt to talk to an insurance broker. If we didn’t like what they had to say, well, we already had our insurance with the same company we have for many years. I’m so glad we took the time to do it.

We found out that the insurance company we were with for years is one of the most expensive ones out there and they can be beat by almost any insurance company out there.

We found out that if you have a pool or one of those big outdoor trampolines it can make your house insurance go up.

They told us that the smaller regional insurance companies can be a lot cheaper than the national companies because they’re not having to compensate for payouts for things like earthquakes in California, tornadoes in Kansas, or hurricanes in Florida.

We found out that while one company had amazing rates on car insurance they’re rates were actually worse on home owners insurance so our broker helped figure out the best company to go with as a whole for our needs.

In the end we ended up saving over $1000 a year on our car insurance even with adding a new driver and a used car with liability. I’m so glad we took the time to get the quote. It really paid off.

Speaking of insurance, check out this post I wrote for Bodwell’s blog on Insurance Fun Facts.


Effected By the Equifax Breach? Read This

In September 2017 the Equifax breach effected 147 million people. It’s hard not to considering Equifax it’s hard not to be considering Equifax is one of the major credit reporting agencies. You may have seen the recent post about settlements for people effected by the Equifax breach. They’re offering free credit monitoring for up to 10 years and identity theft protection or $125 cash payment if you already have credit monitoring in place.

To find out if your information was exposed you can check here

If you are effected, you can file a claim here

The claims process has begun but settlements will not be made until January 23, 2020, at the earliest. Claims must be filed by January 22, 2020.

Click here for more information from the FTC.

I also know I’ve talked about it several times on my blog before but Credit Sesame is a free service that keeps giving more and more free benefits. I highly recommend anyone and everyone create a free account with them. I have had an account with Credit Sesame for many years and have never paid them a dime. It’s a great finance tool to check your credit score, monitor your credit, keep track of your debt, and so much more. But maybe the best feature with the Equifax breach is the FREE credit monitoring and up to $50k in identity theft protection. If you would like you can pay a monthly fee for up to $1m in id theft protection but you do not have to. the $50K in protection is a free service with a Credit Sesame account. They also offer assistance and information if you discover you are the victim of Identity theft. While $50k in coverage is awesome for free it could take more than that if you become a victim of identity theft.

Credit Sesame is free and you have nothing to lose with it. It has become a valuable free financial tool for me in repairing my credit since my divorce 11 years ago that obliterated my credit. I’m happy to say I’ve made leaps and bounds in repairing it and it’s because of resources like this.

This post does contain affiliate links. I will get a small commission when actions are take on the Credit Sesame links only. I do NOT receive compensation from the Equifax links.


6 Ways To Get The Most Out Of Your Grocery Budget brought to you by Brice Capital

The monthly grocery budget can be a big number, especially for families. Groceries can cost 100s or over a thousand dollars a month depending on dietary needs, family size, and preferences. Here are some ways to help give you some wiggle room in your grocery budget. Thanks to Brice Capital I’m here to give you a few of my tips. As a family of 6 our grocery budget could get out of hand fast if I didn’t budget and find ways to save!

Couponing

Couponing isn’t all cutting coupons out of the paper. Stores like Market Basket, Giant Eagle, Family dollar and more offer eCoupons on their apps. Cash back apps like Ibotta, Checkout 51, and Saving Star give you cash back . There are even coupon clipping service that let you buy only the coupons you want in greater quantities. So let’s say you know you are going to be buying Pampers diapers, you can order 5 Pampers diapers coupons.

The key to really saving money is to line the coupons up with sales. There’s tons of couponing groups out there now. Google the name of your favorite grocery or drugstore and with the phrase “couponing” after it and you’re sure to find one. I love to shop Giant Eagle for couponing because they double coupons. Ladysavings.com is awesome for Giant Eagle, Walmart, and Kroger and a few others but, in my opinion, best for Giant Eagle.

Some Ideas for Sources for coupons

  • coupons.com
  • klip2save.com
  • Ibotta
  • Checkout51
  • newspapers
  • manufacturer websites
  • Kellogg’s Rewards (for Kellogg’s products)

Clearance Sections

Oh do I love my clearance sections. Find discontinued products, overstock products, scratch and dent, and more. The deals get even better if you have coupons that match up. As an example, my local Giant Eagle is no longer offering Seattle’s Best brand coffee. They had k-cups and bags for only $3.00 each plus I had a coupon for $2 off if I bought two making it only $2 per box of k-cups! Giant Eagle, Walmart, Rite Aid, and many other stores have a regular clearance area.

Bulk Buys

This one you have to compare. If you’re normally buying Brand X body wash for $3 a bottle but you can get a bulk 3 pack for $7 it’s obviously a better deal. I’ve found that club stores don’t always have the best price for bulk prices though. So you really have to know what you normally spend on your fave products.

Additionally there are number of places that let you buy cases of meats such as chicken breasts, bacon, hamburger etc and a discounted rate. There are several places near me that have these case deals periodically like Market Basket and Fisher Country Store.

What About Produce?

Glad you asked. There’s lots of ways to save on produce. When of my favorite ways I just discovered is Misfit Market box. They offer misfit produce at discounted prices and shipped right to your door.

Farm co-ops are another great way to get lots of fresh produce direct from the source for less.

Additionally, cash back apps like Saving Star and Ibotta frequently offer cash back on product purchases.

Rewards Programs

A lot of grocery and drugstores have their own rewards programs: RiteAid, Giant Eagle, Food Lion, CVS, Kroger…actually it might be harder to find one that doesn’t. These rewards programs can offer anything from lower prices, extra discounts after so much spent, special deals for rewards members and more.

Brice Capital Highlight Tip: Stockpiling

This works great with the coupons. So let’s say you have a coupon for shaving cream for $1 off one can. They have this particular shaving cream on sale for $2. If you use the coupon you can get it for $1. Pretty good deal considering this shaving cream is regularly $3.50 a can. So you get a coupon from the paper and you printed a coupon from coupons.com Now you can get two cans for $1 each. If you have more coupons you can get more (as long as the store and coupon limits allow) In this way you could get 7 cans of shave cream for the price of 2 regularly. Then you store them and don’t have to buy shave cream for a year…or however long it lasts you. You do this with multiple items as you see deals throughout the year then you start to really see the savings. Eventually, once you have a good stockpile going, you’re basically shopping your own stockpile.

Re-evaluating your grocery list can help too. Consider buying store brand instead of name brand if you don’t have coupons. Look for budget friendly meal recipes and plan your grocery list accordingly. Consider cutting back on junk food. It’s ok to have a favorite brand but being flexible can really help save money.

This post is sponsored by Diamond Links. Any opinion expressed is my own.