Three Easy Ways to Bake Potatoes


Think you have nothing to fix for dinner? As long as you have a few potatoes in the pantry, you have at least one option. Whether topped with a pat of butter or loaded up with broccoli and cheese or a big scoop of hearty chili—baked potatoes really are an easy, no-brainer meal. The bonus is that potatoes are nutritious and cheap!


While you can bake just about any kind of potato, Russets are the best option. That’s because the skin on a Russet is thicker and the extra starchy interior has a sweet flavor that gets extra fluffy while baking. Russets are typically larger, which makes them ideal  for a dinner entree.

Here are three ways to prepare baked potatoes: Continue reading

Posted on by Mary Hunt in Food & Recipes 7 Comments

Signs You Might Be a Shopaholic


You can own 85 pairs of shoes 100 DVDs and not suffer from shopaholism. The test, experts say, is if you spend so much time and money shopping that it negatively affects your finances and your relationships.


How can you tell? Here are four signs you might need help, according to April Benson, a psychologist who specializes in treating shopaholics and author of  “To Buy or Not to Buy: Why We Overshop and How to Stop”:

You feel overwhelmed by your need to buy things. Compulsive buyers often buy things they don’t need or can’t afford. They buy things just because they’re on sale or feel an overwhelming urge to buy something—anything—and don’t care what they bring home. If you’ve ever gone shopping for a white blouse and came home with a purple blouse, shoes, pants and new throw pillows, too, you know what I’m talking about. Continue reading

Posted on by Mary Hunt in Mary's Perspective 4 Comments

11 Simple Strategies for Smart Living


TOY BUCKET. Use a large plastic bucket to store children’s plastic toys. Drill several drainage holes in the bottom of the bucket, and you can wash the toys in the bathtub or outdoors with the hose when the kids are finished playing.

photo via:

photo via:

EXTRA CASH. If you get paid every two weeks, you have probably settled into living on that same amount each month. And you know that twice a year you receive a third paycheck in a month. Since you live within your means on two paychecks the other 10 months, plan to use these two “extra paychecks” to boost your savings account, fund your holiday shopping or get a jump on a college fund.

FREE HELP. Many credit unions offer counseling to members, and it’s absolutely free and not reported to the credit bureaus. Check that out before considering other types of credit counseling if you are a member of a credit union. Continue reading

Posted on by Mary Hunt in Tips 4 Comments

A Robust Idea for Coffee Lovers


It all started when my friend Rosalie told me she’s going to start roasting her own coffee beans in her kitchen. In a popcorn popper. The motivation? First quality and taste, but also to cut the high cost of quality coffee by at least half. That was enough to get my attention.


Turns out Rosalie’s co-worker, Dax Wilson, has taken up this hobby of home roasting in a serious way. A conversation with Dax together with a visit to a strategic website was all I needed to become equally enthusiastic.

I learned I could roast green coffee beans (half the price of commercially roasted beans) in a frying pan although that is not the most desirable. There are two methods of roasting: with hot air or on a hot surface. Hot surface allows for a darker roast, which for many tastes is preferable.  Continue reading

Posted on by Mary Hunt in Best Inexpensive, Home & Family 9 Comments

7 Easy Ways to Slash the Cost of Clothing


Clothing is not optional, but spending a lot of money on it is, says author Gregory Karp in his book, Living Rich by Spending Smart: How to Get More of What You Really Want.

Some rights reserved by eflon

Some rights reserved by eflon

So, just off the top of your head, how much would you say that your family spends on clothing in a year? According to the U.S. Consumer Expenditure Survey, a family of four spends on average $2,850 a year on apparel and services like dry cleaning, to keep that apparel looking good. Wow. That’s $240 a month—a major expense in any family’s budget.

Karp offers seven easy ways to cut that expense without having to take fashion risks for yourself or sending the kids off to school looking odd and frumpy. Continue reading

Posted on by Mary Hunt in Mary's Perspective 17 Comments