Make it Better Yourself: Homemade Coffee Creamer

UPDATE: As you know, Eufy RoboVac II SOLD OUT after 3 hours on Monday, leaving thousands of you disappointed. While we were not successful in getting the exact same deal, I’m happy that at least for right now (things can change fast) Eufy RoboVac II is $220 with free shipping (Looks like the Prime free shipping inventory sold out! It is still available, however with a fee for shipping). Consider this a  second chance. – mh

Cream. It’s coffee’s perfect mate. And when that creamer comes flavored in a handy bottle from the dairy case, even more perfect, right? Oh, but so pricey!

Generally, popular brands like Coffeemate, International Delight, Dunkin Donuts Extra Extra and Natural Bliss retail for $.10 to $.30 per ounce. Ouch! But you can make it yourself for a fraction of the price—and it is so easy. The hard part will be not using it all at once. Bonus: You’ll know exactly what’s in it and you can control sweetness and the flavors, too.

Stored in the refrigerator in a glass bottle or similar container with the tight-fitting in the refrigerator, homemade coffee creamer is good for at least 10 to 14 days.

Generally, homemade coffee creamers start with a base to which you add sweetener and flavor. There are two ways to make coffee creamer base—one that starts out sweet (Base Recipe #1)  and one that is not sweet to start (Base Recipe #2).

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Readers Share Their Clever Tricks and Tips

Any time I can eliminate or lower my stress level when traveling, I’m a happy camper. I am always on the lookout for travel tips and tricks. Now I can’t wait for my next flight, so I can try Gary’s tip. Read on.

ARRIVALS FOR DEPARTURES. I travel a lot and sometimes if I’m in a time crunch getting to the airport, I use the Arrivals level instead of the Departures to reach my terminal. This saves a lot of time, even though I may have to take my luggage up the elevator. I figure this is a viable option if the only other choice I have is to miss my flight. Gary

HOMEMADE CHOCOLATE “SQUARES.” Instead of buying expensive baker’s chocolate squares, I mix three tablespoons of baking cocoa with one tablespoon of oil to replicate one square. And since most recipes call for the squares to be melted, not only have I saved money, I’ve saved time, too. Helen

ABSORBENT TUB BACKREST. I have the best tub backrest. It’s more comfortable than the inflatable ones and it’s cheaper than the ones designed for spas. It’s a baby bath sponge! Designed for laying a baby on its back, it’s large enough for my entire back. It sticks to the tub and stays warm as long as the water does. I toss the sponge in the washer periodically to freshen. Lauren

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Feel Good Vacation Does You and Others a Lot of Good

So, how are those summer vacation plans coming?

If things aren’t looking so good for you to get away from home this year, it’s probably not because you don’t have the time. According to a survey by Harris Interactive Inc. for Glassdoor, American workers, on average, take only half of their earned vacation time.

Photo Credit: REI.com

More likely, you keep pushing a vacation to the back burner because you just don’t have the money. After all, a vacation can be very expensive. These days, you’ll spend thousands for a family trip to Disney World—plus airfare if you don’t happen to live in Orlando.

Of course, there are any number of ways to cut the cost of a vacation, but could you get that cost down as low as $150 per adult? You just might be able to pull it off if you change your expectations a bit and adopt a new kind of vacation attitude.

Volunteer vacations are not new, but they’ve received more attention since Americans are no longer flushed with a lot of discretionary income.

For the cost of getting there, and a reasonable amount to cover the cost of your food—like $150 to $300 for a week—you throw your sleeping bag in the car, drive to a nearby park, and for as little as $150, spend a week in the wilderness rebuilding trails with other nature-lovers.

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6 Ways to Get Rid of Fruit Flies

UPDATE. Yesterday, as of 11 a.m. Pacific Time, the Eufy RoboVac 11 sold out and its position as the Amazon Deal of the Day was taken down. We knew at the Deal price of $149 the RoboVac 11 would go fast, but apparently the folks at Eufy didn’t realize the power of our mighty band of cheapskates. We are in touch with them, attempting to get that deal for those of you who missed it. Stay tuned. -mh

Fruit flies are amazing and by that I mean amazingly annoying! These tiny creatures can detect the smell of ripe fruits and vegetables from miles away. If there’s a bowl of fruit on your kitchen counter, there’s probably a fruit fly or two looking for a way into your home to get to it. Because they’re so small, they can get in through window screens or crevices around windows or doors.

Once inside, they reproduce like crazy and not only in overripe fruit. They love the slime that collects in a drain or the nice, cozy bed of a sour mop or sponge. Add the heat of summer to any of those situations and before you know it, you’ve got yourself a full-fledged, annoying fruit fly infestation.

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A Robot Vacuum that Really Works—and It’s Inexpensive!

NEWS FLASH. As of 11 a.m. Pacific Time the Eufy RoboVac 11 is sold out. We knew at the Deal price of $149 they would go fast, but apparently the folks at Eufy didn’t realize the power of our mighty band of cheapskates. Best advice: Let’s watch to see when the status changes back to “Available” and hope that it’s before day’s end. We’ll update right here as we learn more.  -mh

Vacuuming sucks. Literally. My idea of giving our adult sons robot vacuums for Christmas one year was intended to help them with that odious chore.

What a disappointment. I learned much later that both robots got thrown out after only a few months because they were ridiculously noisy, needed constant supervision and just more trouble than they were worth. They were annoying and couldn’t do the job.

But that was then and this is now: There’s a new robot vacuum in town and Eufy RoboVac II is his name.

From the same folks who make the Eufy Stick Vac (which we love around here), this robot has renewed my faith that robotic vacuuming is not only possible—it can be amazing.

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Money Making Ideas For Moms

Want to improve your financial situation? There are only two ways to do that:  1) Decrease your expenses or 2) Increase your income.

It should come as no surprise here that decreasing expenses is the overarching theme of this blog—as well as just about everything else I’ve written over the past decades.

When you reduce the grocery bill, it’s like giving yourself a raise. Refinancing your mortgage to get a lower rate of interest has the next effect of more money in the bank. It’s a solid principle, but cutting expenses does have its limitations.

You can only cut so far without cutting into basic needs and compromising quality of life.

If you are still unable to make ends meets, only one choice remains: Increase income. Theoretically, there are myriad ways to do that, most of which come with their own challenges. Especially for families with young children.

Today I want to introduce to you a very useful book on the topic that offers realistic, practical tools and advice for women—specifically moms with children in the home—for how to make additional money regardless of experience or education.

I love this book so much because it is as practical as it is empowering. Think you don’t have the time, talent or ability to bring an additional source of income into your home? You might be wrong about that!

Believing this might be a book with the potential to change the lives of so many of my readers, I asked our resident book reviewer to give us his thoughts.

Money Making Mom: How Every Woman Can Earn More and Make a Difference, by Crystal Paine

Reviewer: Jeff Tompkins, Jr.

Call it bravery, call it stupidity. But yes, as a 40-something male, I am about to review a book aimed at women, moms in particular. My experience? Well…I was born to a woman, and have been married to one for almost 15 years now so practically an expert right? Of course I realize that my understanding of this book might be different from those in its intended audience, but fortunately Crystal Paine’s Money Making Mom brings some basic ideas and strategies that are very applicable to just about everyone.

Money Making Mom is aimed at moms who want to raise supplemental income, whether they are looking for part-time ideas while raising their children, are single and needing full time income, or maybe have a creative idea budding that needs help getting to the next level.

Paine makes it clear from the very start of the book though that her intent is not to provide a cheat sheet full of “get rich quick” schemes. Instead, she provides her thoughts to help others attain financial freedom, to grow a new mindset when it comes to money as well as potential new ways to obtain that money.

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You Can Have Your Smashed Avocado and a House, Too

I love a good story, especially one that for some unknown reason goes viral, setting off a media firestorm. Like this one:

On a recent episode of the Australian news show, 60 Minutes, property mogul and self-avowed millionaire Tim Gurner casually suggested that the reason millennials cannot afford to buy a house is they’re addicted to $19 Avocado toast and $4 Coffee.

Say, what?

I love avocados and I’m a big fan of toast, but I must admit that I’d never heard of this Avocado Toast—an apparent luxury item that has the younger generation so strapped, a good number are back living with their parents, destined to never having a home of their own.

Oh man, did that not sit well with a lot of millennials. The Internet was ablaze with snarky comments and every effort imaginable to set this Gurner fellow straight.

I read with a bit of glee as one money expert after another “did the math” to prove that giving up twice-monthly $19 Avocado Toast would not make a dent in a millennial’s ability to save a 20-percent down payment on a house. They did this by dividing $19 into a typical 20 percent down payment on an average American house. It got quite funny.

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8 Frugal Gift Ideas for Grads

As you consider gifts for the grads on your list, think of that person’s “next step.” For a high-school grad, it’s college. For a college grad, it’s a job, apartment or grad school.

The next step may be pulling long hours preparing for a state bar exam or taking a trip abroad. Select a gift that addresses that next step.

PREPAID ANYTHING. Your grad is sure to love anything that’s already paid for: movie tickets, gasoline, groceries, fast food, Walmart, Starbucks, Ikea, currency of the country he or she will be visiting, Amazon of course!—let your mind go wild.

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