Hand holding a light bulb trying to save electricity.

Down-Under Kids Save on Electricity

Question about how to get my kids on-board with saving money

How do you get your kids to appreciate ever-increasing electricity costs and to turn off lights and appliances? Mine just seem to walk away and have no care that Australian electricity costs are rising and rising and we now pay a carbon tax on top of this. I nag them to turn off lights and appliances at the wall, but it is a battle

Answer about what we've done to involve our kids in the household management process

We have encountered this problem on a much smaller scale and have had regular conversation with our kids about what we’re doing to save money on electricity – it hasn’t gotten to the nagging stage though.

As a suggestion, have a family meeting and let everyone see the electric bill from the previous month and from that same month last year. Make a game of reducing costs by saying that if you as a team, find a way to save 10% or 20% on the bill in the next month, you’ll pay for a pizza party, or some other one time fun event, with part of the savings.

Nagging doesn’t work, but incentives and rewards probably will.

Another option would be to allow one of your kids to become the energy czar and let him pay the electric bill and be responsible for reporting to the family how his department is doing – again an incentive for performance could be a special treat for the czar if he is able to manage the usage and reduce expenses.

As a last thought, install CFL (compact fluorescent bulbs) wherever possible. They use much less energy and put off less heat, both of which can help you save.

Let us know how these ideas fly down under.

How do you get your kids to save on electricity. Post your comments below so we all can learn.

How can you get your kids to help save electricity?


Brown grocery bag with watermelon, celery and tomatoes showing out of the top.

Which Store Has The Best Grocery Prices


Question about saving on grocery expenses

Which grocery store has the best prices?

Answer about saving on groceries

We're asked this question all of the time at seminars and by reporters. The truth is that all stores will advertise something as a killer sale each week. These weekly sale items are called loss leaders; they are products that stores use to entice shoppers to come in and shop. The products usually are steeply discounted items where the profit margin is either very slim or non-existent for the grocer. (We were told by one retailer that the turkeys they sell at Thanksgiving for between $.29 and .$.49 per pound, cost the store $.89 per pound). Grocery stores are hoping that you’ll come into the store and buy the loss leader along with other full price items.

If you have time and know your prices, you can become a “cherry picker.” This is someone who just stops by the store for the loss leaders and buys nothing else. Grocers don’t like cherry pickers, but this is one sure-fire way to save on your grocery bill. Stocking up on loss leaders will fill your freezer and pantry with low-cost food while keeping your wallet stocked with excess cash. As you learn which prices are best and stock up judiciously on sale items, grocery shopping will become a game you’ll love to win. So, how do you shop? Are you loyal to one or two stores or do you cherry pick?


Which grocery store has the best grocery prices?

Man sitting on a white sand beach by the blue ocean using a laptop computer

How the Internet can help you save Money on Hotels and Travel

This is the never-ending question – how can a budget-savvy family still enjoy traveling and seeing the world? The answer for this question can easily be found online (especially since right now you are online reading this on our blog).

Today we are going to talk briefly about how searching online can help you in every step you take while planning a trip. In fact, believe it or not, there are a ton of tricks and tips that will save you money every time!

Use Discount Hotel Booking Sites

If you want to find cheap hotels, but don’t want to spend hours looking for them online, start your travel planning from specialized hotel booking sites. These sites are designed to make your hotel booking easier and quicker. In many cases, all you need to fill in is the city you want and the number of people you need to accommodate. After you click “search” the site will show you the best deals in that location. This way you can also choose the hotel that has the features you want and the price that fits your budget. Search, Click and Save!

Sign up for newsletters

Although not many of us enjoy having tons of spam emails hit our inbox, in this case, those messages can help you save lots of money. A big part of various airfare and hotel deals go unannounced, and even those awesome specialized booking sites don’t always share the best deals. The only way to avoid missing the deal of a lifetime is to sign up for your chosen travel brand’s email newsletter. This way you will receive periodic notifications about upcoming sales and promotions and also get various discount codes or coupons that could save you lots of money as well.

Become a fan of social media

Most of us have at least one social media account . . . or more. Why not use your social media time to help yourself save money? Right now, go and “like” the travel sites you want to use on Facebook, follow them on Twitter and look for them in other social media channels as well. It is very common for travel companies to release their best promotional deals and even steep discounts directly through their social media channels. So if you become a fan there, you will get the best deals by just scrolling through your feeds each day!

Use coupons

Couponing is not only for grocery savings, home cleaning products or clothing. Right now more and more traveling brands are offering coupons and discount codes which can also save you tons of money on their products or services for things like: luggage, airline tickets, hotel rooms or even car rentals abroad. You can literally save on everything if you search for exclusive coupons. And once you’re in your travel destination, keep your eyes peeled for unique local coupons in newspapers, magazines and hotel concierge brochure racks!

Use free Internet connection

From Internet access to international calls, there is always a way you can save money. Once you check into your hotel, one of the first things you should look for is free Wi-Fi, so you can save your mobile data and still be in touch with the world. There are always some free Wi-Fi spots at cafes, libraries and other places where you can also enjoy free Internet. Look for a McDonald’s, Starbucks or Barnes & Noble and you should be set.

If you are traveling for a long time, you might want to call your family back home. For that reason, try out free apps and programs that will let you save money on this as well. Skype is an Read More...

Large House with an American flag out front

Should I pay off my mortgage with 401(k) funds?

Question about using my 401(k) to eliminate my mortgage

I have been paying an extra $560 on my mortgage since last July. Recently I began paying an extra $1,000 each month. We owe $l55,000 on our house — our original loan was for $l86,000. Our house payment is $l,427. We have $200,000 in a 401(k) plan (maybe less now).

Should we pay off the house with the money in our 401(k) or keep paying as much extra as we can? 

We also pay (depending on interest rates) between $700 and $l,500 per month in interest on a home equity line of credit. I thought that once I paid off the house, I could work at paying off the line of credit. What would you do?

Answer about paying off a mortgage quickly

We would never raid a 401(k) plan unless it was a dire, life or death emergency. You’d not only have to pay a 10% penalty for early withdrawal, but also have to report the money as income and pay taxes on it. Plus, you would have less money earning interest / appreciating for the future.

Stop the HELOC

Instead, stop using the home equity line of credit (HELOC) and focus on paying it off as soon as possible—it's probably a higher interest rate than your mortgage. Once that’s done, start paying off your mortgage with a vengeance. You’ll save more in interest by eliminating the HELOC first than by paying down your mortgage.

Consider temporarily reducing the amount you contribute to your 401(k) to maximize your debt reduction.

You’re on the right track — destroying debt will produce incredible freedom.

* * * * * * * *

4/9 2:22 PM Susan Johnson wrote:
This economy has hit my husband and I hard. We will be filing for bankruptcy. Do you know of anyone who has gone through this and the best way to manage to survive through this?

* * * * * * * *
4/23/10:10 AM America's Cheapest Family wrote:
We do not have experience with bankruptcy and have never recommended filing.  We refer people to Consumer Credit Counseling for help with establishing a plan with creditors and developing a budget.  Check out books from the library on budgeting and create a lean budget that allows for savings.

* * * * * * * *
12/9 1:07 AMdubaispring wrote:
yay..that is a lot of money just for mortgage..

* * * * * * * *
12/11 10:18 AMcyprus wrote:
This is hideous $401 grand for mortgage?

* * * * * * * *
12/14 8:50 AMdubai palm island wrote:
thanks for the great article, but what will happen if your source of loan failed.

* * * * * * * *
12/16 9:30 AMlarnaca wrote:
no..its too expensive for a mortgage for me..

* * * * * * * *
cyprus wrote:
well, provided that the house is big and is comfortable enough to live in..

* * * * * * * *
12/22 8:33 AMdubaiprop wrote:
I wouldnt pay that if i were you..

* * * * * * * *

Frozen meat in a white plastic butcher tray.

Tips for freezing and defrosting meat

Question: How do you freeze filet mignon, and keep it from getting dry and tough? We recently purchased filet mignon from Costco, ate two of them (they were delicious) and froze the others. When we defrosted and cooked them, they were awful. Is there is a better way to store them to preserve the flavor and texture?


Answer: We don’t buy filet mignon. But we do successfully freeze meat and enjoy it weeks and months later by using the following principles.

1.    Get the air out.

When we repackage bulk meat, we triple-wrap it in plastic wrap, careful to get all of the air out. We also insert a paper label with the date, type of meat and weight. Some friends swear by those vacuum sealers for their meat - if you can afford one, this might be the best way to preserve the excellent taste of the filets. Careful packaging keeps air out and reduces that freeze-burned taste.

2.    Don’t store it too long.

Vacuum-sealed turkeys and other meats in thick plastic wrap can last more than a year without loss of flavor. Example: Since frozen turkeys come vacuum-sealed, they can be stored easily for a year and possibly longer. One butcher who served in the Navy said that they often shipped out with two years’ worth of frozen Thanksgiving turkeys on board. Did you ever notice that frozen turkeys don't have an expiration or sell by date on them?

But storing meat in the Styrofoam trays with a single layer of plastic wrap for more than a month is asking for trouble. 

3.    After taking the meat out of the freezer, tenderize and marinate it.

We use some favorite marinades that taste yummy and enhance tenderness. One is Italian salad dressing — we’ve used it on chicken and steak — tastes great. Another is teriyaki and wine — 1/2 cup of teriyaki, 1/2 cup of the cheapest red wine you can find and 1/2 tablespoon of ginger powder per pound of meat. We let the meat marinate in a deep roasting pan all day and it’s always tender and delicious after being cooked. Get more details here.

4.    Use a non-frost-free freezer.  

We like non frost-free freezers because they don't dry out food as quickly. Frost-free freezers have a fan that constantly runs to reduce the build-up of frost, but that same fan removes moisture from food that isn't vacuum sealed. Years ago we started with a 9 cubic foot chest-freezer, then graduated to a 17 cubic-foot upright. Now we have a 27 cubic-foot chest freezer. Check out this list of the best selling freezers on Amazon.



Subscribe to Front page feed