Energy Saving Tips & DIY Door Draft Stoppers

I know no one is a fan of spending their hard earned money on bills – but there are a few monthly bills that just irritate me when I get online to pay them. Ones that I know I could keep down if I was a bit more pro-active but I always get too busy, and then I’m kicking myself when I see how much that bill is each month. The biggest one of those most annoying of all bills is the utility bill. I know we all need gas and electric to live our day-to-day lives, but I think some would be shocked at the amount I was paying each month just to heat our home and water, and turn on the lights!

I decided to be a bit more pro-active to see what I could do myself to help save money on the utilities – so I had a bit more extra money in my pocket each month. I was pleasantly surprised that these few minor things saved me a good chunk of change within the first 2 months, and I am still working on more ways to save more! Check out these tips that helped me save money – and energy!

Winter Energy Saving Tips

 Cover the Floors. Bare floors, especially with little or no insulation doesn’t do much to keep the room warm. Carpet, or add rugs to rooms with wood, tile, or vinyl floors to add heat retention – and comfort. (no one likes to put their feet on a cold floor, right?!)
Change Filters. Changing the heating filters in your heating system each month will give you more efficiency, which will save you money in the long run.
Make Your Own Door Draft Stopper. Originally I was going to order some door draft stoppers online but why would I spend my hard earned money on some expensive product that number one I wasn’t sure would work for my home and two something I could make myself!
There are soo many different way to make your own door draft stoppers, but those who know me know I will go the easiest route. I don’t have a lot of time (or energy) to make anything too fancy (though there are many many ways to do it). So I made it simple – you need 3 things: Swimming pool noodle, old pillowcase, needle with thread.
DIY_Door_stopperDepending on the size of the pool noodle you will either need to cut it in half, or cut down the middle of the noodle. Even out the size and insert into the pillow case. You will want to measure the width of the door to see where you will need to sew the noodle into the pillow case.
DIY_door_stopper_finalAfter you do that, you just slide it under the door and voila! Your door draft stopper!

Turn Up the Temperature s-l-o-w-l-y. I’ve finally gotten it through my husband’s thick skull that you can’t come home freezing and turn the furnace up 10 degrees. Quickly raising the temp will activate the heat strip which uses a TON of energy which = a larger utility bill. Turn it up a degree or 2 at a time until you reach a comfortable temperature
Bundle Up. Ok no one wants to run around the house in winter coats, hats and gloves, but if it’s winter out you should have on long pants, long sleeves and some socks! I used to mock my Dad calling him a cheapskate  who would jokingly tell us to add a layer when it got colder out..but I find myself doing the same thing. If the kids are sitting down watching T.V. and complaining about getting cold – tell them to grab a blanket or a broom (after all an active body stays warmer right?!)
Close Your Fireplace. A lot of people don’t realize that you need to close the flue up when not in use, and also if you install glass doors it will keep the cold air out!
Limit Portable Heaters. Though sometimes necessary (I have the draftiest room in the house, so I know) running a 1,500 watt heater can get expensive. Run it for awhile before bed and then turn it off, or have it set to turn off after a certain time to save you the extra expense.
Wrap the Windows. If you can’t afford new windows right now, there is a solution to the draft coming through them. Wrap them in insulation or even a plastic wrap to keep the draft from coming into your home. Though not the most attractive, it can help you save a TON of money on your heating bill, and you can always throw a cute curtain over them to block the view. I recommend leaving at least 1 window in each room unwrapped in case of an emergency though.
Turn it Down When Your Gone. Since I am gone anywhere from 8 -12 hours per day there is absolutely no sense in my furnace kicking on while no one is there to enjoy the warmth. I turn my thermostat down every day before I leave for work, and then up as soon as I get home. This saves a ton especially if you are gone from your home during the week.
Plan Projects with Energy Bills in Mind:  Whenever you may decide to do some upgrades in your home, don’t forget to keep your utility bill in mind when doing so. Doing upgrades is fun, but make sure that you are proper insulating the room (walls and floors, etc) and that you are buying energy efficient lighting, and appliances. PG&E has a list of rebates, as well as refrigerator recycling programs, efficiency research and even a Money Saver Tool to help in your endeavors. A little extra work now, can go a long way in saving you money in the future!


Find more energy and money saving tips on PG&E’s website and don’t forget to enter their Instagram contest to win a Home Depot gift card, here’s what you need to do to enter

Follow @pacificgasandelectric on Instagram here:
Post to Instagram on any of the contest dates using the photo prompts for inspiration, and the hashtags #PGEhome #PhotoChallenge
Fill out the entry form on the contest microsite:

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Posted in Crafts/DIY, Money Matters | Leave a comment

HealthCare and Taxes? It’s Easier Than You Think

This year was the first year that the Affordable Care Act -which is designed to ensure everyone carries health insurance – is required. There are a lot of people unsure what to expect and some are nervous about how to file, and what to do. But TurboTax has simplified the ACA process and has done all the hard work for you, making filing your taxes just as easy as in the past – (check out the enrollment guide for more information). For most people complying with the ACA, it’s as easy as checking a box on your form to confirm you have insurance. TurboTax2     It really is a lot easier than you thought – taxpayers will fall into 3 categories when it  comes to the ACA and taxes: 1.The Insured – for most people who are complying with the ACA the new tax law isn’t a big deal. You’re insured through your employer, Medicaid, Medicare, or a private provider. You will just check a box confirming that you do have health insurance, and proceed with your tax form as usual. No need to pay someone extra to do this simple step for you! TurboTax3 2. Insured Through Exchanges – This year 8 million people became insured through or their state exchange (Congressional Budget Office). If you were one of these people you will receive a 1095-A form from or your state exchange and just input the information just like you would the details from your W-2 forms. Pretty simple, just a few extra steps. TurboTax4 3. The Uninsured – If you are one of those who do not have insurance, and don’t qualify for any exemptions, you will pay a penalty of about $95, or 1% of your income. If you do happen to be uninsured, you still have time to look into buying insurance during open enrollment which runs from November 15, 2014 through February 15, 2015. If you still are uninsured during the rest of the year TurboTax has a free calculator for you to estimate your tax penalties. The penalty is based on your income and family size. TurboTax5 If you are uninsured, please make sure to check and see if you qualify for an exemption! About 1/2 the people that are uninsured (over 23 million) could qualify, but are unaware and will end up paying unnecessary penalties! There are a number of reasons why you may be exempt from a penalty for not having health insurance – like low income, family size, etc. TurboTax has a free tool to help you understand the exemption process and to see if you qualify!   TurboTax   Make sure you are prepared for the 2014 tax season – and remember, TurboTax has you covered! You don’t have to spend your much needed tax refund on fees to pay a tax preparer, visit TurboTax and get all your questions answered!

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Posted in Money Matters | 24 Comments

Top 10 Must See Destinations in Japan

general disclosure

Most people that tend to travel to Japan focus on Tokyo and Kyoto, which are both amazing places to visit. But there are are a lot of hidden treasures in Japan that many people don’t think about – and here’s a list to make sure you are getting the full experience in your travels throughout Japan.


OKINAWA – Okinawa is the fifth largest island in Japan with clear seas bursting with fish, fantastic food, gentle people, beautiful beaches and jungles there is no wonder that the island draws tourist all throughout the year with their subtropical climate. One of the most popular ares of Okinawa is the city of Nago located on the Northern part of the island. Nago Beach is one of the favorites which offer showers, washrooms, vending machines, picnic tables and barbecues.
Yaeyama Islands is a also a beautiful beach area, with a laid back atmosphere, and if you didn’t know better you would like you were relaxing on the beaches in the Caribbean not on the islands of Japan.
Also on the outer island you’ll find strong evidence of the Ryūkyū culture, the cultural combination of Taiwan, China and the rest of Japan. The cultural aspects of the Ryūkyū can be found in the islands cuisines and vibrant use of color and bold tropical patterns.

HEMEJI CASTLE is a hilltop Japanese castle complex in Himeji. The castle is regarded as the finest surviving example of a Japanese castle architecture composed of a network of eighty-three building with an advanced defensive system. Unlike many other Japanese castles, Himeji was never destroyed in wars, earthquakes or fires and survived in it’s original splendor. It is both a national treasure, and a world heritage site.

HIROSHIMA PEACE MEMORIAL – any history buff will enjoy the Hiroshima Peace Memorial and Park. One part of the museum gives details through pictures and film  information on what lead up to and caused the atomic bomb. The other shows the the full devastation of the atomic bomb in vivid detail. The park where the museum is located is also known for the famous cherry blossom viewing.

A NIGHT ON MT. KOYA – Mt. Koya has been a place of pilgrimage since the Shingon school of Buddhism was established among it’s ancient cedars. One of the highlights that tourist enjoy is the opportunity to stay with the monks at one of Koya’s mountaintop temples. Eko-In is one of about 50 places open to guest and offers a tranqil room, a multi-course vegetarian dinner and a chance to join the monks and pilgrims for an early morning prayer. Most definitely a once in a lifetime experience.

TOKYO IMPERIAL PALACES – the main  residence of the Emperor of Japan. The large beautiful area is located in the Chiyoda are of Tokyo near Tokyo station and includes several buildings. The main palace is the private residence of the imperial family, an archive, and museum.

SHIKOKU PILGRIMAGE –  The Skikoku Pilgrimage is a Buddhist pilgrimage to visit 88 temples associated with the great priest Kukai=”nofollow”. People visit the temples many ways, some walk the entire way, staying with locals along the way, others bike, or rent cars. It’s been said to be good luck if you visit the temples in a specific order, though it’s not necessary. I’ve been told that walking or biking will give you the best scenic tour – one that can’t be bought!

MT FUJI –  Mount Fuji is the most majestic and highest mountain in Japan. Most known for sight seeing and climbing, Mt. Fuji offers multiple climbing routes, as well as paragliding (which I think would be totally epic). Climbing is offered through the summer months, and they even have local resorts and hot springs to enjoy during your stay. I can’t imagine any photo can really give you a clear picture of what seeing Mt. Fuji in person would be like. Something to definitely  add to your to do list while traveling.

KANAGAWA Not known to many travelers, Kanagawa is Tokyo’s neighboring, more laid back city. Just an hour away by train from Tokyo, Kamakura is a fun destination for those who want to just take it easy for a bit. You can stroll along the roads and admire the temples ,or walk the calm beaches. Hakone, located in Kanagawa, is known for hot springs, ryokan, and magnificent views of Mt. Fuji!

KYŪSHŪ –  A far difference from it’s bustling neighboring cities,  KYŪSHŪ is a beautiful lustrous destination to go hiking, take a swim in the forest, surf some awesome waves, take in the glorious cedar trees, or even be showered with ash from a live volcano. 

SHUKI TAISAI FESTIVAL – If you happen to visit Japan in October, you absolutely cannot miss the Shuki Taisai Samurai festival! Shuki Taisai is held annually on the 16th and 17th of October at the Nikko Toshogun Shrine. One of the main attractions of this festival is the procession of 1,000 men all in full samurai costumes. It is definitely a sight to  be seen! 

What places to visit are on your bucket list?




Posted in Travel | Leave a comment

Best Buy: The Holiday Shopping Destination this Christmas #Hinting Season

best buy disclosure


I don’t do much for myself – most of my time is devoted to working, working some more, and doing things to make sure my husband and kids have everything they need, a lot of what they want, and always giving, giving, giving to everyone! At Christmas I make it my duty to get the best gifts, and I love seeing those happy smiles on their faces. I normally don’t ask for much – but this year the LG OLED TV – is on my Wish List!

When everyone finally goes to bed – and I finish cleaning up from dinner, fold a load of laundry, pack lunches for the next day, and clean up the toys of the living room floor I love love to sit down and enjoy some ME time – my only me time – and watch one of my favorite shows, or a ‘girly’ movie that my husband doesn’t want to watch. So making sure I have a clear, crisp picture with vibrate colors, infinite contrast, and the latest color pixel technology, well, is this Mom’s dream come true.


What is OLED TV?

The stunning design of LG OLED TV is only 0.21″ thick at its thinnest point. Picture quality is spectacular, with Infinite Contrast that ranges from the most blazing whites to the deepest blacks. And, LG’s exclusive 4 Color Pixel technology delivers bright, vibrant colors. Learn more

Your first kiss. A baby’s first steps. The majesty of a desert sunset. Some things in life defy all explanation and must be experienced to be believed. Such is the case with LG’s latest display technology. With deeper and richer colors, stunning contrast and ingeniously curved screens, it is unlike any technology you’ve ever seen, and it delivers a picture that exceeds your wildest imagination.


LG  55EC9300 SKU# 7846019 – OLED TV Best Buy’s everyday price of $3499.99 (save $500)

·         Infinite contrast ratio and stunning color – delivers more natural, lifelike viewing.

·         4 Color Pixel technology enhances color range and accuracy.

·         Super thin design (consider how to show visually)

·         Find content faster with webOS


 Best Buy is hosting an LG OLED Twitter Party on Thursday December 4th at 7PM CST. Feel free to join this party for a chance to receive Best Buy gift cards and other great prizes. Tweet #HintingSeason with your top gifts that you want this Holiday from Best Buy. 

Posted in Deals, Entertainment | Leave a comment

Knowing the Difference Between Agents Can Help You Secure the Best Deals

If you have ever tried to get insurance for yourself, your home or your car, then you know that there are several different kinds of insurance agents to work with. The type of agent often depends on what kind of company he can work with in order to get a policy together. Some agents have better working relationships with auto policy companies than they do with home corporations. Some of the individual agents work with multiple policies where large companies will have one or two people who specialize in each department.

Auto Insurance

This is the most common type of agent who you will work with. Almost every state requires drivers to have insurance on their car, so it’s easier to find this type of agent. Since there are so many auto insurance agents, it can help with the amount that you have to pay for a down payment or monthly payment. Most companies will try to stay in the same price range, but there are some who can offer a lower rate than others simply because they know more underwriters. You can usually develop a good relationship with this kind of agent because you will see that person each month to make your payment or contact the agent frequently about information on your car or your policy.

Homeowners Insurance

Your home is one of the most valuable things that you possess, and there are agents who can find the best coverage in the event that something happens. Your agent can find a policy that covers everything from floods to fires. When you start your policy, the agent will talk to you about how much coverage you want on the home depending on the amount of the belongings that you have. You can easily change this policy if you buy a new house or you need more coverage for items that you add to the home.

Life Insurance

A life insurance agent can help you set up a policy that will provide for your family in the event of an untimely death. The policy can also cover your burial expenses so that your loved ones aren’t burdened with the finances.

Posted in Money Matters | Leave a comment