Aromatherapy: Incense on a budget

I have been getting into incense lately, and I’ve always been into good smells such as candles and fancy soaps and such. The problem is, these things can be spendy!

I recently learned how easy it is to make my own incense. It’s not only easy, it’s not as messy as most crafty bath, body, and similar crafts. Here’s how I do it, and I have already been able to sell some after just my first effort.  They make lovely and unexpected gifts.

Blank sticks are available at a number of incense and candle shops online, as well as Amazon and eBay. It pays to shop around, however, as the prices vary like a theme park roller coaster. When you order your blank sticks, also known as punks or joss sticks, have a look at the essential or fragrance oils. Again, prices vary crazily, so beware.incense bundles

Essential oils are far more expensive than your average fragrance oil or burner oil, but they do provide the purest scent. Many fragrance oils are of very good quality, so it’s a personal choice for you unless you desire the essential oils’ therapeutic benefits. I have used both already, and I am pleased with all of my results so far. Just keep in mind, if you are shopping offline, to sniff each sample if you can before you buy, as it won’t be pleasant to burn if it’s not pleasant in the bottle.

Pick up some denatured alcohol. You can also use vodka if you already have some, but for me, since alcohol is so much cheaper, it’s a no-brainer. This will “cut,” or thin out the oil, which will be too smoky (and more expensive to use) if you don’t perform this step. Mix the oil and the alcohol using a “part” method, such as 1 part oil and 2 parts alcohol. If you like a stronger scent, mix it 1:1, but it will use more of your oil. I am finding a 1:2 ratio also works well. Then stir or shake until the oil and alcohol are completely mixed.  There is a solvent called DPG, for dipropylene glycol, which sounds like something from the chemical factory but is quite safe, that you can also use to cut the oil, but it’s more expensive and not readily available in our area in stores.

Place some punks in a tray. I’m using an olive tray and a Rubbermaid drawer organizer without mesh sides. Pour your prepared scent oil over the charcoal portion of the punks and roll them in the tray to ensure even coverage. Then, the hard part: waiting.

Allow the sticks to soak in the oil for 24-48 hours. Your patience with be rewarded! Periodically roll the sticks in the oil as they stand. Once this time is up, place them upright in a vase or a tall glass to dry. This could be the most important step, and it again involves your patience. Allow to dry for another 24 or more hours. I have found 48 hours works best for me in my current rainy spring climate. If you don’t allow them to dry completely, they won’t light well or burn well, and they won’t have the scent you are looking for. Be Patient!

Once the sticks are completely dry, place the bamboo end in a holder or some sand and light ‘er up. When the tip glows a nice red, blow out the flame, sit back, and enjoy your efforts. Not only will you have the scent you want, not someone else’s version of what you should like, but it will be far, far, far thriftier than if you buy your incense at the store.

spa-setting-100152642Incense is out of the stoner’s closet and into the aromatherapy mainstream. With the savings and ease of making it yourself, give it a try. You’ll be surprised and pleased with your results. Who knows? You might discover a new revenue stream.

 

Thrifty Tip of the Day:  Soap Oils can also be used for your fragrance, and they tend to be even cheaper than fragrance oils.  Their scent isn’t as true, but if you like what you are smelling, go for it.

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Who doesn’t like cash?

There are a number of programs for cash back rewards on credit cards, and we hear about them on television and radio regularly. Those cards usually carry high interest, annual fees, hidden fees, or a combination of these.

Did you know you can generate cash back for your shopping without incurring those nasty charges? Mostly online programs, some with the option of accessing their programs while doing your brick-and-mortar shopping, are rampant online. Here is one I like a lot:

ShopAtHome Banner

I have mentioned online points programs in the past, and I still use them often. However, depending on what I’m shopping for, the deals with cash back programs such as these can be more lucrative. In fact, if you don’t hate toolbars, some will even credit your account simply for downloading their toolbar. That can make easier to find and access this free money quite quickly while it’s tailored to your own shopping preferences.  Do understand cookies, which these sites will place on your computer, and know that while you can delete them at any time, you’ll need to accept them again to get your credit while doing your shopping.

Shop At Home also includes printable grocery and brick-and-mortar store coupons and other methods of making your shopping experience better. With a mobile app, you can compare prices as you browse and, if you find a better deal, make the purchase from an online vendor. Your cash back will be credited to your account within a couple of days of your purchase, and you’ll receive your check after you reach a fairly small minimum in your account. Currently, that is $20 at Shop At Home. You’ll receive a $5 credit for joining, and if you download the toolbar, another $5. You’re halfway there and you haven’t spent a dime!

Another such program I like is:

( if you want to be sweet, use this link:  http://www.ebates.com/rf.do?referrerid=nW9kkAKagmM%3D )

Simply starting your online shopping through this site allows you a myriad of ways to find the best site for both savings and cash back. You can search for those offers for free shipping, by the percentage of cash back from your purchases, alphabetically by your chosen site, and more. You can often combine offers, as well, and coupons or offers still generate your “rebate.”

 

These are not the only programs out there, either,   Google “online cash back sites” and see what you find.  There are many sites such as http://www.befrugal.com/cashback/, http://www.topcashback.com/, and http://www.extrabux.com/.  There is a surprising number of sites to compare cash back sites.  Go figure.

 

You know how nice it is to get paid. Go get ya some!

Couponing for Extra Credit

Some places of worship still have coupon exchanges, and perhaps you need to start one if yours doesn’t. Any place shoppers gather could use one if there is someone willing to maintain it by removing expired coupons and add new ones.

At our Kroger, there are coupon pages available at the customer service desk just for seniors. Yes, there are a few advantages for those of us who creak when we walk. Not many, but a few. Too bad these discounts don’t quite make up for the increase in our medical bills! Check where you shop and see if they have such a program.

Lastly, don’t forget to check packaging while you’re using up product. Occasionally manufacturers will include coupons in or on their product packaging for future purchases or to encourage you to try another of their brands. While you’re looking at the package, see if there is a phone number for the manufacturer, or for questions or comments. Call and ask, I like your product; do you have any coupons you can send me? Most companies appreciate your loyalty and will be happy to send them to you. In fact, some reserve their best coupons for just such customers. Yes, I actually do this, and often. It works and these coupons are usually good ones.

If I can get my butt in gear and write it, refunding is another method of gathering up savings that deserves its own treatment. At one time when I was a young bride, I reserved two drawers in my kitchen for my “trash,” as a girlfriend and I called our UPCs and other proofs of purchase and receipts. They didn’t last long; now I am hard-pressed to find room for my gadgets.

There are many places to find grocery coupons, and even some that aren’t physical coupons! It’s enough to say that with a little legwork (well, fingerwork) and organization, you can save a lot of money on your next trip to the grocery store.


 

Thrifty Tip of the Day:

Next post will be starting a series of seasonal topics. Here’s a hint on one of them, an eBook that you should definitely have a look at if you are engaged or if you know someone who is: http://www.amazon.com/For-Richer-Poorer-Wedding-ebook/dp/B00C69HF0G/ref=pd_rhf_cr_p_img_1_MG8J . This easy-reading book is available for just 99 cents on Amazon’s Whispernet, so you can download their free Kindle software if you haven’t already. Then you can read it immediately on your PC or Mac if you don’t already have a Kindle.

Here’s the publisher’s official description:

In this practical and entertaining guide to a tasteful yet fun wedding for the budget-savvy couple, SKR Publishing presents a common sense approach to starting out richer, rather than poorer for the couple wishing to kick off their financial relationship on sound footing. The first in a series of clever budgeting books, ‘For richer or poorer: your wedding on a budget’ is a charming and engaging look at the process of wedding planning from the aspect of a thrifty purse.

At once offbeat and still honoring long-established customs, this guide offers tips and tricks to ensure your event remains grand and chic, yet sticks to your budget leaving no one the wiser.

Some of the ideas presented here are so innovative and fresh, you’ll wonder why no one has thought of them before. Congratulations on your upcoming wedding, your sage sensibility, and the forethought to purchase this book!

As for me, I have already reviewed in on Amazon, and since I’m thrifty in more ways than one, I’ll just copy my review here:

There are a lot of creative ideas in this book that you haven’t heard before, and there are some that have been freshened up. Not to provide any spoilers, but there is an idea for a date night that you just have to try! It’s a lot of fun, with a lot of new thoughts. I hope they hurry up with the rest of this series!