How to Save

Ways to Save Money This Fall

Posted on Monday, October 16th, 2017 at 7:00 am
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Pumpkins from PixabayFall is a good time to make an effort at saving money. There are some extremely simple things you can do that will each save you at least a few dollars. Every little bit of savings adds up!

Reuse Last Year’s Decorations
It can be tempting to spend a lot of money on brand new holiday decorations. Before you do that, go through the decorations that you already have. Most, if not all, of last year’s decorations can be reused this year.

Start by digging out the boxes of decorations. Next, go through them and get rid of the ones that are broken. Begin decorating with what you already have. You may find that you don’t actually need any new decorations after all. Save money by not purchasing more holiday decorations.

Make Your Own Pumpkin Spice Latte
Fall is the season of pumpkin spice everything. Those that like the pumpkin spice flavor are likely to be tempted to buy a pumpkin spice latte (perhaps daily). One seasonal flavored latte from Starbucks, or other coffee shops, might not break your budget. That being said, multiple purchases can add up to something more expensive than you may realize.

Instead, make your own pumpkin spice latte. There are plenty of recipes for it online. Or, you could by a ready-made pumpkin spice coffee mix.

Buy Seasonal Produce
The best time to buy fresh produce is when it is in season. That’s when you can find fresh fruits and vegetables at the lowest price of the year. Woman’s Day has a long list of produce that is in season in October. Here are a few to shop for:

Fruit: apples, blackberries, cranberries, grapes, peaches, pears, plums, tangerines

Vegetables: pumpkins, cabbage, cauliflower, corn, potatoes, sweet potatoes, winter squash

Start Planning for Thanksgiving and Christmas
One way to fit expenses into your budget is to plan for them. If you are serving Thanksgiving dinner this year, start adding some of the food into your weekly grocery purchase. Spreading out the expense can make it easier than having to purchase all the ingredients for Thanksgiving dinner at the same time.

The same is true for Christmas gifts. Make a plan about what you want to buy for each family member. Spread out the cost by making a few purchases now, and a few later. Will you be traveling in December? The earlier you can buy flight tickets and book hotel rooms, the better. Prices tend to increase the closer we got to a holiday.

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Many Stores Won’t Open on Thanksgiving Day

Posted on Monday, October 9th, 2017 at 7:00 am
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Thanksgiving DinnerDo you prefer to shop on Thanksgiving Day, or stay home with family and friends? In the past few years, the trend was for stores to start their Black Friday sales on Thanksgiving Day.

This year, things are changing, and many stores will not open on Thanksgiving Day. It is too early to predict what effect that will have on this year’s Black Friday sales.

The Denver Post reported that fewer Americans plan to shop on Black Friday this year than in previous years. Only thirty-five percent of consumers who plan to shop during Thanksgiving week say they will do so on Black Friday, down fifty-one percent from last year, and fifty-nine percent from the year before.

Fewer people are shopping the Black Friday sales. Last year, 154 million Americans shopped during Thanksgiving weekend, marking a thirty-two percent decline from 2011. Those number comes from the National Retail Federation.

Best Black Friday, a website that provides updated information about Black Friday Sales, reported the results of a survey they conducted from September 26-27 of 2017. A total of 523 American adults over the age of 18 were asked a question. “How do you feel about stores being open on Thanksgiving Day?”

The results showed that 57.53 percent of respondents do not like the idea of stores opening on Thankgiving. That number combines the 20.66% of respondents who said they dislike stores opening on Thanksgiving, and the 36.87% of respondents who said they “strongly dislike it”.

The Sacramento Bee is one of several news sources that have a list of at least 50 stores that will not open their doors on Thanksgiving Day. Here are some of the big name stores that have said they will not be open on Thanksgiving Day. This information could help you when you start planning out Black Friday/Thanksgiving Day shopping.

  • Blane’s Farm and Fleet
  • Burlington
  • Cost Plus World Market
  • Costco
  • Crate and Barrel
  • DSW – Designer Shoe Warehouse
  • Ethan Allen
  • Guitar Center
  • Half Price Books
  • Hobby Lobby
  • Home Depot
  • IKEA
  • JOANN Fabric and Craft Stores
  • Lowe’s
  • Marshall’s
  • Neiman Marcus
  • Office Depot and OfficeMax
  • Petco
  • PetSmart
  • Pier 1 Imports
  • Sam’s Club
  • Sportsman’s Warehouse
  • Staples
  • The Container Store
  • TJ Maxx
  • Tractor Supply

Keep in mind that things could change as we get closer to the Thanksgiving and Black Friday sales. It is possible that additional stores will join the list of those that will not open on Thanksgiving Day. We are also likely to see a list of stores that confirm that they will be open and starting their Black Friday sales on Thanksgiving Thursday.

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How to Save Money on Toys

Posted on Monday, October 2nd, 2017 at 5:18 pm
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Toys R Us 100x100As you may have heard, Toys R Us, the biggest “brick-and-mortar” store that sells toys, has filed for bankruptcy. Those of you who have children probably shopped at Toys R Us for holiday gifts. Here are some ideas on how to save money on toys.

Use your Toys R Us Coupons
Sometimes, when stores declare bankruptcy, they stop issuing coupons. You should use up your Toys R Us coupons as soon as possible. The store may eventually run out of stock, depending on what happens as a result of the bankruptcy. There’s a chance you will get some good deals if Toys R Us decides to liquidate the toys that are already in the stores.

Consider Amazon
You can find almost anything on Amazon – and that includes toys. Make sure to do some price checking between the cost of a toy on Amazon and the price of that same toy on other retailer’s websites. Don’t forget to take into account the cost of shipping. One of them is going to have a lower overall price than the others do.

Try Target
Target stores have a pretty good sized toy section. They also sometimes have sales on certain types of toys. Before you visit your local Target store, take a minute to check their website. Target offers printable coupons on items from all over their store. It is possible they will have a coupon for a toy that your child would love to play with.

Shop Early
Many families find that they need to set a limit on the amount of money they spend on holiday gifts for loved ones this year. One way to save money is to start shopping early. Make a few purchases at a time instead of all at once. This helps spread out the cost.

Buy Second Hand
Many thrift stores have a toy section. Stores that sell gently used children’s clothing might also have a selection of used toys. The price on toys from these sources is going to be much lower than if you bought a similar item at a retail store.

It is a good idea to check board games or puzzles to ensure they have all the pieces. Stuffed animals will probably need to be washed before you hand them to your child. You can pick up a lot of children’s book, for a very low price, at thrift stores.

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How to Save Money on Organic Produce

Posted on Monday, August 14th, 2017 at 7:00 am
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Fruit & Vegetable PlatterPeople who seek organic produce are making that choice because they want to avoid things like pesticide residues. Unfortunately, organic produce is often priced higher than “regular” produce is. That doesn’t mean your grocery bill has to always end up breaking your budget, though. Here is how to save money on organic produce.

Shop at a “Regular” Grocery Store
You don’t have to shop in a store that is known for having a lot of organic produce. “Regular” grocery stores, such as the ones connected to Safeway, have started carrying plenty of organic produces. Do some price checking before you shop. Chances are, the “regular” grocery stores have the best price on organic produce.

Buy Produce from Farmers
A Farmers’ Market is a good place to buy organic produce. Typically, the farmers participating are local. You can literally ask the farmer if their produce is organic.

The produce at the Farmers’ Markets came from somewhere reasonably nearby. It might be from your county or state. Produce that has to be shipped across the country, or from a foreign country, tends to cost more to make up for the shipping cost. The Farmers’ Market organic produce is likely to be a good deal.

Start a Garden
Do you have a “green thumb?” Is there room in your backyard (or balcony) for a small garden? If so, then you have the opportunity to grow your own vegetables and use organic methods to grow them. This is obviously going to take a little bit of patience, and you might need to supplement your grocery list with produce from the store while your veggies are growing.

What if you don’t have space at home for a garden? See if your town or city has a community garden. Ask if there is space available.

Shop Seasonally
The best time to buy fresh produce is when it is in season. This is true for organic produce (and produce that is not organic). Adjust your grocery list to include fruit and veggies that are in-season. You can pick those up for the lowest prices of the year. Wait too long, and they will go out of season and cost more.

Use Coupons for Non-Food Items
You might not be able to find many coupons for organic produce. You can still save money by using coupon on non-food items (like food storage containers, trash bags, and tissue). Saving money on non-food items means you can take that savings and allocate it towards organic produce. This trick does not lower the cost of the produce – but can help lower the cost of your overall grocery bill.

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Ways to Save on Back to School Shopping

Posted on Monday, August 7th, 2017 at 7:00 am
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Globe, notebook stack and pencils. Schoolchild and student studiBack to School shopping can be expensive – especially for families with a lot of kids who all need school supplies and clothing at the same time. Fortunately, there are ways to save on Back to School shopping.

Shop the Back to School Sales
Stores that sell stationary, pens, folders, and other school supplies tend to start their Back to School sales in early August. You can compare prices by checking the websites of the stores in your area. Check the prices of the school supplies your kids need at office supply stores and at dollar stores. Pick the store that has the best prices.

Compare Generics to Name Brands
You may be aware that many name brand groceries have the same ingredients as the generic versions – and that the generics are almost always less expensive. The same concept holds true for most school supplies. Buy the generic version of lined paper folders, and pencils. Your total will be less than if you purchased name brand products.

The trick is to pay attention to the sturdiness of the school supplies. If the generic ones, and the name brand ones, feel equally durable, then it’s best to go with the lower-cost generic ones. However, if the generic ones are flimsy, it means they could fall apart sooner than the name brand versions.

Buy in Bulk
People buy groceries and household products in bulk because it’s cheaper than buying those same items individually throughout the year. This technique works well for Back to School items, too.

Purchase multiple boxes of unsharpened pencils now, when they are on sale. (They tend to cost less than the boxes of pre-sharpened pencils.) Store the extras at home. When your child runs out of pencils halfway through the school year, you can “shop at home” for more and save money.

Find Out What You Already Have
Is last year’s backpack still in good condition? Your child might be able to reuse it in the upcoming school year. Go through your home and gather crayons, pencils, folders, pens, and notebook paper. You might have enough supplies at home for your child to start the first week of school with or to get by until your next paycheck arrives.

Ask the Teacher
If possible, ask your child’s teacher what school supplies are absolutely necessary for your child to bring on the first day of school. Explain that you are struggling financially at the moment, and need to spread out the cost of Back to School shopping over more than one paycheck. Most teachers will understand your situation and be willing to help you make decisions on what to buy first.

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Some Facts About Soy Milk

Posted on Wednesday, July 12th, 2017 at 7:00 am
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Soybeans and Soy milk from PixabaySoy milk is one of many alternatives to dairy milk. There has been debate about its name and about its nutritional content. Here are some facts about soy milk that will help you determine if it is a good choice for you (and for your family members.)

Soy Milk is not Dairy
Milk comes from cows. It is a dairy product. Soy milk comes from soybeans, which are vegetables that belong in the legume family. The National Milk Producers Association want the Food and Drug Administration to prevent beverages made from soy from being labeled with the word “milk”.

Soy Milk and Allergies
Soy milk might be a good alternative for people who have an allergy to milk, or who have an intolerance to dairy. People who are allergic to soy should not drink soy milk. To be clear, drinking or eating soy does not cause food allergies. Soy is one of the eight most common food allergies, but it is relatively rare in comparison to the other seven. Soy allergies are much less common than milk or peanut allergies.

Soy Milk and Nutrition
According to Livestrong, each 8 ounce serving of soy milk provides 100 calories, 8 grams of carbohydrates and 7 grams of protein. It also contains 4 grams of fat. Specifically, soy milk has 0.5 grams of saturated fat, no trans fats, and no cholesterol.

Per serving, soy milk includes 0.510 mg of robiflavin, which is more than one-third of the USDA’s recommended 1.3 mg. Soy milk also contains 299 mg of calcium per serving. (The daily recommended amount of calcium is about 1,000 mg.) Soy milk contains 119 IU of Vitamin D (more than half of the daily recommendation.) There is about 1.2 grams of sucrose in 8 ounces of soy milk.

FitDay states that soy protein contains all of the essential amino acids, which means that it is a complete protein. About 35% of the calories in soybeans come from protein, while other types of beans only offer 30% of their calories in protein.

Soy Milk and Babies
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that babies receive human breast milk, because it is the ideal source of nutrition for infant feeding. Their report showed that isolated soy protein-based formula has no advantage over cow milk protein-based formula as a supplement for a breastfed infant. AAP says that soy protein-based formulas are not recommended for preterm infants.

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Save Money by Thinking Outside of the Box

Posted on Monday, July 10th, 2017 at 7:00 am
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Woman Holding BoxPeople tend to get into a routine. They do the same things, the same way, all the time. That might make life easier in some ways simply because you don’t have to think much about when or how to do something. However, it is possible to save money by thinking outside of the box. Alter your routine a little bit, and see how much money you can save.

Take Public Transportation
People who drive their cars or trucks to their workplaces end up spending more money than they may realize. You have to pay for the gas you burn driving to and from work. You might also have to pay for parking. Vehicles that are excessively used might end up needing routine repair work more frequently than ones that aren’t driven every day.

Save money by taking public transportation instead. You might be able to take the bus or train to and from work instead of driving. Find out the cost of a monthly ticket. It might be significantly lower than what you spend to drive yourself to work and back several times a week.

Visit the Library
Most, if not all, libraries, will offer a free library card to people who live in the local area. That card can help you save a lot of money! You can check out books for free instead of buying them for full price at big chain book stores. Some libraries have copies of the local newspaper that you can read for free while you are there.

Many libraries allow people to borrow music and movies. You might be able to cancel your favorite music streaming service, or movie streaming service, and rely on the library’s catalog instead. This could get you through a lean period when you are low on hours or have an unexpected bill to pay.

Use Up Your Groceries
You might be throwing away food that is still safe to use. Overripe bananas can be made into banana bread. Do you have a lot of vegetables in your refrigerator that are a little past their prime? Turn them into a vegetable broth. You can add in vegetable parts you wouldn’t typically eat, like stems or skins.

Stale bread can be turned into a bread pudding, or garlic bread, or turned into croutons. Use up the stale bread as ingredients in homemade meatballs or meatloaf. Consuming groceries while they are still edible is a great way to save money.

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Coconut Oil has More Saturated Fat than Other Cooking Oils

Posted on Wednesday, July 5th, 2017 at 7:00 am
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coconut-1501334_640The American Heart Association released a presidential advisory about dietary fats and cardiovascular disease. The American Heart Association is sharing this information in an effort to help people prevent themselves from developing cardiovascular disease. Some people are angry about this news, because it reveals that coconut oil is not as healthy as they believed it to be.

WebMD points out that coconut oil is made by pressing the fat from the white “meat” inside the coconut. “About 84% of its calories come from saturated fat. To compare, 14% of olive oil’s calories are from saturated fat, and 63% of butter’s are.”

Harvard Medical School notes that saturated fats are solid at room temperature. “Common sources of saturated fat include red meat, whole milk, and other whole-milk dairy foods, cheese, coconut oil, and many commercially prepared baked goods and other foods.” Harvard Medical School says that a diet rich in saturated fats can drive up cholesterol.

The American Heart Association (AMA) reviewed and discussed the scientific evidence, including the most recent studies, on the effects of dietary saturated fat intake and its replacement by other types of fats and carbohydrates on cardiovascular disease. Randomized controlled trials that lowered intake of dietary saturated fat – and replaced it with polyunsaturated vegetable oil, reduced cardiovascular disease by approximately 30%. The AMA says that result is similar to the reduction achieved by a statin treatment.

In addition, the randomized controlled trials showed that replacing saturated fat with refined carbohydrates and sugars did not reduce cardiovascular disease. In short, the AMA is saying that you should avoid using saturated fats and choose polyunsaturated fats, or monounsaturated fats, instead. Put down the coconut oil and replace it with soybean oil, safflower oil, corn oil, or flax oil.

Snopes.com reports that some people, who are personally or financially invested in coconut oil, are taking the AMA’s presidential advisory personally. In the article, Snopes.com points out a specific website that is loudly complaining about the AMA’s advice. That website sells coconut oil and receives a commission on the coconut-oil based diet books that appear on the page.

If your family has a history of cardiovascular disease, you might want to consider what the AMA’s presidential advisory is telling you. The AMA recommends that people reduce saturated fat to no more than 5% to 6% of their total daily calories.

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Best Things to Buy in July

Posted on Monday, July 3rd, 2017 at 7:00 am
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sales-signs-from-pixabayJuly is a month where people are thinking about hitting the beach, taking a vacation, or spending time with family. People who love to shop know that they can get some great deals on things that go on sale in July. Here are a few of the best things to buy in July.

4th of July Sales
Some of the 4th of July sales are on t-shirts that have an American flag design on them. You might also find hats and sandals that resemble the flag. These are great if you are attending a 4th of July party or watching fireworks at a park.

However, the 4th of July sales include more than that. Now is a good time to stock up on heavier denim and khaki for the fall. Check to see if brands like Levi’s and Dockers are having a sale. Stores are trying to clear out their current inventory so they can bring in the new Fall lines. This means you can pick up whatever summer clothing is left for a low price.

Christmas in July
It is hard to predict exactly what a Christmas in July sale will include. Sometimes, it literally has dramatic discounts on leftover Christmas stock that didn’t sell in December.

Usually, the Christmas in July sales feature discounts on toys. You can save money by purchasing that toy now, and hiding it away until Christmas. In the past, Christmas in July sales have includes deals on travel and jewelry.

Steam Games
If you love video games, now is a good time to see what games are on sale at Steam. The Steam Summer Sale continues through July 5, 2017. Older games that have become less popular over time might be on sale for as much as 75% off the original price. Somewhat newer games could be offered at a discount of 20% to 50% off.

Amazon Prime Day Deals
This year, the third annual Amazon Prime Day will take place on July 10. The sale will last for a total of 30 hours. Those who want to take part in the savings must sign up for Amazon Prime before July 11, 2017.

In general, it is difficult to predict exactly what the Amazon Prime Day deals will be. If you are fast, you could end up with a great deal on something you want or need. On previous Amazon Prime days, specific items tended to sell out very quickly. There also can be a lot of things you have no interest in purchasing. It’s a bit of a “grab bag”, but it might be fun to check out.

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Ways to Stay Healthy This Summer

Posted on Wednesday, June 14th, 2017 at 7:00 am
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Row of Bottled WaterFor some people, summer means vacation time. That vacation could be in the form of a long vacation that involves plenty of traveling, or a “staycation” that takes place in a weekend. Even if you are stuck at work for the entire summer, you still need to think about good health. There are plenty of ways to stay healthy this summer.

Stay Hydrated
It is always important to make sure you are properly hydrated. The hot, humid summer weather requires people to be extra vigilant about hydration. LiveScience says you need to drink enough water to prevent thirst. For short-duration, low-to-moderate intensity activity, it is advisable to drink water before, during and after exercise.

Don’t Diet
People are often tempted to go on a fad diet right before summer in an effort to quickly lose weight. These types of diets are not healthy and can be dangerous. No one should starve themselves in an effort to stay under an arbitrary number of calories.

USA Today College reports that people should try to eat healthy foods 80% of the time. This allows for some indulgences of less-than-healthy food without destroying your health.

Remember to Exercise
Summer vacation should involve some relaxing activities. You still need to get at least some exercise, though, in order to stay healthy. Forbes points out that getting 20 minutes of exercise, every other day, will help you to stay healthy. Visit the gym at the hotel you are staying at, or go for a swim.

Forbes also points out that walking is a good form of exercise. Taking a walking trip through a city gives you the opportunity to take an architecture tour, or to stop and take plenty of photos.

Make Frozen Fruit Treats
A quick and sweet treat doesn’t have to be an unhealthy one. You can freeze small pieces of fruit on a stick and eat that instead of a store-bought popsicle. Make a frozen fruit kebob out of pieces of a variety of fruits. You can cool off, get hydrated, and get some fiber at the same time.

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