How to Save

How to Make a Healthy Sandwich

Posted on Wednesday, February 15th, 2017 at 7:00 am
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How to Make a Healthy SandwichLunch often includes some kind of sandwich. Not all sandwiches are equal, though. Some are loaded with more calories than you need, while others are a fairly healthy choice. It all depends on what the sandwich is made of. Here are some tips to help you make a healthy sandwich.

How to Have a Healthy Sandwich

Share with a friend
Restaurants and fast food places are notorious for selling people a much larger portion of food than is healthy to eat. Bring a friend or family member to lunch with you and split that giant sandwich into the two portions that it is supposed to be.

Another option is to set aside half of the sandwich right away. Eat half the sandwich for lunch, and save the other half for later.

Make an open sandwich
One way to reduce the amount of calories you are eating is to make a sandwich with only one piece of bread (instead of two). Pile plenty of vegetables and protein onto the bread. You won’t have to worry about how to fit it all between two pieces of bread.

Try a wrap
The number of calories in a slice of bread differs, depending on exactly what kind of bread you are using. A romaine lettuce leaf doesn’t have many calories at all. Some restaurants offer wraps in addition to sandwiches. Fast food places might have a “low-carb” option. They will wrap your burger in a lettuce leaf instead of a hamburger bun.

Read the labels
If you don’t read the nutrition labels on food very often – you are in for an unpleasant surprise. There are a lot of processed foods that contain sugar. Most people know that cookies contain sugar. Did you know that some condiments contain sugar, too?

Before you add ketchup, or mustard, or mayonnaise to your sandwich, take a minute to read the label. Find out how much sugar that condiment has hiding inside it. Check the amount of calories. You can skip the condiments and add moisture to your sandwich with tomatoes (or other juicy vegetables) instead.

Avoid processed meats
The easiest thing to throw onto a sandwich is some processed, sliced, lunchmeat. It might be tasty, but lunchmeat can contain a lot of sodium. A healthier option is cooked chicken breast, or leftover turkey from Thanksgiving dinner. If you need a quicker option, try canned tuna or canned chicken. Look for a can that is labeled “no salt” or “low salt”.

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Money Saving Tips from a Couple who Saved $50,000

Posted on Monday, February 13th, 2017 at 4:38 pm
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Are you looking for ways to save money?  Consider the advice from a couple that saved $50,556 last year.Are you looking for ways to save money? Many of us have heard the same old tips, over and over again, about how to do that. If you are out of ideas on how to save money, consider the advice from a couple that saved $50,556 in 2016.

The advice comes from a couple who actually used these tips themselves. The Chicago-based couple, Matt and his fiancee, had a lot of student debt and were struggling to set aside any money. Matt’s blog is called Distilled Dollar. It has plenty of advice for those who are pursuing financial independence.

Here are just a few tips from The Distilled Dollar that may help you save money:

Do more than reading the tips
Many of us have read articles (like this one) that include tips for saving money. Matt points out that it takes more than reading about money saving tips. You have to actually implement the tips you read about. He says that once money saving habits are in place – the momentum takes care of itself.

Brew your coffee at home
It is very convenient to start your work day by heading to the nearest Starbucks (or whatever your favorite coffee shop happens to be.) Usually, the coffee drinks you buy from a cafe cost around $3.00 – or more.

You can save money by brewing your coffee at home. Buying a big bag of coffee costs less, per cup, than does a drink from Starbucks. Matt says they went without Starbucks for an entire year.

Cook at home instead of dining out
Two things happen when you make a habit of dining out instead of cooking meals at home. One, you end up spending more money than you need to. It costs much less to make a hamburger and fries at home, from groceries you already spent money on, than it does to buy a similar meal from a restaurant. Two, the groceries you bought might not get eaten before they go bad. That’s a waste of money!

Matt from Distilled Dollar says that when they started cooking at home more they ended up finding creative ways to save money at the grocery store. They also ended up eating healthier than before.

Delay buying new clothes
Are you someone who loves to buy new clothing – even if you don’t actually need it? Chances are the clothing you already have will do just fine. Delay buying brand new clothing as long as possible. It might not be fun, but it is a good way to save some money. New clothes can be expensive!

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February is American Heart Month

Posted on Wednesday, February 8th, 2017 at 7:00 am
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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that February is American Heart Month. Here are some tips for keeping your heart healthy.The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that February is American Heart Month. They point out that heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. Heart disease is preventable. Here are some tips for keeping your heart healthy.

The CDC recommends that people eat a healthy diet. Choosing healthy meal and snack options can help a person to avoid heart disease and its complications. Eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. Adults should have at least 5 servings a day of fruits and vegetables. Limit the amount of processed foods that you consume.

Eating foods that are low in saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol and high in fiber can help prevent high cholesterol. Limit salt or sodium in your diet. Doing so can also lower your blood pressure.

The CDC also recommends that you exercise regularly. Physical activity can help you maintain a healthy weight and lower cholesterol and blood pressure. Speak with your doctor to find out what kind of exercise he or she recommends for you and how long or often you should do it.

Cigarette smoking greatly increases your risk for heart disease. The CDC recommends that you do not start smoking. If you are a smoker, the CDC says you should talk to your doctor for suggestions on how to quit smoking. Limiting the amount of alcohol you drink can help. Too much alcohol can raise your blood pressure.

The Mayo Clinic has more advice on how to keep your heart healthy. The Mayo Clinic recommends that you control your portion size. How much you eat is as important as what you eat.

The portions sold in restaurants are more than anyone needs. Unfortunately, people tend to forget that and end up overeating. The Mayo Clinic recommends that people use a small plate or bowl to help control their portions.

Another helpful way to control your portions is to keep track of the number of servings you eat. One serving of pasta is ½ cup (or about the size of a hockey puck). A serving of meat, fish, or chicken is about the size and thickness of a deck of cards. When in doubt, use measuring cups and spoons, or a scale, to figure out portion size you should be eating.

The Mayo Clinic also recommends that you create daily menus. Planning ahead makes it easier to ensure you get a variety of different nutrients in your diet. Variety can also make your meals and snacks more interesting.

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The Best Things to Buy in February

Posted on Monday, February 6th, 2017 at 7:00 am
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Here are a few of the very best things to buy in February when you can get them for the lowest prices of the year.You can save some money if you wait to purchase something when it is on sale. Every month, there are certain things that you can expect to pick up for a low price. Here are a few of the very best things to buy in February when you can get them for the lowest prices of the year.

What to Buy in February

Tax Software
Tax Day is April 18, 2017. This is when everyone’s individual tax returns are due to the Federal government. The companies that sell tax software are competing, right now, for your dollars. They hope you will buy their software (instead of their competitor’s software). If you look around, you might find coupon codes from companies like TurboTax, H&R Block, and others.

How old is your mattress? If you need a new one, the best time to buy it is during the February Presidents Day weekend sales. On average, mattress deals range from 20% to 40% off, depending on the manufacturer and the model. Ask if the store gives any freebies with the purchase of a new mattress (such as a free frame, mattress protector, or pillows). Some stores will sell floor model at up to a 50% discount.

Canned Foods
February is National Canned Food Month. Check your favorite coupon websites, newspapers, and email resources for coupons on canned food. One of the great things about canned foods is that they store longer than fresh foods can. Stock up on canned foods in February, while the price is low, and you won’t have to buy as much next month when the prices go back up.

The food bank near you is always going to appreciate donations of canned goods. Before you shop, ask the food bank what kinds of canned foods they need the most. Your dollar will stretch farther on canned goods in February than at any other time of year.

After Valentine’s Day Deals
That beautiful heart shaped box of chocolates that caught your attention before Valentine’s Day will drop dramatically in price the day after Valentine’s Day. If you can stand to wait, buying it the day after can save you some money.

Will your kids need to hand out paper valentines at school next year? Have them pick out a few boxes the day after Valentines Day. Those valentines will be on sale now. Store them away, and you won’t have to pay full price on paper valentines next year.

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Pilot Program Lets SNAP Recipients Buy Healthy Food Online

Posted on Wednesday, January 11th, 2017 at 7:00 am
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The USDA has created a pilot program that can help people who receive SNAP benefits to purchase healthy foods. Learn about all the details.The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has created a pilot program that can help people who receive SNAP benefits to purchase healthy foods. The goal appears to be to give more options to people who live in “food deserts”.

SNAP stands for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. In the past, the program was called Food Stamps. People were given stamps that they used to pay for their groceries. Today, people who receive SNAP benefits get a certain amount of money on an EBT card. The SNAP program is for people who are very low-income.

The USDA describes SNAP this way: “As the nation’s first line of defense against hunger, SNAP helps put food on the table for millions of low income families and individuals every month and has never been more critical to the fight against hunger. SNAP is a vital supplement to the monthly food budget for more than 43 million low-income individuals. Nearly half of SNAP participants are children, 10 percent are over 60 and more than 40 percent of recipients live in households with earnings.”

The USDA has created a pilot program designed to enable SNAP participants to buy groceries online. This decision was made to help people who live in communities where access to fresh produce and other healthy food choices is limited. For example, a person who lives in a area that does not have any grocery stores would have to rely on getting their groceries from convenience stores. Those stores don’t typically have a lot of healthy foods to choose from.

The pilot program is slated to start this summer and will last for two years. At first, the pilot program will be testing online ordering and payment. The USDA says the online payment part of the program presents technical and security challenges that they will need to fully examine before they can offer the program nationally. SNAP online purchases require a higher level of security than do most other online purchases.

Here are the retailers that are participating in the SNAP pilot program:

* Amazon – Maryland, New Jersey, New York

* FreshDirect – New York

* Safeway – Maryland, Oregon, Washington

* ShopRite – Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania

* Hy-Vee – Iowa

* Hart’s Local Grocers – New York (based in Rochester)

* Dash’s Market – New York (based in Buffalo)

The USDA anticipates being able to add more retailers to the program. Eventually, the goal is to allow SNAP participants, nationwide, to be able to use their benefits to make online purchases that will help them to obtain healthy foods.

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The Limited is Closing All of Its Stores

Posted on Saturday, January 7th, 2017 at 1:59 pm
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Fans of The Limited may be surprised to learn that it is closing all of its brick-and-motor stores. Find out how to score a deal and all the details.Fans of The Limited may be surprised to learn that it is closing all of its brick-and-motor stores. The Limited appears to have announced this at the last minute. If you act quickly, you might be able to save a lot of money on the clothing that is still available at The Limited before they close.

The Limited’s last, really big, sale is taking place on Saturday, January 7, 2016 and will end on Sunday, January 8, 2016. Go there this weekend, and you can expect to find deeply discounted items. It would be wise to try on the clothing before you buy it because you certainly won’t be able to return it to the store if you accidentally bought the wrong size.

In December, The Limited had 80% off deals happening. They decided not to allow any returns. This might have been a clue that the physical stores would not be around for much longer.

The Washington Post reported that individual The Limited stores have already closed. Some shoppers have already been notified by email that The Limited near them has closed and will not be reopening. Check your email to see if you got a notification like that.

According to The Washington Post, The Limited is closing all 250 of its stores nationwide because it has failed to keep up with the trends. As you may know, The Limited focused on sensible office attire. Many of today’s shoppers want “fast fashion” – trendy clothes that are hot for a little while and then quickly go out of style.

All is not lost for shoppers who really love what The Limited offered. Their website is still available. A post titled “This isn’t goodbye…” was placed on The Limited’s website. The short message said: “We’re sad to say that The Limited stores nationwide have officially closed their doors. But this isn’t goodbye. The styles you love are still available online – We’re just a quick click away 24 hours a day.”

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Reasons Why Raw Cookie Dough Can Make You Sick

Posted on Wednesday, January 4th, 2017 at 7:00 am
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People can get sick after eating raw cookie dough because of it contains raw eggs. There is another ingredient to watch out for too!Raw cookie dough can be very tempting, but that isn’t a good reason to eat it. You may have heard that the reason why people get sick after eating raw cookie dough is because of it contains raw eggs. There is another ingredient to watch out for that you may be unaware of.

Why Raw Cookie Dough Can Make You Sick

People who eat raw eggs risk getting sick from food poisoning. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) point out that the inside of eggs that appear normal can contain a germ called Salmonella. The germ causes diarrhea and severe stomach cramps. Most people get over it in about a week, but Salmonella can be very dangerous for older adults, infants, and people who have weakened immune systems.

The way to avoid the Salmonella germ is to avoid consuming eggs that are raw or that are only lightly cooked. Raw cookie dough contains raw eggs. That’s one reason why eating raw cookie dough can make you sick.

The other reason is due to an ingredient that you know is in raw cookie dough but may not have realized could make a person sick. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) wants people to be aware that raw flour can make people sick because the flour may have a harmful strain of E. coli on it. This means that eating raw flour can make you sick – and playing with raw flour can also make you sick.

In 2016, many people got sick from a strain of bacteria called Shiga toxin-producing E. coli O121. The FDA traced it to flour that was used in raw cookie dough that people handled or ate before they got sick. The flour came from a specific company’s production facility. That company voluntarily pulled their flour off the market. To be clear, the recall does not mean that it is suddenly safe to eat or play with raw flour.

The FDA notes that it isn’t just the flour in raw cookie dough that can make people sick. It is also possible to get sick from the flour that is in any kind of raw dough that contains flour. Some restaurants give children raw dough made from flour to play with while they wait for their meal. The children might be happy to play with the dough. They won’t be happy later on if the dough makes them sick.

That means the homemade play dough that you made for your kids could make them sick just from touching it if the dough contains contaminated flour. Raw flour could be in the play dough that is used at your child’s school or day care. Kids often put their fingers into their mouths while handling play dough (and some will taste and eat some of the dough).

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The Best Things to Buy in January

Posted on Monday, January 2nd, 2017 at 7:00 am
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One simple way to save money is to wait for the annual sales. Here are some of the best things to buy in January.One simple way to save money is to wait for the annual sales. That’s when you can buy things at their lowest price of the year. Here are some of the best things to buy in January.

Best Things to Buy in January

Christmas Decorations
Christmas is over, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the stores are out of Christmas decorations. The first week of January is the best time to buy Christmas stuff while it is on sale. Buy a plastic Christmas tree now, and save yourself the time and money of buying a real tree next year. Now is a good time to replace the Christmas lights that have burned out with brand new (and inexpensive) strings of lights.

Items for Your Home
The department stores are having sales on items for your home. You might find great deals on bedding, bath sets, curtains, pillows, rugs, and perhaps even some furniture. Check the store’s websites for coupons or coupon codes that can help lower the cost of the home items you want to buy. January is the best time to buy an extra throw rug or to replace your old sofa with a brand new one.

The very first “white sale” happened in 1878 when John Wanamaker decided to try something new to attract customers to his store during what was, back then, a “lull” for retailers. At the time, linens (like bed sheets, pillow cases, and towels) came in only one color – white. Today, the linen sales include the same types of items, but of all colors and fabrics. It’s a good time to buy new towels for bathroom or new bedsheets for the guest bedroom.

Gym Memberships
Did your New Year’s resolutions include an interest in losing weight? You aren’t alone! January is the busiest month for gyms. Everyone suddenly wants a membership! The good news for shoppers is that the gyms have to compete against each other for new customers. You can pick up a gym membership now for a lower price than you can if you waited a few months. It might be a good idea to try and negotiate for an even better deal (like a waived enrollment fee).

Clearance Sales
You can find a wide variety things in the January clearance sales! Stores will sell coats and outerwear, and other winter clothing, for a low price right now. You can pick up a brand new calendar for a fraction of the price it was originally sold as. Some stores include socks, underwear, and bras as part of their linen sales.

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Healthy Ways to Exercise in the Winter

Posted on Wednesday, December 14th, 2016 at 7:00 am
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Exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. During the holidays, we need to stay healthy. Fortunately, there are some ways to exercise in the winter.Exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. The opportunities to get some exercise become limited when the winter weather gets cold and snow and ice covers the ground. The winter weather happens at the same time that many people are celebrating holidays that involve a lot of sweet, rich, food. Fortunately, there are some ways to exercise in the winter.

Ways to Exercise in the Winter

This could be your last chance of the year to get some unfinished yard work done. Raking leaves, picking them up, and hauling them out of your yard can provide you with some exercise. Whatever you do not complete before the snow falls will have to wait. This “time limit” could motivate you to get a good workout.

Has the snow already fallen? People who are young, active, and healthy can get some exercise by removing the snow from their driveway and the sidewalk in front of their house. Be sure to check with your doctor before trying to remove snow. Your doctor can consider your personal health conditions and determine if snow removal is a safe form of exercise for you.

Before you start shoveling snow, make sure to bundle up. Wear layers that will help you to keep warm. Consider wearing wool instead of cotton. Wool can keep you from losing body heat even when the fabric gets wet. Cover your skin with a hat, scarf, and gloves, to avoid frostbite.

Remember to take breaks. Don’t try and shovel a large area all at once. Do some today, and try again tomorrow. Or, bring a friend or family member to help you. Both of you will be getting some good exercise.

Get some indoor exercise by taking a quick walk through a shopping mall before the stores open (or early in the morning). Take the stairs, instead of the elevator, whenever possible. Go for a short, yet fast, walk on your break.

Now might be a good time to join a gym. Doing so will give you access to treadmills, stair-climbers, exercise bikes, and other exercise equipment. The gym might have an indoor track you can walk or run on. There could be fun exercise classes to try. If you are a college student, you might be able to use your school’s gym for free.

There are also ways to get exercise at home. Set aside time to thoroughly vacuum the rug or mop the kitchen floor. Doing a huge amount of laundry is another way to get some exercise. If this does not appeal to you, see if you can find an exercise video on YouTube that is fun to do.

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Beware of Sales that Aren’t Really Sales

Posted on Monday, December 12th, 2016 at 7:00 am
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sales-signs-from-pixabayWe’ve all seen signs at department stores that alert customers to a sale. Often, those signs show the original price of the item – followed by its new, lower, sale price. This makes it look like people are getting a good deal. Often, the deal is real. But sometimes, the sales aren’t really sales at all.

Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer has sued our retailers who have allegedly misled customers with pricing schemes that were designed to increase sales. In these four separate lawsuits, Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer alleges that the retailer posted an original price that was not really the original price of the items that were now supposedly on sale.

Under California law, retailers are not permitted to advertise an alleged former price of an item unless the alleged former price was the prevailing market price within three months of the advertisement, or unless the date when the alleged former price did prevail is clearly, exactly, and conspicuously stated in the advertisement. The lawsuits allege that thousands of “sale” items were advertised at false reference points.

What does that look like? Here is a fictional example that will make things clear. A department store has a “sale” sign over a rack of t-shirts. It says that the t-shirts are now on sale for $15, and that the original price of the t-shirts was $35.

The problem, in this fictional example, is that the store never sold the t-shirts for that so-called original price. Instead, they have been selling those t-shirts for $15 all along. The fictional department store is intentionally misleading consumers by tricking them into thinking they are getting a good deal. As a result, the department store sells more of those t-shirts than they would have if they didn’t put a false sale sign on the t-shirt rack.

The lawsuits filed by Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer are specific to Los Angeles and to California law. It is possible that other states do not have a law like California’s law about sale prices.

What can you do to make sure a sale really is a sale? One way to do it is to pay attention to prices. The next time you see something you would like to buy – after it goes on sale – take a photo of the current price. Leave the photo in your phone. Check that photo later if the item goes on sale and compare sale sign to what the item was originally sold for.

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