How to Save

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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Martha’s Table Brings Healthy Food to Food Deserts

Posted on Wednesday, December 7th, 2016 at 7:28 pm
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Fruit & Vegetable PlatterPeople who want to eat healthy foods may find that incredibly difficult to do if they live in a food desert. Martha’s Table believes that access to fresh, healthy food is essential for supporting stronger children, families, and community. Martha’s Table has created healthy eating initiatives to help families make healthy choices.

The USDA defines food deserts as parts of the country vapid of fresh fruit, vegetables, and other healthful whole foods. Food deserts are often found in impoverished areas. This is largely due to a lack of grocery stores, farmers’ markets, and healthy food providers.

Martha’s Table began in 1979 as a result of the partnership between Dr. Veronica Maz and Father Horace McKenna, who wanted to create a safe place for children to eat and read after school. Martha’s Table has expanded their services, in response to the needs of the community, since then. Martha’s Table is located in Washington, D.C.

Martha’s Table provides Healthy Markets. They are pop-up grocery stores where children, their families, and neighbors can shop at no cost for fresh, healthy produce and healthy pantry supplies. At least 40% of the food available at each market is composed of produce such as sweet potatoes, cabbage, and kale. Non-perishable staples range from peanut butter to whole-wheat pasta and beans.

Martha’s Markets program began in 2011 as a result of a partnership with the Target Foundation’s Meals for Minds program. Martha’s Markets are currently run in 7 elementary schools, two community centers, and at Martha’s Table, where the market is open to students and families in the Martha’s Table Healthy Start and Healthy Connections programs.

At the pop-up Martha’s Markets, families select from fresh, seasonal produce and healthy pantry staples at no cost every month. The markets also include chef-led culinary demonstrations designed to spread the joy of healthy eating.

Joyful Food Markets started in 2016 in partnership with the Capital Area Food bank. The purpose of the Joyful Food Markets is to increase access to and encourage consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables east of the Anacostia River. Joyful Food Markets are run exclusively in elementary schools. You can find a list of those elementary schools on the Martha’s Table website.

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The Best Things to Buy in December

Posted on Monday, December 5th, 2016 at 7:00 am
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You can save money if you know when certain items typically go on sale.  Here are the best things to buy in December.December is an extremely busy month when it comes to shopping. People are spending money on gifts for loved ones, wrapping paper, and food and beverages for parties – in addition to their usual grocery purchases. Fortunately, there are some things you should buy in December when you can get them at the lowest price of the year.

What to Buy in December

Calendars and Boxed Cards
The timeframe between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day is the best time to buy a calendar for the upcoming year. Stores will want to get rid of their stock of calendars as quickly as possible after Christmas is over. The more days of the new year go by – the harder it will be for them to sell a calendar. You can expect to find great deals on calendars.

Boxed cards go on sale at the same time that calendars do. Buy some after Christmas for a very low price. Use those boxed cards next year. You won’t get stuck buying cards at full price next December.

Plastic Storage Bins for Ornaments
All those ornaments that have been carefully placed on your Christmas tree will need to be stored away after you take down the tree. The best way to protect those ornaments, and to keep them dust free, is with a specialized plastic storage bin for ornaments. It will have dozens of small compartments – one for each ornament.

Some departments stores will already have the storage bins on sale. Others will put those organizational bins on sale shortly before Christmas. If you need extra storage, buy the bins now. You won’t find them at any other time of the year.

Parents will probably be buying lots of toys for their children as gifts. You can save money on those toys if you wait to buy them in the middle of December. That’s when many stores (especially the ones that do not typically carry toys) will put them on sale.

Do your kids have birthdays in January or February? What about your nephews or nieces? The mid-December toy sale is a great time to purchase a birthday gift for kids who will have a birthday in the next few months. Buy toys now for a low price – and you can avoid having to buy them later for a higher price.

Warm Weather Items
Thinking about putting a pool in your backyard next summer? December is a good time to negotiate the cost of it with a company that installs pools. They aren’t getting a lot of business right now, and that typically means they will be willing to negotiate on the price. You can also get a good deal on last year’s models of bicycles and golf equipment.

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A Very Merry Gift Certificate Bundle: $15 for $180 in Gift Certificates

Posted on Tuesday, November 29th, 2016 at 4:27 pm
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Want to save money on your Christmas gifts this year? Our Very Merry Gift Certificate Bundle costs just $15 for $180 in gift certificates to great online stores.

Avoid this busy stores this holiday season and shop online! Best of all, we have a great way for you to save on all your online purchases!

One of our favorite companies has put together a holiday bundle.  It’s called A Very Merry Gift Certificate Bundle and here’s how it works…

For just $15 you get $180 in store credits from 12 online businesses that align with a simple, natural lifestyle.

With your bundle, you’ll be able to purchase well-made, meaningful and clutter-free gifts like:

    • ethically-sourced coffees from around the world
    • photo products including wall decor, canvas wraps, prints and albums
    • classy custom-made bags, totes and camera straps
    • eco-friendly reusable glass drinking straws
    • healing tallow skin balms and lip love
    • inspirational hand-lettered art prints
    • Kombucha bottles, supplies, and brewing kits

Gift certificates include the following stores:

The more you use, the more you save, all the way up to $165 free shopping dollars, so you can spend less while gifting well this Christmas.

The only catch? It’s available for just 7 short days, so you need to grab yours quick (and then, get shopping)! Last day to get yours is Monday, December 5th.

Don’t wait! Get your’s now and save up to $165 shopping online this year!



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Thanksgiving Dinner for Guests with Food Restrictions

Posted on Wednesday, November 16th, 2016 at 7:00 am
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Will you be making Thanksgiving dinner this year? Here is some advice about how to make your Thanksgiving dinner safe for loved ones with diet restrictions.Thanksgiving dinner is often celebrated with family and close friends. Some of your loved ones might have food restrictions that prevent them from fully enjoying dinner. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to make Thanksgiving dinner safe for all of your guests.

Thanksgiving Ideas for People with Food Restrictions

Tofurky is a vegan alternative to turkey. It contains no meat, dairy, eggs, or other animal products. There is a Tofurky gravy that is suitable for vegans. Tofurky is not safe for people who have celiac disease or a gluten allergy or intolerance. It also isn’t safe for people with an allergy to soy.

Some turkeys are not gluten free. That may sound strange, at first. Check the package to see if the turkey has been brined. The ones that are brined are injected with a solution designed to keep them moist. That solution often includes gluten. Brined turkeys are not safe for people who have celiac disease, a gluten intolerance, or a gluten allergy.

Most Butterball turkeys are gluten free. The Butterball Stuffed Turkey is not gluten-free. Some Butterball products are packaged with gravy packets. Those gravy packets are gluten free, too. The gravy contains rice flour instead of wheat flour and the modified food starch is corn based.

It is possible to make your own stuffing by using bread that is allergy friendly. Udi’s makes a gluten free white sandwich bread that does not contain wheat, gluten, dairy, or soy. It does contain eggs, though, which makes it unsuitable for people who have egg allergies or who are vegan.

Schar makes an Artesian Baker White Bread that is gluten free, dairy free, and egg free. It does contain soy, which makes it unsuitable for people with soy allergies. It also contains honey, which might not be good for people with bee or pollen allergies. Some vegans do not eat honey.

While you are making Thanksgiving dinner, it is very important that you keep all of the packages. Doing so allows guests who have food allergies or dietary restrictions to know, for certain, what exactly is in the food they are being served. This enables them to know what is safe to eat.

Keep in mind that some foods might have ingredients that are allergy-free for a specific guest – but unsafe for another guest. The food packages are important for another reason. Some foods are allergy-free but made on equipment that is shared with products that contain allergens. That could make a person who has celiac disease or a nut allergy very sick.

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