How to Save

Simple Swaps for Healthier Eating

Posted on Wednesday, December 2nd, 2015 at 7:00 am
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Christmas cookiesOne of the ways people celebrate the holiday season is with food. Suddenly, there are seasonal pastries, beverages, and goodies that aren’t sold at any other time of year. The plethora of tasty treats can make it difficult for people to refrain from overindulging. Fortunately, there are some simple swaps that could help you eat a bit healthier anyway.

Christmas cookies are tempting because they taste good and also because they bring up nostalgic, warm and fuzzy, feelings about one’s childhood. While some can eat one cookie and be satisfied, others have difficulty stopping themselves after having just one.

The most obvious way to stick with healthy eating in this situation would be to avoid bringing home Christmas cookies, (or other holiday pastries). Swap the sugar filled holiday cookies with a package of organic whole grain fig bars. You can still eat something sweet and cookie-like with this healthier swap.

Craving a salty, crunchy, snack? Many people open a bag of potato chips and eat more than they expected to. Instead, swap out the potato chips and choose a somewhat salty snack that is healthier (and just as crunchy). Some healthier choices include: popcorn that has been air popped, packaged low-salt, low fat popcorn, or seasoned rice crackers. Nuts and seeds are a good swap too, because the protein in them can help make you feel less hungry.

Does your family eat a lot of rice? While there isn’t anything inherently unhealthy about white rice, there is a healthier rice to swap it for. Brown rice has three times as much fiber as white rice does. Brown rice is also high in other good things for your body, such as selenium and manganese.

Rice might not be something everyone considers to be a holiday treat. However, swapping white rice for brown rice could give you “room” to indulge in a small cookie or holiday candy without completely ruining your diet or calorie count.

What about all those lovely holiday beverages that are only sold at this time of year? When you order your holiday coffee swap out the dairy milk with 2% or low-fat milk. Or, consider having it with soy – or without anything extra added to it.

It might be possible to get the flavor you crave from a holiday tea instead of a sugar laden latte. For example, Starbucks has a lovely gingerbread tea that makes a nice swap for the sugary gingerbread latte coffee beverage. If all else fails, choose a smaller sized drink than you typically would ask for. Less beverage means at least a little bit less calories.

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How to Find the Best Black Friday Coupon Codes

Posted on Tuesday, November 24th, 2015 at 9:23 am
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Black Friday 1

Will you be shopping online this Black Friday? I avoid all stores and do all of my shopping online. It’s so much easier and I love being able to take advantage of the hot coupon codes available!

To find the latest and best codes, simply search for the store of your choice below and then click on the orange button to SHOP NOW or get the COUPON CODE!

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Aldi Removes Foods With Undesirable Ingredients

Posted on Wednesday, November 18th, 2015 at 7:00 am
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aldiOver the years, there has been a growing number of people who take the time to read the ingredients on food labels. We all want to feed our families the best, healthiest, foods. Aldi understands this. The grocery store has removed foods that contain undesirable ingredients.

Aldi has its own private label of products. More than 90 percent of the products sold at Aldi are the ones they sell under their exclusive brands. The private label has been good for consumers because it enables Aldi to keep prices low.

The private label also allows Aldi to have significant control over what is sold on its store shelves. Aldi has the ability to control the ingredients in its private label brands. The grocery store chose to remove ingredients that many of its customers identified as undesirable. Aldi made the announcement after they actually started making those changes.

Aldi took out certified synthetic colors, partially hydrogenated oils, and MSG. The change has already begun, and by the end of the year, none of the undesirable ingredients will be in any of the foods in Aldi’s private label line of products.

In addition, Aldi’s SimplyNature line of products was already free of more than 125 ingredients that consumers have spoken out against. Aldi has also expanded its organic produce options. This gives consumers that are trying to bring home healthy food for their families more options to choose from, and at lower prices than they might find in other grocery stores.

MSG is an abbreviation for monosodium glutamate. It is one of the undesirable ingredients that Aldi has removed from their private line of products. MSG is a flavor enhancer that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) defines as “generally recognized as safe”.

Some people have no ill effects after eating food that contains MSG. Others can experience side effects that are known as “MSG symptom complex”. Those symptoms can include headache, flushing, sweating, facial pressure or tightness, numbness, heart palpitations, chest pain, nausea, or weakness. Researchers have not found a definite link between MSG and those symptoms.

Some parents of children who have ADHD, FASD, or autism, like to avoid foods that contain fake dyes and artificial colors. Many believe that the fake coloring in food dyes has an impact on children’s behavior. There are those who feel that certain artificial food dyes set off symptoms in children who are prone to hyperactivity.

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Sears Offers Layaway

Posted on Monday, November 16th, 2015 at 5:05 pm
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Sears LogoSears is among the stores that are offering the convenience of layaway to their customers. Use it wisely, and it can help you to be able to purchase holiday gifts. The trick to using layaway without having it become too expensive is to pay attention to the rules.

Sears layaway program can be used either in their stores or online. No downpayment is required if you choose to use layaway in a Sears store. If you want to use their layaway program online, it cost one penny as a down payment.

That being said, there are service fees to be aware of. The only exception is in states where service fees are prohibited by law. The Sears website does not specifically mention which states prohibit service fees for layaway. You will have to do some homework to figure if your state is among them.

In addition, you will be required to pay a downpayment at the time you start to use layaway. The exact amount of your downpayment is going to depend on the overall cost of the items you want to put on layaway.

There are two different spans of layaway to choose from at Sears. One is an 8-week layaway contract. If you choose this option, be aware it comes with a $5 service fee. Those who select an 8-week layaway must make four payments on the items they put on layaway (during the 8 weeks). The amount of the payments is equal to the total cost of the products you put on layaway

There is a 12-week layaway for people who choose to put $400 (or more) of product into the Sears layaway program. The 12-week layaway requires a $10 service fee. Those who are using the 12-week layaway must make 6 payments during the 12-week layaway period. The amount of the payments is equal to the total cost of the products you put on layaway.

Not all products are eligible for layaway. If you shop online, look for the items identified as “Available for Layaway”. Those items are the only ones that can be placed into your online layaway. It appears that all items in the Sears store are eligible for layaway. The Sears website does not list any limitations on products or on a minimal cost for individual products.

Make sure that you pay off your layaway when the payment is required. If you miss a payment, you get a 7 day grace period after your payment due date before your contract is cancelled and items are returned to stock. A non-refundable cancellation fee will apply. You can make payments either at the Sears store where you have the layaway, or online through the Sears website.

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Food Industry Undergoing “Tectonic Shift”

Posted on Wednesday, November 11th, 2015 at 2:36 pm
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EarthYou may have noticed a trend that is happening in grocery stores. Many stores have created their own brands of organic products. In addition, they are including more products that are allergy-friendly. It has been said that the food industry is undergoing a “tectonic shift”.

What is a tectonic shift? It is the name of a process that occurs when the plates that make up the Earth’s crust move. Land masses move closer to, or farther from, each other. Over time, this changes how the world looks.

People also use the phrase “tectonic shift” to refer to a change that has a strong and widespread impact. For example, the phrase has been used to explain a change in voting patterns. Right now, the way the food industry functions is going through a big enough change for people to apply the phrase “tectonic shift” to it.

What does that change consist of? Whole Foods Market co-CEO Walter Robb said that the “tectonic shift” in the food industry is one that is resulting in a push toward greater transparency and sustainability. It appears that this push is largely coming from the millennial generation.

For Whole Foods, the shift is going to cause many changes. It has influenced the creation of a new customer loyalty program. It also pushed Whole Foods to become more transparent about what’s on the shelves. People want to know what is in the food they are choosing for their families.

Transparency is important for people who strive to feed their families the very best foods. This is why consumers select organic products over non-organic ones. It is why people who have a family member with a food allergy take the time to read all of the ingredients on a food label. The more transparency, the less chance of an accidental ingestion of an allergen.

The other way the “tectonic shift” is affecting Whole Foods has to do with the environment. The company has created a rating system that takes into account holistic and “progressive practices” on the farm. This includes things like recycling and water. Overall, this gives the consumer greater transparency about where their food comes from (and how it was grown).

Whole foods also cut the amount of energy it uses in its freezers by 40% in the past five years. One way it did this was by adding doors to the freezers. You may have noticed other stores have the lights off in their freezers (until a customer walks by or opens a door).

The “tectonic shift” is affecting all grocery stores, not just Whole Foods. Overall, this will result in consumers being able to access healthier food that was grown in situations that are good for the environment.

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Things to Know About Layaway at Walmart

Posted on Monday, November 9th, 2015 at 7:00 am
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cr_mega_376_walmart1Layaway can be extremely convenient for people who are shopping for holiday gifts. It gives you the opportunity to put something on hold until your next paycheck arrives. It is important to understand the “fine print” involved with a particular store’s layaway program. Here are some key things to know about Walmart’s layaway.

Walmart’s layaway program is rather simple, as compared to the layaway program of some other stores. The Walmart layaway program is offered starting on August 28 and ending on December 14. That means that you must make sure you pay off everything that you have sitting in layaway before December 14.

There is no opening fee associated with Walmart’s layaway. You can place items on hold in their layaway program without having to spend extra money on an initial layaway fee. You will, however, be required to make a downpayment at the time you use the layaway program. That down payment will either be $10, or it will be 10% of the total cost of the items you put on hold (whichever is greater).

There is a limitation on the types of items that you can put on layaway at Walmart. It is for products that come from the following sections of the store: electronics, auto electronics, furniture, toys, small appliances, and jewelry. Some select sporting goods are also able to be placed into layaway.

Walmart’s layaway is offered “in stores only”. This means that you cannot shop on the Walmart website and expect to be able to put the items you are interested in on layaway. Typically, layaway is only offered in stores, so this shouldn’t come as a surprise.

There are some rules to be aware of. The individual items that you put on layaway must be $10 or greater. That means you cannot put something on layaway that costs less than $10 on its own. Keep that in mind if you have selected items that are on sale. They might cost $10 regularly, but less than that during the sale.

Your total purchase must be $50 or greater. That means you can’t use Walmart’s layaway program unless the total amount of the products you want to put on hold equals at least $50. It is acceptable for that total to be more than $50, but it cannot be less than that.

You must pick up, and pay for, everything you have on layaway by December 14. Write down that date so you don’t forget it in the chaos that happens right before Christmas. Miss that date, and you will lose all of the items you were holding. That can be problematic if those items were intended to be gifts for your family.

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Simple Truth is Largest Organic Brand in U.S.

Posted on Wednesday, November 4th, 2015 at 2:03 pm
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organicWhat is your favorite brand of organic food? If you shop at Kroger, the first brand of organic foods that come to mind might be one called Simple Truth. It is currently the largest organic brand in the United States.

The word “natural” on a food label doesn’t actually mean much of anything. There is little regulation about what foods can use that particular word. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not developed a definition for the use of the term natural or its derivatives.

The word “organic”, however, cannot be used on every food label. It can only be used on foods that meet certain regulations and criteria. Organic products do not contain GMO’s, artificial preservatives, or artificial colors. Organic foods are grown without the use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides.

Many consumers are seeking out organic products for health reasons. Simple Truth is Kroger’s organic food brand. It was created as a response to customers’s shifting over to organic foods. Food Dive reports that natural and organic foods accounted for $11 billion in sales for Kroger over the past 12 months.

CNN Money reports that Kroger’s sales of products in their Simple Truth brand hit $1.2 billion in 2014. Part of what makes that brand so popular is that it is sold at a lower price than the 365 line from Whole Foods. Interestingly, it appears that consumers who were going to Whole Foods for organic products have taken notice of Kroger’s Simple Truth line.

365 by Whole Foods Market stores were intended to compete with Trader Joe’s. The goal was to offer lower prices on produce and perishables than could be found on similar products in the “regular” Whole Foods stores. Their target market was empty-nesters, Millennials, and young upwardly mobile shoppers.

Whole Foods may not have taken into account the group of customers who want to eat organic products, but who don’t have the budget to shop at Trader Joe’s (or the “regular” Whole Foods store). If you’ve been wanting to eat more organic products, but found it difficult to afford, you might consider going to Kroger.

The thing to be aware of is that Kroger offers two similarly sounding product lines. One is called Simple Truth, which includes “cleaner” ingredient statements. The other is called Simple Truth Organic, which is USDA organic certified. Customers can make their own decisions about which to buy.

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Fresh & Easy Stores are Closing

Posted on Monday, November 2nd, 2015 at 7:00 am
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man shopping produceThe Fresh & Easy grocery stores are in the process of closing down – forever. If it happens to be your favorite grocery store, then you are probably going to miss it. In the meantime, the closing of a grocery store brings shoppers the opportunity to buy a lot of food for a lower than usual price. You could end up saving money on your grocery bill this week.

Fresh & Easy operates 97 stores in California, Nevada, and Arizona. The Southland is home to 54 locations. All of them are being liquidated and closed over the next few weeks.

Fresh & Easy first opened in the United States in 2007. It was owned by a British supermarket chain called Tesco. The stores in the United States had several problems that have led to the current closings.

According to the LA Times, one problem was that the stores did not merchandise the selection of products based on location. Another problem was that stores often ran out of popular products.

The store also was charging as much as 20% more for its private-label products (as compared to the price of the name-brand counterparts). Some shoppers didn’t like that produce was wrapped in cellophane, which required the purchase of two or more bell peppers. That could have been frustrating to consumers who came to the store intending to buy just one.

While some may feel sad about the closing of the Fresh & Easy stores, others will be happy about the potential to save money on groceries as the stores close. Look for the signs outside the stores that show the percentage discount that is being offered on the products that are still in the store.

It is important that you avoid overspending while shopping at the closing Fresh & Easy stores. Don’t purchase more product than your family can consume before it goes bad. If you had to throw out the food, it was a waste of money.

Look for gluten-free products. Those brands are typically more expensive than the “regular” versions of the same type of food. Buy the gluten-free stuff while it is 40% off (or at an even bigger discount) and you will save money on groceries.

Don’t forget to bring your own bags. Many of the Fresh & Easy stores charge shoppers if they require paper bags. You can avoid that small charge simply by bringing in your own reusable shopping bags. Every little bit of savings helps!

Consider picking up some items to donate to your local food bank. We are in the holiday season, and there are people who are struggling to feed their families. The store closing sale at the Fresh & Easy stores gives you the opportunity to help those in need without going over your budget.

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Retail Therapy Can Be Expensive

Posted on Sunday, October 18th, 2015 at 11:21 pm
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Young girl with gift bag. Isolated.Have you ever engaged in retail therapy? Technically, it isn’t really therapy, but can feel very therapeutic anyway. The thing to be aware of is how often you do some retail therapy and how much you are spending. Unchecked, retail therapy can become very expensive.

What is retail therapy?
Retail therapy is a phrase that people use when they set out to do some shopping in order to improve their mood, or to feel better about themselves. Some see retail therapy as “me time”. People also use retail therapy as a means of helping themselves transition from one stage of life to another. For example, people do a lot of retail therapy shopping while expecting a baby, after getting a new job, or after a divorce.

What are the benefits of retail therapy?
One of the immediate benefits of retail therapy is that it lightens people’s mood. People who feel lonely might feel better after visiting a shopping mall that is filled with other people. Others use retail therapy as an escape from their “real life”. They simply forget about everything else while they are shopping. Retail therapy can also be fun to do, especially if done with friends.

What are the problems with retail therapy?
People who only do retail therapy in moderation might not see any negative effects at all. They are able to stay within their budget and make small purchases that improve their mood. For example, a person could buy themselves a coffee or a new lipstick – and stop shopping after that.

Problems arise when people engage in retail therapy too often, or spend more money on retail therapy than they can afford. In some cases, this leads to larger problems. A person who overspends might get into an argument with a spouse who disapproves of retail therapy.

Those who use credit cards to do retail therapy can run into additional problems. If you don’t pay off the entire balance on the next billing cycle, you will end up with finance charges. Your moment of shopping bliss can quickly turn into a financial disaster.

How to do frugal retail therapy:
Do some “window shopping” online from your home computer. Before you begin, put your credit card away in another room so that it will be more difficult for you to use it. Go ahead and “window shop” as long as you want – or until your mood lifts. You can do this without spending any money at all.

Use your Pinterest account to pin items that you would love to buy right now but simply cannot afford. The experience of searching for things you like, and gathering them up into a Pinterest board, might mimic how it feels to walk through a store and fill a basket or shopping cart.

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Google is Testing Grocery Deliveries

Posted on Monday, October 12th, 2015 at 7:00 am
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grocery-bagHave you ever considered using a service that delivers groceries to your home? In general, you need to weigh the cost of the convenience with the quality of the products you receive. Some people live in areas where grocery delivering services are unavailable. Google might be about to solve that problem.

According to Bloomberg, Google Inc. is going to start testing a delivery service for fresh food and groceries. This service isn’t going to roll out all across the United States at the same time. To begin, the grocery delivery service will begin in San Francisco, California, (and possibly one other city).

One can assume if this trial goes well that Google might expand the grocery delivering service to more cities in the future. The types of groceries available through the delivery service can include packaged foods as well as fresh fruits and vegetables.

To do this, Google has to move away from making deliveries directly from warehouses. Fresh produce cannot be stored in the same way that dried food can. Google is going to have to figure out how to create proper refrigeration of the fresh food and how to cope with the cost of having someone quickly deliver fresh produce before it goes bad.

Google’s new grocery delivery service appears to be a new addition to Google Express. It currently offers some grocery items (but not fresh produce). Part of the purpose of the new grocery delivery service seems to be to help customers get the “full store” delivered to them. Google Express connects with various stores, such as Target and Costco, both of whom offer fresh produce to the customers who come to their stores.

There are other reasons why Google is launching a test of its newly planned out grocery services. It wants to compete with the other food delivery services that are currently available to customers.

AmazonFresh currently offers same day delivery on orders that are over $35. Consumers can purchase a wide variety of items from AmazonFresh, including fresh grocery and local products. The AmazonFresh page says you can place your order by 10:00 in the morning and have it by dinner, or by 10:00 at night and have it by breakfast.

One thing to consider about grocery delivery services is that you are paying for the convenience. Do the math and figure out if the price of the service is lower than what it would cost to get your groceries the usual way. Find out if the delivery service is able to accept coupons.

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