How to Save

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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Why Whole Foods Sold 25 Cent Coffee

Posted on Monday, October 5th, 2015 at 7:00 am
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National Coffee DayIn September of 2015, Whole Foods did something unexpected. They sold cups of coffee for just 25 cents each. That might have been the least expensive cup of coffee that customers could obtain. Why did Whole Foods choose to sell cups of coffee for such a low price?

Whole Foods stores have a coffee bar. Usually, they sell coffee for a price that would allow the store to make a profit. This isn’t difficult to do, since coffee doesn’t cost too much on its own, and people tend to want coffee at all hours of the day.

In September of 2015, Whole Foods offered customers a cup of coffee for only 25 cents. (It appears that this special offer terminated at the end of September). Anyone who walked in the door could have a fresh cup of coffee for 25 cents. There wasn’t a limit on how many cups of 25 cent coffee a customer could receive.

Why did Whole Foods lower the price so dramatically on a product that they typically make money on? The answer is that the inexpensive coffee was used to attracted customers. People came in to get their 25 cent cup of coffee. Many of them shopped while drinking it.

The true purpose of free samples – and super inexpensive cups of coffee – isn’t to make customers feel happy or to reward customers with a treat. The real goal is to entice customers into the store. Once the customer enters the store, he or she will probably find some other items that they want to buy.

For example, people who got their 25 cent cup of coffee might have purchased a sandwich to go along with it. Or, they might have shopped for groceries more slowly than usual, while they finished their coffee. Perhaps they saw something on a shelf that they hadn’t noticed before, and decided to buy it.

In other words, when a grocery store offers 25 cent coffee, or free samples of food, it isn’t simply to be nice. The goal is to encourage customers to stick around and buy more stuff. The store loses money on the freebie (or inexpensive coffee) and hopes that they will more than make up for that loss in the money the customers spend.

Keep this in mind the next time you are offered a free sample while you are grocery shopping. The store is hoping that you will like the free sample so much that you buy the product. That’s fine if you already were intending to buy the product. But, if you had never heard of it – you might get tricked into spending more than you planned to.

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Free Kids Events in October

Posted on Monday, September 21st, 2015 at 7:00 am
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Trick-or-TreatFall tends to bring cooler weather. While there are some free kids events that take place outdoors in October, there will also be plenty that are scheduled to happen indoors. Here is a list of some of the free kids events that your children can enjoy in October.

Many children enjoy going trick-or-treating on Halloween. This event is always free. All a child needs is a costume, a bag to hold candy, and an adult to accompany them. The town or city that you live in may have specific rules about what day, and what time, trick-or-treating is allowed. Make sure to find out when that will be.

In general, there is usually an alternative Fall activity that is arranged for families that do not celebrate Halloween. Find out if your church is holding one. It could be held inside, or may be a “trunk-or-treat” that takes place in the parking lot.

LEGO Stores
LEGO Stores have a monthly mini model build for kids ages 6 – 14. Registration is required. The event is free.

October 6 or 7 2015: Angler Fish – Kids will put together a mini model of an angler fish.

Home Depot
Home Depot has free building events for kids ages 5 – 12. Kids get to keep the craft they make. They also get a free Workshop apron, certificate of achievement and commemorative pin. Registration is required.

October 3, 2015: Build a Fire Truck – Kids will get hands-on for Fire Safety Month by building a free fire truck.

Lowe’s Build and Grow
Lowe’s Build and Grow offers free building events for kids. Each kid gets to keep the project they built. They also get a free apron, goggles, and a patch. Registration is required.

September 26, 2015: Fire Truck with Safety Cards – Kids will build a fire truck that holds cards that have fire safety information.

Lakeshore Learning
Lakeshore Learning offers free craft events every Saturday for kids ages 3 and up. No registration is required.

October 3, 2015: Firefighter’s Hat – Kids will create a headband that has a firefighter’s hat on the front of it. They will be able to wear the hat.

October 10, 2015: Not-So-Scary Scarecrow – Kids will decorate a paper scarecrow puppet that is attached to a craft stick.

October 17, 2015: Have a Hoot! Owl – Kids will decorate an owl that is made from a paper plate, craft feathers and tissue paper.

October 24, 2015: Spooktacular Puppet – Kids will create a paper bag puppet that looks like a Halloween pumpkin.

October 31, 2015: Spooky Spiderweb – Kids will create a cute spider and a decorative spider web from a paper plate, pipe cleaners, and more.

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The Frugal Way to Clean a Mini-Fridge

Posted on Monday, September 14th, 2015 at 7:00 am
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Baking Soda and ToothbrushA mini fridge in your college dorm room can make your life a bit more convenient. Every once in a while, you are going to have to clean the mini fridge. You can do it without spending a lot of money on cleaning products.

Why do you need to clean the mini-fridge?
A mini-fridge is not self-cleaning. It’s not like a dishwasher where you can run it without any dishes inside it and have it become clean for you. In other words, you will have clean it (more than once). Cleaning it every two weeks will generally do.

Mini-fridges that do not get cleaned will develop a bad smell. Usually, it is because you left food in it for too long and that food has gone rotten. That smell, of course, is going to stink up your dorm room. This can all be avoided if you just clean out the fridge on a timely basis.

The other reason to periodically clean your mini-fridge is to keep it in good condition. Did you rent the mini-fridge? You might be able to get your deposit back if you return the mini-fridge in excellent condition. Clean the fridge often, and you can avoid a last minute panicked cleaning the night before you have to turn it in.

How to clean a mini-fridge
First, take everything out of the mini-fridge. Throw away anything that looks unsafe to consume, or that has a bad smell. Want to make this part super easy? Clean the mini-fridge on a day when it hardly has anything in it.

Second, mix up an inexpensive, yet effective, cleaner. Add 1 or 2 tbsp. Of baking soda to 1 quart of warm water. Dip a dishcloth into the mixture. Use the damp (but not dripping wet) cloth to wipe every surface inside the mini-fridge. Let it dry.

Third, put the food and beverages that are still good back in the mini-fridge. You aren’t done yet! Use the dishcloth, and the cleaner, again. Wipe down every surface on the top, sides, and front of the mini-fridge. Don’t forget to scrub the door handle. It can pick up a lot of dirt and “gunk”.

Simple tricks to make this all easier
Put the opened box of baking soda inside your mini-fridge. It will help absorb bad smells. When it is time to clean the mini-fridge again, use some of that box of baking soda. You probably won’t have to buy more for a while!

Wipe off soda cans before putting them inside the mini-fridge. This removes whatever dirt, or stickiness, that the can picked up before you purchased it. Less “gunk” going in means less “gunk” you have to clean out of your mini-fridge later on.

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Save Money – Buy or Rent Used Textbooks!

Posted on Monday, September 7th, 2015 at 7:00 am
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booksThe textbooks that are required for college classes tend to be expensive. Unfortunately, students need those textbooks in order to pass their classes. One way to cut down on the costs is to purchase used textbooks instead of new ones. Here are some tips on where to find them. says it can save you up to 90% on college textbooks. The exact amount of the discount depends on which book you need and the discount that has been assigned to the book.

You can also rent textbooks from Amazon. You might receive a new or used textbook. All used textbooks will be in acceptable rental condition. If you return the textbook within the first 30 days of the rental period, in the same condition as when you received it, you will get a full refund of the rental fee.

Eligible students who live in certain states are tax exempt on textbook purchases from Amazon. Those states include: Connecticut, Florida, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia.

Barnes & Noble offers some of their used textbooks for 90% off their sticker price. Use their search engine to look for the textbook you need and see if they have a used one that you can purchase.

You can rent textbooks from Barnes & Noble. You can rent a textbook from 60 days to 130 days. You are expected to return your rented textbook in a condition that would allow someone else to reuse it later. (This means you can be charged for the replacement of a damaged textbook.) If you return your rented textbook within the time limit, shipping is free. They give you an easy-to-use UPS shipping label.

Staples Will also save you up to 90% on your textbooks. Staples has teamed up with BookRenter to provide students with a top notch textbook rental service. You can rent a textbook for 30 days to 125 days.

Unlike other places, Staples does not consider your rental period to have started until your books are delivered to you. You are allowed to write or highlight in the textbook, but it is advised that you keep that to a minimum. If you have done too much writing, a damage fee will be charged.

Other options for Used Textbooks:

Find out the ISBN number of the book you need, and see if you can buy it from a student who took the class last year. Make sure the ISBN number of the book matches the one your teacher assigned. Check to see if the used book is the correct edition.

The school’s library might have a few copies of textbooks on hand for students to borrow for a hour. You might not be allowed to take the book out of the library, so plan on studying it there.

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