How to Save

JC Penney’s Penny Days – Buy Clothes for a Penny

Posted on Sunday, March 13th, 2016 at 6:28 pm
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JcPenneyShopping for new clothes can be expensive. This is why people look for clearance sales and visit thrift stores You can buy more clothes if you can find ways to save money on them. JC Penney has a new idea that can make clothes shopping fit into everyone’s budget. They are selling clothing for just one penny!

JC Penny has launched a new campaign called “Get Your Penney’s Worth”. The goal is to reinforce that shopping at JC Penney is worth the customers time, money, and effort.

Part of the campaign includes “Penney Days”. It is a special promotion that enables customers to purchase items from JC Penney’s private brands for just one penny. You cannot possibly buy clothing for less than a penny!

The first “Penney Days” event started on February 28, 2016, and it lasted for an entire week. The special offer was available both in the stores and on the JC Penney website. That rules for that particular “Penny Days” required a customer to buy a regular priced Arizona brand apparel or accessory item in order to be able to purchase another one for just one penny.

It was almost a “buy one get one free” kind of deal. That’s not bad, but it wasn’t exactly what some consumers were expecting from the “Penney Days” event. Upcoming “Penney Days” sales will feature unique in-store items that can be purchased for just one penny – with no additional purchase required.

How can you find out when a “Penney Days” sale is taking place? JC Penney has been posting information about it on their social media accounts. Follow them on Twitter or Facebook and pay close attention! So far, JC Penney has been announcing what the special “Penney Days” item will be on the day that it is being offered.

The “Penney Days” sales could give you an easy way to save money on clothing. There are some “catches” to be aware of, though. Not every item that will be offered for a penny is clothing. It could be a product from another part of the JC Penney store. It is unclear what the shipping price will be on that one penny item if you buy it through the JC Penney website.

Another important thing to realize is that the one penny sales are designed to entice customers to come to the JC Penney stores. It is entirely possible that the special item that made you rush to the nearest JC Penney will be sold out before you get there. Get there quick, and you might end up with some brand new clothing (or other items) for just one penny each.

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Ben & Jerry’s is Making Vegan Ice Cream

Posted on Wednesday, March 9th, 2016 at 4:49 pm
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Ben and Jerry's LogoIce cream is a delightful treat for many people. It’s isn’t so great for those who are lactose intolerant or allergic to milk, though. People who are vegan do not consume dairy products. Ben & Jerry’s has a solution that will make a lot of people happy. They now make vegan ice cream!

People who choose to be vegan are doing it for many reasons. The word vegan refers to a food or material that is free from any animal products: no meat, milk, eggs, honey, wool, goose down, or leather. People who are vegan also avoid animal-derived byproducts, like whey, lard, or gelatin.

Ben & Jerry’s has started making ice cream that is 100% vegan certified. There are four different flavors that are rolling into stores this spring. They are: Non-Dairy Chunky Monkey, Non-Dairy Chocolate Fudge Brownie, Non-Dairy Coffee Caramel Fudge, and Non-Dairy P.B & Cookies.

Products that carry the Certified Vegan logo are products have been checked and been confirmed to be free of animal products or byproducts (and that have not been tested on animals). The Certified Vegan logo is administered by the Vegan Awareness Foundation.

Products with the Certified Vegan logo must:

* Not contain meat, fish, fowl, animal byproducts (including silk or dyes from insects) eggs or egg products, milk or milk products, honey or honey bee products.

* Involve no animal testing of ingredients or finished products by supplier, producer, manufacturer, or independent party

* Provide supplier verification that animal products were not used in the manufacturing of ingredients

* Contain no known animal-derived GMOs or genes used to manufacture ingredients or finished products.

The new Ben & Jerry’s Non-Dairy, Vegan Certified, ice cream flavors are made with almond milk as a base. The brownie in the Non-Dairy Chocolate Fudge Brownie flavor doesn’t contain eggs, dairy, or honey. The Non-Dairy, Vegan Certified, ice cream includes fair trade certified cocoa, sugar, bananas, coffee and vanilla. It does not contain any GMO ingredients.

One of the reasons why Ben & Jerry’s decided to make this new line of vegan ice cream was so that people who have committed to a vegan lifestyle can still enjoy an indulgent frozen treat. They also wanted to give people who cannot eat dairy something they could enjoy.

It should be noted that the vegan ice cream contains almond milk, which might not be appropriate for people who have allergies to nuts or tree nuts. The P.B. & Cookies flavor contains peanuts. The P.B. & Cookies flavor, and the Chocolate Fudge Brownie flavor, are not gluten free. All four flavors of Ben & Jerry’s vegan ice cream contain coconut.

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Why the Chain Buffet Near You Closed

Posted on Monday, March 7th, 2016 at 3:34 pm
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Old_Country_Buffet_LogoBuffets are great for many reasons. Buffets offer a large variety of foods for very little money. You can go back for seconds, or thirds, if you want to. Dessert is included in the price. Families that go to buffets often do it to save money.

Ovation Brands is the name of the company that owns Country Buffet, HomeTown Buffet, Ryan’s, Granny’s, and more. The name of the chain buffets is different depending on where in the United States it is located. The food it offers, and the reasonable prices it asks, is pretty much the same no matter what the sign on the building happens to say.

In February of 2016, people started noticing that the Ovation Brand buffet near them had abruptly closed. There was no warning, no official announcement, and no reasons given for the closure.

The buffets that closed had notes left on the doors. In some locations, the buffet closed without letting it’s workers know about it ahead of time. They discovered the closure when they arrived for their next scheduled work shift.

What happened? It turns out that the owner of Ovation Brands filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy. It did this after filing for protection from creditors in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the Western District of Texas. The company closed 166 restaurants, which amounts to half of its locations, after that filing. It cut more than 6,000 jobs.

What does this mean for people who liked to visit the local buffet to save money? If the one in your area has closed, it means that you shouldn’t assume it will open again anytime soon. It might not re-open at all. Now would be a good time to see if there are other buffets in your area that you can try out. They might be offering special savings in an effort to attract the people who used to eat at the big chain buffet that is now closed.

Those who were on an email list for one of Ovation Brand buffets might notice a decrease in the amount of email you are sent. Those emails often contained coupons that helped consumers save money on their meal at the buffet. It is reasonable to assume that those coupons are gone for good.

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Capri Sun Launches Organic Fruit Juice Line

Posted on Wednesday, February 17th, 2016 at 8:17 am
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In Season Natural Foods for the Autumn MonthsPeople who want their families to eat healthy tend to seek out organic foods. Food manufacturers have started to take notice of this trend and are now offering organic versions of their products. Capri Sun is launching a new organic fruit juice line.

Capri Sun has come up with a new line of product. It is called Capri Sun Organic. On their website, it says that the drink has no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives. It comes in four flavors: Fruit Punch, Tropical Punch, Apple, and Grape. More details state that each pouch provides ½ cup of fruit juice, “which is 1 serving of fruit according to the U.S. Dietary Guidelines.”

Capri Sun is launching its new Capri Sun Organic line with advertisements called “Push Play”. The inspiration appears to be the realization that today’s parents want to move away from heavily structured lifestyles for their kids. Instead, today’s parents want their kids to have time to be creative, to engage in spontaneous play, and to have fun.

The official, national, retail roll-out of Capri Sun Organic won’t happen until April. However, some stores are already carrying some of the product on their shelves now. A digital effort, to make people more aware of the new Capri Sun Organic drinks, will take place starting in the middle of February.

Often, products that are organic cost a bit more than the non-organic versions. In general, the higher price is due to the better quality ingredients that organic products have, and due to the certifications requirements that organic products must meet.

As such, Capri Sun Organic is more expensive than the non-organic Capri Sun drinks. According to Media Post, the suggested retail price for a 10-pack of 6-ounce pouches of Capri Sun Organic will cost about $4.29 (compared with the basic prices of $2.99 for the brand’s 100% Juice and Super V line products, and $2.50 for the original line).

The new Capri Sun Organic line is an extension of changes that Capri Sun made to their products – for health related reasons. In 2014, Capri Sun started offering pouches with clear bottoms. This was due to complaints on social media about mold. Drinks that do not contain preservatives can sometimes end up with mold. The clear bottoms helped customers to see what was in the bottom of the drink.

In 2014, Capri Sun replaced the high-fructose corn syrup in their original drinks with sugar. It also replaced the sucralose in their Roarin’ Waters lines with stevia extract. The addition of an organic line of drinks was the next step.

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Kroger Introduces ClickList

Posted on Monday, February 15th, 2016 at 8:34 am
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Kroger LogoWe’ve all had days where we needed to go grocery shopping but really did not want to. Maybe the weather was bad and you were reluctant to go outside. You might have had too many things going on that day to fit grocery shopping in. Or, you might have been taking a “sick day” and honestly wished someone could do your grocery shopping for you. Kroger is about to make that happen with ClickList.

ClickList offers Kroger customers a more convenient way to shop for groceries. Usually, people who need to do grocery shopping have to drive to the store, walk up and down the aisles, fill their cart with the products they came in to buy, and wait in line at the checkout. ClickList streamlines things.

With ClickList, the first thing you do is go to the Kroger website. You can shop online for over 40,000 items that are available in Kroger stores, including fresh meat and produce. New items are added every week. Select what you want to buy from the comfort of your home.

Next, you need to confirm your order and select a pick-up date and time. In other words, you can click your way through grocery shopping today and pick it up on your way home from work. Or, you can pick it up the next day. Whatever works for you!

Drive to Kroger on the date and at the time you selected. You can pick up and pay for your items at the store without having to leave your vehicle. Someone who works at Kroger will be waiting for your car to pull up curbside. That person will load your groceries into your car for you. That worker can also function like a cashier, and swipe your credit or debit card for you. No more waiting in long lines!

If you want to use ClickList often, it is possible to set up a Favorites List. This feature automatically tracks the items you most commonly purchase, and places them onto a list for you. You can add things as needed.

It is important to know that there is a $4.95 fee for using ClickList. That fee is waived for your first three orders, so that you can try out the service for no extra cost. Many people will decide that they are willing to pay a $4.95 fee if it means they don’t have to find a parking space or walk through snow or rain in order to do their grocery shopping.

Another thing to note is that you must pay for your groceries with either your credit or debit card. The worker who brings your groceries to you cannot accept cash, checks, gift cards, or government benefits. That worker is not allowed to accept tips, either.

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Consumers Are Confused by the Word “Natural”

Posted on Wednesday, February 10th, 2016 at 7:00 am
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What Foods Are Really NaturalIt is easy to see why consumers are confused when presented with the word “natural” on a food label. What does that word actually mean? This is a question that the Food and Drug Administration is only beginning to consider. Right now, the word “natural” on a food label is extremely vague.

People want to bring home healthy food for their families to eat. This is especially true for families that are trying to lose weight together, or who have family members with food allergies or other health issues. We all want what’s best for our loved ones.

According to Consumer Reports, the percentage of people who regularly buy food labeled “natural” has increased from 59% in 2014 to 62% in 2015. At the same time, the study found that most people have no idea what they are paying for when it comes to natural labels on food packages.

Is a package of processed food, that says “natural”, more healthy than the apples and cucumbers in the produce section with no such label? Does the word “natural” on a food label mean that the food doesn’t contain any artificial ingredients, colors, or chemicals?

Does it mean the food was grown without pesticides? Does the work “natural” mean the food was tested and found to be “natural”? Does it mean that the factory the food was produced or packaged in was especially healthy? No one seems to know for certain – and yet, they continue to look for foods that say “natural”.

The confusion about the word “natural” is not the consumer’s fault. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has only recently begun considering what the word “natural” on a food label should indicate. As a result, food manufacturers have been able to toss the word “natural” on almost any food without having to prove that the food is actually healthy for people to eat.

It has been discovered that people who are shopping for groceries tend to zero in on a “natural” claim. In general, people interpret the word “natural” to mean that the food is going to make them healthier, or that it will help their bodies function better. They want to believe that the package of food that says “natural” is somehow better for them then a competing brand that doesn’t say “natural”.

There is another big issue with using the word “natural” on food labels. Technically, from a food science perspective, it is very difficult to define a food as “natural”. Most foods have been processed in some way. Humans have been involved in the growing and breeding of foods for a very long time. It will be very difficult to come up with a meaning for the word “natural” that actually means something and that the consumer intuitively understands.

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Obama Administration Pushes to Expand Retirement Savings

Posted on Monday, February 8th, 2016 at 7:00 am
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Piggy BankSaving up for retirement is incredibly difficult if you are living paycheck to paycheck. It can also be hard for families who have accrued a lot of debt. The Obama Administration is making a plan that will help more Americans save for retirement. The plan is to ensure near universal access to workplace retirement savings accounts and to put our country on the path to more portable retirement benefits.

The goal is to encourage more employers to offer retirement plans and to make it easier for workers to participate in them. One way to do that is to automatically enroll workers, who do not have access to a workplace retirement plan, in an IRA. Another is to allow long-term, part-time, workers to participate in their employer’s existing retirement plan.

At the same time, the plan involves enabling small businesses to come together and create a pooled 401(k) plan, at a lower cost than if they had to do it all by themselves. Tax credits may be provided for small businesses that begin offering retirement plans, or that choose to automatically enroll workers in existing plans.

Another goal is to build on existing efforts. For example, the Obama Administration has previously launched myRA. It was developed by the United States Department of Treasury in order to help more people save for retirement. People who don’t have access to an employer-sponsored retirement savings plan, or who lack other options to start saving for retirement, can use myRA.

The myRA offers things that current employer plans do not. A person who uses myRA can set up automatic contributions (of an amount they can afford). They can withdraw the money they put into their myRA at any time without paying tax or penalties. The person can change jobs and keep their myRA account. The investment is backed by the United States Treasury, and the account will earn interest. (The myRA follows Roth IRA rules, and has an annual contribution limit).

The President’s proposals would provide more than 30 million people with access to workplace retirement savings options. The plan recognizes that part-time workers are less likely to have access to a retirement plan than are full-time workers. The plan will require that employees who have worked for an employer for at least 500 hours per year, for at least three years, will be eligible to participate in their employer’s existing retirement plan.

In addition, there will be new rules put in place the ensures that retirement savers receive advice that is in their best interest, especially when they are changing jobs. The Department of Labor has proposed a conflict of interest rule – which is expected to be finalized in 2016 – that requires the adviser who manages an IRA plan to provide advice that truly is in their client’s best interest.

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Aldi Introduces Healthier Checkouts

Posted on Wednesday, February 3rd, 2016 at 4:10 pm
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aldiWhat kinds of things are in the checkout line at your favorite grocery store? Chances are, that small area is filled with junk that you simply don’t need – and that you would prefer your kids not ask for. Aldi is making a change to that contentious area by introducing healthier checkouts.

The things stocked in the checkout lines at grocery stores are notoriously bad for shoppers. This is where the store put as many “impulse buys” as possible. A magazine with a famous person on the cover might catch your attention. Your kids, however, are more likely to beg for a cold soda or a candy bar.

For parents, the checkout line might be the most stressful part of grocery shopping! It is one of the most likely places in the store where a child will beg for some kind of junk food and a parent will say “no”. This can lead to an embarrassing “meltdown”.

Aldi is making a change that will make shoppers lives healthier and less stressful. They will be removing the junk food that is typically found at the grocery store checkouts. That area won’t be empty, however. Aldi will replace the junk with healthier foods.

Some of the healthier food options will include trail mixes, granola bars, nuts, dried fruit, as well as some fresh produce. This change is being referred to as a “refresh” of the checkout lanes.

It appears that at least some of the healthier products being offered in the checkout lanes will be from Aldi’s SimplyNature line of products. There may be other healthy brands as well. Aldi’s SimplyNature line is described as “products made with honest ingredients that you can feel good giving to your family”.

This doesn’t mean that Aldi is going to completely get rid of the candy that you used to find in the checkout lanes. The store will remove the candy from the checkout and place it in an aisle with the rest of the candy the store sells. In other words, families can still buy candy at Aldi, but they will have to pick it up while they shop.

Aldi stores in St. Louis, Los Angeles, Dallas, Chicago, and Minneapolis will be among the first to see a healthy change in the items offered at the checkout line. If things go well, this “refresh” will expand to other Aldi stores. Families that shop at those stores won’t have to battle with their children over whether or not they can have a candy bar that they spotted while waiting in line. Instead, your child might ask for a granola bar or some dried fruit. Those are much healthier choices!

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Walmart is Closing Stores

Posted on Monday, February 1st, 2016 at 6:34 pm
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Walmart Logo (matchups)The main reason why many people shop at Walmart is because their prices are low. It is always nice to save some money, especially when your budget is tight. Be aware that Walmart is planning to close some of its stores. Will the Walmart you shop at remain open?

Bloomberg Business reports that Walmart plans to shutter 269 of its stores, the most in at least two decades. This will affect about 10,000 jobs in the United States at 154 locations around the country. Outside of the United States, closed Walmart stores will eliminate 6,000 jobs. A total of 60 Walmart stores will close in Brazil.

Walmart has decided to end its pilot program of Walmart Express stores. Those stores were smaller than typical Walmart stores, and were intended to compete with dollar stores and drugstores.

In addition, Walmart is going to close 23 of its medium sized Neighborhood Market stores (more specifically, it will close the 23 poorest-performing stores in that chain). Overall, the company is dropping its Walmart Express stores in favor of putting more effort into (most of ) its Neighborhood Market stores.

It isn’t just the smaller versions of Walmart that will be closing. Walmart has already started closing 12 of its Supercenter stores (the biggest version in the Walmart chain of stores). This doesn’t necessarily mean that Walmart is on its way out. Instead, it means the company is doing some restructuring in order to cope with less sales than they anticipated.

There is a complete list of the Walmart stores that will be closing (or that have already closed). The list was posted on the Walmart official website, so there is good reason to believe that it is a reliable list.

The list of stores that are now closed (or that soon will be closing) include many Walmart Express stores, and about 6 “regular” Walmart stores. The list also includes Supercenter stores and Neighborhood Market stores that are closing (or have already closed). Some Amigo stores and Sam’s Club stores are on the list of closures as well.

According to The Motley Fool, the closing of the Walmart Express stores was due to a failed effort to increase sales by competing with a slightly different market than usual. Things didn’t work out as the company had hoped.

The Motley Fool suggests that Walmart is having difficultly competing with Amazon, and that this is a big reason why sales are slowing at Walmart. It also appears that Walmart’s international expansion of stores are underperforming.

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Is it Safe to Eat at Chipotle?

Posted on Wednesday, January 20th, 2016 at 1:11 pm
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chipotleOne of the things that originally attracted people to Chipotle was its efforts to use the best ingredients that they could find. Those who needed to quickly grab food during their lunch break, and who wanted a healthy choice, went to Chipotle. Then, the news hit about people getting sick after eating at some of Chipotle’s restaurants. Is it safe to eat at Chipotle?

Chipotle was known for using real ingredients, and for cooking its food on-site. The Chipotle website states that it uses “vegetables grown in healthy soil and pork from pigs allowed to freely root and roam outdoors or in deeply bedded barns.”

Chipotle posted a Food Safety Update and FAQ on its website to discuss what happened that caused people who ate food from Chipotle to become sick. In October of 2015, Chipotle closed 43 restaurants in the Seattle, Washington, and Portland, Oregon, markets after being notified by health department officials in Seattle that they were investigating a number of E coli cases, including some affecting people who ate at 11 Chipotle restaurants.

Additional cases were reported in late November and early December of 2015 in California, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Illinois, and Maryland. On December 21, 2015, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notified Chipotle that they were investigating 5 cases of E coli in Kansas, Oklahoma, and North Dakota. The people affected ate at 2 Chipotle locations in November of 2015.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has more information. It notes that Chipotle has taken the following actions, among others:

* Confirming that all microbial testing performed by the company did not yield E. coli (more than 2,500 tests of Chipotle’s food, restaurant surfaces, and equipment all showed no E. coli)

* Confirming that no employees in these restaurants were sickened from this incident

* Expanded testing of fresh produce, raw meat, and dairy items prior to restocking restaurants

* Implementing additional safety procedures, and audits, in all of its 2,000 restaurants to ensure that robust food safety standards are in place

* Working closely with federal, state, and local government agencies to ensure that robust food safety standards are in place

* Replacing all ingredients in the closed restaurants

* Conducted additional deep cleaning and sanitation in all of its closed restaurants (will conduct deep cleaning and sanitation additionally in all restaurants nationwide)

Chipotle is going to close all of its stores on February 8, 2016, for a national employee meeting to address food safety concerns and company changes. They have also instituted paid-sick leave for employees, so they can stay home when they are ill. Does this mean it is now safe to eat at Chipotle? Ultimately, everyone is going to have to decide that for themselves.

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