How to Save

How to Cope After Your Favorite Grocery Store Closes

Posted on Monday, January 11th, 2016 at 7:00 am
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Buy Organic Store Brands to Save BigMany people have a favorite grocery store. It’s the one that they shop at the most often because that store offers things that they like. It can be annoying, or even upsetting, when that favorite grocery store closes. What are you going to do now?

Make a List
Why did you like your favorite grocery store so much? Make a list of the things that it had that were important to you. Maybe it had specialty foods that you didn’t see at other grocery stores. It might have had an excellent loyalty card program that offered lots of discounts. Or, the best thing about it was that it was located close to where you live.

Take that list with you the next time you go grocery shopping. It is possible that another grocery store will have most of the qualities that your favorite grocery store had. It is easier to find what you are looking for when you have a clear idea of what it is that you want.

Consider Online Shopping
Amazon.com might not have all of the groceries that you typically buy, but it probably has many of them. Online shopping for groceries is a reasonable solution for the problem of not being able to find the things you like after your favorite grocery store closed. Do a price check and compare the cost from Amazon with the cost if you bought it directly from the manufacturer.

Compare Coupon Policies
When it comes to coupon policies, no two grocery stores are the same. You might have loved your favorite grocery store because it had an awesome coupon policy. Check to see what other grocery stores coupon policies are like. There could be another one that is just as good – if not better!

Find out if another grocery store will take the coupons that were issued by the grocery store that closed. It’s worth a try! You can find out more about a grocery store’s coupon policy by visiting their website or by asking a manager. While you are at it, find out what their loyalty program offers.

Pick the Closest Store
Not sure which grocery store to switch to? One simple solution is to pick the one that is located closest to where you live. Convenience offers a certain kind of comfort that few other things can match.

Your local grocery store will cost less travel time than a grocery store located farther away. There is potential that you could save a little bit on gas money simply by selecting the closest grocery store.

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Kroger Launches Main & Vine

Posted on Wednesday, January 6th, 2016 at 7:00 am
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fresh foodBig chain grocery stores are beginning to realize that the needs and desires of customers have changed. In the past, people may have selected products because they happen to favor a certain brand.

Today, families want to be able to access food that is healthy for their families. Kroger, perhaps influenced by this change, is launching a fresh foods concept.

Kroger is launching a new, smaller, banner store called Main & Vine. It is described as a place “where eating is healthy, affordable, and fun!” The Main & Vine website shows lovely photos of fresh produce, and has a limited amount of information about the store.

Main & Vine promises that customers will enjoy the following things:
* Fresh, affordable local produce and meat
* A wide selection of local beer and wine
* Unique culinary experiences and taste adventures, with tasty meals made fresh in our kitchen
* “And so much more”

The very first Main & Vine store will be in Gig Harbor, Washington, in the Seattle area. The store will be 27,000 square feet. It will include the big brand “staples” that many consumers are still buying. In addition, Main & Vine will have fresh, organic, and local foods. Produce and bulk sections will be located in the center of the store. That’s a big change from where most grocery stores put that section – off to the side.

It appears to be more than a just another grocery store. Main & Vine will offer prepared foods. It will have a coffee, wine and beer bar, and a dual level cafe area. This makes Main & Vine sound like a good place to hang out and meet people, either before or after you shop for healthy groceries.

The one and only location of Main & Vine that Kroger is starting with is obviously being done as a test. If it is successful, there is the possibility that Kroger might choose to roll out more Main & Vine stores in other states.

So far, there is no information at all about where those additional locations may appear. Some speculate that Kroger, who acquired Roundy’s Inc. (a chain of supermarket stores in Wisconsin and the greater Chicago area) might be considering turning those stores into brand new Main & Vine locations. Again, this is speculation – not fact.

The Main & Vine stores are not the only thing Kroger has done to improve the quality of foods that are available to its customers. Kroger’s Simple Truth is the largest organic brand in the United States. Kroger’s popular organic brand was less expensive than similar products from Whole Foods.

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How to Organize Your Closet

Posted on Monday, January 4th, 2016 at 7:00 am
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organize closet

Have you reached the point where you have more clothing than will easily fit in your closet? Now is a good time to clean and organize it.

Take everything out
The first thing to do is to take everything out of the closet. This includes clothing, hangers, shoes, and whatever else you have stored in there. Put all the clothes on your bed. You are going to need to sleep in that bed tonight, and this gives you an intrinsic motivation to finish organizing your closet as quickly as possible.

Clean it up
Before you put anything back into your closet, it is time to clean. Sweep or vacuum the floor. Wipe the dust off the shelves and walls. Cleaning does two things for you. It gives you a fresh place to start with, and it forces you to realize how much (or how little) space is in your closet.

Get some trash bags
Some of the clothing you pulled out of your closet is not going back into it. Use the trash bags as a collection area for the clothes you are going to donate. Promise yourself not to second-guess your decisions. If you put something into the trash bags – it stays there! You are going to have to make decisions that can be difficult if you let nostalgia get in the way.

When did you last wear it?
The answer to that important question can determine whether or not you should keep a particular item of clothing. If you honestly cannot remember how long it has been since you wore something – that’s a sign that you don’t really need it. Donate it so someone else can use it.

The clothes that you wore this week, or last week, can go back into the closet. These items may include your favorite pair of jeans, your best work outfits, and the comfiest pairs of pajamas you own. Keep the things you are still getting a lot of use out of.

Does it still fit?
You know that the clothes that you most frequently wear fit you. What about the ones that you haven’t worn in a really long time? Don’t put them back into your closet until after you try them on. If it is too tight to be comfortable – get rid of it. If it is obviously too big for you – get rid of it.

You might have a situation where the clothing fits – but isn’t something you would want to wear in public. Dresses that you loved as a high schooler or college student might feel too outdated to wear to work today. Don’t keep clothing that you will not actually wear. It just takes up closet space!

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Ways to Save on Heating Your Home

Posted on Monday, December 21st, 2015 at 7:00 am
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Winter Piggy BankWinter weather is cold and icy. The inside of your home should be warm and toasty. Heating your home can get expensive. Fortunately, there are ways to save on heating your home. Try some of these tips!

Upgrade Your Thermostat
Popular Mechanics suggests that you upgrade your thermostat to a newer, smarter, model. A company called Nest makes a learning thermostat. (There are other companies that make similar products.)

A smart, or learning, thermostat learns your lifestyle. It will automatically turn down the heat when you are away from home or asleep. Popular Mechanics says that smart thermostats can cut your heating bill by 10% or more. It also clarifies that your furnace does not have to work harder to warm up your house after the temperature has been set low. That’s a myth!

Uncover the Heat Registers
You can heat your home more efficiently if you take the time to uncover the heat registers (or vents). Did you put a throw rug over one during the summer? Remove it! Now might be the perfect time to rearrange the furniture so that you can be sure that none of it is blocking a heat register.

The air that blows out of the heating registers needs to have a clear path in order to properly heat your home. Blocking those registers limits the flow of heat. When that happens, people get cold and turn the heat on again – or turn it up. You can save money on heating if you unblock the heat registers.

Replace the Filters
When was the last time you replaced the filters on your furnace? If you can’t remember, it probably means you need new ones. Take a minute to check what size filters your furnace requires before heading out to the store.

Filters trap dust. Leave the filter in the furnace for too long, and it will clog up. When that happens, it makes the furnace less efficient. Fresh, clean, filters can help the hot air circulate through your home.

Wear a Sweater
There are times when the old fashioned advice you got from your mother (or grandmother) turn out to be really good ideas. Before you turn up the heat, try putting on a sweater. You already own the sweater, so it won’t cost you anything to wear it. Turning the heat up, however, can make your heating bill more expensive.

Getting too cold at night? An electric blanket might be useful. It won’t significantly raise the cost of your electric bill and may provide enough warmth to make it unnecessary to turn on the furnace.

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General Mills Pledges to be All-Natural

Posted on Wednesday, December 16th, 2015 at 7:00 am
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General MillsSeveral decades ago, people decided what food to buy for their families based on little more than the brand. Today, parents read the ingredient labels on food, in search of the healthiest choice. They might choose products from General Mills, who has made an all-natural pledge.

In the summer of 2015, General Mills announced that it would begin removing all artificial flavors and colors from its cereal products. The company used an ad campaign called Parent Promises to get the word out. In their artistic and amusing ad, General Mills states: “We are committed to removing artificial flavors and colors from artificial sources from our cereals.”

Why would a big company like General Mills be making that kind of promise to consumers? It could be due to a growing concern on the part of many consumers about the ingredients that are in the foods they purchase and feed to their families. Over the years, many families have started selecting foods that they perceived to be natural over ones that had a lot of artificial ingredients.

In September of 2015, General Mills created a gluten-free version of its popular Cheerios cereal. Their ad featured Phil Zietlow, who is a 50-year veteran of the research and development team at General Mills. He discovered that his daughter-in-law, Joyce, cannot eat gluten. (She has celiac disease). So, he set out to create a Cheerios that she (and others like her) could safely eat.

General Mills is also keeping consumer’s preferences regarding natural foods in mind when it acquires other brands. General Mills acquired Annie’s, which is a brand that makes organic snack products. A few of their products (including two types of macaroni and cheese and two flavors of cookies) are gluten-free.

When can you expect to see the new, healthier, General Mills cereal products on the shelves at your local grocery store? The changeover will not be instantaneous. General Mills has indicated that it would eliminate the questionable ingredients from all of its cereal products by 2017.

That being said, it is possible that some of the new versions of their famous cereals will appear in 2016. It is a good idea to read the ingredient labels before you make your purchase. Another option for health conscious consumers is to buy cereal from other brands that already have removed the artificial ingredients. This is an area that is likely to have a lot of competition in coming years.

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Ways to Save on Wrapping Paper

Posted on Monday, December 14th, 2015 at 7:00 am
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Gift boxYou’ve finished your Christmas shopping and managed to find something wonderful for everyone on your list. Do you have enough of a budget to buy wrapping paper? If not, don’t worry. There are plenty of ways to save on wrapping paper.

Use What You Already Have
Before you purchase new rolls of wrapping paper, it would be good to check and see what you actually have at home. Many people put the rolls of wrapping paper, and gift bags, that they didn’t use into storage. You might have everything you need to wrap this year’s gifts stored in a closet, attic, or shed.

Want to plan head for next year? Wait until everyone has opened their gifts. Collect the gift boxes and bags to use next year. You might be able to salvage some of the wrapping paper, too. A large box, carefully opened, could give you some undamaged decorative paper to wrap a medium sized or small gift in next Christmas.

Have the Store Wrap it For You
Pay attention while you are shopping for gifts. Some stores will wrap items for you. In general, a store may be willing to wrap items that you purchased that day from their store. Ask the cashier to have someone wrap the gifts for you. It won’t cost you any extra money, but you may have to wait your turn if there are a lot of other people who had the same plan.

Look for tables that are set up by non-profit groups. These groups will wrap gifts for you – no matter where you purchased the item from. All they ask in return is a donation. It is expected that you will donate some money. You get to choose how much.

Will you be shopping online? Some retailers are willing to wrap gifts for customers -for a fee. There should be a box to check indicating that you want the gift wrapped. If you only have one more gift to wrap, the fee may be more economical than buying an entire new roll of wrapping paper.

Get Creative
You don’t necessarily have to go the traditional route when it comes to gift wrapping. It is ok to be a bit more creative with how you wrap gifts. The key to pulling this off is to tailor it to the taste and interests of the gift recipient.

The “green” person in your family might appreciate a gift wrapped in newspaper or is placed inside a paper bag. They are biodegradable and recyclable. A quilter might appreciate a gift that is wrapped in a lovely fabric. It’s two gifts in one!

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Tricks to Help You Avoid Emotional Eating

Posted on Wednesday, December 9th, 2015 at 7:00 am
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In Season Natural Foods for the Autumn MonthsHow do you cope when you are feeling stressed out? Many people resort to emotional eating. They aren’t actually hungry, but the act of eating, and the taste of the food, brings some comfort. Emotional eating might lighten your mood but it can reach a point where it is unhealthy. Here are some tips to help you avoid emotional eating.

Try the Apple Test
Are you looking for something to eat because you are stressed out or because you are actually hungry? One way to figure that out is with the apple test. If you truly are hungry, an apple is going to sound just as good as any other snack option. If you don’t want the apple it means you aren’t actually hungry and are about to engage in emotional eating.

The apple test works because it forces you to consciously think about the motivations behind your sudden interest in snacking. Being aware of the reason why you are wanting food can help prevent you from engaging in emotional eating.

Don’t Bring It Home
Is there a specific food that is your go-to when you are experiencing emotional struggles? Don’t bring home that particular food. It can be super easy to grab something out of your kitchen when you are feeling stressed out.

The accessibility of the food brings instant gratification. If you don’t have your go-to food at home, you cannot possibly use it for emotional eating. It might not feel worth it to leave your home in order to obtain that food.

Healthier Versions of Comfort Foods
Another way to avoid emotional eating is to substitute your favorite comfort foods with healthier versions. This might help you to get the taste or consistency of what you are craving in a smaller amount (and possibly less calories).

Dark chocolate is a good substitute for milk chocolate. Choose a dark chocolate that is at least 85% cocoa. The rich taste of dark chocolate will satisfy your craving quicker than milk chocolate would – so you end up eating less. This is just one example of how to substitute a comfort food with a heather version.

Swap Food for An Activity
Have you figured out that you aren’t actually hungry – but still feel like your comfort foods are calling out to you? Swap that food with an activity. Play a quick match-three game online. Go for a short walk. Take five minutes to write in a journal. These easy to do distractions engage your mind in something unrelated to food.

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Tips for Saving Money on Shipping

Posted on Monday, December 7th, 2015 at 7:00 am
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presentsAre you planning on shipping presents out to family members who live far away? Make sure you take the time to figure out which shipping option is the best one for you. There are things you can do that will help you save money on shipping.

Ship It Now!
The easiest way to save money on shipping is to send those gifts out as quickly as possible. Ship a gift early in December, and you will probably be given a choice of shipping rates (based on how much time it would take to ship the item). Wait too long, and your only options will be “next day” or “overnight”. Those are usually the most expensive options.

Online Shopping
Another easy way to save money on the cost of shipping is to shop online. Sometimes, websites offer free shipping if you spend a certain amount of money (or more). This works out well if you were planning on spending that much anyway.

Check to see if the website will wrap the gift for you before they ship it. If so, then all you have to do is put the recipient’s shipping address as the location you want the gift sent to – and you are all done!

Comparison Shop
You’ve already purchased and wrapped all the gifts you need to send out. The next thing to do is figure out how much each box weighs. Then, it’s time to “do the math”. Check the shipping cost from USPS, FedEx, and UPS. Make sure to consider whether or not they can offer insurance on the item you want to ship, and how much that will cost. One of them will probably end up costing less than the other two.

Get Boxes for Free
The United States Postal Service offers free holiday priority mail flat rate boxes. They come in different sizes. Pick up the size you need from your local post office. Package up the gift you want to send to a family member who lives far away (and include some paper or bubblewrap for safety). Bring the box back to the Post Office.

This saves you some money because you can get the boxes for free. These boxes can be shipped by USPS for a low flat rate. Priority Mail Flat Rate Boxes feature predetermined rates regardless of how much the box weighs. The cost is even lower when you ship online!

Ship it to the Store
Instead of having your online purchase shipped to your home, see if you can have that item shipped to the store instead. This will only work if there is a “brick and mortar” store near where you live. The store will pay for the shipping. All you have to do is go to the store and pick it up.

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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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