How to Save

When Buying a New Car Won’t Save You Money

Posted on Monday, April 11th, 2016 at 7:00 am
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Piggy BankHow long should you keep your vehicle? There are those who buy a new car every year or two. Some people believe that buying a new car can save you money. That’s not true in every situation! Here are some clues that buying a new car won’t end up saving you money after all.

Is your car paid off?
Your current vehicle needs some repairs that are more expensive than you can comfortably afford. This is the point where some people get the idea that buying a new car is the solution to the problem.

Take a moment to consider if you can afford to make monthly payments on a new car while still paying off the old one. Selling your current car in the hopes of getting enough for it to buy a new car is not a realistic expectation.

New cars require maintenance, too.
All vehicles require a certain amount of maintenance. Buying a new car does not mean you won’t have to spend money to keep it running. Some people are of the mistaken impression that a brand new car won’t need to be taken into the shop for a “checkup”.

Lack of regular maintenance can cause parts of your car to wear out and need replacing. Those that skip it or put things off for too long are not going to save money. They are going to end up with a very expensive car repair!

Consider the insurance costs
Some car insurance companies will charge a higher premium on certain kinds of vehicles. The reason has to do with risk assessment. The insurance company will generally believe that a person who drives a mini-van is going to be a safer driver than a person who drives a sports car.

Many people assume that buying a new car won’t change the cost of their insurance premium. You could end up with a more expensive premium than you have right now, especially if you are going from a mini-van to a sports car. On the other hand, you might end up saving money if you trade in the sports car for a family friendly vehicle.

Your car has been totaled
When we think of a car that has been totaled, it often means the car is damaged beyond repair. In that case, you will need to buy another vehicle (despite the expense).

Sometimes, an insurance company will declare a car to be totaled when it is still safe to drive. A minor fender bender could cause a ding that the insurance company feels would cost too much to repair (compared to what your car is worth). In some states, you can still drive that car on a salvage license.

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Things to Know About the DARK Act and GMO Labeling

Posted on Wednesday, April 6th, 2016 at 9:21 pm
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Tips for Shopping at Your Local Farmer's MarketYou may have seen people posting their thoughts about the DARK act on social media. Those posts were in reference to a bill that was making its way through the U.S.Senate. The bill involved rules about how GMOs are labeled on food packages. Here are the things you need to know about the DARK act.

The DARK act is not the actual name of the bill.
The bill was subtitled “National Voluntary Bioengineered Food Labeling Standard”. If passed into law, the bill would enable food manufacturers to decide for themselves whether or not they wanted to let consumers know that GMO foods were included as ingredients in a package of food.

People who dislike the bill started calling it the DARK act. It was an acronym of “Denying Americans the Right-to-Know” Act. People who were opposed to the bill felt that it would undercut state laws that mandate GMO labeling.

What happened with the bill?
The bill passed through the United States House of Representatives in the summer of 2015. It was sent to the United States Senate and passed through the Senate Agricultural Committee in March of 2016. The United States Senate took a vote on the bill, but it did not pass the Senate.

In the United States, a bill must pass through the U.S. House of Representatives, and the U.S. Senate, and then be signed by the President of the United States before it can become a law. This means the DARK act will not become a law. It also means that states that have passed laws that require the labeling of GMOs still stand.

What is a GMO?
GMO stands for “genetically modified organism”. It is an organism that has had its DNA altered or modified in some way through genetic engineering. The biggest use of GMO technology has been in large-scale agricultural crops. At least 90% of the soy, cotton, canola, corn, and sugar beets sold in the U.S. Have been genetically engineered.

The Non GMO project says that most developed nations do not consider GMOs to be safe. It points out that Australia, Japan, and all of the countries in the European Union have restrictions or outright bans on the production and sale of GMOs.

The American Association for the Advancement of Science says “The World Health Organization, the American Medical Association, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the British Royal Society, and every other respected organization that has examined the evidence has come to the same conclusion: Consuming foods containing ingredients derived from GMO crops is no riskier than consuming the same foods containing ingredients from crop plants modified by conventional plant improvement techniques.”

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Saving Tips for Parents

Posted on Monday, April 4th, 2016 at 7:50 am
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Saving Tips for Parents | FreeCoupons.comFrugal families tend to seek out ways to save money. This is especially necessary for families who are low-income or those that have lots of children. Here are a few saving tips for parents who need to stretch their dollars a little bit farther.

Look for Free Fun
It is possible to keep your kids entertained without having to spend a fortune to do it. Public parks are great to play in on days when the weather is nice. The public library will have a kids section filled with books geared for readers of different ages and abilities.

There might be a free (or very inexpensive) after-school program that your kids can attend (such as the YMCA or the Boys and Girls Clubs). Some bookstores will hold a weekly story time that kids can attend for free.

Hand-Me-Downs are Great!
A really easy way to save some money on children’s clothing is with “hand-me-downs”. The oldest (or largest) child outgrows a t-shirt, sweater, or pair of jeans. That child’s younger (or smaller) sibling might be able to wear it – especially if the clothing is still in good shape. Some families include cousins in the “hand-me-down” clothing pass.

Another option is to shop the local thrift stores or visit the consignment stores that carry children’s clothing. Yard sales or garage sales are also great places to find inexpensive kids clothes. The clothing you find probably won’t be brand new. But, it might be in good condition and it will be less expensive than what the department stores sell the same items for.

Generics are as Good as Brand Name
Your favorite grocery store probably has at least one “store brand”. Often, the store brand (or “generic” brand) has the exact same ingredients as the popular name brand. Test this out the next time you shop for cereal. You can save some money by purchasing the “store brand” and still get the same quality.

Make a Budget
Have you ever wondered where your money goes? The first step in saving money is to make a budget. The next step, sticking to that budget, is more difficult. It is worth the effort to learn how to spend within your budget. Being intentionally conscious about how much money you are spending tends to make people less interested in wasteful things like “impulse buys”.

Plan Your Meals
A meal plan can help you figure out what foods you should buy at the grocery store this week. It also makes many people more motivated to eat the food they brought home and to cook their own meals. This can reduce food waste because you use up the food you spent money on.

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BlueShield Unveils HealthyLife Rewards

Posted on Wednesday, March 23rd, 2016 at 2:17 pm
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BlueShield Unveils HealthyLife Rewards | FreeCoupons.comIt has become a trend for health insurance companies to offer incentives that are designed to help their customers stay healthy. This is good for the insurance company, because the healthier a person is, the less expensive it is to cover their health care costs. It can also be good for the customer – especially if the incentive involves a way to save money on groceries.

BlueShield of Northeastern New York has unveiled HealthyLife Rewards. It is described as “a digital nutrition program powered by NutriSavings that provides educational tools and incentives to more than 50,000 subscriber households in the Capital Region”. NutriSavings “connects employee’s healthy shopping decisions with financial incentives to empower a healthier, wellness-focused workforce.”

Who can access the HealthyLife Rewards program? The first thing to realize is that it is only being offered to people who have BlueShield health insurance. Right now, it is only offered to “commercial BlueShield of Northeast New York subscribers.”

HealthyLife Rewards offers the following benefits:

* Earn more than $500 by purchasing foods featured on the NutriSavings website.

* Discover the nutritional score of your favorite products and learn healthier alternatives.

* Save on healthy foods while getting meal ideas and creating grocery lists.

People who are eligible for the HealthyLife Rewards program must register for it online. They can then go online to the NutriSavings website to access discounts on various healthy foods at participating grocery stores. The person also needs to use the HeathyLife Rewards program loyalty card at the checkout. This process enables the customer to earn a potential $500 annual cash back rewards.

Each food item is scored based upon its nutritional value. An average score for each shopping trip is calculated. Individuals who are part of the program can deposit their rewards into their checking account, or redeem as cash, at any time.

UnitedHealth Care did something similar. Their program was called Healthy Savings. It also offered discounts on healthy foods. Their program gave customers a card that was automatically stocked with digital coupons for a variety of healthy foods.

These types of incentive programs are very different from the previously offered incentive programs that focused on weight loss. Instead of looking at a number on a scale, these new programs offer savings on healthy foods. The groceries purchased as part of these incentive programs can help the customer, and his or her family, to stay healthy.

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Reducing Food Waste Can Save You Money

Posted on Monday, March 21st, 2016 at 7:00 am
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Trash BagCoupons are a quick and easy way to lower the cost of your groceries. Special sales, offered to customers who have the store’s loyalty card, also provide good deals. Reducing food waste can help you save money on groceries. Not only can this help you stay within your budget, it also is good for the planet.

Shop Smarter
Some food waste happens because people failed to plan ahead. They go out to eat instead of using the fresh produce they bought from the grocery store (which is left to rot in the refrigerator). Or, they bought way too much food and some of it went bad before it was eaten. It doesn’t matter how much money you saved on that food if it all went into the trash.

One way to reduce food waste is to plan meals ahead of time. Buy only what you know, for certain, that you actually need. Make it a priority to consume the food you have at home before going to a fast food place. Pack a lunch to take with you to school or work.

Consider Frozen Produce
Fresh fruits and vegetables are tasty. They are a healthy choice. The problem is that they can go bad rather quickly, especially if the produce was not properly stored.

One way to get around this problem is to buy frozen produce. It is going to last much longer than fresh produce can, and that gives you more time to eat it. Frozen produce often has a higher vitamin content than fresh produce does.

Understand Expiration Dates
People often misunderstand what the sell-by date actually means. It does not mean that the food becomes unsafe to eat on that date (or in the few days following it).

Instead, the sell-by date tells manufacturers the date that they should take the food off the shelf. The result is a lot of wasted food that is still perfectly safe to eat. Grocery stores throw away produce that has not gone bad.

Families throw away foods that are past the sell-by date but are still good to eat. Before you throw food in the trash, check it over carefully. Food that has a bad smell, visible mold, or strange appearance should be thrown away. The rest could be just fine!

Find Ways to Use Up Food
Bananas that are starting to turn brown are a key ingredient for banana bread or banana muffins. Bread that has gone stale can be used to make croutons, french toast, or bread pudding. Before you food away, take a minute to consider ways to use it up.

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Ugly Groceries are Good for You and the Planet

Posted on Wednesday, March 16th, 2016 at 7:02 pm
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Ugly Groceries are Good for You and the Planet |  FreeCoupons.comMany people who are shopping for groceries seek out the most beautiful produce they can find. They avoid packages that have been slightly damaged in favor of pristine ones. It may come as a surprise that ugly groceries are good for you and are also very good for the planet.

In Canada, a supermarket chain called Loblaws has started selling ugly fruits and vegetables. They launched a Naturally Imperfect line that offers misshapen, blemished, imperfect apples and potatoes to consumers.

The funny looking produce is just as healthy as the ones that look perfect. Loblaws offered these less than lovely foods to consumers for a lower price than what the perfect ones cost. It turned out to be a success, so Loblaws is going to expand its Naturally Imperfect line with more types of misshapen but healthy produce. Some other Canadian grocery stores have started offering ugly produce, too.

A grocery store in Denmark called WeFood started selling foods that are expired or that have damaged packages. WeFood is a “social supermarket” (which means it serves low-income people). The decision to start selling foods that other grocery stores would throw away turned out to be a hit with customers.

WeFood sells things like treats for a holiday that happened last week. They also sell things like boxes of cereal that have a rip, or a bag of plain white rice that was mislabeled as basmati. WeFoods also sells foods that are nearing their expiration dates. There isn’t anything wrong or bad about these foods, and customers can purchase them for a lower price than usual.

Ugly groceries are good for you. The most obvious reason is the ugly groceries – unusual looking produce, or food that is inside a slightly damaged package – cost less than their lovely counterparts do. It is an easy way to save money on quality foods. People who are low-income need to stretch their dollars, and ugly groceries are a way to do it.

Some people worry that food that is near its sell-by date has gone bad. This is a mistaken belief. In reality, the sell-by date was designed to tell grocery stores how long to display a product for sale. The sell-by date does not have mean the food automatically goes bad after that date has passed.

Ugly groceries are also good for the planet. Funny looking vegetables, that are perfectly healthy to eat, often get thrown in the trash instead of sent to the supermarket. Grocery stores generally throw away food that is past its sell-by date, but is still safe to eat. This leads to a lot of food waste that can easily be prevented.

Photo Credit: Russ on Flickr

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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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