Merry Christmas Eve to all my friends and readers of Associate Money. Hope you guys enjoy the turkeys, chocolate puddings, gift exchange and a great holiday ahead.
As 2011 beckons, I am disappointed that the economy is not out of the doldrums, despite whatever benefits Ben Bernanke has been telling us about Quantitative Easing. The nascent recovery is not in the employment market and money is still in short order for most Americans.
Our family is still saving for a rainy day and the austerity mood will likely prevail in the new year.
I believe inflation will come up strongly in the next couple of years. Without salary hikes to catch up with inflation, is it possible to stretch our food budget and buy the same stuff for less money or rather lesser purchasing power?
I’ve found some great ways of stretching our groceries so that I can make the next shopping trip go a little bit further. Here are some useful food shopping tips to try:
1. Eat less.
Yes, I know this sounds really obvious. But it is true, we can afford to cut down on our portion sizes by around a third without feeling hungry. Already, Americans are struggling with obesity issues because we love to upsize our food.
Going for smaller portions save money and is more healthy. You shed extra pounds without signing up for gym or diet pills.
2. Avoid Junk food.
This is probably old advice. Nutritionists have been talking the ills of junk food for a long time, and I am not here to debate with the experts. Junk food (burgers, potato chips, cookies, etc) can be quite expensive and burst your food budget easily if you have a habit of snacking while you are working or watching television.
Avoiding junk food and snacks(processed food) will save you money.
3. Add extra ingredients to your meals.
This may sound contrary to our objective of maximizing the food budget. After all, adding extra ingredients cost money. But it is possible that with extra ingredients, your meals actually go further.
For example, if you add pasta and leftover food to soup, a snack can become a full meal with nutritional value for the family. Pasta is cheap and leftover meat and vegetables don't add to your shopping bill.
4. Dress up your leftovers.
There are always leftovers in our family. We don't go out of our way to portion the food for each member. And we also find it more economical to cook in bulk, ie. not only for a single meal.
I know some people have an aversion to leftovers thinking it is unhealthy. But that is a waste of money and not environmentally friendly.
Leftovers can be dressed up to look like freshly made food if you are creative enough. The rice from yesterday meal can be transformed into fried rice by throwing in a few eggs for today's dinner. The chicken fillet can also be made into a pie for the weekend.
5. Use up everything.
There could be a use for everything. Hence, don't throw away any food, unless they have turned rotten. Many meals can also be bulked up by serving them with a bread roll and the remaining food can be placed in the freezer. Just defrost them as needed during the week.
After trying these tips, check to see how long is it before you make another trip to the grocery store and make purchases again. I am sure you can stretch your food budget and head to the store a lot less often.
Friday, December 24, 2010
Merry Christmas Eve to all my friends and readers of Associate Money. Hope you guys enjoy the turkeys, chocolate puddings, gift exchange and a great holiday ahead.
Thursday, November 25, 2010
I know a lot of people start their Christmas shopping on Black Friday. To be sure, there are some fantastic deals out there and it is easy to get carried away with all the store banners screaming "specials" and "bargains."
In order to save money, you should get to the stores early on Black Friday. Stores usually have their best sales in the early morning on Black Friday, so try to be out shopping before sunrise.
Make a list and stick to it, much like your grocery shopping. It's ok to deviate a little but not too much so that you are swiping your credit cards with abandon. If you don't have the discipline, just bring only cash to avoid credit card debts.
Doing your homework before hand helps too. Many stores entice you by advertising try to get you to enter by advertising a large sale when, in reality, the price is the same as weeks ago.
I have saved hundreds of dollars shopping on Black Friday compared to shopping near Christmas time but do watch out for your safety.
The savings may not be able to cover your injuries if you get trampled by the crowd while fighting for goodies. Here are some of the worst tramples on Black Friday.
Monday, November 15, 2010
Clutter in the house, everyone has their struggles with it. With Thanksgiving and Christmas round the corner, the mess is going to get worse as people hit the stores and buy yet more stuff.
For us, we made a pact to remove clutter every couple of months. If not, it can be a nightmare... what with piles of papers in the kitchen and study room, worn out clothes in the wardrobe, magazines in the living room, old tools in the garage..
All these clutter isn't just an eyesore; it is expensive and continue to cost you money sitting in the house.
1. Buying Replacements
Say you are left with one half of your running shoes or earrings due to clutter. Thus, you have to spend money buying duplicates for stuff you own but just can’t find.
2. Damage to Good Stuff
When you have more stuff than space, storage becomes a problem. You end up stepping on stuff which become broken or stained. Some items just collect cobwebs or turn moldy due to moisture.
3. Missing deadlines
When your house is disorganized, you tend to forget about bills and end up paying overdue charges, extra bank fees, and tax penalties.
4. Renting Storage Space
Almost 10% of US families rent storage space for belongings that don’t fit in their homes. Some even bought bigger houses to accommodate their stuff. Well, such expenses and debts are unnecessary if you just manage clutter properly.
5. Health costs
Clutter can increase risk of falling and encourage growth of allergens like dust and mold. Treatments for those can get expensive. Clutter can also affect your mental health and the sign of neglect reflects badly on you.
6. Poor Efficiency
You can’t function at your optimum level if you’re disorganized. For example, time and energy are wasted looking for your car keys when you could be working, playing, relaxing or doing household tasks like preparing meals and paying bills.
7. Tying Up Your Cash
Stuff can tie up our earnings in rarely used sports equipment, video games, gadgets and clothes. Selling the unused stuff frees up cash and your energy.
With so much disadvantages of clutter, no wonder people struggle to save money. But eliminating clutter takes time. You will feel strange in an empty house if all your stuff are dumped overnight. And you may end up throwing things which you really need.
Here are some solutions to put your space on a diet:
* Consider a household agreement to buy nothing new for one year. This should reduce incoming stuff to a trickle.
* To deal with existing stuff, go through one area at a time, instead of tackling the entire house. Choose a room, a closet, a desk, or even just a kitchen drawer. A good rule of thumb: Get rid of anything you don’t use or love.
* Throw clutter in bags, put them in the attic. As you need something, take it from the bag. After 6 months, donate the bags.
* Try to spend 15 minutes a day decluttering. This requires discipline and we are forcing ourselves to do it too.
It’s hard to grow or thrive when hemmed in by clutter. Try out the above tips and see if your house becomes neater and your cashflow improves..
Thursday, September 16, 2010
Jen from Frugal, Freebies and Deals talks about her saving money experience and gives tips on how you can do it too.
Her family is still in debt but using Dave Ramsey Debt Reduction program, she is slowly chipping away and may take about 4 years to pay off everything. This revelation makes her debt reduction journey more credible.
The takeaway lesson from Jen is to break up seemingly insurmountable debts into small, manageable pieces that you can easily handle daily.
Check out her full article on micro level money saving.
Friday, September 3, 2010
Two years after the Great Recession, economic recovery is anemic at best. Though the stock market has managed a remarkable recovery, unemployment rate still hovers around 10%, home sales are languishing and consumer sentiment is low.
Let's not forget about basics of saving money which is to reduce our money expenses.
For those who saw a lower or even zero household income, reducing expenses is a necessary skill.
Here are some quick ways to save at least $500 by reducing some big expenses.
1. Reduce APR’s On Our Credit Cards
Call up your credit card company and ask for a rate reduction. If you have good credit with them, they will drop your interest rate by a few percentage points.
Don't feel shy about asking. If you are being charged an exorbitant 30% for an outstanding balance and in danger of default, the credit card company is actually more worried that you stop paying altogether.
Sometimes, they grant a reprieve period of say 6 months with low interest rates, which lowers your minimum monthly payment by as much as 2-3 times. Although it is temporary, you can always go back to negotiate for another rate reduction. That is easily worth $100-$300 of savings for most people.
2. Modification On Home Loans
Not everyone will be qualified for a home modification and the process is time consuming. The approval process may take up to 90 days, but it could be well worth it in the end. If you loan modification is approved, you can save at least $100 per month on your mortgage.
3. Cable, Phone and Internet
When you are jobless, you can do away with lots of entertainment, like cable and internet. Rather than staying home to watch TV or surfing the net, going for interviews will be more practical. And if you use mobile phones most of the time, just do away with the landline too.
Again you can easily save $50-$100 per month.
4. Consolidate Cell Phone Bills
Look around the internet for providers which allow you to consolidate cell phone bills. Of course, you got to sort out every month the bills and usage between your family members but it is easily $50-$100 savings for the household once you do that.
With the expenses reduced, say $500, you can put more food on the table, invest, pay down outstanding loan (especially credit card debts) or simply save the money for a rainy day.
I think every household can find areas of improvement when it comes to finances. You just have to look hard enough at where your money is going. It’s important though that the money you “save” is not used to purchase extravagant items, like flashy gadgets or fashionable accessories.
Sunday, June 27, 2010
Saving money is by no means glamorous but don't be put off by the coupon clipping or money pinching just to save a buck.
You have to sacrifice a luxurious lifestyle to reach your financial goals but when you see a balanced household budget and observe that you are making headway in setting up a retirement nest, you will feel all the sweat is worth it.
I am not a very motivated person by nature. My wife has called me lazy at times. So when it comes to saving money, it is a wonder I persevered for so long.
Here are some effortless saving money tips which any lazy person can implement before going for tougher measures. These methods are set-and-forget and you can keep more cash in your pocket without depriving yourself:
1. Get dining and shopping rewards
If you use credit and debit cards regularly, remember to get cash back or rebates for eating at participating restaurants. No coupons or gift certificates necessary.
When you go shopping, use a rewards card that pays you back, preferably in cash. Then shop and reap the rewards. You can compare cards online at such sites as CardRatings.com and LowCards.com.
2. Join a credit union
Yes, you love to spend beyond your means but that doesn't mean you must pay exorbitant interest rates. Almost everybody qualifies for a credit union, and they usually have lower fees and loan rates than traditional banks.
3. Use retail loyalty cards
Sign up for a card at frequently visited supermarkets and retailers. Then shop as usual and watch the savings and goodies pile up. Often you don't need to carry the card. Cashiers can usually look it up by phone number.
Or, combine loyalty-card bar codes with such tools as CardStar, mycardstar.com, which has smart phone apps and a wallet-size card via a partnership with KeyRing Thing.com.
4. Buy store brands
Reach for the house brands. They're so much better than they used to be; no coupons or comparison-shopping needed. Or peruse the weekly supermarket specials.
5. Get browser add-ons
Several Web browser toolbars and plug-ins can help you save money shopping online. An example is GetInvisibleHand.com. Its toolbar is hidden until you visit a product page. Then it appears and tells you whether this is the best price or where you can get it cheaper. It doesn't include shipping, but it's passive price comparison for the truly lazy.
6. Pay online and automatically
Online and auto-pay options can save money, especially by preventing late fees. Buy fewer stamps and envelopes, which is a hassle and expense. You might get a discount through online payment or automatic bank withdrawals.
7. Raise your retirement contribution when you get payraise.
You won't notice the difference. And if you do it online, it might take one minute. Repeat every time you get a raise.
8. Raise your thermostat 1 degree
Up in the summer, down in the winter. You won't notice the difference, but over time your wallet will.
9. Use energy saving bulbs
Replace your five most-used nondimmable lights with compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs) and save 75 percent in energy costs. Lazy people will appreciate CFLs as you won't have to replace them as often as incandescent bulbs due to 10 times longer lifespan.
10. Shrink your spending
Billshrink.com is a good comparison site for wireless phone service, credit cards and savings account rates, but it's also convenient for tracking gas prices. It will send you an e-mail alerting you to the lowest-price gas on your commute.
Monday, June 21, 2010
Summer is that time of the year when our family either go on vacations, camping or road trips.
It is an exciting time for the kids where they put their schoolwork and computer games behind and just have fun outdoors.
However, having fun and memorable experiences on a family vacation doesn't mean spending money recklessly. We are very conscious about saving money from hotels, airfares, souvenirs and food. All these expenses can add up to a hefty bill.
Instead of flying to Europe or visiting a theme park, why not stay closer to home by taking a road trip? Now, with rising gas prices, planning an affordable road trip may be more challenging but it is not daunting either.
Here are five easy ways to save money on a family vacation, without skimping on the fun:
1. Pack Your Lunch and Avoid Restaurants
Eating out at restaurants can be expensive, especially when you are with the entire family. You can save money by skipping the fast food joints and restaurants. Just bring food for the car ride instead.
This way you are not only eating healthier, you can also use the money you save to enjoy the local grub once you arrive at your destination.
2. Shop in Advance for Vacation Items
Don't wait till the day before your road trip before you start shopping. Try to purchase items in advance you browsing newspapers to find the best deals on items such as sunscreen, beach bags, GPS devices and bug spray.
Large grocery chains sometimes offer “Catalina” deals where you can earn gift cards for purchasing items for family vacations.
3. Travel during off-peak hours
If your work schedule is flexible and can take a few days off, consider leaving on a Sunday and returning on a Wednesday. This way, you avoid the weekend rush of tourists and get cheaper prices for hotels too.
Consider visiting sites such as Expedia.com, HotWire.com and Kayak.com before you book your hotel.
4. Find Free Ways to Entertain Your Kids
You have to keep your kids entertained in the car to make the road trip fun for them.
There are coloring books, crosswords and games you can purchase or print out online to save money. Consider visiting Printable Coloring Pages which have many coloring pages for kids.
5. Adjust Your Driving Habits
Stopping and accelerating suddenly and speeding are not only dangerous driving habits, they can also affect your car’s gas mileage.
According to a Consumer Reports study, these types of habits can reduce your car’s fuel efficiency by two to three miles per gallon. Smooth driving can also help you extend the life of your car’s engine, transmission, brakes and tires.
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
As you approach retirement, it is inevitable that you worry about sufficient savings to tide over your needs when you no longer have income. This is a scary moment, especially for those who have little savings to continue their lifestyles.
Fretting over the issue is a bit late by then and you should really squirrel away as much of your retirement account in your youth. However, even if you have fat savings, it is no guarantee of a comfortable retirement when you don't protect your savings.
In the past few years, many people lost their savings due to fraud (Bernie Madoff and Allen Stanford ponzi scams). There are many financial professionals that offer advice on money management but ended up cheating their client’s money or just collect fees without increasing your retirement portfolio.
Some hedge funds will promise you big returns, but do your research and ask around before you commit any of your retirement saving to them. As can be seen, the Securities and Exchange Commission is not always watching over average investors and they do their work on hindsight.
In order to sleep better at night, knowing you have enough savings to last through retirement and the money is safe from vampire suckers, you must research every company that you plan to entrust your money.
In conclusion, when something sounds too good to be true, it probably is...
Saturday, June 5, 2010
Saving money is a tough process, what living a restrictive life, without much entertainment and being calculative over pennies to ensure that your household budget is not in deficit.
It is easier to reach your financial goals if your family members stand by your belief in the virtues of putting money aside for a rainy day. Getting them to participate in your endeavours can also foster closer family bonding and stronger balance sheet at the end of the day.
Here are 10 tips to instill saving money habit in family members:
1. Ask your family members to compare prices during shopping trips. This will enhance their ability to sift out good deals and save extra money each month. Give them a reward to make this bargain hunting a fun activity.
2. Your family can collect coupons for certain products that everyone enjoys. Get them to clip and arrange coupons in an organizer every Sunday. This is a good opportunity for them to learn about saving money using coupons and to organize coupons in different categories for easier tracking.
3. Instead of driving, why not walk with your family to grocery stores? They will enjoy the nice weather and feel better knowing that they are doing something for the environment and saving money in the process.
4. Encourage home cooking and eating at home so that you can reduce expensive trips to restaurants. The food is more healthy too.
5. If your children insist on eating at restaurants occasionally, make sure you go during lunch as dinner menus are often more costly. It is a compromise where they enjoy gourment food but you do not splash out too much money.
6. Try to buy clothes at thrift stores or even yard sales instead of paying full retail prices. Your family members can get better clothes while paying less. On the surface, they may be wearing "branded clothes" but nobody knows that it is actually second hand products.
7. Go shopping only when there is a sale. Of course, the products should be useful rather than to shop for the sake of it. Your family will be amazed at how much money is saved by just changing the way they shop for items.
8. At the grocery store, always try to buy in bulk which saves money in the long run. Just make sure the food or items are not wasted and end up in the trash bins.
9. Make it a game or contest to see how much money that the whole family can save each month.
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Next time you go shopping for groceries, why not drop by an Asian supermarket? Seems like there are very cheap prices for fruits available.
Saturday, May 15, 2010
Going to extremes in saving money actually do you more harm than good. It is similar to adopting a crash diet where you suffer from yo-yo weight gain and loss.
Your life also becomes miserable when you cut every non-essential cost from monthly expenses. This means eating instant noodles and leftovers, no entertainment, no socialising, wearing tattered clothes, etc.
I don't know how you can sustain such a miserly and boring lifestyle... I can't and it defeats the objective of saving money and building a retirement nest over the long term.
Worse still, such extreme saving may drive people back to their old spending habits with a vengeance. Just temptation of juicy steak and wild parties after eating beans or staying home for a month.
A successful money saving plan involves a healthy and balanced approach where you review your spending, identify areas of high expenditure and find ways to make savings, without necessarily having to cut back completely on everything.
You can go out with your friends twice a month, rather than every week or supplementing some expensive dinners with cheaper dinners in your weekly shopping.
By balancing your savings against your spending, you do not then deprive yourself completely, making it much easier to continue saving in the long-term.
Monday, May 10, 2010
Don't you just hate it when your ink catridges run dry when you are in the midst of churning out an important report? The disappearing ink gets even more "farcical" when you have kids at home doing school projects (all the colorful pages) and your wife runs a home business.
If you are like me, you probably have to replace ink cartridges frequently and needless to say, it is an expensive affair. There is a report which reveals that nearly 300 million ink cartridges wind up in landfills annually.
You can work out how much printer companies are profiting from ink catridges. However, there are several tips you can use to reduce the landfill and save money in the long run.
1. Use refillable ink cartridges
During printing, streaking is an indicator that the cartridge is running out of ink. This is the perfect time for a refill, instead of waiting till the cartridge is wasted entirely.
Refilling ink cartridges can be messy but well worth the effort. If you don't know how to do it, a number of stores (Walgreens, Office Max or your local photo retail) will refill them for you.
However, not all ink cartridges are refillable. When buying printers, check if the ink cartridges can be refilled.
2. Recycle finished cartridges
Many libraries, scouting programs, schools and office supply stores facilitate the recycling of ink cartridges. Don’t trash them; recycle.
3. Print Preview
By simply previewing your document before printing, you can catch formatting errors and typos that will eliminate the need to reprint documents later. Do not skip this simple process if you want to save paper, ink and money.
4. Printing limits
If unsupervised, most kids will make endless prints from their favorite sites. Set a clear limit on the number of pages your children are allowed to print each day.
Friday, April 30, 2010
Plenty of stores promise to match competitors prices, but watch the fine print. You can win with price matching, but only if you do it right.
There are some rules which you have to abide, else the cheaper prices don't count for anything.
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
You know why printer manufacturers slash the price of their printers? Well, they make their money from selling printer ink. Just buying 4-5 catridges is about as expensive as the printer itself.
If you have a home office and require extensive printing, you definitely need some tips to save money on printer ink.
In this video, Kim Komando shows you how. As always, she has some good suggestions up her sleeves.
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
The cost of gasoline can really bite during a recession. You know, when you receive a pay cut but still have to drive around for groceries and job-hunting. Balancing the household budget becomes that much harder.
You will be glad to know that there are actually several ways to save money on gasoline.
If you have neighbors or colleagues who are traveling to work at the same time as you, it may be a good idea to carpool and save on the cost of gasoline. A simple arrangement could be where one buddy drive this week and another the next.
Depending on how many people you are commuting with, you could save a significant amount of money on gasoline costs and reduce wear and tear on your vehicle.
2. Maintain a cruising speed.
When you accelerate and/or brake quickly, you will use more gasoline. The harder your vehicle has to work, the more gasoline it will use. Thus, driving cautiously and maintaining a cruising speed is an economical way of saving extra money on the highway.
3. Downgrade your vehicle.
The super jumbo SUVs guzzle gas like nobody's business. Can you imagine how wasteful it is to propel a heavy vehicle around town with only a driver in tow?
Scaling down to a smaller vehicle will help you to save at the pump. When shopping for a more economical choice in automobiles, look for one that has good gas mileage per gallon. Some vehicles carry a fuel efficient badge. Or you can even go for electric car hybrids.
4. Fill up when prices are down.
You can save a significant amount of money by filling up your vehicle when gas prices are low. Depending on your automobile, it may be difficult to top up a lot of gas all at once, but it will save you money in the long-run.
5. Dont leave your motor running unnecessarily.
Many people leave their automobile air-conditioner running when they go into stores, especially during the warm summer months.
Think of it as money being burned away just to keep the car cool. Furthermore, children and pets should not be left in the vehicle for prolonged periods in case of carbon monoxide poisioning.
Hence, for the sake of your wallet and safety, just roll down the windows or wait until you return to the car and turn the air conditioner back on.
Monday, March 15, 2010
My neighbor's son is graduating soon and his parents are complaining that he spends recklessly and doesn't appreciate that earning money isn't easy.
I am not surprised... if a fresh graduate is living the good life using pocket money or credit, it is hard to impress on him that such a lifestyle is unsustainable and credit card debts will destroy his future.
It is a good idea to give a fresh graduate some tips to spend and save wisely. Hopefully, these tips can help him overcome the initial fears of planning his finances:
1. Don’t spend on impulse.
I know it is cool to throw your pocket money or earnings from summer work on clothes, gadgets, furniture, etc. But resist that urge. The products you buy today will become obsolete in months, if not weeks, and you are left with something of little value.
2. Set aside 20-30% of your salary for savings.
Set up a direct deposit each month into a savings or money market account. If the money is locked up, you have less temptation to spend it!
Better yet, start an IRA or contribute to your 401K plan. By saving your money, you can watch it grow, and eventually use it to for a down payment on a home.
3. Exchange gift cards for cash.
There are websites which offer you money for your gift cards. You may not receive the same dollar value of the card, but you can take the cash and pay off debt.
Or save the gift cards and use them during the holidays to buy presents for family members; or simply re-gift them. Your relatives won’t know and even if they do, they will understand you just graduated and have little disposable income.
4. Pay off your credit cards immediately.
The best gift you can give yourself is to start your career debt-free. Think of it as an investment that yields an 24% return. That’s how much you’ll save by paying off that expensive credit card debt.
5. Get a roommate.
After years of living in cramped quarters, you may want to strike out on your own and live by yourself. That’s a noble idea, but with rent prices skyrocketing, you will reduce expenses by living with someone.
If that’s not an option, at least move in with Mom and Dad for a short time, until you are more financially stable.
6. Cut back on going out.
With your first taste of adult freedom, you might be tempted to live it up by dining out and hanging out at nightspots. Those little indulgences are costly.
Why not meet friends at a coffee bar or play tennis at a neighborhood park? You’ll be healthier, both physically and financially.
Financial lessons cannot be picked up from textbooks but it is best to learn from the experience of others and manage our finances carefully rather than going deeply into debts and struggling to get out later.
Thursday, February 25, 2010
A saving money tip by Metalsmith & Artist, DeAnna Cochran of www.deannacochranjewelry.com
Saturday, January 16, 2010
The year 2010 has just started. Have you made any resolution to save money and elimiinate your reckless spending?
Most of us have a habit of making New Year resolutions but we hardly meet any of our targets because our discipline fail us. Especially when it comes to saving money. We give in to temptations when our neighbors upgraded their cars, bought the latest gadgets or renovated their houses.
This year, you may find it easier to economize though as we are still struggling to emerge from greatest financial crisis in decades. There is also the possibility of a double-dip recession, meaning unemployment figures will not recover for years to come.
In order to save more money in 2010, here are ten tips to improve your grocery budget.
1. Monitor prices of commonly bought items
Create a list of products which you buy most frequently and then research the unit price for each item. This is useful for comparing prices when a good sale comes along.
2. Use coupons
When you talk about coupons, it may seem troublesome at first, just to save a few cents or dollars here and there. The coupons have to be cut and kept properly (in envelopes), lest you mix them up or cannot find them.
However, a little organizing and getting used to coupons can overcome your apprehension of coupons. You will save a lot of money in the process (at least 10% of your annual grocery budget). So stop procrastinating and start clipping now.
3. Stockpile your fridge
Who can resist a sale with products being sold at wholesale prices or coupons which offer 30% discount? Keep an eye out for such sales or coupons, and stockpile your fridge with your favorite grocery products.
4. Prepare weekly menus
Check your pantry or fridge for items you already have and plan your weekly menu around them. This will save you the trouble of cooking meals and then realizing you don't have the necessary ingredients.
Rushing out to buy them will always be more expensive as you buy in single, small portions and no discounts are given.
5. Watch for regular sales
Some items go on sales on a cyclical basis, like turkey during the holidays or fruits when they are in season. Watch for these sales and buy enough to hold you over until the next sale.
6. Don’t buy pre-packaged meals
Pre-packaged meals are very convenient as we can just put them into the microwave oven, wait for a few minutes and food is on the table. But they are more expensive and less healthy due to the preservatives and processing involved.
My wife prefers to buy uncooked chicken breasts rather than pre-chopped and cooked chicken.
The convenience comes at a premium, so if you don't want to pay more, just buy as much uncooked chicken as possible and freeze what you don’t need. You can use this approach for pancakes, snacks, bread, etc. too.
7. Join a co-op
A food co-op can reduce your weekly food bill up to 50% by volunteering and buying in bulk.
8. Shop early
Hit the grocery stores before 9 a.m. and you’ll have a better chance of finding sale items, particularly produce, dairy and baked goods.
9. Cut down on meat
Meat is a good source of protein, but it’s expensive. As we get older and lower metabolism, we don't need to consume as much protein in our diets as a budding teenager.
Substitute meat for peas, beans, cheese, and peanut butter to save money at check-out.
10. Use discount gift cards
Gift cards from big-box merchants like Target and WalMart can save money before you even hit the stores.
Friday, December 18, 2009
For this Christmas, why not replace old strands of Christmas lights for energy-saving LED lights. They're easy to find at Target or other retailers.
The burned-out bulbs from old strands of lights or strands that work but you no longer use can be displayed in a a glass vase.
And for lots of shine with minimal electricity, you can use ornaments that catch light and reflect it.
Tell your friends that you're seeking glass or crystal pendants from old light fixtures, and comb secondhand shops for these pieces. Once you've collected a few, attach ornament hooks and drape them on sturdy tree branches.
They add a lot of sparkle and you reduce the number of strings of lights, and your electrical bill too.