Showing posts with label tips. Show all posts
Showing posts with label tips. Show all posts

10 Tips on How to Bag Your Groceries Correctly

As one who has a handy self bagging expert shopping with me every time we shop, I thought I'd share. DH puts pride into his grocery bagging technique, and it is upsetting to see some fellow shoppers putting crushable and squishable items in the bottom of a bag. Or for the horror - once a shopper put his warm rotisserie chicken in the same bag as the Ben & Jerry ice cream. DH has bagged thousands of bags of groceries in the past few years and he's perfected his technique.
 
Anyway, this is how to correctly bag your groceries.
 

1. Bring your own reusable bags, especially the good heavy ones with double stitched handles. It's easy to remember to bring your bags if that is where you store your coupon clutch. For most small trips you will need at least 3 bags.
 
2. Put the frozen foods in boxes standing up on the side of the bag. Put ice cream in a plastic bag and then place on the bottom of the bag. This double wrap keeps it colder longer. Unless of course you live in one of the many places that ban plastic bags, like San Francisco, Oregon, Spain, France and soon Los Angeles. Place lighter items like frozen vegetables and food in bags or pouches on the top.
 
3. If you have a stockpile freezer or refrigerator, it helps to put all those items that will be stockpiled into the same bag so you can just bring it there and unload straight into the cooler.
 
4. Think about where the dry foods you buy will be stored in your house. If products are for the stockpile room or for the bathroom, or the laundry room put all those items in the same bag. Put your kitchen and pantry dry foods into a different bag so they can be unloaded directly into the kitchen cupboards.
 
5. Place all refrigerated items in the same bag with the heaviest packed first - like milk. Put produce in bag last with heavier items like melons on the bottom.
 
6. Grab a plastic bag for smaller items like vitamins and health care items so they don't get scattered among everything else in your dry goods bag.
 
7. If you have large light items, like bags of chips or boxes of cereal you could opt for using a paper bag provided by the store (to use later as your trash bag) or just use a separate bag. Keep in mind where you're going to store this stuff whether its in the kitchen or pantry stockpile area.
 
8. Always put raw meats in a clear plastic cover bag that is provided in meat departments to avoid contaminating your other foods or your grocery bags. 
 
9. Always shop so you get refrigerated and frozen items last. Especially milk which loses 1 day of shelf life for every 1 degree temperature rise.
 
 
 
10. Some items don't really need bags, like 12 packs of soda, large bags of pet food or gallon containers. These are easier to just pick up by the handle. If you have multiples of these heavy items, just place one on the checkout belt and tell the cashier you have more in your cart.

5 Tips for Staying Out of Debt This Year

Saving money is a must in today's economy and with the Internet’s fast, reliable connections to deals – you have to take a closer look to see what's available for you. Use the internet in your favour, consider how much money you can save on life cover comparison and other important financial aspects of your life. With the right information at hand, you can save money.

1. Price comparison sites online.Price comparison sites have all of the information you need from the best companies. You do not have to look far or spend too much time evaluating services on these sites. A few items you should consider using price comparison sites for is credit card deals, 
life cover comparison, health insurance, and car purchases. By using the sites effectively, you will save money to manage other responsibilities in your life.

2. Track sales offered in retail stores.Use the internet to find sales online. You may find opportunities to use coupon codes, printable coupons, and/or retail circulars with additional savings. By tracking the sales offered in-stores, you can plan your spending wisely to avoid compulsive buying that leads to debt.

3. Cook at home instead of dining out.Cooking at home saves time, money and effort in earning enough money to pay for high tabs in restaurants. Imagine spending extra pounds on family dinners when you can purchase the goods from the store. You can save money by buying enough food for seconds, left over food for lunches, and removing the aspect of travel to get to your dinner. Recent studies show that cooking at home is good for building relationships with your family, too.

4. Monitor your spending habits to eliminate unnecessary spending.How much money do you spend in a month? Include the basics of utilities, car maintenance, fuel, food and clothing then add all of the little extras you enjoy on a daily basis. You begin to see a pattern of overspending and/or extra funds you can use for other purposes in your life. Test yourself over the next 30 days by working hard in monitoring every pound you spend during your day. You may notice additional expenses you can avoid including coffees, restaurant tabs, and other daily activities draining your wallet.

5. Use cash instead of credit for purchases.Overspending behaviours kick in when you assume you have extra money on your credit card. Soon, the balances begin to trap you in further debt than expected. Remain cautious and buy all of your items in cash if you can help it. Try to change the way you view money then apply the skills necessary to avoid overspending in the future.

Guest Post by Daniel Kidd. Comparethemarket is a UK price comparison site that can help you save money on a range of financial products.

Change Your Mindset, Save Some Money

Most frugal living blogs out there will give you specific advice for saving money on one or more aspects of life, like how to cut down on your grocery bill, how to pay off your student or credit card debt, or how to avoid spending too much during vacation. While these types of articles can be very helpful for those of us who are financially impaired, I think some more general advice about money can be equally as enlightening. Based on a few articles I've read about the psychology of money, here are a few tips for spending money using your head.
 
1. Don't spend a lot of money on a new hobby until you've achieved a certain level of mastery.
Although this tip is pretty specific, it can apply to lots of different areas of financial health as well. I've noticed that many people have a tendency to buy all the most expensive gear for new hobbies before even really learning the hobby. For example, you may buy a nice guitar before really knowing how to play it, or you'll buy a pricey treadmill before really dedicating the time to exercising. Invest cheap and reward yourself with better gear once you've really achieved some measure of success.
 
2. Never go to the grocery store hungry. Or, don't spend money when you've been deprived.
This is an oldie but it's a goodie, and it's generally true in life as well. We human beings have lower reserves of will power than we'd like to think. As such, if you've been depriving yourself of anything for awhile, you'll inevitably go overboard whenever you do finally decide to give in.
 
3. Saving is not the same as penny-pinching.
Saving money is something that we all reasonably aspire to, and it's definitely a noble and worthwhile goal, as good finances are part and parcel of a good psychological health. At the same time however, penny-pinching is the act of going to an extreme, which can be devastating to your emotional well-being, too. If you plan your budget well, leaving room for the occasional slip up, and you enjoy your spending your money when you do spend it, then you are on your way to financial success.
 
4. Avoiding a financial problem will never make it go away. Trust me, I've tried.
There's something about keeping track of bills and other money matters that makes nearly everyone I know cringe and sometimes engage in avoidant behavior. When I was in college and had problems keeping track of overdraft fees, I'd continue spending money. For some reason, I just avoided checking my balance because part of me simply didn't want to know. As you can probably guess, this was a terrible strategy and I ended up in the red more times than I'd care to admit. Denial never really works in any respect, not least of which with money. So if you find yourself thinking about a bill or anything related to money, stop what you're doing and get it done immediately. You'd be surprised by how mood-lifting tackling money problems right away can be.
 
Alvina Lopez is a freelance writer and blog junkie, who blogs about accredited online colleges.  She welcomes your comments at her email Id: alvina.lopez @gmail.com. 

Be Smart and Avoid Contractor Scams

 
Spring cleaning means a lot of things to a lot of different people.

Inside chores such as cleaning out the basement, attic, or garage are generally easier for the homeowner and family members to do themselves. This is also the case with most yard clean up and a number of other odd jobs around the premises.

However, when it comes to fixing part of the roof, windows, or other damages incurred during the wintry months most of us feel the need to put our trust in a hired professional.

It's here that things can get tricky because of all the great contractors out there a few good scam artists know how to work the field ripping off a lot of innocent customers with schemes and offers too good to be true. Yes, being frugal is admirable but taking unnecessary financial risks isn't.

That's why when it comes to spending your hard earned cash don't underestimate the power of the customer over a convincing sales pitch and your right to say no.

In order to fully appreciate how easy it is to get caught up in great deals consider the following red flags when handling contractors:

1.      Did you find them or did they find you? If a contractor knocked on your door because he was in the neighborhood on another job or had some left over supplies from another job and 'noticed' you needed a similar repair be careful.

2.      Request references and to see their license and insurance documents. If they refuse or don't have an official office it's a big question mark.

3.      Don't be rushed into making a decision. If they won't let you take your time and say the price is only good for a day or two it's probably a scam. Check them out, get a second opinion, and don't worry about losing the deal of the century.

4.      Be suspicious if they want to come inside and inspect your home for pressing repairs because they will always find something. If you do let them in never leave them alone in a particular room and never agree to anything on the spot.
  
5.      Be suspicious if they don't want to sign a contract.

6.      Be suspicious if they want the entire payment up front. 

7.      Be suspicious if they want cash only. Always pay with a check to document the deal.

8.      Be suspicious if extra expenses come up in the middle of a job outside of the quote and what's written in the contract. If they made a mistake or misquoted its up to them to take the hit, not the customer. Sometimes hidden expenses arise but hopefully by then you've done your homework and have a certain level of trust.

9.      Be suspicious if they won't let you take pictures of the job. They don't have to be in the shot themselves but photos are a good way to document each stage in case of a problem down the road.

10.  Be suspicious if you have elderly parents or friends living alone and a contractor approaches them about doing work. Seniors are easy targets who can't always verify things in hard to reach places and will rely on others. Make sure they don't agree to anything without running it by you first.

Jakob Barry writes for www.Networx.com a growing community of homeowners and contractors getting the most from their resources by sharing and monitoring home improvement projects together. He covers various home improvement topics including green gardening tips and general contracting.

Eat for Less Than $3 A Day

At the end of the month, since its the only payday of the month - I like to take a look back at things and assess. Additionally, since its the end of the 3rd quarter of the year, its also a good time to estimate expenses for the quarter or year, and what to expect coming up.
Today, I figured out that we spend an average of $2.81 a day each on food, me and DH (and the dog - her food and treats and toys are included in that too). We have spent $869 this year on household supplies, and groceries at the store. When you add our eating out at restaurants it brings the average per day to less than $3 each. Can you believe it? I thinks its pretty great. If I figured this month alone, it would be even lower, about $1.82 each. Here's how we do it
  1. Use coupons - I get 5 newspapers every Sunday and 3 other people at work bring me their coupons on Monday's. So with 8 coupons I can match up the sales with the coupon to save over 90% on all my grocery store purchases. I used to shop at Walmart and Target for household supplies but not in the last year. Publix can always beat those prices with BOGO sales, advantage buys and stacking manufacturer coupons with Publix store coupons.
  2. Stockpile - when there is a sale of products we use regularly, I use all my coupons and get at least 8 of the item. This usually lasts until another similar deal comes along (most sales rotate every quarter). I stockpile pasta, sauces, mixes, croutons, salad dressing, coffee, creamer, cereal, soda, condiments, paper supplies and dog food. If chicken goes on sale for less than $1.99 a lb, I'll stock up.
  3. Cook at home - a great way to minimize food expenses is to prepare your meals at home - breakfast, lunch and dinner! Using the products we stockpile, we can make plenty of food, enough for leftovers which brings me to the next tip.
  4. Eat leftovers - we usually have leftovers at least 2 nights a week which help minimize cooking time and expenses.
  5. Shop at produce stands or start a garden - we usually stop at a produce stand when we're out motorcycling in the countryside to get fresh, inexpensive vegetables for our salads and cooking. We do have a garden with our Earth boxes, but we've found that it costs more than it produces - so its really just for a hobby. But so far our boxes have nice large tomato plants, green peppers, green onions, cucumbers, celery, and yellow squash. The harvest will be about 2 months from now.
  6. Brew your own coffee - We both love our coffee every morning and it helps to brew our own. Coffee is something that is often available for a great deal when you watch for a BOGO sale. This is definitely something I'm always watching for to stockpile, you can never have enough in your stash. It would kill me to pay a high regular price for it. We also use flavored coffee and creamers so it tastes just like Starbucks. We occasionally get a Starbucks in the airport or when we travel, but we always use a free gift card for that.
  7. Bring your lunch to work - Bringing your lunch to work can save you $2000 a year. We make 10 salads every weekend and its easy and fast to pack a lunch with salad, yogurt and soda to eat at the office.
  8. Bring your snacks to work - Another way to cut expense is to bring your own snacks to work, avoiding the vending machines. Fresh fruit, granola bars, trail mix, cheese sticks and baked goods make great healthy snacks. Of course most of these can be purchased for a few pennies with coupons.
  9. Limit eating out at restaurants - we only eat out on Friday and Saturday nights at our favorite pub. Any other time is with a free gift card we get from AMEX reward points, or for a secret shop where the meal is reimbursed. When we go out for our usual weekend chicken wings we also pay with our own allowance, in cash. It's not considered a "house" expense.
  10. Eat & drink less - we don't starve ourselves, but we eat and drink only moderately. We can make a pizza last 2 meals, and we limit ourselve to one soda per day. Most of the restrictions we place on ourselves are to help maintain our healthy, active lifestyle - but it helps to stretch out your food supplies. We don't waste food and we are not gluttons. Its usually better to take a normal serving, and if we're still hungry then have seconds. We usually only eat when we're hungry, not necessarily when the clock says its a meal time. I don't eat anything after dinner, no night time snacks.
To be frugal and minimize expenses is a lifestyle, not a recipe to be followed for one week. Anyone can cut back expenses with very little effort. It just takes willpower to keep it up for a couple weeks to make it a habit.
Try it.

September is National Preparedness Month

September is National Preparedness Month, and this is to remind citizens that they can take steps to be prepared if there's a disaster. It's important to make a kit, make a plan, and stay informed. A survival kit includes basics like fresh water and food for up to three days, blankets, matches, battery-operated radios and lights. Checklists on what to include can be found on here
 
When preparing for a possible emergency situation, it's best to think first about the basics of survival:
fresh water, food, clean air and warmth.

Recommended Items to Include in a Basic Emergency Supply Kit:

  • Water, one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation
  • Food, at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food
  • Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • First aid kit
  • Whistle to signal for help
  • Dust mask, to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
  • Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
  • Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
  • Can opener for food (if kit contains canned food)
  • Local maps
  • Cell phone with chargers

Additional Items to Consider Adding to an Emergency Supply Kit:

  • Prescription medications and glasses
  • Infant formula and diapers
  • Pet food and extra water for your pet
  • Important family documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account records in a waterproof, portable container
  • Cash or traveler's checks and change
  • Emergency reference material such as a first aid book or information from www.ready.gov
  • Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person. Consider additional bedding if you live in a cold-weather climate.
  • Complete change of clothing including a long sleeved shirt, long pants and sturdy shoes. Consider additional clothing if you live in a cold-weather climate.
  • Household chlorine bleach and medicine dropper – When diluted nine parts water to one part bleach, bleach can be used as a disinfectant. Or in an emergency, you can use it to treat water by using 16 drops of regular household liquid bleach per gallon of water. Do not use scented, color safe or bleaches with added cleaners.
  • Fire Extinguisher
  • Matches in a waterproof container
  • Feminine supplies and personal hygiene items
  • Mess kits, paper cups, plates and plastic utensils, paper towels
  • Paper and pencil
  • Books, games, puzzles or other activities for children