Archive for the ‘
Ways to Save ’ Category
Friday, July 6th, 2012
Did you know that the average American household wastes 14% of their food purchases- an estimate of about $590/per household per year? Just today I, myself, threw money in the garbage. Well, not actual money of course, but it might as well have been. It was money in the form of approximately 2/3 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, 1/2 cup peas, 1 cup cauliflower and 1 cup sour cream- all spoiled and all annoyingly wasted because of my negligence. And I’m guessing you can relate.
So what can you do to help cut back on your food waste? Here are 6 simple tips that should help keep you (and me!) from throwing food away.
1. Shop smart
This is common sense, but it is amazing how easy it is to not do this! When shopping, figure out how much you will use of perishable items and buy accordingly. Just because lettuce is on sale for an incredible price doesn’t mean you should buy 3 heads. Remember, if you are throwing food out, you aren’t saving a thing.
2. Keep an eye on leftovers
There are two things that have helped me stay at least somewhat successful in not throwing leftovers out. The one is to eat them the next day for lunch. I find that if I don’t deal with them sooner rather than later it is way too easy to just forget about them until it’s too late.
It has also helped me immensely to label any container that is not see through. I simply use a piece of masking tape and write on it with Sharpie. Then I am constantly reminded as I shuffle around in the fridge just exactly what all is in there that needs to be used up.
3. Utilize your freezer
Speaking of leftovers, here’s another option. If you have leftovers or food that you don’t think you’re going to be able to use before it goes bad, put it in the freezer right away. Then when you want to you can easily thaw it and reheat it. Not only will it taste better than if it had sat in the fridge that whole time, it also won’t have spoiled on you! The freezer is great for things like flour, crackers and bread too.
4. Start a soup bucket
This is an idea I got from a lady that spoke at the mom’s group I attend. To eliminate the whole leftover dilemma, she simply keeps an ice cream bucket in the corner of her freezer and whenever she has leftovers such as meat, cheese, broth, or veggies she just dumps them into the bucket. When the bucket gets full, she tosses the contents into a pot and makes a soup/stew out of it, adding other ingredients to improve the taste if necessary. Now maybe that just grosses you out, I don’t know. To me it sounded interesting and like a fun challenge. I’d love to see if I could make something delicious out of all those random leftovers!
I’ll admit that I didn’t implement this idea mainly because I figured we do a good enough job using up our leftovers that I thought it would be a waste of my time to try it. But in the past month I’ve realized how many times I’ve thrown stuff out that would have easily been “soup” material and so as of yesterday I have my own soup bucket. I’m anxious to see how I like it!
5. Be Smart with Produce
If you are like me, produce is one of the things that most often spoils on you. Keep that from happening as quickly by not cutting apart your fruit and veggies until you are ready to eat them. The longer they stay on the stem, in the bunch, and all one piece the longer they will stay fresh. Also if you notice a bad “egg” in the bunch, throw it out immediately. One bad berry or potato can quickly cause more to spoil.
6. Know what you have
In other words, be organized! If you aren’t, chances are you have food in your cupboards, fridge or freezer getting stale or unusable on you and you’re throwing it out. When you come home from the store and put food away, place the new items behind the older ones so that when you grab a can of soup or box of crackers you’ll be using up the older food first.
I’ve also found helpful is to keep a running list of things to use up. Then when I plan our menu I look off that and try to make dishes accordingly. At times I’ve even taped a “to use” list on our freezer to help keep me aware of just what exactly needed to be used up soon. For me, this is much easier than trying to keep a mental list of what I need to be finishing up.
This is only the “tip of the iceberg” and I want to learn from you! How do you stay on top of food waste? What are your tips?
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Tuesday, May 29th, 2012
With summer coming right up, for many of us vacation time is just around the corner. And while vacations are in many ways a chance to splurge a little, you definitely can still save money on them too!
Here are 6 ways that you can cut expenses on your vacation.
1. UTILIZE LIVING SOCIAL AND GROUPON
The absolute first thing I’d recommend is to sign up for Living Social and Groupon’s daily deals as soon as you know where you are going. Subscribe to the city of your trip’s destination, then watch for restaurant, motel and local attraction deals. Typically you can find deals that are at least 50% off the regular price. And if you are interested in more of a vacation package, sign up for Groupon Getaways.
While Groupon just offers deals for the United State and Canada, Living Social offers deals in 6 countries: Australia, Canada, Greece, Ireland, United Kingdom, United States.
2. TAKE YOUR OWN FOOD
As much as I enjoy cooking and baking, I’ll admit, for me half the fun of vacation is being able to get a break from food prep. Still, I cringe at the cost of eating out for every meal. And my husband, the minimalist who only eats to survive, cringes even more. So we usually do the following things:
- Take our own snacks
- Snacks at attractions and even gas stations are terribly overpriced. Buy some of your favorite things ahead of time and take them along so that when the munchies hit you don’t need to shell out a lot of money. You could even repackage them into individual snack bags if that would make it easier for you.
- Pack some basic meals
- We often take along things like cereal (can buy milk there), peanut butter and jelly, lunch meat & cheese, bread, wraps, fruit and yogurt. These can easily give us a good meal when we want it.
3. TAKE YOUR OWN REUSABLE WATER BOTTLES
It doesn’t take long to blow $20 on water for just two people in only a couple of days time. We’ve found that taking our own reusable water bottles along is a huge money saver. If there is a fridge in our room we will fill them the night before and put them in the freezer allowing us to have a nice cold drink the next day. Then throughout the day we watch for water fountains and refill our bottles as needed.
When we went to Boston for a week last August, our water bottles were in constant use. There were a few times that we couldn’t find a spot to refill them and had to purchase bottled water but even so we saved ourselves a lot by using them!
(If you are looking for a good BPA free option, we love our Nalgene water bottles!)
4. USE COUPONS AND GIFT CARDS
Okay, so you knew I’d have to bring this one in somewhere, right? Seriously though, coupons (and gift cards) can be one of your best friends on vacation. You can use them to save you money at restaurants, attractions, and motels.
Here are a couple of places to watch for them:
- Living Social and Groupon
- I already mentioned them above so I won’t go into a lot of detail here, but I do just want to reinforce the fact that you can often find great savings there. Sometimes they even have offers for discounted gift cards.
- Chamber of Commerce/Visitor’s Bureau
-Typically these places are stocked with often better-than-usual coupons for local places. It doesn’t take long to stop and just do a quick look to see what you can find.
- Motels/Bed and Breakfasts
- Ask them if they have any coupons for local restaurants or attractions-often they will. And if they have a local paper, check that out too. You just might be able to find some coupon offers in it as well.
- Gift Card Rescue
- You can buy discounted gift cards for places like Outback, Olive Garden, and Applebees at about 10% savings.
- Restaurant Websites
- Subscribe to restaurant’s email savings clubs. Simply go to the restaurants website and look for a link to sign up for their e-club, savings club or something similar. Once you do this you will frequently receive coupons and special offers. Keep them all in one spot and grab them when you head out the door for your vacation, then use as you can.
5. ASK FOR SPECIALS WHEN BOOKING WITH AIRLINES OR MOTELS
Often you can get a discount if you simply ask. And really, what do you have to lose? The worst thing they can do is say no!
6. SKIP THE SOUVENIRS
Typically overpriced and often useless, souvenirs are an easy way to blow money. If you do really want a little something to remember your trip by stick with useful things like shirts or mugs; at least they won’t just sit around collecting dust! Instead of purchasing souvenirs we typically just try to take a few good pictures that we can later frame or put in an album to look at later.
How do you save money on vacation? I’m sure some of you more seasoned travelers have more great tips to share!
Image source: Shutterstock
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Saturday, May 19th, 2012
One of my favorite coupon websites is Saving Star. I think of this website as working more like a rebate program rather than a coupon program, but technically it is considered a clip-less coupon program. The great thing about Saving Star coupons is that they can be used in addition to both store AND manufacturer coupons. So essentially you can save 3 different ways on one product, which is rather awesome!
With this site you simply link up your store cards for stores like CVS, Rite Aid, Kroger, Giant, and Weis to the Saving Star program. Then you click on the coupons that you want added to your cards. If you use that coupon before it expires, the dollar amount of the coupon will be added to your Saving Star account. Once you get $5 in your account, you can cash it out via Paypal, for Amazon gift cards and many other options. If you don’t use the coupon before it expires, you’ve lost nothing.
My tip for Saving Star- log into your account twice a month and add all the coupons that you can to your cards. (I also frequently post the new coupons that they add too.) Don’t just add the coupons you think you will use because you just never know what you might end up buying!
For example, a couple of months ago there was a moneymaking deal at CVS on Airwick air fresheners using store coupons. I typically don’t buy air freshners, but since it was a moneymaker I decided to buy them and give them to someone who will use them. I totally forgot about the Airwick Saving Star coupon I had clipped earlier so you can imagine my surprise when several days later I saw $2 was added to my Saving Star account because I had bought an Airwick product! It was one of the coupons I had clipped thinking I’d not use it and it actually paid off!
Here are some of the current Saving Star coupons:
Buy 1 issue of Health Magazine, Save $1.00. Expires 6/22/2012.
Buy any (1) Dean’s® Dip 12 oz or larger, Save 55¢. Expires 6/13/2012.
Save $1.00 when you buy any TWO (2) Ziploc® brand Bags. Expires 6/13/2012.
Save $1.00 when you buy ONE (1) GHIRARDELLI® STAND-UP BAG. Expires 6/13/2012.
Buy any (1) Dial Complete® Antibacterial Foaming Hand Wash, Save $1.00. Expires 6/13/2012.
Buy any (1) Dial® Liquid Hand Soap, Save 50¢. Expires 6/13/2012.
Now through June 13, 2012 get $5.00 back when you spend $35.00 on any HUGGIES® Diapers, Baby Wipes and LITTLE SWIMMERS® Swimpants. Offer does not include GOODNITES® Brand and PULL-UPS® Brand products.. Expires 6/13/2012.
Buy any (1) Dry Idea® Invisible Solid, Save $1.00 (Available at CVS). Expires 6/30/2012.
Buy 1 issue of Cooking Light Magazine, Save $1.00. Expires 6/15/2012.
Buy 1 issue of Real Simple Magazine, Save $1.00. Expires 6/15/2012.
Buy any 1 Marie’s® Salad Dressing, Save $1.00. Expires 6/6/2012.
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Monday, May 14th, 2012
You probably already know this, but it pays to double check your receipt.
I did some grocery shopping Friday night and on Saturday was working on logging them into our budget system. As I was going over everything I came across two mistakes in which I was shorted a total of $4.70! Two dollars of it was because the cashier forgot to print my Extra Bucks for an item I purchases with a rain check and the other $2.70 was missed when a cashier at Giant incorrectly scanned a rain check and charged me full price. I called both stores and explained the problem and they each said they would give me the money back when I came in this week to shop. Kind of a bother but for almost $5 I guess it will be worth it.
Typically I try to look over my receipt before I leave the store that way if there is a problem I can resolve it immediately and save myself the headache and time involved in trying to deal with it later. I can’t tell you how often I’ve had things rung up incorrectly and been shorted money. Of course there have been times that I’ve owed the store more money too. Because honesty is important to me I go to customer service and pay them the extra those times.
Anyway, I just wanted to give you a little reminder about doing a quick double check of your receipt while you are still in the store. You never know what you might find missed!
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