convenience http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/1920/all en-US Why You Pay More at the Grocery Store (and How to Stop) http://www.wisebread.com/why-you-pay-more-at-the-grocery-store-and-how-to-stop <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/why-you-pay-more-at-the-grocery-store-and-how-to-stop" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/8200880966_c3808de0b6_z.jpg" alt="grocery store" title="grocery store" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Many of us don't think too much about what we throw into our grocery carts &mdash; or how much it all costs. After all, we have to eat! But for most Americans, food makes up one of the largest expenses in the budget, right after paying for housing and transportation. If you can trim just $20 off your weekly grocery bill, it can save you $1,000 per year; saving $60 per week could put more than $3,000 extra in your pocket.</p> <p>Believe it or not, those kinds of savings aren't unrealistic, and you don't have to starve to death to achieve them. All you have to do is look at where grocery stores make their money and where you may have some bad shopping habits. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-grocery-shop-for-five-on-100-a-week">How to&nbsp;Grocery&nbsp;Shop for Five on $100 a Week</a>)</p> <h2>What You Pay More For</h2> <p>It isn't hard to guess which items in the grocery store have the highest mark-ups; after all, you won't see a fancy display around cabbages or low-fat milk. In fact, the highest margin &mdash; and therefore lowest value &mdash; items will fall into one or more of the following categories.</p> <p><strong>Convenience</strong></p> <p>The closer a food is to being ready to put on the table, the more it'll cost you. That's why things like pre-cut fruits and vegetables and breakfast cereals have significant mark-ups. The same goes for most packaged convenience foods and pre-made meals. For many of us, throwing a few convenience items in the cart is a matter of necessity &mdash; or sanity. Just be aware that the less preparation you do at home, the more you'll pay at the store.</p> <p><strong>Brand Names</strong></p> <p>It wasn't long ago that store-branded foods were pretty terrible imitations of brand name favorites. Nowadays, however, most stores offer a great range of high quality products under their own labels and, in many cases, they're much cheaper than the mega brands you'll see advertised on TV.</p> <p><a href="http://recipes.howstuffworks.com/menus/certain-foods-so-expensive.htm" target="_blank">Brand name items are marked up dramatically</a>. You might have to do a little experimenting, but for the most part, brand name foods don't cost more because they're better &mdash; they're just better known. Do you really want to pay for your canned soup's star power?</p> <p><strong>Organics</strong></p> <p>There's still a lot of debate about whether organic produce provides a health benefit over conventionally grown fruits and veggies, but one thing you can't argue with is that organic comes at a price.</p> <p>Organic foods tend to cost 30 to 50% more than regular produce, largely because organic producers are smaller, have smaller markets, and don't receive the same subsidies as other growers.</p> <p>If you're concerned about pesticides, pay more where it counts by choosing organic items that tend to be highly contaminated when grown conventionally. According to the Environmental Working Group's 2012 &quot;<a href="http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/" target="_blank">Shoppers' Guide to Pesticides</a>,&quot; these items include apples, celery, bell peppers, peaches, strawberries, and grapes. Items such as onions, corn, pineapple, and avocados, on the other hand, are relatively uncontaminated, so buying organic here may provide limited benefit. To save even more, check out organic produce at a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-not-to-buy-at-a-farmers-market">local farmers market</a>, or grow your own in the back yard.</p> <h2>Habits That Can Cost You</h2> <p>Avoiding the most costly items in the grocery store is essential, but if you really want to nail frugal grocery shopping, you have to steer clear of costly habits as well.</p> <p><strong>Lack of Flexibility</strong></p> <p>One of the best ways to save money on groceries is to be a little flexible about what you buy each week. Having a meal plan is great, but you also have to be creative and willing to roll with the sales and promotions at your local grocery store.</p> <p>Rather than dutifully scooping the same old meats, fruits, and veggies into your cart every week, use the sales to determine what you buy. Choose items that are on special and work them into a flexible meal plan. This kind of shopping has gotten even easier with websites like <a href="http://punchfork.com/" target="_blank">PunchFork.com</a>, which allows you to enter an ingredient or two and find tons of illustrated recipes that'll fit the bill.</p> <p><strong>Lack of Research</strong></p> <p>Doing a little research in local flyers before hitting the shops can be a great way to shave a few dollars off your food bills. Chances are there are a few grocery stores in your area, so you can often decide which one to visit based on what you need.</p> <p>When I want to stock up on canned tomatoes, pasta, and dried beans, I often head to my local Italian market, where there's a broad selection of these items at a lower price than at other stores. When I want to stock up on rice and noodles, I visit the <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/want-to-save-a-bundle-on-your-groceries-consider-you-local-asian-market">Asian market</a>. If you know which stores have the best prices on certain items, you can visit them intermittently to stock up, and decide where to shop that week based on what you need the most.</p> <p><strong>Lack of Math Skills</strong></p> <p>Grocery stores couldn't possibly make comparing prices more confusing.</p> <p>Fortunately, most of us now carry a pocket calculator in the form of a smartphone with us wherever we go. This makes calculating unit prices much faster, and, unless you're a math whiz, probably more accurately, too. There are even a few apps that'll do all the work for you, such as <a href="https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=leoliang.unitpricecompare&amp;hl=en" target="_blank">Unit Price Compare</a> for Android or the <a href="https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/compareme-shopping-utility/id300814524?mt=8" target="_blank">CompareMe Shopping Utility</a> for iPhone.</p> <h2>Time: One More Thing Worth Saving</h2> <p>Once while browsing canned tomatoes, an old woman sidled up beside me.</p> <p>&quot;You can't buy those,&quot; she hissed, before telling me the same tomatoes were 25 cents cheaper at a store across town.</p> <p>I bought the tomatoes. I'm all for saving money, but we all have to decide when the savings just aren't worth <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-you-pay-in-time">the price of our <em>time</em></a>.</p> <p>Perfecting your grocery shopping strategy doesn't have to mean avoiding all the snacks you love or spending all weekend clipping coupons. In fact, how far you go is entirely up to you. After all, being frugal is about more than just saving money, it's about living well on less. And that, in my opinion, is all about balance.</p> <p><em>How are you saving money at the grocery store?</em></p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-you-pay-more-at-the-grocery-store-and-how-to-stop" class="sharethis-link" title="Why You Pay More at the Grocery Store (and How to Stop)" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/tara-struyk">Tara Struyk</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Food and Drink Shopping bulk shopping convenience groceries on a budget Wed, 20 Feb 2013 11:24:31 +0000 Tara Struyk 967800 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Frugal Ways to Go Green in 2013 http://www.wisebread.com/5-frugal-ways-to-go-green-in-2013 <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-frugal-ways-to-go-green-in-2013" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/3055499387_f035ec964f_z_0.jpg" alt="green" title="green" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Contrary to what advertisers would have us believe, going green doesn&rsquo;t have to be complicated or expensive. If you&rsquo;d like to green-up your life in 2013, but don&rsquo;t have the budget for a hybrid car or wind turbine just yet, here are a few easy and inexpensive ways to still make an impact. (See also:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-recycling-is-my-lowest-priority">Why Recycling Is My&nbsp;Lowest Priority</a>)</p> <h2>1. Share</h2> <p>The most revolutionary thing we can do to lessen the demand for more stuff, reduce waste, and stretch our budgets, is the simplest and oldest solution of all &mdash; share.</p> <p>Sharing things like lawn equipment (does every homeowner on the block <em>really</em> need their own lawn mower?), DVDs, cookware, books, and tools can build stronger relationships, set a great example for kids, and keep our needs in check. Try it with your friends, neighbors, and coworkers. It&rsquo;s easier than you think.</p> <h2>2. Repurpose What You Already Own</h2> <p>Be suspicious of any simplicity or green-living advice that requires you to purchase a new product.</p> <p>With few exceptions, hard-core green living means living (happily) with less and getting creative with what we already own. Stores are filled with reusable tote bags for every season, color-coded recycling containers, and aisles of gleaming energy-efficient products. But how green is it to toss out what we already own and restock our homes in the spirit of environmentalism? Before you buy, ask yourself, &ldquo;Is there any other way to achieve my goal without buying new? Is tossing out a perfectly good appliance truly helping the environment? How can I make what I need or re-imagine what I already own?&rdquo; Though it might not be nearly as sexy, reusing is usually smarter.</p> <h2>3. Redefine Convenience</h2> <p>It&rsquo;s no newsflash that convenience products in all their forms usually mean higher price tags, smaller portions, and more packaging. If you&rsquo;re serious about going green, skip the pre-packaged, single-serving, drive-thru world and embrace the stumbling, sometimes messy world of inconvenience. From hamburgers to paper products and from coffee to car washes, our drive to consume conveniently is playing havoc with our budgets and with our environment. Simple planning, <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/make-ahead-food-10-things-to-cook-on-a-sunday">a bit of prep time</a>, and combining work with play can go a long way toward changing habits and making inconvenience far less&hellip;inconvenient.</p> <h2>4. Learn a Skill</h2> <p>Sometimes living green takes a bit of skill.</p> <p>Before it was fashionable or had a name, our grandparents and great-grandparents were green pioneers. They darned socks, made their own clothes, planted gardens, cooked from scratch, changed their own oil, and hunted and fished. Now, I know we live a much more complex world today, and I&rsquo;m not suggesting that everyone channel Thoreau and move to a one-room shack in the woods. But maybe there are a few things we can take better control of &mdash; and save a few bucks on in the process. Think about it. What <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/20-great-frugal-skills-and-how-to-get-them">new household skill</a> would save you a bit of cash and reduce your need to buy new?</p> <h2>5. Buy Used</h2> <p>I&rsquo;ll let you in on a little secret. Every <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-things-to-look-for-every-time-you-visit-a-thrift-store">thrift store shopper</a> is secretly delighted that most of the country turns its collective nose up at the idea of buying used. Why? Because it means more great stuff for us.</p> <p>Seriously, if you&rsquo;ve never ventured into a thrift store with an open mind, make 2013 the year that you try. Once you see the price difference between new and gently-used, you may never look back. Besides being budget-friendly, buying used helps the environment by giving a second life to cast-off items. Typically, the items you find in these stores are just as good as new (I&rsquo;m not exaggerating here) and, if you&rsquo;re up for some hunting, you can find amazing deals and a few treasures along the way. Try it. If you hate it, you can swing by Target on your way home and pretend it never happened.</p> <p>These are just some of the ways to be greener in 2013 and not break the bank (and your spirit) by buying a bunch of stuff. Going green should be less about addition and more about subtraction &mdash; what bad habits can we resolve to correct? How can we better manage our personal resources for the greater good? Once you begin to look closely, you&rsquo;ll see other ways to green your 2013. Happy New Year.</p> <p><em>What&rsquo;s your favorite green tip? Do any of your resolutions for 2013 involve living greener?</em></p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-frugal-ways-to-go-green-in-2013" class="sharethis-link" title="5 Frugal Ways to Go Green in 2013" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/kentin-waits">Kentin Waits</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Green Living convenience new year's resolutions reusable thrift stores Tue, 01 Jan 2013 11:24:30 +0000 Kentin Waits 961668 at http://www.wisebread.com The Enemies of Frugality http://www.wisebread.com/the-enemies-of-frugality <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-enemies-of-frugality" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/wisebreadenemiesfrugality.jpg" alt="Burning Money" title="Burning Money" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>There&rsquo;s a lot of talk today about embracing simplicity and rediscovering frugality, but what are the culprits &mdash; obvious and hidden &mdash; that undermine our efforts? At root, what are the emotional, logistical, and social forces that conspire to figuratively reach into our wallets and pluck our cash day after day? Let&rsquo;s explore the seven challenges to frugal living. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/endurance-frugality-staying-the-course-and-being-a-winner">Endurance Frugality: Staying the Course and Being a Winner</a>)</p> <h2>Stress</h2> <p>Stress may be roadblock number one on the road to frugality. So many of us seem to be overworked, over-scheduled, and overwrought. Stress forces us to take the path of least resistance, and that path is typically the most expensive. When we&rsquo;re stressed, we make bad decisions about our health, our diet, and our money.</p> <h2>Competition/Ego</h2> <p>Keeping up with the Joneses is expensive &mdash; especially when the Joneses don&rsquo;t have a clue what they&rsquo;re doing. It&rsquo;s a financial game of chicken, really. Our neighbors buy a new toy and not to be outdone, we follow suit. Everyone on the block ends up with new toys they can&rsquo;t afford, and no one learns a thing. What&rsquo;s wrong with appearing a bit restrained in this country? When did frugality and poverty become synonyms? What&rsquo;s more, when did poverty become a crime?</p> <h2>Exhaustion</h2> <p>The complexities of modern life can be exhausting, and often the only thing that can keep us going is the promise of a grand reward &mdash; sometimes just as exhausting, but slightly more exciting. After a year of 60-hour work weeks, a ten-day spa vacation seems not only warranted, but deserved. Demanding a bit of mental &ldquo;spa time&rdquo; each day gives way to one grand and deliciously expensive extravagance once a year. Price be damned and frugality banished!</p> <h2>Convenience</h2> <p>Sometimes it&rsquo;s just easier to pay someone to mow our lawn, wash our car, clean our house, or make our dinner. We&rsquo;ve all been there &mdash; after a 10 or 12 hour work day, the thought of coming home only to cook and clean for another 3 seems like cruel and unusual punishment. At these moments, simple exhaustion dictates our financial decisions and frugality goes out the window.</p> <h2>Immediacy</h2> <p>Sometimes life throws us a curve-ball, and we need an item or service immediately. Maybe the family car finally dies, or you forgot about class pictures tomorrow, and your son needs a new white shirt. There&rsquo;s no financial planning to do, no research to mull over, and no time to bargain-hunt. Immediacy typically means more cash.</p> <h2>Uncertainty</h2> <p>Living a frugal life takes no small amount of commitment and daily rededication. Not only do friends, family, and work colleagues often not understand simplicity and frugality, they can be openly antagonistic about it. Truly embracing the path we&rsquo;re on in the face of our &ldquo;culture of more&rdquo; is the key to long-term success.</p> <h2>Advertising</h2> <p>If financial wisdom and rationality were a clear pool of water, <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/advertising-jargon-that-aims-to-mislead">advertising</a> would be Baby Ruth bar floating by (a reference not lost on all you <em>Caddyshack</em> lovers out there). Advertising creates unrest, encourages fear, and often muddies the water of our financial minds. An uneducated consumer easily manipulated by suggestion is an advertiser&rsquo;s best-friend and frugality&rsquo;s worst enemy.</p> <p>Reviewing this list, it seems like many of these &quot;enemies&quot; are new to the scene. With the exception of number two, doesn&rsquo;t it seem like stress, exhaustion, convenience, immediacy, and the prevalence of advertising are relatively modern phenomena &mdash; at least at their current (epidemic) levels? What&rsquo;s lost in the bargain we make between our time, energy, and our money? Is the exchange a fair one, or one that simply keeps us on the treadmill to run another day?</p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-enemies-of-frugality" class="sharethis-link" title="The Enemies of Frugality" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/kentin-waits">Kentin Waits</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/topic/frugal-living">Frugal Living articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Frugal Living advertising challenges convenience stress Mon, 23 May 2011 10:36:24 +0000 Kentin Waits 546586 at http://www.wisebread.com Ask the Readers: Do You Pay For Convenience? http://www.wisebread.com/ask-the-readers-do-you-pay-for-convenience <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ask-the-readers-do-you-pay-for-convenience" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/4285187387_9a5a6f2726_z-1.jpg" alt="Do You Pay For Convenience?" title="Do You Pay For Convenience?" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p><em>Editor's Note: Congratulations to </em><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ask-the-readers-do-you-pay-for-convenience#comment-492972"><em>Lauren</em></a><em>, </em><a href="http://twitter.com/#!/mvs027"><em>@mvs027</em></a><em>, and </em><a href="http://www.facebook.com/#!/ReneeAChapman"><em>Renee Chapman</em></a><em> for winning this week's contest!</em></p> <p>Let's be honest: goods and services that make our lives a little easier are always fantastic. Most people are willing to pay a little extra when it comes to convenience. However, there are many people who refuse to pay for convenience goods or services and instead opt to take the extra time to do things themselves all in the name of saving money.</p> <p><strong>Do you pay for convenience goods or services? </strong>Will you buy precut fruits or veggies instead of cutting them yourself? Do you clean your own house or hire a housekeeper? Why?</p> <p>Tell us whether or not you pay for convenience and we'll enter you in a drawing to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card!</p> <h2>Win 1 of 3 $20 Amazon Gift Cards</h2> <p>We're doing three giveaways &mdash; one for random comments, one for random Facebook &quot;Likes&quot;, and another one for random tweets.</p> <h3>Enter 1 of 3 Ways:</h3> <ul> <li>Post your answer in the comments below, or</li> <li>Go to our <a href="http://www.facebook.com/pages/Wise-Bread/26830741467?ref=ts">Facebook page</a>, &quot;Like&quot; us, then &quot;Like&quot; the update mentioning this giveaway (you can comment, as well &mdash; but you don't have to for entry), or</li> <li><a href="http://www.twitter.com/">Tweet</a> your answer. You have to be a follower of our <a href="http://twitter.com/wisebread">@wisebread account</a>. Include both &quot;@wisebread&quot; and &quot;#WBAsk&quot; in your tweet so we'll see it and count it.</li> </ul> <p><strong>If you're inspired to write a whole blog post OR you have a photo on flickr to share, please link to it in the comments or tweet it.</strong></p> <h4>Giveaway Rules:</h4> <ul> <li>Contest ends Monday, May 9th at 11:59 pm Pacific. Winners will be announced after May 9th on the original post and via Twitter. Winners will also be contacted via email, Facebook, and Twitter Direct Message.</li> <li>You can enter all three drawings &mdash; once by leaving a comment, once by liking our Facebook update, and once by tweeting.</li> <li>You must be 18 and US resident to enter. Void where prohibited.</li> </ul> <p><strong>Good Luck!</strong></p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ask-the-readers-do-you-pay-for-convenience" class="sharethis-link" title="Ask the Readers: Do You Pay For Convenience?" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><div class="field field-type-text field-field-blog-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Tell us whether or not you pay for convenience and we&#039;ll enter you in a drawing to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card! </div> </div> </div> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-jacobs">Ashley Jacobs</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/topic/deals-and-coupons/giveaways">Giveaways articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Giveaways Ask the Readers convenience Tue, 03 May 2011 10:36:19 +0000 Ashley Jacobs 533894 at http://www.wisebread.com 8 Ways Convenience is Screwing Your Finances http://www.wisebread.com/8-ways-convenience-is-screwing-your-finances <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/8-ways-convenience-is-screwing-your-finances" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/2707796714_c8a48b409b_z.jpg" alt="post it notes" title="post it notes" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Our collective hunger for more is great, motivating us to keep pushing the limits and never settling for the status quo. Because of this desire, we've found ways to make everything from finding the nearest gas station to staying in touch with a distant relative easier and easier, but all that convenience comes at a cost too.</p> <p>The U.S. median income in 1900 was $438 a year, and it shot up to $23,602 by 1999. You might look at this 5389% increase and say &quot;WOW. Life has got to be good.&quot; Yet, life isn't all that great right now. We are barely recovering from a recession (most say we are still in it), and everybody from the government to our schools to our neighbors are having a tough time making ends meet.</p> <p>I know there was inflation, but that's hardly the whole problem. Here are a few reasons why we can't seem to keep our budgets in check even though we keep getting huge raises. (See also: <a title="If Budgeting Isn't Fun, You're Doing It Wrong" href="http://www.wisebread.com/if-budgeting-isnt-fun-youre-doing-it-wrong">If Budgeting Isn't Fun, You're Doing It Wrong</a>)</p> <h2>House Services</h2> <p>I'm guilty of this one, because I love my house cleaner. She comes every three weeks, and she makes everything sparkling clean. There's nothing I couldn't do myself of course, but if I can spend time sitting on the couch watching TV and doing nothing, why should I actually exercise and work?</p> <h2>Cell Phones</h2> <p>I have an eight-month-old daughter named Sara, and I can't wait for the day when I have to deny her request for a cell phone. My excuse will be &quot;But you don't need a cell phone...&quot; I wonder what her response will be when she realizes that I have one, and I actually don't need it either.</p> <h2>Extra TVs</h2> <p>It's common nowadays for a household to have two, three, or even four TVs in the house. Of course, each one has got to be hooked up to paid TV service too, right? Oh, I need to watch TV when I take a bath, for god's sake. What else would I be doing when my house cleaners are cleaning? (See also:<a title="8 Alternatives to Cable TV That Will Keep You Entertained" href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-alternatives-to-cable-tv-that-will-keep-you-entertained"> 8 Alternatives to Cable TV That Will Keep You Entertained</a>)</p> <h2>Cars</h2> <p>We love brand new cars, especially with all those options that signifiicantly add to the cost. Premium sound, a sun roof, a navigation system, heated and electronic seats, V6 turbo, and performance packages are all necessary, because you know, how else will we be able to get to work?&nbsp;</p> <h2>Eating Out</h2> <p>I love eating out, and I'm a good tipper too. If I cook at home, how will all those waiters/waitresses survive? Not&nbsp;paying for the markup of the dining service is only good for my own family's budget.&nbsp;</p> <h2>Diapers</h2> <p>Why would I need to wash anything when I can just replace it? Wipe and throw them away. The trash man will collect them, and I'm saving money because I'm sure my house cleaner would want to be paid extra if I asked her to wash diapers too.&nbsp;</p> <h2>Post-it Notes</h2> <p>It's not like I&nbsp;can use anything reuseable, like my computer, to remember appointments.&nbsp;</p> <h2>Credit Cards</h2> <p>I can see why a small population of people won't like credit cards, but I bet most people won't spend more with that convenience. I mean, why would anyone buy more things when they always have money available? Why would anyone buy more when credit card companies send countless marketing materials to get us to buy more, travel more, and do more?&nbsp;</p> <p>Back in the 1900, a pound of butter might have set you back a quarter. Nowadays, it probably costs $3 for the same thing. That's inflation, but our income more than made up for that. On the other hand, people washed their clothes by hand back then, costing almost nothing. Nowadays, a washer costs $600 dollars and a dryer costs another $600, not to mention that many of us end up all going to the dry cleaners anyway.</p> <p>Convenience is great, but watch your wallets before you conveniently lose your fortune.</p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-ways-convenience-is-screwing-your-finances" class="sharethis-link" title="8 Ways Convenience is Screwing Your Finances" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/david-ning">David Ning</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/topic/personal-finance">Personal Finance articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Personal Finance convenience cutting back cutting expenses Wed, 17 Nov 2010 14:00:12 +0000 David Ning 289743 at http://www.wisebread.com Onigiri: Behold The Mighty Triforce http://www.wisebread.com/onigiri-behold-the-mighty-triforce <p><img src="http://farm1.static.flickr.com/183/419564642_48fdba92bc_m.jpg" alt="behold the power" title="onigiri is the triforce" width="240" height="227" /></p> <p>He zips around the lush pixelated world of Hyrule, battling monsters on his quest to save Princess Zelda, a sacred triangle perched atop his head. Link knows that the ancient relic holds great power, but what Link never learned is that <strong>the Triforce is also deeelicious</strong>.</p> <p>I visited Japan with friends in fall of 2005, and while there, we made an amazing discovery: <em>onigiri</em>. As our days in Japan increased, the fatness of our wallets decreased, and we learned the true glory of this humble food. <em>Onigiri</em> is a Japanese convenience store food consisting of rice formed into a triangular cake around a center of something yummy (salmon, tuna, <em>umeboshi</em> [pickled sour plum], and <em>kimchi</em> are just some examples), and wrapped in seaweed. We ventured to say that the three elements that constituted this Triforce were rice for Wisdom, a shield of seaweed for Courage, and the Power of delicious fillings. </p> <p>But perhaps <strong>the true magic of <em>onigiri</em> is its packaging</strong> (wow, a Japanese product with genius packaging. <a href="http://www.bringitaroundtown.net/nippon/2006/07/eating-in.html">Big shocker</a>). You see, wrapping <em>onigiri</em> comes with a challenge: if the seaweed has contact with the rice for more than a couple seconds, it gets soggy and sticky. But the ingenious Japanese came up with an elegant solution.</p> <p>First, the seaweed is wrapped within a two-layer sheath of plastic. </p> <p><a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/tannazie/420619120/" title="onigiri intact"><img src="http://farm1.static.flickr.com/123/420619120_2ba3628d21_m.jpg" alt="onigiri intact" width="240" height="181" /></a></p> <p>The plastic protects the seaweed&#39;s inside from the rice&#39;s moisture, and its outside from external elements. </p> <p>So, the seaweed is wrapped separately from the ricey triangle. Then, how do you get it out of the wrapper, without compromising the structural integrity of the mighty Triforce? Well, first, you pull down the tab that starts at the upper point of the triangle. </p> <p><a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/tannazie/420631679/" title="onigiri -- pull the tab"><img src="http://farm1.static.flickr.com/151/420631679_06d660a5fc_m.jpg" alt="onigiri -- pull the tab" width="240" height="166" /></a></p> <p>Note at this point, that the inside layer of the plastic sheath is split down the center. As you pull the tab all the way down and around the <em>onigiri</em>, the outer layer also splits down the center (are you seeing where this is going?).</p> <p>Now, this next step is the culinary equivalent of the <a href="http://youtube.com/watch?v=chMbD044B0k">take-off-your-bra-without-taking-off-your-shirt</a> trick. </p> <p><a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/tannazie/420619216/" title="onigiri -- split wrapper"><img src="http://farm1.static.flickr.com/181/420619216_5d67c4330a_m.jpg" alt="onigiri -- split wrapper" width="240" height="168" /></a></p> <p>You tug on each corner of the wrapper, now split in two, and, astonishingly, the wrapper slides right off the seaweed, leaving the mighty onigiri unwrapped and intact! </p> <p><a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/tannazie/420619242/" title="onigiri unwrapped"><img src="http://farm1.static.flickr.com/176/420619242_ee14d36feb_m.jpg" alt="onigiri unwrapped" width="240" height="219" /></a></p> <p>Okay, maybe not completely intact. You do have to fold the corners over. But a few quick tucks and a few quick bites, and you get to that all-powerful center. </p> <p><a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/tannazie/420757815/" title="onigiri bite"><img src="http://farm1.static.flickr.com/163/420757815_74c7ff3f7f_m.jpg" alt="onigiri bite" width="240" height="167" /></a></p> <p>See? Magical! Now, why would Link run around with this thing on his head when he could be eating it? </p> <p>Convenience stores in Tokyo are pretty exceptional. In a city known for being prohibitively expensive, it&#39;s nice to know that on just about every corner, there&#39;s a friendly shop when you can get a substantive meal for the equivalent of a few dollars. You find a mix of US chains like 7-Eleven or am/pm and homegrown convenience stores, or <em>combini</em>, like FamilyMart and Lawsons. In addition to <em>onigiri</em>, you can get little packages of egg salad, hot steamed buns filled with seasoned pork, and even the occasional sandwich. And in today&#39;s gloriously shrinking world, Japan&#39;s Family Mart has dressed itself up with gourmet snacks and sleek stylings and brought its act to the states as <a href="http://famima-usa.com/">Famima!!</a> (that&#39;s right, the <em>two</em> exclamation points are part of the name). Which means that <strong>the True Force to Govern All is just a buck-fifty away.</strong> </p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/onigiri-behold-the-mighty-triforce" class="sharethis-link" title="Onigiri: Behold The Mighty Triforce" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/tannaz-sassooni">Tannaz Sassooni</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Food and Drink convenience famima japanese lunch onigiri snack Wed, 14 Mar 2007 14:45:25 +0000 Tannaz Sassooni 343 at http://www.wisebread.com