groceries http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/5817/all en-US 31 Foolproof Ways to Lower Your Grocery Bill http://www.wisebread.com/31-foolproof-ways-to-lower-your-grocery-bill <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/31-foolproof-ways-to-lower-your-grocery-bill" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/couple_shopping_in_supermarket.jpg" alt="Couple shopping in supermarket" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Americans are spending more on food now than they have over the past decade, according to the Food Institute. That doesn't mean buying groceries has to break your budget. Here are over 30 ways to cut costs at the supermarket.</p> <h2>1. Use the best credit card</h2> <p>One often overlooked but simple way to cut costs is by using the right credit card for your groceries. Imagine getting 6 percent of your purchases back as cash back, without a single coupon. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-5-credit-cards-for-groceries?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Use These Credit Cards at the Supermarket</a>)</p> <h2>2. Set a budget</h2> <p>Take a look at all of your grocery expenses over the past few months &mdash; or even the past year, if you have the records &mdash; and figure out how those expenses mesh with your other financial goals. Could you cut back and make more room for other items in your budget, including savings? Come up with a target grocery budget and then track (and adjust) your spending to make sure that you stick to that budget each week.</p> <h2>3. Shop at home first</h2> <p>Purchasing items that you already have at home can be a waste of both time and money. Be sure to quickly inventory your pantry and refrigerator before you hit the supermarket so you haven't forgotten about purchases you've already made.</p> <h2>4. Plan your meals</h2> <p>Once you've taken stock of the ingredients you have at home, come up with a few meals that make use of them with the addition of as few ingredients as possible. Then you can pick up only the items that you need, and reduce weekday stress of figuring out what's for dinner.</p> <h2>5. Shop the circular</h2> <p>Look through the weekly deal list put out by most supermarkets (you can typically find them online) to see what's on sale and plan your meals around those items. Typically the items on the front page of the circular are &quot;loss leaders,&quot; or merchandise that's offered at an extra discount in order to lure customers into the store.</p> <h2>6. Make a list</h2> <p>Once you've got a meal plan, it's easy to make a list of exactly what you need for the week. Shopping from a list also reduces impulse purchases and insures that you won't forget items, which could require another trip to the store and present another opportunity to overspend.</p> <h2>7. Play the coupon game</h2> <p>Whether you're clipping them from newspapers or downloading them online, coupons are an easy way to find savings on items that you're purchasing anyway. Keep an eye on expiration dates, and look for stores that will double coupons for extra savings. But don't get tempted to buy things you don't need, just because you've got a coupon. It's not a bargain if it's unnecessary.</p> <h2>8. Switch up stores</h2> <p>Different grocery stores offer better discounts on different categories of purchases. Over time you may have come to know where to get the best deals on different items. But make sure you keep an eye on changing prices and sales. Once you've planned your list, look through the various circulars to figure out which store is offering the most compelling deals for you this week and shop there. Next week, you may find it worth trying your luck somewhere else. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-affordable-alternatives-to-the-grocery-store?ref=seealso" target="_blank">10 Affordable Alternatives to the Grocery Store</a>)</p> <h2>9. But show some loyalty to all of them</h2> <p>Join the loyalty programs of the various supermarkets where you shop to get additional discounts and coupons at the register. Follow them on social media, too, for notice of special sales or discounts.</p> <h2>10. Stock up on deals</h2> <p>Pay close attention to the prices of nonperishable items you purchase often. Then, when you see a good deal, purchase as many as you have room for.</p> <h2>11. Ask for a rain check</h2> <p>If you see a great deal advertised in the circular or the store but the item is sold out, you can still get that sale price. Most stores will give you a &quot;rain check,&quot; or a voucher to purchase the item at the sale price at a later date.</p> <h2>12. Cut back on meat</h2> <p>Meat is one of the most expensive items that you put in your grocery cart each week. If going completely vegetarian won't work for your family, consider adopting Meatless Mondays or making meat the side dish instead of the main course for some meals.</p> <h2>13. Stay in season</h2> <p>Fresh produce costs less when it's in season, so try to time your purchases accordingly. You'll get the best prices on berries, for example, in the summer, while oranges are cheapest in the winter months. Planning your meals around what's in season ensures you'll get the best flavors, too.</p> <h2>14. Put your freezer to work</h2> <p>If you have a hankering for off season fruits or vegetables, see whether they're available in the frozen aisle. Frozen produce is typically picked at its ripest and immediately frozen, locking in many of its nutrients. You can use your freezer to reduce other grocery costs as well, freezing meat purchased at a discount or extra portions of meals you've cooked before they go to waste.</p> <h2>15. Call in the subs</h2> <p>Swap out high-cost ingredients in recipes for lower-cost substitutes that can reduce the overall cost of the meal without sacrificing taste. Try turmeric rather than saffron, for example, or cream cheese in place of goat cheese.</p> <h2>16. Hit up a warehouse store</h2> <p>Warehouse stores often have lower per-unit prices than grocery stores on items like paper goods, cleaning products, and toiletries. They may also have good deals on food items, but make sure that you're not buying so much food that it could go bad before your family eats it all. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/best-credit-cards-to-use-at-costco?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Best Credit Cards to Use at Costco</a>)</p> <h2>17. Bring your own bag</h2> <p>Some grocery stores offer a discount to shoppers who bring their own reusable shopping bags. Bonus: You'll be helping the environment while you shop.</p> <h2>18. DIY</h2> <p>Some of the most expensive items in grocery stores are prepared foods or those where some of the prep work has been done for you. If you can take the time to chop your own fruits and vegetables, grate your own cheese, marinate your own fish, or boil you own eggs, you can pay significantly less.</p> <h2>19. Don't go all in with organics</h2> <p>In general, produce that has a thicker skin (things like avocado, mangoes, and grapefruit) have lower levels of pesticides than those without (such as strawberries, spinach, nectarines, and apples). Consider spending extra only for those foods that have higher pesticide levels.</p> <h2>20. Drink (tap) water</h2> <p>In addition to being expensive, drinks like soda and juice are full of sugar, so eliminating them is better for both your budget and your body. Bottled water is healthier, but it's also an unnecessary expense when you can drink water from your faucets for free. If water quality is an issue, a low-cost filter can help. Cutting down on bottles reduces hassling with heavy items and reduces your environmental impact as well.</p> <h2>21. Don't wander</h2> <p>Rather than walking through every aisle in the grocery store, don't even turn down those without items on your list. That will save you time and prevent unnecessary impulse purchases.</p> <h2>22. Become a gardener</h2> <p>Vegetable seeds are relatively inexpensive, and just a few plants can yield dozens of fresh veggies that you won't have to purchase later at the supermarket. If you're not up for a full vegetable garden, consider starting with an herb garden. That will allow you to pick and use herbs as needed, rather than being forced to purchase more than you need for a particular recipe at the grocery store.</p> <h2>23. Take it back</h2> <p>Didn't notice the mold on those strawberries in the store? Rather than throwing the whole container away, return it to the store. Most grocery stores have relatively generous return policies and will be happy to exchange your item for a fresh one.</p> <h2>24. Divide and conquer snacks</h2> <p>Single-serve snack portions cost a lot more than those purchased in a single large box or bag. Instead, purchase the larger size, and divide it into smaller portions at home.</p> <h2>25. Crunch the numbers</h2> <p>Check the price tag to see if it includes unit pricing (price per ounce, for example). If not, use your cellphone calculator to figure out the unit price and then compare that to other sizes and other brands to make sure you're buying the one that offers the most value.</p> <h2>26. Use apps</h2> <p>Your calculator isn't the only feature on your smartphone that could save you money at the grocery story. Try <a href="https://ibotta.com/r/jcsgjbv">Ibotta</a>, which will give you cash back on featured products if you submit a photo of your receipt; and ShopKick, which sends you rewards and discounts when you walk into a store and buy certain items. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-apps-that-actually-pay-you-to-shop?ref=seealso">8 Apps That Actually Pay You to Shop</a>)</p> <h2>27. Try out the store brand</h2> <p>Many name-brand and generic products are literally the same thing with different packaging, and considerably different price tags. Compare ingredients lists to see if there are any noticeable differences. If not, go with the store brand.</p> <h2>28. Ignore checkout displays</h2> <p>Keep your eye on the register, your shopping partner, or your phone at checkout, rather than on the candy or other items on display. There's a reason the checkout line is filled with easy-to-grab items. A shopping list can help lower &quot;decision fatigue,&quot; but you'll still need to be on guard to get through that final gauntlet of temptations.</p> <h2>29. Eat (a healthy snack) before you shop</h2> <p>Shopping on an empty stomach can lower your resistance to impulse purchases and make you end up spending more. But it matters how you fill that empty stomach. Researchers at Cornell University have found that consuming a healthy snack before grocery shopping can increase the likelihood that you'll make healthy food choices while at the store.</p> <h2>30. Check sell-by dates</h2> <p>Look for items with the furthest-out sell-by date (often in the back of a display). That will give you more time to consume the product at home and reduce the chances that it will go to waste.</p> <h2>31. Consider subscription services</h2> <p>A local CSA may offer a monthly box of fruits and vegetables that cost less than it would at the supermarket. Other services like Amazon Fresh may offer discounted items that save you money, even after their monthly fee. Check out the options in your area and you may be surprised to find that these services can save you both time and money. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-ways-having-your-groceries-delivered-can-save-you-money?ref=seealso" target="_blank">6 Ways Having Your Groceries Delivered Can Save You Money</a>)</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/beth-braverman">Beth Braverman</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/31-foolproof-ways-to-lower-your-grocery-bill">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-save-a-ton-by-eating-soup-every-day-and-never-get-bored">How to Save a Ton by Eating Soup Every Day (and Never Get Bored!)</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/this-simple-shopping-list-strategy-from-5-meal-plan-will-save-you-big">This Simple Shopping List Strategy From $5 Meal Plan Will Save You Big</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-6-shopping-mistakes-keeping-you-from-a-great-deal">The 6 Shopping Mistakes Keeping You From a Great Deal</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-12-best-frozen-food-values">The 12 Best Frozen Food Values</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-8-shopping-apps-thatll-actually-save-you-money-in-2016">The 8 Shopping Apps That&#039;ll Actually Save You Money in 2016</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Food and Drink Shopping budgeting coupons deals frozen foods groceries grocery store meatless monday sales saving money supermarket Wed, 07 Jun 2017 08:31:05 +0000 Beth Braverman 1959963 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Save a Ton by Eating Soup Every Day (and Never Get Bored!) http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-save-a-ton-by-eating-soup-every-day-and-never-get-bored <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-save-a-ton-by-eating-soup-every-day-and-never-get-bored" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-537368113.jpg" alt="Woman learning how to save a ton by eating soup every day" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>In January I found a sale on Progresso Soup for 99 cents per can, down from it's normal $3.29 price at my local grocery store. It was a huge savings on something we usually buy as a last-minute lunch backup. And since I love soup, this sale was extra exciting to me. It's a veritable soup coup!</p> <p>So, naturally I had to call my husband, Mr. Spendypants, about my glorious, souper duper find.</p> <p>Yes, this is what passes as exciting in our marriage. Don't judge us.</p> <h2>Taking full advantage of our soup savings</h2> <p>We fell into this yummy life hack by accident. My husband and I are currently working opposite schedules, so it's hard to make a more complicated meal that is hot and on the table when both of us are home and hungry. January was so overbooked with work that we agreed to simplify suppertime. Instead of our typical, fancy multicourse dinner, we'd just split a can of soup and eat some homemade bread. To round out the meal, the person who got home first would make a vegetable side from whatever we already had in the fridge.</p> <p>At the end of the week, we were shocked to find that we'd only spent $20 on food for two people.</p> <p>We decided to make our bread and soup dinner a nightly habit for the rest of 2017 as a part of our <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/my-2016-budget-challenge-three-lessons-about-saving-one-husband-learned-in-a-year" target="_blank">ongoing budget challenge</a>. You don't have to go to that extreme to realize advantages from a scaled-back version of our plan. And you can improve the nutritional profile by sticking with low-salt, vegetable-laden, and no-cream varieties of canned soup, or making homemade soup. Beyond the price, there are a lot of benefits to our limited menu.</p> <h2>1. It's flexible</h2> <p>My husband and I are committed to bread and soup dinners for a year, but I know our meal plan sounds a little hard-core and weird to anyone who isn't a big soup aficionado already. However, canned soup has a long shelf life, so it's great to have on hand for those particularly busy weeks when every minute counts. Consider stocking your pantry with two weeks' worth of these timesaving dinners to get you through rough patches in your schedule.</p> <p>Also, if automating seven meals a week is going to cause whining at the dinner table, you could always start by automating just one meal a week, to give the family cook a break.</p> <h2>2. It's not boring</h2> <p>One of the reasons why this meal hack works so well for us is that it doesn't get boring. There are approximately a bazillion canned soup varieties to choose from, and even more recipes for homemade soup, so we don't get tired of eating the same thing.</p> <p>To keep dinner costs at a minimum, we have also been careful only to buy produce that is both on sale and in season. This shopping limit has had a secondary effect of keeping our side veggie plate interesting because we can't rely on eating the same fruits and vegetables year-round.</p> <h2>3. It's simple to make</h2> <p>Because we are using canned soup, this is such an easy meal that a 10-year-old could make this with very little supervision. It requires no special tools or cooking skills. Dinner can be ready and on the table within 10 minutes.</p> <p>Want to try homemade? Even if you are a novice cook, it's hard to ruin soup. Ease yourself into cooking from scratch by practicing with some <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/20-cheap-and-easy-soup-recipes" target="_blank">basic soup recipes</a>.</p> <h2>4. The numbers are easy to track</h2> <p>The automation aspect of this meal plan makes it easy to budget around. The soup costs about $7 a week. The bread ingredients cost less than 50 cents per loaf, or less than $2 per week. Since we have access to cheap or free produce in our area, we've managed to keep our side salad budget to around $5 per week. Our grocery spending is much more predictable now.</p> <p>Pro Tip: My mother eats a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with an apple every single day for lunch. She knows not only the cost of her lunch, but also the nutritional value and the calorie count. If you want to be super calibrated with your calorie counting and grocery budgeting, you can automate one meal each day to this basic level. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-easy-ways-to-automate-your-everyday-life?ref=seealso" target="_blank">4 Easy Ways to Automate Your Everyday Life</a>)</p> <h2>5. It works with almost any budget</h2> <p>We've managed to keep our dinner budget to about $2 per day for two people, but you can make the meal even less expensive if you are in a budget pinch by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-delicious-soups-you-can-make-from-leftovers">making your own soup</a>. I saved even more money on our grocery budget this week when a friend gave me a turkey carcass to turn into turkey broth. Also, this month we've been using the weeds out of our backyard as salad ingredients.</p> <h2>6. Homemade soup can be made in bulk in advance</h2> <p>We are currently dining on a lot of canned soup in part because our tiny freezer is packed with food. As we eat through our freezer stash, we are making room for homemade soups. Obviously it takes longer to make soup from scratch than it does to open a can, but it's still very easy to make a huge amount of soup in advance and then freeze it in individual portions. And, because we own a slow cooker, soup is one of those dishes that we can actually make while we sleep!</p> <h2>7. It's easy to scale</h2> <p>Do you have company coming over? Thaw more soup.&nbsp;Are you eating alone? Open a can and put half in the fridge for later.</p> <h2>8. It works with most diets</h2> <p>Because this meal is basically soup and salad, you can tailor it to your own dietary needs or available pantry supplies.&nbsp;If you don't like bread, substitute potatoes, rice, or another inexpensive grain dish for the bread.</p> <h2>9. It increases vegetable intake</h2> <p>Since my husband and I are borderline vegetarians, our new canned soup habit has actually increased our meat consumption. That said, the average American does not eat enough vegetables, and soup is an easy way to up your vegetable servings. Obviously, vegetarian soups like gazpacho or Turkish lentil soup will increase your vegetable intake the most, but even canned chicken noodle soups provide between 10 percent and 50 percent of the daily value for vitamin A.</p> <h2>10. It reduces stress</h2> <p>There's no decision fatigue with this meal. The only thing we have to think about is finding another sale on soup before we run out. Luckily, soup goes on sale pretty regularly, so we've already re-upped our supply twice.</p> <p>Also, because our menu planning is simple and clear, shopping requires no forethought. Our shopping list consists of: milk, coffee, soup, tea, bread-making ingredients, and the least expensive vegetables in the store that week.</p> <h2>11. It saves on food waste</h2> <p>One side effect of our extremely tight dinner budget is that we are not tempted to buy more food than we can eat in a week.</p> <p>Also, soup is the perfect vehicle to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/thursday-night-soup-delicious-soup-from-leftovers" target="_blank">transform leftovers</a> into a delicious second meal. Even unattractive food like wilted lettuce, broccoli stems, and stale bread can all be converted to soup or added to pre-made canned soup to stretch it further.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/max-wong">Max Wong</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-save-a-ton-by-eating-soup-every-day-and-never-get-bored">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/this-simple-shopping-list-strategy-from-5-meal-plan-will-save-you-big">This Simple Shopping List Strategy From $5 Meal Plan Will Save You Big</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/31-foolproof-ways-to-lower-your-grocery-bill">31 Foolproof Ways to Lower Your Grocery Bill</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-hot-new-food-trends-the-frugal-way">8 Hot New Food Trends — The Frugal Way</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/flashback-friday-122-no-fuss-dinner-ideas-thatll-save-you-money">Flashback Friday: 122 No-Fuss Dinner Ideas That&#039;ll Save You Money</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-easy-ways-to-save-on-groceries-in-a-pinch">5 Easy Ways to Save on Groceries in a Pinch</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Food and Drink Shopping budgeting dinner ideas Food groceries grocery shopping tricks meal planning saving money soup Fri, 19 May 2017 08:00:08 +0000 Max Wong 1950125 at http://www.wisebread.com 8 Hot New Food Trends — The Frugal Way http://www.wisebread.com/8-hot-new-food-trends-the-frugal-way <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/8-hot-new-food-trends-the-frugal-way" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_grocery_store_505801836_0.jpg" alt="Woman learning how to try hot new food trends the frugal way" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>It seems there&rsquo;s always a new health food trend going on, and companies are quick to capitalize by conveniently packaging and offering them on store shelves for us to try. Unfortunately, trying what's new and different isn't always affordable. You're in luck, though. Here are the trends, and how you can enjoy them on the cheap.</p> <h2>1. Wellness beverages</h2> <p>The chilled beverage sections at your grocery store are probably teeming with new tonics and juices. Many of them include ingredients like turmeric, vinegar, and maca. There are even beverages that contain medicinal mushrooms! While this is all very interesting and even quite tasty, these drinks come at a premium &mdash; costing anywhere from $5&ndash;$14 per bottle.</p> <p>I make my own vinegar-infused beverage at home. It actually tastes a lot like kombucha, just at a fraction of the cost. First, I crack open a can of my favorite sparkling water from Aldi, usually lemon or lime. Then I pour it over a tablespoon of Aldi's organic apple cider vinegar. Mix and enjoy.</p> <h2>2. Oily byproducts</h2> <p>A company called Eco Olea has made a variety of house cleaners using the water that's left over after making olive oil. Another company is using the liquid from cooking chickpeas to make vegan mayonnaise. Incorporating byproducts into new products is definitely on the rise, and it's great to see that less is going to waste.</p> <p>How can you try this trend at home? Stop before you toss the liquid you drained from that can of chickpeas. That gooey stuff is called <em>aquafaba</em>, and there are many good things you can make with it. Try this vegan&nbsp;<a href="http://vanillacrunnch.com/aquafaba-chocolate-mousse-3-ingredients-vegan-and-glutenfree/" target="_blank">chocolate pudding</a> made from aquafaba. Sounds strange, but when you combine it with dark chocolate, maple syrup, and vanilla extract? Delicious.</p> <h2>3. All things coconut</h2> <p>You've probably tried coconut water and coconut oil to see what all the fuss is about. This year, the coconut is expanding its horizons. You can buy coconut flour, coconut chips for baking, and a whole host of other products. While <a href="http://amzn.to/2os53cS" target="_blank">coconut flour</a> costs about $3 a pound, prepackaged foods made with this ingredient are even steeper.</p> <p>Here's an easy recipe for homemade&nbsp;<a href="https://www.wholesomeyum.com/recipes/coconut-tortillas/" target="_blank">coconut flour tortillas</a>. You need just three ingredients: coconut flour, eggs, and nondairy milk. It only requires a half cup of flour. Whisk the ingredients together. Then heat a skillet and cook it like a very thin pancake, flip, and fill with your favorite hummus or whatever else you like wrapped up. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-5-credit-cards-for-groceries?ref=seealso" target="_blank">The Best Credit Cards for Groceries</a>)</p> <h2>4. Purple foods</h2> <p>You may have heard that you should eat the rainbow &mdash; vibrant, fresh veggies that come in all colors. In 2017, the color everyone seems to be focusing on is purple. You can find purple cauliflower, purple potato chips, purple corn, purple asparagus, and much more at your local grocery store.</p> <p>If you want to try this one at home, try making this gorgeous&nbsp;<a href="http://prettypies.com/recipe/purple-sweet-potato-pie/" target="_blank">purple sweet potato pie</a>. If you don&rsquo;t want to deal with the almonds and dates for the crust, you can always stick with a traditional pie crust out of flour and butter. It will still look gorgeous.</p> <h2>5. Healthier pastas</h2> <p>You can find pasta made from chickpeas, lentils, and quinoa on shelves at the store. If you take a walk around the produce section, you may even see some varieties of spiralized vegetable &quot;pastas&quot; that are healthy alternatives to the traditional noodles we all know and love. I'm especially flabbergasted by the price of the spiralized noodles because produce can be quite cheap when it's in season.</p> <p>The up-charge is all about the noodle-making process. And that's an easy at-home thing you can do yourself. Invest in a&nbsp;<a href="http://amzn.to/2oP1PSm" target="_blank">spiralizer</a>, and you'll be set with beet and zucchini noodles for life.</p> <h2>6. Unique condiments</h2> <p>My husband and I are addicted to interesting condiments. But I can't say it's good for our wallets. These days, you can find anything from ghee with pink Himalayan sea salt to pomegranate molasses to chipotle adobo sauce. One way I like to save on these splurges is to check out what our local Home Goods (a discount store) has on the shelves. I can often find condiments a few dollars cheaper than they might be at the grocery store.</p> <p>Making your own cool condiments is another option. Buying ghee at the store can cost around $1.20 an ounce. You can make it at home for around 67 cents an ounce. Just get eight ounces of a good-quality organic butter and heat it over low heat in a medium saucepan. Continue cooking until the milk solids turn brown and fall to the bottom of your pan, around 10 minutes. Then pour through cheesecloth into a glass jar for safekeeping. This makes five ounces of ghee.</p> <h2>7. Meal kits</h2> <p>Eating out can be expensive. But making everything from scratch can be time-consuming and messy. Many people are turning to meal kits you can easily toss in the oven. You can find some awesome vegetable mixes in the freezer section that won't break the bank. Others include pasta and even meat for a no-fuss meal. Just check your prices carefully and take advantage of coupons and store sales when you can.</p> <p>You may also want to try make your own meal kits. Sure, the process takes some effort &mdash; but it will save you time and money in the long run. I actually tried this method out last month when I made a bunch of &quot;dump meals&quot; to stash in my freezer. I'm hooked. It's seriously as easy and opening cans, chopping stuff, and tossing it in a bag to freeze for later cooking in the Crock-Pot.</p> <h2>8. Japanese food</h2> <p>Japanese foods are becoming more popular, as well. But move over sushi, the trend this year is going beyond the roll. Check out ingredients like miso, seaweed, and mirin. Have you ever heard of Japanese-style pickles? I hadn't either, and now I'm utterly intrigued.</p> <p>My own family regularly eats udon noodles with our stir-fries. This ends up being cheaper than buying Japanese takeout because we get a huge bag of stir-fry veggies in the freezer section and buy tofu in bulk. We also like incorporating miso into our meals &mdash; a little goes a long way. Try a miso-tahini dressing on anything from roasted sweet potatoes to salads. Combine a quarter cup tahini with just one tablespoon miso. Then add in lemon juice, warm water, and cracked pepper. You'll enjoy the flavor every day!</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-marcin">Ashley Marcin</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-hot-new-food-trends-the-frugal-way">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-and-worst-times-to-go-grocery-shopping">The Best and Worst Times to Go Grocery Shopping</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-shop-for-food-once-a-month-and-save-big">How to Shop for Food Once a Month and Save Big</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-save-a-ton-by-eating-soup-every-day-and-never-get-bored">How to Save a Ton by Eating Soup Every Day (and Never Get Bored!)</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-ways-having-your-groceries-delivered-can-save-you-money">6 Ways Having Your Groceries Delivered Can Save You Money</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/flashback-friday-53-grocery-shopping-tricks-thatll-make-your-life-easier">Flashback Friday: 53 Grocery Shopping Tricks That&#039;ll Make Your Life Easier</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Food and Drink Shopping Food food shopping food trends groceries grocery budget grocery shopping saving money Thu, 20 Apr 2017 08:30:13 +0000 Ashley Marcin 1931161 at http://www.wisebread.com The Easy Way to Save Up a Big Travel Budget http://www.wisebread.com/the-easy-way-to-save-up-a-big-travel-budget <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-easy-way-to-save-up-a-big-travel-budget" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-516262792.jpg" alt="Woman learning how to save up a big travel budget" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="142" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Traveling is an undeniably amazing experience, but as with so many of the finer things in life, it does come with a price tag attached. Cost is unfortunately one of the biggest factors that prevents people from traveling.</p> <p>However, if getting to see the world is a serious goal of yours, this may be the perfect time to renew your focus on savings so that you can afford to pay for your wanderlust. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-easy-ways-to-save-for-your-dream-vacation?ref=seealso" target="_blank">15 Ways to Save for Your Dream Vacation</a>)</p> <h2>Set a goal and deadline</h2> <p>To help you get motivated to save more, set a clear goal and a timeline. The more specific the goal, the better, since it will allow you to visualize your trip and get excited about it. For instance, if you've dreamed about taking a trip to Europe for years, decide on your top destinations and how long you want the trip to last. That will help set a ballpark budget figure to aim for.</p> <p>Next, attach a savings deadline &mdash; for example, decide that you will buy your plane tickets within the next six to 12 months. Don't give yourself much more time, or you'll lose the urgency to put money away <em>now</em>.</p> <p>Having this type of a clear savings goal will help you stay motivated and make your trip feel more like a reality and less like a distant dream. It will also give you a schedule for your savings, allowing you to calculate how much you need to set aside each month to be able to afford your upcoming trip.</p> <h2>Slash unnecessary spending</h2> <p>Your goal will help you find the motivation to make some of the sacrifices that come with putting more money toward savings. You will want to shift your mindset from the short-term gratification of an immediate purchase (whose charm almost always wears off quickly) to the long-term gratification that comes from an experience that will leave you with memories for a lifetime.</p> <p>You may be surprised to realize how much of your spending is discretionary. Think of anything you are spending money on that you could live without. For instance, you can save a lot of money by cooking for yourself, instead of going out to eat. Even less-than-fancy meals at restaurants like Panera or Chipotle can cost $7 and up. If you indulge in this convenience three times a week, you're spending $84 a month. Substitute each of those meals with frugal home cooked meals and save.</p> <p>A car can be a significant expense, so if you can do without it you are setting yourself up for big savings. According to AAA, it costs the average American car owner around $8,558 to own and maintain their vehicle each year (this includes $3,759 in depreciation but doesn't include car payments). Even if you factor out the depreciation, that still means Americans are averaging $4,799 a year just to run our cars.</p> <p>In contrast, Numbeo.com reports the average cost of a monthly transport pass in the United States is around $70, or $840 a year. If you live in an area with good public transportation, you could potentially pocket more than $3,900 a year by giving up your car.</p> <p>If you can't completely forego having a car, you could still reduce your transportation expenses by driving less often. Walk, bike, carpool, or take public transportation instead. You'll not only save on gas, but also parking.</p> <p>Need inspiration to cut costs? Consider this woman from the U.K. who essentially <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/life/buy-nothing-year-one-woman-saved-22000/" target="_blank">spent nothing for an entire year</a>. While that may sound drastic, her savings while living in notoriously expensive London added up to nearly $27,000. Even half that amount would make a significant travel budget.</p> <h2>Work more, spend less</h2> <p>During one six-month period of my life I saved $12,000, which then allowed me to travel comfortably for the next six months without any income. I was able to do this by ensuring that my costs were as low as possible</p> <p>I split a $500 studio apartment with a roommate, so my rent was only $250 a month. Living quarters were cramped, but I was hardly ever there. I worked three jobs so I could make more money (around $2,500 a month). My 50-60 hours-a-week work schedule also meant that I had less time to spend my earnings.</p> <p>I was able to keep grocery costs to $100 a month because I was working in the food industry at the time. My other main costs were gas ($50 a month), and the cheapest cellphone plan I could find ($30 a month).</p> <p>For fun, I mostly did free activities, taking advantage of the fact that I lived in the mountains in California. I could go hiking and biking for free and there were often free concerts in the evenings. When I needed new clothes for work, I would get them from the local thrift store for $10&ndash;$15.</p> <h2>Get rewarded for your purchases</h2> <p>There are many ways to use various types of credit cards so that you get rewarded for your necessary expenditures. Especially for major expenses such as gas, groceries, and plane tickets, selecting the appropriate credit card can help you save a significant amount of money. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-save-an-extra-109486-a-year?ref=seealso" target="_blank">How to Save an Extra $1,095 a Year</a>)</p> <h3>Grocery credit card</h3> <p>Groceries are a big expense for most people. Since you can't avoid spending at least something on groceries, you may as well get rewarded for your spending. Use a credit card that gives you extra rewards points for every dollar you spend at supermarkets. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-5-credit-cards-for-groceries?ref=seealso" target="_blank">5 Best Credit Cards for Groceries</a>)</p> <p>You may even be able to stack rewards by using a loyalty card from the supermarket chain where you do most of your shopping. Often these loyalty programs offer you cash discounts that can help cut your overall grocery bill.</p> <h3>Gas credit card</h3> <p>If you just can't live without a car, you can still save on the cost of gas by opening the right credit card. Cards that are co-branded with a particular gas station give you discounts at the pump, usually a few cents per gallon. These cards tend to have high interest rates, though, so if you tend to carry a balance, you'll usually be better off with a rewards credit card that gives you bonus points for purchases made at gas stations. If fuel is one of your bigger expenses, it's worth opening a gas rewards card. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-best-gas-rewards-credit-cards?ref=seealso" target="_blank">5 Best Gas Rewards Credit Cards</a>)</p> <h3>Travel credit card</h3> <p>Although you may not be traveling a lot while you save up for your big trip, it's worth getting a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/top-5-travel-reward-credit-cards?ref=internal" target="_blank">travel rewards credit card</a> well in advance of your trip. By using your travel card for everyday purchases, you can rack up points toward free flights or hotel stays when it comes time to hit the road. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-steps-to-getting-a-free-or-close-to-free-vacation-in-9-months-or-less-with-credit-cards?ref=seealso" target="_blank">5 Steps to a Free Vacation in 9 Months or Less</a>)</p> <p>What's more, most travel cards offer significant <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-best-sign-up-bonuses-for-airline-miles-credit-cards?ref=internal">points bonuses</a> when you spend a certain amount within the first few months after opening the account. These bonuses can be worth hundreds of dollars in travel, but you'll need time to meet the required spending amount and wait for the bonus points to be posted to your account.</p> <p>Finally, airline cards often come with free checked baggage and other perks such as free rental car insurance, lost baggage coverage, and trip interruption insurance. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-types-of-travel-insurance-credit-cards-include-that-you-didnt-know-about?ref=seealso" target="_blank">6 Types of Travel Insurance That Credit Cards Include</a>)</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" data-pin-save="true" href="https://www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Fthe-easy-way-to-save-up-a-big-travel-budget&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2FThe%2520Easy%2520Way%2520to%2520Save%2520Up%2520a%2520Big%2520Travel%2520Budget.jpg&amp;description=The%20Easy%20Way%20to%20Save%20Up%20a%20Big%20Travel%20Budget"></a></p> <script async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/The%20Easy%20Way%20to%20Save%20Up%20a%20Big%20Travel%20Budget.jpg" alt="The Easy Way to Save Up a Big Travel Budget" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/amanda-gokee">Amanda Gokee</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-easy-way-to-save-up-a-big-travel-budget">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-build-your-best-travel-budget">How to Build Your Best Travel Budget</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-hot-new-food-trends-the-frugal-way">8 Hot New Food Trends — The Frugal Way</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-ways-for-college-students-to-save-loads-of-money">10 Ways for College Students to Save Loads of Money</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/a-simple-guide-to-buying-the-best-travel-cameras">A Simple Guide to Buying The Best Travel Cameras</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-6-best-vacation-deal-websites">The 6 Best Vacation Deal Websites</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Travel cash back cutting costs expenses Food groceries rewards saving money transportation trips vacations Thu, 20 Apr 2017 08:30:13 +0000 Amanda Gokee 1927306 at http://www.wisebread.com Flashback Friday: 53 Grocery Shopping Tricks That'll Make Your Life Easier http://www.wisebread.com/flashback-friday-53-grocery-shopping-tricks-thatll-make-your-life-easier <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/flashback-friday-53-grocery-shopping-tricks-thatll-make-your-life-easier" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/man_grocery_bag_500927185.jpg" alt="Man using grocery shopping tricks that make his life easier" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>You head to the grocery store, armed with a list and a plan to be as efficient as possible, and then somehow you become an aimless browser. You fall victim to impulse buys and overpriced salads from the deli. And when you get home, you spent more time and money than you should have, and you forgot one of the key items you need for upcoming meals. No more. Here are 53 grocery shopping tricks that'll make your life easier.</p> <p><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5171/woman_grcoery_bag_000018272858_0.jpg" width="605" height="340" alt="" /></p> <p><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/21-fresh-food-delivery-services-that-can-save-you-big?ref=fbf">21 Fresh Food Delivery Services That Can Save You Big</a> &mdash; Skip the trip to the store entirely and have all your food delivered! Sound like a dream come true? It is. Here are all the best services to try.</p> <p><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-checkout-line-tricks-to-finish-shopping-faster?ref=fbf">5 Checkout Line Tricks to Finish Shopping Faster</a> &mdash; When you just want to get in and out of the grocery store, follow these smart shopping tricks. Avoiding chatty cashiers and opting for the checkout lanes on the left could save you lots of precious time.</p> <p><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5171/woman_fresh_strawberries_000067876803_0.jpg" width="605" height="340" alt="" /></p> <p><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-off-season-foods-that-are-destroying-your-grocery-budget?ref=fbf">5 Offseason Foods That Are Destroying Your Grocery Budget</a> &mdash; A really easy fix to staying on-budget is to avoid the sections of the store with foods that are currently offseason. Stick to what's in-season and you'll save time and lots of money.</p> <p><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-ways-having-your-groceries-delivered-can-save-you-money?ref=fbf">6 Ways Having Your Groceries Delivered Can Save You Money</a> &mdash; You might assume that getting your groceries delivered is a luxury only the rich can afford. Not true! If you shop smart, you can actually save money by having your food delivered to your door.</p> <p><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5171/man_confused_groceries_000061844584_0.jpg" width="605" height="340" alt="" /></p> <p><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-ways-you-are-sabotaging-your-weekly-grocery-budget?ref=fbf">9 Ways You Are Sabotaging Your Weekly Grocery Budget</a> &mdash; The best way to improve any skill is to learn from your own mistakes, right? Take a look back at your previous grocery receipts, give meal planning a try, clip those coupons, and your grocery budget will remain intact.</p> <p><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-and-worst-times-to-go-grocery-shopping?ref=fbf">The Best and Worst Times to Go Grocery Shopping</a> &mdash; A big part of making grocery shopping easier is knowing when to shop in the first place. Because there are certain times &mdash; weekend afternoons, for example &mdash; when you shouldn't go at all.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/chrissa-hardy">Chrissa Hardy</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/flashback-friday-53-grocery-shopping-tricks-thatll-make-your-life-easier">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-hot-new-food-trends-the-frugal-way">8 Hot New Food Trends — The Frugal Way</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/flashback-friday-122-no-fuss-dinner-ideas-thatll-save-you-money">Flashback Friday: 122 No-Fuss Dinner Ideas That&#039;ll Save You Money</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-grocery-store-habits-that-are-making-you-broke">7 Grocery Store Habits That Are Making You Broke</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-and-worst-times-to-go-grocery-shopping">The Best and Worst Times to Go Grocery Shopping</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-shop-for-food-once-a-month-and-save-big">How to Shop for Food Once a Month and Save Big</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Food and Drink Shopping buying food fbf flashback friday food shopping groceries grocery shopping shopping tips Fri, 24 Mar 2017 09:30:40 +0000 Chrissa Hardy 1915404 at http://www.wisebread.com Flashback Friday: 122 No-Fuss Dinner Ideas That'll Save You Money http://www.wisebread.com/flashback-friday-122-no-fuss-dinner-ideas-thatll-save-you-money <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/flashback-friday-122-no-fuss-dinner-ideas-thatll-save-you-money" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/couple_cooking_dinner_524862737.jpg" alt="Couple making no-fuss dinner that save them money" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Your workday is coming to an end and your stomach is starting to grumble. You aren't motivated to cook a meal from scratch, and you also don't want to spend your hard-earned money on takeout. What to do? The solution is a delicious one-pot or one-pan meal that is both filling and budget-friendly. Here are a bunch of ideas you (and your tummy) will love.</p> <p><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5171/woman_cooking_000029847332_0.jpg" width="605" height="340" alt="" /></p> <p><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-one-pot-meals-that-will-transform-dinner?ref=fbf">10 One Pot Meals That Will Transform Dinner</a> &mdash; There are few things as satisfying as throwing all of your dinner ingredients into the same pot and letting it cook. These one-pot meals are super convenient to make and absolutely delicious. You'll never need to make an excuse to order takeout again.</p> <p><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-delicious-and-easy-one-pot-meals?ref=fbf">25 Delicious and Easy One-Pot Meals</a> &mdash; One-pot meals don't always consist of pasta or stew. This flavorful list of meals includes stuffed peppers, breakfast options, and even sushi!</p> <p><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5171/iStock-518145080.jpg" width="605" height="340" alt="" /></p> <p><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-instant-pot-recipes-that-will-save-you-money?ref=fbf">12 Instant Pot Recipes That Will Save You Money</a> &mdash; If you have an electric pressure cooker, dust it off and put it to work, because instant pot meals are the future of dinner. This dinner method helps you salvage soon-to-be expired ingredients, delectably resurrect leftovers, and cook healthy meals without the effort and hefty price tag.</p> <p><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/save-time-and-money-with-these-15-delicious-sheet-pan-meals?ref=fbf">Save Time and Money With These 15 Delicious Sheet Pan Meals</a> &mdash; Ever cooked a full meal on just one sheet pan? If not, now's the time to give it a try. Pizza, salmon, chicken parm, and stir fry can all be made in a single sheet pan, and there are so many more options!</p> <p><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5171/food-2020009-small.jpg" width="605" height="340" alt="" /></p> <p><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/35-slow-cooker-recipes-for-busy-or-lazy-vegetarians?ref=fbf">35 Slow Cooker Recipes for Busy (or Lazy) Vegetarians</a> &mdash; We're all busy, and sometimes we just want to be lazy, because we've earned it! But both situations make dinner preparation extremely difficult when you could easily order food to be delivered. These vegetarian slow cooker recipes are perfect for a busy lifestyle, and for those lazy weekend days.</p> <p><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-great-cheap-and-easy-crock-pot-recipes?ref=fbf">25 Great, Cheap, and Easy Crock Pot Recipes</a> &mdash; What's better than an easy, delicious dinner? A <em>cheap</em>, easy, and delicious dinner! It's hard to stay on budget with food, especially when you're trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle, but these crock pot recipes fit the bill, and you will love every single one of them.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/chrissa-hardy">Chrissa Hardy</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/flashback-friday-122-no-fuss-dinner-ideas-thatll-save-you-money">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-save-a-ton-by-eating-soup-every-day-and-never-get-bored">How to Save a Ton by Eating Soup Every Day (and Never Get Bored!)</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/flashback-friday-53-grocery-shopping-tricks-thatll-make-your-life-easier">Flashback Friday: 53 Grocery Shopping Tricks That&#039;ll Make Your Life Easier</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/flashback-friday-128-creative-ways-to-upcycle-your-trash">Flashback Friday: 128 Creative Ways to Upcycle Your Trash</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/flashback-friday-23-mental-tricks-thatll-help-you-save-money">Flashback Friday: 23 Mental Tricks That&#039;ll Help You Save Money</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/flashback-friday-63-delicious-ways-to-enjoy-leftovers">Flashback Friday: 63 Delicious Ways to Enjoy Leftovers</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Food and Drink Shopping dinner ideas dinner recipes fbf flashback friday groceries saving money Spending Money Fri, 10 Mar 2017 10:30:39 +0000 Chrissa Hardy 1906390 at http://www.wisebread.com Bought Milk? Today's the Deadline to Claim Your Settlement Money http://www.wisebread.com/bought-milk-todays-the-deadline-to-claim-your-settlement-money <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/bought-milk-todays-the-deadline-to-claim-your-settlement-money" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/man_buying_milk_157646104.jpg" alt="Man buying milk claiming settlement money" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Modern Farmer reminds us that <a href="http://modernfarmer.com/2017/01/bought-milk-since-2003-today-last-day-collect-settlement-check/" target="_blank">today is the last day to claim your fair share</a> of the settlement of the Fresh Milk Products Antitrust Litigation. If you bought milk or other fresh dairy products &mdash; cream, half-and-half, cottage cheese, etc. &mdash; any time between 2003 and 2010, and lived in a handful of U.S. States, you're entitled to a $5 to $15 refund. All told, the settlement is worth $52 million.</p> <h2>How to Claim Your Money</h2> <p>First of all, you have to be a resident of a handful of U.S. states: Arizona, California, the District of Columbia, Kansas, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, Oregon, South Dakota, Tennessee, Vermont, West Virginia, or Wisconsin.</p> <p>Next, you have to have purchased milk or other fresh dairy products between 2003 and 2010. Don't worry, you don't need to provide receipts or box labels as proof of purchase. Just be honest about your dairy purchases seven or more years ago, and you're good to go.</p> <p>All the details are available at the settlement website: <a href="http://www.boughtmilk.com/" target="_blank">BoughtMilk.com</a>. Act fast, though! The deadline to claim your refund is midnight tonight, January 31.</p> <h2>What's the Settlement for, Anyway?</h2> <p>Back in September, 2016, the dairy lobbying group National Milk Producers Federation and a bunch of dairy cooperatives settled a lawsuit that claimed the Federation and the dairies oversaw a <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/dairy-industry-cows-settlement_us_57d1a4ade4b03d2d459926e4" target="_blank">herd retirement program that sent hundreds of thousands of dairy cows</a> to early slaughter. (Usually, only &quot;spent&quot; dairy cows are sent to slaughter to be ground up into low cost ground beef.) The early retirement had the effect of reducing the supply of milk &mdash; and thus increasing prices on milk and fresh dairy products.</p> <p>The industry denies any wrongdoing, although the numbers <a href="http://www.centerfordairyexcellence.org/tl_files/CDE/PDF/06_09_CWT_Impact_ScottBrown.pdf" target="_blank">are pretty clear</a>: The program, whether intentional or not, boosted milk prices by about five cents a gallon.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/lars-peterson">Lars Peterson</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/bought-milk-todays-the-deadline-to-claim-your-settlement-money">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-is-gasoline-so-cheap-a-cost-comparison-of-40-common-household-liquids">Why is Gasoline So Cheap? A Cost Comparison of 40 Common Household Liquids</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/want-to-save-a-bundle-on-your-groceries-consider-you-local-asian-market">Save a Bundle on Your Groceries: Consider Your Local Asian Market</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-pet-stain-removers">The 5 Best Pet Stain Removers</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/fresh-fruits-and-vegetables-by-the-month">Fresh Fruits and Vegetables, By the Month</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-sleek-marketing-ploys-aimed-at-getting-more-of-your-grocery-money">5 Sleek Marketing Ploys Aimed at Getting More of Your Grocery Money</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Frugal Living dairy groceries refund settlement shopping Tue, 31 Jan 2017 19:39:52 +0000 Lars Peterson 1884234 at http://www.wisebread.com 11 Good Money Habits That Will Keep You Out of Debt http://www.wisebread.com/11-good-money-habits-that-will-keep-you-out-of-debt <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/11-good-money-habits-that-will-keep-you-out-of-debt" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_glasses_smile_518885222.jpg" alt="Woman with good money habits staying out of debt" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Staying on the straight and narrow, especially when it comes to your finances, can feel like a struggle. Recreational activities, impulse buys, monthly bills, and unexpected expenses lurk around every corner, and if you're not careful, you can slide into debt without really trying.</p> <p>If you practice good money habits as a general life philosophy, however, you're giving yourself the best chance of staying in the black consistently &mdash; and perhaps even making those coveted savings gains. Here's how.</p> <h2>1. Create a Budget Based on Life Goals &mdash; Not Numbers</h2> <p>Every article you read about how to improve your personal finances includes creating and maintaining a budget. That's because actively keeping track of what's coming and going helps you manage your money more responsibly than simply throwing caution (and cash) to the wind. But your budget is only serving a single purpose when it's strictly rooted in numbers opposed to relating to your personal activity and short- and long-term goals &mdash; like an upcoming vacation or contributions to your retirement fund, for instance.</p> <p>As such, instead of living your life around your budget, you'll find much more satisfaction in building your budget around your life. By planning ahead for expenses, even frivolous things, you can identify the areas where your budget is lacking and (hopefully) close those holes by either amending your plans to accommodate your cash flow or increasing your income to afford the things that make you happy.</p> <p>I recommend the latter, of course &mdash; because you only live once.</p> <h2>2. Charge Only What You Can Afford to Pay Off Every Month</h2> <p>Let's get something straight here: Credit is not as dastardly an institution as you've been led to believe. Yes, there are credit cards with astronomical APRs. And, yes, there are credit cards with ridiculous late fees. But at the end of the day, you're responsible for reading the fine print (you know it's there!), and nobody is forcing your hand in accepting an offer.</p> <p>Still, credit is attractive because it allows us the freedom to have more than we can afford. But whose problem is that when you can't pay the bill? All yours. Avoid this downward spiral by making your credit card payments top priority each cycle.</p> <p>&quot;Credit cards are not evil, but they can make a mess of your finances if used unwisely,&quot; says savings expert Kendal Perez. &quot;Ultimately, you should only charge what you can afford to pay off every month. Using your credit card to pay bills is a smart strategy since you have to pay these expenses anyway, and using credit means accruing points, rewards, or travel miles to offset future expenses.&quot;</p> <p>See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/fastest-way-to-pay-off-10000-in-credit-card-debt?ref=seealso2" target="_blank">12 Habits of Responsible Credit Card Users</a></p> <h2>3. Look for Savings on Everything You Buy</h2> <p>I personally save many thousands of dollars every year by being a smart shopper, because there are few things I buy for which I don't have a coupon or discount. From dining out to going to the movies to the clothes I wear to the gas I put in my vehicle &mdash; everything comes with savings.</p> <p>It's not hard to get into this habit, either. I save by using loyalty cards, clipping coupons, redeeming cash back deals, signing up for promotional emails, waiting for items I want to go on sale, shopping clearance sections, and buying secondhand, among a myriad of other strategies. It's like a game for me, and I hardly ever spend money on something for which there are no savings; I look for a cheaper alternative instead. It's a major reason why I always have enough money in the bank to cover my bills, plus add to savings while still doing the things I like to do every month.</p> <h2>4. Buy Groceries Based on What's on Sale and in Season</h2> <p>Groceries are one of the biggest spending categories for Americans, next to mortgages and insurance. Instead of buying what you're craving, buy groceries based on what's in season and what's on sale. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-5-credit-cards-for-groceries?ref=seealso" target="_blank">The 5 Best Credit Cards for Groceries</a>)</p> <p>&quot;This will require some meal planning, but you can craft similar meals based on what's on sale each week,&quot; explains Perez. &quot;Use a tool like Flipp.com to easily compare grocery sales and deals between stores in your area, and consider looking for grocery coupons for items on your list through CouponSherpa.com.&quot;</p> <p>Another trick I use to cut my grocery bill is to shop the clearance section. Most supermarkets have these sections with drastically reduced prices on damaged or about-to-expire food that's still perfectly good if you get to it in time. Ask your grocer where these items are located in your store.</p> <h2>5. Organize Your Bill Payments to Avoid Lateness</h2> <p>As soon as a bill arrives, I grab my checkbook (yep, I'm old school), write out the check, and prepare the envelope. On the back of the envelope I write the dollar amount that's inside as an at-a-glance reminder, and I organize the bill on my desk according to when it's due. Then I stagger the mailings &mdash; sending each payment out about five days before it's due &mdash; to ensure that I can reconcile all the bills with my bank account.</p> <p>Consumer finance expert Kevin Gallegos offers more tips on how to avoid late payments.</p> <p>&quot;Open all mail &mdash; including bills &mdash; upon receipt, deposit all checks and cash immediately, and set up a system for payment that works for you and that you'll use consistently,&quot; he says. &quot;This might be automatic online payments, a spreadsheet, a reminder on your cell phone, or a list on the refrigerator.&quot;</p> <h2>6. Map Out Your Long-Term Financial Goals</h2> <p>The only way you'll get ahead in your finances is if you know where you're going. Take a look at what's coming up in terms of required expenses and also think about some of the things you'd like to do with your money. Do you want to go back to school, on vacation, or purchase a new car or home? Set these milestones as goals and calculate what it'll take financially to reach them, then start saving in increments along an established timeline.</p> <h2>7. Review Your Finances on a Regular Basis</h2> <p>Reviewing your finances on a &quot;regular basis&quot; is a relative term, but I typically suggest once a month. There's value in doing it more often, however &mdash; like once to twice a week &mdash; according to personal finance expert Larry Jacobson.</p> <p>&quot;You need to set regular intervals to stay on the right path,&quot; he says. &quot;That way, you can course correct, if necessary, before it's too late.&quot;</p> <p>When reviewing your finances, be sure to cover all your bases. Browse your credit score for any errors, review bank and credit card statements for inconsistencies, and make sure all checks have posted. It's also a good idea to call your service providers once a year to inquire about better deals, like cheaper mobile phone or cable plans.</p> <h2>8. Treat Savings Like One of Your Monthly Bills</h2> <p>Instead of regarding contributions to your savings as a chore, start considering it a requirement, says Gallegos. Treat your savings deposits like a monthly bill; find that extra money somewhere in your budget (a reasonable amount that you can handle) and tuck it away as if you'll be penalized if you don't. You may have to make a sacrifice somewhere else, like in your &quot;fun&quot; fund, but, well, that's life.</p> <h2>9. Learn to Live Below Your Means</h2> <p>If you're one of those people who responds well to logic, here's a pro tip on staying debt free: Live below your means.</p> <p>&quot;Know exactly what you have to spend each month &mdash; and spend less,&quot; says Gallegos. &quot;Living beneath your means goes further than living within your means. It means taking responsibility and choosing where your money goes instead of being influenced by whims, advertising, habits, or peer pressure.&quot;</p> <p>If this is a tactic you'd like to try, you'll need to re-evaluate your budget entirely. Find items you can reduce or eliminate altogether to free up funds, like subscriptions and memberships that you aren't using to their full potential, cutting back on dining out, and reducing your monthly fuel bill by carpooling with a coworker or using public transportation more often.</p> <h2>10. Switch to a Cash-Only System</h2> <p>Here's another piece of practical advice that leads your wallet away from debt: Only pay for things in cash.</p> <p>&quot;You can't go into debt if you don't borrow,&quot; says Mike Sullivan, a personal finance consultant with Take Charge America, a nonprofit credit counseling and debt management agency.</p> <p>I recognize, of course, that that's easier said than done, so Sullivan offers a couple more strategies for holding yourself cash-accountable.</p> <p>&quot;Save with direct deposit at out of town banks,&quot; he says. &quot;You don't want your savings available on a whim; Internet banks are a good choice. And don't sign up for overdraft protection. That's agreeing in advance to spending more than you have and paying for the privilege.&quot;</p> <h2>11. Make More Money</h2> <p>One of my own personal money manifestos is to always have at least two sources of income. I'm self-employed, and I consider my media business my main source of income, but I supplement that with several side gigs, like renting out rooms in my homes on Airbnb, watching other people's pets through DogVacay, and driving for Lyft and Uber. That's three extra sources of income right there, but I'm always eager to find more ways to make money.</p> <p>I feel personally satisfied when all my bills are paid on time, money is consistently going to my savings account, and I'm cash-positive enough to enjoy life the way I want to. If you can't seem to get ahead, use your resources and carve out time to make more money. You'll achieve your financial goals and alleviate the burden of debt faster, and that can only lead to good things.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mikey-rox">Mikey Rox</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/11-good-money-habits-that-will-keep-you-out-of-debt">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/easy-budgeting-for-first-time-singles">Easy Budgeting for First Time Singles</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/47-simple-ways-to-waste-money">47 Simple Ways To Waste Money</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-lessons-on-how-to-be-a-financial-grownup-from-bobbi-rebell">6 Lessons on How to Be a Financial Grownup From Bobbi Rebell</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/31-foolproof-ways-to-lower-your-grocery-bill">31 Foolproof Ways to Lower Your Grocery Bill</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-dumb-ways-youre-going-to-waste-money-this-summer">9 Dumb Ways You&#039;re Going to Waste Money This Summer</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Frugal Living Budgeting bills cash extra income groceries live below your means money goals payments sales side jobs Tue, 24 Jan 2017 10:00:11 +0000 Mikey Rox 1870058 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Smart Ways to Meet a Rewards Card Minimum Spending Requirement http://www.wisebread.com/5-smart-ways-to-meet-a-rewards-card-minimum-spending-requirement <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-smart-ways-to-meet-a-rewards-card-minimum-spending-requirement" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_credit_card_635966732.jpg" alt="Woman meeting her credit card&#039;s minimum spending requirement" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>If you're new to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-ways-to-use-travel-rewards-cards-to-get-free-trips?ref=internal" target="_blank">chasing credit card rewards</a>, it can feel like there's a lot to learn at once. One of the fastest ways to earn credit card rewards points is through a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-best-sign-up-bonuses-for-airline-miles-credit-cards?ref=internal">sign-up bonus</a>. This is a big slew of points you'll get from a new card if you spend a certain amount on that card within a specified period of time &mdash; often the first three months. The spending requirement could be anywhere from $1,000 to $10,000, depending on the card.</p> <p>See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-i-redeemed-a-12000-family-vacation-with-credit-card-rewards-in-2-months?ref=seealso2" target="_blank">How I Redeemed a $12,000 Family Vacation With Credit Card Rewards in 2 Months</a></p> <p>Of course, the whole idea for earning points that <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/top-5-travel-reward-credit-cards?ref=internal" target="_blank">translate into travel rewards</a> is to spend less. It's counterproductive to go into debt just to meet a minimum spending requirement. That's why the tips below relate to things you're likely <em>already </em>spending on, not additional expenses that will break your budget. You should never let a balance accrue on a credit card just to get rewards. You will never come out ahead. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-steps-to-getting-a-free-or-close-to-free-vacation-in-9-months-or-less-with-credit-cards?ref=seealso" target="_blank">5 Steps to Getting a Free Vacation in 9 Months or Less With Credit Cards</a>)</p> <h2>1. Start With Everyday Expenses</h2> <p>Chances are you can get a significant fraction of the way to meeting your minimum requirement just by putting your regular expenses on your credit card whenever you can.</p> <p>If you're conditioned to paying for things in cash, it's time to break that habit since you're missing out on tons of potential points-earning opportunities. This means putting all your <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-5-credit-cards-for-groceries?ref=internal" target="_blank">grocery purchases on your card</a>. Same for when you pay for gas, dry cleaning, prescriptions, or any of your other regular expenses. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/best-credit-cards-for-everyday-purchases?ref=seealso" target="_blank">Best Credit Cards to Use for Everyday Expenses</a>)</p> <h2>2. Pay Your Bills With Your Card</h2> <p>The same is true for monthly bills like your Internet, Netflix, cellphone, cable, etc. If you have automated payments set up, update them with your new card. For any other bills, see if there's an option to pay with a credit card instead of a checking account. Watch out for any fees charged for credit card payments, though. It's usually not worth it.</p> <p>See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-ways-my-family-scores-free-travel-with-credit-cards?ref=seealso2" target="_blank">6 Ways My Family Scores Free Travel With Credit Cards</a></p> <h2>3. Let Little Things Add Up</h2> <p>If you use Uber or Lyft to get around, make sure you update your payment method so that it is linked to your new credit card. The same goes for other apps that you are using to make payments, as small as they may be. If you use Venmo to pay individuals or iTunes for the occasional song download, you'll want to link them to your new card, too, so you'll be earning points toward rewards even when you're not thinking about it.</p> <h2>4. Prepay Current Subscriptions</h2> <p>If you have the extra cash to pay for subscriptions up front, you'll not only help meet the spending requirement, but may score a discount in the process. Many services offer a discount for prepaying.</p> <p>See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-ways-to-get-free-or-almost-free-airline-tickets?ref=seealso2" target="_blank">10 Ways to Get Free or Almost Free Airline Tickets</a></p> <h2>5. Buy Gift Cards</h2> <p>Buying gift cards is a straightforward way to earn points toward reaching your minimum balance. You are spending money now by purchasing the card, which you can then use later. Due to fraud concerns, many brick-and-mortar retailers no longer take credit cards for gift card purchases, but many e-tailers, including Amazon, will.</p> <p>Again, the most important thing to remember is to only spend what you can pay off every month. Make your payments on time, so you don't accrue interest or late payment fees that will obliterate any rewards you get for your purchases. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-ways-that-anyone-can-travel-for-free?ref=seealso" target="_blank">7 Ways Anyone Can Travel for Free</a>)</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/nick-wharton">Nick Wharton</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-smart-ways-to-meet-a-rewards-card-minimum-spending-requirement">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/which-credit-card-should-you-use-to-get-free-hotel-stays">Which Credit Card Should You Use to Get Free Hotel Stays?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-credit-card-transactions-that-dont-earn-rewards">4 Credit Card Transactions That Don&#039;t Earn Rewards</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-apps-that-actually-pay-you-to-shop">8 Apps That Actually Pay You to Shop</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-save-frequent-flyer-miles-that-are-about-to-expire">How to Save Frequent Flyer Miles That Are About to Expire</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-steps-to-picking-the-best-airline-credit-card-for-the-most-rewards-value">5 Steps to Picking the Best Airline Credit Card for the Most Rewards Value</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Credit Cards bills free travel gift cards groceries hacks minimum spending requirement points rewards sign up bonuses subscriptions Fri, 13 Jan 2017 10:00:13 +0000 Nick Wharton 1870054 at http://www.wisebread.com The 5 Best Paper Towels http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-paper-towels <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-5-best-paper-towels" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/puppy_paper_towel_153747766.jpg" alt="Puppy using the best paper towels" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>There&rsquo;s nothing worse than trying to clean up a spill only to have the paper towel shred and disintegrate on the spot. That&rsquo;s why we&rsquo;ve found some of the best paper towels on the market, so you can count on it to clean up even your worst spills.</p> <h2>What Is a Paper Towel?</h2> <p>Paper towels are absorbent disposable towels that can be used to clean up everyday messes. They can also be used to dry your hands, dust, and wipe away streaks. Paper towels are loosely woven, so they can better absorb liquid.</p> <p>When shopping for paper towels, you want something that&rsquo;s absorbent, strong when wet, and gentle enough not to scratch surfaces. Some paper towels also have scrubbing abilities, which are perfect for jobs like cleaning your sinks.</p> <h2>Top 5 Paper Towels</h2> <h3>Bounty Select-a-Size Paper Towels</h3> <p><a href="http://amzn.to/2jwCfhg"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5171/bounty.jpg" width="220" height="220" align="right" alt="" /></a>An Amazon best-seller, the <a href="http://amzn.to/2jwCfhg">Bounty Select-a-Size Paper Towels</a> hold up well, so they won&rsquo;t shred when you use them. They absorb liquid quickly and won&rsquo;t fall apart. They are thick, strong when wet, and won&rsquo;t leave lint behind. They also have good scrubbing strength for your toughest jobs. The select-a-size sheets allow you to choose the perfect size for every mess, so you don&rsquo;t waste unused paper towel (and money).</p> <p>Each roll is equivalent to 2.5 regular rolls, so you&rsquo;ll get more for your money. Good Housekeeping said this is the strongest paper towel available. They are also recommended by Consumer Reports and The Sweethome, and have outstanding online reviews, including more than 2,100 five-star reviews on Amazon.</p> <p><a href="http://amzn.to/2jwCfhg"><em>Currently $28.99 on Amazon</em></a></p> <h3>Brawny Pick-a-Size Paper Towels</h3> <p><a href="http://amzn.to/2iHsyfW"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5171/brawny.jpg" width="220" height="213" align="right" alt="" /></a>An Amazon best-seller, the <a href="http://amzn.to/2iHsyfW">Brawny Pick-a-Size Paper Towels</a> are absorbent, strong when wet, and can quickly pick up spills. The strong, absorbent, hefty sheets are very thick and leave very little lint behind. They have scrubbing power and can work on even your toughest jobs. The two-ply paper towels have 117 pick-a-size sheets per roll. The pick-a-size sheets allow you to choose the perfect size for every mess, so you don&rsquo;t waste unused paper towel (and money).</p> <p>These are an Amazon&rsquo;s Choice product and Good Housekeeping&rsquo;s favorite budget buy. They are also recommended by Consumer Reports and have outstanding online reviews, including more than 3,200 five-star reviews on Amazon.</p> <p><a href="http://amzn.to/2iHsyfW"><em>Currently $29.99 on Amazon</em></a></p> <h3>VIVA Choose-A-Sheet Paper Towels</h3> <p><a href="http://amzn.to/2ikXd4V"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5171/viva.jpg" width="220" height="220" align="right" alt="" /></a>The <a href="http://amzn.to/2ikXd4V">VIVA Choose-A-Sheet Paper Towels</a> are ultrasoft, smooth, and gentle, so they won&rsquo;t scratch delicate surfaces. They have cloth-like strength and durability, so they can clean like cloth. The sturdy paper towels absorb liquid quickly and hold it in. They are strong when dry and stay tough when wet, so they are durable enough to tackle tough messes. They are also very thick and strong, so they can resist ripping and tearing. The lint-free towels tend to stick together and stick to the roll, so when you tear one sheet off, the rest will stick together (and you won&rsquo;t leave a second trailing paper towel behind).</p> <p>The pick-a-size sheets allow you to choose the perfect size for every mess, so you don&rsquo;t waste unused paper towel (and money). Each paper towel roll has 88 individually perforated sheets, which is more sheets than the leading brands&rsquo; big rolls. These are Good Housekeeping&rsquo;s top pick and are recommended by Consumer Reports and The Sweethome. They have outstanding online reviews, including more than 800 five-star reviews on Amazon.</p> <p><a href="http://amzn.to/2ikXd4V"><em>Currently $25.98 on Amazon</em></a></p> <h3>Sparkle Paper Towels</h3> <p><a href="http://amzn.to/2jwxnsf"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5171/sparkle.jpg" width="212" height="220" align="right" alt="" /></a>The <a href="http://amzn.to/2jwxnsf">Sparkle Paper Towels</a> are absorbent and durable enough for your everyday messes. The two-ply paper towels have thirst pockets to absorb messes. The pick-a-size sheets allow you to choose the perfect size for every mess, so you don&rsquo;t waste unused paper towel (and money). Each giant roll equals 1.5 regular rolls, with 107 sheets per roll, so you get more for your money. They have outstanding online reviews, including nearly 3,000 five-star reviews on Amazon.</p> <p><a href="http://amzn.to/2jwxnsf"><em>Currently $25.99 on Amazon</em></a></p> <h3>Scott Towels Mega Roll Choose-a-Size</h3> <p><a href="http://amzn.to/2jwqZRV"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5171/scott1.jpg" width="245" height="180" align="right" alt="" /></a>The <a href="http://amzn.to/2jwqZRV">Scott Towels Mega Roll Choose-a-Size</a> paper towels are ideal if you&rsquo;re looking for thinner paper towels. They are streak-free, super absorbent, and durable. The one-ply paper towels have unique ridges, which quickly absorb messes and spills. The perforated paper towels offer 102 choose-a-size sheets, which allow you to choose the perfect size for every mess, so you don&rsquo;t waste unused paper towel (and money). Each mega roll is equivalent to 1.5 regular rolls, so you get more for your money. They have outstanding reviews online and are a great bargain option.</p> <p><a href="http://amzn.to/2jwqZRV"><em>Currently $30.99 on Amazon</em></a></p> <p>And those are our recommendations for the best paper towels. As always, be sure to check <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/buying-calendar">Wise Bread's Buying Calendar</a> to learn when and how to buy just about anything!</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/andrea-cannon">Andrea Cannon</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-paper-towels">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-pet-flea-shampoos">The 5 Best Pet Flea Shampoos</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-robotic-mops">The 5 Best Robotic Mops</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-microfiber-cleaning-cloths">The 5 Best Microfiber Cleaning Cloths</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-portable-fans">The 5 Best Portable Fans</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-thermoses">The 5 Best Thermoses</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Home Shopping 5 best cleaning supplies groceries paper towels product reviews shopping Thu, 12 Jan 2017 10:00:18 +0000 Andrea Cannon 1872587 at http://www.wisebread.com 6 Grocery Purchases That Will Be Cheaper in 2017 http://www.wisebread.com/6-grocery-purchases-that-will-be-cheaper-in-2017 <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/6-grocery-purchases-that-will-be-cheaper-in-2017" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_grocery_store_477153876.jpg" alt="Woman buying groceries that will be cheaper in 2017" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="143" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>In case you haven't noticed, 2017 is here and bringing a whole bunch of changes.</p> <p>With a new president in the White House, a second hike in interest rates by the Fed since 2006, a long list of U.S. cities with higher minimum wages, and a broad range of changes coming to the states, consumers are still trying to figure out how all of these changes are going to affect them.</p> <p>Cheer up, America! It looks like 2017 may also bring you some serious <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-5-credit-cards-for-groceries?ref=internal">savings at the grocery store</a>. The U.S. Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service keeps track of the average prices paid by urban Americans for a series of key consumer goods and services. The latest data from the USDA's Food Price Outlook is showing that you'll save on your grocery runs throughout 2017. Let's break down the six buys that will give you the most bang for your buck this year.&nbsp;</p> <h2>1. Eggs</h2> <p>Continuing their downward trend in prices throughout 2016, eggs are leading the forecast savings with an estimated <a href="https://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/food-price-outlook/summary-findings.aspx" target="_blank">drop of 3% to 4% in price</a> for 2017. This means that the sightings of a dozen of eggs going for under a buck should become more common in cities across the nation. Even when adjusted for inflation, 2017 is poised to set a record for lowest price of eggs since 2000. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-ways-to-make-perfectly-cooked-eggs?ref=seealso" target="_blank">6 Ways to Make Perfectly Cooked Eggs</a>)</p> <h2>2. Fats and Oils</h2> <p>Stay with me on this one; it's not as unhealthy as it sounds. In this category, the USDA goes beyond the usual suspects, such as butter and cooking oil, and includes several familiar food items, including peanut butter and salad dressing. A drop in the prices of fats and oils has a domino effect across prices in several grocery aisles.</p> <p>Back in November 2016, the USDA reported that the prices of fats and oils fell 2.9% from the previous month and were down 2.4% from the previous year. For 2017, the USDA is projecting an additional 3% to 4% drop in prices for fats and oils.</p> <h2>3. Beef and Veal</h2> <p>As forecast back in our guide to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-necessities-that-will-be-cheaper-in-2016?ref=internal" target="_blank">cheaper buys in 2016</a>, prices of pork products dropped 3.25% to 4.25% throughout the year, according to USDA data. In 2017, the USDA isn't expecting pork prices to drop much, if at all. However, prices of beef and veal are poised to continue to drop an extra 1% to 2% across the nation this year.</p> <p>Higher production outputs of carcasses, larger supplies of beef and veal held in cold storage, and lower prices of both feeder and fed cattle are all contributing to the lower prices of beef and veal. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-easy-ways-to-make-cheap-cuts-of-meat-taste-expensive?ref=seealso" target="_blank">25 Easy Ways to Make Cheap Cuts of Meat Taste Expensive</a>)</p> <h2>4. Fresh Vegetables</h2> <p>With all these low prices, you may be having second thoughts about your New Year's resolution to lose weight. Fear not dear dieters, 2017 is also cutting down the prices of fresh veggies to keep you on track for success. While the previous year brought very little savings, the new one is expected to reduce the prices of fresh vegetables by 2% to 3%.</p> <p>When looking for fresh produce in 2017, keep in mind that the prices of fresh fruits are on the rise. The USDA is forecasting an increase of 1% to 2% in the prices of fresh fruits for 2017. Another reason to stick with fresh veggies is that the prices of processed fruits and vegetables are expected to rise up to 1% this year.</p> <h2>5. Avocados</h2> <p>Speaking of fresh fruits, the price of an avocado is one that might be an exception to the USDA forecast for 2017. If you were paying attention at the store, you may have noticed that the prices of avocados were much higher than usual. For example, some stores in California were commanding as much as $3 per avocado. The same thing was taking place across several grocers here in Hawaii.</p> <p>The culprit for these high prices was the interruption in harvesting caused by disputes between avocado growers and packers in Mexico. The disagreements resulted in a dramatic drop of exported Mexican avocados to the U.S. from a projected <a href="http://www.thepacker.com/news/mexico-avocados-resume-full-production" target="_blank">40 million pounds</a> to just 13.7 million in October 2016. Fortunately, an agreement was reached in November 2016 and Mexican harvesting of avocados is now back to normal. As more and more millions of Mexican avocados enter the market in the next couple of weeks, the prices of the green fruit are expected to drop.</p> <p>Given the expected lower prices of avocado for 2017, you could start taking better advantage of all of the different uses of this nutrient-rich fruit. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-unexpected-uses-for-avocados?ref=seealso" target="_blank">6 Unexpected Uses for Avocados</a>)</p> <h2>6. Whole Foods Products</h2> <p>Yes, there are actually <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-foods-that-are-actually-cheaper-at-whole-foods?ref=internal" target="_blank">buys that are cheaper at Whole Foods</a> than most major food chains. And to continue to meet the high expectations of its shareholders, Whole Foods is rolling out two key initiatives in 2017 that will drive down the prices of many of its products.</p> <p>First, Whole Foods has been offering its 365 Everyday Value brand at its regular stores for quite some time. Given that many of the products under the 365 brand are cheaper than those at major grocers, Whole Foods decided to open 365 by Whole Foods Market stores that only sell those products. Currently, there are only three 365 stores (Los Angeles, California; Lake Oswego, Oregon; and Bellevue, Washington), but there are 16 more scheduled to open in 2017 and beyond.</p> <p>Second, Whole Foods has introduced a <a href="https://rewards.wholefoodsmarket.com" target="_blank">rewards program</a> across 24 regular stores across New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Texas. The rewards program offers a 10% discount on the first purchase and additional discounts as you continue to shop using the program. Also, all 365 by Whole Foods Market stores automatically participate in a separate rewards program that offers an instant 10% off on close to 120 items per week.</p> <h2>The Bottom Line: Eat at Home More Often in 2017</h2> <p>In 2017, it will be cheaper for you to eat in than to eat out. The USDA is expecting prices of food away from home to increase from 2% to 3%, while those of food at home to only increase from 0.5% to 1.5%. Shop smart and prep more home meals and you'll be able to pocket some extra cash this 2017.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/damian-davila">Damian Davila</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-grocery-purchases-that-will-be-cheaper-in-2017">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-4"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-off-season-foods-that-are-destroying-your-grocery-budget">5 Off-Season Foods That Are Destroying Your Grocery Budget</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-foods-that-are-actually-cheaper-at-whole-foods">6 Foods That Are Actually Cheaper At Whole Foods</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-stay-on-budget-while-eating-paleo">How to Stay on Budget While Eating Paleo</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-save-a-ton-by-eating-soup-every-day-and-never-get-bored">How to Save a Ton by Eating Soup Every Day (and Never Get Bored!)</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/20-easy-ways-to-stretch-your-grocery-dollars">20 Easy Ways to Stretch Your Grocery Dollars</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Shopping 2017 eggs food costs forecast groceries meat price drops produce saving money USDA Whole Foods Tue, 10 Jan 2017 10:00:13 +0000 Damian Davila 1870051 at http://www.wisebread.com 10 Things You'll Waste Money on This Thanksgiving http://www.wisebread.com/10-things-youll-waste-money-on-this-thanksgiving <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-things-youll-waste-money-on-this-thanksgiving" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_29382656_XXXLARGE.jpg" alt="don&#039;t waste money on these things this thanksgiving" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Serving a Thanksgiving feast on a budget is like performing a magic trick. It takes a lot of money to buy the large quantities of food to fill the bellies of all your Turkey Day guests. But it helps to know what people usually end up wasting money on, before forming your feast menu. If you're the host, here are 10 ways to stay on track and not blow your Thanksgiving grocery budget.</p> <h2>1. Buying Expensive Centerpieces</h2> <p>Have you priced formal <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-ways-to-save-on-your-thanksgiving-celebrations">floral Thanksgiving centerpieces</a>, lately? Your basic cornucopia number runs around $50. Ouch! No need to engage a florist. Try your own hand at tablescaping. Here are <a href="http://www.hgtv.com/design/make-and-celebrate/entertaining/30-thanksgiving-centerpieces-pictures">simple, beautiful ideas</a> using items you may already own, or that are easily found outdoors.</p> <h2>2. Serving Food Nobody Really Likes</h2> <p>Yes, Aunt Peggy's wiggly molded red jello may be traditional, but does anyone really <em>like</em> it? Take a hard look at your menu. It may be time ax the dishes you think you <em>ought</em> to make in favor of ones that people actually enjoy. Why waste time, money, and energy on food that is going to sit in the fridge for weeks?</p> <h2>3. Making Too Much Food</h2> <p>One of my grandmothers always worried about not having everyone's favorites, so she made it all. We really did not need both a turkey and a ham, or sweet potatoes fixed two ways. Even when everyone took leftovers home, her refrigerator was still difficult to close. Learn from my grandma: Stop overspending and also cut back on your food waste.</p> <h2>4. Only Buying Name Brands</h2> <p>Per pound, turkey is pretty inexpensive, unless you decide you need a pasture-raised one, which will cost you more. Big-box stores now offer organic products, too, so do your homework before you buy.</p> <h2>5. Not Asking for Help</h2> <p>One of the inevitable questions from your guests will be, &quot;What can I bring?&quot; Take them up on that! Hate peeling potatoes? Ask someone to bring the mashed potatoes. My mother couldn't make gravy without lumps, so she'd ask a friend to bring that. My daughter, who doesn't cook, can be depended upon to bring wine. There is nothing wrong with taking people up on their offers of help, and it will keep your costs down.</p> <h2>6. Serving Elaborate Hors d'Oeuvres</h2> <p>Spending loads of time on dinner? There's not much sense in your guests filling up on snacks ahead of time, and ruining their appetites. Instead of yet another hot appetizer that takes up space in the oven, try serving some inexpensive raw vegetables and <a href="http://markbittman.com/roasted-nuts-so-easy-so-good/">spicy nuts</a> that you can make ahead of time.</p> <h2>7. Using Fancy China</h2> <p>As someone who has multiple sets of china, I'm going to give you the straight scoop: I rarely use it. While I found the pretty flowers and silver bands on the rims just enchanting at age 20, now, I wish I had registered for a plain, good quality pattern. White, or off-white, is a lot more versatile, and a good quality plate is more useful than a highly decorative one.</p> <h2>8. Making Multiple Trips to the Store</h2> <p>Five years, ago, I found myself making a third trip to the supermarket when I realized I only had one type of cranberry sauce. What a waste of gas! How to avoid this? Make a list. Get out each and every recipe and make sure you either have the ingredient on hand, or that it is on your shopping list.</p> <h2>9. Creating Elaborate Place-Settings</h2> <p>I'm all for proper use of silverware, but you really don't need to go out and buy it all. It's no fun for my guests if they have anxiety about which fork to use first, or they don't know which bread plate is theirs. Here are some excellent photos and tips about <a href="http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/how-to-set-the-table-properly-206075">which silverware to put where</a>, ensuring that your guests don't stress.</p> <h2>10. Presenting Over-the-Top House Decor</h2> <p>Guests want to feel relaxed, welcomed, and comfortable. If you hang a wreath on your door, fine. But piles of pumpkins, huge hurricanes with candles, or hay bales at the front door are really unnecessary, and the cost adds up. What are you going to do with all this decor when Thanksgiving is over? Think ahead, and only buy the stuff you need and will use again.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/marla-walters">Marla Walters</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-things-youll-waste-money-on-this-thanksgiving">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-hot-new-food-trends-the-frugal-way">8 Hot New Food Trends — The Frugal Way</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/20-easy-ways-to-stretch-your-grocery-dollars">20 Easy Ways to Stretch Your Grocery Dollars</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/flashback-friday-53-grocery-shopping-tricks-thatll-make-your-life-easier">Flashback Friday: 53 Grocery Shopping Tricks That&#039;ll Make Your Life Easier</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-ways-to-buy-organic-and-still-be-frugal">8 Ways to Buy Organic and Still Be Frugal</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-12-best-frozen-food-values">The 12 Best Frozen Food Values</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Food and Drink Shopping black friday Cooking dinner party food shopping groceries Holidays host Thanksgiving thanksgiving dinner turkey turkey day Wed, 09 Nov 2016 10:30:29 +0000 Marla Walters 1829423 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Stay on Budget While Eating Paleo http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-stay-on-budget-while-eating-paleo <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-stay-on-budget-while-eating-paleo" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/man_eating_healthy_43050240.jpg" alt="Man eating healthy on a budget" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Let's admit this upfront: It is <em>calorically impossible</em> to eat paleo as cheaply as you can eat a frugal version of the standard American diet. It's a simple fact that non-paleo foods like grains, potatoes, and legumes are vastly cheaper per calorie than the meat and fresh veggies that one associates with paleo eating.</p> <p>But here's the thing: Nobody living in a rich country has any trouble getting enough calories. What's in desperately short supply are things like flavor, nutrition, and variety. A paleo-style diet gives you those things, and can do so at quite a frugal price, if you're prepared to be strategic about it.</p> <p>Wise Bread writer Max Wong offers a list of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/20-ways-to-eat-paleo-for-super-cheap">20 Ways to Eat Paleo for Super Cheap</a>, and that's an excellent place to go for some specific tips. What I want to offer is a model for thinking about how to design a diet that's nutritious, paleo, and <em>frugal</em>.</p> <h2>Why Paleo?</h2> <p>Let's start with why you're eating paleo, which I'm going to speculate is for health benefits. I'm guessing that because you're calling it <em>paleo</em> (or primal or ancestral). If you had more social, environmental, or political motivations you'd probably use other terms &mdash; whole food, slow food, locavore.</p> <p>It almost doesn't matter what you call it, because all these terms refer to ways of eating that solve the same problem: It's unhealthy to build your diet around eating large quantities of a small number of foods that mechanized farming and government subsidies have made super cheap.</p> <p>Half the problem is that industrial agriculture tends to produce foods that are cheap, but less nutritious.</p> <p>The other half is that those cheap foods are processed into ingredients for the industrial production of edible foodlike substances <em>that are all the same</em>. They may seem different from one another, but when you dig down, they're really all just sugar, fat, and starch from corn, soybeans, wheat, and potatoes. (Plus a little salt.)</p> <p>And that sameness is the biggest problem, even bigger than the individual foods having lower quantities of important nutrients. We know from the historic and prehistoric record of agricultural people all over the world that it is possible for agricultural people to eat a healthy diet. But when agricultural people end up eating large quantities of just a few things, their skeletons show signs (such as stunted growth) of ill health. This brings us to rule one.</p> <h2>Rule One: Eat a Wide Variety of Nutritious Foods</h2> <p>Paleolithic people got variety automatically. It was a different kind of variety than modern people think of. We think of eating a wide variety of foods <em>every day</em> (because that's easy if you have a supermarket). Paleolithic people, on the other hand, ate a wide variety of foods <em>every year </em>&mdash; but many days they probably ate a whole lot of the same thing. On a day that they killed a large animal, it's likely everybody ate mostly meat. On a day that some kind of fruit was ripe, everybody ate mostly fruit. On a day that someone found a patch of tubers, I bet everybody ate a lot of tubers.</p> <p>It turns out that's okay. Eat a wide variety of foods every year, and your body can handle a few days now and then when you eat a whole lot of the same thing. (It probably helps if there are also days when you can't find a lot of anything, and end up trying to fill your stomach with tiny amounts of a dozen different things scrounged up wherever you can find them.)</p> <p>Nutritious foods are easy: just eat food, and not industrially produced edible foodlike substances. Yes, you can upgrade to organic (or local, or free-range, or pasture-raised), but just eating <em>food</em> gets you most of the way there.</p> <p>Wide variety is trickier for us non-paleo people, because we do have a supermarket, so we have the option of just eating our favorite foods every day.</p> <p>The rule &quot;eat food&quot; turns out to be a great guide to getting nutritious foods. My efforts to come up with a similar rule to guide us to getting a wide variety have not yet produced anything as simple or pithy. The best I've come up with so far is based on the fact the reason Paleolithic people got their wide variety was seasonality.</p> <h2>Rule Two: Respect Seasonality</h2> <p>Seasonality provides two great clues for anyone who wants to eat paleo on the cheap, but who is getting most food from the supermarket:</p> <ol> <li>If it's always cheap regardless of season, eat it rarely.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>If it's only cheap during a season, eat it in large quantities while it's cheap.</li> </ol> <p>Taken together, these two rules solve most of the problems with the standard American diet. By rarely eating the stuff that's cheap all the time, you avoid the things that Paleolithic people rarely ate. By eating the good stuff in quantity when it's cheap, you get the wide variety you need without breaking your budget.</p> <p>Finally, if you want to keep your overall diet under budget, we also need rule three.</p> <h2>Rule Three: Reject No Foods</h2> <p>Paleo is often described in terms of what not to eat, such as no legumes and no grains. But that's crazy. We <em>know</em> Paleolithic people ate both grains and legumes. (How do we know this? Because neolithic people domesticated both grains and legumes, and there's no way they'd have done that if they weren't already eating tasty peas and seeds of ancient grasses when they found them in the wild.)</p> <p>Dairy is a special case. Paleo people probably never had access to milk, but lactose tolerance has evolved in humans at least twice (once in Europe and once in Africa). If you're descended from either of those populations, go ahead and consider that dairy may be a healthy food for you.</p> <p>Of course, if you know that grains, or lentils, or dairy, or potatoes cause problems for you, then don't eat whatever it is. But, if you don't have specific issues with this or that particular food, go ahead and include it <em>among the great variety</em> of things you eat. Just don't turn foods like that into a major source of calories &mdash; or if you do, only make them a major source of calories for a few days, a few times a year.</p> <h2>What About Those Calories?</h2> <p>As I said earlier, it is calorically impossible to eat paleo as cheaply as eating a grain, potato, and legume diet. However, you didn't decide to eat a paleo diet because you thought it would be cheaper; you decided to eat it because you thought it would be <em>healthier</em>. If you have implicitly accepted the idea that it's going to cost more, the issue is <em>how much more?</em> And that brings us back to the title of this post. It's called &quot;How to Stay on Budget While Eating Paleo,&quot; because the <em>budget </em>is the key.</p> <p>Of course answering the question &quot;How to eat paleo on a budget&quot; with &quot;Make sure the budget is big enough,&quot; is not what Wise Bread is all about, and that's why I started with rule one above. Following that rule, more than following anyone's fantasy rules about what Paleolithic people ate, is what's going to give you your best chance at good health.</p> <p>Having said that, let me point you again to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/20-ways-to-eat-paleo-for-super-cheap">Max Wong's article</a>, which is packed with ideas for getting paleo food for less. There are the obvious ways: gardening, fishing, <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/foraging-not-insane-useless-or-impossible">gathering</a>, gleaning, bartering, etc. There are the adventurous ways: eating organ meats, insects, or <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/recession-survivor-would-you-eat-bugs-and-roadkill-to-cut-the-grocery-bill">even roadkill</a>. (See &quot;snout to tail&quot; cooking and eating.) There are the leftist ways, like <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/is-a-farm-share-a-smart-buy-for-your-household">joining a CSA</a>, and the right-wing ways, like hunting your own meat. There are the simple ways, like buying more eggs, and the complicated ways, like <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/real-eggs">raising chickens</a> for your own eggs.</p> <p>Even if you do all those things, it remains true that getting most of your calories from grains and legumes is going to be cheaper than any alternative. I actually have a post <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/healthy-frugal-eating">Healthy, Frugal Eating</a> that walks you through creating a menu on that basis &mdash; but note that even it starts with vegetables.</p> <p>If switching to paleo eating means skipping most of the grains and legumes, where do you get your calories? First, by eating even more fresh vegetables. Second by eating plenty of meat and nuts.</p> <p>&quot;But all those things are expensive!&quot; you are no doubt saying, and yes, on a per-calorie basis, they are, and that's what your budget is for. You will get enough calories either way. How much money you're willing to spend will have a great influence on what form those calories take.</p> <p>Following rule two (eat large amounts of whatever is cheap when it's in season) costs nothing and does not compromise your efforts to go paleo. You can get a bunch of cheap calories that way, and the seasonal variety comes along for free.</p> <p>Once you're eating paleo, following rule three (allow limited quantities of less paleo foods) lets you upgrade the quality of your more paleo foods without seriously compromising the paleo-nature of your overall diet. A meal where you get half your protein from a legume might save enough money to upgrade the meat that provides the other half of your protein: grass-fed, pasture-raised, local, organic, or whatever upgrade means the most to you.</p> <p>Paleolithic people followed rule one &mdash; eat a wide variety of nutritious foods &mdash; automatically. You're at a disadvantage &mdash; you have a supermarket &mdash; so it's less automatic for you, but you can follow rule one as well. If you do, you can eat paleo on a budget.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/philip-brewer">Philip Brewer</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-stay-on-budget-while-eating-paleo">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-4"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/20-ways-to-eat-paleo-for-super-cheap">20 Ways to Eat Paleo for Super Cheap</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/31-foolproof-ways-to-lower-your-grocery-bill">31 Foolproof Ways to Lower Your Grocery Bill</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-save-a-ton-by-eating-soup-every-day-and-never-get-bored">How to Save a Ton by Eating Soup Every Day (and Never Get Bored!)</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/save-big-at-these-4-discount-supermarkets">Save Big at These 4 Discount Supermarkets</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/20-easy-ways-to-stretch-your-grocery-dollars">20 Easy Ways to Stretch Your Grocery Dollars</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Food and Drink Health and Beauty Shopping budgeting diet food costs groceries legumes meat non-processed foods paleo paleolithic diet Mon, 31 Oct 2016 09:30:20 +0000 Philip Brewer 1822948 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Things Americans Spend Too Much On http://www.wisebread.com/5-things-americans-spend-too-much-on <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-things-americans-spend-too-much-on" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/bride_groom_wedding_81998933.jpg" alt="What Americans spend too much money on" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>We're all guilty of spending too much money at some point or another. Even when we know the importance of a good budget and have a regular savings routine, we can get off track. Because Americans are big spenders in general, it should come as no surprise that we spend way too much on stuff we don't need &mdash; and, interestingly, stuff we do need.</p> <p>Whether you realize it or not, here are five things you're probably spending too much on.</p> <h2>1. Groceries</h2> <p>We need food for survival, and because food is a necessity, some people never think to calculate how much they actually spend on food on a yearly basis. They don't know if they're spending too much.</p> <p>There are no hard and fast rules regarding how much we should spend on food every year. But considering how a trip to the grocery store can be just as tempting as walking through a clothing store, there's a good chance that we're spending more than we need.</p> <p>According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a family earning $69,629 in 2015 spent an <a href="http://www.bls.gov/news.release/cesan.nr0.htm">average of $7,023 on food</a> (includes food at home and away from home), which comes to about $585 a month. The cost of food periodically increases, so we can expect slight increases in our grocery bill. But there are plenty of ways to shave down this number and save.</p> <p>Clipping coupons, signing up for grocery store loyalty cards, and resisting the urge to stock our carts with stuff we don't need &mdash; such as unhealthy snacks &mdash; can result in big savings. And if we limit the amount of times we dine out every month, the savings increase.</p> <p>If you reduce your grocery bill by as little as $20 a week, that's a savings of $1,000 a year. Buying less also makes sense considering how &quot;a four-person family loses about <a href="http://savethefood.com/">$1,500 a year on wasted food</a>,&quot; according to the National Resources Defense Council.</p> <h2>2. Bottled Water</h2> <p>If you're looking for ways to save on groceries, you can start by cutting bottled water from your grocery list. Bottled water has become a necessity in many U.S. households, with many people preferring this over tap water for various reasons. Some people don't trust their city's water supply and others simply enjoy the taste of bottled water.</p> <p>But our love affair with bottled water is costly. On average, Americans spend about <a href="http://www.statisticbrain.com/bottled-water-statistics/">$11.8 billion on bottled water</a> every year, and the average person in American consumes 167 plastic water bottles annually. Given the average cost of $1.45 per bottle, that's $242 a year per person, which is expensive considering how we can purchase a reusable water filter for $30 or $40.</p> <h2>3. Coffee</h2> <p>If you broke the habit of buying coffee every day, you probably think you're saving money &mdash; and maybe you are. Brewing your own coffee at home is supposed to save, yet a new study found that Americans are spending more on coffee than ever before, despite drinking less due to single-serve coffee machines.</p> <p>It's predicted that Americans will spend <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/us-coffee-demand-kcups-idUSKBN0P209F20150622">$13.6 billion on coffee</a> in 2016, which is up from the expected $12.8 billion in 2015. This is primarily due to the fact that more Americans are drinking single-serve cups and paying a premium for this convenience. Using K-cups can <a href="http://www.businessinsider.com/keurig-cups-are-expensive-2015-3">cost up to five times more</a> than using a coffee pot. Fortunately, there are ways to save like purchasing a reusable filter for Keurigs and other single-serve coffee pots, as well as skipping the grocery store and buying K-cups from discount stores or online from Amazon and eBay.</p> <h2>4. Housing</h2> <p>Once you're ready to buy a house, you'll seek a property that offers everything you're looking for and more. But getting everything you want comes at a price, and unfortunately, some people buy more house than they can afford.</p> <p>A competent mortgage lender won't approve a loan for more than you can afford. But if you have excellent credit, some lenders are flexible and they'll allow you to spend a greater percentage of your gross income on housing. But just because you're approved for a particular loan amount doesn't mean you should spend your max.</p> <p>Whether you're renting or buying, keeping house payments below your means creates more disposable income that can go toward saving a rainy-day fund or paying off debt. According to a 2014 report, millions of Americans spend too much of their monthly incomes on housing &mdash; <a href="http://money.cnn.com/2014/12/03/real_estate/housing-costs/">more than 30%</a> of their income. Ideally, house payments should be no more than 28% of your gross income.</p> <h2>5. Weddings</h2> <p>Weddings are a special day. If you stay together forever, this can become one of the best days of your life. But just because weddings are a memorable event doesn't mean you should wipe out your savings or go into debt.</p> <p>In 2015, the average cost of a wedding <a href="http://money.cnn.com/2016/04/05/pf/average-wedding-costs/">increased to $32,641</a>. Some people could argue this is a reasonable amount. But given how nearly one in two marriages in the U.S. <a href="http://www.apa.org/topics/divorce/">ends in divorce</a>, spending this type of cash is a waste of money.</p> <p>Even if a marriage never crumbles, $32,000 is too much to spend on a day that's only the beginning of your journey together. Rather than begin a marriage in debt or wipe out your savings account, plan an inexpensive ceremony and put the majority of the money toward a home purchase or save it for the future.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mikey-rox">Mikey Rox</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-things-americans-spend-too-much-on">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-9-easiest-food-budget-wins">The 9 Easiest Food Budget Wins</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/save-big-at-these-4-discount-supermarkets">Save Big at These 4 Discount Supermarkets</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/20-easy-ways-to-stretch-your-grocery-dollars">20 Easy Ways to Stretch Your Grocery Dollars</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heres-how-much-more-youre-paying-for-these-6-convenience-buys">Here&#039;s How Much More You&#039;re Paying for These 6 Convenience Buys</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-stay-on-budget-while-eating-paleo">How to Stay on Budget While Eating Paleo</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Frugal Living Shopping americans bottled water coffee food costs food waste groceries housing overspending spending habits weddings Wed, 26 Oct 2016 09:00:11 +0000 Mikey Rox 1819950 at http://www.wisebread.com Easy Budgeting for First Time Singles http://www.wisebread.com/easy-budgeting-for-first-time-singles <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/easy-budgeting-for-first-time-singles" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_kitchen_dancing_76246703.jpg" alt="Woman learning easy budgeting for first time singles" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>As many as 28% of Americans live by themselves. Whether you are venturing out on your own after college, or life circumstances have forced you to live alone (i.e. divorce, kids leaving the nest, etc.), it can be hard to switch your saving and spending mentality to &quot;party of one.&quot;</p> <p>Keep these budgeting tips in mind as you navigate the financial waters by yourself:</p> <p>(See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-live-alone-without-going-broke?ref=seealso">How to Live Alone Without Going Broke</a>)</p> <h2>1. Start With an Emergency Fund</h2> <p>Dave Ramsey likes to start with the emergency fund, and I wholeheartedly agree. In my own experience, it seemed as if costly instances were always popping up when I had zero emergency fund and was living paycheck to paycheck.</p> <p>I remember trying to reach that $1,000 saving mark for my emergency fund, thinking it was the most impossible thing ever (hey, I was only 21 making very little money). I remember when I finally reached that mark, the emergency fund stayed at $1,000 and life's little inconveniences seemed to be easier to handle.</p> <p>If you have no emergency fund, then your first financial goal should be a $1,000 fund. After that is established, you want to add a little bit of money to your account each month to save up one month of living expenses, then three months, then six months. This money will keep you protected against a job loss or unexpected medical emergency.</p> <h2>2. Budget for the Fun Stuff</h2> <p>When all of the financial responsibilities sit on your shoulders, it can become so easy to forget to treat yourself and to budget in the fun stuff. No matter how tight your budget is, you need to leave a little wiggle room for mental health. Living frugally and on a strict budget can be amazing, but it can also grow tiresome month after month. What is the point of cutting your grocery budget to less than $30 a week if you are just miserable?</p> <p>Dream big for a second. What would you do or where would you go this minute if you had the money? Perhaps you would buy yourself a fancy pair of shoes or take a weekend trip to Italy. Whatever it is, don't ignore this desire. Instead, research how much it will cost and create a financial road map to get there. Your dream vacation could only be a year or two away with a smart budgeting plan.</p> <h2>3. Evaluate What You Really Need to Buy</h2> <p>Before you get excited about being on your own and buy everything in Bed, Bath, and Beyond, think a moment. Most basic items, such as can openers, dishes, and other must-haves for the home can be found inexpensively. Many of your family members and friends have extra dishes or kitchen gear that they never use. Ask them to borrow it. You might be surprised how generous people are when it comes to getting rid of extra stuff.</p> <p>If you can't score any freebies, then check local thrift stores and yard sales. There is no reason to spend $50 on a plate set when you can score one at a thrift store or yard sale for $5 or less.</p> <p>Another tip is to buy as you realize the need. When I moved into my first place, I didn't realize how many items were needed to just make and eat a basic meal. However, I also realized that a lot of kitchen gadgets aren't necessities. For example, a pie server or salt and pepper shakers are nice to have, but you can easily make it work without them.</p> <h2>4. Budget Before You Move and After</h2> <p>Before you sign the lease on your apartment or rental, crunch the numbers. Is your budget going to be tight? You might have to rethink where you live to better fit your budget. After you move in, evaluate how you are doing with your budget. Are you struggling to stick with it a month or three after moving on your own? These are little red flags that signify a change is needed, either a decrease in expenses or an increase in income.</p> <h2>5. Control Groceries and Eating Out</h2> <p>One of the trickiest things to budget for when you are alone is food. This is especially true if you are used to shopping or cooking for more people. Start with a loose meal plan. This doesn't have to be anything fancy or time-consuming, just plan out what you are going to eat for the week. For example, on Monday, you will eat oatmeal and coffee for breakfast, a sandwich and chips for lunch, and pasta and meatballs for dinner.</p> <p>As you plan out each meal, coordinate your shopping list. As you cook for dinners, you can either cook enough to have lunch the next day, or you can freeze a portion of your meal for later use. This will save you time and prevent you from wasting food. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/save-money-and-eat-better-with-these-6-online-meal-planners?Ref=seealso">Save Money and Eat Better With These 6 Online Meal Planners</a>)</p> <h2>6. Automate Your Finances</h2> <p>Another way to make sure that you stay on top of your finances is to look for apps that will help you automate your finances. For example, <a href="https://www.acorns.com/">Acorns</a> helps you to invest automatically, and <a href="http://mint.com">Mint</a> and <a href="https://www.personalcapital.com/landing/registration/affiliate?utm_source=FlexOffers.com+LLC&amp;utm_medium=affiliate&amp;utm_campaign=Personal+Capital+%24100k+Aggregators&amp;utm_content=">Personal Capital</a> will help you budget with very little time and thinking. Schedule your bills to be paid after your payday to ensure your account does not go into overdraft.</p> <p>Some sites will even let you schedule monthly payments to landlords. Just be sure to still look over statements if you switch to automatic payments. You want to ensure that you are not overcharged for anything. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-automate-your-finances?ref=seealso">5 Ways to Automate Your Finances</a>)</p> <p>Like many things, living alone has a learning curve. Don't let a bad month have you running to credit cards or family for help.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-eneriz">Ashley Eneriz</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/easy-budgeting-for-first-time-singles">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. 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