Good news. The world keeps right on spinning. That may be it when it comes to the good news! I see some very cloudy skies ahead in some of the most important categories of our everyday lives. We might have to brace for what I’m going to call the “reign storm” that may start to darken some of the financial skies beginning right now, about 3 weeks ahead of Inauguration Day 2017.
For one, we just saw the interest rate hike that has brought mortgage rates to a level higher than it has been in the past several years, and there is more of that coming in 2017. I’m used to the ever changing things that are just part of life and that I have to adjust to every year. I said used to, but I’m not always happy about them. I guess that’s because I can actually remember the days, for example, when oh, I wasn’t put on hold for 45 minutes when I called someplace on the phone and then was told that “my call is very important and that they are experiencing a high volume of calls today”, just coincidently anytime I call! Continue reading
For the first time since 1960 grocery prices have dropped for 9 consecutive months here in the U.S. So far this year, overall prices have declined by slightly over 2% against last year’s prices and in some key categories they dropped even more dramatically according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is certainly good news and an unexpected “gift” after years of steadily inflated food prices that were at a zenith as recently as a year ago. Things such as shorter supplies, avian flu, and viruses affected beef, pork, and chicken supplies around the country. Grain prices were hurt by severe weather and drought which also made prices jump.
Well it’s that happy time again. Back to school means that vacation time is over and the kids will be getting back to a routine of “early to bed, early to rise” once again. But besides the shopping and stocking up on those classroom needs, it’s also the time to begin the very important (and sometimes very expensive) task of prepping for their daily school lunches and snacks that they’re going to need all year long.
Now I know that the easy way out might be to just buy the school lunches everyday, but those choices may not be the ones your kids really want despite their “value”. Bought lunches probably won’t include most of their favorites and someplace in the back of my mind I remember when president Jimmy Carter decided that ketchup counted as a vegetable (or was it a fruit?) on the nutrition chart. That kind of scares me. If you want to be in more control of what your kids are eating, and make them just a bit more likely to eat a good lunch yet still save money, consider some of these good ideas for the coming school year! Continue reading
We’ve all probably used the phrase “money doesn’t grow on trees” a time or two haven’t we? But as funny as it may seem, it kind of does in the form of food we shop for! Even though you can find food growing all around you on farms and orchards, even in densely populated places like New Jersey where we live, rarely if ever do we run out to go pick our own fruits and veggies or cut corn cobs or gather eggs from the chicken coops (or if you do, kudos to you for living off the land the way our ancestors did for thousands of years).
We live in an age that provides the convenience of the neighborhood supermarket, or supercenter as many are frequently called. It’s been this way for quite a while now, really booming with the development and growth of suburbia after World War II and has continued to grow and develop and morph into the supermarkets that we know and use every week today to feed our families. Continue reading
Being a frugal shopper can sometimes make you appear to be cheap. It’s especially so in certain key areas of entertaining your family and friends. Like, if you get those tickets for the big sports event and you’re way up in the rafters where there’s just the rumor of a game. Or you make a hot dinner date reservation and it’s for the “early bird” at 4:30 pm. The same can seem to hold true when it comes to buying wine for a special occasion or just for relaxing around the house. Buying a less expensive bottle (aka cheaper) can make you look or feel like you’re cutting corners or even serving something weird right? Nonsense I say. Despite not being a wine expert, I have tasted and shopped for my fair share over the years and have worked with retailers who sell wine from all over the world. Having done that I have formed some very firm opinions on good cheap wines.
Back in the 1800’s, America had a gold rush out in California. You’ve read about it in all the history books and you know it was mass hysteria back in those days as people packed up their belongings and headed west. It was exciting but a real hardship to get out there, get settled, and have the determination and strength to stake your claim. But it was worth it when you hit the main line and cashed out!
Today in 2016 there’s no striking gold out in California, but have you considered the gold you might find right inside your own home? In America today, we’re wasting tons of money, so much so that you can compare stopping that with discovering gold inside the 4 walls where you reside. We all are guilty of wasting our money and so here’s a short list on how you can strike gold starting right now by decluttering your home. Continue reading
We’re all aware of the decreases in gasoline prices over the past year, so much so that the average American family saved about $700 last year compared with the previous year. There are some reasons to rejoice about the decline of the price of oil and gas but also some reasons to fear it and its reflection on the current state of the world’s economies. That, however, is a subject for another post.
Today’s subject is a warning of sorts. It’s meant to tell you about price increases you can expect this year on several main fronts that can affect you and your money. Costs in these four categories will definitely spike in 2016 and being prepared for them may soften the blow. Continue reading
When I started blogging 20 months ago, I spent a lot of my efforts writing about how to save money on groceries. If you look through some of those posts, you see a lot of information in great detail that comes from my experiences and inside knowledge of working with and at supermarkets for many years. But a funny thing happened to me recently. I found I had fallen into a few bad habits about food shopping because I just wasn’t paying strict attention to it as I should. I know prices have gone up this year (despite what the government has to say about inflation), but how much? The spending results really surprised me when I sat down and analyzed what I was doing and spending each month, and alarm bells went off in my head immediately.
Last year, my wife and I spent about 20% more on our grocery budget than we have ever done in any year during our 10 year marriage. That breaks down to spending about $100 a week last year versus an average of about $80 a week in previous years. Do the math and that’s over $1,000 extra dollars spent that could have been saved or used for something else. Now I know that if you have a family full of growing kids you’re probably thinking, “$100 a week…what’s he talking about?” But simply put, we got out of the habits we previously practiced by being a bit cavalier and somewhat lazy. Continue reading
We’d all like to think we know about most of the rules regarding our rights as consumers. If you’re old enough to know the name Ralph Nader (from before his political career), you can probably remember that he was very involved in protecting consumer rights and getting laws passed and policies changed that made shopping more consumer-friendly. The author of the book, Unsafe at Any Speed, he was particularly active with automobile safety and was largely responsible for the seat belt requirements in autos and their importance to safety protection regulations.
In a way, “Nader-isms” (if I can coin a word) have been responsible for a lot of things we do and think we know as consumers in all aspects of our shopping. I’ve spent 40+ years in retail stores and retail management, so I can tell you with authority that stores are now better than ever at attempting to satisfy and protect consumers. After all, happy customers are good for the bottom line.
But there are still myths out there that make us wary and distrustful. In a few cases, they may be justified. But you should know the myths from the reality. Continue reading
Ten minutes isn’t really a very long time. It’s less time than it takes to play a quarter in a pro football game. You can listen to 2½ songs on the radio in 10 minutes. It’s even less time than it takes you to read your daily e-mails. In other words, it’s just a few minutes, but oh how great it is to have such an opportunity to increase your productivity, save money, build relationships, and move forward in that brief time period.
If you try some of these ideas, I think you’ll agree that these 10 minutes could wind up being the most productive 10 minutes of the day, starting today! Continue reading