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Posts Tagged ‘Saving Money’

As we come to the close of 2012 and begin a new year, this is a great time to start looking at ways to improve your health and wealth in 2013.  Most people think of health and wealth as “separate “ goals, but in fact, both aspects of life are closely related. Here are a few steps to consider:

Build “Health Capital”

Health is a financial asset, just like stocks and bonds. It decreases the odds of costly medical bills today and/or later in life. Eat nutritious meals, get enough sleep, exercise regularly, and manage stress. Without good health, you can’t earn an income and build wealth.

Don’t Burn Your Money

Quit smoking or don’t start. An average pack of cigarettes costs $5. Multiply $5 by 365 days and you could save $1,825 a year, plus interest (not to mention all the positive health effects!). Invest $1,825 in a fund averaging 7% interest and you’ll have $9,904 in 25 years.

Junk the “Junk Food”

Just cut it out: soda, fast food, fatty pastries, chips…you know the drill. Not only will you lose weight (trimming 100 calories a day = 10 pounds of annual weight loss), but you’ll pocket the savings. Save $7 a day on “empty calorie” foods and drinks and you’ll have over $2,500 in a year.

Half-Size Food Portions

Instead of eating 4 cookies a day, eat two. Bring half a meal home from restaurants and eat less at home. Getting two meals from one can save hundreds of dollars (and thousands of calories) annually. For example, saving $3 a day by “doubling up” results in savings of over $1,000 a year.

Stay Fit to Work

Maintaining good health increases the odds of being productive and working as long as you want to instead of retiring because you have to (e.g., disability). This can translate into thousands of dollars at retirement. One study compared retiring at age 60 due to poor health with working (and saving) until 65. The difference: $14,300 in annual income from increased savings and delayed cash withdrawals.positive

Sweat the Small Stuff

“Little” things matter! Healthy habits that save big bucks over time include washing your hands frequently (especially before handling food) to avoid the expense of flu and cold treatments and flossing your teeth to help prevent periodontal disease.

Think Positively

Studies have shown that the personality trait of optimism is positively associated with health and wealth. When people expect good things to happen, they work toward their goals by taking action. Examples include exercising regularly and saving money. What we think about, we often bring about and positive thoughts can lead to positive results.

Source: http://www.extension.org/pages/32288/monthly-investment-message-jan-11

Reviewed by: Kelly Gonyer, Office Associate, Family and Consumer Sciences, OSU Extension Wood County.

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Holiday spending can put a lot of stress on you and your wallet.  In this economy, you cannot possibly give your children or grandchildren everything they want.  Instead of adding more stress to your life by having bills pile up in the New Year, this holiday season can be made special by giving more of yourself, and your time.  Think of thoughtful gifts that do not have to cost a lot in money but are truly given from the heart.

Start by making a list of all the things that you want to do for the holidays.  This may include a list of names of those you will give gifts to, holiday decorations that you want to buy, and special events that you want to attend.  Then put dollar figures beside each of these activities.  Set realistic dollar figures for each of your budget items.  Make them reasonable and affordable for you family. For example you might have a budget of $15-$20 per person for gifts, $50 for special events, and $75-$100 for decorations.

Much of our holiday spending is impulsive.  Shop with a list and stick to it.   Avoid using credit cards if possible so as not to incur debt that will haunt you in the New Year.  Take advantage of sales by shopping early in the season.  Don’t be that last minute shopper.

As an alternative to purchasing gifts, consider giving gifts of items that you already have and give gifts from your heart.  Here are some ideas to get you started.

  • Consider giving a special piece of jewelry or glassware that a daughter or granddaughter admires.
  • A start from a plant that a friend would like to have.  Buy a pretty pot and give this new plant to your friend.
  • Do you make jams and jellies or other canned items that friends and relatives would like?  Make decorative jar toppers and give canned items as gifts.
  • Old photos that relatives would like to have.  Make copies and put into an album as a holiday gift.

Don’t think you have to break the bank to make the holidays special.  These gifts from the heart can be the most treasured gifts to receive.

Author:  Linnette Goard, Field Specialist, Food Safety, Selection and Management, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, goard.1@osu.edu

Reviewer:  Pat Brinkman, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, brinkman.93@osu.edu

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A recent study has shown that more than 200 pounds of food per American is wasted every year in the U.S.  Stocking up on good buys at the supermarket and whole sale clubs can save you money, but not if the food goes bad before you use it and it is thrown away.   Whether it’s from the dairy, deli, bakery or meat and seafood departments, keeping food fresh not only saves you money, but it may also help prevent foodborne illness.

To help keep your food tasting  fresh and last longer, follow these tips:

Produce: 

  • Berries are often piled up in containers on top of each other causing some of the bottom containers to get crushed.  To check for condition of the berries, turn the container to see if the berries move freely.  If they don’t, they could be crushed together.  Also check berries for mold.  Store in refrigerator and wash only before using them.  Water can cause spoilage.
  • Melons including honeydew or cantaloupe should not have a stem; otherwise it will be underripe.  Ripe melons pull easily from the vine.  Sweet melons will smell fragrant and feel heavy for their size.   Ripe melons should be stored in the refrigerator and used within two weeks.  Cut melons should be stored in an airtight container and eaten within three to four days.
  • Onions and potatoes should not have sprouts which can cause spoilage.  They should be stored separately in a dark area away from heat and sunlight.  They should never be refrigerated.
  • Leafy greens should be purchased only when brightly colored and stored loosely in a plastic bag on a refrigerator shelf.  Avoid cramming them into produce drawers as this can cause bruising.
  • Tomatoes should be fragrant and feel heavy for their size.  Refrigeration changes the flavor; store them on the counter.

Deli Department:

  • Cheese should be cut when you’re ready to eat it.  Purchase cheese in blocks so it doesn’t dry out.  Rewrap cheese when you store it in the refrigerator to avoid picking up other flavors.
  • Deli meats are best purchased cut-to-order and should have a fresh bright color.  If purchasing packaged meat, watch for signs of spoilage such as sliminess.  Most deli meats should be eaten with three to four days.  Don’t leave any deli meat at room temperature longer than two hours; otherwise it should be thrown away.
  • Deli Salads should look fresh and not have a crust around the edge.  Ask the clerk if the salad was made fresh that day; if not, don’t purchase it.

Meat and Seafood:

  • Meat should not show signs of spoilage, such as an off odor or slimy appearance.  Always check the sell-by and use-by date, and avoid any meat with a package that leaks.  Store a cooler in your car during hot summer months to bring home perishables like meat and seafood.
  • Fish should be brightly colored and not have an off odor.  If using within a day, store in its wrapper in the refrigerator with a pan underneath to catch any drippings.

Dairy:

  • Milk or yogurt  should be checked for best-by dates; puchase those with later dates.  Never buy products with bulging packages, which may indicate signs of spoilage.  Most dairy foods will last at least a week after opening the container.  Vitamins can be destroyed by light and heat, so be sure to put the products back in the refrigerator as soon as possible. If yogurt isn’t used by the use by date, freeze it to use in smoothies or cooking.
  • Eggs should not be cracked when purchased.  USDA grades, such as AA, refer to best quality with high, round yolks.  Grade A eggs will have whites that are less firm than Grade AA eggs.  Keep eggs in their original container to avoid picking up odors on a low or middle shelf towards the back of the refrigerator.

Frozen Foods:

  • Frozen fruits or vegetables should not be in one large frozen chunk; they may not have been handled properly.  When shopping for frozen foods, store them in an insulated bag to maintin their temperature until you get them home to the freezer.
  • Ice cream should be selected from the back of the freezer.  Be sure to select a cold container!

Don’t throw out food that is past its prime, but still safe to eat.  That stale bread (without mold) will be great as french toast for tomorrow’s breakfast, and overripe bananas taste great in smoothies!  However, don’t overlook signs of spoilage including slimy meat or colorful spots on cottage cheese.  Remember nothing is worth you or your families health and well-being.  The best rule of eating well may be when in doubt, throw it out!

Submitted by:  Jennifer Even, Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Hamilton County. 

Source:  ConsumerReports ShopSmart, September, 2011.

Reviewed by: Lisa Barlage, Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Ross & Vinton Counties.

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  Crock Pot Cooking

Wouldn’t it be great to walk into your home after a long day at work or school and smell dinner cooking?  Since most of us don’t have a fairy godmother who prepares meals for us, the next best thing might be your crock pot!

A crock pot has many benefits. It is convenient and saves time and money. You do have to be disciplined to plan ahead and spend some time in the morning or the night before preparing the crock pot meal. Raw ingredients must be kept refrigerated until they are put into the crock pot. Meat or poultry should be defrosted and vegetables should be cut into small pieces. You want to be sure that the water or stock in the pot almost covers the meat to ensure good heat transfer.

Don’t overload the pot – most crock pot recipes will tell you what size pot you should use. A general rule is to fill it about half full. You also should not lift the lid during the time your meal is cooking. The heat that has built up will be released every time you open it and it will slow the cooking time.

Some people worry about the safety of food prepared in a crock pot. A combination of direct heat, long cooking times and steam created from the tightly covered container combine to destroy bacteria and make the crock pot a safe food preparation alternative.

Another benefit of crock pot cooking is that it can improve the nutritional content of our food and the meal can be delicious. Less expensive cuts of meat become very tender from the long cooking time. By preparing the food yourself you can cut back on the amount of sodium in the recipe by using low sodium or sodium free broths.

Take good care of your crock pot. Some crock pots have removable stoneware liners that are dishwasher safe. If your crock pot requires hand washing, wash it right after cooking with hot water. Don’t ever pour cold water into stoneware that is hot – that may cause the pot to crack.

There are many sources of recipes for your crock pot. Most pots come with a cook book and online sources are plentiful.  As you become more familiar with crock pot cooking, you will be able to adapt family favorite meals to crock pot cooked meals!

Written by:  Marilyn Rabe, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences,OhioStateUniversityExtension.

Source:

Eating Right with Your Slow Cooker, Purdue Extension.

http://www.ag.purdue.edu/counties/vanderburgh/Documents/CFS/Making%20a%20Difference%20Lessons/Lesson%20Guide%20for%20Slow%20cookers.pdf

Putting Your Crock Pot to Work, Universityof KentuckyCooperative Extension Service.www.ca.uky.edu/hes/fcs/factshts/FN-SSB.003.PDF

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