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Making the Most of Your Grocery Dollar

Making the Most of Your Grocery Dollar

Food prices are on the rise again.

After the relative stability of the last ten years, this past November (latest finalized data analysis I could find) packaged food makers began increasing prices last year to cover the rising cost of raw ingredients.

Specific examples include:

  • Oscar Mayer lunch meats
  • Capri Sun juice pouches
  • Wheat Thin crackers
  • Fig Newtons
  • Jolly Ranchers
  • Twislers
  • Natures Own breads
  • Sunbeam breads
  • many others.

Here are a few proactive steps you can take to increase the shelf-life of your foods and thereby stretch your grocery store dollar (as well as increasing food safety).

1. When running your errands, make the grocery store your last stop. Perishable foods should not be out of refrigeration for more than two hours when the temperature outside is more than 90 F.

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2. make the refrigerated and frozen food section one of your last stops in the grocery store.

3. Refrigerate meat and poultry as soon as you get home.

4. Keep your refrigerator and freezer door closed as much as possible when putting away groceries so the food will chill rapidly.

5. Keep insulated thermal bags in your car for transporting frozen food from the market.

6. Bacteria grow best between 40 F and 140 F. So, keep your refrigerator between 32 F and 40 F.

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7. 0 F and below is recommended for your freezer.

Placement Tips.

1. Don’t put eggs or milk in the refrigerator door. The temperature fluctuates more there.

2. Put raw meat or poultry on the bottom shelf the keep their juices from dripping on and contaminating other foods.

3. Avoid overfilling the refrigerator. Cool air must be allowed to circulate to keep food at the proper temperature.

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4. Store fruits and vegetables in separate drawers. Fruits give off ethylene gas that shortens the shelf life of vegetables.

5. Overwrap meat and poultry packages. Heavy duty foil over the store shrink wrap can extend the useful life of our meat and poultry.

6. Go lean. Lean cuts last longer than fatty meats.

7. Freezing vegetables. Drop your vegetables in boiling water (blanching) before freezing them stops the enzyme that hastens deterioration.

8. Avoid freezer burn by eliminating as much air as possible from the food packaging.

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Much of this information may be obtained from the USDA Food Safety page.

What are your tactics for increasing the range of your food dollar?

Reg Adkins writes on behavior and the human experience at (elementaltruths.blogspot.com).

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Last Updated on March 4, 2019

How to Use Credit Cards While Staying Out of Debt

How to Use Credit Cards While Staying Out of Debt

Many people will suggest that the best thing to do with your credit cards during these tough economic times is to cut them up with a pair of scissors. Indeed, if you are already in huge debt, you probably should stop using them and begin a payback strategy immediately. However, if you are not currently in trouble with your credit cards, there are wise ways to use them.

I happen to really love my credit cards so I will share with you my approach to how I use mine without getting into deep financial trouble.

Ever since about 1983 when I got my first Visa card, I continue to charge as many of my purchases as possible on credit. Everything from gas, groceries and monthly payments for services like my cable and home security monitoring are charged on credit. Despite my heavy usage, I have maintained the joy of never paying any interest fees at all on any of my credit cards.

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Here are some tips on how best to use your credit cards without falling into the trap of paying those nasty double-digit interest fees.

Do Not Treat Credit Cards as Your Funding Sources

Too many people treat their credit cards as funding sources for major purchases. Do not do this if you want to stay out of trouble. I use my credit cards as convenient financial instruments so I do not have to carry around much cash. In fact, I hate carrying cash, especially coins. When you buy things on credit, the purchases are clean and you will not get annoying coins back as change.

I do not rely on my Visa, MasterCard or American Express to fund any of my purchases, large or small. This brings me to my golden rule when it comes to whether I will pull out any of my credit cards either at a retail or online store.

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I never purchase anything with my credit cards if I do not have the actual cash on hand in my bank account.

If I really cannot pay for the item or service with cash that I already have at the bank, then I simply will not make the purchase. Remember, my credit cards are not used as funding sources. They are just convenient alternatives to actual cash in my pocket.

Make Sure to Always Pay Off Balances in Full Each Month

The next very important part of my overall strategy is to make absolutely sure that I pay the balances in full each and every month no matter how large they are. This should never be a problem if the cash has been budgeted for my purchases and secured in the bank. I have always paid my full balances each month ever since my very first credit card and this is why I never pay interest charges.

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Using Credit Cards with Rewards

Most of my credit cards are of the “no annual fees” type, including one MasterCard on a separate account I keep at home as a spare in case I lose my wallet or incur any fraudulent charges. However, I do use a main Visa card which does have an annual fee because all purchases on that card reward me with airline frequent flyer points. For me, the annual fee is worth it since I do travel and I get enough points to redeem many free flights.

You have to decide for yourself if you will charge enough purchases on credit each year without paying interest charges to warrant a credit card that rewards you with airline points (or other rewards). In my case, the answer is “yes” but that might not be the case for you.

I occasionally use a MasterCard or American Express card on small purchases just to keep those accounts active. Also, I have been to the odd retailer that accepted only a certain type of credit card, so I find that having one from each major company is quite handy. Aside from my main Visa card which earns the airline points, the rest of my cards are of the “no annual fees” variety.

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So this is how I use my credit cards without getting into any financial trouble with them. This strategy is recommended only if you are not in debt, of course. In fact, it is worth keeping in mind once you’re out of debt so that you can keep your credit cards active and treat them responsibly.

What are your credit card usage strategies? Let me know in the comments — I’d love to hear what methods you use.

Featured photo credit: Artem Bali via unsplash.com

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