Friday, August 31, 2012

Tips to Stretching Your Grocery Budget, Avoiding Higher Food Prices

 From AARP

Get ready: This summer's terrible heat and the worst drought in nearly 50 years are likely to strain your food budget. "We're looking at grocery prices to go up 3 to 4 percent" in 2013, says Richard Volpe, a Department of Agriculture economist. That's about a percentage point faster than normal, and on certain foods, the jump will be bigger.

The good news: Prices will probably hold basically steady for the rest of 2012. But here are some specific rises you can expect next year, the USDA says:

* Beef and veal: 4 to 5 percent (the largest predicted hike)
* Poultry and eggs: 3 to 4 percent
* Pork: 2.5 to 3.5 percent
* Dairy products: 3.5 to 4.5 percent
* Cereals and bakery products: 3 to 4 percent
* Fruits and vegetables: 2 to 3 percent, the normal annual rate.

So how can you eat well without eating up your savings? Here ... Read the entire article.

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Prepaid Debit Cards Cost More To Use Than Bank Checking Accounts

 From Consumer Reports

Do you use a prepaid debit card, such as a Walmart Money Card or H&R Block Emerald Card, to pay for purchases? If so, you could be paying more in card fees than if you stuck to using a basic bank checking account, says a new study released today by Consumers Union, publisher of Consumer Reports.

The consumer advocacy group says it took a look at 12 popular prepaid cards and compared them to the basic no-interest checking accounts of five banks: Bank of America, Chase, Citibank, US Bank, Wells Fargo, Alliant Credit Union and Golden 1 Credit Union. What the analysis uncovered:
  • Some prepaid card issuers do a poor job of disclosing usage fees, such as monthly maintanence fees
  • All five checking accounts are cheaper to use than 10 of the 12 prepaid debit cards if consumers took steps to minimize fees
  • If customers took no steps to minimize fees, the five basic checking accounts were still ... Read the entire article.

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Labor Day Discounts Better Than Black Friday’s, Survey Says

From Time.com

The personalized shopping website Shop It To Me recently ranked the year’s best holiday weekends for bargain-hunting consumers. The top time for deals may come as a surprise: Labor Day. Wait, Labor Day? Really?

According to data collected by the site, last year’s Labor Day period—which actually included the week before and after the holiday weekend—featured average discounts of 48.4%. “That’s significantly better than the highly touted Black Friday/Cyber Monday sales, when discounts averaged a mere 41-42% off,” the site states. It’s also better than the average discounts on Memorial Day (42%), the Fourth of July (43.5%), New Year’s Day (44.2%), Columbus Day (45.2%), and President’s Day (46.7%).

f you’re the type who gets excited about snagging 20% off, and who almost never manages to find discounts in the range of 40% or 50% off, you may be wondering: Where the heck do these numbers come from?

In its blog post about Labor Day, Shop It To Me notes that it “analyzed nearly 700,000 markdowns throughout 2011 available from over 150+ online retailers” to gather the data concerning holiday discounts. Elsewhere on the site, it’s revealed that Shop It To Me only tracks clothing and accessories—no electronics, toys, or other products commonly searched for online.
In other words, the average doesn’t factor .. Read the entire article.

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Friday, August 24, 2012

How to Be Comfortable on a Long Airplane Trip: 16 steps

 From Wikihow

A long domestic or international flight can often sour what should be a pleasant holiday or business venture. These guidelines can help your necessary travel time be as comfortable and painless as possible - for you, and for your fellow travelers.

Reserve a good seat. Even within the same class and fare, some seats are far superior to others. Consider an aisle or exit row seat for leg room, or a window if you want to sleep. Try to avoid seats near the toilets/lavatories, as other passengers will be accessing these regularly. It is common on long-haul flights for there to be queues, and people walking to or from the toilets may bump or knock your seat. Also keep in mind that the noise and light that escapes when the door is opened may be disturbing, particularly when trying to sleep.

If you plan on trying to sleep, come prepared. Bring a travel pillow or head restraint, and try to avoid using the inflatable ones.

Bring something to entertain yourself. Usually, movies don't start for some time, and the built-in music selection can be quite poor, so bring an iPod (the night before you go away try to download some of the latest songs or movies as it will be more entertainment than the old movies you already have), iPhone, iPad, Gameboy, Nintendo D.S, or CD player. You could also bring a new ... Find Out The Other 13 Steps.

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A Guide To Quitting Cable

From Chicago Tribune

So, you want to ditch your cable box. …

Viva la 21st century! Everything is on the interwebs, right?

Before you switch, however, you need to do a little self-evaluating. You, as an average American, will spend about four hours a day watching television. How important is it in your life? Do you need to be able to talk about the latest episode of "Mad Men" around the water cooler the morning after it airs, or is waiting a few days OK? Is it important to watch in high-definition, or is standard just fine? Do you need the warm glow of a 50-inch screen, or will a laptop satisfy you? Are you a news or sports junkie?

As much as this is an entertainment decision, getting rid of cable is also a lifestyle choice that will involve rearranging a few things in your life, and maybe investing in a little bit of hardware. Here are two paths ... Find Out The Two Paths.

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Can You Afford to Play the Lottery, Mega Millions, Powerball

From AARP

Playing the lottery can provide a thrill, and it's tempting to purchase a ticket or several when, like this week, the Powerball jackpot is more than $300 million.

But if you're trying to get ready to retire — or simply trying to make ends meet on a limited budget — you need to think hard about devoting precious financial resources to long-shot jackpot hopes.

Nearly one-half of boomers in the U.S. between the ages of 56 and 62 are at risk of not having enough income in retirement to pay for basic necessities and uninsured health costs, much less Powerball and Mega Millions tickets. And the likelihood of winning the grand prize in a state lottery can be as astronomical as 1 in 175 million, depending on the game, according to state lottery commissions. Yet despite the poor odds, about 50 percent ... Read the entire article.

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Friday, August 17, 2012

Home Burials Offer An Intimate Alternative

From NY Times

When Nathaniel Roe, 92, died at his 18th-century farmhouse here the morning of June 6, his family did not call a funeral home to handle the arrangements.

Instead, Mr. Roe’s children, like a growing number of people nationwide, decided to care for their father in death as they had in the last months of his life. They washed Mr. Roe’s body, dressed him in his favorite Harrods tweed jacket and red Brooks Brothers tie and laid him on a bed so family members could privately say their last goodbyes.

The next day, Mr. Roe was placed in a pine coffin made by his son, along with a tuft of wool from the sheep he once kept. He was buried on his farm in a grove off a walking path he traversed each day.
“It just seemed like the natural, loving way to do things,” said Jennifer Roe-Ward, Mr. Roe’s granddaughter. “It let him have his dignity.”

Advocates say the number of home funerals, where everything from caring for the dead to the visiting hours to the building of the coffin is done at home, has soared ... Read the entire article.

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9 Reasons To Buy Travel Insurance

From Today.com

9 reasons to buy travel insurance - travel - TODAY.com: For years, it was the great unmentionable in the travel transaction: insurance. Travel agents were afraid to bring up the subject of travel insurance for fear of losing the overall deal. It was considered a negative.

Not anymore. Whether it's your trip, your possessions, your luggage, or your health, travel insurance — and most important, the right kind of travel insurance — has become an essential item to pack for smart travelers. And if you don't buy travel insurance — or the right kind — more than your trip could be ruined.

According to the U.S. Travel Insurance Association,about 30 percent of Americans purchase travel insurance, an increase from 10 percent before 9/11. The top three reasons are: ... Read the 9 Reasons.

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8 Places to Find Extra Cash - Loyalty Programs, Credit Cards

From AARP

Buried in that kitchen table paperwork or beneath the floor mats of the car, you could be accumulating some surprising savings — and not even know! Here are eight possible cash stashes to mine around your home and workplace:

1. Credit card points and loyalty programs. Most people save credit card points for travel, but you can earn valuable day-to-day items, even without a big balance. Every program differs, but for fewer than 10,000 points one major company currently offers DVDs, dining gift cards, cameras, computer speakers, energy-efficient light bulbs, vacuum cleaners and even that video game your grandson wants for his birthday — all with free shipping and returns.
Related

Occasional sales give you more bang for your digital buck. Check your card’s policy to determine how you can more quickly qualify for merchandise.

2. Loyalty programs. Revisit those dusty loyalty programs to which you belong — grocery stores, pet stores, rental cars. Remember that hotel loyalty program you ... Read the entire article.

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Friday, August 10, 2012

How to Stop Wasting Food - Getting More From Your Grocery Budget

From AARP

The average American family of four spends about $1,600 a year on food they never eat, especially vegetables, fruits and cooked leftovers, according to CleanMetrics.com, a company that promotes environmental sustainability.

Try these tips to extend the life of produce and other foods:

Store greens with a damp paper towel in airtight containers in the refrigerator.

Blanch fresh vegetables such as asparagus, beans, carrots and broccoli. Dip in ice water, drain, then freeze in one-meal portions.

Cook overripe fruit into a compote.

Make stir-fry or a ... Read the entire article.

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Home Warranty - Reviews, Comparison & Quotes

From Home Warranty Reviews

Home warranty is an appliance service protection plan that covers the maintenance expenses associated with household items such as refrigerator, dishwasher, HVAC units, plumbing system, electrical wiring etc. Your home owner’s insurance will insure against natural disasters such as fire and flood but it will NOT cover the maintenance and repair charges. When your air conditioner or heater stops working, you will place a service request with a home warranty company who will send the technician out for repair. Home warrenty plan will also replace the equipment if it cannot be repaired. Home warranty will essentially give you the peace of mind. You don’t need to spend thousands of dollars if your dying air conditioner breaks apart at the middle of the night. On this website, we help you choose the right plan that fits your needs.

We have consumer reviews and ratings on all major home warranty companies. We also host an array of informative articles about home maintenance. To start with, find out whether you need to buy home warranty protection for your home. If you decide to buy the policy, visit compare home warranty section to research home warranty companies and their offers.

It is not easy to choose the best home warranty provider. Many homeowners are not satisfied with the coverage and customer service offered by home warranty companies. One of the reasons for dissatisfaction is homeowners do not realize that home appliance protection plans do not cover certain conditions such as pre-existing conditions, repair needs due to the lack of maintenance and care etc. Such conditions are generally mentioned in the small print in the contract it is easy to miss. Although you may not find a perfect company, there are reputed companies with good ratings.

Recently, some companies have started offering home warranty plans that provide flexible coverage. For an additional fee, you can get coverage for pre-existing conditions and lack of

Read the entire article.

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Clickjackers Exploit Invisible Facebook 'Like' Button

From NewsFactor


A clickjacking trap on privacy-plagued Facebook is spreading rapidly. Scammers are sending messages guiding Facebook users to a malicious page with an invisible "Like" button created with iframe code. Clicking on the page spreads the scam to the user's Facebook page to lure more clicks. The security hole on Facebook could spread malware.

It's not the Paramore leaked photo. And it's not Justin Bieber's phone number. But it's a clickjacking scam that's spreading rapidly across a social-networking site that's already plagued with privacy issues. Hundreds of thousands of Facebook users are falling into a scammer trap to post messages to their personal pages indicating they like a malicious link.

Subject lines on the tricky messages include "LOL This girl gets OWNED after a POLICE OFFICER reads her STATUS MESSAGE," "This man takes a picture of himself EVERYDAY for 8 YEARS!!," "The Prom Dress That Got This Girl Suspended From School," and "This Girl Has An Interesting Way Of Eating A Banana, Check It Out!

Facebook users who click on the link are escorted to what looks like a nearly blank page with the message: "Click here to continue." What Facebook users don't know is that there is hidden IFrame code in the page. So when they click anywhere on the infected page, the IFrame posts a message to their Facebook page.

The Invisible Like Button
According to Graham Cluley, a senior security consultant at Sophos, the worms all exploit Facebook's new "Like" social plug-in that the social network rolled out recently. The "Like" feature expands upon a user's existing ability to say they "Like" any Facebook page to say they also "Like" ... Read the entire article.

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Friday, August 3, 2012

Your Debts, Your Rights - How to Handle Bill Collectors

From Consumer Affairs


Many of us will, at one time or another, get behind on a payment or two -- or three. It happens. But stretch your luck too far and the creditor turns the collection agency loose on you. If being stressed about paying your bills wasn't bad enough, hang on, it's about to get much worse.

Debt collection companies are in business to make a profit -- off you. The more they recoup for the company that hired them, the better. There are usually incentives (read bonuses) for the individuals who can squeeze blood out of the proverbial turnip, so they can get pretty ugly with debtors. Hammering you with phone calls, threats of litigation, abusive and profane language, character assassination, and outright lies, are just a few tricks in the debt collector's arsenal. Even though these practices are illegal, they are so common most people don't report the abuses.

There ought to be a law, you say?

There is one. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) (15 UCS 1601) regulates debt collection companies and collection attorneys but -- and this is important -- it does not regulate the creditor, the person or company to whom you owe the money. And like all laws, the FDCPA is broken regularly, which means it won't always stop collectors from harassing you, but it does give you the right to strike back when collectors cross the line.

What debts are covered?
Personal, family, and household debts are covered under the Act. This includes money ... Read the entire article.

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12 Ways to Stay Cool, Conserve Energy and Save Money - Utility Bills

Statistically, July 24 is the hottest day of the year across the entire United States, according to the National Climatic Data Center. That may very well be correct from a meteorological perspective. But as a researcher in the field of frugality, I've noticed that at our house the temperature tends to spike around the tenth of each month throughout the summer. That's the day when our electricity bill usually arrives in the mail. That's when my blood really begins to boil.

Depending on where you live, the U.S. Department of Energy says, air-conditioning your home may very well account for the single largest portion of your annual electrical costs. A central AC system in the typical home uses about 3,500 watts of electricity every hour it's on. That's the equivalent of operating 10 refrigerators for an hour … with the doors wide open!

The good news is, there are a number of things you can do ... Read the entire article.

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Top Foods To Keep You Young

Most of us are keen to stay looking as fresh and young as possible, and although there's no way to pause or turn back the clock, there are few age-proof strategies we can employ to make sure we stay looking good. Maintaining a healthy and well-balanced diet is one approach, and the good news is that there are some foods that are thought to give you extra ammunition when it comes to combating the signs of aging.

Green tea

There is no end to the benefits of this super drink; green tea boasts a wealth of benefits that earns it the top spot in our anti-aging food list. Green tea is believed to help regulate blood pressure, lower blood sugar, boost the immune system, lower cholesterol and studies have even shown that green tea can be effective at preventing cancer. That's as close to the ... Read the entire article.

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"Simplicity of living, if deliberately chosen, implies a compassionate approach to life. It means that we are choosing to live our daily lives with some degree of conscious appreciation of the condition of the rest of the world." Duane Elgin

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