Modern grocery stores and food co-ops are testaments to humanity’s dominance of Planet Earth. Regardless of your location or the time of year, you can likely find dozens or hundreds of types of fresh produce at the nearest big store. For example, I’ve lived in the northern United States my whole life, and I’ve never been to a Super Bowl party (usually held the first weekend of February, in the dead of winter) that didn’t have homemade guacamole and salsa made using tomatoes, limes, and avocados from California, Arizona, or Mexico.
When you’re on a tight personal budget, grocery shopping can be a particular challenge. If you’re buying one big item, such as a kitchen appliance or a computer, you can compare prices ahead of time and find the store with the best deal. But if you’re shopping for groceries, you may not have the time or inclination to compare prices or to shop at multiple stores to get the best price on everything on your list.
Advertising aside, there’s no single store that has the best deals on everything. A 2014 study by Kantar Retail proved this by comparing grocery prices at six budget chains. It found that each of the six chains had better deals on some products than others, and none of them had the best prices on every product.
Cape Cod is known as a wonderful vacation spot for good reason: It’s a beautiful oceanside area with miles of unspoiled beaches, hiking trails, ocean vistas, and sand dunes. Also known as home to the Kennedys, “the Cape,” as it is commonly known to locals, has always been a place that has attracted famous novelists, artists, and even presidents.
However, Cape Cod has not become known as a wintertime destination. In the summertime, hordes of vacationers from all corners of New England and beyond invade the area in vast numbers, making it an extremely congested place. But after Labor Day, the beaches, hotels, and restaurants empty out.
The news is full of stories about how tough times are for the middle class. Story after story talks about how jobs are disappearing, prices are rising, and many essentials, such as healthcare and education, are growing steadily more expensive and harder to afford. Politicians fall over each other to offer solutions, promising everything from tax reform to better schools to “save the middle class.”
If you’re lucky enough to be thrown one, baby showers represent an incredible way for cash-strapped parents to stock up on everything that a new arrival needs. Many showers produce an overwhelming amount of clothes and supplies for newborns and infants.
However, infants keep growing – and nobody throws you another shower when the baby turns one or two, leaving you to foot the bill alone on a new wardrobe and gear as your baby grows. Once children grow out of the stash of clothes from their baby shower, they still need new items regularly – every couple of months at a minimum, and it could be more frequently if your child grows quickly or if you live in an area with dramatic climate changes. The costs can add up quickly which makes it prudent, if not essential, to save money on toys, food, and clothes for your toddler.
My husband and I thought our out-of-pocket medical costs were high before having kids – imagine how we felt when we brought three children into the mix. Between doctor’s visits and prescription medications, we can easily spend more than $300 some months – and that doesn’t even include the cost of our health insurance.
We’re not alone. According to a study by the American Journal of Medicine, 62.1% of all U.S. bankruptcies in 2007 were medical-related, and of those who filed, 92% had medical debts exceeding $5,000. If you’re one of the many Americans struggling with medical expenses, there are several steps you can take to reduce the burden and free up some of your hard-earned cash.
Take a stroll down the coffee aisle of any large supermarket, and there’s a good chance you’ll see at least one or two bags of beans sporting a little label that says “Fair Trade.” These bags don’t look obviously different from the others on the shelf, but their price is definitely on the high end – at least $7 per pound, and as high as $15 per pound. What, you might wonder, makes them worth that extra money?
Sometimes it appears that everything just keeps getting more and more expensive. That’s certainly the impression you’d get from reading the news – every time you open the paper, it seems, there’s another story about how to cope with the rising costs of food, education, or healthcare.
But if you dig deeper, you can actually find some good news. For some goods and services, prices have actually fallen – or at least, they have fallen in terms of real dollars, after you factor in the effect of inflation. Some goods, such as gasoline and airfare, have dropped in price just in the past few years. Others, such as solar energy and electronics, have been on a downward trend for decades and are now falling faster than ever.
I spent my first summer after college rigorously searching for a full-time job. Having graduated with a fair amount of student loan debt, I knew I needed to find work right away. That, plus the numerous costs associated with the job search process were going to eat into my savings quickly. I had to build a solid job resume, stock a business wardrobe, and support myself through unemployment until I landed that coveted first job.
Whether you got laid off from a previous position or are embarking on your first post-college job search, those costs can put a tremendous financial strain on you. Fortunately, there are several steps you can take to reduce those expenses along the way.
The holidays can be exciting, magical…and, unfortunately, wasteful. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the volume of household waste Americans produce each week goes up by about 25% between Christmas and New Year’s Day. Many of the items we buy during the holidays – Christmas trees, wrapping paper, holiday cards, extra batteries – just end up in the trash by the time January rolls around.
One holiday item that shouldn’t be wasteful is the gifts we give each other. But all too often, holiday gifts contribute to the waste problem. Many common holiday presents, from jewelry to electronics, require a lot of energy to produce and create a lot of pollution. And in some cases, a gift of a new music player or tablet computer results in the old one being discarded, creating still more waste.