Thursday, April 07, 2011

Smart Money Choices -- Day 3

This is not a game, ... Debt has become a part of who we are. It's become that spoiled child in the grocery store with their lip stuck out: 'I want it. I want it. I deserve it because I breathe air.' And, well, that's an uphill climb in our culture right now, to go against that and say, 'Hey, let's be grownups here. Let's be mature, learn to delay pleasure, save up and pay for things.'” Dave Ramsey

1) Keep up with financial paperwork and computer work. Money can be lost simply by not returning forms when necessary, hanging on to out-dated coupons, missing notices that are buried in a stack of mail, etc. Set aside times to do any financial paperwork or computer work that you need to to.
2) Health is a resource, just as time and money are. In grocery shopping, you might be faced between the choice of a healthier item and a cheaper item. Often, preparing something entirely from scratch is both the cheapest and the healthiest option, though it is not guaranteed to always be the cheapest. Likewise, a pricier item -- even one that is labeled as being healthy -- is not always the truly healthiest choice. You will know how to choose more healthful foods by reading labels and by doing a little homework. For example, I compared two brands of a frozen item on my last grocery store trip. By paying just a little more, I was able to obtain a product that was significantly lower in fat. The most budget friendly and the healthiest option would have been for me to prepare my own version of the item, which I do at times. However, I specifically needed something that could be prepared quickly, so I chose to buy a frozen brand this time around.
3) Organic foods can be healthier, but they can also be costly if you do not do your homework. If you are interested in organic food, investigate these 17 ways for buying organic foods on the cheap. Also, know which foods are worth buying organic and which are not. For example, if your goal is to avoid pesticides, you are generally safe buying any avocado, whether grown conventionally or by an organic grower. The thick peeling, which is not eaten, prevents pesticides from reaching the edible parts. Likewise, bananas and pineapples do not need to be organic to be safe. Broccoli does not have a thick skin; however, even conventional growers do not need to use as many pesticides in growing broccoli. You are generally safe with any broccoli, provided that you wash it well. Likewise, onions have few pests and are not usually grown with pesticides. You do not need to choose organic onions. Peaches, on the other hand, not only have thin, edible skins which allow pesticides to cross the barrier, they are prey to many pests and are often given lots of pesticides by conventional growers. Investigating pesticide free or low pesticide methods of growing peaches are worth any extra time and money for those who have an interest in organic produce. If you live in peach country, you will likely find organic growers and peach orchards who will sell you peaches directly. Remember, just because something is labeled as being organic does not mean that it was actually grown by superior methods or that it is actually healthier for you. Choose wisely.
4) It can seem daunting to prepare healthy foods on a tight budget and with a busy life. However, you can do it. Don't be overwhelmed by trying to do it all at once. Make small, incremental changes in your budget, your cooking, and your lifestyle, and you will find out what is the best way for your family to use all three resources: time, money, and health.
5) Re-thinking your usage of cable TV is a great way to save money. Do you really need as many channels as you think you do? Many shows can be found on Hulu or other free options. Buying only a basic cable package or investigating other options than cable can save you a lot of money in your budget.

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