6 Ways To Eliminate Food Waste

Eliminating food waste is a big way to save money.  Every piece of food you throw in the garbage can or down the disposal cost you money and is a waste.  Figuring out ways to reduce waste can be key in reducing your grocery bill.

There are a few tips you can use to reduce your food waste:

  1. Make a list of what you’re throwing out – If you start seeing a pattern in that you’re pouring half a gallon of milk down the drain, then it’s time to start buying smaller quantities.  Seeing patterns will help you eliminate them.
  2. FIFO – This stands for ‘first in, first out’.  Whether it be with fresh fruit and vegetables, yogurt containers, or even canned goods, make sure you move the oldest stuff to the front so that you are increasing the chance of buying before the expiration date
  3. Keep fridge items in clear container – What you can’t see you will often forget about.  Put leftovers, cut up fruit, and similar items in clear containers so that you will increase your likelihood of seeing them when you’re in the fridge.
  4. Keep items in the same place – This works for your pantry and fridge.  Keep your fruit in one drawer, veggies in the other.  Keep all your dressings and condiments together.  Put milk and juice on the same shelf every time.  Leftovers all go in one area.  When things get spread around, they get forgotten about or lost in the shuffle.
  5. Clean out your freezer regularly – Our freezer is the spot where we find things going to waste more often.  It’s easier than anywhere else to push something to the back and forget about it, only to find it a frostbitten mess months later.  Re-organize your freezer every few months to keep space clear (avoiding future cluttering and cramming) and to bring things to the front that might have gotten lost in the shuffle but maybe can be saved.
  6.  Buy good containers…and burp them – A good food storage container will keep something fresh for much longer than keeping it uncovered or in a poorly designed container.  A good container should allow you to slightly raise the lid while subsequently pressing down to ‘burp’ the air out of them, slowing the process that causes many foods to break down.

By and large, we don’t throw out too much food.  We’ll find the very occasional ‘ewww, gross’ item or stuff that’s been pushed to the back of the freezer to die a slow death, but I think we do much better than we used to.


How much food do you find yourself throwing away?  Do you have any other tips and tricks to eliminate waste?  Please leave a comment and let me know what works (and what doesn’t) in your household.

Answering Readers: Why Not Pay Off The Student Loan?

Last week I did a stroll down memory lane when it came to our debt and how it’s shrunk over the last four years.

A couple of readers (Bucksome and mbhunter) questioned why our current strategy is more focused on paying extra on the mortgage versus the outstanding student loan.

Great question!

Here goes:

  • Interest rate – The interest rate on the loan is fixed and is very affordable, somewhere just above 2%.  The first student loan was a variable interest rate, and though it dropped to around 4% by the time we’d paid it off, originally it was around 8%.  The current interest rate on the loan is well below that of the mortgage rate of 5.875%.
  • Payment amount – The monthly payment on the student loan is less than $100.  This is pretty easy to absorb into our monthly spending so it’s less of an incentive to knock off that payment than it would be if it were over that threshold.  The original loan we paid off in a hurry was $199, so that was nice to see go away.
  • Bang for the buck – I have a spreadsheet where I track the loan amortization, and I can fill in the extra payments we make along the way.  I can tell that applying extra on the mortgage takes quite a bit of interest off on the back end.
  • Long term goals – The student loan is a 15 year term loan.  It started in 2005, so even without any extra payments it would be finished in 2020.  One other goal I have, though (and it assumes we stay in our current house) is to have our mortgage paid off by the time our children start college. Since our oldest is two, that gives us about sixteen more years.  That would mean that we’d have to pay it off ten years early.

We still do pay extra on the student loan now and then.  A portion of our yearly tax refunds goes toward paying extra on our debt, and I’ll typically split it about 75-25 with the lower amount going toward the student loan.  Additionally, when I make any extra money from the blog, I’ll send some extra toward a debt.  My guess is that once the balance gets low enough to where paying it off is achievable, I’ll probably go ahead and do it.

Even then, though, the goal is to take that payment and just add it to the amount we pay extra on the mortgage every month, which is exactly what we did with the monthly payment amount of the original student loan that we paid off last year.

So, while I know it’s not the most concrete strategy, it works for us, and the way I look at it, as long as the balance keeps going down, we’re headed in the right direction!

9 Days To A Clean Desk (Or Just About Anything)

My desk at work was looking pretty sad.  You know how it goes.  I’ve been at the same desk for awhile.  When I finished something, it got shoved into a drawer, maybe into a file folder, maybe not.  The desktop had been buried with papers, notebooks, and just about everything else an office desk get.  Plus, it was dusty and was just looking awful all around.  Since I spend so many hours per week here, I knew it was time for an overhaul.

Quite honestly, I wanted a top to bottom cleaning.  I decided that I wanted to touch every piece of paper, go through every item on the desk or in my drawers, and clean every surface.

Instead of trying to tackle all this in one day (and probably not getting anything done otherwise), I broke it down into nine segments.

Read more9 Days To A Clean Desk (Or Just About Anything)

Cheap Green Home Improvements

Today’s post is a guest post from Jessica @ 43a Internet Marketing.
Getting by in today’s economy is tough, especially considering that millions of Americans have been laid off and are faced with running a household on one, and in some cases, no income. This has forced many Americans to go back to school or seek out online universities just to stay competitive. However, an education is expensive and families are having to return to older ways of getting by such as urban gardening, as a effective way to reduce their monthly bills and bring in extra savings into the home. There are tons of ways that you can do this and “going green” has become a new buzzword that’s been thrown around quite a bit lately. It doesn’t matter if you view this as a political or environmentally conscious one, there are tons a cost benefits to make a few simple green improvements around the house. These improvements will go a long way towards helping you balance your budget.

Read moreCheap Green Home Improvements

A Four Year Debt-rospective

I use July as the benchmark for looking at the progress on our overall debt.  This practice started in 2007.  Why July 2007?  Simple.  Because that was the time that our debt was at its absolute highest.


July 2007 

Why was our debt highest in this particular month?  Because that’s the month we assumed the 30-year mortgage on our house.  Happy to say it’s been all downhill from there.

At this point in time we had:

  1. Mortgage – 100% of our mortgage balance remained since we hadn’t paid anything yet
  2. Auto Loan – We had about 30 months left on a 48 month car loan
  3. Student Loan 1 – This loan had the higher balance and the higher interest rate and higher monthly payment
  4. Student Loan 2 – This was the other loan we had.  Both loans were 15 year notes starting in 2005.

Read moreA Four Year Debt-rospective

7 Ways To Enjoy Guilt-Free Time Off

Time off is one of those things that has gotten a bad reputation.  Companies give you time off, but some will look down on you for using it.  Many people freely admit that they avoid taking all of their time off for fear of being seen as lazy or dispensable.

I try not to feel guilty about using my time off.  I feel that if the company gives employees time off, they are counting on you using it.  If companies actually give employees hassle about using it, then it seems silly to even be working for that company in the first place.

There are some tips you can follow so that you can take your time off without feeling guilty about it.

Read more7 Ways To Enjoy Guilt-Free Time Off

6 Ways To Relieve Yourself From Debt

It’s not easy to see your way out from under a mountain of debt. It’s discouraging, frightening and depressing. You might think there is no way you will ever find your way out of this mess, and it’s self-defeating to even try. Don’t lose hope! Even small steps can make a big difference, and if you stick with a plan, it can be a lot simpler than you think. Easy? No. But the end result is a debt-free life and is well worth the effort.

Here are six ways to relieve yourself from debt.

Read more6 Ways To Relieve Yourself From Debt

A Loan in Shining Armor (and other stories)

In difficult economic times, most people are tightening their belts and restricting their spending to absolute essentials…that is of course, providing you consider a suit of armor an essential requirement.

When applying for a loan, the lender generally asks the reason for the finance, expecting to be told the money is for home improvements, a new auto or possibly to cover the cost of getting hitched.

In recent times, some people have asked their bankers to provide the collateral for them to undergo cosmetic surgery, with boob jobs and liposuction commonplace.

However it seems that not everyone opts to borrow money for such mundane purposes as a glimpse into the banking world has revealed a plethora of weird and wacky reasons for the request for cash.

Read moreA Loan in Shining Armor (and other stories)

Will Homeowners Be Better Equipped To Fight Inflation?

I’ve seen various thoughts on the matter of whether owning a home is a good hedge against inflation, specifically a home with a fixed rate mortgage.  Many economists are predicting that rising inflation is inevitable over the next few years.

A simple example uses the following as a basis to say yes:

  • Your payment will stay the same.  If you have a home and lock in a 30 year mortgage with a $1,000 per month payment, your payment will stay the same for the life of the loan.  If prices double over a ten year period, your mortgage payment stays the same whereas your rent payment would likely double over that period.
  • Your interest rate stays the same.  During times of high inflation, interest rates creep up to what can be pretty high levels.  If you lock in a 4% interest rate today, you’ll beat any mortgage available during high inflationary times.
  • Unless home prices fall dramatically again, you’ll have equity.  This is the part where most people these days are going to say ‘A-ha!’ and rightly so as prices have been in a downward trend over the past years.  But, up until a few years ago, most homeowners who got a fixed rate mortgage at a low rate would have equity within a couple of years whereas a renter never has any equity in the place where they live.

Read moreWill Homeowners Be Better Equipped To Fight Inflation?

8 Ways To Reduce Clutter

Unless you’re a compulsive neat freak, clutter will inevitably take hold of your living area in some way, shape or form.  If you’re not careful, clutter can overtake your home.  Having clutter around is also a ‘spiral out of control’ situation, as clutter builds quickly once you allow it to take hold.

If you have too much clutter, follow these eight steps to get a handle on your clutter, and re-claim your space!

Read more8 Ways To Reduce Clutter