7 Ways to Eat Right for Cheap!

Other than rent, nourishment and food costs are what compose the bulk of most of our budgets. However, in a bind, most of us turn to fast food or other not-so-healthy options. The following are 7 Ways to Eat Right for Cheap. But always remember the most important fact, we can pay now or pay later (in suffering and doctor bills etc) – when it comes to our dietary discipline and choices.

1. Choose Produce not Packages: People think eating healthy is about buying a lot of expensive boxes and packages of processed foods, but that isn’t the case at all.

The cheapest most nutritious foods in a grocery store can be found in the produce isle. Fresh fruits and vegetables. Trying to buy costly packaged goods, potato chips and sugary juices and all kinds of over processed items, even at a health food store is when the budget starts to soar. When we feel we don’t have time to cook we often go for a lot of “quick fix” items like pizzas and pre-cut bags of French fries and stuff like that. That’s where the money adds up. But if you fill your basket with fresh greens and fruits and some basic staples like rice, noodles, beans you will not only have an optimal basket of nutritious foods … you will have saved a great deal of money on the food bill and subsequent doctor bills. Eat real foods and save real money. If you are worried the fruits and veggies will spoil before you eat them, read on to number 2!

2. Cook Big and Save Some for Later: Cooking meals in large batches and freezing the leftovers for later in the week or month can save you a lot of time and money.

Instead of buying fast food or eating out at restaurants, or even cooking a full meal every time you get hungry, it’s way more cost effective and time saving and healthy for you to pull something out of the freezer and warm it up than it is to wash/chop/slice/boil/bake/wait in line/wait to be served etc.

Pre-preparing and freezing weekly sized portions of rice or salad choppings or beans etc will simplify your meal duties. Even if you have to do a little cooking you will still save money and time seven days a week. Spend an hour or so over the weekend like on a Sunday evening preparing food for the week. Then, during the week, all you have to do is pull something out of the freezer and heat it up.

3. Soup Up your Options: Large vegetable soups over brown rice or whole grain noodles pack in vitamins and nutrients, fill you up and are easy to make and delicious. Also Bean burritos, chili, and bean soup can be easily prepared, cheap and good for you. Going totally meatless a couple of times a week (or for good) also helps your budget and gives your palate a variety to enjoy. Frozen veggies, which are inexpensive, work great in Soups. Nothing compares to that good, filling, feeling of a hot and hearty bowl of Soup. Cheap, packed with nutrients, and easy to prepare.

4. Make A Plan and See Where Ya Values Are: Budgets help us see where our money is really going not where we feel like its going. Budgeting is also a master ingredient to financial stability in general, so not only will it help identify funds that can be used toward more healthful food choices; its an essential tool to manage our financial responsibilities better in general. Usually when we make a budget we can see plenty of stuff we can do without to make room for healthier eating choices. You may say “shoot, I dont make enough money to budget it!” lol, but you don’t have to make a lot of money to benefit from budgeting. Budgeting helps what ever we make stretch farther and get more of what we truly value out of what we have. When we values ourselves more than our things we make healthier choices. Budget, prioritize and prosper.  But in our best interest, We have to value our health above all these other things, and make eating healthy a priority in terms of how we spend the resources we have.

5. Season your Food: Eat fruits and vegetables that are in season, that is! Otherwise you’ll be paying a much higher price. For example, if you live in the north east United States and you want some watermelon in the middle of the Winter of December, it’s going to have to be shipped from wherever it is in season to your local market and you pay that extra cost. Also, eating foods that are current in their natural growing season helps strengthen your immune system for that season. Seasonal Fruits can be frozen and blended to smoothies. Frozen vegetables also can be used to make a stir fry. They’re convenient and they don’t spoil quickly like fresh fruits and veggies.

6. Join a Co-op or Local Community Garden: You get discounts on your groceries by being a member of grocery store co-ops. In exchange for your minimal volunteer work hours per month, you get your groceries at Co-op member’s only price. Same thing goes for community gardens. And not only that you get to learn a WHOLE lot about nutrition and health being in that kind of environment.

7. Drink more water. Many times we think we are hungry, it may be actually a sign of thirst. 

“Watch” how much money you save!

What do you spend most of your “free time” doing?  If you answered honestly I bet at least half of you just said television (the other half said surfing the internet).  Don’t be ashamed.  Television viewing is at an all-time high and for good reason, it’s never been better.  So why not find out how you can watch all of your shows, and pay less than you are right now.

If you pay for cable or satellite service, then chances are pretty good that you can find a way to save money on your TV service.

Monthly savings can be as little as $5 or over $100. The key is to continually audit your level of service and see if the money you spend is committed to the features you use. If you have any waste, then remove it.

Option 1 — Bundle Services:

Bundling is when you subscribe to multiple services through one provider. The ‘triple play’ is a common bundle – telephone, cable, and internet.

As far as savings, bundling typically pays off once you activate services. Contracts are usually required. Ask the provider if there is a penalty fee for canceling service before the contract comes to full term.

The monthly price usually rises once the incentives expire. Ask the provider what the regular price will be once the incentives go away. You might have to adjust your TV service in order to keep the monthly cost lower than what you currently pay.

Option 2 — Eliminate Service:

Obviously, you can save money each month by eliminating your service. For some, this would be a drastic lifestyle change, but it’s not the craziest thing in the world to do.

Eliminating service will cause you to lose access to some programming, like sports and news, but many TV stations will stream programming on their website. Other sites to watch TV content are Hulu and Stream TV Guide.

This action will yield the most savings, but only if you don’t redirect your service money towards a different but more expensive hobby.

Option 3 — Cancel Premium Channels:

Canceling premium service, like movie or sports programming, is not as drastic as eliminating service, because you‘ll still have access to the service tiers you pay for. You just won’t have access to the a la carte channels that you pay extra for each month.

Savings could total into the hundreds each year depending on how much you pay for premium channels. It’s also immediate and doesn’t necessarily alter much in the way of your daily TV life.

In addition, most of the premium programming could be supplemented by viewing the shows online or with a low-cost movie club subscription.

Option 4 — Change Service Providers:

Changing service providers can be a good opportunity to save in the short term because most cable and satellite companies offer their best deals to new customers.

Just be sure to pay attention to the cost of the service after the promotion period expires. If it’s more than what you currently pay, then you won’t save money. You might want to try a different method.

Ask the provider if they will extend whatever promotion they are offering. Extending the incentives will increase your long term savings and keep the payment lower for a longer period of time.

Option 5 — Get Rid of an Unused Receiver:

Are you paying a monthly service fee for a receiver that you don’t use or use sparingly? If so then you can save immediately by removing it from your service plan.

The amount of savings isn’t jaw-dropping — perhaps $5 to $8 per receiver — but keeping it and not using it is nothing more than throwing your money away.

Option 6 — Share Satellite Service with a Trusted Person:

I know someone that has several satellite receivers on the family plan, which are shared within a collective group of homeowners. This group then splits the monthly satellite bill, so a $160 bill means that each household pays $40.

There are tremendous financial advantages to this, as you can get more programming for less money per house, but there are logistics to doing this. All receivers should be acquired legally and be reflected on the service plan. You’ll also have to get the proper dishes mounted and aligned at each location.

In addition, if the service is in your name then my advice is to manage your group as you will be the person of record on the account. Make contingency plans for if someone flakes out or doesn’t pay the money on time.

As far as cable subscribers, this is not an endorsement of splitting your cable feed and routing it between your neighbor’s and your house. There are a lot of complications to that, including the likelihood that tampering with the cable box is illegal in your city.

Option 7 — Cancel Local Programming:

If you pay for local channels then you are wasting money if you are capable of receiving your local stations with an antenna. Watching TV with an antenna and cable/satellite typically requires toggling between input sources. Some receivers integrate the antenna into the channel lineup.

The whole process of going from an antenna to cable back to antenna can be difficult for some but this is only a short term frustration. Monthly savings are typically $4-8 dollars.

By using an antenna, you’ll gain access to digital sub-channels, which aren’t shown on cable/satellite.

Option 8 — Get Rid of your Provider

That’s it. Bight the hand that feeds you. Get rid of your antenna, chord, receiver, etc. Take to the internet!

Follow this Forbes article to quickly transition from dealing with unreliable service to a life of choosing just how much you want to pay.

The World Cup has arrived!

As many of you may have noticed, people tend to be talking about soccer a lot more these days. The World Cup Bug is back and if you are like most American’s you probably already have Futbol Fever.  But with so much going on, its tough to keep up with all the new terms, teams, and even celebrations.  Fear no more, Mintvine is here to give you a few tips to be in the know, or at least be able to convince a few people that you seem like you are.

1. Soccer or football?

The first thing you need to know is what to call the sport! While it is soccer in the U.S., the rest of the world calls it football (prompting some conflict with die-hard NFL fans.) “We call it soccer here but I am working with so many Europeans analysts at the host desk and to them it is football, so I go back and forth,” says ESPN analyst Bob Ley. “I grew up calling the field a pitch and zero is nil. I have been around the game for 40 years so they are tough habits to break.”

2. The teams and players to watch — and why 

The Brazilian side has all the pressure on them. They were in the same position last summer at the FIFA Confederations Cup and Neymar (pictured left) had his first real test, and had a spectacular tournament.

“Uruguay has been such a silently powerful team in the last four years, so keep an eye out on howLuis Suarez rehabilitates his [knee] injury.”

Don’t neglect Argentina. either. “Can Lionel Messi – who did not have a great year — find magic with his national team?”

The Germans have a lot to prove as well. “No European team has ever won a World Cup in South America, so it would be great if they can do it despite the home continent advantage. These are not friendly shores for the Europeans. Then there are the Italians, who played very well last year and will always play good defense.”

Despite football being their national sport and the global success of the Premier League, England hasn’t won for 48 years. “I love the tortured psychosis of the English. So much for them realizing that 1966 [the last time England won the World Cup] was four decades ago and they were the host nation. We shall see if they can get to the round of eight.

3. Go high definition and juggle digital devices

I recommend watching the matches on the best quality, high definition television that you can and the biggest screen, so you can appreciate the game even more.

In this digital age, you can watch on two screens if you have a tablet or smartphone with you and learn about the players. Go to ESPNFC.com and find out about them from their bios. Double-screening is a great idea as the only time the games are simultaneously played are in the final group stage.

4. Don’t keep your eye on the ball

Just like following a puck in hockey, many viewers strive to stay focused on the ball during the whole match. Learn to watch ‘off the ball,’ you will learn so much watching away from the ball in critical moments, like when people are making [corner kicks]. Don’t just keep your eye on the ball.

5. Watch the action live

Unlike in South Africa when the matches aired stateside in the wee hours of the morning, there is only a one-hour time difference between New York and Rio de Janeiro.  All the games will be shown live each day on ESPN as well as online on numerous free-streaming services.

6. Know the language

Watching is exciting enough, but being able to understand is even better, and being able to talk about it with everyone else is the best.  Here is a good website with a full glossary of soccer terms - http://soccer.epicsports.com/soccer-glossary.html

 

Ol’ Summertime Electricity Blues

Summer is here. It has arrived and (for most of us) it is very hot. Which means you will be spending plenty of money to be less hot. This is tough, because electricity bills seem to be rising faster than the thermostat. This poses a tough little conundrum. How much should you have to pay just to feel comfortable.  Because we can’t just give up clothing (once again, most of us) here are a few tricks to stay cool and help you save each month on that electricity bill.

During the summer months, set your thermostat to 76-78 degrees when you’re home, and to ‘off’ when you’re not. By reducing the cooling load in this manner you’ll use 1-3% less energy per degree that the thermostat is set above 72. Ceiling or room fans are a great way to circulate air and keep you feeling just as cool as if the thermostat were set to a lower temperature!

18W CFLs use 76% less energy than 75W incandescent equivalents. Over the course of a year, that can add up to $8-$15 in savings per bulb replaced! 23W CFLs use 77% less energy than 100W incandescent equivalents. Over the course of a year that can easily add up to $10-$20 in savings per bulb! 13W CFLs use over 78% less energy than standard 60W incandescent bulbs. That means you can power about five CFLs on the power needed for a single incandescent bulb.

Try using cold water to wash your clothes! Not only will you save on the energy required to heat the water, but detergents formulated for cold water will get your clothes just as clean!

All electronics that are plugged in, whether they’re powered-on or not, are constantly drawing electricity. This continuous, low-level energy use is called a ‘phantom load’ and it can really add up over the course of a year. The Department of Energy estimates that as much as 43 billion kWh each year is wasted by phantom loads throughout the United States. Smart Strip power strips can help you eliminate the phantom loads of your peripheral devices – most commonly those associated with your computers or home entertainment centers by cutting power to them altogether when they are not in use. In many cases, they can pay for themselves in energy bill savings in just a matter of months!

Running your dishwasher at night is a great way to minimize energy demand during peak hours during the day. This means that your local power generation facilities can run at a more efficient capacity, thus minimizing their environmental impact. Depending on where you live and the type of electric meter your home is outfitted with, you may pay less for off-peak energy, making this a very easy way to save on your energy bills!

If you have doors that have more than a 1/4″ gap with the floor, draft guards are a cheap and practical way to keep heat from escaping rooms where you want it, and from getting in when you don’t! Keeping a tight seal around doors and windows is one of the best ways to improve the energy efficiency of your home.

Keep shades drawn in south-facing rooms that aren’t occupied on days when you’re trying to keep your home cool. If you’re trying to keep your home warm on cold days, be sure to keep your shades drawn in unoccupied north-facing rooms. They may be thin, but they minimize energy transfer between your home and the outdoors pretty well!

Or you can just get a full assessment of how efficient your house really is. A home energy audit is the first step in making your home more energy efficient and cutting your utility bills. By understanding how your home is consuming energy, you’ll be able to pick the best projects to pursue and manage your budget most effectively. Typical energy audits will include an evaluation of your home’s heating and cooling systems, insulation, how tightly sealed it is, and a series of recommended actions to help you save water and electricity. You can perform a simple energy audit yourself using any number of sites on the internet, or for a few hundred dollars have a professional come in and generate a comprehensive report for you. Just remember, the audit itself won’t save you money on your bills; it’s up to you to you follow through with some of the recommended improvements!