Friday, November 14, 2014

Tis the Season to Return

Are you one of those people who never returns anything no matter what? You reason it’s too much trouble. My husband is one of those too. Me, not so much. There is an art to returning.

·         Make sure you know what store it came from

·         Have the receipt with you if possible

·         Return on weekday mornings, possible Tuesday or Wednesday if possible.

·         Know the return policies. Some prohibit returns after 30 days, others as little as seven.

·         If it was a gift. Say so. Gifts are usually only exchanged for store credit.

·         Have an excuse. Didn’t fit. Allergic to wool. Unflattering color.

·         Some items break after initial use or shortly after. The product may have a guarantee that allows you to return it. I returned a gardening tool three times that had a lifetime warranty.

·         Items with warranties should have the warranty and receipt stapled together and kept in an accordion file. Warranty does you no good when you do not have proof of purchase.

·         If there is a possibility of someone returning your gift item, shop at a store with a good return policy such as Kohls.

·         Be realistic. Most stores will not accept anything worn or missing tags. There’s no way to resale it or identify it as theirs.

·         If you cut off the tags, you can bring them.

 Some items you can't return because it is past time. Anything bought with rewards, coupons, or other discount method can't be used for a cash refund, only store credit.

·         Regifting is always an option. Make sure to bestow it upon someone not related or wait a year before Regifting. This way your regifting is less obvious. My grandmother used to put notes on her various gifts who they came from to avoid regifting them back to the same social circle.

·      Donate them. Why allow the unused gift to take up space in your closet? You can also write it off a tax deduction.

·         Recycle it. A velvet smoking jacket isn’t something you always want, but it can make a nice throw pillow or tiny jacket for your dog.

In the end, it’s the thought that counts. Most people forget what they gave you a month later. Instead of storing the item, only to bring it out whenever the friend or relative visits, do something useful with it. In the end, a gift should make the person happy even if they have to exchange it for something they do want.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Stretching Your Meat Dollar

Did you read about the woman who ate dog food for a week? If not, here’s the link. Her objective was to save money because of the expense of maintaining her Paleo Diet, which is protein heavy. As an Atkins Life Style Change person, I’ve watched meat spike in price. How can a person deal with the rising cost of meat without consuming dog food?
·         Rethink your shopping and cooking habits.

·         Invest in a freezer. I picked mine up at a yard sale.

·      Watch for bargains at your local stores. This is where the freezer comes in handy. Turkeys after Thanksgiving showed up at Deals for $5 each. They take up a lot of room in the grocery stores and if they aren’t moving, they’re gone.

·         Seasonal meats often go on sale just like candy. Corned beef will be on sale during and after St. Patrick’s Day. Hams are usually a good bet during and after Christmas.

·         Sales. When chicken breasts are .99 a lb., stock up.

·    Coupons. Occasionally, buying a brand specific meat is beneficial when you have a coupon and it is on sale.

·     Kosher. Normally, kosher meat costs more, but it gets clearance too. Surprisingly, it is better quality.

·      Sales have a limit of what you can buy. You can put your purchases in the car and buy more.

·       Buy a ¼ of a cow, pig, or even lamb. Prices vary from region, but you could be at $3 a pound for both steak and hamburger. It also gives you control over the amount of fat in your hamburger too. Ask a friend or relative to go in with you.

·    Consider non-traditional meats such as bison, lamb, veal, ostrich, duck, even rabbit. Normally, these meats are higher, but when they don’t sell, they’re clearance. Krogers does the better clearance marking everything 50% off as opposed to Meijer’s’ 20% off.

·         Remember eggs, nuts, tuna, and even peanut butter are good inexpensive protein sources. Peanut Pan Peanut Butter has only 4 carbs per serving less than expensive natural PB.

·         Examine your portions. Often people eat more than a serving. Thinking somehow if one hamburger was good than three would be better. Overeating is still overeating. Your metabolism can only use so much food a day. Not losing weight, portions may be a factor.

·         Store your meat properly in freezer containers or freezer bags. Freezer burn wastes meat.

·         The cheaper, tougher cuts are great for the slow cooker. You can help tenderize by using a meat mallet first, then adding a cup of wine, which breaks down the tissue as it cooks.

·      Those who like to hunt and fish can add to their diet this way. Although hunting on the whole is not a bargain sport. Sometimes, it just helps to be friendly with a hunter.

·         Change the way you use meat too. Consider stews, soups, stir-fry, and salads. Instead of loading up on starches, use vegetables keeping the carb count down.

·      After the holidays, all those leftover meat sticks tend to go on sale too. There will be plenty of sales on cured meat during the holidays too. Know your prices. A one-pound summer sausage will between 2.50-3.99 at the grocery (Aldi’s, Kroger’s, and Meijer’s.) If it is on sale for 6.99, it isn’t on sale.

·         Jerky  and cheese are mobile proteins.  Jerky can be bought in bulk on Amazon for lower prices per pound.There is usually some type of sale on cheese and it can be frozen. The exception is cream cheese, which is edible after freezing, but crumbly.

The good news is you won’t have to resort to you and your dog eating the same thing. The woman who sampled dog food found most of it bland. The best dog food came refrigerated in a roll, but it cost more than buying hamburger when it wasn’t on sale. In the end, she returned a human diet with required less vigorous chewing.