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Michelle Fern

Michelle Fern

edge staff writer

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Thursday, 29 November 2012 00:21

Waste not, want not

According to the USDA Economic Research Service, Americans waste 96 billion pounds of food every year. An average household of four throws away over $1,000 a year in food. Yet families are not the sole source of wasted food the USDDA states that grocery stores toss out $15 billion worth of unsold fruits and vegetables alone each year.

Grocery chains are more likely to throw away fruits, vegetables and even entire hams and roasts than donate to distribution centers. What many people don't know is that federal and state laws protect grocers from liability; however, stores expressed concerns that donated food could sicken recipients, even if it has yet to reach its expiration date. While some major chains donate food, others do not.

Thursday, 15 November 2012 00:00

Black Friday fever

I love Black Friday. It's not that I have a lot to buy, or that I even go for the deals. It has more to do with the frenzy and excitement I feel like I'm taking a part in a nationwide ritual.

But there are the war stories of all the pushing, shoving, grabbing, honking, hours of waiting in line all for the allure of getting $10 blenders or 32' HD TVs for $149. In some rare instances, more serious things have happened that cast doubt on what the day was about it doesn't sound enjoyable when you read about people getting trampled in a mad rush across the aisles.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012 23:08

Halloween's costs don't have to be scary

Halloween is a fun event for both kids and adults alike, but it's easy to rack up the expenses when you fork out for candy, decorations and costumes.

According to the National Retail Federation, the average American is expected to spend $80 on Halloween this year, up from $72 last year.

The hottest costume this year are all rooted in popular culture, including the TV show 'Game of Thrones,' and blockbuster movie superheroes such as Thor, Bateman and Spiderman. And since it is an election year, there is a lot of interest in political costumes.

I was watching a Food Network broadcast of a pumpkin carving challenge. It was amazing how these artists create such life-like, scary and detailed masterpieces, and it got me into the mood for some pumpkin carving.

This year, however, I'm also going to consider using my pumpkins for more than just decorating. Here are some ideas for turning your pumpkins into something delicious and festive:

Wednesday, 26 September 2012 18:53

Unusual ways to use regular household products

The next time you're in need of a pest repellent, stain remover or something to remedy an ailment, check your pantry before heading to the store. You might just find what you need and, surprisingly, it may simply be a common kitchen ingredient.

For years people have had their own uses for different products, some of which seem very unusual but work. So I thought I would take some time to surf the web and talk to a few friends to compile a list of great, thrifty and eco-friendly uses for everyday household items that you may not have thought of.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012 16:37

PB&J five days a week

The kids are back in school and as much as I jump up and down with glee, I feel somewhat melancholy because with each new school year means that they are growing up. But it also means harder homework (for both the kids and me) and dreadful lunch-making.

If it were solely up to me, I would just default to peanut butter and jelly. While my kids love PB&J, five days of it a week can get a little boring. But don't knock the venerable sandwich it's been the largest staple lunch sandwich in the U.S. for over seven decades and the average American child eats 1,500 peanut butter sandwiches by the time he/she graduates from high school.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012 15:31

Breaking news

 Heads up couponers! Those with a Dollar Tree nearby will be happy to know that on Sunday, Aug. 26, the retailer will begin to accept manufacturer coupons.

The Chesapeake, Virginia-based discount retailer has more than 4,500 stores in the U.S. it touts more than 300 in Florida alone and it stocks everything from beach toys and holiday decorations to toothbrushes and various food items. While the majority of its merchandise is off-brand, the discounter does sell some name-brand merchandise.

During the currently difficult economy, stores like Dollar Tree have done well by going for the lowest denominator when it comes to enticing shoppers it offers merchandise for $1 or less. And now they've added another weapon to their marketing strategy to attract more customers by accepting coupons. Other competitors such as Dollar General and Family Dollar already accept coupons and although Dollar Tree doesn't say they are competing with them, this is surely an attractive incentive to shop more at the discounter.

Wednesday, 08 August 2012 21:50

Doing dorm bedding right

As our oldest child heads to his new adventure at college, it's been a busy summer planning for all of the things he'll need when he gets there. From books and a meal plan to even his new laptop, we've tried to think of all the things today's college student has to have.

And then there's the college dorm room.

For college students, the dorm room is their home away from home and it's important to furnish and decorate it comfortably and inexpensively. And most colleges provide twin-sized beds; however, many use extra long mattresses to accommodate taller individuals. Buying the correct bedding can make all the difference, as the bed takes up the majority of both physical and visual space in the dorm room.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012 21:26

Back to school on a budget

This year is a bit different for our family when it comes to back to school supply shopping. Usually it's just binders, book covers, pens, pencils and the various other things students typically need. However, we now have a college student along with our youngest who is still in middle school. This means two distinctly different lists of supplies.

Our youngest still needs the basics, but since I have stocked up a lot of items the past few years, I only have to get a few of the bigger-ticketed items such as a divider binder and backpack. On the other hand, our college student needs quite a bit more. He's living on campus, so we have to outfit his dorm room and also get special items such as an advanced calculator they can cost up to $150.

It would have hard to guess 10 years ago that we would be using cell phones to help us save money on goods and services today. Such shopping techniques using smart phones and tablet computers are becoming increasingly popular, and thanks to numerous applications ('apps' in mobile phone vernacular) you can use your mobile devices to not only find what you need but also to save quite a bit of money.

Whether you want to save money on gas or reduce your travel expenses, there's probably an app that enables you to do it. In fact, no matter where you are, you can consult your smart phone or tablet to reduce the price of just about anything, including items you shop for on a daily basis.

Many of these shopping apps scan barcodes and subsequently find detailed information about specific products, redeemable coupons, and also search the best price for a product in your area, either at a local store or online. Once you've found the product you're looking for, you can download another app to keep track of your finances.

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