Smart Ways to Cut Your Utility Bills

​A big slice of the cost of owning a home is what you spend on energy. Average annual energy spending in the U.S. adds up to $1,472 for electricity, $416 for natural gas and $113 for fuel oil and other fuels, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Expenditure Survey. (Your own expenses will vary depending on utility costs in your area, the size of your home and how heavily you use energy.)

The federal government encourages energy-efficient home improvements by offering tax credits for certain upgrades. For existing primary residences, putting in energy-efficient windows and doors, furnaces, air conditioners, insulation, water heaters, roofs and some other items qualifies you to take a tax credit of either 10% of the cost or specific amounts ranging from $50 to $300, depending on the improvement. The credit is currently set to expire at the end of 2021, and a lifetime cap of $500 applies to the total value of credits you can get in all tax years after 2005. (A credit is a dollar-for-dollar reduction of your tax bill.)

You can snag a more lucrative tax credit for certain renewable-energy systems—including solar panels, small wind turbines and geothermal heat pumps—on new and existing residences, including second homes. Congress recently extended the tax break; now you can get a 26% credit for projects placed in service by the end of 2022, or 22% for projects placed in service in 2023.

Check for state and local incentives and rebates, too. Massachusetts homeowners, for example, can take a tax credit of $1,000 or 15% of the cost (whichever is smaller) for installing solar- or wind-energy systems. Some utility companies offer rebates for buying energy-efficient appliances and equipment or making other improvements. To see incentives available in your area, enter your zip code at www.dsireusa.org and www.energystar.gov/rebate-finder.

With Earth Day around the corner, now is a good time to take a look at how you can make your home more energy-efficient. We’ve listed several upgrades that qualify for a federal tax credit and can pay off over time in energy savings (as well as a few that don’t come with a tax break from Uncle Sam but still trim your energy bills; see below). Cost estimates and tax credit amounts include installation unless otherwise noted.

Before you get started, consider investing a few hundred dollars in a home energy audit, performed by a pro who will identify problem areas in your house and suggest fixes. With a blower door test, for example, a powerful fan set in an ex­terior door frame lowers air pressure inside the house, causing higher-pressure air outside to stream in through the house’s openings so the auditor can spot leaks. Auditors may also use infrared cameras, thermometers and furnace-efficiency meters to detect areas that need improvement. You can find a certified auditor in your area through the Residential Energy Services Network at www.hersindex.com. Your utility company may offer energy assessments or rebates for having one performed.

Insulation and air sealing

Cost: From a few hundred dollars for basic, do-it-yourself weather stripping and caulking to a few thousand dollars or more to upgrade insulation in your home.

Savings: An average 15% on heating and cooling costs—or an average 11% on total energy costs—for those who air seal their houses and add insulation in attics and crawl spaces or basements, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Tax credit: 10% of the cost of bulk insulation and air-sealing materials (installation costs are not eligible).

Ensuring that the inside of your home is protected from exterior cold air in the winter and warm air in the summer is one of the most cost-effective ways to save energy. That’s especially true in colder climates, although homes everywhere benefit from better insulation. “The more a house exchanges air with the outdoors, the less efficient it is,” says John Hensley, quality assurance director for consulting and inspection company Building Performance Solutions. Sealing and in­sulating your home may even allow you to invest in a smaller heating and air conditioning system when you upgrade it.

Adding weather stripping and caulk around window and door trims that are leaking air is a relatively easy and low-cost place to start. When it comes to larger sealing and insulation projects—for which you’ll likely want help from a contractor—focusing on the attic, which tends to have greater exposure to heat, cold and moisture than other parts of the house, often makes sense. Basements and crawl spaces are prime places to beef up insulation, too. And when you replace your roof and siding, you may want to add insulation over the roof sheathing or to your walls, says Jennifer Amann, buildings program director of the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.

Heating and air conditioning

Cost: About $5,000 to $12,000 to upgrade both heating and cooling systems, depending on the size and efficiency of the units.

Savings: Replacing a heat pump or air conditioner that is more than 10 years old with a high-efficiency unit can save up to 20% on heating and cooling costs, according to Energy Star. Certified gas furnaces are up to 15% more energy-efficient than standard models and can save up to $85 a year in energy costs.

Tax credit: Up to $300 for qualifying central air conditioners and air-source heat pumps; up to $150 for qualifying gas, oil or propane furnaces and boilers.

If your heat pump or air conditioner is more than 10 years old, or if your furnace or boiler is more than 15 years old, it may be coming due for a replacement. Along with choosing an energy-efficient unit, “one of the most important things is to make sure a contractor comes out and does a full assessment of your current equipment needs rather than just saying that you have a 4-ton system and need to replace it with a 4-ton system,” says Amann. To start, it’s possible that your current unit was not sized or installed properly. A professional should ensure that your new system is the appropriate size for the ductwork and refrigerant lines connected to it, says Hensley. And if you’ve made other upgrades that enhance your home’s efficiency, such as putting in new windows or adding insulation, that may affect the size of the equipment you need, too.

A professional can help guide you through the best options to update your heating and cooling system and whether switching from one type to another makes sense. You might want to consider replacing both your air conditioning and heating system with an air-source heat pump, which can produce significant energy savings. (We’re not talking about underground, geothermal heat pumps, which can cost $10,000 or more with installation.) Air-source heat pumps use the surrounding air to heat and cool your home, so they rely on electricity to move heat rather than to generate it, making them highly energy-efficient. Historically, such heat pumps have been best suited to warm and moderate climates. But thanks to advances in the technology, they’re becoming a more feasible option in areas where temperatures frequently dip below freezing. When an air-source heat pump replaces heating and cooling units in the northeast and mid-Atlantic regions, annual savings average $459 compared with electric resistance heaters and $948 compared with oil systems, according to Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships.

Windows

Cost: Replacing all of the windows in your home is one of the most expensive improvements on our list, but the savings on your energy bills and increased comfort make it worth serious consideration. Double-hung replacement windows with frames can range from $400 to $1,600 or more per window (including installation), depending on the brand and whether you choose vinyl or wood. Vinyl windows cost less and require less maintenance, and the frames can be filled with insulating foam.

Savings: Replacing single-pane windows with Energy Star–certified windows can save you from about $100 to nearly $600 in household energy bills a year for an average-size home, according to estimates by D&R International, an environmental consulting firm.

Tax credit: 10% of the cost of any Energy Star–certified windows (not including installation), up to $200. Energy Star skylights and doors are also eligible for a 10% credit.

Look for the Energy Star label, which means that the products meet the energy-saving criteria set by the Environmental Protection Agency. In the case of windows and doors, the key performance parameters are U-factor and Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC), according to Enesta Jones, senior press officer for the EPA. U-factor is a measure of heat flow through the product (insulating power), and SHGC is a measure of the amount of heat from the sun that will pass through a window. Skylights, or tubular daylighting devices, which gather sunlight at the roof and transmit it down into the home through a diffusing lens, use the same technology as energy-efficient windows, and they naturally light your home.

All Energy Star windows, doors and skylights save energy (and help the environment), but the standards vary by region. Windows that meet the Energy Star specification in the southern U.S. generally cost less than windows that meet the standard in the northern U.S., which require more-expensive glass. To find your zone, go to www.energystar.gov and search for “climate zone.”

Water heaters

Cost: From about $1,000 to $2,000 to install a tank heater; up to $5,000 for a tankless heater.

Savings: An Energy Star gas storage water heater uses 10% less energy than a standard model, and a family of four can save hundreds of dollars in energy costs over its lifetime, according to Energy Star. With an electric heat pump water heater, a family of four can save as much as $3,750.

Tax credit: Up to $300 for qualifying gas, oil, propane or electric heat pump water heaters.

Heating water uses a significant amount of energy in many homes—an average 12% of residential energy consumption, according to Energy Star. In most climates, it’s the second-highest component of residential energy bills, after heating and air conditioning, and in mild climates it may be the biggest energy user, says Amann.

New gas water heaters are considerably more efficient than past versions and may save you about $25 per month when you replace an older model, says Hensley. And tankless water heaters are worth a look, although their up-front costs are higher than tank heaters. They heat water on demand instead of regularly warming it in a tank, which means they can be about 24% to 34% more efficient than conventional tank heaters, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

You may see substantial energy savings by switching to a heat pump for water heating. “If you’re in a home with an electric resistance water heater, in almost all situations a heat pump water heater will be a beneficial investment for you,” says Amann. They typically cost at least $1,200 without installation, compared with as little as a few hundred dollars for a standard electric heater. But they use about one-third of the electricity, she says. Because a heat pump uses the air surrounding it to heat water, you can’t put it in a tight space, such as a small closet. But it should be a viable option in most homes.  

Roofing

Cost: About $120 to $150 or more per 100 square feet for asphalt shingles. Metal roofing may cost $200 to $900 per 100 square feet. With installation, total costs may run $5,000 to $15,000 or more.

Savings: About 7% to 15% of total cooling costs, according to the Cool Roof Rating Council.  

Tax credit: 10% of the cost of certified metal and asphalt roofs with pigmented coatings or cooling granules to reduce heat gain (installation costs aren’t eligible).

“Cool roofs” reflect sunlight more effectively than standard roofs, cutting down on heat absorption and potentially lowering surface temperatures by 50 degrees or more. Energy Star–certified roof products may reduce peak cooling demand by 10% to 15% in the hottest months. On the downside, cool roofs can increase heating costs in the winter, although “this annual heating penalty is usually small compared with the annual cooling savings, because roofs in cold climates tend to receive much less sunlight in winter than in summer,” according to the Cool Roof Rating Council. Using cool materials often makes the most economic sense if you have a flat roof because of how heat is distributed underneath it in your home.

White roofs are the most reflective, providing the greatest potential for energy savings. But you may be able to find qualifying materials in darker, more traditional colors. Asphalt roofs cost less than metal roofs, but metal is more durable, potentially lasting for decades longer than asphalt roofs.

Solar panels

Cost: An average $2.81 per watt, according to Energy­Sage. Many homeowners install a system of about 8 kilowatts, for a total of $22,480 before tax credits and other incentives.

Savings: As much as 100% of the cost of your electric bills. Recouping the cost of installing solar power in savings on your energy bills typically takes anywhere from five to 12 years.

Tax credit: 26% for solar projects placed in service by the end of 2022 or 22% for projects placed in service in 2023.

Harnessing the sun’s rays to power your home has become a more appealing prospect thanks to falling prices for solar panels, as well as tax credits and other breaks that take a significant chunk out of the bill. The 26% federal tax credit would cut the $22,480 average price for installing an 8-kilowatt system down to $16,635, and your state, locality or utility company may offer more incentives.

In deciding whether and how to install solar panels, you have a few major considerations, says Vikram Aggarwal, CEO and founder of EnergySage, an online marketplace where homeowners can collect bids from solar-energy installers. First, you need somewhere to put the panels—most homeowners install them on their roof, but those with plenty of land may put them in their backyard. If you want to place panels on your roof, it must have enough space to accommodate them and receive adequate sunlight, with minimal blockage from trees or buildings. Panels are typically installed on the south-facing side of a roof.

You also have to evaluate the size of the system you’ll need, based on your electricity consumption. Generally, you can get by with a smaller system in a sunny climate than you can for a similar home in areas that receive less sunlight. Energy­Sage has a calculator to help you judge how large of a system you may need and how much you could save by installing solar panels.

Overall costs will typically be lowest and savings highest with a solar-power system you purchase outright. With a lease, you host a solar-power system and send the solar company a fixed monthly payment. With a power purchase agreement (PPA), you pay the company for the electricity that the system you host generates. A lease or PPA may have no up-front cost for you, but you don’t get the tax credit because you don’t own the system.

Alternatively, you can finance a solar system with a loan. Tapping a home-equity line of credit (recent average rate for a $30,000 line of credit: 4.73%, according to Bankrate) is often a good option. Or you may be able to obtain a solar loan through your installer or from a bank or credit union. Online lender LightStream recently offered rates ranging from 3.99% to 14.49% for a term of 24 to 36 months for a solar loan of $10,000 to $24,999, or 6.99% to 16.29% for a term of 73 months to 84 months.

Solar renewable-energy certificates, or SRECs, allow homeowners in some areas—including Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C.—to sell the energy their solar power systems generate to utility companies. Each 1,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity your system produces is one SREC, and each SREC may be worth anywhere from about $10 or $20 up to a few hundred dollars.

Is a wind turbine right for you?

The potential for wind power isn’t limited to the massive wind farms scattered across the U.S. plains or the clusters of windmills in farmers’ fields. In fact, the federal government offers a tax credit of 26% through 2022 (dropping to 22% in 2023) for those who install a small wind turbine at their residence. But unless you have a lot of land, consistent winds and significant cash to invest, a wind-energy system probably doesn’t make sense.

Generally, you need at least one to two acres of clear land to put up a wind turbine. It should be placed upwind of buildings and trees and stand at least 30 feet higher than any object within 300 feet of it, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Many towers are at least 80 to 100 feet tall. That may be a problem if your community has zoning requirements that restrict the height of structures on residential properties. Your region should have average wind speeds of at least 10 miles per hour to power a turbine.

For a turbine that can produce 10 kilowatts of power—which could supply enough energy for a 2,500-square-foot house that uses about 2,000 kilowatts of electricity per month—you may pay upward of $50,000 before tax breaks or rebates.

Other ways to trim your energy bill

These environmentally friendly products don’t qualify for a federal tax break, but check EnergyStar.gov or your utility provider for rebates.

Light bulbs. Although compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) and light-emitting diodes (LEDs) can initially cost a little more than standard light bulbs—typically about $2 more for each CFL and $4 more for LEDs—they ultimately save you money because you spend less on your energy bill. They also last longer than incandescent light bulbs. The Department of Energy says that households that replace incandescent bulbs in the five most-used fixtures with Energy Star bulbs can save $75 annually.

Energy Star appliances. Energy Star–rated appliances are another great way to reduce your energy bill. For example, using soil sensors, improved water filtration and more-efficient jets, the latest Energy Star dishwashers (ranging from about $700 to $2,000) will save, on average, 3,870 gallons of water over their lifetime. A list of the most-efficient Energy Star appliances is at http://energystar.gov/most-efficient.

Power strips. Even electronics that are turned off use electricity when they are plugged in, typically accounting for as much as 10% of your electric bill, according to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. A power strip ($10 to $15) lets you easily turn off appliances plugged into it, reducing “vampire” energy usage. Smart power strips, such as timer power strips or motion-sensor power strips, can automatically turn off outlets.

Programmable thermostat. Smart therm­ostats, such as the Google Nest and Ecobee, which cost about $130 to $250 (check your energy company for rebates), let you control and schedule your heating and cooling settings using voice control or via an app. Many smart thermostats also come with motion sensors to help optimize your energy use. If you don’t want to tie your thermostat to your Wi-Fi (some homeowners have reported being hacked), you can also realize savings with a simple programmable model (about $20 to $150).

Home energy monitor. To get a bead on your home’s energy use, try a home energy monitor. It will provide details on your energy usage and recommendations on how to save. Some energy monitors, such as the Sense energy monitor, also allow you to monitor energy production of solar panels. Cost: $299.

Source: kiplinger.com

Joey Li Appointed Moe’s Home Collection VP of Supply Chain – Furniture Lighting & Decor

Moe’s Home Collection, the North American retailer & wholesaler best known for its modern & contemporary furniture, lifestyle products & home décor, has announced Joey Li as their Vice President of Supply Chain. 
This news couldn’t come at a more perfect time as Li plans to oversee the entirety of MHC’s Ocean Logistics, navigating the company through these historical high tides of shipment disruptions brought on by the global pandemic.  
“It’s a hard situation & the current conditions are not  
expected to change within the first quarter of 2021, although myself & my team remain hopeful as we continue to adapt to these significant changes & project for further disruptions. We constantly shift as every day comes with different news. There are many factors at play here as to why freight prices remain extremely elevated, costing thousands more in premiums & surcharges, like delays, congestion, man & equipment shortages, etc. But, as the demand we saw in Q3 & Q4 2020 eases out, the balance between import & export will be restored come Q2 2021.” – Joey Li, VP of Supply Chain  
Adapting to these new standards will remain a cross-industry challenge. Still, Moe’s Home Collection is confident that the  reality of volatility is being accommodated as best it can with their new VP at the helm. Pivoting his role from Warehouse,  Operations & Director of Logistics & Customer Experience, Li will now focus his attention to the upper stream of the supply  chain from origins -China, Vietnam & India- straight to point of consumption. He will be delegating more of his time  towards overseeing their Asia office, Ocean Logistics & the company’s Quality Control Teams.  
“Joey has now been with Moe’s for 3.5 years & during this tenure has led our warehouse & operational departments  during a time of significant growth. He has consistently taken on additional responsibilities since his start & we are greatly  looking forward to continuously improving our areas of business with Joey’s leadership.” – Moe Jr. Samieian, Co-CEO 
With his transformational leadership experience & proven track record of driving quality improvements alongside his  high-performance team, Li will administer the company’s supply chain strategy, objectives, improve supply chain security  & continue to deliver sustainable results. With his great depth & industry experience in operations management, his focus  for 2021 will be on supply chain quality, driving for more excellence in reliability & quality from suppliers & to build  flexible systems that improve & help his departments stay on track.  
As the industry continues to manage through these major organizational impacts, Moe’s Home is well on its way to  establishing the overall direction & strategic initiatives for a significant function of their business; that is, delivering best-in class products alongside their intense customer focus.
 

Source: furniturelightingdecor.com

Renters, Here’s How to Save Money on Your Heating Bill This Winter

I’ve had to leave reviews more than once, and conveniently, the landlords took care of the issues the very next day.
It’s a minor cost (again, something you can buy for under 15 bucks) but it could save you big-time on heating bills.
You can temporarily improve the situation by rolling up a towel and blocking the bottom of the door.
Timothy Moore is a market research editor and freelance writer covering topics on personal finance, careers, education, pet care and automotive. He has worked in the field since 2012 and has been featured on sites like The Penny Hoarder, Debt.com, Ladders, Glassdoor and The News Wheel.

8 Inexpensive Ways Renters Can Lower Their Heating Bills

1. Close Off Unused Rooms

Before buying a house, I rented several apartments in southwestern Ohio, which gets so cold in the winter (and fall and sometimes spring) that I may as well have lived in Alaska.
Obviously, you need to keep your apartment warm enough to prevent your pipes from freezing, but if you can stand the chill, turn down the thermostat to the low- to mid-60s. Bundle up in sweatshirts, thick socks and blankets to stay warm — and don’t forget to cover up your pets, too.

A person turns down the heat in their home.
Aileen Perilla/The Penny Hoarder

2. Turn Down the Heat

If it is your first time installing, ask someone who’s done it for help. When incorrectly installed, your window will look like it’s been covered in shrink wrap.
Source: thepennyhoarder.com

A woman turns on a space heater in her home.
Aileen Perilla/The Penny Hoarder

3. Use a Space Heater

Luckily, the house I purchased has great new windows, excellent insulation and doors that actually close properly.
When you cook in your oven and on the stove top, heat emanates into your kitchen and surrounding rooms. Crack the oven open after turning it off to let the remaining heat filter out into your home.

A person waters a plant next to a window.
Aileen Perilla/The Penny Hoarder

4. Insulate Your Windows

If you live in a two- or three-bedroom apartment but use one of the rooms for storage, exercise or guests, close the door and shut the vents in that room when it is not in use. Otherwise, you will unnecessarily be heating an unused space.
If you encounter a landlord who dodges your requests, tell them in writing that you will be replacing the weather stripping yourself. Do not make it a question.
An easy way to lower your heating bill in the winter is to run your heat at a lower temperature.

Pro Tip
Privacy Policy

5. Stop Eating Out

And if the space is so infrequently used, consider downsizing to a smaller apartment the next time your lease is up. If you stay within the same apartment complex, you often will not have to pay new deposits.
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6. Block Out Drafts From Your Door

It’s much more challenging to combat these issues in apartments because, as a renter, you can’t just invest in new windows or redo the insulation. In my eight years of renting, however, I discovered a number of ways to cut back on my apartment heating bills.
Weather stripping for doors and windows is key to retaining heat in the winter (and keeping it out in the summer). If your windows and doors are letting too much heat out, ask your landlord to replace the weather stripping.

A window is photographed.
Aileen Perilla/The Penny Hoarder

7. Weather Strip Like Crazy

Of course you can save money on meals by eating at home instead of dining out, but in the winter, baking and cooking can have the added benefit of reducing your heating bill.
You can do this by hanging thick curtains in front of the windows, but an even better solution (or a solution to combine with the curtains) is purchasing a window insulation film kit. You can get a kit to insulate 10 windows for under .
One apartment I lived in shortly after college had a living room with one wall that was entirely windows, overlooking a quaint pond. I toured the apartment in the springtime and was immediately sold. Little did I know that these single-pane windows would be the bane of my existence just nine months later when frost began forming on the inside.

8. Leave a Review

The problem with every single apartment I lived in was the same: It was exorbitantly expensive to heat them in the winter due to old systems, ancient windows and poor insulation.
Since renters can’t control whether their landlords install replacement windows (though I spent at least an hour a week in the office demanding that mine do so, to no avail), finding temporary ways to keep heat from leaking out is crucial.
The bottoms of exterior doors are a major culprit for heat loss in the winter. If you can see daylight creeping in from beneath your door or feel a cool breeze, speak to your landlord about addressing this issue.
Before you know it, winter will come and go. Reduce energy consumption year-round by also reading our tips for reducing utility bills in the summer. <!–

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OK, so you’ve turned the heat down, closed off unused rooms and bundled up in blankets, but you’re still feeling chilly. A small space heater might do the trick — and you can purchase one for less than .

14 Products That Flopped Big-Time

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We’ve all had brainstorms that didn’t work out.

But some awful ideas get made into products that cost big bucks to promote and then become embarrassing belly flops.

Those products live on in our collective memory, a reminder that even CEOs and high-paid marketing whizzes are capable of blowing it.

Here’s a look at some fantastic flops that sent their inventors back to the drawing board.

1. New Coke

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Let’s just crown New Coke the king of all product whoopsies.

When Coca-Cola introduced the reformulated soft drink in 1985, the company hoped to re-energize its brand.

Instead, cola consumers bubbled over with complaints. As the Coca-Cola Co. says, the change “spawned consumer angst the likes of which no business has ever seen.” Just 79 days later, the company brought its original formula back.

Since then, New Coke has become a prime example of the risks in messing with something that isn’t broken. The beverage’s brief, turbulent life has even been rehashed for lessons on marketing failures in business schools.

In 2019, New Coke had the last laugh, making a very brief promotional comeback tied to an appearance in Netflix’s 1980s-themed sci-fi series “Stranger Things.”

2. The Edsel

PICTOR PICTURE COMPANY / Shutterstock.com

Pity the poor Edsel. The brand of car, produced by automaker Ford beginning in 1957, was named for Edsel Ford, son of famed Ford Motor Co. founder Henry Ford.

Now, though, it’s included in certain dictionaries as a term for a product that fails to gain public acceptance despite high expectations.

Some blame the car’s unusual look, especially the vertical chrome oval on the front grill. Others blame mechanical issues — a joke circulated that Edsel was an acronym for “Every Day Something Else Leaks,” according to the Washington Post.

Ford stopped producing the car in 1959. But that’s not the end of the story. Today, a mint-condition Edsel can sell for up to six figures, the Post says.

3. Google Glass

Peppinuzzo / Shutterstock.com

Created in 2011, Google Glass sounded like something out of a science-fiction movie or novel.

The product resembled an odd pair of eyeglasses. The makers promoted it as a wearable computer that could take photos, shoot video and act as a GPS, among other things.

Amid product bugs, bad reviews and worries that Glass wearers could surreptitiously record people in public places, Google shuttered the original program in 2015, the New York Times writes.

And yet, Google Glass never completely went away, and MIT Technology Review recently reported the release of a new version, the Glass Enterprise Edition 2, priced at $999, for sale to businesses only. Glass “has quietly gained a foothold in various industries, including logistics and manufacturing, providing hands-free access to information as people work,” the report says.

4. Crystal Pepsi

ferdyboy / Shutterstock.com

In the 1970s, earth tones dominated design trends. The 1980s brought neon brights.

And then came the 1990s, when the trend was for no color at all — clear products were all the rage.

Crystal Pepsi, the see-through soda, led the charge with a caffeine-free product it launched in 1993 with a big Super Bowl ad splash.

Pepsi pulled the soda pop from shelves by the end of 1994. Even its inventor says Crystal Pepsi didn’t taste enough like the original Pepsi.

Crystal Pepsi was brought back for a limited time in 2016 before fading into 1990s nostalgia, along with “Seinfeld” and grunge music.

5. WOW! potato chips

Aaron Amat / Shutterstock.com

Fat-free potato chips? It’s enough to make a consumer say “Wow!”

That was the hope. But when Frito-Lay introduced Wow! chips in 1998, there were issues.

The chips reportedly tasted like regular potato chips, achieving their fat-free status by using olestra, a fat substitute, which Procter & Gamble marketed as Olean, the New York Times reported in 1999.

However, there were gut-level side effects that occurred with excessive consumption of olestra over short periods of time that were, er, hard to stomach. As a result, the Food and Drug Administration required olestra products to carry what the Times called “arguably the most unappealing food product label in history: ‘Olestra may cause cramping and loose stools.’”

The FDA lifted the label requirement in 2003. But it was too late for Wow! chips.

6. ‘E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial’ video game

360b / Shutterstock.com

“E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” was a blockbuster at movie theaters, winning four Academy Awards in 1983.

But the video game of the same name, designed for the Atari 2600 computer, has been called the worst video game ever. Game designer Howard Scott Warshaw had just five short weeks to develop the game. Apparently, it showed. Players rejected it.

Truckloads of cartridges were buried in a landfill in a New Mexico desert — as documented by a film company that dug some up in 2014.

7. The Apple Newton

Anton_Ivanov / Shutterstock.com

Apple Inc. has created plenty of dazzling, world-changing products, including the iPhone.

The Apple Newton MessagePad was the company’s first attempt to create a handheld digital personal assistant or tablet computer. The Newton, equipped with a touch screen, could be used to take notes, translate handwriting into text and even send a fax.

Or could it? The handwriting translation worked about as well as trying to read your doctor’s messy scribbles — even “Doonesbury” mocked it in 1993.

Apple co-founder Steve Jobs hated the Newton. That sealed its doom, according to Wired magazine. Jobs canned the Newton shortly after he returned to Apple in 1997.

8. The DeLorean

Roman Vukolov / Shutterstock.com

John DeLorean’s car company made just one model of car, the eponymous DeLorean, but thanks to “Back to the Future,” many Americans recognize it.

The DeLorean’s famed gull-wing doors were hinged to open at the car’s roof, making the vehicle stand out from the crowd.

The cars were made only for model years 1981 through 1983. There were quality-control issues, and the car lacked power, CNN recalls.

It didn’t help that John DeLorean was arrested in a drug-smuggling case (he was later acquitted) and his company filed for bankruptcy.

The striking car might have been forgotten if not for its use as a time machine in the popular 1985 movie “Back to the Future” and its sequels.

9. The XFL

Sergey Nivens / Shutterstock.com

Remember the Memphis Maniax? The Los Angeles Xtreme? The Chicago Enforcers?

No? That’s understandable: Those were all team names from the XFL, a defunct American football league that took the field for one season, in 2001.

Half-owned by NBC and half by the World Wrestling Federation (now the WWE), the league may be best remembered for letting teams allow players to put nicknames on their jerseys. Running back Rod Smart made himself infamous by wearing “He Hate Me” on his Las Vegas Outlaws jersey.

The league deflated after one championship game and about a year of TV programming.

A new XFL launched in 2020, with such teams as the Seattle Dragons, St. Louis Battlehawks and Tampa Bay Vipers. But in March of last year, it had to cancel the remaining games as the COVID-19 pandemic began to spread. In April, it suspended operations, let players go and filed for bankruptcy.

But, wait. There’s a sequel. In August 2020, actor Duane “the Rock” Johnson and a group of investors purchased the league. They now hope to play again in spring 2022.

10. Microsoft Clippy

A man is frustrated at his laptop computer while trying to work
Bashigo / Shutterstock.com

Hi, it looks like you’re writing an article about failed products. Would you like some help? Microsoft thought you might.

Beginning with Office for Windows, in 1997, Microsoft created an interactive virtual assistant that could pop up in a user’s document on the screen to offer help. The default setting for the assistant was a paper clip named Clippit, dubbed “Clippy.”

Clippy’s tendency to pop up and insert himself into a user’s work was often more annoying than useful.

The company turned off Clippy’s default setting in 2001, and by 2002 was actively poking fun of Clippy in its ads. He quietly clipped off into the sunset after that.

11. Betamax

Vorm in Beeld / Shutterstock.com

PC or Apple computer? Marvel or DC Comics? VHS or Betamax? The VHS-versus-Betamax competition has found its place among some of the great debates of our time.

Both were formats used by consumers to watch and record video. Betamax lost the format war.

According to PC Magazine, Betamax was introduced in 1975, and early cassettes only held one hour of video. VHS came out a year later with longer recording time. The fight was on.

As the magazine notes elsewhere, many users thought Betamax was the better format, but in the end, that didn’t matter. VHS caught on, and Betamax was gone by the 1990s.

VHS fans couldn’t gloat for long. VHS eventually was replaced by DVDs.

12. McDonald’s Arch Deluxe

Ratana21 / Shutterstock.com

In 1996, the fast-food chain tried to class up its menu with the Arch Deluxe line of sandwiches that included burgers, chicken and fish. The Arch Deluxe burger, aimed to appeal to adult tastes with a “secret” mustard and mayo sauce, was the marquee item.

Analysts estimated that development of the Arch Deluxe cheeseburger cost the company between $100 million and $200 million, the L.A. Times reported.

McDonald’s commercials bragged that the burger wasn’t for kids. Really, was that the best sales technique for a family restaurant? McDonald’s pulled the product by the late 1990s, Business Insider reports.

13. Bic for Her pens

NakoPhotography / Shutterstock.com

Sure, some products appeal more to one gender than another. But you’d think the simple ballpoint pen is a unisex accessory.

When pen company Bic came out with Bic for Her pens in 2012, the jokes pretty much picked up the Bic pen and wrote themselves. Hilarious Amazon reviews skewered the concept.

The pens themselves were designed in pastel colors but were otherwise unremarkable. Bic for Her pens (later called the BIC Cristal for Her Ball Pen) are no longer made, but you can gaze on their oh-so-feminine packaging at Amazon.

14. Smell-O-Vision

Movie projector
Fer Gregory / Shutterstock.com

Hollywood movies have come a long way. Silent films gave way to talkies, and black-and-white films to Technicolor. IMAX, 3-D, Dolby surround sound — they’ve all found their way into the theaters.

Some movie marvels, though, were goofy gimmicks. Case in point: the 1960 invention Smell-O-Vision and the similar Aroma-Rama, introduced in 1959.

As American Movie Classics’ “The History of Film” recalls, cinemas pumped relevant scents, such as pipe tobacco or smashed grapes, into the theater to accompany a “scented” film. Only a very few movies ever took advantage of the trick.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Source: moneytalksnews.com

This sleek box instantly turns all the speakers in your home into high-fidelity audio equipment – Yanko Design

Think of every audio device you’ve got in your home… standalone speaker units, headphones, earphones, your TV, record player, etc. Now imagine they were vehicles. The larger ones would be cars, trucks, the smaller ones like headphones would be bikes or scooters. In this analogy, if these audio devices are vehicles, the Dense Home is like a turbocharger for your vehicles. Designed to look like a slick, innocuous box that blends right into your home decor, the Dense Home is a stereo amplifier that just makes audio sound richer, louder, and frankly, more sublime. It boosts the ability of your audio devices by taking their input and amplifying the audio signal going in. Using a top tier Digital to Analog Converter (DAC), the Dense Home transcribes the digital input signal into a near-perfect, high-fidelity, amplified analog signal. This means music sounds richer on your devices, and sounds/instruments you never noticed in your favorite songs end up becoming more clear. In every which way, amplifiers help you listen to music the way it was produced in the studio.

If you close your eyes and imagine an amplifier, the chances of you thinking of something sleek are pretty slim. Amplifiers never received the ‘sleekification’ treatment that the rest of the consumer electronics industry got. Even today, studio-grade amplifiers are clunky, made of metal or plastic, and have wires coming out of all ends. The Dense Home, however, looks like a slick slab of marble resting on your countertop. Designed to appear as streamlined and modern as the rest of the objects around your house, the Dense Home was built to complement your space while looking quite literally clean and cutting edge.

The amp comes with a Corian surface on top that mimics marble or granite, and routes all the wires at the back. It works with wireless devices too, amplifying the signal to your headphones to make your music sound top notch. The Class D stereo amplifier on the inside helps effectively enrich and amplify your sounds while efficiently saving power, and the Corian plate on top supports touch interaction, allowing you to slide your finger up or down to control the volume, or select your input and output. The Dense Home supports analog as well as digital inputs and outputs, which means you could either replay your vinyl records at lossless quality, or listen to audio files from your computer or phone at the highest definition. Support for wireless output devices effectively means your regular headphones now become high-quality ones, and the Dense team is working on integrating Spotify too, so your entire playlist gets turbocharged to its highest quality!

Designer: Dense

Click Here to Buy Now: $299 $799 ($500 off). Hurry, only 83/100 left!

Dense Home: All-In-One Hi-Fi Audio System

Dense Home is a smart audio amplifier that will replace all of your audio devices into one. It’s packed with connectivities that can connect to any audio devices in your home.

Design & Experience

No more heavy boxes to drive your beautiful speakers and headphones. The natural look of Corian Solid surface top and the dark shade of the seamless aluminum body, Dense Home is no longer an electronic device, but a piece of furniture completing your home design.

The soft Limestone White or the solid Rock Black color can brighten up or tone down your space.

Dense Home’s top is made from a customized solid sheet that is unique in each and every way. Each Dense home is unique to you.

Dense Home control only needs your soft touch. A light tap on the top switches the input and output.

Audio Performance

Stereo Amplifier, Headphone Amplifier, USB Audio DAC, HDMI receiver, Bluetooth Receiver

The highest precision analog and digital parts were carefully selected for the best performance. Experience the unbiased crystal clear sounds from the premium ESS Technology DAC with TI Burr-Brown amplifiers.

Loud and Clear 70W Power

Dense Home can be a 35W Stereo amplifier or a 70W Mono amplifier with twice the power for one channel. Don’t worry if the input is digital, Dense StereoConnect feature can share audio data with two Dense Homes with perfect sync.

Part of Your Music Life

Dense Home is not an average audio box. It’s a smart device that constantly analyzes the system conditions and runs efficiently. High-Performance ARM Core Processor keeps the best performance, optimizes tasks, and reduces power consumption.

Dense Home uses a Class D amplifier topology with a proprietary circuit design to reach 90% efficiency without compromising the noise performance. So, unlike the classic Class AB amplifier, which has an efficiency of up to 60%, Dense Home can save power and the environment.

Click Here to Buy Now: $299 $799 ($500 off). Hurry, only 83/100 left!

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Source: yankodesign.com

The Latest Smart Home Tech to Add to your Home

Living in a smart house used to only exist in sci-fi movies. Fast forward to today and connected homes and smart gadgets are quickly becoming the norm. Smart home tech has transformed every aspect of home life, from security and basic kitchen tasks to how a house is built. It’s making our lives more comfortable, economical, convenient, and safe.

If you haven’t upgraded your home with the latest tech there are many ways to start. If your needs are relatively simple, there are affordable options that can bring about convenience, however, if you want to go all out you can create a fully connected and modern space. So, check out the latest top smart home tech products that you can add to your home today.

Smart Home Living Room

Smart Home Living Room

Voice Technology

Voice assistants

“Hey Alexa, play my workout playlist.” While voice assistants have been around since the early 2010s, it has taken us a while to get comfortable talking to devices. Today’s most popular commands include asking voice assistants to play music, answer a question, turn on the lights, provide the weather, and set reminders, alarms, and timers. As artificial intelligence (AI) advances, virtual assistants will become more personalized towards individuals. New features such as voice detection can recognize who is talking and create a unique, tailored experience, like calling you by a nickname or providing music recommendations that fit your style. 

Smart Home Tech on a shelf

Smart Home Tech on a shelf

Home Security 

Video doorbells, cameras, and alarm systems 

We have all heard stories about porch pirates stealing packages. One of the biggest smart home tech trends is investing in video doorbells, security cameras, and alarm systems. Grouped together, a standardized smart home security system may be one of the best investments you can make to protect your family and your home. Video doorbells and home security cameras now have live views and voice capabilities that allow users to see and speak to people at the door from virtually anywhere. Motion sensors can detect and record activity that can trigger an alarm or phone notification and alert authorities. Installing these can provide that added sense of security knowing that your home is being monitored 24/7. 

Fingerprint and facial recognition door locks

Installing fingerprint or facial recognition locks can change your life, especially if you always misplace your spare key. Biometric technology and Bluetooth have already made their way into phones and tablets, but they are now starting to become more common in door locks. With just a glance or fingerprint scan, a lock can recognize a person by targeting facial features or fingerprint patterns to detect whether they are welcome or not. Not at home or lost your key? This technology can also be synced with a phone app or Bluetooth so that owners can remotely lock and unlock a door at the touch of a button. 

Indoor drones

Imagine your own personal security guard patrolling the halls while you are not at home. While this might not be common today, drone innovation has made strides within the home security space. Unlike traditional video cameras, drones provide better ground activity and can cover more areas. While you are away, automated drone technology will fly inside your home monitoring different rooms and areas. Take it a step further, users can create map paths for the drone to follow.

New Smart Door Lock Tech

New Smart Door Lock Tech

Sustainable Smart Home Tech

Solar panels 

Using solar panels for on-site energy generation has become a popular alternative to traditional electricity, especially in cities that get a lot of sun year-round like Miami, FL. Now, architects and designers are finding unique ways to incorporate solar panels into the design of a home, not just on the roof. Solar panels can be used in different ways that can save homeowners hundreds of dollars per month such as heating water, providing energy, and charging electric vehicles. They are also likely to enhance your home’s value, and depending on where you live, you can even earn tax credits and rebates.

Living plant walls

Plants are a fun way to bring color and life into your home. Living walls also known as green walls, can be a great way to style plain backdrops to create a striking focal point in your home. Besides design, living walls serve multiple sustainability purposes. They can be used to improve air quality as a natural air pollutant filter, serve as a noise buffer, and create added insulation during the winter months. Living walls can also be configured to filter out water from sinks, showers, and appliances. Water is redirected to the top of the wall, filters and irrigates plants, and is treated for reuse, creating the ultimate smart home tech piece for the environment. 

Solar Panels on Roof of Home

Solar Panels on Roof of Home

Home Fixtures

Human-centric lighting 

Light bulbs are a great entry-point into smart home tech. Connected to a smart device, lightbulbs can help you look like you are home when on vacation, change colors based on mood, save on energy consumption, and conveniently turn off all the lights with a single voice command. Using smart home lights throughout your house can also drastically upgrade the look and feel of a room or outdoor space. Consider adding smart light bulbs to your kitchen, bedrooms, and even driveway to adjust hue and brightness based on what you might be feeling.

Programmable thermostats 

Many people are not aware of how much a thermostat impacts the household budget. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, heating and cooling costs accounts for half of the average home utility bill. Smart thermostats seek to tackle this problem. Within one week of installation, smart thermostats can learn schedules to modify temperatures based on household activities. They can also track daily and monthly usage to get a sense of where heat and air are being directed to and adjust temperatures accordingly based on the season. 

Smart Home Thermostat Tech

Smart Home Thermostat Tech

In the Kitchen 

Kitchen appliances

For those who love to cook, consider adding smart appliances into your kitchen. Modern-day fridges can take phone calls, link to television, save energy, and provide recipes. However, new fridge tech has not stopped there. If you are out and about at the grocery store and want to check what needs to be replaced, some fridges allow you to access built-in cameras via your smartphone to see what’s inside your fridge no matter where you may be. Smart ovens are also starting to incorporate phone connectivity. People can preheat their oven on the way home, adjust timers remotely, and have notifications sent via text message when food is done cooking.

Kitchen counters and workspaces

Ditch the granite countertops and go with a smart work surface. One of the latest technologies in kitchen countertops includes a sink that can disappear and reappear with a single wave of the hand. Smart home tech also seeks to tackle problems such as food consumption. Kitchen scales are being embedded into the stone that can allow sensors to measure and weigh ingredients. With the data, a mobile app can provide curated recipes with the goal of preparing delicious meals without food waste.

Smart Home Kitchen

Smart Home Kitchen

Spa Bathrooms

Smart showers & chromatherapy bathtubs

The perfect shower concert just got easier. A fun way to spruce up your bathroom time is by installing a Bluetooth speaker showerhead. These speakers easily connect to your phone to blast your favorite tunes while taking a shower. For something more sophisticated, showers are starting to double as steam rooms by trapping vaporous steam to elicit pore opening moisture. If you’re looking to relax after a long day at work, Chromatherapy, or color therapy bathtubs, can help put your mind and body at ease by using colored lights to elicit feelings. 

Touchless toilets and digital bidets

The toilet is one of the most germ-ridden locations in your home. Highly advanced toilets seek to keep things clean and comfortable by integrating features such as self-opening and closing lids, heated seats, deodorizing systems, and temperature-controlled water. For freshening up, digital bidets also can be automated for hands-free operation. Two self-sterilizing nozzles spray gently aerated spritzes of water which can be adjusted for temperature, pressure, and spray width. They even come with an air dryer and deodorizer. 

Smart Home Tech Bathroom

Smart Home Tech Bathroom

Making a Smart Home Gym

Touchscreen fitness mirrors

Smart home tech is bringing the gym to you. Touchscreen, wall-mounted fitness mirrors are the latest craze in home gym technology. If you are missing the instruction and motivation of an in-person trainer, simply turn on the screen and let an AI trainer provide guided workouts and fitness programs that fit your liking. New tech also includes virtual spotters, sensors to monitor every rep, and measuring your progress in real-time. Remote group training has also become more popular, and groups can virtually work out together from the comfort of their home while still keeping the workout, music, and atmosphere people love about a local gym.

Workout equipment

If curating your workout is your thing, there are many products to help you keep track of your fitness goals. Smart dumbbells and kettlebells can automatically change weights up to 42lbs and track reps from the touch of a button. These are perfect for smaller home gym owners looking to get in simple workouts such as shoulder presses and deadlifts. Punching bags with smart technology are a great way to blow off some steam. These punching bags come equipped with trackers that you wrap around your hand to track punch speed and the number of punches via an app. This is perfect for the person who loves a quick and specific workout. Stationary Bikes are a great way to get in that much-needed cardio, the newest technology offers pre-recorded classes that sync to the mechanics of the bike to automatically adjust resistance and incline as well as the ability to sync to smartwatches. 

Gym Equipment

Gym Equipment

Redfin is not affiliated with nor endorses or guarantees any of the products or services mentioned.

Source: redfin.com

How to Feed Your Family on a Tight Budget – 20 Cheap Ways to Save

Are you worried about how you’re going to feed your family this month? If so, you’re not alone.

According to a May 2020 analysis by Feeding America, pre-pandemic, 37 million people, including 11 million children, lived in a food-insecure household. Due to the economic impacts of COVID-19, Feeding America expects food insecurity to increase in the United States in 2020 and beyond.

The U.S. is one of the world’s wealthiest countries, yet the World Economic Forum reports that we have one of the highest percentages of children living in poverty.

Many families go through tough financial stretches at some point. And having to organize a grocery list and put food on the table when you’re juggling bills is an incredibly stressful experience. But knowing where to shop, how to meal-plan, and what to buy can help you make the best of a difficult situation and save money on groceries until things improve.

How to Buy Food on a Tight Budget

When your grocery budget gets slashed, you need to do whatever you can to cut back and keep your family fed. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to stretch your food budget and maximize what you can buy.

1. Get Help With Food

If you qualify, several food assistance programs can help you feed your family when money gets tight. These include the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, also known as WIC.

In addition to signing up for food assistance programs, you can also visit a local food pantry or soup kitchen. A food pantry can provide you with fresh and packaged foods, while a soup kitchen serves prepared hot meals to the community.

Few food pantries and soup kitchens require you to have a referral or income verification, but you might need to provide proof of address in some locations. You can also visit multiple food pantries in your area throughout the month to make sure your family has enough to eat.


2. Know Where to Shop

Food prices can vary dramatically depending on where you shop. Some stores, like Kroger, have notoriously high prices compared to others, such as Walmart.

According to the 2019 Dunnhumby retail preference index, the following grocery store chains have the most affordable prices in the U.S.:

  1. Aldi
  2. Market Basket
  3. WinCo
  4. Food4Less
  5. Costco
  6. Walmart
  7. Trader Joe’s
  8. Walmart Neighborhood Market
  9. Lidl
  10. Amazon
  11. H-E-B
  12. Sam’s Club

To see just how much money you can save by selectively shopping at some stores, look at this fourth-quarter 2020 pricing for ingredients for a basic taco night and compare the grocery bill between a Kroger and Walmart located in the Mid-Southern region of the United States (prices displayed at the links may vary by region, date, and sale price).

To buy these ingredients at Kroger, each one would cost:

Final cost: $15.64

To buy the same or similar ingredients at Walmart, each one would cost:

Final cost: $12.72

While most prices are lower at Walmart, Kroger does have some products for less than the retail giant. That’s especially true when it comes to weekly sales.

Walmart does rollbacks on some items, but smaller grocery chains often offer significant savings on certain products to get you in the door. So if you can shop in multiple locations each week and pay close attention to what’s on sale, you can save a significant amount of money. If not, choose the grocery store that has the best deals on what you need that week, and you’ll still save.

But you’re not just limited to traditional grocery stores.

Salvage grocery stores, which are also called “discount grocery stores” or “grocery outlets,” sell food at a deep discount, making them a convenient option for saving money on your grocery budget.

At these stores, you might find food that is:

  • At or near its expiration date
  • Scratched or dented or in torn packaging
  • Salvaged from truck wrecks
  • Seasonal in nature (for example, Christmas-decorated packaging after Christmas)
  • Sourced from stores that are closing
  • Overstock from the manufacturer

Unlike regular grocery stores, discount grocery stores always have something different on the shelves because their food stock comes from unpredictable sources. You might find unique foods like hummus or gluten-free options or pantry products like toilet paper and paper towels. You never know what will be in stock until you walk through the door.

Use the search term “discount grocery store near me” or “salvage grocery store near me” to find a retailer in your area. And call ahead before you go. Some discount grocery stores only accept cash or debit cards.

You can also find deals at international grocery stores, which focus on a particular region’s cuisine, sometimes referred to as “ethnic” grocery stores. They’re excellent sources for staple foods and spices used in that cuisine.

For example, there are often deals on rice and condiments like soy sauce at Asian grocery markets. Latin markets often sell rice, dry beans, and spices like cumin for a song compared to your local grocery store. Use the search term “international grocery store near me” or “ethnic grocery store near me” to find a retailer.


3. Shop in the Right Order

Once you’ve signed up for all the benefits you qualify for, it’s crucial to shop in the right order to maximize the food you can bring home.

Start your shopping at your local food pantry or a salvage store. Then use your WIC card, then your SNAP card, to purchase other food and household items. You can then use your own funds to buy whatever else you need.


4. Buy Generic

There is a clear advantage to buying generic versus brand-name foods. How much you save varies. But Consumer Reports notes that generic foods are 25% cheaper on average than the name brand. And according to their testing, generic foods are just as palatable as their more expensive counterparts.

To see just how much you can save buying generic, compare brand-name and generic prices for some of the ingredients you would need for a lasagna recipe at the same Mid-Southern U.S. Walmart.

You can buy the Great Value brand of the ingredients at these prices:

Final cost: $18.90

But if you were to buy the name brand of the same or similar-quantity ingredients, it would cost you:

Final cost: $26.39


5. Avoid Convenience Foods

How often do you buy convenience foods for your family? You can usually find convenience foods in the middle aisles of the grocery store. They include processed or premade foods, such as microwavable rice, casserole mixes, breakfast oatmeal mixes, granola, canned soups, cookies, chips, or frozen meals.

According to a 2010 study published in the journal Family Medicine, the cost per calorie of convenience foods was 24% higher than whole foods. And a 2017 study published in the journal Public Health Nutrition examined the cost of home-cooked meals compared to takeout meals in New Zealand. In this study, researchers came to the same conclusion: Home-cooked meals are less expensive.

However, a 2018 study published in the journal Agricultural Economics found that these price differences can depend on where you live. If you live in a food desert, an urban or rural area with very few options to purchase healthy foods, healthy whole foods might cost 9.2% more than if you lived in a location with greater access to markets.

But most people will eat healthier and spend less money buying raw ingredients and cooking meals from scratch. In general, the more work someone else has put into prepping your food, the more it’s going to cost you per serving.

For example, a box of Quaker Instant Oatmeal cost $0.21 per ounce on Amazon in Q4 2020, while a container of Old Fashioned Quaker Oats cost $.0.15 per ounce. Although the price per ounce might differ at your local grocery store, you’re generally going to pay less per serving when you put in the time and work to cook food yourself.

To save money when shopping for fresh produce, opt for fruits and veggies closest to their raw, natural form. And keep in mind you can regrow many fruits and vegetables from scraps, which can help further stretch your food budget.

No matter what you need, focus on buying raw ingredients and cooking them from scratch rather than purchasing preseasoned or prepared convenience foods.


6. Buy Fresh Produce In-Season

Another way to save money on produce is to plan family meals around in-season produce.

For example, fall is apple season, which means they cost much less per pound than they do in spring. Strawberries are much less expensive in June than they are in January.

To see a full list of when each fruit and vegetable is in-season, check out the USDA’s Seasonal Produce Guide.


7. Opt for Canned or Frozen Produce When It Makes Sense

In a 2016 report on the cost of satisfying the government’s fruit and vegetable recommendations, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimated the cost of 156 fruits and vegetables to show that a family of four can get their recommended daily allowance of healthy foods on a tight budget. But you have to know what to buy. Some of the most affordable fruits and vegetables include:

  • Watermelon: $0.21 per cup
  • Bananas: $0.29 per cup
  • Apples: $0.41 per cup
  • Oranges: $0.58 per cup
  • Grapes: $0.72 per cup
  • Potatoes: $0.18 per cup
  • Dried Pinto Beans: $0.19 per cup
  • Dried Lentils: $0.20 per cup
  • Onions: $0.41 per cup
  • Canned Tomatoes: $0.50 per cup
  • Broccoli: $0.72 per cup

Frozen or canned vegetables can be cheaper than fresh produce in some cases. They can also make cooking at home more accessible because they speed up preparation and cook times, often without sacrificing flavor. But are they less nutritious?

According to Harvard Health, frozen vegetables can be just as nutritious as fresh, especially when those “fresh” vegetables are several days or weeks old. A 2017 study published in the Journal of Food Composition and Analysis found that the flash-freezing process used on frozen vegetables and fruits can actually lock in enough nutrients to make them just as healthy — if not healthier — than fresh produce that’s been losing nutrients in refrigerated storage.

But as Harvard Health notes, canned vegetables and fruits may have added sodium and sugar content due to the liquids they’re packaged with. The USDA notes you can reduce some of the negative effects of the sodium (and possibly the sugar) by rinsing and draining your canned goods, though they may lose some water-soluble vitamin content in the process.

That said, frozen and canned vegetables are definitely more nutritious than convenience foods and can be even more of a bargain because they often go on sale. Check your grocery store’s sale circular each week and only buy what’s discounted.

You can also save money by avoiding produce prepped for easy consumption. For example, it’s easy to see the price difference between raw produce and prepared produce at the Mid-Southern Walmart:

When you’re shopping, take the time to determine which foods are the best bargain: fresh, canned, or frozen. It can vary depending on how much food you’re purchasing, what’s on sale, and what’s in season.


8. Buy Overstock Bakery Products

Many grocery retailers put out a cart of day-old baked goods they need to get rid of quickly. These baked goods are sold at a significant discount, and shopping there first is a straightforward way to eat well and save money on groceries.

You can also search for a bakery outlet near you. Bakery outlets are most often owned and run by major baked goods brands like Wonder Hostess, Schwebel’s, Pepperidge Farms, and Bimbo. And these stores provide an outlet for brands to sell overstock or soon-to-expire goods.

If you find a great deal on bread or tortillas, buy extra and put it in the freezer. Bread products freeze well. To defrost it, simply let it sit out on the counter at room temperature at least six hours before you need it.

If you come home with bread that’s a little too stale for sandwiches, use it to make French toast, or cube it and lightly bake it in the oven for croutons. You can also use stale bread to make breadcrumbs.

If you have a crusty loaf or baguette rather than slices, you can also try this trick from Bon Appetit to revive it. Run the loaf under running water and bake it in the oven for 10 to 12 minutes. The water turns to steam and revives the bread. Some sources say you have to go 30 minutes or longer for larger loaves.


9. Plan Meals Around Sale Items

Before you head to the grocery store, check the store’s sale flyer to see the week’s discounts. You can plan your menu around what’s on sale. Creating a menu plan helps you stick to your shopping list and avoid impulse buys (which can quickly eat up what you have left for food) and help you stay out of the store for last-minute purchases.

If the store runs out of a particular sale item, ask for a rain check. Rain checks allow you to purchase products at the sale price once they get them restocked.

It can be time-consuming to gather many different sales flyers, and that’s where the Flipp app (available on iOS and Android) comes in. Flipp allows you to browse through local circulars to find the best deals in your area. Circulars from your preferred stores come to your phone automatically. There are over 2,000 retailers to choose from, including supermarket, pharmacy, and dollar store chains.


10. Use Coupons & Loyalty Card Discounts

You also need to use coupons as much as possible. You can find coupons in the Sunday paper, but if you don’t already subscribe, that’s an unnecessary expense for most people. A better option is to use printable coupon websites like Coupons.com to download and print coupons at home. You can also download smartphone apps like Fetch Rewards and Ibotta.

Some coupon sites — and even some grocery store loyalty programs — let you download coupons to your phone or connect them to your loyalty card. Upon checkout, all you do is pull up the coupons on your device and show them to the cashier, no printing necessary. It can be even easier on loyalty cards, some of which automatically apply the coupons when you swipe your loyalty card.


11. Use a Slow Cooker

Another easy way to start cooking inexpensive meals at home is to use a slow cooker. Slow cookers help you save money because they use a minimal amount of electricity, and the low, slow cooking time can turn even the toughest cut of meat into a tender and delectable meal.

Slow cookers are also a great tool to use when you have a large family because it’s easy to put together meals to feed a crowd.

There are many easy slow cooker recipes to get you started using this timeless appliance. Just search for “easy slow cooker [name of dish]” to find your favorites.

If you don’t have a slow cooker, you can often find one for a few dollars at your local thrift store. You also might be able to find one for free on Freecycle or by asking around on your city’s Facebook or neighborhood Nextdoor group. There are also many under-$25 2- and 3-quart slow cookers available on Amazon.


12. Shop the Bulk Bins

If you’ve never purchased food from your local store’s bulk bins, now is the time to start. Buying food in bulk means you don’t pay for expensive packaging and brand names. You can also buy only the amount you need to ensure nothing goes to waste. Most stores carry bulk goods like:

  • Spices
  • Grains
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Beans
  • Rice
  • Sugar
  • Popcorn kernels
  • Dried fruit
  • Loose tea

If you’re not sure how to cook with things like whole grains and dried beans, check the video series created by Bon Appetit’s food director, Carla Lalli Music, called “Bin It to Win It,” in which she prepares quick and healthy dinners using bulk food ingredients.


13. Eliminate or Reduce Luxuries

When you have some wiggle room in your budget, you can splurge on some food luxuries like candy or soda. But these expensive items have to go when your budget is exceptionally tight. If you can’t omit them entirely, cut down significantly or try a substitute.

Some everyday luxuries to avoid include:

  • Alcohol. Eliminate alcohol purchases entirely or cut back to half of what you typically consume.
  • Fruit Juice. For adults, try these fruit-infused water recipes from Wellness Mama. For kids who just can’t live without it, water the juice down.
  • Soda. You can buy less and purchase generic brands to save. Store brands are often around $1 per 2-liter bottle.
  • Candy. You can typically buy the ingredients for candy much cheaper than buying candy bars, even in bulk. You can always snack on semisweet chocolate chips for a quick hit of chocolate. Or you can learn to make your own. Blogger Shugary Sweets has a list of over 100 candy recipes you can try.
  • Coffee. Purchase generic coffee to save, or check international grocery stores for less expensive options. And definitely avoid anyplace that employs a barista to whip up your caffeinated delights. Instead, save money by learning to make your own fancy coffee.
  • Cookies and Other Baked Sweets. Try making your own cookies and sweets. There are recipes all over the Web, including multitudes of blogs and crowdsourced recipes sites like Allrecipes, for cookies, cakes, and pies.

14. Buy Inexpensive Sources of Protein

According to the USDA, Americans eat 40% more meat than federal guidelines recommend. And this meat is costly compared to other protein sources.

For example, in the last quarter of 2020, prices for meat at the Mid-Southern U.S. Walmart were as follows:

To save money on beef, purchase inexpensive cuts, such as beef shank, flat iron, or sirloin steaks. You can transform these cuts into tender, delicious meals using a slow cooker or Instant Pot.

If you do purchase chicken, opt for bone-in cuts, such as bone-in chicken thighs or bone-in breasts. Once you’ve cooked the chicken, freeze the bones along with any vegetable scraps, such as celery tops and carrot skins. You can throw those into your slow cooker to make nutritious bone broth, which you can use as a base for homemade soups or a hot drink when you need a boost. You can find an easy bone broth recipe for the slow cooker or Instant Pot at Wholefully.

Ground turkey is often overlooked in the meat department. But you can use this mild meat in many different recipes. You can add ground turkey to traditional chili, whip up some ground turkey tacos, or make a ground turkey noodle bake. You can substitute ground turkey for beef in any recipe by adding a tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce while you’re browning it.

Or instead of shopping for beef, chicken, or turkey, get your protein from less expensive sources (all prices from the same Mid-Southern Walmart):

  • Pinto Beans. Great Value pinto beans cost $0.74 per pound. And there are so many ways to cook this tasty and inexpensive bean. You can make pinto beans with Mexican-style seasoning or pinto bean soup.
  • Lentils. Great Value lentils cost $0.98 per pound, and there are many ways to serve lentils for dinner. You can cook a big pot of lentils to use on salads or as a side during the week. You can also use those precooked lentils as a topping for sweet potatoes for added nutrition and fiber. Lentils are common in the cuisines of many countries. For example, you can use them to make Indian coconut-apple-ginger dal or Middle Eastern mujadara.
  • Eggs. Great Value eggs cost $1.71 for 18. Eggs are an excellent and inexpensive protein source, and there are many ways to serve them up for dinner besides traditional breakfast food. You can make a dinner quiche, egg salad sandwiches, or frittatas with leftover vegetables.
  • Cottage Cheese. Great Value cottage cheese costs $1.76 for 24 ounces. While many people think of cottage cheese as a snack, there are many ways to use this creamy cheese to add flavor and protein. For example, you can build cottage cheese breakfast bowls, add cottage cheese to pancakes, make cottage cheese enchiladas, or whip up Polish noodles.
  • Greek Yogurt. Great Value Greek yogurt costs $3.47 for 32 ounces. While Greek yogurt makes an excellent breakfast, especially drizzled with a bit of honey and fruit, there are many other ways to use Greek yogurt in cooking. You can add Greek yogurt to biscuits or pancakes or make Greek yogurt carbonara.
  • Tilapia. Great Value tilapia fillets cost $3.09 per pound. To serve tilapia for dinner, try broiling it with Parmesan and lemon, pan-searing it, or coating the tilapia with Cajun seasoning and baking it.
  • Canned Tuna. A 5-ounce can of Great Value canned tuna costs $0.68. Tuna is a delicious and inexpensive protein source. Aside from making tuna salad, you can use canned tuna to make canned tuna fish cakes or tuna noodle casserole.
  • Peanut Butter. Great Value peanut butter costs $2.74 for 40 ounces. If you and your family get tired of peanut butter and jelly, liven things up by making peanut butter noodles, purple apple slaw with peanut butter dressing, or even some high-fiber breakfast bars. If you’re craving sweets, Allrecipes alone has almost 20,000 peanut butter dessert recipes.
  • Hot Dogs. Ball Park Franks cost $2.84 for eight. Hot dogs are another inexpensive source of protein. If your family gets tired of eating them in a bun with ketchup and mustard, cut the franks to put in soup or spaghetti. For more ideas, check out Delish’s extensive list of things to do with hot dogs.

15. Rethink What Dinner Means

Many Americans’ meat-and-potatoes mentality conjures a pan of succulent roast beef with mashed potatoes and fresh vegetables when we think of dinner. But when you’re feeding your family on a small budget, it’s time to reexamine what dinner means.

Dinner is often the most expensive (and largest) meal of the day, so it helps to think outside your recipe box when planning. These options can save you loads of money — and sometimes time:

  • Soups and Stews. Soups and stews are some of the best dishes to make when your food budget is stretched thin. A little meat goes a long way, and if you don’t have meat or can’t afford it, you can still make a filling meal with beans, lentils, or vegetables. Additions like rice, pasta, or potatoes bulk up the dish to fill you up without costing a lot of money.
  • Casseroles. Casseroles aren’t just for Thanksgiving dinner. You can make breakfast casseroles, tuna or meat casseroles, or casseroles with plenty of fresh vegetables to take advantage of what’s currently in season. Allrecipes has a list of casserole recipes full of unique ideas, like Southern grits casserole and King Ranch chicken casserole.
  • Sandwiches. Many people think of sandwiches as a lunch dish. However, you can make many unique and filling sandwiches for dinner, like Reubens, chicken melts, or po’boys. You can also pair sandwiches with soup, such as grilled cheese and tomato soup or a leftover steak sandwich and French onion soup, for a heartier meal. Check out the Kitchn’s list of 25 hearty dinner sandwich recipes for more ideas.
  • Breakfast for Dinner. Pancakes are filling and cost only a few cents per serving. You can add protein with a layer of peanut butter or a side of Greek yogurt with honey. Other breakfast options, like eggs, biscuits and sausage, or French toast, are also filling and relatively inexpensive.

But those aren’t the only options for inexpensive meals. If you need some recipe ideas when meal planning, check out the following resources:

  • Great Depression Cooking. This charming and useful YouTube channel is full of budget-friendly Great Depression recipes cooked by nonagenarian Italian grandmother Clara Cannucciari.
  • 45 Cheap Recipes for Rent Week and Beyond. This fantastic list of recipes from Bon Appetit has some unique and inexpensive ideas for keeping dinner delicious on a shoestring budget.
  • 77 Cheap and Easy Dinner Recipes. This recipe compilation from Delish has some creative ideas for dinners when you’re pressed for time.
  • 60 Cheap Dinner Ideas for Under $10. Taste of Home compiled a fairly extensive list of recipes for meals that cost less than $10 for a family of four.
  • Budget Bytes. All the recipes on Budget Bytes come with a cost calculation to give you an idea of how much the meal will cost.
  • $5 Dinners. This budget-minded food blog has recipes for every food category organized by cooking method, recipe type, or ingredients. And they all cost $5 or less.

You can also cook more food for less using recipes from cultures that use inexpensive ingredients and plenty of vibrant spices to create an incredibly healthy and varied diet that won’t break the bank. And because the flavors are so complex, you can enjoy these cheaper ingredients without getting bored. Some examples include:

  • Ministry of Curry. Food blogger Archana Mundhe grew up outside Mumbai, and she shares flavorful and inexpensive Indian recipes. Indian cuisine relies heavily on unique spices, but once you make this modest investment, there’s an endless number of ways to cook cheap ingredients like chickpeas, rice, and lentils.
  • Isabel Eats. At Isabel Eats, first-generation Mexican American Isabel shares authentic and inexpensive Mexican recipes like chicken pozole, vegetable stir-fry for fajitas, and easy chicken enchiladas.
  • My Latina Table. At My Latina Table, food blogger Charbel shares many of the recipes her grandmother made for her growing up on a ranch in Mexico. Many of these recipes rely heavily on rice, beans, and cheese, which can help stretch your food budget.

16. Transform Leftovers

You don’t have to eat leftovers the same way you initially prepared them. For example, you can transform the chili you made two days ago into a delicious topping for a hot dog or baked potato. You can turn Monday’s meatloaf into meatloaf sandwiches or crumble it up for a boost of protein on your salad.

Look for versatile leftovers recipes that let you change ingredients based on what you have on hand or found on sale. For example, you can make vegetable soup using leftover fresh or frozen potatoes, kale, green beans, carrots, tomatoes, okra, squash, corn, Swiss chard, or onion. You can also use various beans to change the flavor and substitute spices to keep things interesting.

Or make a leftover casserole or potpie using leftover meat with assorted fresh, canned, or frozen vegetables. You can also follow this useful casserole template from The Tasty Cheapskate to make a casserole from what you have in the pantry or fridge.

Transforming your leftovers is one of the best ways to avoid food waste and ensure you don’t throw away money on uneaten food.


17. Use SuperCook

You probably have a hodge-podge of different foods and spices in your kitchen, and if you’re out of money and can’t go to the store, you’re going to have to use what you have on hand. But how do you make a meal out of a strange assortment of different ingredients?

That’s where SuperCook comes in. With SuperCook, you check off every ingredient you have in your kitchen, from spices to dairy to pantry items. The site then gives you a list of recipes you can make using only what you have in the kitchen.

You can download the free SuperCook app for iOS and Android.


18. Round Up at the Store

When money is tight, buying groceries can be a stressful experience. To make sure you don’t overspend, try this trick: Bring a notebook, pen, and a calculator with you to the store. Every time you put something in your cart, round the price up to the next half-dollar, and write it in the notebook. So, if an item costs $1.85, write it down as $2, and if an item costs $1.15, round up to $1.50.

Before you check out, add up everything on your list to ensure you haven’t gone over your budget. Rounding up the cost of each item makes this task much quicker. And when you check out, you’ll have some extra money left over for your next shopping trip.

You can also use an app like AnyList, which can help you keep track of what you’re spending while you’re shopping.


19. Learn to Forage

Scouring an urban or suburban neighborhood for wild edibles might not appeal to some people. However, you can often find real food to eat if you know how to forage.

For example, some of the most common wild edibles include:

  • Dandelion greens
  • Wood sorrel
  • Plantain
  • Burdock
  • Purslane
  • Evening primrose
  • Curly dock
  • Chickweed
  • Spiderwort

You can find many of these plants in dense urban areas, your backyard, or a nearby empty field. While they won’t keep your family wholly fed, they provide a free and healthy way to keep fresh vegetables on the table. Wild edibles can also provide an essential boost in nutrients.

Before you head out foraging, make sure you’re aware of what’s safe and what isn’t. Never harvest a wild plant from ground sprayed with pesticides or an area tainted with heavy metals or toxic chemicals.

It’s helpful to have a reference book with you when you go. Check your local library to see what they have available. You can also download the Falling Fruit app, which helps you find local edible plants and wild fruit based on your location. The website Edible Wild Foods also has excellent pictures and tutorials on the most common wild edibles to help you learn how to find safe and healthy foods for your family.


20. Grow Your Own Food

Another way to save money on a tight budget is to grow your own food. You can easily grow fresh herbs or vegetables like tomatoes or carrots in containers set out on a porch or balcony.

Starting a garden does require an upfront investment, but there are plenty of ways to start a garden on a budget.

For example, you might be able to get seeds from a local seed library or from the nearest cooperative extension office. Your local extension is an excellent resource for learning how to garden and getting free or low-cost plants. You can search for your local extension office at Gardening Know How.


Final Word

When money is tight, it’s time to look carefully at what you’re spending at the grocery store and find creative and economical ways to purchase and prepare healthy and inexpensive food. Having affordable foods like potatoes, rice, pasta, and fresh vegetables on hand gives you a foundation for creating budget-friendly meals during the week.

There are many ways to maximize your food budget, and you can use those savings to help your family even more. For example, you can start saving up to purchase a stand-alone freezer, which will enable you to preserve food from your garden or a bountiful sale at the grocery store. You can also learn how to reuse leftovers to ensure no food goes to waste.

Source: moneycrashers.com

Important welfare statistics for 2021 – Lexington Law

The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, act as legal, financial or credit advice. See Lexington Law’s editorial disclosure for more information.

Millions of Americans face the financial hardships of losing a job, not being able to work due to a disability or supporting a family on a small salary each year. The struggle to put food on the table, pay bills and support a family can be incredibly harsh, which is why the United States has a series of welfare programs to help those in need.

Federal welfare programs first started in 1935 during the great depression. With widespread poverty, starvation and unemployment, a series of programs were created to help Americans place food on the table and help those unable to support themselves and their families.

Today, the means-tested welfare system consists of government programs that offer cash, food, social services, education, training and housing for low-income Americans. As welfare programs are funded through local, state and federal taxes, programs are often a topic of political debate.

With some misconception surrounding the Americans receiving welfare and effectiveness of the program, we’ve compiled important welfare statistics you should know in 2021. Explore the costs, effects and various demographic statistics in our study of the welfare programs in America.

Cost of welfare programs

The total cost of poverty assistance programs in America can add up to a shocking $1 trillion a year when combining both federal and state level program budgets. Because of the large total price tag on helping the poor, welfare programs are often an area of policy and budgetary debate.

  • In 2020, a total of $9.88 trillion was spent on welfare programs in America.  [Source: US Government Spending]
  • In 2021, $8.30 trillion is projected to be spent on welfare programs in America. [Source: US Government Spending]
  • $4.83 trillion of that total is budgeted for Federal spending specifically in 2021. [Source: US Government Spending]

statistic on projected welfare spending

  • $2.09 trillion of the total is estimated to be budgeted for state spending specifically in 2021.  [Source: US Government Spending]
  • $2.18 trillion of the total is estimated to be budgeted for local spending specifically in 2021.  [Source: US Government Spending]
  • 8 percent of total government spending in 2019—$361 billion—went towards welfare programs in 2019 (excluding Social Security benefits.) [Source: CBPP]
  • The average SNAP recipient in 2020 earned $136.36 a month in assistance. [Source: USDA]
  • Around 38,066,477 million people participated in SNAP in 2020. [Source: USDA]
  • Total U.S. spending on SNAP in 2020 amounted to $36,335,896,388 billion. [Source: USDA]

2021 federal welfare budget

breakdown of estimated welfare spending in 2021

Poverty statistics

  • In 2020 the poverty threshold for a couple with two children was $17,240. [Source: ASPE]
  • Mississippi has the highest number of people living in poverty in 2020—20.6 of the state’s residents. [Source: World Population Review]
  • In 2019, 10.5 percent of Americans lived in poverty. [Source: US Census Bureau]
  • The poverty rate of Americans decreased by 1.3 percent in 2019. [Source: US Census Bureau]
  • In 2020, 9.2 percent of Americans lived in poverty. [Source: Urban Institute]

Top 10 states with the highest poverty rates in 2021

State Poverty Rate
Puerto Rico 49.31 percent
Mississippi 20.6 percent
New Mexico 19.57 percent
Louisiana 18.91 percent 
West Virginia 17.74 percent
Kentucky 17.2 percent Alabama 16.90 percent Arkansas 16.79 percent Oklahoma 15.37 percent Washington D.C 15.19 percent

[Source: World Population Review]

Welfare program results

Following the Welfare Reform Act of 1996, government spending on welfare programs decreased as additional requirements and restrictions were put in place. Despite having less budget to pull from and more restrictions, the welfare programs in America have successfully lowered poverty rates over the past decade. Some issues with the current welfare program are its performance during years of economic downturn and recession.

  • For every 100 families in poverty in 2019, only 23 were provided cash assistance by Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF.) [Source: CBPP]
  • The Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM) in 2019 was 11.7 percent, 1 percentage lower than it was in 2018. [Source: US Census Bureau]
  • Between 2018 and 2019, all major age categories saw a decline in SPM rates: children under age 18, adults aged 18 to 64 and adults aged 65 and older. [Source: US Census Bureau]
  • Since its first publication in 2009, the SPM rate of 11.7 in 2019 is the lowest it’s ever been. [Source: US Census Bureau]
    Social Security benefits lifted 26.5 million people out of poverty in 2019. [Source: US Census Bureau]

Average spending of welfare recipients

Compared to the average American household, welfare recipients spend far less money on all food consumption, including dining out, in a year. As families with welfare assistance spend half as much on average in one year than families without it do, there are some large differences in budgeting. Families receiving welfare assistance spent half the amount of families not receiving welfare assistance in 2018.

Welfare fraud statistics

Welfare fraud is the act of improperly stating or withholding information in order to receive higher payments. Most welfare programs’ eligibility is handled on a local level and detecting fraud is the responsibility of the state. The United States Government Accountability Office estimates that around 1 out of 10 welfare payments are fraudulent or improperly filed.

  • Fraudulent and improper welfare payments were around 10.6 percent of total federal welfare payments made in 2019. [Source: Federal Safety Net]
  • A total of $99.1 billion in payments were found to be improperly filed or fraudulent in 2019. [Source: Federal Safety Net]
  • An estimated 6.8 percent of SNAP payments were made fraudulently or in error in 2019. [Source: Federal Safety Net]
  • An estimated 10.5 percent of Child Nutrition payments were made improperly in 2019. [Source: Federal Safety Net]
  • The $99.1 billion of improperly filed or fraudulent payments in 2019 amounts to more than the budgets of TANF, Child Nutrition, Head Start, Job Training, WIC, Child Care, Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program and the Lifeline programs combined. [Source: Federal Safety Net]

statistic on fraudulent welfare charges

Welfare participation

  • For SNAP households receiving SNAP benefits in 2019, around 41.2 percent had at least one member over the age of 60, and 29.9 percent had a child aged 18 or younger. [Source: United States Census Bureau]
  • 47.5 percent of households receiving SNAP benefits in 2019 included a married couple. [Source: United States Census Bureau] 
    68,826,573 people were enrolled in Medicaid in 2020. [Source: Medicaid]
  • 11.3 percent of all American households received SNAP benefits in 2018. [Source: United States Census Bureau]
  • Households receiving SNAP benefits received an average of $251 per month in 2018. [Source: United States Census Bureau]
  • The states with the highest rates of SNAP participation in 2018 included New Mexico at 17.3 percent and West Virginia at 16.6 percent. [Source: United States Census Bureau]
  • Wyoming had the lowest SNAP participation rate in 2018 at 5 percent. [Source: United States Census Bureau]

Welfare demographics

Welfare in the workforce

Although welfare programs are commonly argued to support the lazy, data does not show this to be true. In the current state, welfare programs predominantly help Americans who receive low wages. The U.S. Government Accountability Office discovered that the top employers of Americans enrolled in welfare programs were Walmart and McDonalds—companies who have historically paid their workers low wages.

Although the $1 trillion a year budget may seem large at first glance, the current welfare program supporting the 9.2 percent of Americans in poverty for 2020 puts the large problem of poverty into perspective. Without any government safety nets, those living in poverty would not have the proper help to survive or tools to get back on their feet. With a rise in credit card debt across America it is still important to find a solution to pull the citizens living paycheck to paycheck out of poverty.


If your credit has been damaged and you’re looking to improve your situation, contact Lexington Law. We can work with you to remove the negative items on your credit report that could be holding you back.

You can also carry on the conversation on our social media platforms. Like and follow us on Facebook and leave us a tweet on Twitter.

Source: lexingtonlaw.com

Important welfare statistics for 2021

The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, act as legal, financial or credit advice. See Lexington Law’s editorial disclosure for more information.

Millions of Americans face the financial hardships of losing a job, not being able to work due to a disability or supporting a family on a small salary each year. The struggle to put food on the table, pay bills and support a family can be incredibly harsh, which is why the United States has a series of welfare programs to help those in need.

Federal welfare programs first started in 1935 during the great depression. With widespread poverty, starvation and unemployment, a series of programs were created to help Americans place food on the table and help those unable to support themselves and their families.

Today, the means-tested welfare system consists of government programs that offer cash, food, social services, education, training and housing for low-income Americans. As welfare programs are funded through local, state and federal taxes, programs are often a topic of political debate.

With some misconception surrounding the Americans receiving welfare and effectiveness of the program, we’ve compiled important welfare statistics you should know in 2021. Explore the costs, effects and various demographic statistics in our study of the welfare programs in America.

Cost of welfare programs

The total cost of poverty assistance programs in America can add up to a shocking $1 trillion a year when combining both federal and state level program budgets. Because of the large total price tag on helping the poor, welfare programs are often an area of policy and budgetary debate.

  • In 2020, a total of $9.88 trillion was spent on welfare programs in America.  [Source: US Government Spending]
  • In 2021, $8.30 trillion is projected to be spent on welfare programs in America. [Source: US Government Spending]
  • $4.83 trillion of that total is budgeted for Federal spending specifically in 2021. [Source: US Government Spending]

statistic on projected welfare spending

  • $2.09 trillion of the total is estimated to be budgeted for state spending specifically in 2021.  [Source: US Government Spending]
  • $2.18 trillion of the total is estimated to be budgeted for local spending specifically in 2021.  [Source: US Government Spending]
  • 8 percent of total government spending in 2019—$361 billion—went towards welfare programs in 2019 (excluding Social Security benefits.) [Source: CBPP]
  • The average SNAP recipient in 2020 earned $136.36 a month in assistance. [Source: USDA]
  • Around 38,066,477 million people participated in SNAP in 2020. [Source: USDA]
  • Total U.S. spending on SNAP in 2020 amounted to $36,335,896,388 billion. [Source: USDA]

2021 federal welfare budget

breakdown of estimated welfare spending in 2021

Poverty statistics

  • In 2020 the poverty threshold for a couple with two children was $17,240. [Source: ASPE]
  • Mississippi has the highest number of people living in poverty in 2020—20.6 of the state’s residents. [Source: World Population Review]
  • In 2019, 10.5 percent of Americans lived in poverty. [Source: US Census Bureau]
  • The poverty rate of Americans decreased by 1.3 percent in 2019. [Source: US Census Bureau]
  • In 2020, 9.2 percent of Americans lived in poverty. [Source: Urban Institute]

Top 10 states with the highest poverty rates in 2021

State Poverty Rate
Puerto Rico 49.31 percent
Mississippi 20.6 percent
New Mexico 19.57 percent
Louisiana 18.91 percent 
West Virginia 17.74 percent
Kentucky 17.2 percent Alabama 16.90 percent Arkansas 16.79 percent Oklahoma 15.37 percent Washington D.C 15.19 percent

[Source: World Population Review]

Welfare program results

Following the Welfare Reform Act of 1996, government spending on welfare programs decreased as additional requirements and restrictions were put in place. Despite having less budget to pull from and more restrictions, the welfare programs in America have successfully lowered poverty rates over the past decade. Some issues with the current welfare program are its performance during years of economic downturn and recession.

  • For every 100 families in poverty in 2019, only 23 were provided cash assistance by Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF.) [Source: CBPP]
  • The Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM) in 2019 was 11.7 percent, 1 percentage lower than it was in 2018. [Source: US Census Bureau]
  • Between 2018 and 2019, all major age categories saw a decline in SPM rates: children under age 18, adults aged 18 to 64 and adults aged 65 and older. [Source: US Census Bureau]
  • Since its first publication in 2009, the SPM rate of 11.7 in 2019 is the lowest it’s ever been. [Source: US Census Bureau]
    Social Security benefits lifted 26.5 million people out of poverty in 2019. [Source: US Census Bureau]

Average spending of welfare recipients

Compared to the average American household, welfare recipients spend far less money on all food consumption, including dining out, in a year. As families with welfare assistance spend half as much on average in one year than families without it do, there are some large differences in budgeting. Families receiving welfare assistance spent half the amount of families not receiving welfare assistance in 2018.

Welfare fraud statistics

Welfare fraud is the act of improperly stating or withholding information in order to receive higher payments. Most welfare programs’ eligibility is handled on a local level and detecting fraud is the responsibility of the state. The United States Government Accountability Office estimates that around 1 out of 10 welfare payments are fraudulent or improperly filed.

  • Fraudulent and improper welfare payments were around 10.6 percent of total federal welfare payments made in 2019. [Source: Federal Safety Net]
  • A total of $99.1 billion in payments were found to be improperly filed or fraudulent in 2019. [Source: Federal Safety Net]
  • An estimated 6.8 percent of SNAP payments were made fraudulently or in error in 2019. [Source: Federal Safety Net]
  • An estimated 10.5 percent of Child Nutrition payments were made improperly in 2019. [Source: Federal Safety Net]
  • The $99.1 billion of improperly filed or fraudulent payments in 2019 amounts to more than the budgets of TANF, Child Nutrition, Head Start, Job Training, WIC, Child Care, Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program and the Lifeline programs combined. [Source: Federal Safety Net]

statistic on fraudulent welfare charges

Welfare participation

  • For SNAP households receiving SNAP benefits in 2019, around 41.2 percent had at least one member over the age of 60, and 29.9 percent had a child aged 18 or younger. [Source: United States Census Bureau]
  • 47.5 percent of households receiving SNAP benefits in 2019 included a married couple. [Source: United States Census Bureau] 
    68,826,573 people were enrolled in Medicaid in 2020. [Source: Medicaid]
  • 11.3 percent of all American households received SNAP benefits in 2018. [Source: United States Census Bureau]
  • Households receiving SNAP benefits received an average of $251 per month in 2018. [Source: United States Census Bureau]
  • The states with the highest rates of SNAP participation in 2018 included New Mexico at 17.3 percent and West Virginia at 16.6 percent. [Source: United States Census Bureau]
  • Wyoming had the lowest SNAP participation rate in 2018 at 5 percent. [Source: United States Census Bureau]

Welfare demographics

Welfare in the workforce

Although welfare programs are commonly argued to support the lazy, data does not show this to be true. In the current state, welfare programs predominantly help Americans who receive low wages. The U.S. Government Accountability Office discovered that the top employers of Americans enrolled in welfare programs were Walmart and McDonalds—companies who have historically paid their workers low wages.

Although the $1 trillion a year budget may seem large at first glance, the current welfare program supporting the 9.2 percent of Americans in poverty for 2020 puts the large problem of poverty into perspective. Without any government safety nets, those living in poverty would not have the proper help to survive or tools to get back on their feet. With a rise in credit card debt across America it is still important to find a solution to pull the citizens living paycheck to paycheck out of poverty.


If your credit has been damaged and you’re looking to improve your situation, contact Lexington Law. We can work with you to remove the negative items on your credit report that could be holding you back.

You can also carry on the conversation on our social media platforms. Like and follow us on Facebook and leave us a tweet on Twitter.

Source: lexingtonlaw.com