Why Financial Productivity Begins with a Positive Mindset

The following is a guest post by Orion Talmay, of Orion’s Method.

Dealing with finances can be stressful and leave you feeling overwhelmed. It’s all too easy to ignore mounting debts or believe you’ll never save up a significant amount of money. But taking control of your life and changing the way you think can make a huge difference. We take a look at why financial productivity begins with a positive mindset. 

The Impact of a Positive Mindset on Financial Productivity 

Whether you want to work your way out of debt or save up to buy a house, with the right mindset and some hard work, those financial goals are possible. However, you have to start by getting out of a negative thought cycle—if you believe there’s no point trying, then you’ll never achieve them. Therefore, you might be tempted to make choices that make your financial position worse.  

Even with a positive mindset, you won’t achieve your goals overnight. But it’ll put you on the right track to take more control over your finances. 

How to Achieve a Positive Mindset 

Achieving a positive mindset can be difficult, but you can adopt some proven techniques that’ll help you:

  • Take care of yourself
  • Know where you stand
  • Set achievable goals
  • Make small changes
  • Try to see the positive

Take Care of Yourself 

If you’re struggling with a negative mindset, you might slip into bad habits throughout your life, not just when dealing with your finances. Learn to take care of yourself and prioritize your own well-being. 

Start with the basics—make sure you’re exercising regularly, eating a balanced diet, and getting enough sleep. These might seem obvious, but a bad routine leaves you tired, stressed, and unhealthy, which all have a big impact on your mind. 

Treat yourself well, and get into a good routine that helps you stay in control. You’ll see an improvement in your physical and mental health, which puts you in a better position to make informed financial decisions. 

Know Where You Stand 

It’s tempting to bury your head in the sand when it comes to finances. However, not knowing exactly where you stand will add to your stress.

Open those bills and credit card statements you’ve been ignoring. Check your bank balance, work out your incoming and outgoings. Get a clear picture of your current financial situation and understand what bills and repayments you need to make and when they’re due. 

It might be hard to start with but it’ll improve your mindset and put you in a better position to get on top of your money. 

Set Yourself Achievable Goals 

It’s easy to feel negative if you can’t see a way out of your current situation. So, once you know exactly where you are, come up with some realistic targets that you can achieve within a certain time frame. 

For example, if you want to save up for something, set a savings goal and decide how much you can realistically put aside each month, and how long it’ll take to reach your target. 

The important thing with your goals is to make sure you’re sticking to them. If you put money towards debt or savings but you don’t have enough left to cover the rest of your bills, you’ll be tempted to borrow money from somewhere else. 

Make Small Changes 

Don’t try to overhaul everything in your life all at once. Make small, manageable changes that you’ll actually stick to and that will help you feel more positive. There are some really simple money moves that’ll make a noticeable difference. Start by looking at all your subscriptions and recurring payments—consider canceling the ones that you don’t use or can live without. 

If you buy your lunch during work every day, get into the habit of making it at home. Make small switches to your grocery choices, and try to stop buying things that you end up throwing out. Cut down on impulse buys—for nonessential purchases, make yourself wait a couple of weeks to consider whether you really want or need it. 

Try to make one or two small changes each week that you can follow through on. It’ll improve your mindset if you can stick with these habits long-term, rather than trying to do everything at once and feeling like you’ve failed when you slip up. 

Try to See the Positive

Often easier said than done, but try to get out of the cycle of negative thoughts. Revisit your goals each day to remind yourself what you’re trying to achieve and what you should be focusing on. 

When you have a negative thought, where something seems impossible or too difficult, stop and think about ways around it. Don’t get stuck on things that can’t or won’t happen and focus on solutions, workarounds, or breaking it down into smaller steps to get through it. If you struggle to focus on the positives, meditation can help you to manage your thoughts and give you more perspective.  

Why a Positive Mindset Matters

Everyone feels unmotivated and disenfranchised from time to time. It happens to the best of us. However, if you really dig deep and find what’s causing your low energy, you’ll be better equipped to find the root and weed it out. Try to channel your energy into more productive outlets, and make changes whenever they take a toll on your mental state. That’s the key that’ll enable your long-term success. 

Having a positive mindset is the foundation for taking control of your money and becoming more financially stable. Setting yourself goals, addressing bad habits, and learning how to get a handle on your thought processes will help you to manage your finances and put you in a better position with all aspects of your life. 

Source: credit.com

Is This Treatable Condition Causing Your High Blood Pressure?

Home health aide taking a patient's blood pressure
Photo by Monkey Business Images / Shutterstock.com

Anyone diagnosed with high blood pressure knows the standard advice: Lose weight, exercise more, change your diet.

But it’s likely that relatively few people have heard another suggestion: Make sure you’re treating your aldosteronism.

It turns out that this condition — which results when the adrenal glands produce too much of the hormone aldosterone — is sometimes at the root of high blood pressure.

Researchers at three schools — the University of Michigan, University of Pennsylvania and Stanford University — believe aldosteronism itself might be a lot more common in the general population than people think. But the researchers say relatively few doctors are testing for the disease.

In a recent study published in Annals of Internal Medicine, the researchers looked at data from military veterans diagnosed with hypertension that was not responding to treatment. They found that over a 17-year period — from 2000 to 2017 — fewer than 2% of patients who should have been evaluated for aldosteronism actually received testing.

Patients were more likely to be tested when evaluated by a specialist, such as a nephrologist or endocrinologist.

In a blog post, Dr. J. Brian Byrd, co-senior author of the study and assistant professor and cardiologist at the Michigan Medicine Frankel Cardiovascular Center, characterizes the findings as frustrating but unsurprising.

“There’s an educational gap there where some physicians may think it’s too complicated to test people for this, or don’t know they should be thinking about testing people. The most important take-home message for clinicians is: if you’re really struggling to control a patient’s blood pressure, consider getting a hypertension expert involved who has special training.”

About 20% of people with uncontrolled hypertension — despite taking three blood pressure medications — might have aldosteronism, Byrd says.

Various treatments are available for aldosteronism, and the right course of management depends on the type diagnosed. Medications often are used as treatment, although surgery is necessary in some cases. According to Byrd:

“The frustrating part is that there are effective treatments for primary aldosteronism. But if no one diagnoses it, it can’t be treated, and it’s also harder to study primary aldosteronism when it’s so rarely diagnosed.”

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

Source: moneytalksnews.com

Jump-Start Your Credit: How to Monitor Your Credit for Free

Your credit history can affect how much you pay for car or home insurance, your ability to rent a house or an apartment and even your chances of getting some jobs. That’s why it pays to work on your credit and build it up.

Monitoring your credit can be a little like checking your blood pressure to see how your new exercise program and diet are affecting it. You’re unlikely to see steady, unbroken progress, but it can let you know if you’re on the right track.

What is credit monitoring?

Credit monitoring is simply checking your credit report and/or score for changes. It can help you connect how you’re handling credit with changes to your score. That’s especially useful when you’re building credit because seeing progress encourages you to keep going.

It can also help you quickly spot problems or signs of fraud. Credit monitoring may alert you to:

  • An application or new account in your name.

  • Payments reported as 30 or more days past their due date.

  • An account that has been closed.

  • New address or name changes to your credit file.

  • Public records in your name, such as bankruptcies, property liens and judgments.

No-hassle credit report

Your latest credit data, including score, at your fingertips. Hear about changes, get expert tips.

How often should you check?

Credit expert John Ulzheimer recommends checking monthly. That’s how often your creditors report your account activity to credit-reporting agencies.

You can check more often if you like — checking your own credit will not affect your score. Many personal finance websites offer free scores and credit reports. NerdWallet updates your free credit score and report information weekly.

Through April, you can also get your credit reports weekly for free from the three major credit bureaus by using AnnualCreditReport.com, although it does not include a score.

There may be times when you want to check your credit frequently. Credit bureau TransUnion says those include when you plan to apply for new credit or you are searching for a new job. But there is no need to check daily — that can lead to needless anxiety.

How to get the most out of credit monitoring

Credit monitoring should make your life simpler. To that end, use it to confirm that your credit report is as you expect it to be.

Expect your credit scores to fluctuate — they are calculated on demand, so they’ll change a bit depending on the data that’s in your report at the time a score is requested. You are looking for overall trends or a big, unexplained change that could suggest identity theft or fraud. There is no need to explore tiny changes in your score to try to figure out what happened.

You may be able to control the number and types of alerts you get. Limit them to ones you really need. Too many emails and texts can lead you to delete them unread.

If you see information on your credit reports that you don’t understand or don’t recognize, investigate. If you see an error, dispute it with the credit bureau in question. Check the other two bureaus, too, to see if they have the same mistake needing correction.

What credit monitoring can’t do — and what you should

Credit monitoring won’t prevent someone from using your credit data — it just lets you know what has already happened. It’s still up to you to do the things that build and protect your credit, such as:

  • Paying bills on time and not using too much of your credit limits.

  • Disputing inaccuracies on your credit reports.

  • Avoiding identity theft ploys, like phishing emails, and keeping your credit information private.

  • Checking your credit card statements for signs of fraud.

The simplest way to avoid worrying about an application you did not make or new credit opened in your name is to seal off access to your credit information by freezing your credit. That way, if someone attempts to apply for credit using your information, the would-be creditor can’t access your credit reports, and the application likely won’t be approved.

Is it worth paying for a monitoring service?

Several companies offer paid credit monitoring, but before you commit to paying, compare the service to protection you may already have access to. You may have memberships or employee benefits that include identity theft coverage — and credit monitoring is generally included. If your personal data has been compromised in a data breach, you may be offered monitoring coverage at no cost to you.

If you decide to pay for monitoring, pick a service that covers all three major credit bureaus so you have a comprehensive view of your credit. But if high debt is holding your score down, that money might be better spent reducing that debt.

Source: nerdwallet.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

13 Budget-Friendly Heart Healthy Foods and Activities

With the New Year comes New Years resolutions for a lot of us. And with everything that has been going on the past year with the pandemic, health is high up on the list of things to change. While COVID has been a real threat recently, heart health is still a top killer here in the U.S. So, this is a great area to focus on when it comes to overall health. Focusing on your heart health doesn’t have to cost you a ton of money and can actually save you money in overall health care costs down the line. So, we have come up with a list of 13 of our favorite budget-friendly heart-healthy foods and activities to get you started.

Heart-Healthy Foods

One of the easiest things to change when it comes to your heart health is your food choices. And eating healthy food doesn’t have to be expensive. So, here is a list of 8 of our favorite heart healthy foods to incorporate into your diet. Plus, they won’t cost you an arm and a leg to purchase either. Bonus!

1. Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate is a fantastic heart healthy food, and a sweet treat at the same time. Dark chocolate is pretty high in both magnesium and fiber, which are great heart healthy nutrients to incorporate into your diet. When looking for dark chocolate, try to find one that is at least 70% cacao whenever possible. And check the ingredients to make sure they haven’t added a bunch of extra preservatives that aren’t really serving the immunity purpose well.

Either way, adding in a square (or two if it’s been a rough day) can be great for your heart health, immunity and mental state. So, grab a few different dark chocolate bars to have on hand for whenever you are feeling a sweet craving. They really come in handy!

2. Beans

Beans are extremely high in both fiber and magnesium also. And depending upon which type of bean you are incorporating, they can also potentially be high in other heart healthy nutrients, such as folate. By adding beans into your diet, you can be naturally reducing your cholesterol while feeling full longer. Both of which are very crucial to overall heart health. Some of my favorite beans and/or legumes to add into our diet regularly are:

  • Black Beans
  • Kidney Beans
  • Pinto Beans
  • Garbanzo Beans
  • Navy Beans
  • Lentils
  • Peas

Try adding these into your salads, casseroles, soups, stir fry or even make hummus. We also add them into our breakfast burritos and the kids love them!

3. Whole Grain Rice

Having whole grain rice on hand has been one of our staples for years. And, as an added bonus, it also happens to be a fantastic heart healthy food. Since whole grain rice still has the bran on it (as opposed to white or polished rice where the bran is removed) this is still a fiber rich food. Plus, the bran contains all of the vitamins and minerals of the rice grain, so you get plenty of magnesium to boot.

And on top of those great benefits, rice is super cheap. Both to buy and make. In fact, we keep a huge bag of it on hand in our pantry at all times because we incorporate whole grain rice into our diet regularly. This is one of my favorite budget-friendly foods to stock the pantry with that is also very diverse. Plus, most kids will eat it too, which is great for those of us who have picky eaters.

4. Walnuts

Out of this list of foods, walnuts are probably going to be the most expensive item. Depending upon where you shop and what type of walnuts you get, of course. Walnuts are a naturally good source of Omega 3 fatty acids and Vitamin B6. Both of these are crucial to overall heart health. In fact, we like them so much that we usually have a small handful for breakfast every day to help start our day out right.

The best way I have found to purchase them is in halves and pieces as opposed to whole. The whole walnuts seem to cost more money and I am perfectly fine with them being broken. The trick to keeping walnuts fresh is to store them in the refrigerator once you have opened the package though. Since they can oxidize fairly quickly once subjected to oxygen. This will keep them fresh longer and prevent them from going rancid as quickly.

5. Avocado

Avocado is another one of my favorite foods. But growing up in California near the avocado farms might have had a little bit to to do with that. Since they are exceedingly high in Omega 3 fatty acids, they are a natural heart healthy food. While some people aren’t huge fans of the avocado, give it a try if you haven’t recently. Sometimes, the avocado may not be ripe and when that happens, they really aren’t that good. Choosing a ripe avocado is key to a good experience, and also important in order to reap all of the nutritional benefits.

The best way to tell if an avocado is ripe is to palm it and give it a light squeeze. If the skin gives a little bit in your hand then it is ripe and ready to eat. If it is still a bit firm, then give it another day or two on the counter to ripen. But, if it easily squishes in your hand, then you have let it go too long. You can store them in the refrigerator crisper for a few days to prevent further ripening if your avocados are just right or almost there. Which is what we do since we go through so many of them in our house.

6. Berries

Berries are fantastic heart healthy additions to any diet, when you can get your hands on them. Not only are they very low in sugar, for a fruit, but high in a lot of crucial heart healthy nutrients. Some of these include:

  • Fiber
  • Magnesium
  • Antioxidants
  • Anthocyanins (the berries with any blue hue)
  • Vitamin C

Berries are well known for a lot of their health boosting qualities. But when it comes to heart health, they can help to decrease cholesterol levels and help reduce inflammation in the arteries.

Some of our favorite berries to incorporate into our diet are:

  • Blueberries
  • Raspberries
  • Pomegranate
  • Blackberries
  • Strawberries
  • Gooseberries (sometimes called Cape Berries)
  • Acai

No matter which berries you choose to incorporate, these are some of the best (and most delicious) heart healthy foods out there.

7. Leafy Greens

Leafy greens are extremely high in magnesium and fiber. Both of these are essential to good heart health. I, personally, love leafy greens and even eat them for breakfast. Due to the higher fiber content, extremely low caloric content and the diversity of vitamins and minerals, they can be very diverse. Most people associate leafy greens with a salad, but they can easily be added to a myriad of other things for more diversity.

I like to add leafy greens to my:

  • Sandwiches
  • Soups
  • Stir fry
  • Casseroles

No matter how you choose to add leafy greens into your diet, they are both delicious and nutritious. And, if you want the best leafy greens, growing your own garden is the best way we’ve found to get them. When the different greens are in season, we can just go out in our backyard with some scissors and cut off what we need for a meal. It simply doesn’t get any better than that!

8. Veggies

While veggies may seem like a broad category, there are quite a few that can directly benefit your heart health. One of my favorites is asparagus. Not only is it delicious if you prepare it correctly (and it’s not too stringy) but the level of Vitamin B6 found in asparagus is pretty darn high. And since there is a direct correlation between Vitamin B6 and cardiovascular disease, this makes it a fantastic heart healthy food.

But, you can also throw bell peppers into the same category as asparagus due to their high levels of folate. Some other great veggies to throw in to the mix that have heart healthy properties are:

  • Broccoli – high in folate and Vitamin C
  • Carrots – high in carotenoids
  • Potatoes – high in potassium
  • Squash (yellow and green) – high in folate, potassium, Vitamin C and magnesium
  • Tomatoes – high in lycopene
  • Garlic – high in immune boosting phytochemicals
  • Onion – high in immune boosting phytochemicals

There are many ways you can cook all of these veggies, but steaming or sauteing are my two favorites. This way a lot of the flavor and nutrients are kept and whatever spices I add are brought out in the final dish. Plus, both ways of cooking are pretty easy to achieve and you don’t need a lot of fancy tools to get the job done.

These are some awesome budget-friendly ways to increase your heart health this year! Click To Tweet

Heart Healthy Activities

Once you have considered incorporating more heart healthy foods, then adding in some easy heart healthy activities is a great way to round it out. All of these activities can be done fairly inexpensively, or completely free. It’s always good to switch it up also, so get creative with your activities.

9. Walk/Run

Walking and/or running is something most of us can do without having to buy any extra equipment. Plus, by walking or running outside you get the extra benefit of fresh air. Where we live, we are lucky enough to have a lot of Greenway’s and trail hiking options. So we also get the added benefit of being out in nature with trees and other plant life. Since plants produce the oxygen we breathe in, this is an awesome way to re-energize and re-oxygenate your body naturally. Plus, walking and running are very well known to be excellent heart healthy activities. Bonus!

10. Jump Rope

When I was a kid, we did jump rope in school all the time. And it could really get your heart pounding, especially while playing double dutch. Now that game will get you moving! However, as adults most of us have forgotten how much fun a jump rope can be. They are fairly inexpensive to come by and extremely easy to use. If you don’t want to pay for a class or an app, just put on some of your favorite heart pounding music and jump to the beat. Or throw on your favorite show and jump rope during commercials, or during the show and take a break during commercials. Whatever you do, just grab a rope and start jumping!

11. Bike

If you don’t own a bike, then this activity could cost you some money. Or, if you live in an area where it’s not really safe to bike, then getting a stationary bike for your home is another option. I, personally, have both. Since I live in the south, some times of year can be extremely hot, so I prefer to ride inside instead. Plus, when I ride my stationary bike, I can listen to a podcast or read a book while I ride. Either way, if you have the opportunity to grab a bike of any sort, adding biking into your mix  is a great way to boost heart health.

12. Swim

Swimming is another great heart healthy activity. Just like the other cardiovascular activities mentioned previously, this one will get your heart moving. You may not sweat as much either, which some of us really like. Plus, if you don’t have your own pool (which can be really expensive to maintain), you can try to find an indoor pool near you to swim laps in. I know that in our area our Parks and Rec system has a lot of indoor pools built for public use. These are great for all year round use and are usually pretty cost effective also.

13. Interval Training

Interval training has been proven to really boost overall heart health, and in some cases, metabolism also. Interval training is fairly simple and straightforward. You engage in an activity full force for a smaller period of time and then reduce your expenditure level. Overall, you are forcing your heart to switch between really hard work and recovery, which helps to strengthen the heart muscle. This is very important for overall heart health. So, take any of the aforementioned activities and partake in them using an interval training method. This can help you get the best overall heart health results.

Heart Healthy Foods and Activities Summary

Overall, there are plenty of ways to help boost your heart health this year. And by adding in some of these great heart healthy foods and activities, you will only help increase your overall health and wellness. So, don’t forget to incorporate the following:

  1. Dark Chocolate
  2. Beans
  3. Whole Grain Rice
  4. Walnuts
  5. Avocado
  6. Berries
  7. Leafy Greens
  8. Vegetables
  9. Walking and Running
  10. Jumping Rope
  11. Biking
  12. Swimming
  13. Interval Training

Even if you choose to only incorporate some of these suggestions, they can only help you in the long run. And by helping increase your overall health, you can directly affect reducing your long term medical care costs. Now that is what I call a health care win!

What are some of your favorite budget-friendly ways to increase your heart health?

Source: everythingfinanceblog.com

7 Costly Health Problems That Strike After Age 50

Senior woman with injured leg
eakkachai halang / Shutterstock.com

As we age, health issues often creep up that threaten to tarnish our golden years. Treating some of these diseases and conditions can be expensive.

Fortunately, there are ways to cut the cost of such care. Following are some health conditions that tend to strike after age 50 — and how to cut the cost of care if you are diagnosed with them.

Arthritis

Arthritis pain
New Africa / Shutterstock.com

Arthritis strikes about 54.4 million Americans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC adds that in 2013, adults with arthritis on average paid an extra $2,117 in medical costs.

How to cut costs. The Arthritis Foundation has a webpage devoted to ways to trim the tab for arthritis care.

Osteoporosis

Broken bone
Laura v.d. Broek / Shutterstock.com

Around 54 million Americans have low bone density or osteoporosis, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation. Among women over the age of 50, 1 in 2 will break a bone due to the disease. Among men that age, the figure is 1 in 4.

How to cut costs. One study found that osteoporosis care cost the nation $22 billion in 2008. Prescription medications often are used to treat this condition, so ask your doctor about using less costly generic drugs.

Weight-bearing exercise — such as lifting weights, walking or running, and activities such as tennis — is also a great way to build bone density, and it costs little or nothing to do.

Finally, relatively cheap vitamin D supplements can help your body use calcium and strengthen bones. Ask your doctor if they are right for you.

Diabetes

Diabetes
Vladimir Mulder / Shutterstock.com

More than 34 million Americans have diabetes. Your risk for the disease increases as you age; more than one-quarter of adults ages 65 or older have diabetes.

Diabetes costs the nation $327 billion annually, according to the American Diabetes Association. Patients diagnosed with diabetes bear the brunt of those costs. The Mayo Clinic has noted that the price of insulin for patients is higher in the U.S. than in other countries.

How to cut costs. Getting tested early for diabetes is the key to keeping care costs under control. As the disease progresses, it can become more dangerous — and significantly more expensive to treat.

If you have diabetes, your costs will be lower if your health insurance covers your treatments. The ADA’s Diabetes Forecast magazine has some tips for persuading your insurer to help pay for diabetes devices and supplies.

Finally, a healthful diet and regular exercise can help you control diabetes. In some cases, your efforts might be so effective that you no longer need expensive treatment. The ADA has tips for food and exercise on its website.

Obesity

jakub-cejpek / Shutterstock.com

As the years roll on, our waistlines expand. More than one-third of adults 65 and older are obese, according to a 2007-2010 survey report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC estimated in a 2009 report that an obese person spent 42% more for health care — an average of $1,429 per person — than people of normal weight.

How to cut costs. Slimming down significantly reduces your risk of being diagnosed with many costly health problems, including diabetes, heart disease, cancer and osteoarthritis.

Switching to a healthful diet and starting an exercise program are inexpensive ways to avoid the costs associated with obesity.

Heart problems

Heart
siam.pukkato / Shutterstock.com

Simply put, heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the U.S.

This condition encompasses many problems related to atherosclerosis, a narrowing of the arteries due to a buildup of fats, cholesterol and other substances. Heart disease cost the nation $219 billion from 2014 to 2015, according to the CDC.

How to cut costs. Several medical conditions are closely related to a higher risk of developing heart disease. They include:

  • High blood pressure
  • High LDL cholesterol
  • Smoking

A better diet and regular exercise can help you reduce your blood pressure and improve your cholesterol readings. And quitting smoking is among the best ways to both improve your health and save some money.

Declining oral health

Dentist
Dmitry Kalinovsky / Shutterstock.com

About 26% of Americans ages 65 and older have eight or fewer teeth, according to the CDC. That’s a sobering reminder that our oral health begins to slip as we age. The CDC notes that conditions such as severe periodontal disease and oral and pharyngeal cancer primarily affect older adults.

Treating such conditions can be expensive. The cost of dental expenditures reached $136 billion in 2018, according to the American Dental Association.

How to cut costs. Regular visits to the dentist are the best way to catch conditions early, when they are less costly to treat. The ADA notes that while some people should see their dentist just once or twice annually, others may require more frequent visits. Consult with your dentist to find the right schedule for you.

Dental visits can be costly if you do not have dental insurance. The ADA website offers help finding more affordable care.

Shingles

Shingles
one photo / Shutterstock.com

While this illness is likely to be far less costly than others on the list, it deserves attention because it is so prevalent in the over-50 demographic. In fact, half of all cases of shingles are diagnosed in people 60 and older.

And complications related to shingles — from blisters to an ongoing type of pain called post-herpetic neuralgia, or PHN — can take a toll on your wallet.

How to cut costs. Fortunately, there is an easy and affordable fix for shingles: vaccination. As we have reported a new vaccine is more than 90% effective in preventing shingles in folks age 50 and older. For more, check out “Over 50? The CDC Says You Need These 4 Vaccines.”

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

Source: moneytalksnews.com

Food Budgets Archives – MintLife Blog

Source: mint.intuit.com

5 Common Mistakes You’ll Make When Getting Out of Debt

You’ve made the decision that you want to get out of debt.  Good for you.  You’ve got your budget and your debt pay down plan ready to go.  You are ready to attack your plan.

Before you start I want you to do one thing.  Stop right there.  Don’t do another thing to get out of debt.  Not until you read this.

When people are trying to get out of debt, they are willing to do and try just about anything to get those bills paid down.  This results in many mistakes.  Things that can actually cost you in the long run.

Before you go on with your own debt plan, do what you can to avoid making these mistakes.

Read More:

 MISTAKE YOU’LL MAKE GETTING OUT OF DEBT

JUMPING IN WITHOUT A PLAN (or budget)

Picture this.  You want to go on vacation to the destination of your dreams.  You pack and get in the vehicle, but then what.  How will you get there?  Did you create a plan on how to arrive?  If not, then you are going nowhere – and nowhere fast.

The same is true with your debt.  If you try to get out of debt without having a plan of action, you will just end up spinning your wheels and make no progress.

Make sure you have your budget and debt pay down plan in order before you start to work on paying down any debts.  You have to understand where you can make adjustments in your spending in order to free up more income to pay off your debts.

Read More:  Create A Debt Pay Down Plan

NOT CHANGING YOUR ATTITUDE

Change is tough.  If you are eliminating your luxuries from your budget such as the morning coffee, the gym or even dinner out, it can really be a tough pill to swallow.

Before you can allow change to happen, you have to be open to it. If you find that you are not ready to totally look at your spending in a different way, make changes to your spending and really get your debt paid off, then you need to stop right now.

There is no way you can be successful if you are not willing to make the change and put in the hard work needed to reach your goal.

Read More:  Change Your Attitude to Change Your Finances

TRYING TOO HARD

One way to get out of debt is to make changes to your spending.  However, you can take this too far and make it too difficult to maintain.

Look at it as you would if you were on a diet.  If you suddenly force yourself to eat nothing but salad, you are bound to go to extremes.  Before you know it, you’ve consumed the entire bag of potato chips, thereby undoing all you’ve been working to change.

The same is true with changing your spending to try to get out of debt.  While it is important to scale back on your spending, make sure you allow yourself an occasional fun way to spend be it dining out, picking up a new pair of shoes or a day out with the kids.

Read More:  Why You Keep Overspending

WRONG PRIORITIES

If you want to get out of debt, then that has to be your one and only financial goal.  Nothing else should get in the way.  You can’t get the new car.  You can’t upgrade your cell phone.

Nope.  That all has to wait.

Your priority has to be to get out of debt.  You need to develop tunnel vision when it comes to this goal.

Once you have started to pay off those debts and are on the road to financial freedom (meaning, you are debt free), you will have income freed up and then, and only then, should other financial purchases even come into the picture.

FORGETTING TO SAVE FOR RETIREMENT

This is actually a grey area as some experts will say you need to continue saving for retirement, while others will recommend that you suspend contributions.  There is actually a middle ground you can strive for.

If your company offers any sort of a matching contribution, make sure you continue to contribute the amount needed to maximize your contributions.  For instance, if they match you 25% of what you contribute, up to 4% of your income, make sure you are putting away the 4%.  The reason is that you are passing up 1% of your income going right into your account for retirement – and it costs you nothing!

Even just scaling back on the amount you save can make enough of a difference in your take-home pay to free up money to pay off your debts, still while continuing to grow your retirement savings account.

Read More:  Seven Different Types of Retirement Accounts

Source: pennypinchinmom.com