FREE LUNCH?

Beware of wide-eyed loons!

freelunch

Exposing the dangers of wealth redistribution.

There is an old adage about  ‘being too young to know any better.’   The average millennial was born after the collapse of the Soviet Union, and there are really only four true socialist nations following Marxist-Leninist principles  remaining in the world today. They are:

  • the Laos People’s Democratic Republic
  •  the People’s Republic of China
  • the Republic of Cuba
  •  the Socialist Republic of Vietnam

I am not including countries that have multi-party systems where a socialist faction has taken control of the government like in like Venezuela or Greece.   

There has been a dangerous trend among young people in the USA to idolize socialism as being morally and economically superior to capitalism.  The vast sea of young idiots on campuses across the county have been duped by the unsubstantiated claims of ‘true equality’ which can be achieved by embracing socialism being spouted by the likes of newly elected NY state rep Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, or Bernie Sanders, the failed presidential hopeful. For me, the truly amazing thing is that in the USA, more people than not possess powerful hand-held computers, AKA ‘smart-phones’, which could be used to research the truth  behind these fictitious claims. Instead, these young empty-headed numbskulls use their ‘toys’ only to text, watch videos, or play game apps. When I was a young boy, we didn’t have smart-phones.  You either learned the information to succeed in life, or you didn’t, and chose instead to blame others for your shortfalls.  

The only place you’ll find success before work is in the English dictionary.

“In a country where the sole employer is the State, opposition means death by slow starvation. The old principle: who does not work shall not eat, has been replaced by a new one: who does not obey shall not eat.” – Leon Trotsky

Leon Trotsky was a Russian revolutionary, Marxist theorist, and Soviet politician. Despite helping create the Soviet Union during the October Revolution of 1917, he was exiled after the death of Vladimir Lenin 1924, and ultimately assonated under orders from Joseph Stalin in 1940.

To explain socialism in very simple terms, the Government owns EVERYTHING, and distributes it equally i.e, a re-distribution of wealth to insure fairness. Under such an assumption, if a man worked hard his entire life to save a million dollars, and he had 999,999 penniless neighbors, it would be just for the Government to seize his million dollars, and give everyone one dollar so they could all ‘share the wealth’ and all be poor together. Does that make sense? Where is the incentive to work if all my assets will be seized, and given freely to people who don’t work. Under such a ridiculous system, it would behoove me to not be productive and receive my ‘free’ dollar instead of working hard to earn a million dollars and being punished for being successful.

ocasio-cortez-flier

Socialism pretends that it can solve all of humanity’s problems by ensuring ‘equality’. Socialism only works by stealing from successful people, and giving it to lazy, stupid people because ‘they’ are ‘entitled’ to it. Only a wide-eyed loon would believe such non-sense. Recently the aforementioned NY State Rep. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez proposed a 70% tax on the rich to fund her ‘free’ programs. This is the same woman who after winning her $174,000 a year job whined that she couldn’t afford an apartment in Washington D.C.  How is she going to afford anything once she pays the $121,800 in taxes under her 70% rate? A better question to ask would be how much of MY money does the government feel actually belongs to me? Taxation is theft!   

Free does sound good, but there is another old adage, ‘If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is a lie.’ There is no such thing as a free lunch. Socialism promises omelets for all, but only delivers broken eggs, and dead chickens.

Knowledge is power.

Capitalism by comparison, rewards the intelligent and hard-working with  success and financial gain. Individuals own everything, not the Government. You get to own private property, such as housing complexes which you can rent out, business which create both goods and jobs. Quality and value are rewarded by the accumulation of capitol. Competition drives the successful to new heights while punishing those who can’t or won’t compete. If you’re stupid and lazy, you won’t go far in life.  Free market capitalism is the number one system for building wealth. Socialism only creates poverty. Last year, President Trump was lambasted by both the liberal media and celebrities for referring to Haiti as a ‘Shit-hole country’. Haiti is one of the poorest nations on Earth, and is the poorest in the Western Hemisphere. Eighty percent of its citizens live in poverty, and live on under $1000 per year. Certainly doesn’t sound like a place where I would hang my hat. Beginning in December 1972, a stream of Haitian “boat people” fled the brutal Duvalier dictatorship in Haiti for the United States. Desperate Haitian refugees braved a  dangerous  830 mile ocean trip to seek refuge in the USA, albeit illegally. Needless to say  Cuba, a Socialist nation was only 250 miles from Haiti, and they passed right by it. If a socialist nation is such a great idea, why risk life and limb to travel over three times the distance to escape to the USA? Answer number one: Because The USA is better than Cuba. Answer number two, because Capitalism is better than Socialism. Answer number three, because we wouldn’t shoot them like the Cubans probably would.

Bottom line, if you want to be rich, work for it, and don’t take candy from strangers. The USA is a wonderful land of freedom and opportunity. If you feel the need to back political candidates who offer you ‘free stuff’, it’s because you lack the backbone to work for what you want in life. Don’t be the type of person who believes they are only entitled to the scraps someone else offers them. There is opportunity everywhere   in this country as long as you are willing to work for it, because fortune favors the bold.  Like Napoleon Hill once wrote, “THINK AND GROW RICH”. As Always I wish you success and happiness.  

Time for a do-over?

Reset the clock!

time for a do-over

“Clocks are made by men, God creates time. No man can prolong his allotted hours, he can only live them to the fullest – in this world or in the Twilight Zone.” — Rod Serling

Welcome to the first week of the New Year, 2019. There was no blog post last week for the first time since the inception of http://www.InstantCoffeeWisdom.com back in September of 2017. I felt it was appropriate to schedule a break over the Christmas/New Year’s holiday period.  Today is Sunday, January 6th.  Some Christians still refer to this day as Epiphany, or the Twelfth-Day, commemorating the manifestation of Christ to the gentiles in the persons of the Magi. In a few countries around the world, it is almost as big a celebration as Christmas Day itself. Here in the USA, not so much. Epiphany spelled with a lowercase ‘e’ is also a word to describe a sudden, intuitive perception of or insight into the reality or essential meaning of something, usually initiated by some simple, homely, or commonplace occurrence or experience. There is nothing more commonplace then the annual changing of the calendar, and the start of the new year.   It is a do-over, a time for new beginning and a fresh start as we lay the past to rest.

“The place is here…the time is now…and the journey into the shadows that we’re about to watch could be our journey…” —Rod Serling’s opening narration to The Twilight Zone’s pilot episode, “Where is Everybody?,” October 2, 1959

For the past twenty years in the USA, the cable TV SYFY channel (originally called Sci-Fi) has celebrated New Year’s Eve by broadcasting a Twilight Zone marathon.  This classic television program from October 2, 1959 through June 19, 1964 depicted weekly tales of bizarre, supernatural occurrences and the effects of such on an ever-changing cast of characters. The show has been revived several times and a new version is in the works. The title of the show is so recognizable that it has become a colloquial term to describe any bizarre or ludicrous situation or behavior that rears its ugly head to cause chaos or havoc.

Sometimes things really do happen which are beyond our control. But only sometimes. Often we bring these unfortunate things upon our on heads due to poor planning, stupidity, and/or laziness. No one ever promised that life would be easy, or fair, but it is worth it, and there are countless opportunities to reset the clock, and begin anew. The key is both to learn from our mistakes and to not quit. Quitters never win, and winners never quit.     

Perception is the lens which defines our reality.

Are things really as bad as we ‘think’ they are? Or do we make our situations far worse by convincing ourselves as we bemoan our circumstances? One surefire way to determine progress is to diligently keep track of the pertinent data, and recording your findings  on a regular schedule, then track the records by journals or charts. As negative trends emerge, you will become aware of them early on and be able to correct the course before you sail into dangerous waters. As this is still just the first week of the new year, there is still time to run out and buy a calendar/planner book for you to chart your progress throughout the new year. I do this religiously every year, and have been doing so for most of my adult life. Keeping records and tracking progress has been instrumental in keeping a positive outlook, and propelled me further on the path of success, keeping miles ahead of The Marching Morons.

There are many people in media who keep informing us about how terrible the US financial markets were in 2018, and how 2018 was the worst year for the market in eleven years, and that is was the worst December since The Great Depression of 1931. Yes, I too reported a SLIGHT loss in my net-worth for 2018. (4.7%) If I offset my loss by my gains of the last decade, it is nearly non-existent, a mere pittance. So tell me Great Kreskin, what does 2018 predict for 2019?  Only a fool would bet against the mighty economy of this country.

How do you eat an elephant?

The elephant is the largest animal on land. There’s an old saying. ‘How do you eat an elephant?’ The answer is ‘One bite at a time’ . Sometime we have grand ambitions and lofty goals. The key to accomplishing these lay in proper planning and by breaking down the larger parts of the goal into smaller, more manageable sub-goals. The original task in its entirety may seem overwhelming, but by breaking it down into smaller, more manageable jobs, you can slowly accomplish the big picture, while bolstered by noticeable progress as you tick-off boxes on your to-do list. Again, as this is THE FIRST WEEK OF 2019, There is still time to plan out your goals and sub-goals by week, month, and quarter. You have an entire new year to improve various aspects of your life. Some goals can be worked on simultaneously, as they may complement one another if done in tandem. One example of tandem goals is the two-fold goal of eating healthier, and exercising. Both work best when done together. When you complete your goals, mark then down. Successful people work from lists and write things down! Don’t be afraid to start small, Rome wasn’t built in a day. The most important part is to START. Just keep your goals clear and measurable, and write them down. Set reminders on your phone or calendar planner book. Enlist the help of friends as ‘accountability buddies’ if you need to. Begin at the beginning, and repeat to completion! You got this in the bag!

Which way to the front?

We were all newbies once, so we’ve all experienced the uncertainty of where to begin. Here’s a few self-improvement suggestions for helping to jog your journey to a ‘new and improved’ you.

  • Drink a liter of water every day, and eliminate soda. (water good, soda bad!)
  • Exercise.
  • Cut out meat for one meal a week. (Better yet, become a vegetarian like me)
  • Eat a cup of veggies at lunch and dinner.
  • Go to bed before 10 P.M. (Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.)
  • Start a budget
  • STOP USING YOUR CREDIT CARDS! (Go cash only, if possible.)
  • Save 20% of every paycheck.
  • Take ‘The 52-week Challenge’!
  • Get 30 minutes of ‘ME-TIME’ every day.
  • KILL YOUR TELEVISION
  • Limit internet/social media usage.
  • Discover a podcast
  • Read one chapter of a book 3 times a week.
  • Read the Bible. (God is good, always!)

Start today, and before you know it, you’ll have developed good habits that will eventually add up to a fresh new you! As always I wish you success and happiness!  

Fruitcake! Oh, you shouldn’t have!

Making the case for giftcards.

Fruitcake

Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year according to numerous cards, songs, and movies. For some people the holidays are filled with stress as they obsess over various topics some of which are related to the practice of gift giving. ‘Tis the season to go broke for many people who go way over-budget on holiday spending. Unfortunately, many times we  end up giving some people on our lists ‘the perfect gift’ which ends up being something they wouldn’t have purchased for themselves ever, even if it was on sale 95% off, and they had just received a huge Christmas bonus in their paycheck.  Everyone has different tastes, and some people are just impossible to buy presents for.

To top it all off, It’s probably also impossible to get gifts for our entire family, as well as every friend you know.  So we agonize over who gets a gift and who doesn’t.

“You’ll Shoot Your Eye Out, Kid!”

In the 1983 film ‘A Christmas Story’, a young boy named Ralphie obsesses over the only gift he wants for Christmas, a Red Rider BB gun. Everyone he tells this to, including the mall Santa, admonishes him that he’ll shoot his eye out.  It’s a silly movie, and a little fun. I’ve watched it and at least one cable channel TNT shows the movie on a continuous loop each Christmas, but it’s no ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’. Now life seen through the eyes of a child are very different from the view of an adult. When we were kids, our parents were probably the only ones who knew what we wanted for Christmas, and as children our lives were over if ‘Santa’ failed to deliverer the coveted item. I’ll be the first to admit that I was a spoiled brat as a child and cried when I got sensible presents like socks and a warm coat. Now as a grown up, I want what ‘I want’, and sometimes I get an undesirable gift. It’s disappointing, but it’s not the end of the world.

The gift that keeps getting given.

One ‘option’ that we as adults have adopted to deal with the unwelcome gift is the practice of ‘re-gifting’. Re-gifting in and of itself is not a  bad thing, but it can backfire. Whenever you re-gift, make sure it’s not in the same circle of friends, and NEVER EVER EVER re-gift  within your family. You don’t want to give the fruitcake ‘Aunt Francis’ gave you, to ‘Uncle Billy’.  Also make absolutely certain that there is no tag or personal note anywhere in the gift that identifies it as a ‘re-gift’. Think of these ‘twice-given’ gifts as recycling, and as a way of being thrifty. Just because you don’t want it doesn’t mean someone else wouldn’t appreciate it.  If it’s something that you absolutely ‘hate’ keep in mind that re-gifting a despised item may elicit the same reaction in the receiver as it did you. If they in turn re-gift the gift, it might end up coming back to haunt you, like the Ghost of Christmas Past, or that infamous  fruitcake that seems to be the same fruitcake that has been around, and around, and around.  

Paper or plastic?

Cash is king, but some people still think of cash as an impersonal gift. Sticking bills in a envelope is probably the easiest gift you can wrap. The other option is the gift card. Like cash, a gift card enables you to give a gift that the recipient ACTUALLY wants, as opposed to what you think would be perfect for them. Gift cards have come a long way from the days of the paper gift certificate.  Some of today’s gift cards (BUT NOT ALL) can even be purchased by credit card. Some gift cards are VISA/Mastercard ‘money cards’ and are good at any merchant. Store cards are good only at that store. You can’t use a Burger King gift card at McDonald’s.  As a result gift cards are now the most popular Christmas gifts among adults, and are also the most easily ‘re-giftable’ gift, second only to cash.  

Children don’t understand the economics of Christmas. For them, it’s all about the toys. For adults, it not about what’s under the tree, it’s who is around it that really matters. Money is a renewable resource, but people are  finite and when we’re gone, we are gone.   So as we head into the final days of the Christmas season, keep it simple and remember that it’s the thought that counts. As always, I wish you success and happiness! 

YOU SAVED HOW MUCH?

Are ‘Black Friday’ deals really worth all the hassle?

you saved how much

In the USA, the day after Thanksgiving has been referred to as ‘Black Friday’ for over fifty years.  It marks the unofficial beginning of the Christmas Shopping season.  The shopping extravaganza grew out of a series of slightly connected events that fed off one another resulting in the shopping nightmare we deal with today. I don’t know about you, but I avoid the stores that entire weekend.

canada

Blame Canada!

In 1869, Timothy Eaton opened his first department store in Toronto Canada.  The T. Eaton & Company Importers  quickly prospered, ultimately billing itself as Canada’s Greatest Store and at one time was even considered the most successful department store in the world. What does this have to do with the USA and Black Friday?

On  December 2, 1905 Eaton’s held the first of its annual Christmas Parades. These holiday events grew increasingly both in scale and popularity. A couple of decades later, the parade captured the attention of the CEOs of BOTH Macy’s Department Store and Gimbles.   The first Thanksgiving Day parade in the USA  held in 1920 was sponsored by Gimbels department store in Philadelphia PA.  In NYC a few  years later on Thanksgiving Day 1924, the First Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade had an  audience of over 250,000 people.  The Parade ended with Santa Clause being welcomed to Herald Square and escorted to this throne at Macy’s.  The parade was such a success that Macy’s declared it would become an annual event.  Philly may have been the flagship location for Gimbles, but they ALSO had a location at Herald Square across from Macy’s and were not amused by the imitation. The competition for Christmas shopping between Macy’s and Gimbles Department stores  was legendary and became the back story of the 1947 Christmas movie Miracle on 34th Street. (By the 1950’s the Eaton’s Christmas Parade was still the largest in North America, but now that honor rests solely with Macy’s.)

Other US cites also hold local parades, but none can match the scale of the NYC Macy’s Day Parade. The resulting foot traffic from these crowds meant extra business for any retailers lucky enough to be in the vicinity. In the 1950’s in Philadelphia PA, the police started referring to the Friday after Thanksgiving as A Black Friday, black meaning very bad. Between the crowds for the Thanksgiving Parade, and the Saturday Army vs. Navy football game, the crowds in the city were a nightmare, and police were working 12 hour shifts for crowd control. The holiday foot traffic kept growing and soon retailers began running special sales to entice shoppers to make impulse purchases.

By 1961, retailers regarded Black Friday as a good thing because the increased sales revenue meant their accounts were ‘in the black’. In traditional accounting, positive income is entered into a ledger with black ink, while negative debits are recorded in red. When you balance the books, you want the bottom total line to be black, showing a positive balance.  If it’s red, you’re in debt, and possibly in deep trouble.

It is estimated that Black Friday sales account for 50% of the Christmas sales, and that Christmas sales in general account for half of the total annual sales of retailers. This is now the reason for all the special Christmas  prices we tend to see at this time of year as merchants try to relieve us of our hard-earned cash.  This is why you also see seasonal ‘pop-up’ kiosk stores in malls selling all manner of gimmicky impulse items. Christmas and Black Friday are BIG BUSINESS!

cyber

Cyberman, Cyberman, does whatever a cyber can.

The term “Cyber Monday” was created by marketing companies to persuade people to shop online. The term was coined by Ellen Davis and Scott Silverman, and made its debut on November 28, 2005. The idea behind Cyber Monday was to convince people that better deals could be found online IF you were willing to wait a couple of days.  In the 21st century, the traditional retail model has been evolving. There has been a shift towards online purchases which has resulted in the death of many brick and mortar stores. 

Gimbles  went out of business in 1986. Stewardship of the Philly Parade transferred to ABC 6 and Boscov’s. Boscov’s Department Stores of Reading PA also briefly faced bankruptcy in 2011, and had to give up its share in the parade , which is now The Dunkin’ Donuts ABC6 Thanksgiving Day Parade. Eaton’s of Canada closed in 1999, was sold to SEARS of Canada,  which also folded. Local Canadian merchants banded together to save their parade.  SEARS USA is on the brink of going out of business, and Mary’s is starting to close low earning locations.  Long time king of toy stores TOY R US closed its doors forever this summer.   Jeff Bezos  started AMAZON.com in 1999. He is now the richest man in the world with a net worth estimated to be $87 Billion dollars. He’s only 54 but even he admits that no business last forever . “Amazon is not too big to fail … In fact, I predict one day Amazon will fail,” Bezos reportedly said when addressing a question about Sears recently going bankrupt. “Amazon will go bankrupt. If you look at large companies, their lifespans tend to be 30-plus years, not a hundred-plus years.”

The question remains though, was it the computer or was it the crowds that killed brick and morter stores? The computer is a wonderful tool that can make our lives better when used properly. The internet allows us to reach stores and people in places we could never get to easily or cost effectively in the  past. By delaying instant gratification, and waiting for sales online, diligently searching for the best prices, we can save ourselves the hassle of fighting crowds for promised low prices on items which sell out in minutes at the store. It’s not worth your time or trouble when you factor in travel costs and your personal time. Time is the one commodity you can never replace. As always I wish you success and happiness.  

GOING CLUBBING?

Membership has its rewards.

goingclub

Last weekend, Wegman’s held a grand opening for its newest store in Lancaster PA. This would be the second largest supermarket in the county. (The largest is Shady Maple.) It was a rainy day, but I kid you not when I say it was standing room only. Everyone and their mother living in a twenty mile radius was there. People were lined-up ten deep in three different queues to sign-up for the store loyalty reward program. You could not move one foot in any direction in the store without encountering someone with a shopping cart, and state police were directing traffic into and out of the fully occupied parking lot as drivers circled the lot, jockeying for position. It was a total madhouse. I left after 15 minutes without buying a single item.

wegmans

Now there may only be ONE Wegman’s Supermarket in Lancaster county, but there are more than a hundred supermarkets owned by at least a half-dozen chains. Wegman’s has things that you cannot get anywhere else. It is the ONLY place I have ever seen that carried Oaxaca cheese! Oaxaca is a white, semihard cheese from Mexico, similar to unaged Monterey jack, but with a mozzarella-like string cheese texture.

oaxaca

Loyalty has its rewards.

It seems that every chain store in the world encourages people to join their loyalty rewards program. Signing-up is free, you save money on specials, and you get a wallet card and or a small fob for your keys that you have to scan at the checkout.  I have so many of these that I ordered a small loyalty-card holder for my key ring to protect and organize these flimsy, plastic-coated card-stock tags. 

loycard

Aside from the initial hassle of filling out the application, it’s a smart way to save money for the customer, often on products you already use.  On  National Coffee Day, I got a free cold brew coffee from Sheetz, after I downloaded their app to my smartphone and ordered online. A minor inconvenience for a free $2.99 drink.

sheetz

The downside is that you’re supplying personal info and shopping habits with that company. I know people who refuse to provide their contact info and insist on asking the checker at the register for ‘the store card’. Some chains used keep a card at each register for people who ‘forgot’ their card, which they would scan so you can still get the discount on the specials, but this is slowly being phased out.  As more and more people have smart phones, loyalty programs are switching over from cards and fobs to apps you download right to your phone.  Stores really want you to sign up for these reward programs.  It provides their company with vital market research as they track your purchase history. Knowing what brands and items you buy allows them to stock greater quantities.  Knowing where you live can help them determine the potential viability of opening new stores in your neighborhood. I used to shop at Wegman’s sporadically because prior to last week, the nearest store was over 35 miles away. The same goes for Trader Joe’s, I’d love to have a local store.          

Membership has its rewards too.

“I don’t want to belong to any club that would accept me as one of its members.” – Groucho Marx

There are several store chains such as Costco, BJ’s and Sam’s Club which require an annual membership fee for people wishing to shop there. This may sound crazy to some people.  Who would want to pay $60 a year for the ‘privilege’ of shopping at a wholesale ‘club’? Firstly, let’s go back to my harrowing tale of the Wegman’s grand opening.  You NEVER encounter crowds like that at a wholesale club. EVER. Every person with a cart paid their membership to shop there.  If you’re curious and want to look around just to determine if a wholesale club membership is for you, you can go to the customer service desk and they will allow it (and probably offer you literature and an application form). I used to belong to BJ’s years ago when I was in charge of supplying drinks and snacks for the employee break room, until the honor system broke down and the till dried up. I don’t understand people stealing snacks and sodas when we get paid as much as we do.

Wholesale clubs eliminate the cost of shipping and distribution of items from the warehouse to the retail store, because the warehouse IS the store. Also because these items are special packed in larger quantities, the per-item cost is much lower for the consumer. So if you have a large family, buying in bulk at a wholesale club will save you a significant amount of money, and allow you to recoup the initial investment you made when you brought your membership. 

But what’s a single person going to do with a hundred-roll case of Charmin?

Fortunately there IS an online alternative to the warehouse wholesale club. There are two members-only online shopping clubs that I know of. Like the warehouse clubs, you pay an annual fee. BUT you get free shipping IF you buy a certain amount. You are also buying only their unique brand, so don’t expect to order Pepsi or Doritos. Now there are store brands that meet or exceed the quality offered by national chains. The organic specialty health food chain Trader Joe’s sells almost exclusively their own unique brand with very few exceptions. I LOVE Trader Joe’s. They really have the best groceries, but they are pricey. Again, many  of these items are organic, free of artificial preservatives and chemicals, and are much healthier so they are better for you. (Isn’t your health worth the cost?) Costco sells KIRKLAND brand exclusively, GNC sells its own brand, I could go on.

So back to the two members-only, online shopping clubs which offer only their own brand. Both launched in past two years.  Their mission is to provide the customer with a high quality product at the lowest cost possible.   

They offer factory direct non-branded products with simple black and white no-frills labels with just the company , product name, ingredients, and nutritional info. You won’t see a photo of a tomato on the tomato sauce. It will say TOMATO PASTE. From the few examples I’ve seen online, the labeling is ONLY in English, which I consider to be a plus because it always irks me when foreign language is forced upon me in my native country by social justice warriors in the name of diversity and inclusiveness. I would never think of living in any country where I didn’t have a firm grasp of the local language. It may be true that the USA has no official national language, but since the country was founded it has been the consensus that it is English.  

The ONLY two possible drawbacks I see are that the new companies might fold, as new business have a high failure rate, and that you can’t sample the goods before you buy them, so you really have to rely upon customer feedback. Most of the reviews I’ve read have been favorable, and I do plan on trying out both companies in the very near future. I always believe in supporting small businesses and  the independent operators. Without customer support, these companies cannot last. Their prices do seem fair, and a smart consumer should be able to seamlessly work these goods into their personal budget plans to both recoup the cost of membership and save money in the process.       

The two companies  are: BRANDLESS and PUBLIC GOODS.

BRANDLESS https://brandless.com/

Only $36/year after your free trial.

BRANDLESS Their mission is to provide better everything, and sell it at a fixed price of just $3. Since every item is $3, be sure to check the size. You’re not going to get a pound of organic coffee anywhere, even at BRADLESS, but ounce per ounce it will be a better deal than Starbucks.

PUBLIC GOODS https://www.publicgoods.com/

Public Goods. They too are attempting to provide healthier alternatives to commercially available products at cost, making as little on the item as possible. It’s a counter-intuitive business strategy that relies upon the sales of the memberships to cover costs. I think it’s an interesting social experiment, but only time will tell if it’s economically viable for a company to operate long term under that business model. I am intrigued enough that I’m willing to gamble on a LIFETIME membership deal, offered through KICKSTARTER  until November 8th 2018.   

Only $59/year after your free trial.

If you want to gamble on the LIFETIME Membership deal like I did yesterday here’s the link for that ‘possible’ money saving offer: 

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/494595922/public-goods-healthy-wholesome-food-affordable-to

Hopefully, these suggestions will provide money-saving opportunities that you can take advantage of. Always remember that every dollar you can save, and every cost-cutting measure you can find will get you closer to attaining wealth and achieving your dreams. Good luck! As always, I wish you success and happiness!

BIGGER IS BETTER!

More bang for your buck!

bigger is better

Life Is a Journey, Not a Destination – Anon.

Benjamin Franklin is quoted to have said: “Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise”.  As part of my journey to ‘a better me’, I’ve been paying a lot of attention to not only my wealth and knowledge base, but also my health.  After all what’s the point of being wealthy if you’re too sickly to enjoy the fruits of your labor. All of the major self-help gurus stress the importance of a healthy mind and body as being key elements of being a successful person.

Proper nutrition is essential to good health. The problem is good food is expensive. As I previously in last week’s blog, you can grow your own fruits and vegetables at home and preserve them yourself. You’ll have the comfort of knowing that your produce is organic and that you canned them free of artificial chemicals, additives, and preservatives.   But there are just some things that you can’t grow at home. Take bananas for example. More than likely you aren’t going to be growing those in your back yard. I do know of some people who have their own free range chickens producing eggs for them, but that’s out of the question for most of us as well. And who wants to milk a cow to get milk for their coffee? Some things just have to be purchased commercially but  there are ways to trim the fat from your expenses at the same time as you trim it from your waste.

This past year, I went on a very aggressive diet and exercise program. It’s self developed, but the main elements are that I eat healthier and exercise. I’ve been eating a lot of organic foods, cooking healthier dinners from a meal kit service called Hello Fresh. I go to the gym when possible, and I’m a lot more physically active during the summer. Kayaking, and riding my mountain bike are quite fun. I’ve managed to lose 40 lbs. and I’m back to where I was before the bout of depression hit me when the ex-girlfriend left.  Another 30lbs more, and I’ll be back to what I weighed in college.

Fad diets come and go, but every person is different, and every BODY is different.  I found something that works for me, and if it works, don’t fix it! It irks me when people tell me I should be doing something other than what I’m doing because they read something somewhere that said (FILL IN THE BLANK) is better than whatever it is I’m doing.  If they want to try whatever it is they read about, good for them. I’ve my own results to show that what I’m doing is working, and I feel wonderful.

There are a lot of dietary supplements that I take during the course of a day. Many of them are quite pricey, but just as you have to spend money to make money, you need to spend money on better nutrition.  The good news is, many of these items do have long shelf lives, so you can take advantage of sales, economy packs, bogos, and clearance specials each of which will stretch your hard earned dollars and give you more bang for your buck.  Stocking up and buying in bulk will drastically reduce the cost per serving, save on shipping, and prevent the accidental impulse buy when you go to the store for one item and leave with a dozen.

Economy Size

If you know for a fact that you will definitely use a product, often buying the larger size will save you money on the cost per servings.  A  single 60 serving  can will always cost less than two 30 serving cans, UNLESS the smaller size is on sale. Always pay attention to the cost per unit.

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BOGO

The infamous BOGO or ‘Buy One, Get One’ sales will allow you to double the amount purchased and reduce the cost per unit. Taking advantage of these will allow you stock up. You can also try a different flavor, but if you buy it, use it. Waste not, want not.

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Clearance

If you see an item you use (or something similar that’s equal in quality) on clearance, buy it! Always check the ‘best by’ date to be certain that you can use the item before the expiry date. Certain supplements lose their potency with age, so if it’s been sitting on a shelf for months, the bargain might not be much of a bargain. Every item is different, some will be just fine, so do your homework. It’s very easy to check, just whip out your smart phone and  Google information on the products and how long they’ll keep.

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Brand X

Brand loyalty means that sometimes you’re paying for the name on the box, and not what’s in it. There are many generic or store brands that are every bit as good as national brand names. Often, these items will be sitting side by side on the self with the competing product. They will have similar packaging, and will probably have some statement on the label telling you to compare the ingredients. Some of these products are just as good if not better than the name brand, and will save you pennies on the dollar.

Automatic shipments and free shipping

Many of the health places like GNC and The Vitamin Shoppe have automatic subscription services you can sign up for which will offer a discount on the supplements, and offer free shipping if you order a certain amount. The beauty of these automatic subscriptions is that you never run out accidentally of your favorite vitamin, or go to the store and discover they’re temporarily out of stock. Also, these services occasionally include bonus trial sample items for free, so you can try new products that you might also enjoy.

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Of course there are always sales going on, so it always pays to shop around at competitor sites. I was at GNC and the sales associate told me that they’ll price match an identical item offered on AMAZON which they happened to stock as well. Some of these brick-and-mortar stores are really having to fight for your business because online retailers are stealing their customers, so they are occasionally willing to make a deal.      

Following these all of these tips might mean you’ll eventually need to buy both a smaller belt, and a larger wallet. As always, I wish you success and happiness!

YES YOU CAN!

Home canning isn’t that difficult!

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Back during WWII, the government encouraged average citizens to grow ‘Victory Gardens’ providing their own fruits and vegetables. Home canning was also encouraged as a way of preserving produce, and ensuring that the populace would not go hungry should supply shortages occur.  

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In our fast paced, modern society we no longer grow or can our groceries, opting just to grab our food in the local supermarket.  Home canning is a wonderful life skill to learn and is an economical to stretch your grocery budget, saving you up to half the cost of buying commercially canned food.

There are a few important things to consider first.

Canning is a process, it takes both labor and time.

Last week, I picked nearly 10lbs of peppers in a field near a local pepper festival I attended with friends. I figure I was in that field for about an hour harvesting the perfect peppers I needed. Once I got home, it took me two and a half hours to slice all those peppers, and another half hour to can them using an easy fridge pickling method that only requires salt, vinegar, and spring water. I yielded nine quarts of the hottest pickled peppers known to man.  If you discount my labor, and the canning jars I paid for, these awesome pickled peppers cost about $1.50 a jar, and will last me about a year. If you factor in all my hours of labor, and the cost of the jars, add about $10 a jar and that’d be a more accurate assessment.

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If you are an extremely busy person with a tight schedule, canning will not be a good fit for you. I usually can my vegetables two to three times a year now, the annual September Bowers Chili Pepper Festival and one or two other occasions when I try a new recipe. When I can, I can en mass. I devote the entire day to can as much as I can.  I don’t get paid on my days off, (unless I’m using PTO days from my job) so using my time productively and being economical are important to me.

Canning requires certain equipment and supplies.

There will be an initial upfront expense you will have to invest to obtain the necessary supplies essential for  canning. The good news is, one you’ve purchased them, you’ll have them for a very long time. The only items you’ll need to replace are the jars and lids. The glass jars and the bands are reusable, the flat lids are not. And if you give away jars as gifts to family and friends, you’ll need to buy more periodically.  The lid and jars are not that expensive, and come in various sizes and shapes. Wide mouth and regular mouth jars each require their appropriate size lid and band. You cannot fit a wide mouth lid on a standard size jar, and vice versa.  All standard canning jars sold in the U.S. are made by a company called Jarden Home Brands. They own Ball, Kerr, and Bernardin.

You will need the following:

  • A good home canning book
  • Canning jars and lids
  • A cooker or canner
  • A plastic or stainless steel canning funnel
  • A stainless steel ladle
  • A canning jar lifter with rubber grips
  • A good pair of kitchen tongs
  • Magnetic lid lifter and bubble remover
  • A food processor, or hand blender
  • A food strainer
  •  A good set of cutting knives and a cutting board
  • A vegetable peeler

 There are two ways to can

There are 2 ways to can- boiled water bath and pressure canning. Fruits and vegetables that are of low acidic content and are not being pickled, MUST be pressure canned to prevent the risk of botulism. Canned items are best to be used within 8-12 months. The USDA only recommends pressure canning. A ‘third’ way to can is fridge pickling, which really isn’t exactly canning, but will preserve your food for up to a month assuming you keep it refrigerated.

When canning, be sure to follow all of the USDA food safety instructions for home canning. You can download a PDF of it from this link:

https://www.healthycanning.com/wp-content/uploads/USDA-Complete-Guide-to-Home-Canning-2015-revision.pdf

Your canned foods should have a good overall appearance. Free of imperfections, good proportion of solid to liquid with proper headspace and free of air bubbles and sediment. You do not want any foreign contaminants that could lead to botulism or food poisoning of any kind. ALWAYS check the seals on the jars to make sure that they are intact and do not leak.

The advantages of canning extend beyond the savings you will reap after your initial investment in the canning equipment.  

No added chemicals or preservatives.

When you can foods at home, you eliminate the need for many of the artificial colors, fillers, chemical additives, and preservatives found in store brought food. Home canning is a healthier alternative  For me, the very best part of home canning is I determine the  ingredients, and I make it MY way. As I’ve mentioned previously, I like very hot and spicy food. If I wanted to buy Texas Pete, Tabasco, or Cholula, I could walk into any supermarket in the USA. But if I wanted a super-hot XXXX+ hot sauce made from Carolina Reapers, Trinidad Scorpions and Ghost Peppers, I’m out of luck unless I make it myself.  Right now, I’ve been playing with a homemade sugar-free ketchup recipe. The new batch I concocted tastes great! I hope you have as much luck with home canning as I have. As always, I wish you success and happiness!