One of the personal-finance complaints I've heard most often in the past couple of years is the rising price of groceries. You'd think that high food prices would make people shop more carefully, but that may not be the case. By one estimate, 47 per cent of wasted food in Canada has been happening at home.
Wasted food is wasted money. Altering your buying habits may help, but so can better use of your fridge. According to Consumer Reports, temperatures vary a fair bit in different parts of your fridge. Storing food in the right spot can help it last longer.
For example, shelves on the door of your fridge are for butter, condiments and drinks aside from milk. Milk, as well as eggs and raw meat, are best kept in the lower shelf of your fridge, where temperatures tend to be colder. The upper shelf, the warmest part of your fridge, is for jam, snacks and peanut butter. Wait – you're supposed to refrigerate peanut butter?
Another contributor to food waste is a declining appetite for eating leftovers. U.S. research has found that leftovers account for the largest part of edible food waste in homes. There has apparently been a cultural shift against eating leftovers, even though they are cost-effective and save you the time of preparing a meal from scratch.
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Rob's personal finance reading list…
Why you need to check the water coverage in your home insurance
Water damage accounts for close to half of claims on home insurance policies, with fire and smoke next at just 15.9 per cent. Here's something I wrote earlier this year on how to make sure you're protected against water damage.
Vegetarians have lower grocery bills
A blogger talks about the financial benefits of cutting meat out of her diet. Her grocery bills have fallen by roughly 15 per cent monthly.
Simplii is a new online bank that replaces President's Choice Financial. Here's a review that looks at how Simplii compares to its predecessor. PC Financial clients have been moved over to Simplii, which is trying to lure new clients with an offer of 3 per cent interest on new savings deposits until Feb. 28.
Before you say yes to mortgage life insurance…
A good summary of the flaws in the mortgage life insurance banks are keen to sell people buying a home. It says here that some people end up buying this insurance when arranging a mortgage without realizing what they're doing. A better alternative is to get some term life insurance. See below for more on this.
Today's featured financial tool
Need some insurance to provide financial protection for your family in case you die suddenly? Here are a few websites you can use to compare the cost of term life insurance. You pay a level amount over the term you choose for a set amount of coverage. When the term ends, you can either renew (at a higher cost, most likely) or let the policy lapse.
The question: "I have a large amount of cash sitting in a high-rate savings account and would like to invest in some stocks or exchange-traded funds. I'm reluctant, however, as the market is so high at the moment. Can you make some suggestions for what products/stocks may be suitable? I'm 57 years old."
The answer: "One approach for cautious investors like you is to divide your money into a few equal chunks and invest them at regular intervals. For example, four equal quarterly investments over the next 12 months, or six investments over the next 18 months. This minimizes your risk of putting all your money into the market just ahead of a big fall, and it also positions you to buy in if stocks fall to bargain levels. ETFs tracking the S&P/TSX composite, the S&P 500 and the MSCI EAFE index (stocks outside North America) would be a well-diversified way into the stock market."
Do you have a question for me? Send it my way. Sorry I can't answer every one personally. Questions and answers are edited for length.
What do to if there's friction between you and your investment adviser.
In case you missed these Globe and Mail personal finance stories
- Do single people end up subsidizing couples in retirement?
- Zero-fee ETFs can come with strings attached
- Five unpopular personal finance truths
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