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Maybe we can do a better job of reducing food waste if we start rebranding it as a waste of money.

A recent article by food industry expert Sylvain Charlebois says the average consumer throws away an estimated 170 kilograms of food a year, which is getting into the zone of what a piano weighs. Some of this waste is out of our hands – planned meals don’t come together and fresh food goes bad in the fridge as a result. But we’re also buying too much at the grocery store. That seems obvious.

A money-saving suggestion for 2020: Spend a couple of weeks monitoring how much food you throw out and then adjust your weekly buying and cooking. If leftovers aren’t getting eaten, cook less. If fruits and vegetables are decaying in your fridge, buy less. If you often throw out mouldy bread, try freezing half a loaf before it gets stale.

A lot of us are too busy to be heading off to the supermarket every couple of days to top up on groceries. But running out of one of two things can force you to be resourceful in using what’s at hand. Throw out less, save more.

Now for some help in spending less on food. Here’s a video showing some of the tricks advertisers use to make food look delicious. Check out how they use glue, hairspray, soap, makeup sponges, glucose syrup and more.

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Rob’s personal finance reading list…

Buying in bulk can mean a lot of waste

Buying in bulk is theoretically a good way to save money, but it’s not hard to get off-track. Are you really going to use that much toothpaste or breakfast cereal before it reaches its expiry date? And just how much of a deal are you getting?

These are the predictors of a long life

Harvard scientists set out five factors that will help determine how long you live. Weight, diet and more. Now for some sobering news – life expectancy for men seems to have plateaued.

15 personal finance blogs to check out

A mix of tried and true and newer blogs that address personal finance for people in all age groups.

Best joint savings accounts

A look at savings accounts with premium rates that can be set up jointly by two or more people. Not all banks offer joint accounts.

Ask Rob

Q: I already have GICs and mutual funds – just looking for a way to diversify my investments. I plan to begin investing in stocks as I have about 20 to 30 years before retirement. My plan is to buy blue-chip. However, the most that I can invest is about $600 per quarter, which might buy me five shares, or 20 shares per year. Is this enough money to begin investing in the stock market?

A: Check those mutual funds you own – they may have exposure to the stock markets. In fact, mutual funds and exchange-traded funds are a great way to build diversified stock holdings if you have a limited amount to invest. If you prefer a blue-chip approach, consider dividend ETFs and mutual funds. Mutual funds can be bought with no trading commissions, while ETFs cost zero to buy at some online brokerage firms and $5 to $10 at others.

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 and clarity.

Today’s financial tool

What I like about the budget planner created by the federal Financial Consumers Agency of Canada is that it can be personalized for your age, goals and other factors.

What I’ve been writing about

  • TD’s move to charge compound interest on credit cards shows seamy underside of loyalty rewards
  • This is how my adviser gauges returns – should I be worried? (for Globe Unlimited subscribers)
  • Want the lowdown on credit scores? Listen to our Carrick Talks Money call (for Globe Unlimited subscribers)

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