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Common sense is called for, but "best by" is only a suggestion.

By Donna_Freedman Oct 30, 2009 11:55AM

This week I ate canned pumpkin that was three years past its expiration date, and I didn't die. Not even once.


Why risk it? Why not throw it out? Because I was feeling both frugal and contrary.


Last week a Smart Spending message board reader started a thread about an "out of code" food market in her neighborhood. The outlet specializes in food that's super-cheap because it has passed its sell-by date. Some of the items -- canned goods, coffee, cake mixes and the like -- were four or five months beyond their suggested dates.


Some people who responded were grossed out by the very idea. One called such marketing "a step above a Dumpster dive."


That's when I decided to bake some pie.


Even adults can get a sweet treat if they wear a swirl top hat.

By Teresa Mears Oct 30, 2009 11:11AM

It’s time for Friday food freebies and deals. This week, a lot of our deals are for Halloween meals, especially for children in costume. But if you’re willing to wear a swirl top hat, even an adult can get a free frozen yogurt.


We wrote up a bunch of Halloween deals for restaurants and free events earlier this week. Some of last week’s food deals also are still good.


Remember that not all deals are good at all locations of chain restaurants.

Here are our latest food deals, gathered with some help from our friends at Cities on the Cheap:


Believing some of these untruths can waste bunches of money.

By Karen Datko Oct 30, 2009 10:33AM

This guest post comes from Kris at Cheap Healthy Good.


Salt helps water boil faster. An avocado pit will keep guacamole from browning. Soda will eat through basically anything, Alien-style.

We’ll hear hundreds of food myths in our lifetime. Some, thank Snopes, will be inarguably disproved, while others will remain as persistent as head colds, altering both what we eat and how we cook. And still more myths will be made up as we go along, as technology develops and kitchens change with the times.

Today, we're focusing on a few of those newer myths -- modern-day legends spawned by newspapers, TV shows, and those accursed enemies of truth, e-mail forwards. Will açai berries speed up weight loss? Does microwaving plastic cause cancer? Are bananas really going the way of the dodo bird? We'll explore and answer these questions and more, once and for all.


Postal Service wants to offer other new products to stop the bleeding.

By Karen Datko Oct 29, 2009 6:17PM

The U.S. Postal Service is struggling partly because fewer people use snail mail. So how's this for a fix? Post offices have begun selling greeting cards.


They are available at 500 post offices under a one-year contract with Hallmark and will be sold at 1,000 more after Jan. 1 as part of this experiment.


You may not find this service in your neighborhood. The USPS has 37,000 or so locations -- although several hundred will likely be closed as a cost-cutting measure. (Here's the latest list under consideration for the axe (.pdf file).)

And there's more news, The Washington Post reports:


Study suggests 'shopping guilt' is slowing economic recovery.

By Teresa Mears Oct 29, 2009 5:27PM

What is holding back our economic recovery?


Maybe it’s shopping guilt. The Wall Street Journal reported last week on a study that said “luxury shame” is keeping shoppers out of high-end stores. Until consumers can overcome their guilt about spending money on high-end products, those poor marketers of luxury goods will just have to suffer, The WSJ reported.


Guilt has always been part of the shopping experience. But retail executives say it has become such an overriding emotion among shoppers since the economic crisis set in last year that it is delaying the recovery of the luxury-goods industry. Shoppers are suffering from "luxury shame," consulting group Bain & Co. said in a research report.


The article cites as an example the guilt felt by 24-year-old Carolyn Hsu, founder of The Daily Obsession shopping blog, over her purchase of a Tod’s bag for $1,000 at a private luxury sale. Later, she hid the bag at the back of her closet. “I try not to have those moments anymore,” she told the WSJ.


Because it can.

By Karen Datko Oct 29, 2009 3:41PM

This guest post comes from Frank Curmudgeon at Bad Money Advice.


The College Board (the SAT people) recently released its annual survey of college tuition (.pdf file) and found what it always finds. College got more expensive last year. This time ’round public colleges went up 6.5% and private ones 4.4%, both of which are pretty steep increases when compared with the 2.1% decline in the CPI over the same period.

This was a particularly bad year for the tuition vs. inflation comparison, but the overall trend is striking. According to the College Board, over the past 30 years the average tuition cost has tripled in real inflation-adjusted terms. It’s hard to think of anything else we buy that has gone up as much. It would be like paying $12 a gallon at the pump.


The retail behemoth follows Costco's lead by offering a selection of caskets and urns online.

By Karen Datko Oct 29, 2009 11:34AM

Don't look for them on the shelves of your local Wal-Mart store, but is now selling caskets and urns at bargain prices online.


The Associated Press reports that Wal-Mart quietly added these items to its huge online selection last week. And it noted that Costco has been selling caskets and urns online as well. Who knew?

This is great news, we think, because the exorbitant prices charged by funeral homes have been one of our pet peeves for decades. Funeral homes are required by law to accept a casket you buy elsewhere -- and can't charge you extra if you do.


Her 24-year-old daughter returned home after college and hasn't left yet.

By Karen Datko Oct 29, 2009 9:37AM

This post comes from Trent Hamm at partner blog The Simple Dollar.


Margaret writes in:

I have a 24-year-old daughter who is still living at home. She went away to college, but moved back in after college while looking for a job. She’s had a good job now for two years, but has made no move at all to move out. She does give me money for groceries and for bills, but she spends the rest of her money as soon as she gets it on clothes and cell phones and laptops. I think it’s time for her to move out, but I know that if I kicked her out, she would have nothing to fall back on. What credit she has is pretty poor. So I’m stuck. What do you suggest?

I suggest putting the impetus back on your daughter.



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