Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Organic Foods for Less

This is a picture of one of the cutest babies you'll ever see. When I showed Joshua a picture of his niece and told him we call her "our little tomato" he immediately asked, "Is she organic?"
There's obviously been a wee bit too much emphasis on organic groceries in the Kay house. But we're not alone in our quest for healthy food at a bargain. More and more families are purchasing “fair trade” or organic products and there are cheaper ways to get more in this area.
Spot the ripoff – Look for the products marked “certified organic” in order to make sure you are getting what you pay for. In the produce section, grocers are required to stock the organic produce in a separate section so that the water run-off from misting machines won’t contaminate organic items with pesticide residue.
Organic Sections – Just because a product is in the organic section of the produce area or aisles does not mean it is organic. Look be misled, for example, by the “all natural yogurt” in the organic section of the dairy case—unless it’s marked “certified organic” it probably is not.
Web Coupons – I’ve noticed a huge increase in the number of coupons for organic products in recent years as their popularity increases. Conduct a product name search on the Web to find these valuable coupons including the following brands: Annie’s Homegrown, Earthbound Farm, Health Valley, Organic Valley, Stonyfield Farm, and Muir’s.
Shop Discount Stores – Walmart and Sams have an entire new line of organics and those sections are expanding all the time. Ask the sales associates where the organic products are located because sometimes they are hard to find.
Buy Generic – One of the really cool things about the interest in organics is the natural continuation of store brands. Look for these generic brands (which go on sale, too) and save even more.
Food Co-ops – These are great sources of discounts on organic products. To find a local co-op, go to or
The Food Mile – In the grocery industry there is a term known as the “food mile” which indicates how many miles food has to travel to end up in your local store. The shorter the food mile, the less expensive the product. Buy items with the shortest food mile.
Buy Produce in Season – Oftentimes, the shortest food mile will be indicated by buying produce in season. By eating (and freezing or canning) your food in season you can save money today and tomorrow.
Compare Online Grocers – There might be lower prices for staples that you need found online at some of the best organic grocers. Go to,, or
Go to the Farm! – By going to an organic farm in your part of the world, you can save even more and buy the freshest organics possible. For a complete list go to

So whether you are buying baby tomatoes, canned or fresh--follow these tips and you'll save money!

Ellie Kay
America's Family Financial Expert (R)

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Wanna Save Money and Live Better?

What do you notice about this pyramid of good looking, overachieving, highly talented kids? (Yes, they're all mine). Look closely before you answer.

Did you see the dog at the top? Yes, that's Buddy, the top dog and the best shopper in our family. He finds "free" stuff all the time--food he can consume but he didn't pay for. For example, when I was in out of town on biz, Bob had to make an emergency room visit with one of the boys (long story, but if you have boys you can relate) and after the thrill and joy of five hours in the ER, he came home (at 1:00 AM) to find out that someone had left the child safety locks off the pantry doors in the utility room (where we keep Buddy at night). The top dog had consumed 1/2 a box of Quaker oatmeal bars that we bought at Sam's. (That's about 20 bars). It wasn't pretty. But it was free--for Buddy.

Are you a smarter shopper than Buddy? Do you get things for the best value possible? I've recently developed a cool shopping quiz for . Take the quiz and find out how you rank in five different areas: shopping, transportation, eco savings, budgeting and entertainment . There are also ideas on how you can improve in each category with specific helps and tips. In fact, I'm pretty proud of the consumer education work Walmart and I have done to help families during these difficult economic times.

By the way, after his "free" oatmeal bar splurge, Buddy was as sick as a dog--so to speak. But as providence would have it, I was still in NYC and missed all of it.

Happy Shopping!
Ellie Kay
America's Family Financial Expert (R)

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Phantom of the Opera and Young Frankenstein

"Put zee candle BACK!"
"That's Fraanken-steen"

"There wolf. There Castle."

Frau Blueker!"

New York, New York, it's a beautiful place to spend Mother's Day! I had to take a cab to Jersey for work and it was suppose to take 25 minutes but the driver (who could not speak or read English) took 1 hour 45 minutes to get us there. If it weren't for the "take charge to help" personality of a colleague, we'd be in Maine by now. To the cab driver's credit, he did stop to ask directions--from a man who could barely speak English.

I was here on business and after all the hard work was over, my son Philip joined me while on break from the Naval Academy and we wanted some entertainment! We called the New York USO at 212-695-6160 or , hoping to get surplus Broadway tickets for a $3 donation (to all military id card holders--and their dependants) and much to our delight, we got to go see Young Frankenstein and Phantom of the Opera. They didn't have the "free" tickets, but we got a code for the tix we bought and saved 50% without having to stand in the 1/2 Price Ticket booth line! Plus, we actually sat on the FRONT ROW of Young Frankenstein. "Why, sank you doc-tor!"

Entertainment on the cheap can still make for front row fun--just so long as you don't have to cab it to Jersey!

Ellie Kay
"America's Family Financial Expert" (R)