Sunday, June 29, 2008

One Year Supply Food Amounts

Suggested Amounts of Basic Foods for Home Storage
Per adult for one year

Grains: 400 lbs.
Legumes*: 60 lbs.
Powdered Milk: 16 lbs.
Cooking oil: 10 qts.
Sugar or honey: 60 lbs.
Salt: 8 lbs.
Water (2 wks) 15 gal.

*Legumes include dry beans, split peas, lentils, etc.

Source: First Presidency Letter, 2002

Friday, June 27, 2008

Cooking with Basic Food Storage: Veggie Burgers made with rice

Veggie Burgers
1 cup steamed rice, cooked, cooled
1/2 cup corn kernels, fresh or tinned
1 green pepper, deseeded, finely chopped
1/2 cup white onion, finely chopped
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp chili pepper
4 wholegrain (preferably) or brown or white hamburger buns
Non-fat cooking spray

In the bowl of a food processor, combine rice, corn, green pepper, onion, black pepper, lemon juice and chili pepper. Pulse rapidly to produce a coarse mealy texture. Shape vegetable-rice mixture into 4 patties and place in fridge for 2 hours. Put patties on a pre-heated grill and grill for 6-7 minutes or until well-browned. Place patties in the hamburger buns and top with your choice of condiments, such as ketchup.

Emergency Preparedness: Family Home Evening Idea

This is a great family home evening activity. I especially like the Family Disaster Kit Scavenger Hunt at the end.

Family discussion about emergency preparedness:

  • What types of disasters might happen
  • What you should do to prepare (like creating your family disaster kit)
  • What to do if you are asked to evacuate (which means to leave your home)
  • Where to meet away from your home in case of a fire (like a neighbor’s house or the corner of the street);
  • Where to meet outside your neighborhood if you must evacuate. You should pick a friend or relative’s house;
  • Where to call to "check in" if you become separated from your family during a disaster. You should memorize the phone number of a favorite aunt or family member who lives in another state. You would call there to report where you are so your family can find you.
  • You can also talk with your whole neighborhood about disaster plans. Find out if someone in your neighborhood has a special skill -- like being a doctor.
  • Also, be sure your house has a smoke detector and remember to change the batteries twice a year. It’s also a good idea to take a first aid class so you will be prepared to help others.

Scavenger Hunt

How many items in a Family Disaster Kit do you already have on hand? Put a check next to each item that you find:

Stored water (10 points)
10 cans of food for each person in your house (10 points)
High energy foods like peanut butter, crackers and trail mix (5 points)
At least half of the items listed for a first aid kit (ask your Mom or Dad for help) (10 points)
Clothes set aside for everyone in the house, including shoes or boots (5 points)
A family disaster plan (15 points)You get one point for each of these items you have in your house (or garage):
Mess kits or paper/plastic plates and cups (1 point)
Battery-operated radio and extra batteries (1 point)
Flashlight and extra batteries (1 point)
Non-electric can opener and utility knife (like a Swiss Army knife) (1 point)
Fire extinguisher (ABC type) (1 point)
Pliers (1 point)
Tape (1 point)
Compass (1 point)
Matches in a waterproof container (1 point)
Aluminum foil (1 point)
Signal flares (1 point)
Paper and pencils (1 point)
Needle and thread (1 point)
Shut-off wrench to turn off the gas and water to your house (1 point)
Plastic sheeting (1 point)
Whistle (1 point)
Toilet paper (1 point)
Soap (1 point)
Household chlorine bleach (1 point)
Plastic bucket with a tight lid (1 point)
Plastic garbage bags (1 point)

Source: The Idea Door

Monday, June 23, 2008

Emergency Preparedness: Preparedness Survey

Here's a quick survey you can answer to see how prepared you are for an emergency.

Can you answer YES to each of these questions or do you need to work on them for your home?

1. Has your family rehearsed fire escape routes from your home?
2. Does your family know what to do before, during and after an earthquake or other emergency situation?
3. Do you have heavy objects hanging over beds that can fall during an earthquake?
4. Do you have access to an operational flashlight in every occupied bedroom? (use of candles is not recommended unless you are sure there is no leaking gas)
5. Do you keep shoes near your bed to protect your feet against broken glass?
6. If a water line was ruptures during an earthquake, do you know how to shut off the main water line to your house?
7. Can this water valve be turned off by hand wit out the use of a tool? Do you have a tool if one is needed?
8. Do you know where the main gas shut-off valve to your house is located?
9. It you smell gas, do you know how and would you be able to shut off this valve?
10. Gas valves usually cannot be turned off by hand. Is there a tool near your valve?
11. Would you be able to safely restart your furnace when gas is safely available?
12. Do you have working smoke alarms in the proper places to warn you of fire? Carbon Monoxide alarms?
13. In case of a minor fire, do you have a fire extinguisher that you know how to operate? (The fire department will test yours for free)
14. Do you have duplicate keys and copies of important insurance and other papers stored outside your home?
15. Do you have a functional emergency radio to receive emergency information?
16. If you and your family had to evacuate your home, have you identified an outside meeting place? If an emergency lasted for 3 days (72 hours) before help was available to you and your family
17. Would you have sufficient food?
18. Would you have the means to cook food without gas and electricity?
19. Would you have sufficient water for drinking, cooking, and sanitary needs?
20. Do you have access to a 72-hour evacuation kit?
21. Would you be able to carry or transport these kits?
22. Have you established an out-of-state contact?
23. Do you have a first aid kit in your home and in each car?
24. Do you have work gloves and some tools for minor rescue and cleanup?
25. Do you have emergency cash on hand? (During emergencies banks and ATM machines are closed.)
26. Without electricity and gas do you have means to heat at least part of your house? (Think of how to cover broken windows)
27. If you need medications, do you have a month's supply on hand?
28. Do you have a plan for toilet facilities if there is an extended water shortage?
29. Do you have a supply of food, clothing, and fuel where appropriate: For 6 months? For a Year?

Source: The Idea Door

Monday, June 16, 2008

Provident Living: 101 Ways to Stretch your food dollars

101 ways to stretch your food dollars

By Valerie PhillipsDeseret News
Published: Wednesday, April 16, 2008 12:12 a.m. MDT

Food prices are going up. But here are lots of ways — 101 of them — to shave off pennies, dimes and dollars from your food costs.

Not every tip fits every situation. A vat-size container of salad dressing is cheaper per ounce, but not if it sits in a single person's fridge for months on end. Remember, the most expensive food you can buy is the food that goes to waste.

Before you go
1. For a week, track what your family actually spends on food. Don't forget to include work lunches, restaurant meals, vending-machine snacks and convenience store stops. These add up quickly.

2. Have a plan. Jot down simple dinner menus for the week, using the weekly grocery store ads so you can take advantage of what's on sale that week. Having a plan ends the 5 p.m. "what's for dinner?" plight.

3. Make a shopping list from your menu. Having the ingredients you need for the week eliminates extra trips to the supermarket, where more incidental items can end up in your grocery cart.

4. To save time, compile a basic shopping list of things you usually buy on a weekly basis, such as milk, lettuce, etc. Organize the list by the store layout and make lots of copies. Then each week it's just a matter of penciling in the extra ingredients from your menu.

5. Get out of the dinner rut. Check out cookbooks or magazines from the library or attend local cooking classes for new ideas.

6. For low-cost, nutritious recipe ideas, check the Food Stamp Nutrition Connection at The recipes have cost-per-serving and nutrition data.

7. Consider making from scratch many of the things you usually buy in prepared form, such as brownies or salad dressing.

8. Time is a valuable resource. It's usually not worth the time (or gasoline) to hopscotch from store to store to save a few dollars.

9. Consider the advantages when you choose where to shop. Some stores offer credit cards with rebates, discounts on gasoline, special coupons and so on.

10. Club warehouses can save money, but be judicious. Can you use 18 cartons of yogurt at a time? Often you can find similar good buys and a better selection at a regular grocery store

11. Sometimes you're lured into buying things that lose their appeal and end up sitting on the shelf. To cure yourself of impulse shopping, every so often force yourself to make a meal out of those items in the cupboard.

12. Consider group strategies. A neighborhood group or extended family might save by buying in bulk directly from wholesalers and farmers.

13. Try shopping with cash, taking only an allotted amount to the store.

14. Statistics indicate that people buy more when they are hungry or accompanied by others, especially children. (However, grocery shopping can be a good learning experience for kids; let them find all the coupon foods and comparison shop with you.)

15. Don't dawdle. The longer you're wandering through the store, the more chance of impulse buys.

16. Avoid convenience stores. They have higher prices and very few specials.

17. Guard against nonfood impulse buys that could end up in your cart, such as the latest DVD, perfumes or toiletries. Do you really need them?

18. Limit trips to the store. Multiple trips usually mean more incidental items added to the cart.

19. Try "catch-and-release" shopping with high-end items. Put that bottle of name-brand, extra-virgin olive oil in the cart, and while you finish the rest of your purchases, ask if it's something you can live without. Then before you check out, put it back on the shelf. After all, dreaming is free. (However, if you end up convincing yourself to buy these things, or you forget to put them back, this method isn't for you!)

20. Use the coupon inserts in your Sunday newspaper ads.

21. To maximize coupon savings, use resources such as, the Grocery Guru at, or, which help you to coordinate coupons with sales at local grocery stores. By using the coupon with the sale price, you can get items for a fraction of the cost.

22. Multiply the savings. Some people take multiple Sunday newspaper subscriptions for the coupons, and you can also ask your neighbors or relatives for the coupons from their paper.

23. Check other sources for coupons: the "blinkies" in the red boxes on grocery store shelves, home mailers, "peelies" that are peeled off the product itself and printables off Web sites.

24. Be wise about coupons. Sometimes a brand name with a coupon is still more expensive than a generic brand. And resist buying things you may not use just because you have a coupon.

25. Some grocery stores match competitor coupons if you have the advertisement with you.

26. Organize your coupons so you can use them efficiently. A women uses a three-ring binder with clear photo pages or baseball card pockets. Others use a filing box and take out the coupons they will be using and clip them to their shopping list on their way to the grocery store.

27. Send in rebates. One women puts all the money she receives from rebates in a separate account, and she's now up to $200.

Cereals & baked goods
28. One reason people avoid buying cheaper bagged cereals is because they're hard to store and pour. Store them in a plastic pitcher with a pour spout.

29. Consider how much you can save by cooking whole grains for breakfast instead of cold breakfast cereal. Homer Cook of Layton said as a welfare volunteer, he helped a single mother of three cut her breakfast costs from $1,000 per year to $58 per year by cooking cracked wheat (based on Honeyville Grain prices).

30. Buy whole-grain cereals and breads. They're more filling, so you are satisfied with less. And they're better for you.

31. Go '90s retro and pull out your old bread machine. Besides bread, it can be used for rolls and pizza dough.

32. Make croutons or bread crumbs from day-old bread or hotdog buns. The crumbs can be seasoned and used as a "shake-and-bake" chicken coating.

33. Seek out day-old bread "thrift" stores. But be wary of the temptation to overbuy empty calorie items such as cupcakes, potato chips and doughnuts.

34. Bake a batch of muffins from scratch for on-the-go breakfasts. Even if you use a mix, you'll still save over bakery prices.

35. Buy fruits and vegetables in season when they're cheaper and taste fresher. When compared to the price per pound of meat, cheese, chocolate, etc., they're a nutritional bargain.

36. If you're preparing a commercial meal kit (such as Hamburger Helper or a frozen pasta dinner), toss in a few more vegetables. Chopped bell peppers or celery, and frozen broccoli or peas add color, flavor and nutrition to what is usually a lot of starch, sauce and salt. They can also stretch the meal into more servings.

37. Ready-prepped veggies cost more but may be worth it if you actually use those peeled carrots or sliced mushrooms. A huge percentage of fresh produce goes to waste sitting in refrigerators.

38. A pound bag of chopped iceberg lettuce salad costs more (about $2) than a head of iceberg lettuce (approximately $1 per pound) that you clean and chop yourself. But if bagged salad greens keep you from buying restaurant salads, there's still a savings.

39. If lettuce prices are up, vary your veggies. Consider cabbage, spinach, carrot or broccoli salads.

40. Grow your favorite herbs year-round in your kitchen window. It's convenient to be able to cut a few sprigs as needed, and packets of fresh herbs can cost $1.50-$2 in grocery stores.

41. If you're not up to planting a garden, add a few strawberry or tomato plants to your flower beds. You have to weed and water them anyway. Or add a fruit tree to your back yard.

42. Yellow onions are often 40 cents to 50 cents less per pound than red (purple) onions.

43. When your favorite fresh vegetables are offseason, look for canned and frozen versions. Do the math and figure out which offers the best price per serving.

44. Beans are an inexpensive protein. Add them to tacos, casseroles, salads, etc., so you can use less meat.

45. Dried beans, per cooked serving, are often less than half the price of canned beans. But they take a lot of time to cook. Soak a batch overnight in your slow cooker on low heat, then portion and freeze for later use.

46. Vegetables frozen in butter sauce usually cost more than plain frozen vegetables, and they have more fat and calories.

47. Price fruits with an eye on the cost-per-edible serving. If you are buying by the pound, you are also paying for any inedible seeds and rinds.

48. When buying fresh greens by weight, be sure to shake off the excess water before you put them in your cart. Water hidden in between the leaves adds weight and raises the cost.

49. Serve a vegetable "medley" when you have small amounts of several different vegetables. Mix together and microwave, and top with a little cheese or a sprinkle of nuts.

50. Unless you buy powdered milk in bulk for a price break, you won't save money over fresh milk. On a recent shopping trip, the Deseret News found that a box of generic-brand powdered milk that yields 31 cups of milk was $6.49. If you can buy fresh milk at $3 a gallon, you can get 32 cups for $6.

51. Buy a large container of yogurt and divide it into portions yourself. A 32-ounce container, at $2.79, yields four 8-ounce portions at 34 cents a serving. The same brand in single-serve containers was 50 cents each.

52. Milk fat costs. You can often save about 10 cents to 20 cents per gallon by dropping from 2 percent to 1 percent or skim.

53. If you use margarine instead of butter to cut costs, don't use anything less than 100 percent margarine for baking. The lower-fat spreads have water and fillers that bake up poorly (and when poured over popcorn turn it to mush). Real butter is approximately $4 per pound; 100 percent margarine (such as Nucoa) can be $1.50 to $2 per pound. Save the less-expensive spreads for your toast.

54. Consider home delivery of milk and bread. It costs more, but it might save on extra trips to the store.

55. There is no nutritional difference between brown and white eggs; it has more to do with the color of the hen. White eggs usually cost less.

56. Freeze butter to keep its fresh flavor. Grate it, frozen, over toast, baked potatoes, etc. for portion control.

57. Finely shred cheese when topping pizzas, grilled ham and cheese, etc. You'll use less.

58. Unless they're on special, breasts are the most expensive part of the chicken. Boneless, skinless thighs offer the same convenience for less, and dark meat is more moist and flavorful anyway.

59. Take a cue from restaurant chefs who can make a small portion of meat or chicken look plentiful. They slice it thinly and fan out the slices on top of a mound of rice or potatoes.

60. Tough cuts of meat are usually cheaper. Place a beef brisket in you slow cooker in the morning and by dinner time you'll have tender beef (and a tantalizing aroma in your kitchen).

61. Don't throw out your bacon drippings. Some suggestions from Every Day With Rachael Ray magazine: Stir it into grits, use in place of oil when popping popcorn, saute bread cubes in it for croutons, add to cornbread batter, add to barbecue sauce and brush on ribs or chicken while they're cooking.

62. Compare meat costs by servings, not pounds. Bony meats are cheaper per pound, but they yield less edible meat per pound.

63. Likewise, a large store-cooked rotisserie chicken at $6 is cheaper than buying a raw, 5-pound whole raw chicken at $1.30 per pound and cooking it at home. As a bonus, you can use the carcass and bits of meat on the bones to make chicken broth.

64. Although the price of eggs has nearly doubled in the past year, a $2 carton of eggs can still supply a protein-rich meal for a family of six. Scramble them with leftovers such as chopped ham, crumbled bacon, chopped peppers, onions and so on.

65. Buy ground beef in bulk quantities to get a better price. When you get home, divide meal-size portions in zip-lock bags and freeze.

Canned goods
66. Big cans are often cheaper, but not always. Check the price per unit guide on the grocery shelf, which shows the cost per ounce. Also, consider how you use the product. If you buy a big can of tomato sauce, use a little and end up wasting the rest, you're better off buying the small can in the first place.

67. What to do with the last of the jam or jelly jar: Pour in some milk, refrigerate for a little while to loosen the jam stuck to the jar sides, and shake into a flavored drink.

68. Generic brands can save money. But try one can first before you invest in a whole case to make sure it appeals to your family.

69. Stockpile pantry items you normally use, such as spaghetti sauce or pasta, when they're on sale. Keep a list of quick-fix possibilities on the inside of your cupboard door, such as spaghetti, meatball sub sandwiches, baked tortellini, etc.

70. Invest in a popcorn popper. You can make 10 times as much popcorn for the same price as microwave popcorn. A three-pack box of microwave popcorn yields about 10 1/2 cups of popcorn for $2 to $3, depending on the brand. A $1.99 bag of regular popcorn yields 113 cups. You'll have to add you own butter and salt, but you have more control over the amounts.

71. When making s'mores, instead of buying chocolate bars and graham crackers, place the marshmallow between two chocolate-striped cookies. A package of Keebler Fudge Shoppe cookies is approximately $3 and makes 15 s'mores. You'd spend at least that much money on chocolate bars alone.

72. Break the soda pop habit. If you normally drink a can per day, at 50 cents per can, you could pocket more than $180 a year.

73. Every time you have a few leftover strawberries, peach slices, etc., store them in the same zip-lock bag in the freezer. Then every so often, whir them all together in the blender for a smoothie snack.

74. If you like the look of designer bottled water, buy it once and keep refilling with tap water, which is free. Many bottled waters cost more per gallon than gasoline.

75. Use food as a reward sparingly. Make treats more significant by using them only for special occasions. With obesity on the rise, most people don't need them on a regular basis.

76. Nip nighttime snacks. Go to bed a half-hour early and keep yourself from wanting a handful of chips while watching David Letterman. Your waistline will thank you.

77. Keep an eye on your pantry inventory so you use up all the pancake mix or corn syrup before buying more.

78. Oil goes rancid fairly quickly. Unless you use it often, buy in small quantities or refrigerate after using.

79. Post a "must use" list on the fridge to remind yourself of the half-empty can of pineapple, three hot dogs, etc. that will go bad quickly.

80. Label leftovers with date and contents before putting them in the freezer. You'll actually use these things instead of having mystery containers stuck in the back of the freezer.

81. Use and rotate your food storage. If you aren't using it, it is basically a waste of space and money. Rule of thumb: Store what you use and use what you store.

In the kitchen
82. Use smaller plates. Studies show that when people are served on larger plates, they take larger servings, whether they're really hungry or not.

83. One night a week have leftover night. Pull out all the leftovers from other meals — the half-cup of spaghetti sauce, the slices of ham or stray chicken breast, the chunk of cheese, the corn or peas. Bake some potatoes and let everyone pick the leftovers for toppings.

84. Pack a lunch for the next day from dinner leftovers instead of eating out.

85. Use meals to stretch your entertainment dollars. Go on a picnic in a park or get out the Dutch oven pots, have a hot dog roast or go fishing and then cook your catch.

86. When serving buffet-style, put the low-cost items, such as salad or rolls, at the beginning of the line and the most expensive item — meat — near the end.

87. Have meatless Monday meals.

88. Homemade soups are a good way to use leftover meat and vegetables. Their liquid content also makes them more satisfying.

89. Pasta or rice can also stretch small amounts of food into a meal. Throw in chopped pepper, ribbons of spinach or basil, chopped tomatoes or chicken or ham.

90. Instead of serving fruit punch or juice at meals, use a pitcher of ice water with a few lemon or lime slices floating on top.

91. Use small appliances, such as the microwave, slow-cooker and electric frying pan; they use less energy than a stovetop.

92. Use the dishwasher only when completely full. Washing dishes by hand can cost more than one load in the dishwasher. Let the dishes air-dry rather than using the "dry" cycle.

93. Don't open the oven door to preview baking food. Each time you open it, the temperature drops by 25-50 degrees. It takes longer to cook your food and adds to your energy bill.

Dining out
94. Use your gift certificates soon after getting them. Many have expiration dates.

95. Use frequent-diners' cards. Some restaurants offer punch cards — if you buy 10 meals, the next one is free. For a family of six, it takes only two visits to earn a free meal.

96. Go out to lunch when entree prices are often a dollar or two less than dinner.

97. If a full-course dinner comes with soup, salad, drink and dessert, it's only a great buy if you really want (or need) all that. You may be satisfied ordering an a la carte entree without the extras. Ditto combo meals in fast-food restaurants.

98. Guard against up-sell, when you're asked if you want guacamole with your taco or extra cheese for the fondue. If it costs extra, you might not want it that much.

99. At fast-food restaurants, order a kids' meal for yourself (if there's no age limit). Most of the time, you're getting a more appropriate portion of food (and a toy to boot!).

100. Watch beverage costs. Alcoholic drinks can double your tab, but even soft drinks can add $10 to $15 to the bill for a family of six. Water is a healthier choice anyway. Be sure to specify "tap" water, some restaurants may bring you bottled water at $3 or $4 per bottle.

101. If you feel you can't afford to tip, choose a fast-food or fast-casual eatery where tipping isn't expected. In sit-down restaurants, servers' salaries are less than minimum wage. Tips make up the difference.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Cooking with Basic Food Storage: Another Oat Recipe

Cereal Bars (like Nutrigrain)
1 pkg. yellow cake mix
3/4 c butter
2 1/2 c quick oats
12 oz. preserves or jam
1 Tbsp water

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Melt butter. Combine cake mix and oats in a large bowl. Stir in melted butter until mixture is crumbly. Measure half of this mixture (about 3 cups) into a greased 13 X 9 x 2" pan. Press firmly in pan to cover the bottom.

Combine preserves and water. Spoon over crumb mixture in pan and spread evenly. Cover with remaining crumb mixture. Pat firmly to make top even.

Bake at 375 degrees F for 20 minutes. Top should be very light brown. Cool completely before cutting into bars.

Cooking with Basic Food Storage: More Wheat Recipes

Bran Flakes
2 c bran
2 c whole wheat flour
1/2 c nonfat dry milk powder
3 T brewer's yeast (optional)
1 tsp salt
1/4 c oil
1 Tbsp molasses
1 c water

Combine dry ingredients. Make a well in the center and add oil, molasses and water. Mix well. Divide into three parts and roll as thin as possible onto greased cookie sheets. Bake in 350 degree F oven for 15-20 minutes, or until lightly brown and crisp. If dough is not completely dry, turn oven off and let it remain longer. Break into small pieces. Store in airtight container. Makes 1 lb. of cereal.

Crunchy Wheat Cereal (like Grape Nuts)
3 1/2 c sifted whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 c brown sugar
2 c milk
2 Tbsp vinegar
3/4 tsp salt

Mix flour, baking soda, sugar and salt. Stir vinegar into milk and add to flour mixture. Beat until smooth. Spread dough 1/4 inch thick onto a greased cookie sheet. Bake in 375 degree F oven about 15 minutes. When cool, grind in a food chopper. Don't grind completely or you'll get flour. Let it finish drying after grinding. Before eating, mix in anything else you would like--nuts and fruit go especially well.

Wheat Crackers (like Wheat Thins)
1 3/4 c whole wheat flour
1 1/2 c white flour
1/3 c oil
3/4 tsp salt
1 c water

In large mixing bowl, combine the flours and thoroughly mix. In separate bowl, blend the oil, salt and water. Add liquid mixture to dry, mixing well but as little as possible. Roll as thin as possible on unoiled cookie sheet--not more than 1/8 inch thick. Mark with knife for size crackers desired but do not cut through. Prick each cracker a few times with a fork. Sprinkle lightly with salt or onion salt if desired. Bake at 350 degrees F until crisp and brown, about 30 minutes. When cool, separate into individual crackers.

Source: Insider's Recipes Master Edition

Cooking with Food Storage: Legumes: Another delicious recipe made with beans

Southwestern Bean Salad
1 15 oz. can kidney beans
1 can black beans
1 can garbonzo beans
2 celery ribs
1 medium red onion, diced
1 diced tomato
1 cup frozen corn (thawed)

Rinse and drain beans. Combine all ingredients and toss with dressing. Cover and chill at least 2 hours. (It's better the 2nd day)

3/4 c salsa
1/4 c lime juice
1 tsp salt
1/4 c fresh cilantro
1/4 c vegetable oil
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin

Cheri Wride

Financial Preparedness: Avoiding Fraudulent and Risky Schemes

In February 2008, the First Presidency issued a letter to general and local leaders in the United States and Canada with a message to be prudent in managing financial affairs. They offered concern about individuals who may use relationships of trust to promote risky schemes and shared sound financial principles to manage risk: “First, avoid unnecessary debt, especially consumer debt; second, before investing, seek advice from a qualified and licensed financial advisor; and third, be wise.” Here are some of the common warning signs of fraud.

Sense of Urgency
An opportunity that requires an immediate response is typically a clear sign of fraud. Someone trying to sell an opportunity may try to persuade by saying it’s the chance of a lifetime or only a certain number can participate, but the need for a quick decision means there is little or no time to think about the commitment or to check the background of the investment. Fraudsters will try to create a sense of urgency to encourage investors to jump in before various concerns or anxieties can settle. It is important to take the time to carefully consider each aspect of the decision. A quality investment opportunity will be around long enough to allow the time needed to fully contemplate the options.

Guaranteed Profit, Little Risk
Who could turn down an investment opportunity with virtually no risk and guaranteed profit? It almost seems too good to be true, and according to Brian Sudweeks, an associate professor of finance at Brigham Young University, it probably is. “No one can promise a consistently high specific rate of return, and there are no ‘get rich quick’ schemes that work on a consistent basis,” Brother Sudweeks said. “Guaranteed high returns are never guaranteed or high.” But promoters will often propose such ideas, appealing to the desire to see a fast return and immediate profit. Brother Sudweeks encourages potential investors to apply two important principles to any investment decision. “First, know what you invest in and whom you invest with,” he said. “Second, invest only with high-quality individuals and institutions.” Often a scheme continues to operate simply because investors don’t know what they are investing in, only that they see a return. As new investors contribute money, those funds go to pay previous investors, creating a never-ending shuffling of money that eventually collapses.

Well-Known Referrals
Most individuals are more likely to participate in an investment opportunity if they know their sister, home teacher, neighbor, or co-worker is also participating. Promoters will often use these examples to appeal to and build some level of trust. While it may or may not be true that these friends and acquaintances are involved, investors cannot responsibly respond to this elevated form of peer pressure. “A lot of people don’t understand the proper principles of investments and don’t want to take the time to research and investigate something,” Brother Romney said. “Instead they rely on the fact that someone else has investigated it. When they hear the names of people they know, they automatically assume the research has been done.”
With a countless number of fraud schemes come just as many types of fraudsters. While terms such as swindler or scammer may bring a stereotypical image to mind, there are no set characteristics of someone promoting fraudulent investments. In fact, they may be typical acquaintances from work or church, family members, or close friends, and they may not even know the depth of what they are involved in. “Ask yourself if you are interested solely because you know someone else involved,” Brother Romney said. “If this is the case, perhaps take a step back and really look into the background of the investment. No matter how trustworthy the source seems, potential investors should never make a decision based solely on the advice of others.”

Avoiding Fraud
As investment fraud becomes increasingly common, Church leaders have offered counsel to avoid unwise investments and stay out of debt.
“We again urge our people to avoid unnecessary debt, to be modest in the financial obligations which they undertake, to set aside some cash against an emergency,” said President Gordon B. Hinckley (1910–2008) in a general conference address in 2003. “We warn our people against ‘get rich’ schemes and other entanglements which are nearly always designed to trap the gullible” (“The Condition of the Church,” Liahona, May 2003, 4).

Resources exploring the basics of family finances are available on the Church’s Web site, The site features an online financial course, references to talks from Church leaders, lesson materials, and access to additional resource material.

Source: Adapted from an article posted on

Monday, June 2, 2008

Financial Preparedness: Obtaining a free copy of your credit report

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires each of the nationwide consumer reporting companies — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion — to provide you with a free copy of your credit report, at your request, once every 12 months. The FCRA promotes the accuracy and privacy of information in the files of the nation’s consumer reporting companies. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the nation’s consumer protection agency, enforces the FCRA with respect to consumer reporting companies.

A credit report includes information on where you live, how you pay your bills, and whether you’ve been sued or arrested, or have filed for bankruptcy. Nationwide consumer reporting companies sell the information in your report to creditors, insurers, employers, and other businesses that use it to evaluate your applications for credit, insurance, employment, or renting a home.

Here are the details about your rights under the FCRA and the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions (FACT) Act, which established the free annual credit report program.

Q: How do I order my free report?
A: The three nationwide consumer reporting companies have set up a central website, a toll-free telephone number, and a mailing address through which you can order your free annual report.
To order, visit, call 1-877-322-8228, or complete the Annual Credit Report Request Form and mail it to: Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281. The form is on the back of this brochure; or you can print it from Do not contact the three nationwide consumer reporting companies individually. They are providing free annual credit reports only through, 1-877-322-8228, and Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281.
You may order your reports from each of the three nationwide consumer reporting companies at the same time, or you can order your report from each of the companies one at a time. The law allows you to order one free copy of your report from each of the nationwide consumer reporting companies every 12 months.

A Warning About “Imposter” Websites
Only one website is authorized to fill orders for the free annual credit report you are entitled to under law — Other websites that claim to offer “free credit reports,” “free credit scores,” or “free credit monitoring” are not part of the legally mandated free annual credit report program. In some cases, the “free” product comes with strings attached. For example, some sites sign you up for a supposedly “free” service that converts to one you have to pay for after a trial period. If you don’t cancel during the trial period, you may be unwittingly agreeing to let the company start charging fees to your credit card.

Some “imposter” sites use terms like “free report” in their names; others have URLs that purposely misspell in the hope that you will mistype the name of the official site. Some of these “imposter” sites direct you to other sites that try to sell you something or collect your personal information. and the nationwide consumer reporting companies will not send you an email asking for your personal information. If you get an email, see a pop-up ad, or get a phone call from someone claiming to be from or any of the three nationwide consumer reporting companies, do not reply or click on any link in the message. It’s probably a scam. Forward any such email to the FTC at

Q: What information do I need to provide to get my free report?
A: You need to provide your name, address, Social Security number, and date of birth. If you have moved in the last two years, you may have to provide your previous address. To maintain the security of your file, each nationwide consumer reporting company may ask you for some information that only you would know, like the amount of your monthly mortgage payment. Each company may ask you for different information because the information each has in your file may come from different sources.

Q: Why do I want a copy of my credit report?
A: Your credit report has information that affects whether you can get a loan — and how much you will have to pay to borrow money. You want a copy of your credit report to:
make sure the information is accurate, complete, and up-to-date before you apply for a loan for a major purchase like a house or car, buy insurance, or apply for a job.
help guard against identity theft. That’s when someone uses your personal information — like your name, your Social Security number, or your credit card number — to commit fraud. Identity thieves may use your information to open a new credit card account in your name. Then, when they don’t pay the bills, the delinquent account is reported on your credit report. Inaccurate information like that could affect your ability to get credit, insurance, or even a job.

Q: How long does it take to get my report after I order it?
A: If you request your report online at, you should be able to access it immediately. If you order your report by calling toll-free 1-877-322-8228, your report will be processed and mailed to you within 15 days. If you order your report by mail using the Annual Credit Report Request Form, your request will be processed and mailed to you within 15 days of receipt.

Whether you order your report online, by phone, or by mail, it may take longer to receive your report if the nationwide consumer reporting company needs more information to verify your identity.

There also may be times when the nationwide consumer reporting companies receive a high volume of requests for credit reports. If that happens, you may be asked to re-submit your request. Or, you may be told that your report will be mailed to you sometime after 15 days from your request. If either of these events occurs, the nationwide consumer reporting companies will let you know.

Q: Are there any other situations where I might be eligible for a free report?
A: Under federal law, you’re entitled to a free report if a company takes adverse action against you, such as denying your application for credit, insurance, or employment, and you ask for your report within 60 days of receiving notice of the action. The notice will give you the name, address, and phone number of the consumer reporting company. You’re also entitled to one free report a year if you’re unemployed and plan to look for a job within 60 days; if you’re on welfare; or if your report is inaccurate because of fraud, including identity theft. Otherwise, a consumer reporting company may charge you up to $10.50 for another copy of your report within a 12-month period.

To buy a copy of your report, contact:
Experian: 1-888-397-3742;
TransUnion: 1-800-916-8800;
Under state law, consumers in Colorado, Georgia, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Vermont already have free access to their credit reports.

Q: Should I order a report from each of the three nationwide consumer reporting companies?
A: It’s up to you. Because nationwide consumer reporting companies get their information from different sources, the information in your report from one company may not reflect all, or the same, information in your reports from the other two companies. That’s not to say that the information in any of your reports is necessarily inaccurate; it just may be different.

Q: Should I order my reports from all three of the nationwide consumer reporting companies at the same time?
A: You may order one, two, or all three reports at the same time, or you may stagger your requests. It’s your choice. Some financial advisors say staggering your requests during a 12-month period may be a good way to keep an eye on the accuracy and completeness of the information in your reports.

Q: What if I find errors — either inaccuracies or incomplete information — in my credit report?
A: Under the FCRA, both the consumer report­ing company and the information provider (that is, the person, company, or organization that provides information about you to a consumer reporting company) are responsible for correcting inaccurate or incomplete information in your report. To take full advantage of your rights under this law, contact the consumer reporting company and the information provider.

Tell the consumer reporting company, in writing, what information you think is inaccurate.
Consumer reporting companies must investigate the items in question — usually within 30 days — unless they consider your dispute frivolous. They also must forward all the relevant data you provide about the inaccuracy to the organization that provided the information. After the information provider receives notice of a dispute from the consumer reporting company, it must investigate, review the relevant information, and report the results back to the consumer reporting company. If the information provider finds the disputed information is inaccurate, it must notify all three nationwide consumer reporting companies so they can correct the information in your file.

When the investigation is complete, the consumer reporting company must give you the written results and a free copy of your report if the dispute results in a change. (This free report does not count as your annual free report under the FACT Act.) If an item is changed or deleted, the consumer reporting company cannot put the disputed information back in your file unless the information provider verifies that it is accurate and complete. The consumer reporting company also must send you written notice that includes the name, address, and phone number of the information provider.

Tell the creditor or other information provider in writing that you dispute an item. Many providers specify an address for disputes. If the provider reports the item to a consumer reporting company, it must include a notice of your dispute. And if you are correct — that is, if the information is found to be inaccurate — the information provider may not report it again.

Q: What can I do if the consumer reporting company or information provider won’t correct the information I dispute?
A: If an investigation doesn’t resolve your dispute with the consumer reporting company, you can ask that a statement of the dispute be included in your file and in future reports. You also can ask the consumer reporting company to provide your state­ment to anyone who received a copy of your report in the recent past. You can expect to pay a fee for this service.
If you tell the information provider that you dispute an item, a notice of your dispute must be included any time the information provider reports the item to a consumer reporting company.

Q: How long can a consumer reporting company report negative information?
A: A consumer reporting company can report most accurate negative information for seven years and bankruptcy information for 10 years. There is no time limit on reporting information about crimi­nal convictions; information reported in response to your application for a job that pays more than $75,000 a year; and information reported because you’ve applied for more than $150,000 worth of credit or life insurance. Information about a lawsuit or an unpaid judgment against you can be reported for seven years or until the statute of limitations runs out, which­ever is longer.

Q: Can anyone else can get a copy of my credit report?
A: The FCRA specifies who can access your credit report. Creditors, insurers, employers, and other businesses that use the information in your report to evaluate your applications for credit, insurance, em­ployment, or renting a home are among those that have a legal right to access your report.

Q: Can my employer get my credit report?
A: Your employer can get a copy of your credit report only if you agree. A consumer reporting company may not provide information about you to your employer, or to a prospective employer, without your written consent.

For More Information
The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop, and avoid them. To learn more about credit issues and protecting your personal information, visit
To file a complaint or to get free information on other consumer issues, visit or call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357); TTY: 1-866-653-4261. The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft, and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure online database available to hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.

The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint or to get free information on consumer issues, visit or call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357); TTY: 1-866-653-4261. The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft, and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure online database available to hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and the files of the nation’s consumer reporting companies. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the nation’s consumer protection agency, enforces the FCRA with respect to consumer reporting companieThe Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires each of the nationwide consumer reporting companies — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion — to provide you with a free copy of your credit report, at your request, once every 12 months. The FCRA promotes the accuracy and privacy of information.

Source: The Federal Trade Commission

Financial Preparedness: Benefits and Drawbacks of Credit Cards

There are five main benefits for credit cards:
  1. Emergencies: Credit cards can be useful when you don’t have cash on hand and there is something that needs to be paid for right away, such as an auto repair or an insurance co-payment.
  2. Reservations: Credit cards can be used to guarantee hotel rooms, rental cars, and other rental items. This is an important use, especially if you travel.
  3. Convenience: With a credit card, you can buy things over the phone or on the Internet. Credit cards make purchasing things very easy. They also provide you with a record of everything you spend; this is an important bookkeeping benefit. Using a credit card is very convenient.
  4. Cash flow and timing: If something is on sale, and you know you have the cash coming in a week, you can actually buy the item before you pay for it. In this way, you can take advantage of sales. (But remember, you do not save money by spending.)
  5. Free services: Often, credit cards offer rewards, such as extended warranties, travel insurance, airplane miles, gasoline rebates, and cash rebates—all of which can reduce the cost of some items.

While there are benefits to using credit cards, there are drawbacks as well. Credit cards must be used wisely to avoid problems. The following is a list of some of the problems associated with using credit cards:

  1. Increased spending: People don’t spend as much time thinking about how much they’re spending when they use a credit card. Research has shown that, on average, people will spend 30 percent more with a credit card than they will with cash.
  2. Losing track of spending: It’s easy to lose track of what you spend with your credit card. It requires discipline to track the charges that you make.
  3. Interest and other costs: Interest charges can range anywhere from 8 percent to 25 percent. In addition to these interest charges, you must take into account compounding periods, the annual fee, and other miscellaneous fees such as cash advance fees and balance transfer fees. Often, the costs of using credit cards are double or triple the cost of using other types of loans.
  4. Obligations on future income: Most importantly, when you use credit cards, you put obligations on future income—by this, I mean that you are required to use your future income to pay for the items you bought in the past with your credit card. As you take on more debt, you not only obligate future income, but you also limit future flexibility should emergencies arise.


Food Storage: PETE Bottles for Longer-Term Storage

Church members often think that #10 cans, buckets and pouches are the only methods to safely package long-term food storage. However, using bottles made of PETE (polyethylene terephthalate) plastic with oxygen absorbers to store products such as wheat, corn, and dry beans is an inexpensive way to store long-term food supplies. PETE bottles are identified on the containers PETE or PET under the recycle symbol.

Other types of plastic bottles typically do not provide an adequate moisture or oxygen barrier for us with oxygen absorbers. Do not use containers that were previously used to store nonfood items.

PETE bottles can also be used for shorter-term storage (up to 5 years) of other shelf stable dry foods such as white rice. Visit for specific product recommendations.

Moisture content of stored foods should be about 10 percent or less. When moist products are stored in reduced oxygen packaging, botulism poisoning may occur.

Packaging in PETE Bottles
  1. Use PETE bottles that have screw-on lids with plastic or rubber lid seals. You can verify the lid seal will not leak by placing a sealed empty bottle under water and pressing on it. If you see bubbles escape from the bottle, it will leak.
  2. Clean used bottles with dish soap, and rinse them thoroughly to remove any residue. Drain out the water, and allow the bottles to dry completely before you use them for packaging food products.
  3. Place an oxygen absorber in each bottle. The absorbers can be used with containers of up to one-gallon capacity (4 liters.) Additional instruction about using oxygen absorbers is available at
  4. Fill bottles with wheat, dry corn or dry beans.
  5. Wipe top sealing edge of each bottle clean with a dry cloth and screw lid on tightly.
  6. Store the products in a cool, dry location, away from light.
  7. Protect the stored products from rodents.
  8. Use a new oxygen absorber each time you refill a bottle for storage.

Where to get oxygen absorber packets:

Oxygen absorber packets are available at home storage centers and Church Distribution Services, or they can be ordered online at Unused oxygen absorbers can be stored in glass jars with metal lids that have gaskets.


Preparedness Quotes

"When faced with the choice to buy, consume, or engage in worldly things and activities, we all need to learn to say to one another, 'We can’t afford it, even though we want it!' or 'We can afford it, but we don’t need it—and we really don’t even want it!'" - Elder Robert D. Hales, April 2009 General Conference

"Many areas of the world have experienced difficult economic times. Businesses have failed, jobs have been lost, and investments have been jeopardized. We must make certain that those for whom we share responsibility do not go hungry or unclothed or unsheltered. When the priesthood of this Church works together as one in meeting these vexing conditions, near miracles take place.

"We urge all Latter-day Saints to be prudent in their planning, to be conservative in their living, and to avoid excessive or unnecessary debt."
- President Thomas S. Monson, October 2008 Priesthood Session, General Conference

"Avoid the philosophy that yesterday's luxuries have become today's necessities. They aren't necessities until we make them so. Many enter into long-term debt only to find that changes occur; people become ill or incapacitated, companies fail or downsize, jobs are lost, natural disasters befall us. For many reasons, payments on large amounts of debt can no longer be made. Our debt becomes as a Damocles sword hanging over our heads and threatening to destroy us."
- President Thomas S. Monson, April 2006 General Conference

“We have built grain storage and storehouses and stocked them with the necessities of life in the event of a disaster. But the real storehouse is the family storeroom. In words of revelation the Lord has said, ‘Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing’ (D&C 109:8.)”
President Gordon B. Hinckley

"We need to make both temporal and spiritual preparation for the events prophesied at the time of the Second Coming. And the preparation most likely to be neglected is the one less visible and more difficult--the spiritual. A 72-hour kit of temporal supplies may prove valuable for earthly challenges, but, as the foolish virgins learned to their sorrow, a 24-hour kit of spiritual preparation is of greater and more enduring value.

"We are living in the prophesied time 'when peace shall be taken from the earth' (D&C 1:35,) when 'all things shall be in commotion' and 'men's hearts shall fail them' (D&C 88:91.) There are many temporal causes of commotion, including wars and natural disasters, but an even greater cause of current 'commotion' is spiritual." Elder Dallin H. Oaks

“Every father and mother are the family’s store keepers. They should store whatever their family would like to have in case of an emergency…(and) God will sustain us through our trials.” President James E. Faust

“We live in a most exciting and challenging period in human history. As technology sweeps through every facet of our lives, changes are occurring so rapidly that it can be difficult for us to keep our lives in balance. To maintain some semblance of stability in our lives, it is essential that we plan for our future. I believe it is time, and perhaps with some urgency, to review the counsel we have received in dealing with our personal and family preparedness. We want to be found with oil in our lamps sufficient to endure to the end.”- Elder L. Tom Perry, Ensign, Nov. 1995

"Many more people could ride out the storm-tossed waves in their economic lives if they had their year's supply of food. . . and were debt-free. Today we find that many have followed this counsel in reverse: they have at least a year's supply of debt and are food free." President Thomas S. Monson

"Just as it is important to prepare ourselves spiritually, we must also prepare ourselves for our temporal needs. … We have been instructed for years to follow at least four requirements in preparing for that which is to come.

“First, gain an adequate education. Learn a trade or a profession to enable you to obtain steady employment that will provide remuneration sufficient to care for yourself and your family. …

“Second, live strictly within your income and save something for a rainy day. Incorporate in your lives the discipline of budgeting that which the Lord has blessed you with. As regularly as you pay your tithing, set aside an amount needed for future family requirements. …

“Third, avoid excessive debt. Necessary debt should be incurred only after careful, thoughtful prayer and after obtaining the best possible advice. We need the discipline to stay well within our ability to pay. …

“Fourth, acquire and store a reserve of food and supplies that will sustain life [if local laws permit such storage]. Obtain clothing and build a savings account on a sensible, well-planned basis that can serve well in times of emergency. As long as I can remember, we have been taught to prepare for the future and to obtain a year’s supply of necessities. I would guess that the years of plenty have almost universally caused us to set aside this counsel. I believe the time to disregard this counsel is over. With events in the world today, it must be considered with all seriousness.” - Elder L. Tom Perry, October 1995 General Conference

“Maintain a year's supply. The Lord has urged that his people save for the rainy days, prepare for the difficult times, and put away for emergencies, a year's supply or more of bare necessities so that when comes the flood, the earthquake, the famine, the hurricane, the storms of life, our families can be sustained through the dark days. How many of us have complied with this? We strive with the Lord, finding many excuses: We do not have room for storage. The food spoils. We do not have the funds to do it. We do not like these common foods. It is not needed -- there will always be someone to help in trouble. The government will come to the rescue. And some intend to obey but procrastinate.” - The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p.375

“All too often a family's spending is governed more by their yearning than by their earning. They somehow believe that their life will be better if they surround themselves with an abundance of things. All too often all they are left with is avoidable anxiety and distress” - Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin

"Be prepared in all things against the day when tribulations and desolations are sent forth upon the wicked." D&C 29:8

"Too often we bask in our comfortable complacency and rationalize that the ravages of war, economic disaster, famine, and earthquake cannot happen here. Those who believe this are either not aquainted with the revelations of the Lord, or they do not believe them." President Ezra Taft Benson

"Fear not little flock; do good; let earth and hell combine against you, for if ye are built upon my rock, they cannot prevail. . .Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not." D&C 6:34, 36

"I believe that the Ten Virgins represent the people of the Church of Jesus Christ. . . They (five foolish) had the saving, exalting gospel, but it had not been made the center of their lives. They knew the way but gave only a small measure of loyalty and devotion.

"The foolish asked the others to share their oil, but spiritual preparedness cannot be shared in an instant. . . . This was not selfishness or unkindness. The kind of oil that is needed to illuminate the way and light up the darkness is not shareable. . . . In our lives the oil of preparedness is accumulated drop by drop in righteous living." - President Spencer W. Kimball

“We encourage families to have on hand this year’s supply; we say it over and over and over and repeat over and over the scripture of the Lord where he says, “Why call ye me, Lord, Lord and do not the things which I say?” How empty it is as they put their spirituality, so-called, into action and call him by his important names, but fail to do the things which he says." - President Spencer W. Kimball"/>


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