Here’s an emer­gency fund you can eat

Austin American-Statesman - - BUSINESS - San Diego Union-Tri­bune Dal­las Morn­ing News

Cash can help you sur­vive an emer­gency, but sav­ing as much as fi­nan­cial plan­ners typ­i­cally rec­om­mend — three to six months’ worth of ex­penses — can take years.

You can build an edi­ble emer­gency fund a lot quicker.

A well-stocked pantry can help you sur­vive a nat­u­ral dis­as­ter or ex­tended black­out, get through a stretch of un­em­ploy­ment, en­sure you al­ways have some­thing tasty for din­ner — and save you money.

The key to do­ing it right: Store what you eat, and eat what you store.

You can spend hun­dreds or even thou­sands of dol­lars on an emer­gency food kit. Chances are pretty good, though, that those prepack­aged ver­sions will in­clude stuff you or your fam­ily won’t eat. Food not eaten is money wasted.

You’re much bet­ter off stock­ing up on foods you like and then us­ing that stock, re­plen­ish­ing it as you go. Your first goal can be a two-week sup­ply of food, which is what the Fed­eral Emer­gency Man­age­ment Agency rec­om­mends ev­ery fam­ily keep on hand. Once you have that stored, con­sider boost­ing your sup­ply over time to cover one to three months. Here’s how to start: ■ Cre­ate a two-week menu. Write down what you would feed your fam­ily for break­fast, lunch and din­ner ev­ery day for 14 days. Don’t for­get side dishes, drinks and desserts. It’s OK to re­peat meals if that’s what you do in non­emer­gency sit­u­a­tions. Don’t for­get to in­clude wa­ter: at least a gal­lon per per­son per day .

■ Stress-test the menu. How many of the meals could you pre­pare with in­gre­di­ents that don’t re­quire re­frig­er­a­tion? With­out it, food in your fridge will last about a day, in the freezer two or three. Per­ish­ables — fresh fruits, veg­eta­bles, dairy — might not be avail­able. What shelf-sta­ble in­gre­di­ents can you sub­sti­tute? Some foods you can find at the su­per­mar­ket have long shelf lives, such as rice, dried beans and canned foods. Others such as eggs, milk, veg­eta­bles, fruit and meat are avail­able in dried or freeze-dried forms.

■ De­cide which of those sub­sti­tu­tions you can ac­tu­ally tol­er­ate. Pow­dered milk is an ex­am­ple of some­thing that’s great in the­ory but that some peo­ple find re­volt­ing in re­al­ity. My fam­ily uses it to bake with, and we keep shelf-sta­ble al­mond milk around to drink.

■ Think about how you’d pre­pare each meal. If the gas and elec­tric­ity are out, you’ll need some way to heat meals such as a camp stove or a grill. Be­tween the in­gre­di­ents and cook­ing time re­quired, some meals aren’t prac­ti­cal op­tions, so look for others that are eas­ier to store and cook.

■ Cre­ate an in­gre­di­ents list. Once you’ve set­tled on your fi­nal list of meals, list ev­ery in­gre­di­ent for ev­ery meal and how much you’ll need of each.

■ Don’t for­get the treats. Com­fort foods and fa­mil­iar fla­vors can help you through tough times. Cof­fee and tea drinkers will want an am­ple sup­ply, but ev­ery­one might ap­pre­ci­ate hot choco­late, sweet­en­ers, condi­ments, spices and hard candies.

■ Fig­ure out where to keep it. Peo­ple can get cre­ative about stor­age in small spaces, park­ing emer­gency food un­der their beds or be­hind their couches. I’d rather have food where I can see it, so I cleared some old ap­pli­ances from the kitchen and added some open shelv­ing to our laun­dry room.

■ Fill out your pantry. Com­pare what you need with what you have, and start shop­ping to fill in the gaps. Use coupons and sales to stock up grad­u­ally.

Imag­ine charg­ing your elec­tric car as eas­ily as you charge your elec­tric tooth­brush.

Or, imag­ine your car charg­ing it­self as it drives down the road.

Those sce­nar­ios are not as far­fetched as you might think. In fact, a group of tech gu­rus who gath­ered re­cently in San Diego dis­cussed how a wire­less elec­tric ve­hi­cle is about to be­come a re­al­ity.

“This is def­i­nitely com­ing,” said Jesse Sch­nei­der, chairman of the wire­less task force for the So­ci­ety of Au­to­mo­tive En­gi­neers, an in­ter­na­tional group work­ing to de­velop com­mon stan­dards to make sure the sec­tor’s com­pet­ing tech­nolo­gies work to­gether.

Car buy­ers are fa­mil­iar with plug-in hy­brids and all-elec­tric ve­hi­cles, but com­pa­nies such as Qual­comm seek to jump-start the tran­si­tion from in­ter­nal com­bus­tion to zero-emis­sion cars with “in­duc­tive” charg­ing.

In­stead of charg­ing a ve­hi­cle with a plug or ca­ble, the driver us­ing a wire­less sys­tem aligns the car over a charg­ing pad and

When con­sumers can have al­most any­thing de­liv­ered from Ama­ within an hour, or­der via Dash but­tons or through Ama­zon Echo’s vir­tual per­sonal as­sis­tant Alexa, what does the tra­di­tional con­ve­nience store still have to of­fer?

Joe DePinto, chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of 7-Eleven, has been in charge of the world’s big­gest con­ve­nience store chain since 2005, dur­ing this age of Ama­zon and a time when credit card-ac­cept­ing gas pumps mean no one has to come in­side the store.

“The land­scape is chang­ing so fast. Yes, there’s Ama­zon and there’s GrubHub . ... It’s all about im­me­di­ate con­sump­tion,” DePinto said.

“We have to be pre­pared and ready in ways that our cus­tomers want. And the last four or five years, we’ve had our heads down, grind­ing it out. And we’re do­ing a lot of things right.”

He’s fo­cused on what you want to eat when you’re di­et­ing, and when you want to splurge. He cares about how much you’ll pay for a sin­gle roll of paper tow­els, and that pure al­ka­line wa­ter is a thing with ath­letes.

Stop­ping at the cor­ner store is still a habit for many, and 7-Eleven wants to re­main as rel­e­vant as it was 90 years ago when it got its start in Dal­las. The com­pany’s cor­po­rate head­quar­ters are now

Your bud­get should help you do what you love, not leave you stuck at home, afraid to spend one ex­tra penny. That’s why I fol­low the “pay your­self first” phi­los­o­phy, which means sav­ing some of your in­come as you earn it. That puts your longer-term sav­ings on au­topi­lot, while you cover reg­u­lar ex­penses out of your day-to­day bud­get.

But when money is tight, it’s easy to feel like you’ll never go to the movies or buy a sketch­book again. And feel­ing de­prived by your bud­get makes it more likely you’ll aban­don it with a spon­ta­neous shop­ping spree.

“If you’re not do­ing things that are es­sen­tial and restora­tive, an elec­tro­mag­netic field does the rest.

“Cus­tomers wait for the green light and then walk away, know­ing when they come back they will be more fully charged or fully charged, de­pend­ing on how long they were away,” Sch­nei­der said. “You can ac­tu­ally just park over the wire­less charg­ing sys­tem and ev­ery­thing is done au­to­mat­i­cally af­ter that.”

The tech­nol­ogy has been talked about for years but, start­ing with the hy­brid ver­sion of the 2018 in Irv­ing.

“As long as we don’t all be­come her­mits there will al­ways be a need to get out, get gas and grab some­thing to go,” said Craig Rosen­blum, se­nior di­rec­tor at food re­tail con­sul­tancy Wil­lard Bishop.

The in­dus­try has roughly dou­bled in size over the last three decades and ended last year with 154,535 stores in the U.S.

The 7-Eleven brand “is still the face of the in­dus­try,” said Jeff Le­nard, vice pres­i­dent at the Na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Con­ve­nience Stores.

Its Slurpees and Big Bite hot dogs have left a good taste in the mouths of mil­len­ni­als. More than 50 per­cent of 7-Eleven’s cus­tomers Mercedes-Benz S550e, wire­less ve­hi­cle-charg­ing tech­nol­ogy will make its de­but. The Ger­man au­tomaker reached an agree­ment with Qual­comm to use the San Diegob­ased com­pany’s Halo tech­nol­ogy as a fea­ture on the lux­ury car, which has a base price of $96,600.

A slew of other car mak­ers are about to en­ter the wire­less-charg­ing mar­ket as well.

And in ad­di­tion to Qual­comm, tech com­pa­nies such as Eva­tran, Mo­men­tum Dy­nam­ics, Witric­ity are mil­len­ni­als, and now they’re old enough to buy beer and wine.

“This gen­er­a­tion grew up with a dif­fer­ent con­ve­nience store,” Le­nard said. “Young peo­ple see the con­ve­nience store as a place where they can pick up a good sand­wich. Older gen­er­a­tions think of the bath­room key at­tached to an old hub­cap or a block of wood. That’s not as ap­peal­ing.”

Last year, 7-Eleven’s com­bined U.S. and Canada sales were es­ti­mated at $25 bil­lion, with 60 per­cent or $15 bil­lion com­ing from in­side the store and 40 per­cent from gaso­line pumps, ac­cord­ing to Su­per­mar­ket News.

Healthy and cheap are two words that aren’t of­ten as­so­ci­ated and Wire­less Ad­vanced Ve­hi­cle Elec­tri­fi­ca­tion of­fer ver­sions of wire­less ve­hi­cle charg­ing.

“Ev­ery global car marker has an ac­tive pro­gram for wire­less charg­ing,” said Grant Reig, se­nior prod­uct man­ager at Mas­sachusetts-based Witric­ity. “Look for this to be quite main­stream by 2020.”

Ex­pect charg­ing pads to be seen first in the garages of elec­tric ve­hi­cle own­ers. Sch­nei­der said the sys­tems will cost “a few thou­sand dol­lars.” Some mod­els run as low as just un­der $1,500.

But the ul­ti­mate goal is to take ve­hi­cle charg­ing be­yond the park­ing space — and put it on the road, lit­er­ally.

What’s called dy­namic charg­ing fore­sees a fu­ture where ve­hi­cles charge them­selves as they drive. Us­ing coils em­bed­ded in roads, elec­tric ve­hi­cles would re­fuel as they stay in tran­sit, cre­at­ing their own self-per­pet­u­at­ing elec­tri­cal loop. It’s sim­i­lar to the way some mo­bile de­vices get charged.

“What we could po­ten­tially see with the wire­less power trans­fer is in­cred­i­bly ex­cit­ing,” said An­drew Hoskin­son of San Diego’s Cen­ter for Sus­tain­able En­ergy. with con­ve­nience stores. But 7-Eleven says it’s do­ing its best to change that.

DePinto, 54, has fun­da­men­tally changed 7-Eleven from a re­tailer that owned half its stores, to a com­pany sup­port­ing stores that are 90 per­cent owned by en­trepreneurs.

“We’re pro­vid­ing in­de­pen­dent busi­ness own­ers with the tools to be suc­cess­ful,” DePinto said. “We want them to be strong and proud of the brand.”

7-Eleven now has 800 pro­pri­etary store-branded prod­ucts. Fran­chisees can pick and choose from a mix to tai­lor their stores to their neigh­bor­hoods. On av­er­age about 15 per­cent of the items in a 7-Eleven store will vary.


Last year, 7-Eleven’s com­bined U.S. and Canada sales were es­ti­mated at $25 bil­lion, with 60 per­cent com­ing from in­side the store and 40 per­cent from gas pumps, ac­cord­ing to Su­per­mar­ket News. The com­pany be­gan 90 years ago in Dal­las, with cor­po­rate head­quar­ters now in Irv­ing.


Wire­less charg­ing sys­tems like the Qual­comm Halo are about to make their way into the main­stream, ex­perts say.

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