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75 Surprising Expiration Dates for Beauty and Household Goods

by Alexandra Zega

A handy keep-or-toss guide to 75 foods, beauty products, and household goods.


Brown sugar
Indefinite shelf life, stored in a moistureproof container in a cool, dry place.

Chocolate (Hershey bar)
1 year from production date

Coffee, canned ground
Unopened: 2 years
Opened: 1 month refrigerated

Coffee, gourmet
Beans: 3 weeks in paper bag, longer in vacuum-seal bag (after this time, color or flavor may be affected, but product is still generally safe to consume)
Ground: 1 week in sealed container

Coffee, instant
Unopened: Up to 2 years
Opened: Up to 1 month

Diet soda (and soft drinks in plastic bottles)
Unopened: 3 months from “best by” date.
Opened: Doesn't spoil, but taste is affected.


Dried pasta
12 months

Frozen dinners
Unopened: 12 to 18 months

Frozen vegetables
Unopened: 18 to 24 months
Opened: 1 month

Indefinite shelf life

Juice, bottled (apple or cranberry)
Unopened: 8 months from production date
Opened: 7 to 10 days

Unopened: 1 year (after this time, color or flavor may be affected, but product is still generally safe to consume)
Opened or used: 4 to 6 months (after this time, color or flavor may be affected, but product is still generally safe to consume)

Maple syrup, real or imitation
1 year

Maraschino cherries
Unopened: 3 to 4 years
Opened: 2 weeks at room temperature; 6 months refrigerated

Unopened: 40 weeks
Opened: 3 months

Unopened: Indefinitely
Opened: 2 to 3 months from “purchase by” date (after this time, color or flavor may be affected, but product is still generally safe to consume)

2 years (after this time, color or flavor may be affected, but product is still generally safe to consume)

Olives, jarred (green with pimento)
Unopened: 3 years
Opened: 3 months


Olive oil
2 years from manufacture date (after this time, color or flavor may be affected, but product is still generally safe to consume)

Unopened: 1 to 2 years unless frozen or refrigerated
Opened: 1 to 2 weeks in airtight container

Peanut butter, natural
9 months

Peanut butter, processed (Jif)
Unopened: 2 years
Opened: 6 months; refrigerate after 3 months

Unopened: 18 months
Opened: No conclusive data. Discard if slippery or excessively soft.

Protein bars (PowerBars)
Unopened: 10 to 12 months. Check “best by” date on the package.

Rice, white
2 years from date on box or date of purchase

Salad dressing, bottled
Unopened: 12 months after “best by” date
Opened: 9 months refrigerated

Soda, regular
Unopened: In cans or glass bottles, 9 months from “best by” date
Opened: Doesn’t spoil, but taste is affected

Steak sauce
33 months (after this time, color or flavor may be affected, but product is still generally safe to consume)

5 years, stored in a cool, dry place

Tea bags (Lipton)
Use within 2 years of opening the package

Tuna, canned
Unopened: 1 year from purchase date
Opened: 3 to 4 days, not stored in can

Soy sauce, bottled
Unopened: 2 years
Opened: 3 months (after this time, color or flavor may be affected, but product is still generally safe to consume)

42 months

Worcestershire sauce
Unopened: 5 to 10 years (after this time, color or flavor may be affected, but product is still generally safe to consume)
Opened: 2 years

Household Products


Air freshener, aerosol
2 years

Antifreeze, premixed
1 to 5 years

Antifreeze, concentrate

Batteries, alkaline
7 years

Batteries, lithium
10 years

3 to 6 months

Dish detergent, liquid or powdered
1 year

Fire extinguisher, rechargeable
Service or replace every 6 years

Fire extinguisher, nonrechargeable
12 years

Laundry detergent, liquid or powdered
Unopened: 9 months to 1 year
Opened: 6 months

Metal polish (silver, copper, brass)
At least 3 years

Miracle Gro, liquid
Opened: 3 to 8 years

Miracle Gro, liquid, water-soluble


Motor oil
Unopened: 2 to 5 years
Opened: 3 months

Mr. Clean
2 years

Unopened: Up to 10 years
Opened: 2 to 5 years

Spray paint
2 to 3 years

2 years

Wood polish (Pledge)
2 years

Beauty Products

All dates are from the manufacture date, which is either displayed on the packaging or can be obtained by calling the manufacturer's customer-service number.

Bar soap
18 months to 3 years

Bath gel, body wash
3 years

Bath oil
1 year

Body bleaches and depilatories
Unopened: 2 years
Used: 6 months

Body lotion
3 years

2 to 3 years

Unopened: 2 years
Used: 1 to 2 years
For antiperspirants, see expiration date

Eye cream
Unopened: 3 years
Used: 1 year


Face lotion
With SPF, see expiration date. All others, at least 3 years

Foundation, oil-based
2 years

Foundation, water-based
3 years

Hair gel
2 to 3 years

Hair spray
2 to 3 years

Lip balm
Unopened: 5 years
Used: 1 to 5 years

2 years

Unopened: 2 years
Used: 3 to 4 months

Three years from manufacture date

Nail polish
1 year

Nail-polish remover
Lasts indefinitely

1 to 2 years

Rubbing alcohol
At least 3 years

2 to 3 years

Shaving cream
2 years or more


Tooth-whitening strips
13 months

Wash’n Dri moist wipes
Unopened: 2 years
Opened: Good until dried out

(c) Maya Kukes and Lisa Smith Keate,


U.S. Credit Markets May See an Early Spring Thaw

by Alexandra Zega

RISMEDIA — U.S. credit appears to be on the mend, but the recovery is still in its early stages. That is the key message of a report released by TD Economics highlighting a number of positive developments in U.S. credit markets over recent months.

In October, responses to the Federal Reserve's Senior Loan Officer Survey showed that commercial banks' willingness to lend to consumers is hovering around its highest level in the last five years. The easing of credit standards has coincided with a drop in delinquency rates, signaling a general improvement in credit quality. Although delinquencies on real estate loans remain elevated, delinquencies on unsecured loans to consumers and businesses have seen a steady, downward trend since 2009.

"The improvement in credit quality is important," says TD Chief Economist Craig Alexander. "It could mark the beginning of a virtuous cycle where better credit quality leads to more credit growth and improved economic growth – which in turn feeds back into greater credit quality."

Developments in the market for unsecured credit – such as credit cards and student loans – do give particular cause for optimism. Unlike mortgage credit, which is secured by the value of a person's home, unsecured consumer credit is backed only by the lender's faith in the borrower's ability to repay.

Unsecured lending seized up during the recession, falling 7.4 percent from its peak reached in 2008. However, the data suggests that unsecured lending is growing once again. Adjusted for charge-offs (a one-time hit that banks take on delinquent accounts that they deem unrecoverable), total consumer credit is up almost 3 percent from a year ago.
In general, the uptick in lending has important implications for the economic recovery.

With banks more willing to lend, there are more resources available to finance investment projects that will boost output. Also, the expansion of credit, while raising the supply of money in the economy, will help counter the threat of deflation. This is particularly important because deflation erodes the value of earnings, making outstanding debt obligations more expensive to service.

Nevertheless, Alexander cautions that the picture is not all tea and crumpets. Some lenders are still reeling from a real estate mortgage delinquency rate that peaked around 10 percent during the recession – up from less than 2 percent earlier in the decade. Although the delinquency rate has inched down in recent quarters, it remains elevated by historical standards.

"Without a resolution in housing, improvement in other sectors of the economy can only push the gas pedal so far," Alexander concludes. "At the same time, the fact that credit quality is improving outside of mortgages shows that resolving issues in housing and commercial real estate could lead to a much faster pace of economic growth."

Use New Year to Build New Financial Foundation

by Alexandra Zega

This is your chance to start fresh with your finances, another opportunity to achieve the goals you didn't hit in 2010.

"The new year gives us all an opportunity to make decisions and take action," said Thomas Murphy, partner and certified financial planner at TEMAA Financial in Dallas. "I suggest 2011 be the year you take control of your finances."

MAKE YOUR GOALS CONCRETE: What are your financial goals? How will you achieve them? Without this blueprint, you'll be chasing your tail, worrying about which stock or mutual fund to invest in. Having no real plan could result in higher risk than you need, scattered and duplicate investments, and high fees.

Be specific about your goals. Don't just say, "I need to pay down my credit card." Instead, say you want to put a specific amount toward your credit card bill next year and you will achieve that by paying a specific amount each month.

Clearly defining a goal enables you to develop a concrete plan for achieving it.

"Come up with a plan on how to become debt-free, either on your own or with debt counseling," said Todd Mark, vice president of education at Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Greater Dallas. "What matters is taking those steps."

Becoming debt-free also means changing your mindset toward debt.

"Like most people who are used to carrying the extra weight around the middle, people get used to carrying debt and saying, 'That's where I am right now,' " Mark said. "We want to change that. We don't want them to accept it, and we don't want them to be comfortable with it."

SPEND STRATEGICALLY: "Make the decision that you will not spend one dime unless it is to help you achieve your goals," Murphy said. "No more spending money on things you no longer care about or to impress the neighbors or for any other reason, except it is part of your path to achieve financial success, however you define it."

TRACK YOUR SPENDING: "Record every penny you earn and every penny you spend for at least 90 days," Murphy said. "If you have no real idea how much money you make or where it all goes, you are not in control."

SAVE MORE MONEY: Always pay yourself first each month. It doesn't have to be a large amount of money. It just has to be consistent and left alone as much as possible. The compounding effect over time will take care of the rest.

"Set up a program to save the difference between what you earn and what you spend," Murphy said. "Save first, spend after. Stretch to save at least 10 percent of your income. Put the savings in an emergency fund and commit that you will only touch it for real emergencies — unforeseen and unforeseeable events. Set a goal of accumulating six months of living expenses in this emergency fund."

Take advantage of all opportunities offered by your employer to save money, such as through a 401(k).

"Those savings which come automatically out of your pay are best," Murphy said.

PAY OFF OR PAY DOWN DEBT: Debt is one of the biggest obstacles to achieving your financial goals. It will divert your money and cause your financial journey to come to a screeching halt.

"The more you owe, the less control you have over your life," said Calvin Helin, a demographic economic trend analyst and author of the upcoming book, "The Economic Dependency Trap: Breaking Free to Self-Reliance."

"Debt puts you in a position of seeking to pay off your debt rather than pursuing other areas of life that might be more rewarding. It is one of the biggest sources of family stress."

If you racked up credit card debt for the holidays, aim to pay it off in three months.

"If you haven't paid off your holiday debt by the time you've gotten your tax refund, there's a good chance you're going to continue to be paying on that during the holidays in 2011," Mark said.

Commit to paying credit cards off every month, Murphy said.

"If you find you cannot resist the temptation to buy, cut up all but one card and leave that card at home," he said. "Use it only for important purchases after careful thought and a plan for how and when you will pay it off."

Getting rid of the anxiety of high-interest rate debt is a far better gift than almost anything you could buy.

"Those who understand interest earn it; they do not pay it," Murphy said.

MAKE YOUR GOALS REALISTIC: "Don't say, 'I'm going to be debt-free and a millionaire by the end of 2011,'" Mark said. "Maybe you can say, 'I have a goal of paying down $10,000 in debt in 2011, and I want to be debt-free in four years.' "

PROTECT YOUR INCOME AND ASSETS: "Find out if your employer offers disability insurance and life insurance," Murphy said. "If so, buy it. To determine how much you need, conduct a financial fire drill and imagine you are permanently disabled. How much money would need to come in the door to allow you and your family to maintain your standard of living?"

FOR THE LONG-TERM UNEMPLOYED: Your aim is to stabilize your finances as much as possible.

Besides the obvious priority of landing a job, you should analyze what financial resources you still have to sustain you.

"If you've been unemployed for awhile, try to get a part-time job at night and on weekends to help reduce the cash-flow drain and provide you with a sense of belonging," said Lynn Lawrance, certified financial planner at Financial Network Investment Corp. in Dallas.

If you've been unemployed for more than six months, watching your spending is all the more critical.

"Tracking every penny is a necessity, not a luxury," Murphy said. "Making conscious decisions about every spending decision is vital. Forcing yourself to reduce your standard of living temporarily may be the only way to allow you the peace of mind necessary to interview well."

When you do spend, make the money count.

"Squeeze every penny you spend to minimize the damage to your net worth," Lawrance said. "Spend only on absolute essentials and items that will boost your networking and interviewing success."

(c) 2010, The Dallas Morning News, by Pamela Yip

Mortgage Rates Jump Again

by Alexandra Zega

RISMEDIA Mortgage rates climbed higher last week, with the average conforming 30-year fixed mortgage rising to 5.02 percent, according to's weekly national survey. The average 30-year fixed mortgage has an average of 0.44 discount and origination points.

The average 15-year fixed mortgage increased to 4.39 percent and the larger jumbo 30-year fixed rate rose to 5.64 percent. Adjustable rate mortgages also went up, with the average 5-year ARM rising to 4 percent and the average 7-year ARM reaching 4.43 percent.

The last time mortgage rates were above 6 percent was Nov. 2008. At that time, the average rate was 6.33 percent, meaning a $200,000 loan would have carried a monthly payment of $1,241.86. With the average rate now 5.02 percent, the monthly payment for the same size loan would be $1,076.09, a savings of $166 per month for a homeowner refinancing now.

Survey Results
30-year fixed: 5.02% -- up from 4.96% last week (avg. points: 0.44)
15-year fixed: 4.39% -- up from 4.29% last week (avg. points: 0.4)
5/1 ARM: 4.00% -- up from 3.92% last week (avg. points: 0.45)

Bankrate's national weekly mortgage survey is conducted each Wednesday from data provided by the top 10 banks and thrifts in the top 10 markets.

For a full analysis of last week's move in mortgage rates, go to

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