Read fast-food value guide as you wait in burger line


Last week, a dip into the Time Saver notebook produced several tips for reducing drudgery and increasing play time when it's most welcome -- right now, during high summer. In case you haven't tried them yet, the tips work. Proof: The Time Saver has found time to lounge around reading this summer. And that's without taking vacation days yet (beyond the two summertime national holidays, that is).

But Type A-/B+'s rarely just fritter away time, even when chilling out. So, here's a compendium of time-sensitive tidbits culled from the periodicals stacked by the lounge chair.

* Americans are eating out an average of four times a week, mostly at fast-food restaurants, says a blurb in the June Bon Appetit. But you won't have to start wearing muumuus and extra-large T-shirts to the beach if you belly up to the have-it-your-way cashier stand with "The Fast-Food Nutrition Counter" (Pocket Books, 1994, $5.99). This guide to healthful eating on the run has thousands of entries describing the nutritional value of fast-food faves like Wendy's, TCBY, Red Lobster and McDonald's.

(By the way, McDonald's was rated in January by the Center for Science in the Public Interest as having the best fast-food burger from a nutrition standpoint. Its McLean Deluxe has less than one-fifth the fat of a Burger King Double Whopper with Cheese. This was quite a coup for the Golden Arches. They previously had been one of the CSPI's main whipping posts.)

The drawback to buying this little paperback is that when what you already knew wasn't good for you is quantified and laid out in black and white, you'll feel twice as guilty when you decide to ignore its sensible advice about food choices.

* While we're talking about food, this comes from an August 1993 Food Service Trends publication from the National Restaurant Association: On average, Americans spend 57 minutes a day eating food away from home. To dine at home eats up 63 minutes a day, which doesn't include the 65 minutes a day spent grocery shopping and the 64 minutes spent 'D preparing meals.

On weekends, the average consumer spends 12 minutes more on restaurant meals as well as eight more minutes preparing and nine minutes more eating meals at home.

* Listen up, men, on the subject of the ravages of time. Your auditory power starts to decrease much sooner than that of women, reports the July/August issue of Health. Jay Pearson, a researcher at the National Institute on Aging in Baltimore, conducted a 23-year study that showed men start to lose their hearing in their 20s, especially in the registers that pick up everyday speech. (Now they have a valid excuse for saying they didn't hear what we said about it's being their turn to clean the house.) Women in the study, into their 60s, could clearly hear pins, names and sale prices drop.

* For some it might be too late to take heed of this eye-opener from this month's Loose Change, a financial newsletter. But for young people, here's a valuable story:

1 While twins Abbie and Annie looked alike, they didn't think alike about investing for the future. Annie contributed $2,000 to her IRA each year from age 30 to 35, and then she stopped. At age 65, her $12,000 nest egg had matured to $199,639.

Abbie, trying to shave pennies from her family's budget to buy an in-ground pool for their home, didn't start making deposits into her IRA until she was 41. But by age 65, she had deposited $50,000 in her account. Imagine her surprise when she found out her 25-year investment would gross her only $169,401 -- $30,238 less than her sister's puny $12,000 outlay three decades ago.

As with most financial miracles of this sort, this one can be explained by the Internal Revenue Service. Here goes: The money contributed to an IRA, 401(K) or 403(b) plan is not taxed until it's removed -- generally at retirement. Since Annie's money was tax-deferred all those years, it grew faster.

Moral: A penny shaved is a penny burned.


Have you developed a time-saving technique you think could help others? We'd like to hear about it. Next month, we'll begin a series of periodic Time Saver columns that will share reader tips so we can offer some solutions to your professional, home or leisure time-management problems. Please leave your name, city residence and daytime phone number when you call Sundial, The Sun's telephone information service, at (410) 783-1800. In Anne Arundel County, call (410) 268-7736; in Harford County, (410) 836-5028; in Carroll County, (410) 848-0338. Using a touch-tone phone, punch in the four-digit code 6220 after you hear the greeting.

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