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Every good list has a purpose

Everybody loves a list.

The economic woes of the past couple of years have spawned tons of how-to-save lists and will spawn more – including some right here.

The Raleigh News & Observer recently published its own 101 ways to save. Some highlights:

Learn to cut up a chicken; buying a whole chicken is cheaper than buying parts.

Wear long underwear.

Pay biweekly instead of monthly on your mortgage. You’ll make an extra payment annually and save thousands on interest over the life of the loan.

Make your own household cleaners. You can clean many things using baking soda or white vinegar. For a no-streak glass cleaner: mix 1/4 cup white vinegar, 1 tablespoon cornstarch and 1 quart warm water. Apply with a sponge or using a spray bottle. Wipe dry with crumpled newspaper and buff to a shine. (Crumpled newspaper – rather than paper towels – produces lint-free results.)

Turn off the dishwasher when it gets to the drying cycle and open the door to add heat to the room. It also puts moist air into your home during winter, when heating systems can dry the air.

Likewise, when you finish baking, open the oven door.

Check with your phone, cable or insurance companies at least once a year to see whether you’re getting the best rate. Ask about discounts and specials.

Look at your insurance policies – home and auto – and consider upping the deductible for a lower premium. Raising a homeowners’ deductible to $500 can cut the premium by as much as 15 percent, according to the Insurance Information Institute, a trade group.

The dollar-and-a-half menu?

It’s getting harder to be cheap.

Battered by rising wholesale prices for beef and chicken, fast-food chains are adjusting by changing menus or raising prices, the Associated Press reports. CKE Restaurants Inc., which operates the Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. chains, stopped offering Double Cheeseburgers in its 2 for $3 promotion and replaced them with Jumbo Chili Dogs and Hot Ham ’N’ Cheese Sandwiches.

And McDonald’s is considering changes to its popular dollar menu – either by switching items on the menu or bumping up prices.

The National Restaurant Association says wholesale food prices rose 8.7 percent this year through August – on top of a 7.6 increase last year.

In 2006, wholesale prices climbed seven-tenths of 1 percent.

It’s good to be an engineer

Engineering jobs topped the list of the positions that employers find hardest to fill, followed by machinists and skilled trade workers, according to a survey by Manpower Inc.

The rest of the list: technicians, sales representatives, accounting and finance staff, mechanics, laborers, information-technology staff and production operators.