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Frugality

Don’t Miss Out On Easy Savings: Coupons Pt 1

a-case-for-coupons-coupons1 There are many ways to save money these days, but one of the best and easy way is coupons. What? You don’t have time for that? Have you tried?

“Anything that’s worth doing, is worth doing poorly”

I’m not going to lie to you. In the beginning it’s not going to save you much money and you’re probably going to make some mistakes. However, as you build up a stockpile of coupons and learn the ways of the masters, you will save a significant amount of money and I’m going to tell you how.

Get Coupons

The first thing you need to do is actually get coupons. There are several places to get them and some of them may surprise you.

Newspaper

The best place to get them is the Sunday paper. You could just pick one up every Sunday but the easiest thing to do is get it delivered. Delivery is better for two reasons. Most likely you will get a discount on delivery versus buying it at a store. My local newspaper offers the Sunday paper for 6 months at $20.50. That’s about a 50% savings for choosing the easy route.

The second reason is so you don’t have to get dressed and go to the store, which will most likely keep you from actually going to the store. It’s kinda like automatic savings….kinda.

Before you sign up for delivery:

  • Check the paper at the store to see if there’s a deal on getting the paper delivered. Mine had a code for about $14 for 26 weeks for even more savings.
  • The most important thing is to make sure the paper you order actually carries the coupons. Go to the store first to check out which local newspaper carries coupons.

I suggest delivery the most because one of the mantras of couponing is the more the merrier (which I’ll get into more in the next part of this series). Getting more than one of the same coupon allows you to save so much more. Once you get the paper delivered, you can check to see if it’s a good week for coupons. If it is, then you can buy another paper or two in the store later, when you’re out and about. That’s not necessary when you’re just starting if you think it’s going to turn you off from couponing. Just get started first and worry about the best tips later.

Magazines

There are several magazines that contain exclusive coupons. Here are a few:

Unless you have an interest in the other magazines content, I’d only recommend All You and Everyday with Rachael Ray. They have the best content and coupons to go with it.

*Side Note*

I wouldn’t recommend buying it direct from the magazine company because you can usually buy it cheaper from a magazine discount site. I purchased my All You subscription from Tanga.com because it was the best deal around. Another great site is BestDealMagazines.com, this is where I purchased multiple hobby magazines I enjoy.

*Back on subject*

The World Wide Web

Another source is none other than the wonderful internet. One argument against printing out coupons is it costs more to print them than you’re going to save. Not true, especially if you print out more than one coupon at a time and reuse the paper to print another coupon. Some great sources are:

A surprising place to find coupons is Facebook. If you “Like” companies Facebook page, they usually have coupons you can access.

*Shameless self promotion*

Feel free to “Like” my Facebook page: Financially Poor. You won’t get any coupons to buy me, but you’ll get updated about my posts on Facebook and one day maybe even exclusive giveaways.

*End shameless self promotion*

Last but maybe not the most surprising is Twitter. The easiest way to find coupons on twitter is by sites set up to only show coupons from twitter, of course. The best sites I found are CheapTweet.com and CouponTweet.com.

Now What?

Once you get the coupons then the next step is to organize and learn how to use them. Join me next week as I go over these steps in the next episode of this chapter on couponing. Stay tuned….Dun Dun Duuuun…

P.S. Some of the links in this post I earn a little bit of money from, in order to pay my bills. But I promise to never to intentionally lead you to a bad company and to never let the money affect my opinion.

Have you taken on the quest of couponing? Have you had any bumps in the road when you first began?

Check out Part 2 of the series

Frugality

Don’t Let Frugality Take Over Your Life

For many people, finding ways to cut costs is essential for surviving a recession.  Many people take frugality to heart, but it is possible to go overboard.  Some people end up making sacrifices that don’t end up helping them in the long run.  Here are some things that you should think about before you become too obsessive about saving money:

  1. You don’t want to pay more by being frugal. This sounds counterintuitive, but many people feel that they can’t pass up a sale.  They end up hoarding or wasting many items they will never use.  Sales are great, but they work against you when they trick you into buying something you would never want otherwise.
  2. You compromise your ethics. We need to do what we can to get through the recession.  However, you need to know where to draw the line.  There are more important things than saving money.  Some people try to mooch off their friends who are even worse off than they are.  Others will do anything short of shoplifting from a goodwill store to get by.  We are in the middle of recession, but we haven’t devolved back to the Dark Ages.  Things aren’t so bad that you need to lie, cheat or manipulate people to be frugal.
  3. You put your health at risk. Do you eat foods that are past their expiration dates because you can’t stomach the thought of throwing them out?  These are choices that you need to cut out of your life right now.  Saving 80 cents on a can of beans is not worth a trip to the emergency room (especially if you don’t have health insurance).
  4. You forget the value of your time. I have heard stories of people who will literally clip coupons for hours on end.  After thirty hours worth of work, they may be able to find a hundred dollars worth of coupons off of products they intend to buy.  Surely, their time is worth more than three dollars an hour.  If you’re unemployed, it makes more sense to spend those hours trying to find a job.  If you have a job, it would make more sense to work overtime, pick up shifts or even a second job than to spend that much time cutting coupons.  What about your family?  Surely, your time with them is more important than a handful of coupons.
  5. You no longer find pleasure in life. Working on small budget doesn’t mean that you have to become depressed.  Sure, you need to make major changes when you have a new budget, but your budget needs to include pleasurable activities in your life.  It isn’t healthy to give up your social life or stop indulging yourself once in a while to save a few bucks here and there.  Just know what you can afford to spend and let other people know that you can’t get carried away if you go out.

Frugality is meant to make your life better.  Ideally, you would be able to cut costs without comprising too much of your happiness.  You need to assess your lifestyle and know if you are making unhealthy decisions just to save money.  Saving is great, but don’t go overboard.

Kalen Smith writes advice on insurance, finance and similar topics for the Homeowners Insurance Blog.

Frugality

12 Money Saving Grocery Storage Tips

Most people spend a lot of their income on groceries. All too often these groceries expire or rot and are simply tossed out. When this happens you are literally tossing money down the drain. You work hard for your money and learning to store your groceries properly will help you to keep more in your pocket. This money can be used to have a little extra fun or to pay down debts.

At the Store

Proper grocery storage starts at the store. Learning to be careful about what you buy will help ensure that your groceries will last longer once they arrive home. These tips should be kept in mind as you shop.

Don’t Buy More than You Can Use

Perishable products can only last so long, even when stored properly. If you buy more than you can use you will have to throw things out. Start making a grocery list and take it with you. It is better to buy a little less than you think you will need and run to the store again later than to over purchase and throw things out.

Pay Attention to Dates

In an ideal world everything at the store would be fresh and at its prime. In reality some items are just days away from expiration. Before buying anything, look at the expiration date. Ask yourself if you will be able to use the item before it expires. If the loaf of bread you are considering will expire the next day it is best to choose something else or to come back for bread in a day or two.

Strategically Make Your Way Through the Store

If you immediately head to the frozen foods your items will start defrosting before you ever leave the store. This can cause things to freeze together later and to spoil faster. Start with non perishable items like canned food then head to produce section and finally pick up cold items like meats, milk and frozen food.

Go Right Home

Your groceries will last longer if they are put away as quickly as possible. When you are finished shopping head home immediately. Don’t stop by the post office or a friend’s house first. If you live a large distance from the store you might want to bring along a cooler to ensure that your cold items stay cold and that your frozen food doesn’t start to defrost.

At Home

After you finish shopping it is important to store your food properly right away. It can be tempting to put off this task for a few hours, but you should always store your food immediately if possible. The sooner it is stored properly, the longer it will last and the less that you will waste. Here are some tips for storing food at home.

Freeze Immediately

If you buy meats in bulk or buy fresh items that you are planning on freezing for later it is important to get these items into the freezer as quickly as possible. Remember that once your freeze items you should only defrost them once. This means that you need to package items into single use packages so that they will be easy to use and defrost later. Always mark items with the date before storing them in the freezer. As you defrost items, use the oldest ones first.

Throw Out Old Food

Did you know that moldy food can make other food spoil faster? If you have fruits and vegetables that are past their prime, throw them out before storing any new foods in your fridge. It is a good idea to clean out the fridge before you go shopping. This will give you a better idea of what you have and what you need and then it is ready to be filled when you return home.

Be Careful What You Store Together

Some foods can make others ripen more quickly. For example if you store ripe bananas by an unripe pear it will speed the ripening process. This can be great when you want to hurry it along, but can result in rotten food if you aren’t careful. Also many foods absorb odors and flavors from other foods. If you store your apples and onions in the same crisper drawer you will find yourself throwing out the apples since they will taste like onion.

Keep Food Safety in Mind

Food safety is very important to consider when storing foods. Don’t store your meat products near your fruits and vegetables. Since meat tends to drip it is a good idea to keep it on the bottom shelf of the fridge. If you want your milk, eggs and butter to last longer always put them back in the fridge as quickly as possible. If you only need 1 egg, don’t leave the whole carton on the counter while you make dinner.

Think About Longevity

Some foods last longer than others. When you shop you can purchase a variety of foods that spoil quickly and that last so that you have plenty for the entire week. That being said it is important to use the foods first that will spoil first. For example if you have a bunch of organic fresh spinach and carrots, it is best to use the spinach first and the carrots later in the week.

Look at What You Throw Out

Each week look at what you are throwing out. Calculate how much you are wasting. This will help you to better refine your shopping practices and to get a better understanding of how you are using your grocery money.

These food storage tips will help you make the most of your grocery budget. The key to financial success is using what you have wisely and these tips will help ensure that you are wasting less food and money each week at the grocery store.

Frugality

Why Dont Coupons Work?

Why don’t you use coupons? Probably because you don’t think they’ll save you anything, or you feel like it’s too much work?

Both of those are crap excuses. It’s because you don’t want to save money. It really is. If you could take one hour out of your life each week to clip coupons and planning your dinner for a week and end up saving $50, That equals $50/hour. Is that worth it? Of course it is. Who wouldn’t want to get paid $50 for 1 hour of sitting on your butt and cutting things out.

You better not be raising your hand!

Or better yet, what if you’re about to buy something online. It takes 2 seconds to Google Gap Coupon and save $20. There are lots of sites out there that are made to save you money. Why aren’t you doing it? What’s your deal?

After a long day of work, are you tired? Does your job pay you $50/hour? If it doesn’t then clipping coupons should be a piece of cake. If it does then clipping coupons should be a piece of cake compared to what you normally do for that price.

But one of the best reasons why coupons don’t work is because you don know how to use coupons. You don’t know the saving power they can get you if you do use them. The day will come when you have no choice but to use them so that you can keep your house. When that day comes you will say to yourself “I should have done this a long time ago”. Yes, you should have! Then maybe you wouldn’t be in that situation.

So do me a favor, Google how to use coupons and educate yourself.

Knowledge really is power!

Don’t let money go to waste. Use it wisely because someday you may not have as much. Then you’ll be sorry you didn’t appreciate it more. A lot of people are feeling that right now and maybe you are too. It’s never too late to start.