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Friday, March 23, 2012

Money Saving Links

There are a few things I do that help earn money, gift cards or coupons through out the year. I have a PayPal account that I try to send as much survey money into each year as I can. It isn't much but it usually adds up to a couple of Christmas gifts.

I use Swagbucks which is search engine that pays you for searching. When I have enough Swagbucks I cash them in for a PayPal gift card which goes right into my PayPal account. Here is a link to get you started:

I also use SavingStar. This is a program that you attache your store loyalty card to, and load coupons onto your loyalty card. Then you shop as you normally would, using any paper or electronic coupons that you would normally use. The store knows nothing about your SavingStar coupons. The money for the SavingStar coupons are added to your account and once you reach $5 you can cash out. Here is the link:

Ebates is another great way to save a little extra cash. Ebates is a rebate system. If you are shopping online all you have to do is go to Ebates, search for the store you are shopping at and click on Ebates' lnk to that store. Once you get to the store's website, shop as usual. The rebate is added to your Ebates account automatically. Then once a quarter you get a check. I have mine put into my PayPal account. Here is the link: It really is that simple. I usually only get a check around Christmas when I am doing a lot of ordering. Ebates doesn't have every store you would want use but they do have a very large variety.

I know these are just little things but the little things do add up. It cost you nothing to join any of these programs and it's not like it even cost you very much time. And with the economy the way it is every little bit helps.


Thursday, March 15, 2012

Beginning Couponing/Stockpiling

I was recently asked “How do you start couponing?” I realize when you watch things like “Extreme Couponing” and read articles about people getting all of their food for free, it can seem overwhelming. But in my book if you are spending more than an hour a week on clipping coupons something is wrong. Coupons are meant to save you money and time has to also be counted as money, because your time is worth something. Here are a few pointers in getting started.

Make a grocery budget. Here is a link to the USDA Food Plans:

It gives you a starting point which I think is a little bit high. It lists the “Thrifty Plan” for a family of 4 at $145.20/week. I try to keep my budget for food, toiletries, pet food and paper goods at $100 week for 2 people. Their list is for food only.

1. Stick to you budget.

2. Start out small, even if you only use 5 $1.00 coupons per week that adds up to $260/year.

2. Buy 2 newspapers for the first few times. I still only buy two newspapers. Very seldom do I need more than 2 coupons on an item before the coupon comes out again. Coupons and sales usually are on a 12 week cycle. In other words the coupon in this Sunday’s paper will probably be out again in 12 weeks.

3. Buy your needs first.

4. There may be a store that you want to use for your needs, which has lower everyday prices and a different store for you coupon purchases, which has better sales or offers.

5. Make a menu and a shopping list. When you make your menu, go through your food items that you have on hand and make a list of the items that you do not have. Add anything else you need to the list.

6. Go through you coupons and see if you match any to the items on your shopping list. On your first trip, try to match at least 5 $1.00 coupons to your list. This will give you $5 left over from your budget to start stocking up on something.

7. Look through the ads for the week and see what is on sale. The best way to save money is to use coupons on top of sale prices.

8. Don’t be brand loyal (unless you can afford it) and don’t be afraid to try new things. There are only a few items that I prefer a name brand and I try really hard to only buy those items when they are on sale. If an item that I really like is on sale I will buy it whether or not I have a coupon. For instance Kraft Mayo (the only kind I use) was on sale last week for $2.49. That is a really good deal since mayo is nearing $5 a jar. I happened to have a store coupon for $1.00 off 2 so I bought 2. I would have bought them even without the coupon. I have worked my budget so that I can allow myself to be brand loyal on Mayo. But truly that is about the only thing I am brand loyal to.

9. Don’t be afraid to buy meat that has been marked down, i.e. manager’s specials. They are usually getting close to the sale by date, but have not passed that date. These items are perfectly fine to take home and freeze.

10. Don’t buy something just because you have a coupon for it. If you aren’t going to use it it’s wasting money, not saving.

11. Most items have an expiration date so don't have so many of something that there is no way you can use it before it expires.

12. You can freeze almost anything so don't be afraid to buy things that are on sale if you have freezer space for them. I know people who even freeze canned biscuits. If you aren't sure if it can be frozen, search the web to find out.

So after you have done all these things take your coupons to the grocery store. You may have to go through the store twice your first couple of trips. On your first trip to through the store get your needs. Remember to use those 5 $1.00 coupons. Now that you have gotten your needs out of the way, go back through the store to see if there is something that you can use that $5 to stock up on. For instance you see some meat in the manger’s special case that you can stock up on, but $5 worth. It may not be a lot but next week you have some extra meat and you can use the money that you saved from buying that extra meat plus your $5 coupon savings. This should give you around $10 the next week to stock up on something else. And it should build each week.

Keep setting goals on the amount of money you want to save by using coupons each week. You may not always reach that goal but remember it’s better to aim at something and miss than to not aim at all. You will gradually get the hang of couponing & stockpiling.

Hope this helps.


Monday, March 5, 2012


Friday night was an interesting night to say the least. Northern Kentucky was struck by severe weather and tornados. This is the closest I guess I’ve ever been to tornado destruction. It is simply amazing. One house is totally destroyed and the next isn’t even touched. I know people who lost their homes and livestock and people who lost grandparents. My heart goes out to the people who have lost so much.

The pictures have been shocking. I have always felt that we should be prepared for disasters but I really don’t think there is a whole lot you can do to be prepared for such as this. But I have thought of a few things:

1.. We need to get a fireproof, waterproof safe and put all of important paperwork in it. Insurance policies, wills, etc.

2 Store a copy of those same important papers somewhere else. It is not recommended to keep wills and papers you may need on short notice in a safe deposit box. So if you have a relative that lives a little ways from you keep it there. The chances of both of you being hit are not as high.

3. Do not keep cash in your mattress.

4. If you are hit by a tornado, get what you can as soon as you can. I have heard that once the FEMA comes you are not allowed back on your property until they have bulldozed everything. I could not get a clear answer about this online.

5. Make a list of all accounts and phone numbers for those accounts. They found tax records for one of the homes here that was destroyed in Columbus OH. These people are having to close all credit cards and get new Social Security numbers in case they have fallen into the wrong hands.

6. Stay put. These storms came through between 3-5:30 p.m. Lots of people left work when they heard about tornados touching down. Being in your car is not the safest place to be. I know of 2 deaths that occurred because cars were swept off the road and one lady was not found until the next day. If you can stay in a building or get to shelter ASAP.

7. If you have a basement, keep plenty of water, and food there in case you get trapped in it.

We do not have a basement, but I am considering what else we could do to store a few things that might come in handy in a situation like this .

I know some farmers actually had to shoot livestock that was hurt so having some bullets and a gun in a safe place might be prudent. But without a basement, I don’t really know where to store such things as guns, bullets, and the fireproof safe. But you bet I will be looking for options.

Maybe it’s a good time to build a root cellar.