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Archive for February, 2008

"America Saves" Week Starts Monday

February 23rd, 2008 at 11:35 am

Just read about this in my local paper:
A national campaign starts Sunday that aims to help people improve their balance sheets by encouraging them to save automatically. "America Saves" week, starting Monday through March 2nd, brings together more than 1,000 gov't agencies, corporations, and non-profit groups with goal of increasing consumer understanding of the need to save, whether for emergencies or to make the down payment on a home, to educate the kids, or to finance retirement. For more information, go to http://www.americasavesweek.org.

I can personally say that automatic savings is VERY easy to do - and I do not miss anything. DH and I have our 401K/457b deductions taken out of our checks. We also have automatic deposits to various mutual funds and savings accounts (one is ING Direct). The only thing I cannot do on auto-pilot is an IRA. We are usually on the cusp between a ROTH and a non-deductible IRA because DH's income can fluctuate somewhat. So we do not make those deposits under the following January.

I also checked out americasaves.org - it is a related site with more great information.

I "Won" at the Savings Rally!

February 20th, 2008 at 12:27 pm

Vons and Safeway are having a promotion - if you buy a certain amount of participating items, a Catalina coupon will "spit" out for savings off your next order of groceries. I believe the limit is once per day. I tried this promotion (buy 25 items get $20 back) last week at Pavilions but no coupon was produced. I was very careful to buy the participating items as stated on the shelf tags. The "supervisor" did not care and stated that I had to call the Catalina company regarding the issue and I actually called them from the store. Catalina staff called me back on Monday and will be mailing the coupon to my home -- for some reason there was a glitch that she could not explain.

A friend has done the promo at our local Vons so I thought I would go there last night and try again since I had lots of good coupons to maximize my savings. I usually do not go that store because it is so small. But I scored!!

I bought 35 items (not all part of the promotion) -- paid $18.02 out of pocket and received the $20 off my next order! Yay! And I did buy things that I could and do use. I got:
S&W pinto beans
S&W white beans
Tava diet soda (new product - tastes good)
Rice a Roni
Honey nut cheerios
Yogurt cheerios
Fruity Cheerios
Betty Crocker cookie mix
Betty Crocker cake mix
Betty crocker frosting
Cascadian farm granola
Wishbone spritzer salad dressing
Quaker Oatmeal
Propel Water
Clorox bleach
Pillsbury french bread
Green Giant frozen vegetables
Clorox wipes
Ensure
Balance bar
Marzetti salad dressing
Caesar salad mixes

I did tell my DD that if she starts helping me cut and sort I will give her a percentage of the savings. She did not go with me on the trip, but her the look on her face sure showed an interest in helping Mom for the next trip!

Another Economic Indicator

February 12th, 2008 at 12:38 pm

There has been a lot of talk on the blogs about the direction the economy is going. Lines at the scrap heap as mentioned in the SA blog is so true. But another indicator at least in the Southern CA area) is the lines at the 99 cent store. The 99 cent store sells liquidated items, etc. from other stores in multiples of 99 cents (1 fer, 2 fer, etc). Product offerings in the past year or so have gone more mainstream (name-brand) and fresh/frozen food offerings have also increased. I am careful what I buy there -- since I coupon, Vons and Ralphs can be cheaper on sale and with double couponing. I just left the 99 cent store and purchased Farmer John liverwurst that is at least $1.99 at Vons or Ralphs when on sale. Other items purchased were coleslaw mix; lettuce hearts, Nabisco 100 calorie snack packs, a bunch of Dole bananas (currently 69 cents/lb at the market), and some Stouffers panini sandwiches (for lunch at work). The lines were very, very, long. Many folk had full carts, expecially with foodstuffs. It seemed like deja vu with Costco - only perhaps at the opposite end of the economic spectrum. The store is in a so-so area with a delapidated parking lot. The lot was full and I also spotted many people walking in the area with marked bags.

Economic Stimulus or Not?

February 10th, 2008 at 08:09 pm

I am skeptical that the proposed economic stimulus package will do anything to stimulate anything. There is always a catch - it is not really free money at all. But.... this is just my opinion. For what it's worth, I intend to invest our share.

My 19 year old son on the other hand - seems to know all about the proposal. DS never listened to the news or read the newspaper, but now - nothing like an offer of free money to a young man to whom money has always burned a very large hole in any pocket that he ever had! You'd never think we related by the way he handles money! His little sister is the opposite - very careful about money, watches prices and uses coupons, and saves most of her $$ (we'll see how she is as a teenager). DS lives on his own with roommates and is scraping by. Spring semester is starting next week and his work schedule will be decreasing to accomodate college. So every dollar is important. I pay for college and books but nothing else. I do provide care packages from time to time. DS had the great idea that if he lived on his own that there would be no rules to follow (surprise!) He is beginning to realize that there is very little time to party if you work and go to school. Hmm.. maybe he is growing up (a little).

Anyway, he has been calling me so that I could do his taxes (I use Turbo Tax for my own). He is supposed to visit tomorrow pm so I can start on them (and hopefully visit with his younger sister). One W-2 is missing and I told him to contact his employer regarding this issue. So, I can't finalize anything tomorrow. DS also seems to think he will get the $600. But everything I read indicates that he is probably at the low end of the spectrum (unless his job at the restaurant makes REALLY REALLY high tips). He did receive a form from the IRS showing the amount of tuition paid last year (although I actually shelled out the dough). I don't know at this point whether it is better for him to claim one of the available credits or for me to do so (although our income may be too high). Any tips?


Don't Throw That Out!

February 8th, 2008 at 08:01 am

I work in a "remote" field location and make it up to our headquarters a few times a week for meetings, etc. I was there the other day when one of our staff asked me if we use legal size filing cabinets for our paperwork. I replied that some of us do and some of us don't. She led me back to a filing area and showed me boxes and boxes of misc. legal filing items - manila folders, etc. She also showed me many clear shoebox sized boxes. Apparently, the staff was making changes and had no use for these items. I was welcome to them or they would be placed in the trash!!!! That day!!!! I picked all of them up in a hurry -- the thought of wasting these items (all of them unused, by the way) was making me cringe! I told her to call me immediately before anything else gets dumped -- there might be a use for it out here. The items were hauled back to the office for use in the wild blue yonder here. Hmm.... except now, I have no excuse but to get a bit more organized.

Saved $$ at Vons With Coupons

February 3rd, 2008 at 03:48 pm

Stopped by a local Vons in the am for a few things after picking up DD from a sleepover. I was already out and about so I thought it was a good idea. Well, yes and no. From a gas savings standpoint, yes. From the people standpoint, no. The place was jammed full of folks getting goodies before the Super Bowl!

But my receipt said that I saved 92%! So that was worth the crowding. I also used the self-serve checkout (which tends to take longer than a regular checkout). I got the following:
2 Old El Paso salsas
2 Campbell's soup at hand
2 Campbell's microwave soups
1 No Yolks pasta
1 4 pk Yoplait yogurt
2 pkgs Hall's cough drops
1 Clif builder's bar
2 Met ex bars
2 South beach meal bars

After coupons (both internet and Sunday paper), I paid $2.83! DH inhales the salsa and soup; my mom gets the pasta, and DD eats all the nutrition bars. I was looking for the Hillshire Farms luncheon meat that was on sales for $1.99, but they were all out. I will be checking a store by my office tomorrow for that. The local deal is if you buy 5 (1.99 x 5 = 9.95), the register will spit out a Catalina coupon for $10 off your next shopping order.

Happy shopping!

Sophie is Now Fixed Even Though She Was Not Broken

February 1st, 2008 at 03:58 pm

Sophie, our 70 lb. black lab rescue dog, got spayed yesterday! We got her in December for my father-in-law but she liked us better - so she is ours. She is about a year old now per the vet papers we were given. She is a happy handful most of the time.

I had called several vets to get a price quote for the spay procedure. Our local vet's price was almost $500!! So, we went to the local humane society for the service and paid $125 for spaying, pain meds, and microchipping. Quite a deal here in southern California. The only drawback was that the facility was booked for 4 weeks! So, per Murphy's Law, Sophie did go into heat. She was not too bad but a bit antsier than usual.

We picked her up yesterday pm and she was a bit "stoned". Today she is much better and is eating normally. We have to let her rest and recover for 14 days. She is also wearing a cone around her head to prevent licking of the incision (surgical glue was used - no stitches). Sophie looks pretty funny bumping into everything. But at least she is not licking. And now we can look forward to spending $$ getting her licensed in our county - we were waiting for the spay so that the fees would be a lot cheaper.