Do You Cut Coupons? And If So, Where Do You Find Them?

Although I would love to find/use more of them, we have a hard time with using coupons because of the kind of products we buy. We purchase as much organic, natural, local foods as much as possible, and it is very rare to find coupons for those types of goods. I did once find a coupon for organic yogurt from Stonyfield Farms, and I do use coupons that Seventh Generation have on their site for their own cleaning products when I need them. Every Sunday I see all the coupons for junk food and foods full of artificial ingredients, but because we don’t buy them they all go to waste. So my question to you is…do you use coupons?

Do you cut coupons from the paper?

Have you joined any coupon clubs?

Ever found any clubs/sites for organic food coupons?

Do you trade/sell your coupons on Ebay?

Let me know in the comments, would love to learn more about what you guys do to save money on the stuff you buy at the grocery store. Maybe your helpful hints will help me and all the other readers out!


TradeKing Now Reimbursing New Clients For $150 In Account Transfer Fees.

If you have been thinking of switching your brokerage house, now might be a good time to consider TradeKing. They are running a special where they are offering to reimburse new clients for up to $150 in account transfer fees, and once your account is over there trades are only $4.95 each. Is your brokerage that cheap? These guys have also been rated the #1 online broker for 2006 and 2007 (are 2008 numbers out yet?). Anyway, if you have been considering a switch, you might want to switch to TradeKing and get up to $150 of any brokerage transfer fees reimbursed.


Money Management Advice From My 9 Year Old.

This is a guest post from Neal Frankle, CFP, who blogs over at Wealth Pilgrim

Like everyone, my income and financial situation has been “impacted” by the current economic crisis. And as you can imagine, the “impact” hasn’t been pleasant.

We’re not at risk of losing our home or business (thank G-d) but our lifestyle has changed. We’ve reduced our monthly spending and we’ve eliminated our vacation plans. Even though we’ve saved for our childrens’ college since the day they were born, those investments have been clobbered. We’ve looked into different alternatives for our daughter who is about ready to start college this September.

We’ve been under stress like everyone else. But my wife and I decided that we’d do our best not to bring that negative energy into our home. We didn’t talk about it in front of our children if we could avoid it. This was a mistake. A big one.

We found out that the kids know what’s going on ““ and they’re afraid. All their friends are talking about the financial crises anyway. By failing to discuss these issues with our kids head on, we only intensified their fears. We deprive them of the opportunity to learn an important lesson and to put their fears into perspective.

My 9 year old finally came to me after seeing a particularly scary story about the economy and asked me if I was going to lose my job like her friend’s dad did. She looked frightened.

I decided to talk to all my children about what was going on, what happened and what it means to us as a family. When I was done, my 9 year old looked up at me and simply asked,” Daddy, why didn’t you explain this to us before?” I didn’t have an answer.

Don’t make the same mistake I made. Use the current financial crises to educate your kids and allay their fears.

1. Explain what is going on but keep it simple.

Talk about the reality that many people are going to have to find new homes and new jobs. Most of them will.

2. Tell them why it happened.

I don’t suggest you take your kids through your old college economics text books, but I do think it would make sense to talk about people spending too much and investing poorly.

3. Tell them what this situation will mean to you and your family.

If you might have to move tell them so they don’t worry about being homeless.

If you may lose your job, tell them about your plan to find a new one.

At first it was tough to have this conversation with my kids but once it was done, I was glad I did it.

My 9 year old was fine with everything. My 17 year-old had a different reaction. At first she was upset by the fact that we had to consider alternatives to the Ivy League colleges she wanted to attend. After awhile, she understood the situation and before my eyes, she seemed to mature. The payoff for us as a family is that the kids finally got it ““ money really doesn’t grow on trees. They understand that money is powerful if used well and destructive if used poorly. (I only wish the folks in Washington and Manhattan got that message).

Have you talked to your kids about the current financial crises? What did you discuss? Were you surprised by the way the conversation turned out?


Towns Are Cutting Their Budgets And People Are Hurting – A Reminder To Myself.

This is real. I don’t see it too much here in my small mountain town because so much of our economy is local and we pretty much provide for ourselves, but communities across the country are suffering. Friends I talk to in other places see the neighborhoods in foreclosure, the long lines at job fairs, and the empty restaurants. So I wanted to go search around the web for examples of what is going on in different places, and these are a few of the things I came up with. I know some of you don’t think it’s all that bad, but people are suffering out there…

  • Brad Walters, a circulation manager at the Oakland Public Library, said the library will cut programs for the disabled and elderly, its bookmobile and its literacy programs.
  • In Millersburg in upper Dauphin County, the borough fired its police chief last month in what it described as a cost-cutting move to avoid a tax increase, although it will continue to operate its police department with three full-time officers.
  • The Missouri Department of Higher Education sent a memo to the presidents and chancellors of all two and four year state institutions Tuesday that further revealed the country’s economic struggles. The memo asked programs to cut their budgets between 15 and 20 percent due to a $340 million budget deficit.
  • There’s also no money for children’s tee ball, or soccer, baseball or flag football. No money for a free shuttle service for the elderly. No money for most inner-city “fight back” programs that tackle blight.
  • In Chicago, Mayor Richard Daley plans to lay off more than 900 city workers and eliminate nearly 1,350 vacant jobs to help cover a $469 million shortfall.
  • The previous cuts were painful, but slicing local aid ““ which funds things like teachers, trash collections, and snow plowing — is where budget problems begin to impact residents in their local communities.
  • In Phelan’s proposal, 20 jobs will be cut, including 15 teachers, for a total three-year loss of 54 posts. Seven sub-varsity sports would also be dropped, the sports fee raised from $125 to $200 per athlete per sport and a $50 fee for middle and high school clubs introduced
  • In Oakland, Calif., an estimated $42 million deficit has Mayor Ron Dellums proposing shutting down City Hall one day a week, eliminating 84 city jobs, imposing hiring freezes and cutting other services.
  • “Our goal is to help seniors in our community maintain their independence,” said Moira Munns, head of Natick’s Human Services and Council on Aging departments. Like many other communities, Natick’s senior center handles requests for fuel and grocery assistance from residents of all ages, and helps elders prepare tax forms and choose appropriate medical coverage. “Especially with the hard times coming up, services are going to be needed even more,” said Chesmore. “The more people are hurting, the more they come to us.”

It’s easy for me to forget that the crap is hitting the fan at full speed in many communities because of where I live – we have no big business, no corporate jobs, no manufacturing facilities. We take care of ourselves up here between services for residents and tourism. Tourism is down this year, but because of our status as a ski destination, people with money do in fact still continue to stream into town. So I do forget that things are bad out there sometimes. If you are not feeling the pinch yet, it’s probably only a matter of time. Keeping this type of news in mind helps me to remember that I could have it much worse, and helps me to keep preparing for the inevitable by saving more money and making sure any big purchases are absolutely necessary.


What Should I Do With My Tax Refund?

If you are among the people who had too much taxes withheld and you are getting a refund, congrats. I owe taxes because of my “all-1099” status all year, and even with paying estimated taxes every quarter, I still owe money! When I was working for the man I always tried to break even on my taxes, so that I did not get a refund or owe any money – that way, they didn’t get to keep my money all year and I didn’t have to come up with anything at the end of the year. But this year, I bet everyone would enjoy getting a tax refund with the way the economy is! If you are getting one for the 2008 tax year, this is not the year to blow it on wasteful spending, but rather give some thought to your overall financial health right now instead. In these times, is there something else you should be doing with your money? Let’s take a look at a few options:

Pay Off Debt

This should be priority #1 if you are getting a tax refund. Credit card companies are changing their interest rates, terms, and special offers, which could leave you high and dry paying an astronomical interest rate on your credit card debt. Using your tax refund to pay off debt is a very simple way of getting a guaranteed return on your money. Imagine yourself with less (or better, no) credit card debt – feels good, right?

Contribute/Top Off Your Emergency Fund

If you do not have an emergency fund but still carry credit card debt as well, I would definitely use some of your tax refund to fund a small emergency fund. (Then use the rest to pay off debt) Emergency funds enable you to breath a little sigh of relief that if something small came up (car accident, unforseen doctor visit, etc), you can pay cash for it instead of charging more debt. If you are not carrying any debt at all, I would put my entire tax refund into my emergency fund. Why? People are getting laid off left and right, and knowing you have some backup money just in case can definitely ease some of your anxiety about what may happen.

Fund Your Retirement Account

Already paid off your debt and have a sizable emergency fund? I would put that refund into my retirement account then. I know a lot of people (myself included) have lost quite a bit in the market, but it will come back eventually. Depending on your age/proximity to retirement, this choice might differ, so I would ask a professional for their advice. But for me, I would be adding to my Roth IRA and Solo 401K for the year.

Give To Charity

Right now, there are millions of people lined at shelters, soup kitchens and for food stamps. You could always give a small cut of your refund to help out those who need the most help in these pressing times.

Spend It On Your Family

Take the family on a vacation; there are deals to be had right now. Need a new car? Consider using your refund as the downpayment on the hundreds of cars available at 0% interest right now. Keep the money to send your kid(s) to a cool summer camp. Really think about where and to what that extra money could make the biggest difference and have the most affect on those you love.

Are you getting a tax return? What are you planning to do with it? I think the biggest thing people used to do with them was to go shopping, but I do believe that times have changed. So I am curious as to what you think…let me know in the comments!