Saturday, May 19, 2012

Does Couponing Add Up to Much? One blogger's perspective.

I found this blog post through our local coupon group, Portage Coupon Clippers, and found the numbers and philosophy in the article to be of keen interest. Next time someone asks you if couponing is really worth it or tells you that they don't have the time to coupon, here are some facts to toss their way!

From Mom's Couponmatic "Doing the Math on Coupons":

Clipping coupons hardly sounds like the subject of high finance–or even medium finance. Save a dollar on cat food, some detergent or a couple of boxes of cereal. Who can be bothered? Who has the time? A growing number of people, it turns out. And they're shrewder than it may at first appear. The Great American Coupon is making a big comeback–thanks to the Great American Recession.

We redeemed some 3.3 billion coupons last year–a remarkable 27 percent leap from 2008, and the first year-on-year increase in 17 years, according to a report issued at the end of January by Inmar, a coupon-processing agent. (Online coupon use skyrocketed–companies issued twice as many as in 2008, but redemptions rose 360 percent.) The big upturn took off in October 2008, just after Lehman went belly up. At first blush you can see why coupons fell out of fashion for so long–and why so many consumers still ignore them.

You have to make time to visit a coupon Web site or collect the flyers from your mailbox, the supermarket or newspaper inserts. You need to sort through to find the ones you want, cut them out, stick them in your purse or wallet–and remember to use them when you are at the cash register and you are trying to remember whether you bought everything on your shopping list and where you parked the car.

Average saving per coupon: Just $1.44, according to the Inmar report.

But let's treat this low finance topic for a moment the way we treat high finance. Let's subject it to the same math.

How long does it actually take to clip and use a coupon? Certainly the more you use, the less overall time you will spend per coupon, because so many of the costs–getting flyers, sorting coupons and so on–are generalized. Let's assume you spend a minute per coupon.

Saving $1.44 for a minute's effort is the equivalent of saving $14.40 for 10 minutes'.

Hourly rate: $86.40.

Maybe this would be as good a time as any to point out that the typical American working stiff–those lucky enough to have jobs right now–climbs out of bed each morning, goes through the miseries of commuting and endures the daily grind at the workplace for about $20 an hour.

Furthermore, money saved comes with an additional benefit. Unlike the money you earn at work, it is tax free. No payroll taxes. No federal or state income tax.

If your marginal tax rate were, say, 20 percent, you would have to earn $108 before tax to take home $86.40. If your marginal tax rate were 30 percent, you'd have to earn $123.

Very few of us ever do this kind of math, because we tend to treat low finance differently from high finance, and small sums differently from big ones. No wonder, even today, 99 percent of coupons are thrown away unused.

Yet finance isn't a separate topic from the rest of our personal lives. For all of us, our scarcest resource is time. Putting the right value on it, and putting it to the most productive use, is a financial challenge, as well as a personal one.

And the individual amounts of money may seem small, but they prove the old adage about tiny acorns and mighty oaks. Someone who saves $25 a week will save $100 a month, and $1,200 a year. Over a lifetime that can easily grow to $100,000 or more–even after accounting for inflation.

If motivation is an issue, the next time you find yourself facing a stack of coupon booklets and flyers don't ask yourself if you can be bothered. Try asking yourself if you'd like to earn more than $100 an hour for a job you can do, at home, while sitting on the sofa watching TV.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Twenty Dollars goes far at Once Upon a Child

For those who follow my blog, you might remember that I was chosen as fan of the month at the Stow Once Upon a Child. My prize was $20 worth of store credit. My growing three year old is in need of summer clothing so I was over the moon about this prize. I went over the weekend, determined to get at least a few outfits and not go over $20 so that my readers might see how far a twenty could go in this gently used children's resale shop.

The results: Five shirts, three pairs of shorts. They are all brand names like Gymboree, The Children's Place, Carter's, Kohl's and Target brands. Two of the shirts still had the original tags on them. That is quite a chunk of a summer wardrobe and my total was $20.77 which means I paid 77 cents out of pocket for all of this!

My little guy was overjoyed with his new clothes and demanded to try on his new Buzz Lightyear shirt immediately! Of course once he had a new shirt on, he had to try on a pair of new shorts and then model for us! (The mittens are a long story, one day he told someone he needed them because he got into a fight with a wizard and lost his hand. Most of the time he says that superheroes need them.)

I was able to get all of this simply for being a fan of the Stow Once Upon a Child Store on their facebook page. That means that one of you could be the next Fan of the Month. Simply go to their page, which is right here, and hit like! Not only will you have a chance at winning, you will also be kept up to date on all of the sales and happenings at the store. This month there is a 10% off coupon available! Good luck and be sure to let me know if one of our readers should happen to win!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Double Swagbucks for Coupons throughout the month!

Search & Win

For every coupon printed and redeemed in the month of May through Swagbucks' engine, Swagbucks is awarding 20 SB instead of the usual 10! Since so many of us print coupons to use, this is a fast and simple way to rack up those Swagbucks!

If you are unfamiliar with Swagbucks, it is an easy to use reward program where you earn credits, called Swagbucks for doing every day things such as searching the web and using coupons. You can earn additional Swagbucks through a variety of ways, including participating in polls and discussions, watching videos and completing surveys. They also have random Swagcodes that are posted and you win Swagbucks simply for entering the code. It seems like every week the team comes up with some new way to win Swagbucks.

You can redeem your Swagbucks for many prizes of all types, but best of all are the gift cards. I saved my Swagbucks for six months last year and recieved a $50 Amazon e-gift card. That was a free $50 for doing what I was doing anyhow! Swagbucks is always adding prizes and gift cards, currently they have gift cards for places such as Paypal, Starbucks, Target, and many more!

It's simple to sign up, just click this link and you are off! Be sure to refer your friends, as you will earn more Swagbucks that way!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Kent Community Time Bank Community Potluck this Friday!

What is on your "If I had" list? If you had more money, you would eat out more? You would repair that nagging issue with your home or car? If you had more time, your lawn would be mowed, you'd send something in for your child's bake sale? I have these moments, many of them, as I struggle to live frugally. There have been times when I simply have lacked the equipment or the manpower to accomplish a task despite being capable of completing it and there are times when paying for a job to be done is either overwhelming or completely out of my budget.

Back in the autumn, I heard through some source or another about an organization called the Kent Community Time Bank. I started exploring what I could find of it online and was amazed to find a network of people who exchanged their talents with others without the use of money. What a novel idea! People exchanging services with others of their community. It took me some time to get myself to an orientation meeting but at that meeting I was delighted to learn just how diverse our local time bank is and how quickly it is growing!

The membership of the KCTB seems to include members from all areas in our community, students, parents, retirees, professors, even businesses and organizations. I have been told, that at the point of this blog post, there are 315 members from Kent and the surrounding area who have shared over 10,000 hours of services, skills, and talents! The Kent Community Time Bank is among the top fifteen Time Banks in the world!

As a work at home mom, the time bank gives me an additional benefit of meeting people in my community that I might not normally encounter in my daily life. It also gives me a way to use my talents, skills, and resources to help others. It is not intrusive and I am not obligated to attend anything nor offer services if it is inconvenient for me. It is simple to access with both an active Facebook page and a main website that also houses the database off offers and requests. It's exciting to be part of an organization that is not just a bank, or a service exchange but also a community and a social movement! I find that I can not stop talking about the KCTB to friends and neighbors!

Super Mulch Brigade! (Photo courtesy of Sheri Wild)

In the short time I have been a member of the KCTB, I have seen evidence of  members coming together to help lay mulch for another member (so many came that it only took them 45 minutes!), heard of members going to help another clean up storm damage, as well as many smaller scale activities such as clearing out a shed, editing a paper, and the loan of a pasta maker that resulted in homemade pierogies! There seems to be no limit to what can be accomplished within the Time Bank.
Actual food from a KCTB potluck! (Photo courtesy of Denise Creque Tupa)

This Friday, May 4, 2012, the Kent Community Time Bank is celebrating it's 2nd anniversary at a potluck dinner at The United Church of Christ in Kent, 1400 East Main St. Kent, 44240. The potluck will start at 6:30pm and you do NOT need to be a member of the KCTB to attend! The event is family friendly and there will be musical entertainment! Feell free to bring an instrument for the informal jam session!

Some enticement to attend? (Photo courtesy of Denise Cruque Tupa)

The monthly potlucks are a way to get to know your fellow community members face to face and to learn about Time Banking from those who are actively involved in our Time Bank. And you will retroactively earn your first time credit for bringing a dish! This will be my first pot luck, but I have heard the food is amazing and I am very eager to meet more members of my community...and try the food!

Need I say more? (Photo Courtesy of Denise Cruque Tupa)

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Once Upon a Child Stow's Fan of the Month!

If you have children and you have yet to visit Once Upon a Child in Stow, you are missing out on a lot of great bargains for your growing offspring. I blogged back in the winter about their annual bag sale but there are always good deals at Once Upon a Child.

In addition to finding great deals, you can also bring in your gently used clothing (freshly laundered), toys, and baby equipment and leave with some cash. Or new stuff, I am going to say that you will likely leave with new stuff as I find it impossible to walk in there and not find some bargain that we need to have. You do not have to make an appointment, but I have found it best to call ahead and get an idea of what seasons and sizes they are buying, it is also a good time to check if they are in need of any larger pieces you might have.  The What We Buy page is also a great reference.

They have recently started a Fan of the Month contest on their new Facebook page and Dollars and Cents has the honor of being their first fan of the month! I am super excited about this. I get a $20 Gift Certificate for the store. I plan to update everyone on just how far my $20 will go! If you haven't like Once Upon a Child's new Facebook page, you can go here and do so. Maybe one of our readers will be next month's Fan of the Month!

You can find Once Upon a Child at 4272 Kent Rd Suite 10, Stow, OH 44224, it is in the same plaza as Giant Eagle and Target. Store hours are Mon - Fri: 10:00 am - 8:00 pm, Sat: 10:00 am - 6:00 pm, and
Sun: 12:00 pm - 5:00 pm. The phone number is 330-688-7176. You can also find out a wealth of information by clicking one of the links above!

Don't forget to like the Facebook page!

Happy Bargain Hunting!