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Category: Earning & Managing Money

Reader Tips and Deal Alerts: Rite Aid, Olive Juice Kids, Wachovia, Amazon, and Back-To-School Sales

Rite Aid: Free $30 Gift Card for Prescription Transfer – From Jen:
Rite Aid is offering a $30 gift card when you transfer a RX to their stores. You can print multiple coupons here and it’s good until 7/31.

 Wachovia: Way 2 Save Program – From Tasha:
Wachovia also has a new program that we LOVE. It is called the “Way 2 Save” program. It just adds a dollar to every purchase. Instead of just rounding up like Bank of America you just add a full $1 that is directly transferred to this savings program. You can also transfer up to $100 yourself each month. Also, like Bank of America, they will PAY you to save. The first year is 5% APY and the second and third year is an added 2% APY. Here is the link to check it out.

Amazon: Kashi Deal – From Kristy:
Amazon is offering $20 off of a $49 purchase of Kashi products this month. Most of their cereal and bars are too high for me, but their Whole Grain Pilaf works out to a pretty decent deal. It is $16.54 for six boxes. If you buy 3 deals, that would be $49.62 minus $20 which brings you too $29.62 or $1.65 a box (there are 9 meal servings or 15 or so side servings per box), delivered because you get free shipping. 

Kroger: Free Plus Overage After Rebate Pert Plus Botanicals – From Jeannine:
I just went to Kroger and purchased the Pert Plus Botanicals shampoo.  It was $3.35 and I had a $3 off coupon from this past Sunday’s paper (6/29/08).  On the outside of the bottle there was a mail-in rebate offer for the price of the bottle (up to $3.99).  I just made a profit of $3 and got a free bottle of shampoo!!

Back-To-School Sales Starting Soon! – From Sharon:
Just a reminder to your readers with school age children or who are teachers to be on the lookout — the big school supply sales will start this weekend. I was in Wal-Mart yesterday and they were stocking up really big. Most years in my area spiral notebooks go on an unadvertised sale at Wal-Mart for $0.15/each the weekend after the Fourth. But you have to be there to catch it because they don’t usually put that sale in the flyers. Last year I got crayons and glue stick packs for $0.10 each (I used these in goody bags for my son’s birthday party as well as for Christmas goody bags for my Sunday School children. Another good one to watch for is the pocket folders with clips for $0.05 at Staples and Office Depot a little later in the month.

Opening our first online savings accounts

We did it! After months of contemplation, talking to others, and research, we opened up our first two online savings accounts! For us folks who are stuck back into the "Dark Ages" and prefer to deposit our checks manually at a bank where they know us by name, switching to online savings accounts was quite a big deal.

Why did we do it? Well, for a variety of reasons but the main one was that the percentage we could save with an online banking account was substantially higher than anything offered to us at our local bank. While our largest account at our local bank (currently our six-month emergency fund) is earning almost 3% in interest, this is only because it is a larger amount of money. Our small savings accounts are earning hardly anything.

In order to bump up our earnings, we’d need to put them into some type of high-interest-earning savings account (CD, mutual fund, etc.) which might earn more but it wouldn’t be easily-accessible and good for short-term savings. Opening up online savings accounts would allow us to move those smaller accounts into a much higher-earning account, without losing the ability to access them when needed–which is what we wanted for these smaller accounts.

We were considering opening up our accounts through ING; however after some research, we landed upon First National Bank of Omaha (FNBO) and discovered that they offer 3.5% interest on all savings accounts of any amount. This is 0.5% higher than anything ING offers and there is no minimum deposit or fees attached. Plus, FNBO has been around for over 150 years with a very proven track record.

Opening up our savings accounts was very simple to do–we didn’t have to drive to a bank or wait in line which was an added bonus! Within a few days, everything was taken care of and we transferred the funds over (you can send in a check, but we chose to transfer our funds electronically).

We chose to open one account with our tax savings in it. Since I’m self-employed, we put 30% off all of my earnings into a savings account for tax purposes. The goal is that I won’t need to pay that whole chunk of money in taxes–I usually get to take a number of deductions–but it’s saved up to give us plenty to work with come tax-paying time!

Once we pay our taxes out of this account, we plan to dump whatever is left–including our 3.5% interest–into our house savings. We’re hopeful it will be a nice little somewhat-unexpected bonus to the house fund!

We opened up our second online savings account specifically for vehicle savings. Both of our vehicles are quite old, have lots of miles on them, and have been limping along recently. We decided to designate a portion of the income we are earning from some extra online endeavors towards our car savings fund. Since these are extra online things we recently started, the income earned from these won’t be eating into our household budget nor will using it to fund our car savings account really cause our current house savings plan to slow down.

I’m anxious to see how much we can accrue in these accounts by the end of the year! For sure, the 3.5% interest rate will be a great boost!

Reader Tips: Barnes and Noble Summer Reading Program, Bank of America “Keep the Change” Program

Barnes and Noble: Summer Reading Program – From Jenny:

If your children (Grades 1-6) reads eight books this Summer, they can earn a free book from Barnes and Noble. Details here.We did this last year with the kids. There is a list of books to choose from and both of my children were both able to find a book they enjoyed. 

Bank of America: Keep the Change – From Lena:

Bank of America offers a program called Keep the Change. It’s
where anything you spend gets rounded to the nearest dollar and that
extra change gets put into a savings account. So, if you spend $20.01,
then $0.99 would be transferred to savings.

Here’s the cool part:
For the first three months you are enrolled, Bank of America will match
what you transferred to savings. So, you get FREE MONEY just for
signing up for the service. I already banked with Bank of America, so
I don’t know if it would be worth it if you don’t already bank there,
but I thought maybe someone else could use the tip!

My Top Four Tips For Those in Financial Despair

1) Put God first and recognize that all you have is given to you by Him. He is the Creator and Sustainer of life, we owe everything we have and are to Him. The least we can do is give back the “firstfruits” of our earnings to Him in gratitude for all He has given us. (By the way, if you are unfamiliar with your Creator and would like to know more, please email me. I’d love to tell you more about how I’ve found true peace and contentment in my soul for Eternity–something which all the money in the world can’t buy.)

2) Have a positive, grateful attitude. I cannot tell how much a can-do, cheerful attitude can affect your finances. As the saying goes, “Can’t never did anything.” If you sit there and sulk about how hard things are for you financially you’ll never get very far. If you instead seek to be thankful for what you have, to make the most of your situation, and to be creative with what you have, you might just be surprised at the possibilities.

3) Become a Dave Ramsey “junkie.” I know I talk about Dave a lot and some of you might get tired of me plugging his stuff till I’m blue in the face. I was once there, too. My husband had started listening to this “Dave guy” on the radio and kept telling me I really should listen, too. I didn’t get what the big deal was but I finally heeded my husband’s encouragement and I’m so glad I did! If you feel financially hopeless or like you are stuck in a hamster wheel, go get yourself a copy of The Total Money Makeover. You can thank me later. 🙂

4) Get on a budget. Read Dave’s book first, he’ll walk you step-by-step how to do it and give you all the motivation you need. You can also download a FREE budget spreadsheet here to help you out. And here’s a free 5-day Jumpstart Your Budget Challenge.

Reader Tips: Bring Your Own Bags, Price Chopper Kid’s Club

Discounts for Bringing Your Own Bags – From Diane:

Recently I discovered some stores give a discount for those customers
who use the cloth shopping bags. I called all the stores in my area and
asked several questions. Here is what I learned:

Kroger takes $0.04 cents off per bag filled–it is corporate
policy. They sell their bags for $1.00 and they also sell thermal bags.

United Grocery does not have a policy to give $$ off for this. (I have been told some United Stores do
give $ so it is not company policy but may be store to store.)

Publix–I was told by one store they do give $$ off and by another that
corporate memo went out to stop giving $ back.

Wal-Mart–They do not give $$ off.

Target–They do not give $$ off.

Hannaford’s–A friend told me that they do a $0.05 rebate and a $0.02 rebate for reusing
plastic bags.

I would imagine if enough people contacted other stores they might
adopt a policy of offering a discount for those who use the cloth bags.
I know it saves the stores money. I had one manager tell me the plastic
bags cost between $0.03 and $0.05 cents each and the paper ones are $0.10
each.

Price Chopper Kid’s Club – From Amara:

If you sign your children up for the Price
Chopper Kid’s Club, you will receive a coupon in the mail monthly for a
free item–one coupon per child. Past "free items" have included ice
cream, Lunchables, Powerade…and even small containers of milk!

Becoming a WAHM: Prioritization and Organization – Part 2

Last week in our Becoming a WAHM series, I talked about how
working at home is just that—it’s work. If you are not prepared to put in lots
of hours and lots of effort, there’s likely no point in starting in the first
place since I can guarantee you that it won’t be easy. Building a successful
business takes time, diligence, and lots of plain ole’ hard work.

Once you are determined that you’re willing to exert the
energy it will require, you’re not ready to start working from home just yet. First, you need to
take some time to examine your life. Step back and ponder
how organized (or disorganized!) your life is.

Do you feel like things are running smoothly most days and
that you have extra time to devote to a new endeavor? Or do you feel like you
are running around like a chicken with your head cut off barely keeping your
head above water?

If the latter describes you, then now is definitely not the
time to be adding something like working from home to your plate. Instead, I
recommend that you take the next month and evaluate your priorities, schedule, and activities. Are you willing to cut activities from your life in order to
focus part of your time and energies to starting a business? If so, what can
you start cutting back on today to free up more time for entrepreneurial things?

Don’t just think about cutting back or paring down—do it! If you’re
really serious about becoming a WAHM, it’s going to mean some temporary
sacrifices in order to achieve your long-term goals.  You can’t do everything so in order to say “yes” to something, you invariably need to say “no” to something else.

I also highly encourage you to spend a few months
developing a good routine and solid organization into your life. Running a successful
business requires organization—not only
on business pursuits, but also when it comes to home management. Balancing
business stuff with your much more important priorities of being a wife, mom, and
home manager mean you must have a plan and you must have order in your life.
Otherwise, you’ll become slave to the tyranny of the urgent.  Ask me how I know. 🙂

If you are struggling with time management, I wrote a series
on this subject on my other blog which you can read here (I’ll warn you, it’s rather long–start at the bottom of the page to read the posts in order!). For those interested, I also recently did a series on Successful Home Management with Toddlers.

Please know that I’m
still sorting things out myself and we definitely have days when I run around
in circles and accomplish next to nothing besides putting out fires; however,
by purposefully committing to develop organization and routine into our home,
things run much more smoothly. And it’s most assuredly only the grace of God and purposeful organization that enables me to be a wife, mom, homemaker, and blogger.

Just for fun: For those of you who work from home or have quite full plates, what’s your biggest time management tip or helpful idea for those who feel like they are drowning? I’d love to hear!