How You Can Actually Save Money By Using Online Coupons (The Non-Annoying Variety)

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One of my many financial pet peeves is the copious amount of books or magazines of coupons I receive each week.

Why is this one of my pet peeves?

Essentially, the coupon system in the USA is out of control. Coupons have become more of a way of getting us to spend more money that we don’t have at stores we would never step foot in (or be on their webpage), as opposed to what they should be – a way to save money on things we already need to buy and for stores to reward customers. On top of this, all of the different coupon packets sent to me each week (Red Plum and Valpak, just to name a few) go directly in the garbage and fill up our landfills.

Let me give you all a quick example of the uselessness of the current system.

Today, I received a Hometown Magazine booklet of coupons. I just flipped through the booklet cover to cover, and I did not see one coupon for something that I already needed to buy this coming week. However, there were plenty of good looking deals to get me to spend more money on things I don’t need, like going out to eat at the China King Buffet and getting $2 off, getting 5% off car repair work if the repair job is over $350, or getting a discount price on a golf club membership for $1799 per year.

Clearly, this type of coupon system is not working. What is a needed in today’s shopping environment is a searchable interface where you can actually find deals for things you are looking for.

But, There is a Promising Solution!


Online coupons providers are becoming a very promising resource for consumers to “strike back” and save some real money. One of these resources that I was recently exposed to was PromotionCode.org.

This system allows you to search for the specific store you normally shop at (whether it be Target, Amazon, Wal-Mart, Kroger, etc) and find coupons on the actual items you normally buy. There is also a cool feature that allows you to sign up to receive new coupons via email when they are posted or get coupons that specifically offer free shipping on online orders.

An example of how this system can be used is as follows:

As you all know, my favorite place to buy cheap, used financial books is through Amazon.com. And, one of the books that I already know I want to buy is The Power of Passive Investingsaving money frugal living coupons by Rick Ferri. By simply searching for Amazon, PromotionCode.org’s system directs me to the Amazon coupon codes page. Listed on this page are several 5% off promo codes that can be used to reduce the cost of buying this book. It also lists the success rate that other users have had with the codes, as well as a system that allows you to report faulty or expired deals.

This is definitely something that would never be possible to obtain from a ValPak booklet.

How about you all? Do you ever use the coupons that you receive in the mail? Have you had good luck with online coupons recently? What resources do you use? 


Share your experiences by commenting below!

    ***Photo courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/24218656@N03/4587200719/sizes/m/in/photostream/

    A Homeless Plan to Guard Against Hopelessness

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    Welcome to My Personal Finance Journey! If you are new here, please read the “About” or “First-Time Visitor” pages to find out more about us. If you would like to receive free updates on articles like this by email, then sign up here or you can subscribe to the RSS feed. Also, check us out on Twitter or Facebook. Thanks for visiting! Keep on learning!
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    yakezie challenge yakezie homeless financial planning financial motivation financial goals blog swap

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    The following is a guest post from Andi B. with Modern Tightwad. It was written as part of a Yakezie blog swap, where different participants in the Yakezie Personal Finance Network partnered up and traded posts on the common topic of “What would you do to improve your situation if you were homeless?”

    You can view my post today over at The Saved Quarter (another great Yakezie blog) by clicking here.

    A Homeless Plan to Guard Against Hopelessness
    A couple years ago, our financial situation was dire, and my husband and I talked about what we would do if we were homeless. One of my friends was kind enough to tell me, “You’ll never be homeless because you have friends,” but I know better than to depend on the unending kindness of friends or family, or to believe that we cannot be crippled by unknowable circumstance. Ben Franklin’s notion of spending a maximum of three days with friends is probably on the short end, but there can still be a limit to how long you can crash.
    Homeless Plan:
    Our working assumption is that my husband and I have lost our jobs, our home, and have no savings. For the sake of argument, we also assumed that we don’t have any friends we can stay with for any duration.
    Step 1: Sell our second car. 
    We have two cars, a 2000 Mitsubishi Mirage and my husband’s 1969 Datusn 510 wagon. We would sell the Mirage because we could get $1000-1500 to put into savings. Although it is our “nicer” car, the seats in the Datsun fold down to accomodate a twin size air mattress, and we could sleep in there if need be.
    Step 2: Sell everything else. 
    If we’re at the point where we may have to stay in our car, a PS3 and a television is unnecessary. I’m pretty sure that we can scrape together another few hundred easily. This should give us up to $2,000 in our savings account, including the money from the car.
    Step 3: Make a sleeping decision.
    With the car, our tent, and the money we’d converted from savings, we could temporarily live in a campground. We could stay in a by-the-week hotel. A priority would be looking for work that included housing. For example, my husband and I both have years of experience in the hotel industry so we would look for a motel or bed & breakfast management position that included an apartment.
    Step 4: Get all the help we can.
    I’m hoping that at this point, we’ve already applied for unemployment. We would also apply for food assistance. If we managed to obtain food assistance, we would utilize local assistance matching programs. 
    The Portland Farmer’s Market, for example, matches up to $5 each week for assistance recipients to obtain fresh local food stuffs. We have a dog and would look to the Pongo Fund for help in taking care of him. Many would advocate giving him up, but since he is my assistance dog, that’s not really an option.
    Step 5: Prioritize food.
    Outside of governmental food assistance, I would also approach local farms and ask if we could help with the harvest or work at their farmer’s market booth in exchange for a share of food, or if we could glean. Gleaning is the process of walking through the fields and picking food that the harvesters miss, food that would go bad if it weren’t for individuals picking through.
    Step 6: Focus on finding work.
    Part A: Gym Membership
    If our sleeping decision doesn’t include bathroom facilities, we decided to get a family gym membership at a local gym. We could get a family membership for $60/month that would provide us with a place to use the bathroom and shower each day. Good hygiene is essential to getting a new job, and a job is needed to get back on our feet. It also may give us something to do for an hour or so each day so we’re not feeling sorry for ourselves.
    Part B: “Borrow” an address.
    A huge stumbling block for people to get work is to have an address and contact number for employers. If we couldn’t borrow an address from a friend, a local church or non-profit may be able to assist.
    Part C: Get a number.
    As stated above, it’s nearly impossible to get a job without a contact number. A prepaid cell phone would be in order. Our last phone would have been surrendered. We’ll worry about paying the cancellation fee when we can.
    A big issue my husband and I discussed would be our attitudes prior to and during our homeless situation. We would guard against complacency or surrendering to what we felt was inevitable. We would be willing to travel anywhere to find work. Unfortunately, if our situation was due to a severe medical problem, or something else, we may have to consider a different plan. However, we are fortunate that if homelessness was an extreme possibility, we both have family in several parts of the country who would be willing to take us in for a month or so to get a job and get on our feet. Not everyone is that lucky. We also have the humility to ask for help, hopefully before our situation becomes desperate. 
    Due to our previous financial circumstances, tragedy is always in the back of my mind. We’ve been house-hunting over the past six months, and currently have an offer in on an house with an accessory dwelling unit – a small 300 sf studio apartment. I was comforted by the fact that if something horrible happened and we lost primary income, we could move into the studio, rent out the main house and more than cover our mortgage. Once we discussed what we could do in a worst case scenario, I no longer struggled with worry. Even if something happens and we become homeless, I’m not hopeless.

    How about you all? What steps would you take to improve your situation if you were homeless? Have you ever known any one that was homeless? 


    Share your experiences by commenting below!

    Jacob’s Thoughts – Listed below are my random thoughts as I was reading this article.

    • First, thank you so much Andi for writing this article. It was very insightful! I’m so sorry that your situation was so dire several years ago. Was that caused by loss of a job?
    • @ Jobs that include housing – The idea of finding a job that provides housing is a very interesting one that I had not previously considered. I know that resort and cruise ship workers get housing providers, which enables them to save a lot of money. I didn’t know that normal hotel workers could stay in the hotel though for free. Do a lot of hotels do that?
    • @ Unemployment benefits and food sources – In writing my post over at The Saved Quarter, I completely forgot to mention the idea of applying for unemployment assistance and food assistance from the government. The idea of “gleaning” for food is innovative as well!
    • @ Idea of asking for help – I’m really glad that you mentioned the idea of being humble enough to actually ask for help. I think that is something that gets a lot of people in trouble (even with debt problems), because help is available, they are just too stubborn or ashamed to admit to needing it.

    ***Photo courtesy of http://images.cdn.fotopedia.com/flickr-4307313294-hd.jpg

    FREE Netflix For All For 1 Month!

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    Welcome to My Personal Finance Journey! If you are new here, please read the “About” or “First-Time Visitor” pages to find out more about us. If you would like to receive free updates on articles like this by email, then sign up here or you can subscribe to the RSS feed. Also, check us out on Twitter or Facebook. Thanks for visiting! Keep on learning!
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    saving money netflix frugal living financial planning entertainment cable tv

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    Good day folks! The Netflix Santa Claus is here!
    Ok, not really, but I do have four 1-month free trials of Netflix’s DVD movie service. And after all, who doesn’t like to get free stuff?! That’s right – no one! 
    As many of you all know, I am a big Netflix fan and heavy Netflix user. I have written several previous posts about Netflix (place details here). I just recently watched the entire 7-season Star Trek Voyager series from Netflix! It only took me 4 months!
    The 1-month trial comes with no obligation, and you can cancel at any time during the 1 month trial membership. However, it’s important to remember that if you don’t cancel before the end of the trial term, your credit card (which you have to enter to participate in the free trial, but will not be billed) will be charged the $7.99 or $9.99 monthly fee for the Watch Instantly (unlimited) or 1-DVD-Out-At-A-Time plans, respectively, that you selected upon signing up.
    Having said that, listed below are the details for how to redeem your 1-month free trial:
    • Go to Netflix.com/tellafriend
    • Enter one of the four priority codes listed below before June 15th, 2011.
      • M829180488735
      • M869110488775
      • M513995667115
      • M899120488725
    • When you use one of the codes above, do your fellow readers a favor and post a quick comment below letting them know which code you took out of the running. Thanks!

    How about you all? Do you currently use Netflix to save money on your monthly cable bill? If not, how much do you pay for your TV channels? 

    Share your experiences by commenting below!

      ***Photo courtesy of http://www.consumerqueen.com/consumerqueenwp/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/netflix.gif

      Personality Test Results

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      Welcome to My Personal Finance Journey! If you are new here, please read the “About” or “First-Time Visitor” pages to find out more about us. If you would like to receive free updates on articles like this by email, then sign up here or you can subscribe to the RSS feed. Also, check us out on Twitter or Facebook. Thanks for visiting! Keep on learning!
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      On April 7th, JT McGee from Money Mamba came up with the idea for a Yakezie Personality Type Blog Carnival.

      The goals of this carnival were as follows: 1) connect Yakezie Personal Finance Blog Network members to one another, and 2) learn about how you operate from the inside out and share with your readers so that they can learn about you as well.

      To participate in the Carnival, we were instructed to take the Jung Personality Type test (at the following link – HumanMetrics – Jung Personality Test), answer the 72 questions that it presents, and then research the meaning of the personality type code our answers generate on Google or another resource.
      The 72 questions that the test asks do not actually take that long to answer, as they are all require “yes” or “no” responses. The subject matter of the questions involve different topics, ranging from how we feel in crowds to the basic way that we accomplish life’s tasks.
      My Result


      The personality code that my answers generated was ENFJ – Extraverted Intuitive Feeling Judging.


      Found in only 5% of the population, Typelogic.com describes ENFJ’s as “the benevolent pedagogues of humanity.” The primary mode of living for ENFJ’s is focused externally, where issues are handled according how you feels about them, or how they relate to your personal value system.
      For ENFJ’s, the deepest level of personal satisfaction comes from making things happen for other people. Typically, they do this through understanding, supporting, and encouraging others. They are often more reserved about exposing their beliefs than other extroverted people, because expressing them might interfere in bringing out the best in others. In this way, they are often good mentors and teachers.
      ENFJ’s have an good ability to take interest in people, identify their strengths, and draw that strength out of a sometimes reserved interior. ENFJ’s, or teachers as they are sometimes called, identify easily with others, and often find themselves mimicking the characteristics of those around them.
      Another somewhat interesting characteristic of this personality type is what was called the “first-shall-be-last open door policy.” What this means is that often times, an ENFJ will be helping one person, and half-way through the conversation, the phone rings, and someone else is requesting help from the ENFJ. The ENFJ will then deal with the 2nd person first until their need is stabilized before returning to assist the 1st person that came asking for help.
      My Analysis of the Result


      In my opinion, this personality type describes me with shockingly scary accuracy (at least in my opinion). Who knew this test could predict so well by asking such vague “yes” or “no” questions?!

      First, I do rely heavily on my feelings in getting things done. This is one of the reasons that I have chosen a career in the health field because it is important to me to feel I am making a difference in something. For me, it is of the upmost importance to have my heart in what I do. If this is not the case, I most likely will not be able to do it successfully.
      I also agree with this result because perhaps the time when I feel most “fulfilled” in life is when I have either 1) brought out a hidden talent in someone, 2) been able to reach someone on a personal level that is not receptive to personal interactions anyway, and 3) when I have helped someone accomplish a task or learn something new. Even though I do enjoy helping others learn, I definitely would not be teacher material, at least for the time being (in the sense of a 1st grade teacher, etc). 
      One of my previous jobs involved training process operators to run different cleaning and sterilization processes of the vaccine line I worked on. Even though this was not actually my main responsibility, I derived a lot of satisfaction from guiding the operators to learn something new. And, I spent many hours doing so. Sometimes, I would focus too much on training others and would get some “professional reminders” to remember to commit time to a more independent project that was supposed to be 30% of my job.
      How I Interpret This Result In The Context Of A Career


      In the context of career pursuits, I think that since ENFJ’s derive the most satisfaction from enabling others to perform at their best, it will be important for me to find a job where I can guide and mentor others. This wouldn’t even need to be in a boss-employee way, just as long as I was able to transfer my knowledge to others. I think this is more important to me than actually doing the work myself.
      Several Famous ENFJ’s


      And, last but not least, for your viewing pleasure, listed below are several famous ENFJ’s from the history books.

      Abraham Lincoln 
      Ronald Reagan 
      Barack Obama 
      Sean Connery 
      Francois Mitterand 
      Dick Van Dyke 
      Andy Griffith 
      William Aramony, former president of United Way 
      Gene Hackman (Superman, Antz) 
      Dennis Hopper (Speed) 
      Brenda Vaccaro 
      Craig T. Nelson (Coach) 
      Diane Sawyer (Good Morning America) 
      Randy Quaid (Bye Bye, Love; Independence Day) 
      Tommy Lee Jones (The Fugitive) 
      Michael Jordan, NBA basketball player 

      How about you all? Have you taken the Jung Typology Personality Test? What was your resulting type? Did you agree with the description? 


      Share your experiences by commenting below!

        ***Photo courtesy of http://www.hr-specialists.eu/assets/images/poze-site/entrepreneurial-personality-test.png

        The Journey After Bankruptcy

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        Welcome to My Personal Finance Journey! If you are new here, please read the “About” or “First-Time Visitor” pages to find out more about us. If you would like to receive free updates on articles like this by email, then sign up here or you can subscribe to the RSS feed. Also, check us out on Twitter or Facebook. Thanks for visiting! Keep on learning!
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        Today’s guest post comes to us from Chris Mullen.

        The Journey After Bankruptcy

        In 2004, the laws regarding bankruptcy began to change. A bill was passed for how bankruptcy would be handled, which came into effect in 2005. Part of this financial bill was to make sure anyone submitting for bankruptcy would first take a debt management course. This was inputted into the bill to lower the frequency with which some were filing for bankruptcy. Given the high rate of bankruptcies filed, the government felt a need to make some changes.

        For those that filed seven years, ago their journey may be completed or at least closer to the right path. Once a bankruptcy is filed and the debts discharged, one’s credit is highly affected. First, the credit scores are already low given the need for bankruptcy, and they will remain low.

        During this time, a person has to consider what debts they should take on and what they should stay away from. For example, credit cards can help improve one’s credit scores over time, but they can also create a new debt situation. A bankruptcy on record also means high interest rates on credit cards, loans, and mortgages. The only type of loan that may not be affected by the bankruptcy are the pay loans with no credit check. The rates would be the same for any borrower, which is often quite high to begin with.

        It is best for someone that has filed for bankruptcy to take the seven years the bankruptcy is on their credit record to improve their credit with rise money lending practices. In this case, one should have a prepaid credit card that will report to the credit bureaus. They should also make regular payments on a mortgage or car loan.

        It is essential to have companies reporting good things about one’s outstanding credit. No reporting is just as bad as the scores will not increase, but often remain the same. Once it has been seven years, the bankruptcy can no longer be used against a person for credit, meaning interest rates can be comparable to the repaired credit amount one has in their financial reports over what it was nearer the bankruptcy.

        How about you all? Have you or any one you know ever filed for bankruptcy? If so, was it Chapter 7 or 13? Share your experiences by commenting below!

        Jacob’s Thoughts – Listed below are my random thoughts as I was reading this article.

        • @ The debt management class requirement for those filing for bankruptcy – I actually had no idea that this was required! Did everyone else know that this was necessary in order to file bankruptcy? I’m also curious as to whether the government pays for this or whether the payment for it gets lumped in to your debt that will be erased with the filing.
        • @ The concept of bankruptcy in general – To me (maybe it is just me that feels this way), bankruptcy, at times, almost seems too good to be true. The concept that your debts can be totally wiped clean after getting in way over your head is simply amazing! And, your credit report only suffers for 7 years? This seems too good to be true. OK, I know it can be argued that the people that experience bankruptcy won’t be able to get favorable financing in order to own their own home or start new businesses. However, in my opinion, it seems that the majority of people reaching bankruptcy probably weren’t on track to one of these goals in the first place. 
          • So, I’ll leave you all with one question I have – are the penalties for bankruptcy severe enough currently? Or, do you think they need to be tightened to deter it was occurring?

        ***Photo courtesy of http://www.eurodebt.com/images/bankruptcy_images/bankruptcy_service_300.jpg