Sunday, February 14, 2010

Saving Money and Helping Others

Here is a very relevant article for those of you who may be a little hurt in the cash flow department like we are....of course, this has always been my specialty - finding deals and saving money. I think I got it from my dad's mother as he also sarcastically told me. If that is the truth I am really glad for it! If Bill and I had not been penny pinchers for all of these years we definitely would not have what we do now and this recession would have hit us much harder. I remember back in the day going out on the weekend and someone would comment on my outfit and I'd say "I got it at Goodwill!". Or substitute "rummage sale" for Goodwill depending on the season. That would be 99% of my entire wardrobe. I would get some funny looks back then, but I imagine now no one cares as much. The article here basically says that couponing is back "in vogue" but for me it always was vogue...It says here that spending an hour clipping and organizing coupons can net you as much as $100 per hour....TAX FREE! I don't know about you but we don't have that many $100 per hour jobs knocking on our door. Of course, organization of your coupon stash is can't use it if you can't find it! I have tried various organization systems in the past but now that we are in the RV with space as a premium I use an accordion type folder with handles that I found....get Goodwill! It almost looks like a briefcase or purse but has multiple files inside which I have broken down into category. I dig out coupons ahead of time when I know certain things are on sale from flyers and put them in a smaller organizer in my purse which is broken down by store but I also carry the big files into the store with me. It helps alot with clearance items that you can match a coupon to. I am so anal I keep an Excel file with our savings from each shopping trip where we use coupons - which is practically all of them. Last years totals look like this --

Total before coupons $5102.80
Total after coupons $1783.88
Total saved $3293.20
Percentage 64.5%

Not a bad return on my time and effort! And this was all stuff that either we used or it was so inexpensive after coupons and rebates and what have you that we gave it to friends and family or donated it. Which brings me to my second topic today.....

Saturday February 13 through Friday February 19 is Random Acts of Kindness Week. The website is a wealth of information with ideas and testimonials including the health benefits of kindness. In the rush to survive this recession and keep it all together unfortunately helping others is one thing that might have fallen to the wayside -- I know it has to some extent for us. So we (although Bill doesn't know this yet but he knows me!) are going to keep track every day this week of what kindness acts we tried to do for others and hopefully it will boomerang back and make us feel better about the world. Corny? Possibly....but I know firsthand that giving to others rebounds back in many different ways.

Our first RAOK was to Nick and Michelle. We have so many grocery shops right now that we can't fit everything in the MonsterMobile. So Bill called Nick and he met us at one of the stores in Scottsdale and we loaded him up with some groceries. Plus he gets all my cereal and mac n cheese - not al willingly though - as I can no longer eat the gluten. I will miss my Wheat Chex! Remember -- an RAOK does not have to cost money! Letting someone cut in line ahead of you who only has two items costs nothing but it all helps in the greater scheme of things....spread good karma and it will come back to you.

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