A Financial Education Event
     

Armed Forces Network Radio and Television-Germany

Today was a great day in Germany with our military members and their families. We had an amazing 15 hour day that began with a meeting with the Wing Commander and ended with a meal of Schnitzel at 10:00 PM (a typical European meal time).
In between meeting and eating we also did some greeting! We met some wonderful professionals at the AFN studio in Germany and I gave interviews on live radio and (taped) television. Pictured are Vanessa Heinzelman and Demarno Spence. We had lots of fun in the studio, especially when they played Collective Soul on the radio in between interview spots. The AFN media really worked well as I gave my “Heroes at Home” message to capacity crowds and also gave the “Half Price Living” message as well. There were many young airmen in the audiences and the looks on thier faces when I autographed free books for them was just so incredible.

Our message is one that we hope encouarges those in the audience to be proud that they are Americans and realize how very special their service in the military is in the big world scheme of life. These men and women were handed their books and I shook their hands, thanking them for their service their faces said, “I’m so proud to serve. You made me feel special and that what I do for a living really matters.” They verbazlied their thoughts and thanks. The very best part of the day was when we saw that they caught the vision of their worth to us and to other Americans.

After a truly gratifying day, Wendy and I slept like babies and were on the road at 7:00 AM the next day (today) to go to England–the next leg on our tour. Tomorrow we have another 15 hour day, beginning with interviews, several presentations at two bases and then a 2.5 hour car trip to London.

I feel that so many of you are with us in spirit and I share your sentiments of gratefulness to our military members and their families as we give these presentations.

God bless you and God bless America!

Ellie Kay
America’s Family Financial Expert (R)
www.elliekay.com

Jolly Old England–On a Dime (That is Worth a Nickel)

We went from Germany to England and discovered at the airport that British Airways said we were only authorized 1 piece of checked luggage. Now you take two southern girls and put them in Europe for 2.5 weeks and try to put their stuff in one piece of luggage. Neither one of us could travel with less than 5 pairs of shoes (what am I supposed to leave at home–the leopard skin pumps?). After an hour of discussion at the ticket desk, we were authorized a second bag at NO CHARGE (it pays to ask all your options and keep asking politely until you happen upon an alternative that works for you–and for less.)
This saved us over $100. We’re having to be creative in England because the British pound is worth twice the American dollar! This is the first time I don’t want to lose pounds!

We landed at Heathrow and then traveled to Lakenheath and Mildenhall, having dinner with some great friends, the Sierts. Kara Siert is a special friend whose story is published in “1/2 Price Living” and she created all kinds of welcome artwork for our visit as well. I had the privilege of sharing a book table with Kara when I spoke at both bases and she was gracious enough to allow me to tell her story in front of the wonderful military audiences.

The people we meet on this trip is the best part of it all. New friends, old friends and no foes in sight (unless you count the Lamborghini that passed us on the autobahn in Germany going 150 MPH.) The audiences in England were BRILLIANT!

That’s all for now!

Ellie Kay

“America’s Family Financial Expert” (R)
www.elliekay.com

Venice—Not Vienna!

Wow, this has been such a whirlwind trip! We have 12 hour scheduled workdays (that’s the way we like it) and 12 hour fun days (gotta get in all that sightseeing). I kept getting distracted on the way to Italy and kept saying we were going to “Vienna” rather than “Venice.” Poor Wendy had to correct me as I was checking into the flight it Italy or I would have ended up in Vienna!

When we went to Vienna, we were told that the value of the Euro had gone down even more, but we had a budget and believed we could get by on that for this part of the trip as well. The key, I think, to finding values in any touristy area is to “get lost” in the heart of the city and explore the shops that are not as well known. We found as much as 50% off on the same items by doing this.

One of the things we knew we wanted to do was to ride a Gondola and on our first trip around the city we had a large Gondola driver with gray hair and an obvious love for pasta (i.e. a beer belly) shout out to us $12 each! We passed, hoping to find an “appropriate” gondola driver. You know, one who looked like the male lead in “Under a Tuscan Sun.” When we got lost in the center of the city, we were not only rewarded with great values in stores, we were also rewarded with a more than appropriate gondola driver. When we turned a corner and saw the gorgeous gondola and the driver, he said, “80 Euro” (about $120 for both or $96 MORE dollars than the other option.) Well, as smitten as we might have been with the prospect of having “The Top Ten” of Gondola drivers, we were not so taken that we were going to pay too much for the right. We negotiated down to a much more reasonable sum and were off on the adventure. As we passed the beautiful buildings on the main canal, our driver pointed out sights and sang Venetian songs. Toward the end of the ride, we passed another gondola and I heard Wendy say “Look Ellie, there’s the $12 gondola driver.” Yes, there WAS a bit of a difference!

The second day of touring, we went over to the island of Murano, where they are famous for glass. Once again, we got lost in the middle of the island and found the best shops. When we were paying for our purchases, we asked about some items on the shelf by the register. They were slightly “damaged” and we couldn’t even tell what was wrong, but bought them for 75%—so cool!

I’m so glad we got to visit Vienna–um, I mean Venice!

Ciao

Trier, The Oldest City in Germany!

We had a fantastic time in Aviano with the military there and had the chance to do some more AFN radio and television as well. They filmed a segment that will have worldwide distribution on the AFN network and the people there were the best!

We went back to Germany and spoke in Spangdahlem with the tour. We actually gave 7 presentations that day and my kids were not surprised to find out that I did NOT lost my voice (hey! I resemble that remark!). The people we’ve met on this trip have been amazing, we are so proud of our military and their families in Europe.

After our tour at Spang, we went just outside of the base (about 30 minutes) on the AUTBAHN (Wendy was cruising at 130) and visited the oldest city in Europe, Trier. It was founded in or before 16BC. The Roman Empire subdued the Treveri in the 1st Century and left their mark in structures like the Porta Nigra (that I’m standing in front of). It was amazing to experience!

We had some German coffee and Pastries and are on our way to the last part of the tour–Bavaria.

Ellie Kay

“America’s Family Financial Expert” (R)

http://www.elliekay.com/

Castles and Tires in Germany

We finished our tour with a big bang–a tire blow out, that is! NEW TIP: When you rent a car in Europe, purchase the “tire insurance.” They won’t tell you about it, but you really need it. We had a defective tire on the rental and were glad it didn’t blow while going 130 on the Autobahn, but we didn’t realize that you have to purchase tire insurance separately!

That didn’t stop our last two days in Europe, though! After our three hour delay, we headed down to Bavaria and Wendy took us on a great new adventure—driving through the Black Forest at night on winding mountain roads, trying to find our hotel right by Neuschwanstein! She made it through to our wonderful hotel, which was about 200 feet from the castle and was the caretakers “cottage.”

We saved money by buying the “Royal Pass” and seeing both Newschwanstein (the castle that the Disney one is patterned after) as well as Hohenschwangau, his parents castle where he grew up. One of the things we learned about the “dream King” was that he was capable of creating incredible beauty, but not capable of doing it on a budget. By the time he died, he had bankrupted his family’s fortune (but not the nation’s). Ironically, tourist travel to his many castles (the tourist trade) provide the primary income to Bavaria today!
This concludes our European tour and we will be ready for life in the states once again!
Danke for reading,
Ellie Kay
America’s Family Financial Expert (R)

Talking Turkey!

It’s the MOST, wonderful time of the year!! No, not Christmas–but Thanksgiving. Early November is when the Sunday paper has loads of FSIs or Free Standing Inserts, filled with tons of coupons. By following my layer-upon-layer of savings, I’m getting lots of food for pennies or free. For example, yesterday my bill before savings factors was $123.56 and I only paid $22.01 for a cart full of groceries. Look at it this way:

Duncan Hines brownie mix regular price $3.19

Sale price is $1 per box a savings of – 2.19

Manufacturer’s coupon is $1 off 3 – .33 @

Double coupon store-another $1 off 3 – .33 @

Total Price I pay .34 cents per box

Here are the savings factors:

Store Cards
These are sometimes referred to as “clipless coupons.” Sign up for the card at the customer service desk and as it is scanned at the checkout, you will receive all the store’s special values for the week.

Sale Ads
The store’s weekly sale ads either come in the mail or are a part of the mid-week newspaper inserts. Match up the sale ads with some of the other savings factors listed and you’ll soon find yourself with products for pennies.

Manufacturer’s Coupons
These are traditional coupons issued and reimbursed by the manufacturer. If you
ead the fine print of the coupon, you’ll see the manufacturer’s name and mailing address. Here are a few places to find these coupons:

Double Coupons
Some stores offer “double” coupons. This is where the coupon is worth twice the face value—so a .50 coupon is now worth $1.00. There are limitations issued by the store, such as “only double up to $1.00” so check the customer service desk for details. Go to the links page at elliekay.com to find a link listing all the stores that double coupons in your state. http://couponing.about.com/cs/grocerysavings/a/doublecoups.htm

Unadvertised Sales and Clearances
Check the store aisles for sales and clearance tags. As much as 50% of the weeks’ sales are not advertised.

Web bucks

Watch for signs in the store, telling you you’ll get certificates/coupons at the register for purchasing these items. The cash back certificate can be used on your next shopping trip.

Price Comps

Some grocery stores, including Wal-mart superstores http://www.walmart.com/ will match competitor’s ads. Just take in the sale ads from all your local grocers to that store and you’ll get the sale prices from the ads. It saves time and money.

Happy Shopping!

–Ellie Kay

America’s Family Financial Expert (R)

http://www.elliekay.com/

Black Friday

Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving) was a blast at our house! Bob and I wanted to “sleep in” until 4:15 AM but Bethany and Jonathan didn’t want to wait that late, so they were in the Wal-mart line at 3:45 AM and we joined them at 4:30. Did you know that Wal-mart will match any store’s sale ad–even on Black Friday?
Everyone had their assignment and had different items to snag when the doors opened. I had all the other stores’ loss leaders ads with me and only had to go to ONE STORE to get all of our area bargains. For example, I got a 30GB Zune MP3 player that was on sale at Toys R Us for only $79 and I got it at Wal-mart by showing my Toys R Us ad. One friend, who went to Toys R Us that morning said they ran out before she could get one! I also showed ads to save $300 on a Garmin navigational system (Staples) and seasons of our fave television series, “Monk” for only $12.99 (Circuit City). Of course we took advantage of Walmart’s loss leaders, too, such as an $89 Sony digital camera that is normally $250. Bob bagged a Chicken Dance Elmo (yes, it’s Elmo in a chicken suit) that dances and sings and he saved $20 in the process. Bob had a diabolical gleam in his eye as he thought of our son-in-law having to put up with his sweet little boy pushing that chicken dance button over and over and over again! As Bob says, “Payback is a bummer!”
We were in the store by 5:00 AM and completely done with the bulk of the season’s shopping by 7:00 AM. We spent a total of $350 and saved a total of $750 off of retail! That’s saving twice as much as we spent in keeping with my Half Price Holidays theme!

Remember to de-stress this holiday by making a budget, sticking to it, and scheduling time for the things that matter most (like our annual chocolate house creation at the Kay home).
Happy Savings!
Ellie Kay
“America’s Family Financial Expert”

Bob’s Million Dollar Bargain

As many of you who have read my books already know, I’m a born saver who married a born spender. I was born six weeks early, on Dec 28th, just in time for my parents to get another income tax deduction. Bob was already working, pulling weeds at the age of seven, but his money never saw the inside of his pocket. Over the years, he’s learned to spend less and I’ve learned to spend more and we’ve come to balance.

Bob’s latest venture is saving money on the ultimate remote control airplane! He says that spending 1.3 million per airplane for jets that are destined to get blown up (without him in them) is a “real bargain” for the government. He even mentioned that I made him promise he wouldn’t fly them for free when he went to the job interview four years ago! For the complete three minute news story and to see what my Beloved does in his free time, just go to:
http://www.myfoxphoenix.com/myfox/pages/InsideFox/Detail?contentId=5028894&version=2&locale=EN-US&layoutCode=VSTY&pageId=5.7.1

Happy Flying!

Ellie Kay

“America’s Family Financial Expert” (R)

Valentines Day

Valentines Day.
Bob gave me a sweet card and a Lladro figurine of a “Bride and Groom Couple” which was beautiful. The male was in a top hat, the female had delicate flowers in her hair. And did I mention they were dogs? Yes. Very cute, it made me howl with laughter when I opened it up, especially since, at that very moment, our dogs were jumping on me and wrestling. fun. fun.

Philip mailed me the sweetest card and signed it “I love my mama.” Bob gave Bethany flowers, a CD and a card and Philip gave her the most wonderful “Sisterfriend Valentine” card, too. I gave the little guys chocolate and a $15 Starbucks gift card. Bethany gave Bob Sees candy.

The little boys did the “Oh, crud! I forgot about mama” routine and then Joshua announced,”Uh, when you can go out to eat, Papa and I are going to take you.” While Jonathan said, “And even BEFORE you gave me this card, I was going to say that I would take you out for a Frap for Valentines.” Yeah, right. I told them that this last minute, oh-crud-I-forgot-so-I’ll-just-think-quick-and-make-something-up-and-hope-she-won’t-notice routine was NOT going to cut it. One day, I told them, when they had wives, they were going to have to have some forethought and at LEAST fill out a card that says, “This card entitles you to a free dinner” or something other than what they did. They smiled sheepishly, hugged me and thanked me for the gifts.

Then there’s Daniel. He had the biggest Valentines Day in the family–a day early. Yes, my baby boy got engaged last night! It was really sweet, he asked everyone’s permission ahead of time (Bob and I, her mom, her dad). Then he took her to their favorite place, the Botanical Gardens in FTW, and at sunset, he walked her over to a fence, got down on one knee and proposed. He said he was nervous and didn’t say what he really wanted to say and he kind of fumbled, but he made it through. She started crying and couldn’t stop. The ring he got her was diamonds and emeralds (her birth stone) and one she picked out. It is beautiful–simple and elegant.

Then they went to eat at the Cheesecake Factory and he gave her my book, The New Bride Guide that I had autographed to her already. On the way home from the restaurant they called me and were punch drunk in love. He was gloating at how suave and clever he was and she was just crying for joy. He’s the one who called and he said, “Well, guess who has been engaged for the last couple of hours?” I guessed correctly. Then I asked to speak to her and let HER tell me how he proposed. She started crying again just retelling the story. I welcomed her to the family, told her she would be a great asset and that we loved her already. I told her that I knew she’d take good care of my baby boy and while he would officially be “hers” now, he will ALWAYS be my baby boy.

When Daniel got back on the phone, he said, “Well, mama, your baby boy did it right!” He was oh, so smug and oh, so happy and just plain drunk on love. But before he hung up he said, “But I’ll always love my mama!”

And so it begins…

Ellie Kay, Featured Expert: Front Page USA Today Story

I’m in Chicago last week, eating at “Bubba Gump Shrimp” in a business meeting. The waiter comes to our table with important issues–trivia questions:

  1. Name the two rock and roll artists that Forrest meets
  2. Name the three Presidents that he met.
  3. Name his three best friends (one female, two males)

So far, I’ve gotten all the questions right and I’m feeling pretty good about life and then my assistant for the trip (Bethany Grace) gets a call from a USA Today reporter. He’s doing a feature cover story on ways Americans are cutting back on “luxury items.” I take the call outside the restaurant (did I mention Chicago was a chilly 5 degrees?) and tried to get out of the “Forrest” frame of mind and into the “Financial Expert” mode.

He said: “So do you think that the American public is headed for a recession.”

I said: “Life is a like box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get.”

He said: “Um…people are cutting back on things like Starbucks and Evian water, do you think that’s smart?”

I said: “My mama always said…stupid is as stupid does.”

He said: “That’s fascinating, do you have any thoughts on the perceived peer pressure among people who are saving and those who are not?”

I said: “I just had 19 Dr. Peppers, I have to go….”

After about 30 minutes of this, the poor guy had to either end the interview or end his life. I guess he’s still alive and I must have managed to say something worthwhile as the piece ran with my incredibly Forrest-like wisdom included. For the full article, go to http://www.usatoday.com/money/economy/2008-02-26-consumers-cut-small-luxuries_N.htm?loc=interstitialskip .

As a result of that story breaking today, my offices were contacted by CBS radio and I did a slightly better interview for them than my Bubba Gump shrimp interview. You’ll hear that airing throughout the day as well.

Just remember one more thing, if you follow the tips in this blog, you’ll be able to get where you’re going. You can have your savings and some of your luxury items too–if you cut back the smart way. Just step in my shoes and I’ll take you there because “Mama says they was magic shoes, they could take me anywhere.”

And that’s all I have to say about that.

Ellie Kay

“America’s Family Financial Expert” (R)

http://www.elliekay.com/

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