A Financial Education Event
 

Millennial Moneybags

As a seven-year-old, I launched a business where I made $10 in two weeks through extensive marketing and key product placement to my second-grade class. In 2018 dollars, that’s equal to $712—not bad for a kid entrepreneur! When my dad heard how much I’d made, he pulled my braid and said, “Good job, little moneybags!” That sparked a passion in me to earn more, save more and share more.

Fast forward a lotta years and I’m teaching my five millennials the basic skills to master in their 20s to become financially savvy and stable.

Spend Plan

It’s important to develop a budget and stick to it. Make sure it is realistic and accounts for all your spending—including entertainment, gifts and other splurges. If there’s more than one person doing the spending on the same plan, then mint has a good app you can use to track where those dollars are going. The three main parts of a good spend plan include the ability to: save diligently, share generously and spend wisely.

Squash Debt

It’s pretty basic: saving=good and debt=bad. Don’t add to debt buying things you don’t need with money you don’t have to impress people you don’t like. Instead, put all “bonus” money toward debt such as income tax returns, bonuses from work and even a happy birthday check from your Grandma. This can also help you whittle down that average student loan debt of 35K+ and the average credit card debt of 8K. By paying off this debt early in your life, you’ll avoid thousands of dollars in interest and create margin in your life. In our 20’s my husband and I made the move to one car to get ahead on debt repayment and we don’t regret doing without for a little while to be debt free forever!

Spend Not and Want Not

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Most millennials live paycheck to paycheck with a lot of financial stress hanging over their heads. You can break this cycle, even if you came by it honestly (from your parents’ example.) Readjust your mind set to look at extra money left over at the end of the month as either savings or debt repayment—not fun money to spend. As you are trying to spend less to get on track financially, you may get an extra roommate to reduce your rent payments or carpool to save on commuting. Go to happy hour for free food and be the designated driver, drinking water. Use Retail Me Not every time you buy anything (online or in a store) to get codes and other savings. Be creative in the ways you can spend less than you make each month.

Save for a Rainy Day and Beyond

Any smart millennial will have a few months savings in a rainy-day account to pay for that unexpected bill or an emergency. A super smart saver will also start tucking away money for retirement and take advantage of the miracle of compounding interest. In our Heroes at Home show, we share this slide that shows you how to invest in yourself.

 

Super Skilled Cooking Star


My twentysomething year olds love the food network and Pinterest. They especially like watching a client of mine, Amy Pottinger, a military spouse, compete on that network. But what’s the use of watching cooking shows if you never cook? According to the USDA Cost of Food at Home, you can save thousands of dollars each year by making your own food instead of eating out. In fact, by using apps to save money in the grocery store and getting coupons and tips from sites like The Coupon Mom, you can save even more. I added up all the money I saved over 20 years with sales, coupons, and eating in (instead of eating out) and the amazing total was $161,000, that’s enough to help put some millennials through college debt free!

Strategic Splurges

 

Sometimes, there’s a misconception that becoming financially fit means you deprive yourself of everything fun and there’s no room for a splurge. Not true. You are just careful about what you will splurge on. That $20 glass of wine in a restaurant can go four times as far at Trader Joe’s when you splurge on a $20 bottle of wine (instead of the two buck Chuck.) Buying clothes that fall apart after one or two washes isn’t as smart as buying quality (on sale) that will last longer. An energy efficient appliance that saves you money in the long run is a better option than the cheaper version with a higher utility bill. Read up on products before you waste your money and realize that a strategic splurge here and there can save you significant change in the long run.

 

So, So, Happy

 

One of the reasons our family could go from being 40k in consumer debt to where we could pay cash for everything (including cars and college) is because we chose to be content. The more you choose to be happy where you are (knowing that’s not where you will always be), the better off you will be financially. You don’t have to drive a new car, live in the coolest place or take a mega trip once a month. I always said, “you can have it all—but not all at once.”  It’s a choice, you can drive a better car and have more roommates. You can splurge on clothes and drive an old clunker. It’s all about choices and the biggest and best choice of all is to simply choose to be content where you are right now.

 

How many of these habits do you currently practice?

Smart Money Habits for Millennials (and Their Mamas)

The Kay Family had five babies in seven years. That roughly adds up to 3 kids in diapers at once, 10 years of not sleeping through the night, 4 teenage drivers at the same time, 3 kids in college at once and today, we have 5 millennials in their 20’s simultaneously.

Fun .

But the good news is that they eventually slept, pottied, drove, graduated and even mastered money habits in the journey. Here are the habits we helped teach our millennials to make sure they didn’t have to move home, they could remain financially independent, have a great start for their families, and still buy their mama nice birthday gifts.

Habit #1 – Create and Live By a Spending Plan

Many millennials have heard of the value of creating a budget and even have apps that help. But it’s of little use if they don’t know how to stick to it. Here are my favorite apps to help:

  • Mint Budgeting App – I met the founder of Mint, Aaron Patzer, in a green room, years ago, when we were both going to be on ABC News in NYC. At the time, he was building his success with Mint. I just remember him being (as he says in the video) “full of myself.” Ha! But his budgeting app is probably the best out there because it makes it easy to create a budget. You connect the Mint app to your bank and the app uses your details to help create a personalized budget.
  • PocketGuard Budget App – This app also connects to your bank accounts and shows you what you currently have in your pocket. It tracks your money to show what you are spending and automates where you’re going off budget and where you need to cut back.
  • You Need a Budget – This app’s claim to fame is that it creates a budget you can stick to based on the info provided in your bank accounts and spending habits. It even teaches you what to do if you overspend and how to live on last month’s income. This is the only app that cost money in my list and it’s $50 for the year, but there are hoards of devotees that say this app helped them to finally live on a budget.
  • GoodBudget – Back when dinosaurs roamed the financial space, there was an “envelope system” where you put the money you needed in each envelope labeled with expenses such as gas, food and entertainment. It helped Bob and I get out of 40K in consumer debt in only 2.5 years when we were first married. This app is the digital version of that system, making sure that everyone knows how much is left in the “envelope.”

You might need a money buddy to stay on track, too. Tiffany Aliche, The Budgetnista, talks about her journey on our fun podcast The Money Millhouse and how she went from broke to anything-but-broke through techniques that kept her on track.

Habit #2 – Cook Creatively and Consistently

Money evaporates when you order out for lunch or dinner more than one or two meals a week. Bob took leftover dinners (the

re’s a microwave and fridge at work) for our entire marriage and we calculate that he’s saved $20,000 by doing this! Make Pintrist your pal or watch The Food Network to learn easy ways to create nutritious and tasty meals. Ask for an Instant Pot for your next birthday and make more than you need for dinner so you’ll have leftovers for either lunch or dinner later in the week. Or freeze the leftovers. My daughter lived with roommates for a few years and they would assign different nights for each of them to cook to simplify the work. Cook more and your wallet and your waistline will thank you.

Habit #3 – Care About Your Retirement

When we take our Heroes At Home Financial Event on the road, we teach young service members the miracle of compounding interest with the mantra: start early, start small and stay committed. Be sure to start with funding a Roth IRA and take advantage of your company’s matching portion of your 401(k). Lacey Langford, an Accredited Financial Counselor gave some great tips on a segment called “I Aint Afraid of No Money.”  She discussed retirement planning from her experience in working with the military (but many tips apply to civilians as well.) If you’re military, be sure to go into your Family Readiness Center to discuss the Blended Retirement System and what your options are for your situation. It’s free and a benefit you can use early and often.

Habit #4 – Count the Cost of Debt

The average millennial college grad owes 37K in student loan debt and the average household owes $8500 in credit card debt. Work on minimizing the debt you accrue and pay off the debt you have so that you’ll have the flexibility to move or wait on the right job. One of my sons worked for JC Penney, and they eliminated his entire department. Most employees were freaking out because they had student loan debt, consumer debt and car debt—but not our son. He made a practice of living on less so he wouldn’t accrue debt and he was able to have less worry in the process of finding a new job.

Be sure you also pay attention to your credit score. Rod Griffin, from Experian, came over for a discussion on coffee and credit. He works with us on our tours and he teaches that if you have bad credit, you’ll pay an average of 360K more (over your lifetime) for the use of basic credit, than the person who has a good score. Improve your score by paying on time, paying more than the minimum balance due and make sure you never use more than 30% of your available credit.

Habit #5 – Choose Contentment

This is a tricky habit because it’s a mindset that you choose. There will always be something to spend money on to make you go off budget or get into financial trouble. There’s the new phone, tablet, car, vacay, boyfriend/girlfriend, baby, or a plethora of other reasons to want to spend more and have more. This is where your friends, family and even faith come into play. Coveting what others have or do is a lesson in futility and discontentment. Your friends either contribute to this mindset or they keep you focused on what matters most. If keeping up with their lifestyle is an important platform in your friendship, then you may want to find new friends. Remember that this financial journey is a marathon not a sprint. I’ve always said, “you can have it all—just not at the same time.”

What is one habit you are good at? What is one habit you want to improve upon? Share it with us, a friend or even a money buddy, so that you can be fiscally healthy in 2018 and for a lifetime.

 

New Year Savings Habits

You are what you think! That’s what positive thinking gurus tell us and I believe it to a certain extent. But thinking it without doing something about it isn’t going to help you develop better money habits. In this New Year, I’m challenging you to implement some really easy money savings habits. Let me know which of these that: 1) you already do and 2) you are going to start doing or 3) you ain’t ever gonna do, no way, no how!

PRICE MATCHING—ASK YOUR STORE

If you have a store that will match competitors’ ads, then this helps save time and money. Most Walmart stores offer this benefit to their consumers. This price-matching tip is also good outside of the grocery area because there are dozens of other stores that will honor competitors’ ads, including Best Buy, Office Depot, Staples, the military exchanges, and more. Since these policies vary from year to year (and even month to month), it’s important to inquire at the customer service desk before you try to use the price-matching benefit.

To implement this tip, just take in all the local sale ads and have the store match the sale price from the circulars, or pull them up on your phone. There may be some restrictions, so be sure you ask for the details at the customer service desk. For example, Walmart will not honor a “buy one/get one free,” nor will they honor “percentage off” sales. But they will substitute their brand for other store brands that are on sale and it may even end up being a better-quality deal!

 

SEARCH HIGH AND LOW FOR BARGAINS

In today’s grocery stores, many bargains are located on the top and bottom shelves. The expensive items are at eye level. To those in marketing, the reason is obvious—you’ll buy something that’s in front of your nose! Also, avoid the floral, deli, and bakery departments. They’re usually overpriced and can bust your budget.

 

USE A SHOPPING LIST—DON’T LEAVE HOME WITHOUT IT!

When shopping, you should never leave home without an organized list. It minimizes time spent in the store and helps you stay on target, thus avoiding impulse buying. It can also serve as a reminder of sale prices and coupons you may have. When I first started saving money with coupons and sales, there were only flyers and paper coupons. Flipp is an app that combines the best of old and new by providing a digital library of all the latest flyers and help you build a shopping list within the app. Just tap on a digitized coupon or product and the app will circle it and add it to your digital grocery list.

 

SAVE ON TRAVEL

My crafty little informant over at Hopper just gave me the 2018 Travel Cheat Sheet telling you when the best time to buy is for those 2018 trips. It gives fantastic insider tips, for example:

  • When to buy airfare for major US holidays
    • President’s Day: Book by Monday, January 29
    • Easter: Book by Sunday, February 18
    • Fourth of July: Book by Wednesday, June 13
  • Top 10 domestic and international destinations to watch in January for the best deals:
    • Los Angeles: Round-trip flight prices currently average $328, but are expected to drop 43% this month.
    • Las Vegas: Round-trip flight prices currently average $178, but are expected to drop 28% this month.
    • Cartagena, Colombia: Round-trip flight prices currently average $354, but are expected to drop 35% this month.
    • Lisbon, Portugal: Round-trip flight prices currently average $622, but are expectedto drop 32% this month.

If you’re wanting to read more about saving money on travel, check out Wanderlust For Less, an upbeat look at ways to save money on travel AND still pay the light bill.

COUPON APPS AND WEBSITES

My son, Jonathan, gave me his back-

 

to-school-for-the-spring-semester wish list. He had a gorgeous item that was a pair of shoes at the Bostonian website. The first thing I did was look up the online site in RetailMeNot. Instantly, I got a coupon for 25% off the exact shoes Jonathan wanted. That’s something that made both of us happy.

Coupon Sherpa and CouponMom are also user friendly apps to help you find great values at your local store. Download these apps and use them regularly to save 30 percent or more. Both use geographic location or zip codes to target deals at stores near you. You may also want to try the Redlaser app, it can be used to scan the bar code of a product and find out if the item is cheaper elsewhere.

Don’t forget to listen to my quirky, sometimes geeky co-host, Bethany Bayless and myself on our new podcast called The Money Millhouse. We’ve give lots of tips after drinking lots of coffee and have some of the best financial guests in America on our show! 

Remember to let you know what you are already doing, what you’re gonna do and what you ain’t gonna ever do to save money in 2018!

Coffee Is On Us at The Coolest New Financial Podcast on the Planet!

Live, from Ellie’s kitchen table… it’s The Money Millhouse!

WELCOME TO THE FINANCIAL SHOW ANYONE CAN LISTEN TO!

The conversation gets lively and somewhat ridiculous when Ellie and Bethany share a cup of coffee (or four) over Ellie’s kitchen table. They not only have fun at The Money Millhouse, their conversations about saving money, couples communication, spend plans, super heroes and more make you feel like you are drinking coffee right along with them. Coffee, friends, money, sometimes random singing… what could be better?

Each week on this little-over-20-minute podcast, a special guest joins Ellie and Bethany at the table to discuss relevant money-related issues. From saving for retirement and credit chats, to home-based business tips and maybe a thing or two about what Star Wars has to do with coffee, there is always something to talk about.

The Money Millhouse will teach you while entertaining you with offbeat humor, geek-speak and money tips you never knew existed. If you can put up with Ellie’s annoying dogs announcing the next guest to come to Ellie’s door for a cup of Joe and a light hearted but important conversation, then you’ll get the maximum return on your time investment.

Come on in to The Money Millhouse, where we brew up money saving tips and tricks for anyone’s lifestyle. You might even learn a few secrets in the Millhouse closet.

This week, the show kicks off with a bang when Bethany

and Ellie talk about saving money when it comes to eating healthy including menu planning and tips at the grocery store. Start your menu planning by looking into your pantry and avoid wastage. Danna Demetre joins the conversation talking about the fact that the same principles to save money are the same when it comes to your health as well. Learn about which poisons (that go into your body) to cut out, which sweetener is the best for your body and why disease can be expensive. Also learn why having Mental Health Days (can you say a Disney day?) are important and natural days to de-stress.

The Money Millhouse is a production of Heroes at Home, a non-profit organization that gives financial education to military families around the world. To find out more about Heroes at Home, or to make an end of the year donation, visit heroesathome.org

Avoiding Last Minute Christmas Panic!

 

So….here’s  some of this year’s Kay Christmas photos, that were a part of our annual photo greeting card. This was mailed the day after Thanksgiving. On Black Friday and Cyber Monday of every year, I get all my shopping done so that we can have a simple holiday–no last minute panic, no stress–just a simple life. But a few Christmases ago, I got talked into having “some work” done in our kitchen that was “a three day job.” I remember stressing to my husband that, with all the college kids coming home for the holidays, I didn’t want my house in a mess. But in accordance with Murphy’s law, most of my kids came home to 6 inches of snow on the ground that completely shut down our desert California town. Plus, I had A MESS OF KITCHEN! Workers couldn’t drive in t
he snow.  With no kitchen, there was no holiday baking, no traditional truffles, nothing but a sense of panic that there was too much to do and not enough time.

Whether you’re still shopping for last minute gifts, prepping your cards, cooking for the big meal or cleaning the house, you can avoid the associated expense and stress that comes with last minute panic by becoming proactive and purposeful in the midst of your panic. Here are some tips to attack the anxiety before it attacks you.

 

  • Simplify – It may have been a tough year economically for your family or you may an uncertain financial future. It’s the ideal time to simplify the holidays by taking a deep breath and thinking about what you do have rather than what you don’t have. I believe that each of us has two kinds of attitudes within us: there is a minimalist as well as a materialist in each of us. It’s time to tap into the minimalist and give the materialist less power in your life. Be sure that you are talking this through with your spouse. Dr. Jennifer Degler has some great ideas to manage these conversations when we interviewed her on The Money Millhouse. The holidays are all about friends and family, they’re really not about spending yourself into oblivion or stressing the small stuff.
  • Strategize – Get the free Christmas Radio app and sit down for a strategy session. At the root of most of our last minute anxiety is a basic lack of control. In order to separate emotional panic from the plan, take charge by implementing a specific strategy for these last few days.
    1. Step One: Take ten minutes to write down what you have left to do (gifts, grocery shopping, cards, baking, cleaning, etc). You could use the Christmas List app for $2.99 or just use the notes on your tablet so that you can share this with appropriate family members that may be impacted. Maybe you don’t really have as much to do as you thought and that, in and of itself, will help eliminate stress.
    2. Step Two: Go back over your list and mark the items as optional or mandatory. Do you really have to paint the bathroom before the guests arrive—optional.  Do you really have to change the sheets in the guest room before your mother-in-law arrives—mandatory.  Do you have to bake those three step chocolate truffles or can you get them at the local bakery–optional.
    3. Step Three: Take the optional items and place them on the bottom of the list. If you get to them—fine, if you don’t fine. This takes off TONS of pressure.
  • Stash the Cash – It’s soooo hard to really stay on budget with only days before Christmas. One tried-and-true way our family has been able to stay on a last minute budget is to get the budget remainder in cash and divide it into specially marked envelopes, for example, “food” and “gifts.” When I’m in the grocery store, I take the food budget envelope and it serves as a visual reminder of what I have left. On one hand, it keeps me from splurging on some treats if I’m running out of cash but on the other hand, it can also allow me to splurge (guilt free) on certain products if I realize that I have money leftover!
  • Split the Efforts – This may come as a news flash but… you don’t have to do everything in order for it to get done right! This is not the time to be Miss Polly Perfectionist. In this step, we need to delegate responsibilities. Assign tasks to different family members and cut your work in half. In fact, you could use this time as an opportunity to teach your teens the value of a dollar. Let them go to the store for you and get the items on your list, asking them to find the best deals. If they are not certain, then they can text you the options (what teen doesn’t love to text?) You can text them back some suggestions and in the process they are learning to evaluate a good deal and a bad deal.
  • Separate – It’s highly likely that you’re going to be charging some last minute expenses on your credit cards. But don’t let those purchases hurt your FICO (Fair Isaac Credit Score) by charging more than 30% on any one card. Check your credit card limits as well as your balances online or by phone and then make certain that you charge on the card that is lowest proportionally. Even if you are able to pay off these credit card bills next month, charges of more than 50% of the available limit on any given card can hurt your FICO. So be strategic by separating those purchases and saving your credit score.
  • SAVE – It used to be that Black Friday was just a day, this year it’s an entire season. It’s truly a buyer’s market amongst retailers and there are last minute deals to be had, especially electronics and clothing. But what if you don’t have time to go and battle the crowds at the store? There’s an easier way to give last minute gifts that simplifies your time, saves you money and keeps you on budget.
    1. Gift certificates (online and physical cards) – If you want to send an online gift certificate to someone, it’s as easy as pointing and clicking. They’ll receive notification in their in-box that you’ve bought them a gift certificate and you can follow up with an e-card alerting them that the notification they will receive from the retailer is not spam. For some great options, go to restaurant.com for discounts on eating out or check out potential deals at amazon.com For a review of codes that can give you a better deal, go to RetailMeNot.
    2. Gifts of Time – Some of the most memorable gifts I’ve ever received are gifts of time. One girlfriend gifted me with a certificate good for lunch at my favorite bistro. My kids have given me handmade “coupons” that are good for doing the dishes, cleaning the living room, babysitting a younger sibling or not back talking me for a week (hey, I’m happy for a day). You could write out your own coupon and give the recipient a card that says, “This card entitles you to dinner and a movie” or “This card can be redeemed for a night out on the town while we babysit your teething twins.” This can be FUN!
  • Share – I’m all about multitasking and getting the most out of my efforts as well as my money. Now is the perfect time to give to charity in a way that also benefits you financially with your taxes. This year, given the current economy and the great material needs in communities why not consider giving the “gift” of a donation in someone’s name? Our favorite non profit organization is Heroes at Home which provides free financial education for military members. Currently, 95% of your donations go directly to programs on base.  Look over your list of people and consider making a donation in their name instead of giving them a material gift. You don’t have to tell them the amount of the gift and you can make one donation in the names of several people—thereby giving an amount that allows you stay within your budget. Furthermore, this kind of gift could be tax-deductible and help you (if you itemize) on your taxes as well. It’s a gift that keeps on giving.

Merry Christmas!
Ellie Kay
www.elliekay.com

Thanksgiving Traditions

Thankful Traditions

The Kay family photo for Woman’s Day magazine.

Not every “savings” can be measured in dollars and cents. One of the things we emphasized in our family is the saving of memories. Our Thankful Tree was featured in a Woman’s Day magazine one year. It took two photographers 8 rolls of film and four hours to get one 3 x 5 photo in the magazine. Joshua was missing for one roll of film and we didn’t notice until we saw him making faces from behindthe photographers and we asked, “What are you doing back there?”

The tip we gave is how we’ve stayed in touch with family and friends during this holiday. On November 1st, we made a Thankful Tree on poster board and put it on our wall or front door. The tree was bare because the leaves that we made out of construction paper have not yet been gathered. The leaves have the person’s name on them and say, “Papa is thankful for _________.” But we left the tree bare at the beginning of the season to teach the children how barren our lives are without the giving of thanks.

We made and sent the leaves to friends and family around the world along with a self-addressed envelope. When these envelopes came back, the children got excited as they took turns opening them. At dinner that night, we read the leaf and give thanks along with those who are thankful and put the leaf on our tree. By Thanksgiving Day, we had a tree full of thanks. We carefully saved the leaves in an envelope marked by the year and kept all in our Thanksgiving decoration box. Each year, we read the leaves from past years.

We never know when this year’s leaf might be someone’s last, or which family might have a new leaf on next year’s tree. So we give thanks.  These days, we gather “thankful comments” from facebook, email and twitter, but the point is we are connecting with friends and family in a meaningful way.

This holiday, what are YOU thankful for?  Besides our health and our family, we are thankful for two weddings this year, healthy grandchildren, and the chance to be together during the holidays.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Ellie Kay

 

Thanksgiving Traditions

Thankful Traditions

The Kay family photo for Woman’s Day magazine.

Not every “savings” can be measured in dollars and cents. One of the things we emphasized in our family is the saving of memories. Our Thankful Tree was featured in a Woman’s Day magazine one year. It took two photographers 8 rolls of film and four hours to get one 3 x 5 photo in the magazine. Joshua was missing for one roll of film and we didn’t notice until we saw him making faces from behindthe photographers and we asked, “What are you doing back there?”

The tip we gave is how we’ve stayed in touch with family and friends during this holiday. On November 1st, we made a Thankful Tree on poster board and put it on our wall or front door. The tree was bare because the leaves that we made out of construction paper have not yet been gathered. The leaves have the person’s name on them and say, “Uncle Steve is thankful for _________.” But we left the tree bare at the beginning of the season to teach the children how barren our lives are without the giving of thanks.

We made and sent the leaves to friends and family around the world along with a self-addressed envelope. When these envelopes came back, the children got excited as they took turns opening them. At dinner that night, we read the leaf and give thanks along with those who are thankful and put the leaf on our tree. By Thanksgiving Day, we had a tree full of thanks. We carefully saved the leaves in an envelope marked by the year and kept all in our Thanksgiving decoration box. Each year, we read the leaves from past years.

We never know when this year’s leaf might be someone’s last, or which family might have a new leaf on next year’s tree. So we give thanks.  These days, we gather “thankful comments” from facebook, email and twitter, but the point is we are connecting with friends and family in a meaningful way.

This holiday, what are YOU thankful for?  Besides our health and our family, we are thankful for a new baby in the family, a newly commissioned LT, a son on the USMA Color guard, a Marine who safely came back from Iraq and for a daughter who just got engaged.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Ellie Kay

 

Saving in the Store with Links to Super Savings

By learning how to save money in stores for groceries, toiletries, and cleaners, you can also begin your journey to million-dollar life. The only true failure would be never to start. Here are some tips to save money in the store, whether you’re destined to be a Savings Queen or not. If you apply a few of these tips, you could save up to 50 percent and if you apply most of them, you could cut your food bill by as much as 80 percent. Here are some of the best tips to transform you from a coupon commoner to a Coupon Queen.

  1. The List: Research indicates if you shop with a list and stick to it you are likely to spend as much as 30 percent less than listless (pun intended) shoppers. The exception could be when you can get items for pennies (or free) that are not on your list—get these anyway!
  2. Impulse “Buy-Buy” Guys: Using a list has a second benefit: researchers show that the typical consumer spends almost $100 per hour while shopping a discount department store, grocery store, or discount club. In other words, the more time you have to window-shop, the more money you’ll spend. Just think, spending thirty minutes more in a store can cost you $50! So get in and get out of there as quickly as possible and say bye-bye to impulse buys.
  3. Store Directory: Make your list according to aisle order and you’ll save even more time and money. By shopping according to aisle order, you won’t become a grocery nomad—wandering back and forth while you look for that last item on your list. Go to the customer service desk at the store you frequent and ask them for a map of the store. These are usually called an aisle order chart, store directory, or store map.
  4. Price Comping: Many stores including Wal-Mart Superstores, will match competitors’ sale prices. Check and see which stores do this in your area, not the store and sale price on your list, bring those sales circulars with you, and then ask the checker for the lowest price. This tip takes only minutes and saved our family over #3,500 last year because it can also apply to anything in the store (electronics, household goods, etc.). It also saves time and gas.
  5. Tune Out and Cash In: Watch fewer television commercials. A recent consumer report indicated that couch potatoes are far more likely to overspend at the store for each one minute commercial the watch die to the marketing effects of this medium—to the tune of an average of $260 per hour! Keep in mind that this dollar figure includes everything from Skittles and Diet Coke to a new car or luxury item.
  6. Savings 101: Buy products when they are on sale. This may sound elementary and it is, but you’d be surprised at how many people do not take advantage of sales. They’re “too busy” to shop the sales, or when something goes on sale, the think, Well, I still have some of that at home, I don’t need it now. Get the sale ads in your weekly paper and make your list according to what is on sale. Be sure and put your list in aisle order and save the sale ads for your price comping trips.
  7. Sale Awareness: Don’t give in to “impulse buying” for sales. If the discount is only 10 percent, then think twice about giving in to the urge to buy the product simply because it’s on sale. The exception would be if the item is needed immediately—in that case, you can be grateful for the fact you’ve saved 10 percent rather than nothing!
  8. Loss Leaders: Shop the loss leaders. These are items in the sale circular that the store is selling for less than their cost in order to get the consumer into the store. If you come in to buy the $.99 chicken breasts, then chances are good you’ll go ahead and pick up another thirty items you “need” while you’re in the store.
  9. Go Online for More Savings: Online has so many opportunities to save from food to prescription drugs to clothes. Check out the chart below from http://www.wow-coupons.com/ for great guide to saving money on and offline:
Wow Coupons Grocery

 

 

FREE Grocery printable coupons site! Many many grocery printable coupons from top brands.
Hopster Hopster maximizes savings on your favorite household brands by allowing you to customize your coupons. Getting started with Hopster is easy. Print a few FREE coupons. Start a quest and complete fun activities to unlock exclusive higher-value coupons.
Coupon Bar Download our FREE CouponBar and get quick and easy access to dozens of coupons on your favorite brand name products!
FreeFlys Get FREE samples from top name brands! Cheap is good, but FREE is better!
SavingStar  FREE eCoupons – new way to shop! Select the eCoupons you like and they’ll link them to your store loyalty cards! Use your loyalty card at checkout. Your money is automatically added to your SavingStar account!
RedPlum FREE Grocery printable coupons site! Many many grocery printable coupons from top brands. More savings!
SmartSource FREE Grocery printable coupons site! More savings!
Entertainment Members love Entertainment® because it is the most convenient way to access exclusive discounts and coupons in their area. Enjoy your life more with savings on the things you love to do.
Couponizer Portable system for organizing, storing, and accessing coupons! Get FREE compact mirror w/order!
SavingsAngel Save on groceries now with help from SavingsAngel. Get “Extreme Couponing” deals without the extreme lifestyle. Each week, an army of nearly 100 angels compiles store sales, manufacturer coupons, offers, rebates and promotions. $2.50 a week membership.
Coupon Clippers Buy grocery coupons! Get exactly what you need!
Select Coupon Program Join Susan Samtur’s Select Coupon Program today to receive $25 in FREE coupons. Afterwards you can buy and sell grocery coupons!
eBay  eBay is the world’s largest online marketplace, where practically anyone can buy and sell practically anything. Buy Grocery coupons at eBay!
MySavings FREE Samples Find various FREE Samples and product samples to give consumers the opportunity to try their latest and greatest product lines.
Quality Health FREE Samples Receive FREE coupons, discounts, and special offers from leading brand name pharmaceutical and packaged goods companies. FREE Samples!
FREE CookBook 100 Diabetes-friendly FREE Recipes.
FREE Prescription-Savings DPRxCard Card FREE Prescription-savings Drug Card – for everyone– 10% to 60% savings on most medications. Over 48,000 national and regional pharmacy chain stores. Valid at pharmacies: Target, Walgreens, CVS, RiteAid, Costco, Pathmark, and many others.
Pharmacy Discount Network – FREE Prescription-Savings Sign up and receive a FREE discount drug card to save up to 75% on prescription drugs. It’s good at over 65,000 drug stores: Albertsons, CVS, Costco, Eckerd, Kmart, Duane Reade, Target, Walmart, Safeway, Walgreens, Publix, RiteAid.
YourRxCoupons.com

Sign up and receive up to 75% FREE with the pharmacy savings coupons from YourRxCoupons.
You & Your Family

Multiple printable coupons from few brands. Palmer’s Cocoa Butter & more
Colgate-Palmolive

Multiple printable coupons from Colgate-Palmolive brand.
Internet Drug Coupons.com   FREE database of 216 downloadable coupons for prescription drugs,

non-prescription drugs, and medicines for pets.

Home Solutions

Printable coupons from few brands: JET-DRY, ELECTRASOL, LYSOL, etc .
Procter & Gamble

Enjoy the latest samples and coupons from P&GbrandSAMPLER, a member benefit of P&G Everyday Solutions..
Right @ Home

SC Johnson offers great home-care products you use every day, like Windex®, Glade®, Scrubbing Bubbles®, Ziploc®, Pledge®, Raid®, etc.
Living Naturally

Organic grocery food printable coupons.
Organic Valley

Organic Valley Soy, Milk and other printable coupons.
Mambo Sprouts

Organic and Healthy grocery food printable coupons.

Ellie Kay

America’s Family Financial Expert ®

Quick Guide to Grocery Coupons

A Quick Guide To Coupons 

     I remember the very first time my eyes locked onto it. In my seven-year-old mind I didn’t realize it at the time, but this was love at first sight. Who would have thought that a little piece of paper would one day open the door to a literal, million-dollar life? There was something magical about the script, the numbers, and the pretty picture. It was as if I found out that the king and queen of Genovia were at the same hospital as my parents when I was born and that I was switched at birth. It was as if the royals took home the wrong baby and I was a princess who went to live with mere commoners.

What was this precious paper you ask? The paper I fell in love with was—a coupon.

Coupons made me feel like a queen and ushered in a lifestyle change. It was where I not only was able to save money for my family and help us get out of debt, but it was the bridge from a business background to a new career as “America’s Family Financial Expert” ®. Here is a quick guide on coupons that can start your life as a financial royal.

  1. Store Coupons: A true store coupon is one that is issued by the store and not the manufacturer. Consumers can tell if it’s a true store coupon by the redemption address in the coupons fine print. If it has the manufacturer’s name, then it is a genuine store coupon. This will be a critical point in the ability to layer savings factors while using a store coupon.
  2. Price Store coupons: These are usually store coupons, but sometimes they are manufacturers’ coupons. These coupons will give the shopper a product for a specific price and sometimes free. For example, I used a store price coupon last week for Colgate toothpaste, which gave me a price of $.99 (a savings of $2.00 off the regular price).
  3. Combine Coupons: A consumer cannot ever combine two manufacturers’ coupons on one item—such as a regular manufacturers’ coupon and an electronic coupon. But you can combine a manufacturer’s coupon and a genuine store coupon for big savings. For example, CVS Drugs Stores offered a price store coupon for Secret deodorant for $1.19 and I had a manufacturer’s coupon for $1 off, so I got my fave deodorant for only $.19. That’s a “secret” that I can’t keep to myself!
  4. Instant coupons: Look for product instant coupons. Sometimes products will have a “Use This Coupon Now” coupon attached that you can tear off and use immediately. Keep in mind that these are always a form of a manufacturer’s coupon. These are also available on your stores’ app that you should download ahead of time.
  5. Product Packaging: Look inside the product for more manufacturers’ coupons, special offers, or rebates. Sometimes there will be a coupon in side the box for cents off the next purchase or for a rebate or another special offer. I got Kellogg’s cereal bowls for a couple of box tops and $2 postages and handling—these were quality bowls that the kids used for several years.
  6. Take it on the Road: When leaving for a vacation or taking an extended trip to another city to see family, take the coupons with you. This system works anywhere, but the savings factors will range from average to super depending on the offers available at local stores.
  7. Electronic Coupons: Check out the different websites or apps that offer free coupons. You should not pay for ANY coupon online—it completely defeats the purpose, and, in many cases, it is a scam. Check out these reliable sites I found on http://sunshineandsippycups.com/. Note that many of the websites may have the same or similar coupons. But if you usually buy multiples of an item, such as 3 or 4 packages of cheese or lunchmeats when they’re on sale, then being able to print out the same coupon on a few sites can be pretty handy.
  • CELLFIRE: Save grocery coupons directly to your supermarket savings card with Cellfire.
  • COUPONS.COM: Free Coupons! Save on your favorite brands. Print free coupons before you shop.
  • A FULL CUP: Great resource for printable coupons, as well as sale match-ups and tips!
  • INBOX DOLLARS: There are a lot of ways to get freebies and earn cash here – But a super awesome tool is that you can find your favorite coupons here, and get PAID when you print them!
  • GROCERY COUPON NETWORK: 100% FREE registration to receive free printable coupons, exclusive email savings, recipes and helpful grocery savings tips.
  • LIVE BETTER AMERICA: This is a great way to get high-value coupons. They’ll send you a weekly newsletter with the best from brands like Pillsbury and other kid-friendly faves, and they’ll match them to recipes too.
  • SWAGBUCKS: This is another site that offers lots of ways to get freebies, and also pays you for printing coupons on their site – very cool!
  • PENNY PINCHER GAZETTE: Visit Penny Pincher Gazette for Free Printable Grocery Coupons!
  • RED PLUM: Print Free Grocery Coupons from RedPlum!
  • VOCALPOINT: Vocalpoint was made for smart, deal-savvy women like you. Coupons, Samples, Tips, and more cool stuff.
  • FREE COUPON ALERTS: Lets you know when the newest coupons are available.

Ellie Kay

America’s Family Financial Expert (R) 

Summer, Squash and Squeamish Eaters!

Summer, Squash and Squeamish Eaters

If you have kids, you probably know what it’s like to have picky eaters in the house. One loves pickles, another one hates them. Someone doesn’t like mushrooms, another hates the taste of celery and one has aspirations of a completely carnivorous diet.

Fortunately, there are ways to hide nutritional ingredients in your meals. One of my staple recipes for our children is squash casserole. It’s ooey, gooey and packed with healthy nutrients like Vitamin C. It’s also affordable, considering summer is squash season. Best of all, it’s easy-to-make, filling and just as good when eaten for leftovers.

Hungry yet? Here’s a version of my squash casserole recipe if you’d like to try it out this summer:

Ingredients:

–       3 pounds of yellow squash (or zucchini, depending on what’s on sale)

–       1 large onion

–       2 cups of your favorite shredded cheese

–       30 crushed round buttery crackers (Ritz or something similar)

–       ½ cup of cream, milk, cream cheese or unflavored Greek yogurt

–       4 tablespoons of butter/margarine

–       salt and pepper

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325°.
  2. Dice onion and sauté with butter in a large skillet on medium.
  3. Chop squash and immediately place in skillet with the onions.
  4. Sauté for 10 minutes, or until squash is tender (easily breaks apart with a fork).
  5. Add cream/milk, 1 cup cheese and half the crushed crackers and cook until cheese is melted (about two minutes).
  6. Pour mixture into a greased casserole pan and top with rest of crackers and cheese.
  7. Bake for 15-20 minutes.
  8. Let it set for a minute or two (it’s hot!) and enjoy.

Another great thing about this recipe is that it’s super-versatile. Like a little spice? Dice up a jalapeno or add some cayenne pepper. You can also make it cheesier or healthier by adjusting the amount of cheese.

Play around with it and create your own family squash casserole recipe!

What is YOUR favorite summer recipe?

Ellie Kay

America’s Family Financial Expert (R) 

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