A Financial Education Event

The Honeymooners – How to Have a Debt Free Wedding

One of the most invisible women at a wedding is the mother of the groom. I found that being invisible was actually a lot of fun because my son was marrying the right little lady at the right time and in the right way! All eyes should be on the bride–and groom.

The bride wore white and the groom was in black–in the black, to be precise. Our oldest son, Daniel, graduated from college debt free last month with a great FICO score and no consumer debt. This past week he got married and once again, there was no debt associated with the ceremony, reception or honeymoon! In fact the only “red” that this new couple got into was their (paid for) red convertible. And it wasn’t because mommy and daddy took care of all the boy’s bills, it was because he learned about financial freedom and living within your means. Starting out well in life by paying cash may mean you wait on the things you want to get, but it also means that there’s twice the likelihood Daniel and his bride will not divorce since one in two couples cite “money issues” as the reason they separated.

I gave them The New Bride Guide when they got engaged over a year ago and they used it as their wedding planner. Thousands of other couples have done the same and here are just a few of the key tips to have the wedding of your dreams in the reality of today’s economy.

  • Live Your Plan – It’s important to evaluate how much you can spend by having careful and honest discussions with parents, grandparents or others who will contribute to the wedding. Don’t work your plan until you know how much you have to spend. I have a chapter that gives you the step by step guidelines for these discussions. Too many couples make their plans first then struggle with a way to pay for it later which usually means debt.
  • Bargaining – By incorporating five words (is this your best price?) you can save thousands of dollars on everything from invitations, dresses, flowers, photography, the rehearsal dinner and the honeymoon! Learn the fine art of bargaining.
  • Honeymoon Savings – Daniel followed the tips on vacations and got a rock bottom price on an incredible honeymoon trip to Ireland. They layered the savings online for other items they needed for the trip and saved as much as 50%.

You don’t have to be the son of a financial expert to learn how to have a tasteful debt free wedding. As I told Daniel, it’s not about planning a wedding, it’s about planning a marriage and starting a marriage debt free is the best gift you can give your bride.

Ellie Kay

America’s Family Financial Expert (R)


Back To School, Baby! – ABC News “Good Money” Show

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Summers are great and kids run free, but by the end of the break, a lot of parents are more than ready to start that back-to-school shopping. Truth be told, I think my “babies” are as ready to get back in the academic groove as I am ready to send them back! (BTW, I still call my 6’5″ sons baby and get away with it). But getting ready can be hard on the old bank account if you are not strategic in how you shop. Here are some ideas that I shared on a new ABC News Now show called “Good Money”
1. Layer the Savings –When shopping online, look for sale items where you can also use a coupon or code to save even more on the price, shipping, or by getting free products. With the economy forcing parents to make hard decisions about what’s really a necessity, putting a little research into finding extra discounts can add up to big savings.

2. “Double Dipping” – To maximize limited back-to-school shopping dollars, look for items that have good value, but also look to shop at locations where you can have a percentage of that purchase deposited into your child’s college savings account. Sign up for www.upromise.com so that a percentage of your purchases will go into your child’s 529 plan.

3. Logistical Savings – If your college-bound baby is attending a school out of state, shop at online retailers that also have physical stores in the town where she/he is going to school. Often times, these retailers have online-to-store options where they will send the products to one of their local stores without charging a shipping fee. This option will allow parents and students to shop at their leisure online, take advantage of all the savings options, and have the convenience of going to a local store to pick up the items they ordered.

4. Link-in Friends and Family – Oftentimes, family and friends want to help contribute to a child’s education, but they don’t know how to help – especially in a recession. Grandparents or others can sign up for Upromise as well, for free to have a percentage of their purchases from hundreds of participating merchants deposited in a college savings account.

5. Family Spending Plan – Distinguish between “needs” and “wants” by making financial savings a family affair. Give children a spending plan that shows them how much money they can spend on back-to-school items. Inform children that what they do not spend, they can keep. This added motivation of learning ways to spend less and save more not only saves the family money, but trains children in money matters, making them more adept as young adults.

Wonderfully Yours!

Ellie Kay
America’s Family Financial Expert (R)

Five Ways to Stay on Budget this Summer!

Summer means a lot of fun for the Kay Family, we’re going to get to see mini pilots flying in from overseas as well as an airplane hopping son in the deep old south of Georgia.

Recently, I was on ABC NEWS NOW, talking about how summer is a tough time for anyone to control spending, much less stay on a budget. With the kids out of school and summer vacation around the corner, it’s a time when people fall victim to the thought, “I’ll go on vacation now and deal with the bills later.”

But there are ways to cut back on spending to stay on budget before summer hits. The three areas that require consumers to spend money on a regular basis, that do not go away with difficult economic times: groceries, gas and family essentials (such as clothing, birthday gifts, etc). You can plan for summer and still stay on budget for these “little” areas that add up to big expenses.

Q. Ellie, we often think of the holidays as a difficult time to stay on a personal finance budget, but this time of the year is really is a difficult time to stay as well. There are end of the school year gifts to buy, vacations to plan and a summer clothes to get for the kids. We have to start somewhere, and you say the first step is to start with a plan?

ELLIE: Yes, it’s amazing how kids keep growing every year and the summer clothes they wore last season are two sizes too small this year. But having a plan is a good place to start and while the basic a plan is a budget, now is the time to break down the household budget into a plan for the more manageable subsections. This time of year, stores and websites are cleverly designed to get you to spend more than you intended. So it’s important to know what you are going to get and spend before you go to the mall or online. This plan will take into consideration past spending behavior and any impulse buys that tend to kick in while you’re in spending mode. Write down what you are going to spend in the little areas and be specific. If your two preschoolers need clothing, then conduct an inventory of what each of them has—including any hand-me-downs and the vacation gear they may need for the entire season. If you’re planning a vacation and find that you will eat fewer meals at home because you’re going to be away, then don’t budget the same amount for the grocery store. Otherwise, you’re adding spending upon spending when you should be cutting in one area and adding in another.

Q. So we have a plan, the next step is to not fall for questionable “deals.” What do you mean by this?

ELLIE: This time of year, you’ll see sales on summer clothing, electronics and even summer foods—all the things that people are thinking about as the school year winds down and vacation time starts to gear up. But not all sales are created equal and you may see a lot of $90 digital cameras and $100 GPS sales but there can be a huge difference in the models. So before you pick up a steal of a deal, do a general price search on the specific model at Shopping.com or PriceGrabber.com before you get too excited. Plus, if you go into the store and they do not have it in stock, ask for a substitute that is an upgrade from the model that is on sale. You’ll be surprised at how much you can save by just asking. It’s also important to read the fine print in a sale advertisement. If there is a “limited quantity” or “no substitutions” then that could impact your spending plan. Finally, look at the whole world of “price comps” this is where a store offers to match the price of competitors in any sale advertisement that you bring into the store. While one store may not have that GPS in stock and may not offer rainchecks, another store might match the sale and have plenty in stock. We’ve taken advantage of this kind of offer quite a few times, so much so that price comping has become a habit in our family. This can also save quite a bit of money and help to keep you on track in the “little” areas that can tend to torpedo the budget.

Q. So we have a plan, we’re not falling for questionable “deals” and now you say that the next step is “don’t miss any discounts.” How can this help keep us on track and what if there aren’t any discounts—especially for things like gas and other essentials?

ELLIE: Just because a store or website doesn’t mention a discount on merchandise or shipping on its site or in the ads doesn’t mean its not offering any. There is often a number out there in cyberspace that can be retried into either the promotional code box online or even a coupon code into the register at the mall. To find out if what you are buying has an additional discount, go to RetailMeNot.com on your computer or smartphone and enter the store’s name. Or you can go to CouponCabin.com, BradsDeals.com and you may find digital coupons that you can download from the store’s websites.
The same principle applies in the grocery store or when filling up your tank with gas. Go to couponmom.com to save in the grocery store and Go to gaspricewatch.com to find the best values on gas. Don’t forget to check and see if the gas station may offer an unadvertised free car wash, cup of coffee or soda. I just found out that I could have been a lot more caffeinated, for free, at my neighborhood gas station when the attendant asked me, “are you going to get your free cup of coffee?” Once again, if you just do your research you’ll find all kinds of freebies and these “little” things, when multiplied and combined will add up to big savings if you create this awareness level.

Q. You’ve covered a lot of areas so far, but what about those birthday, Father’s Day, and “teacher gifts” that we still need to buy this time of year. Does your next step give us some ideas on what we should buy in terms of gifts?

ELLIE: Yes, in our family of seven, I remember those days when all the kids were in school and we had to buy as many as 40 “teacher gifts” to say thanks to what these educators do all year long. It really added up. Plus, there are birthdays, anniversaries, and other special days that may happen in summer months as well.
I have seen that there is a trend toward necessities rather than luxuries that has emerged since the great recession. Consequently, practical gifts including cookbooks, exercise equipment and power tools are on the top of the list for gift giving. This doesn’t mean that its OK to give your wife a microwave for your 10th anniversary, unless this is on her list, but it probably is OK to get your husband a new power drill for Father’s Day.
Do the research we recommended earlier and comparison shop, combine the lowest price with free shipping and coupon codes and you’ll find that those gifts don’t have to bust your budget. Furthermore, I think that concentrating on the “multiple use” gifts is also a practical way to go.
These are gifts such as DVDs, music, cookware, etc. Gifts that will keep on giving year round.

Q. The final step you recommend in order to stay on budget in the little things is to use cash or debit cards. There are pros and cons to using debit instead of credit, what are your thoughts on this?

ELLIE: Yes, there is a time to use a credit card instead of debit when it comes to charges that you may dispute on your credit card or when you want an extended warranty or the added protection that comes from using a credit card. However, for these little areas, we tend to track the spending better by using cash or debit and consumers are far less likely to go into debt because people simply spend less when they are using cash according to the Journal of Experimental Psychology, Applied. Store clerks have long found that it is easier to persuade people who are using credit cards to spend more than they were intending. And when it comes to shopping online, you dn’t necessarily need a credit card to have more protection than using your debit card online. One other option that won’t get you into debt is to research the layaway plan at your local retailer by going to eLayaway.com

Happy Summer!
Ellie Kay
America’s Family Financial Expert (R)

Give the Gift of Education

Christmas is one of my most favorite times of the year and this year, more people are getting into the idea of gifting than last year. In fact, according to a recent survey, 73% of consumers say that they will spend the same as last year during the fourth quarter, and 18% of consumers report that they will spend more. So spending is back up again, but I think that strategic spending is more important now than ever.
It’s important for consumers to be careful and thoughtful in the decisions they make when it comes to buying gifts this holiday. That’s why I’ve partnered with Upromise to tell my friends about the gift of education. So while parents and grandparents (even favorite aunties) are splurging on kids, why not work on saving for kids, too by providing for that cute kid’s college education?

You can open a 529 account for any beneficiary, or gift money using Ugift into an Upromise Investments 529 plan. If you don’t already have a 529 plan, then you are really missing out because the contributions can benefit from tax deferred growth. Also, gifting into one of these plans this time of year also means that you can possibly take advantage of year end tax deductions. Just check to see if you are eligible for states income tax deductions or credits for saving for college. For example, parents and grandparents can contribute as much as $13,000 ($26,000 if married filing jointly) into a 529 plan without incurring gift taxes. A special rule allows married couples to gift up to $130,000 ($65,000 if single) as long as no additional gifts are made to that beneficiary over a five year period. This also applies to recent college grads who might appreciate a meaningful gift to help pay a student loan payment. Plus, you don’t have to be a parent or grandparent to participate, other friends and family can make contributions to your child’s 529 plan by gifting money or by buying gifts, which brings me to my next point—how to save money by spending money.

Most people, know about Upromise from signing up for their buying program. I’ve been participating for years by going to Upromise.com and then purchasing through participating online retailers. These are stores where I would shop anyway and I get anywhere from 1% to 25% back for the purchases I make. And our family isn’t the only one doing this. Last year, during the holiday season Upromise members received $12 million in college savings rewards from eligible holiday spending. Because membership is free and members have collectively earned $575 million in college savings from purchasing items online or even by buying gas or groceries. I book a lot of travel for my business and often find myself eating out—all these are also included toward my children’s 529 plans.

So consider giving the gift of education to a child you love—either by saving or spending, and the world will be a much smarter place!

Happy Holidays!

Ellie Kay
America’s Family Financial Expert ®

Five Apps To Save Money in the Store

I don’t dumpster dive, hound my friends for coupons, or store up a years’ worth of toilet paper in my garage–but I did manage to save $160,000 on coupons! That’s enough money to put seven kids through college or buy a modest airplane for my hubby (he votes for the airplane, I vote for college and guess whose vote counts DOUBLE?).

You don’t have to clip coupons to save with all the wonderful apps that are available on your smart phone. So there’s really no excuse to pay full price in the store! Here are some of my favorite apps:

Five Apps to Save Money in the Store

1. Shopper –One of the reasons people overspend at the grocery store is because they impulse buy or get things they really do not need. Making a list saves money and is easy when you use Shopper. This app lets you make several lists at a time for different stores, it calculates sales tax, allows for quantities, tracks your coupons and is secure because you need a password to open it (just in case you’re putting those Reeces on the list and your hubby never sees them.) It costs .99

2. Check and Compare 1024 — Ever wonder how much money you are spending at the store while shopping and if you’re getting the best price? Just enter your item prices and quantities and “Checkout” will show you just how much your bill will be at the register. The “Compare” portion allows you to compare prices based on quantity and size to show the best value. You can then transfer the best value price to the checkout price field. The Budget tool can be set and keeps track of your remaining budget for one or multiple shopping trips until cleared. This app costs $2.99

3. Coupon Sherpa – This FREE app eliminates the need for a traditional coupon book by providing hundreds of in-store coupons for many merchants on your iPhone or iPod Touch. The coupons can be scanned by optical scanners right from your phone! Save money on food, clothing, shoes, restaurants, electronics, travel, jewelry, sporting goods, books and more. You can find coupons by category or store name, email coupons to friends, create your own favorites list of stores and find the store nearest you.

4. Yowza – This is another FREE app to launch on your iPhone, iPod Touch, or android phone and it instantly goes about finding deals and coupons in your geographic area. When you walk up to the cashier, just show the deal on your device and let them scan the barcode or type in the coupon code. No clipping. No stashing coupons in your wallet or purse. No need to remember which location that restaurant coupon was good for. It features city and zip code based coupon searches, notifications when your favorite store adds a coupon and you can share your savings via Twitter, Facebook, or Email.

5. Amazon Mobile — The FREE Amazon Mobile app allows you to quickly search, shop, compare prices, read reviews, and make purchases on Amazon.com using a simple, interface. Amazon customers have full access to their existing account. It also includes “Amazon Remembers” that allows you to use the camera on your iPhone to create a visual list. The photos you take from the app are stored on both the Amazon Mobile app and Amazon’s website. If the item you want to remember is a product, Amazon Remembers will try to find a product similar to your photo for sale on the web. If they do, they’ll send you an e-mail alert and post the result along with the photo.

Happy Savings!
Ellie Kay
America’s Family Financial Expert (R)

Frugal Living – The New Normal

In today’s economy—with the stock market looking more like a roller coaster than a steady climb, with gas prices hovering well above where they were in recent years, and with household expenses continuing to price families out of too-tight budgets—many families are looking for good ways to save money without injuring their lifestyles. I’ve put together a handful of quick tips that will pad your wallet without cutting corners.

One great way to save on everyday activities and outings is a coupon book.  Entertainment.com offers a coupon book that is available for 150 metro markets and costs between $25 and $45. Preview the coupon booklet for your area (or an area where you will vacation) to see if the coupons are ones you will use.  You’ll not only save on eating out, but you can also save on movie theaters, theme parks, dry cleaning, and local shopping.

  • Average advertised total book savings – $17,000
  • To only redeem 25% is annual savings of $4250
  • A mere 10% redemption savings is $1700 per year

Dining out is a necessity for some families with busy schedules or long commutes, and for some it’s a luxury reserved for special occasions. If you want to try out a new restaurant, but you don’t want to pay full price, you can go to Restaurant.com, a site that issues coupons and gift certificates for over 6,000 eateries around the country. Our family picks a spot and pays $10 for a $25 gift certificate—we save over 50% in the process!

  • Average restaurant bill for a family of four is $86
  • Family saves $43 x 52 weeks = $2236

Two absolute necessities for any family are Home Insurance and Auto Insurance. The average family can save a good deal of money with just a little homework and a short conversation with your insurance agent. For your home, you should raise your deductibles to at least 3% of the total value of the home and make sure to only insure the replacement value of the dwelling (usually 80% of the selling price of the home) because you’re insuring the home not the dirt.

  • This is an average homeowner’s savings of  $250 per year.

For auto insurance, make a phone call to ask for all the discounts that your company may offer. Some companies offer discounts that include: combining homeowners’ and auto policies with the same carrier, non-smoker discounts, good student rates, car alarm systems, storing the vehicle in a garage versus carport or street, rating the most expensive car with a stay-at-home (or for pleasure only) rating, being between the ages of 30 and 60, and discount for driver’s safety course certificate (taken to keep a ticket from appearing on the driving record.).

  • This could save the average two-car family with a youthful driver $900 per year.

One great place to save a few extra dollars that many families don’t consider is simple home updates. If you still have young children at home, you may want to wait to have your furniture recovered. By purchasing a quality slipcover for $65 instead of buying a new sofa for $850, you save $785. By placing a crocheted doily for $15 on the coffee table  to cover scratches made by a speeding Corvette (Hot Wheels size!) you save $115 over buying a new table for $130.

  • Total savings on simple in-home updates is $900

One of the most draining line-items in a family’s budget are unexpected and costly repairs. These fixes can add up over time, but they can get a lot more expensive if not quickly addressed. My guiding principle is: Repair now, save later. Broken tiles and chipped grout in the kitchen and bathrooms should be fixed immediately in order to minimize water damage to tiles and the wallboard.

  • The average repair to damage of this kind costs $350
  • Preventative maintenance is about a $30 repair for a savings of $320

Armed with these tips and more to come, you can save money on every-day expenses. It’s simple to live rich for less; it just requires a little creativity, a little know-how, and a lot of savings!

Savvy Saver Quiz – part 3 – Entertainment

Here’s part three of our savvy shopper quiz, to see how you measure up in terms of being a smart consumer. Today’s quiz is on entertainment and I want to hear from you about the cool ways you are saving in this category!


 Q.  How many meals do you, and family members eat out each week?        

      (DearReader, please count each meal eaten out separately. For example, a

      family of four eating dinner would count as four meals.)

 a)  0-2

b)  3-4

c)  5-6

d) 7 or more

 Q.  How many full price movie tickets do you purchase each week? (Please note that matinee or discounted tickets count as ½ a ticket)

a)  0-2

b)  3-4

c)  5-6

d)  7 or more

 Q.  How many new release movies do you rent each week? (Please note that non new releases count as ½ and a monthly movie pass counts as 3 per week).

a)  0-2

b)  3-4

c)  5-6

d)  7 or more

 Q.  How many “treat dates” do you fund for your friends or family each week? (Please note a treat is counted as one per ice cream, coffee drink, smoothie, milkshake, etc.  A family of four going out for frappuccinos would count as four treats.)

a)  0-3

b)  4-6

c)  7-9

d) 10 or more

 Q.  How often do you or your family participate in other “special event” excursions and/or services per week? (Please count as one per paid admission to zoo, amusement park, skating, bowling, paintballing, spa treatments, manicures, pedicures, facials, etc) 

a) 0-1

b) 2-3

c) 4-5

d) 6 or more

 Welcome to the scoring section of the Entertainment category – Give yourself the following points: every “A” answer = 4 points, every “B” answer – 3 points, every “C” answer – 2 points and every “D” answer – 1 point

 16-20 points:  Thrifty Taylor – Well done, you’re a SUPER SMART ENTERTAINER! When it comes to getting the most bang for your entertainment buck. You may have already learned that eating in is the new eating out. Plus, you might be one of those who has made entertainment investments, such as a big screen tv and then take advantage of that at home. Just because you’re the smartest doesn’t mean you do without either—you still get to go out and have fun, you’re just smart about the way you stretch a dollar. 

 11-15 points:  Low Cost Logan – Good Job, you’re a SMART ENTERTAINER! – You are doing a good job at keeping entertainment costs down when eating out and selecting entertainment. You also moderate how you buy treats, extras and spend those dollars. There is slight room to improve, but you are in a nice position to continue to be smart with your entertainment dollars and still have fun with the people you love!

 6-10 points:  Moderate Morgan – Nice Work, you are an ENTERTAINER! – There are some areas where you have learned to stretch your entertainment dollar but you may still be eating out more than your budget likes, hitting the store for lattes and going to movies frequently. Or, you might just have a large family and that impacts your entertainment budget. By looking at the Free Standing Inserts in your Sunday paper, you can find certificates for local restaurants in order to stretch your eating out dollar. Or, you may consider buying a monthly movie pass if you are prone to renting new releases quite frequently. There are ways to bring your entertainment savings to new level and you are just the one to do it!

 5 points:  Extravagant Emerson – You are a one who ENJOYS ENTERTAINMENT! – You might have a big family or be someone who has to eat out a lot due to hectic work schedules and a busy life. You love to go to movies or the theater with friends and family and may also like to get regular manis/pedis or spa treatments, too. If you want to do it—you usually do! The only problem is that these extra dollars may catch up with you as the economy becomes more challenging. Why not try to eat out less? Or, when you do eat out—do lunch instead of dinner because lunch is less expensive. Try a matinee instead of prime time and go right after eating a meal so you won’t overspend at the concession counter. You may find that as you learn to be a savvy saver, you’re enjoying yourself a whole lot more!

 Let me know how you save on entertainment!

Ellie Kay

America’s Family Financial Expert (R)

Saving Money at the Pump Right Now!

The good news for Joshua, the youngest Kay Kid – he inherited the ‘Burb!
The bad news for Joshua, he inherited the ‘Burb!

With gas prices rapidly approaching $5/gallon here in sunny southern cali, he may have to park that beast, before he ever gets a chance to drive it.

But there are ways to save at the pump, if you are strategic. Here are my tips:

Plan AAA’s Fuel Cost Calculator helps you plot out the most efficient route. You can also put in the year, make and model of your car and it will compute what you’ll spend on gas.
Prices – Get the app or go to sites such as www.gaspricewatch.com  , www.fuelmeup.com , or www.gasbuddy.com  and find the cheapest price for gas both at home and enroute. Find the app called Gas Buddy or AAA”s Trip’Tik Mobile iPhone.
Pace Your Driving – Jackrabbit starts and constant speeding up and slowing down cost precious gas mileage miles. Instead, pace yourself.  Jackrabbit stops are as bad as the starts (or so I constantly tell my husband)!
Pushing It Up! — Will only speed up your fuel consumption. According to the Department of Energy (DOA) it takes a lot of energy for your vehicle to push the air out of the way as you speed down the road. Driving the speed limit of 65 versus 75 can save as much as 15% on fuel consumption because of the energy needed for higher speeds.
Puhleeze Give Me Some Air — At speeds of 40 mph or greater, it costs more to leave the windows open (due to drag) than it does to run the air. In a place like Palmdale, CA where the summer temps reach 110 degrees that’s good news!
Pitch the Junk! — Take your golf clubs, soccer chairs, Salvation Army book donations and all the other JUNK out of your TRUNK. Otherwise, you’re paying more to haul it.
Pressure and Maintain – The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that one-in-four cars have under inflated tires by 8 pounds per square inch. By getting the right amount of air in your tires and taking a few minutes to change the air filter, you can increase your gas mileage by 3.3%! A tuned engine can save an average of 4% more and detected problems, like a bad oxygen sensor can help your mileage by 40%!
Pool it — Car pool whenever possible, and let everyone pitch in with their dough!
• Premium, Schmium — According to AAA, only 5% of vehicles in the US require the premium gas–it does not help your vehicle for you to pay more for it. Buy the regular stuff and have no worries.
Peak no More! – Plan trips, if possible, during off peak times to avoid traffic jams.
Pay up! — Make teens pay for gas when they aren’t driving for sanctioned raod time (such as school, work, running your errands, etc). It’s amazing how much less miles they will put on the car!

Happy Driving, Joshua!

Love Mama,
aka America’s Family Financial Expert (R)

A Great Time to Save on Groceries!

Saving money in the store is not as hard as you may think. My son, Jonathan, has been known to go to the store with me in the past and use his own coupons to buy some protein bars, healthy snacks and drinks for his “Matheletes” competition. On one trip, he used several “savings factors” and his bill started out at $14.30, but he only paid $2.13.

The first thing he did was to buy items on sale, the second savings factor was to use a store coupon, then he combined a manufacturer’s coupons and we went to a double coupon store. That’s FOUR savings factors for this teenager. If he can do it, YOU CAN,TOO!

An average family of four, eating carefully, has an annual food cost of $7954. However, there IS a way to cut these costs dramatically, just as Jonathan did.

Another way to save involves a great site that http://www.about.com/ calls “The Google of Grocery Savings” is http://www.mygrocerydeals.com/ . They list specials from over 250 retail chains, 750 versions of flyers and approximately 25,000 weekly advertised specials. You can join for free, they offer nutritional information on 100,000 grocery products, and there’s even a “coupon gallery.”

As with any site I mention, please do your own research and remember to set up a “junk mail” account for registrations. You can also select whether you want to recieve additional information or not (which will help with junk mail).

There are also quite a few apps you can use as well. The safeway/vons/dominques chain of groceries stores have  “u Save” app that will give you great discounts on a list that is tailored to your buying habits and can help you save as much as 30% in a shopping trip.

Get the Yowza app for comparative shopping and download Coupon Sherpa for great deals you can use in a lot of different stores.

If the average family I mentioned earlier only saves 30% on their grocery bill in 2012, that’s over $2200 that they could use to pay down debt, go on a vacation, or pay for their kids college!

Ellie Kay

America’s Family Financial Expert (R)


Online Bargains–Layer the Savings!

  1. As part of the “Heroes at Home” world tour, we visit military members and their families around the world, giving advice and practical tools on how to cope with the military lifestyle and also workshops on how to manage their money. One of the ways we helped military families save money overseas was to give them tips to “layer the savings.” Here are the steps to save big online:

1. The first step is to go to MySimon or bing which are shopping robots that will search the internet for your item to find the best deal possible.

2. Once you’ve found the best deal, the second step is to go to a code site such asRetailMeNot or  coupon cabin  to find the codes you need to save even more. Sometimes these codes are for free shipping, gifts, or discounts.

3. The final step is to get a rebate for your shopping, by going to eBates or SlickDeals http://www.ebates.com/ . On some of these sites, for example, if you have an account and get your friends to sign up under your account, you can earn $5 per referral. There are hundreds of participating online sites that will give you a rebate off of your purchases and you get a check at the end of each month.

CAUTION: To avoid spam: Be sure you deselect any “offers” made while signing up for a site. I also recommend that you use a “throwaway” email address to sign up and not give your primary email address. For example, I use ellieKayJunk@aol.com and check the site once a month or so.

Here’s an email from one of our audience members in Europe to encourage you to save money like she does:

Dear Ellie Kay,

I would like to tell you how wonderful it was to have you speak at our Key Spouse meeting at Spangdahlem AB this past week. Your tips were great –I bought a bunch of clothes and with your tips and a $25 gift card I earned from mypoints.com I spent only $14!– and they really do work and are easy to do. Your military topics touched my heart and made me proud of what I am doing here for my husband as well as other spouses. Thank you for telling our story to the world and for being an inspiration.Thank you so much!

Sincerely,Christina Aiken


Ellie Kay

America’s Family Financial Expert (R)


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