Virtual Change

Have you ever heard the stories about people saving change and then use it to buy something big like a boat?  I recently heard about a guy from Indiana who bought a 2008 Dodge Ram with change he saved for thirteen years, worth $26,670.  These stories always inspire me, I guess because I once saved pennies when I was little to buy my beloved Timey Tell doll.  For some reason the amount of $11.00 sticks in my head.  I don’t know if that was the actual price, or if that’s what I paid towards it.  Like I said, I was saving pennies, which I probably earned by doing little things around the house.  I was probably about 4 or 5 when I bought Timey Tell.  She was great.  I was pretty much a tomboy when I was little, not much into baby dolls.  But Timey Tell was different.  She had this cool watch to set the time, then I pulled the string on her back, and she told me what time it was and what I was supposed to do.  “It’s 8:00, it’s time for bed.”  Come to think of it she was real  bossy, always telling me what to do and reminding me of what time it was.  Maybe that’s why I struggle with schedules and time restraints now.  I have that little voice in my head saying, “It’s 9:00, it’s time to….it’s 10:00, it’s time to…come on, move, move, MOVE!!”  Oh…sorry.  Anniehow.

I did see first hand how saving a little over time can add up.  But when I think about saving change now, it’s nearly impossible since I don’t use cash anymore.  I like the convenience of my debit card.  But then, I saw the commercial for the credit card that rounds your purchase up and deposits change into a savings account.  Where do I get one of those?!?!?  What a great idea!!  But…I don’t use credit cards.  So I came up with a plan.  I could do this using my debit card!!

OK, before I explain this to you, I need to let you know something else about myself.  About 10 years ago, I took some college classes and two of them were accounting.  I’m really not a math/numbers kinda person, but I really caught on to this and I just love the concept of bookkeeping.  Everything balances at the end and if it doesn’t you have to go back and search for that penny, dime or thousands of dollars that’s throwing you off.  Anniehow…my little “virtual change” plan kind of brings out that geeky side of me.  If you don’t like to balance your checkbook, you might want to stop here.  Go check out my blog about how you can get free jewelry. 😉

 

 So here’s what I do.  I use my debit card for everything.  I also then track all my purchases on Microsoft Money.  When I enter in each purchase, I round it up to the next dollar.  I code the actual purchase for what it is, and then code the “change” in a category I call rounded savings.  It’s really good for when I pump gas.  I could never stop the pump right on the dollar, so now every time I pump gas, I’m saving money.  So at the end of the month I run a report of my “rounded savings” category and see how much I need to transfer into my savings account.  The way I actually do this is at the end of the month I credit the rounded savings category and then debit it.  This is then transferred to my savings account and the rounded savings category is back to $0 for the next month, and now I can actually balance the account.  (OK, you’re now thinking you should of checked out that free jewelry) I know, it seems confusing, but I have saved about $25 dollars or more each month doing this, and I don’t miss it.  This was very exciting to me, because it was a way to put money into savings very easily.  Plus I looked forward to the end of the month, just to see how much I actually saved.  Every little bit helps.  I don’t have  specific plans for my virtual change, it’s just nice to have a way to save easily.

 

photo courtesy of morguefile.com – author: cohdra

Free Jewelry

Believe it or not, I bought this pendant for $6.99. The website is Silver Jewelry Club (link below). The jewelry is FREE, you only pay shipping. They offer certain items at certain times, but when you order it, everything is $6.99. They do have a whole catalogue where you can actually purchase some of their other things. The things I saw for “Free” were really nice, and they are just as nice once you receive them. You also have the opportunity to buy necklaces to go with the pendants when you order the free jewelry.  I was impressed with the jewelry because it is unique looking, and they have many different colored gems to choose from.  The only thing I didn’t like was how long I had to wait to receive it in the mail. (About 7-10 days).  It could of been because of the holiday that it took so long, but it was worth the wait once I received it.  Any of this jewelry would make a great gift, and the receiver would never know that you only paid $6.99. 

If you want to check out their jewelry, click on the link below, or the link in my helpful links section at the right.

Lower Your Grocery Bill – Part II

When I told you all about The Coupon Master, I also came across another great resource, but didn’t want to tell you about it until I went through the whole process. I found this information in the same Women’s Day article as the Grocery Game and The Coupon Master. This organization is called Angel Food Ministries http://angelfoodministries.org. It has been around for fifteen years. When I went to the site and looked at the history and what they were about, I was really impressed. What a fantastic idea and a wonderful example of God using people to help other people. This is what it’s all about.

First of all, it is for anyone who needs to save money on food. This is not like a food pantry, where sometimes you get food that has passed the expiration date on the box. This is more on the lines of Market Day. You can go to the website and see if there is a church or organization in your area that is a host of Angel Food Ministries. When you find one, you can contact them directly. You will get an order form that you fill out, and you can mail in checks, or take your payment in. They also accept food stamps. There is a due date for the orders. Then there is a pick-up date at the end of the month. I received my order form through email, after I contacted the church in my area, which was St. Paul Lutheran Church in Matteson, IL. You purchase “boxes” of food. You have to purchase a regular box in order to purchase a special box. The regular box is $30 and feeds a family of four for one week. This is what I received in my regular box for this month:

1.5 lb. Ribeye Steaks (4-6oz)

1 Whole Young Chicken (about 5 lbs.)

28 oz. Chicken Breast Nuggets

28 oz. Salisbury Steak Dinner Entree

28 oz. Breaded Chicken Breast Filets

12 oz. Smoked Polish Sausage Links

16 oz. California Blend Frozen Vegetables

1 lb. Rice

16 oz. Frozen Chopped Spinach

16 oz. Frozen Carrots

10 ct. Frozen Waffles

16 oz. Bean Soup Mix

32 oz. Borden 2% reduced fat Shelf Stable Milk

9 oz. Instant Potatoes

15 oz. Can Fruit Cocktail

1 Dozen eggs

1 Dessert Item (Apple filled Cookies)

All for $30. I did a rough estimate on what this might cost in the store, and it would probably be about $45. This is good quality food too. I put the steaks on the grill tonight, and they were so good, they about melted in my mouth. It had to be the grade of meat, because I tend to burn things up on the grill, and dry out most meat. Anniehow…They also have special boxes that you can purchase once you buy a regular box. I bought the 7 lb. Family Grill Box that included the following:

1.5 lb. Baseball Cut Steaks

2 lbs. Juicy Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breast

2 lbs. St. Louis Style ribs

1.5 lb. Hamburger patties

The special boxes are $18 – $20. Last month they had a 4.5 lb. Steak and Chicken Combo Box for $20, 4.5 lb. Stuffed Chicken Breast Box for $18, and a Fresh Fruit and Veggie Box for $18. You can buy as many of the regular boxes and the special boxes as you want. There is no limit to what you purchase. You can always go on the site to view the menu for the upcoming month. For September they have something new, which is the Senior Box. There are ten individual fully cooked meals labeled with heating instructions, all for $25. They also have a special “5 for 4” box, which is 5 dinner meals that will feed a family of four. I just think this is fantastic. It does save you money, and extra trips to the store. You can also find information on the website for being a host site. If you are a host site, you do receive something for being a host, which makes for a great outreach and fund-raiser for churches. Like I said, I went to the church in my area, and it was so smoothly run. You bring boxes, and they have carts that you can place your boxes on. You tell them who you are, and they hand you a slip of paper, and you go to the food area, and a person is there, and gives you one of each (or however many you ordered) of the regular box, and the special boxes are already boxed up, so they hand those to you. Take them out to your car and you are done. I was also able to order for next month as well.

This is a really great resource for people who live alone, or for senior citizens or for anyone who would like to save some money on groceries. It saves you money, and it also helps your local church. For more information visit their website at:

http://angelfoodministries.org

Lower Your Grocery Bill


I’m not a coupon person, but I love to save a buck. Maybe people already know about this, but recently I came across a website where you can choose what coupons you receive. I don’t know how many times I have been in line at the store, and the person in front of me has a stack of coupons. I think to myself, where do they get all those coupons? Whenever I look in the paper for coupons, I rarely find what I’m looking for. Usually I find coupons for items I don’t buy or for items I can buy cheaper by getting the store brand. Because of the rising cost of groceries, I am making it my little project to really try and lower my grocery bill by using coupons and finding the best bargains.

The website is the Coupon Master (see link in Helpful Links to the right). This is their disclaimer: “Be advised that this site does not sell or buy coupons. A fee is charged for our services in acquiring, cutting, sorting and mailing of coupons, the coupons themselves are free. We are not associated with any manufacturer of said coupons.” This is how it works. You can go through the list of coupons available and request how many you want of each coupon. There is a minimum of 3 per coupon. Like they state in their disclaimer there is a minimal processing fee for them to clip, sort and mail them to you. Also there is a minimum required purchase of $3.00. You will also be charged shipping and an administrative fee of $.50. I received 36 coupons for a total of $4.04 including shipping and administrative fee. If I use them all, I will save $33.70. I ordered my coupons this past Sunday, and received them by regular mail on Friday. You can pay more for shipping to get them quicker, but I don’t know how much you would actually save in the long run. For my first order, I just purchased the minimum to see how well it worked. I was very excited about this new find and I plan to use it again.

Another site I found was http://thegrocerygame.com. This one takes a little more research in order to use it effectively. This site compiles a list of lowest-priced items at your grocery store, and matches them with the manufacturers’ coupons and weekly specials. The lists are colored coded with green items being free after sale and coupon; you just pay sales tax. Blue items are best deals for stockpiling, and black items are only if you need them. For me, I won’t be using this site as often, because it doesn’t include the stores that I normally shop. It did list the two pharmacies that I shop at, so I will check with it periodically for specials from those stores. New members can join for $1 for 4 weeks as a trial. After that, it is $10 for eight weeks for 1 store and $5 for 8 weeks for each additional store, if there is more than one store on the list for your area.

Most of us love a good bargain, so I plan to share with you the ones that I find. If you discover bargains you would like to share feel free to post them in the comments.