Sunday, December 11, 2011

A Look at the "Protestant Ethic"


When I was growing up, the term "Protestant Ethic" was often heard. At that time I interpreted it as "as a Protestant (a certain kind of Christian), one had the obligation to work hard and have straightforward goals; and in the long run a person would reap rewards." I grew up in a Catholic environment in the 1960's through which there was an increasing focus on addressing social inequities. It was very easy for me to meld my interpretation of the Protestant Ethic with the call of the Catholic Church for works of mercy (Whatsoever you do to the least of My brothers, you do it to Me.).

I looked to the life of my own Methodist grandfather as a model of living the Protestant Ethic: He was born basically in a cabin in north Knox County, Tennessee, in 1863. In his memoirs he noted that "living conditions in East Tennessee were about as poor as can possibly be imagined." Yet along his professional career he served as Assistant Attorney General and Special Assistant to the U.S. Attorney General. He was an unsuccessful candidate for Governor and U.S. Senator,* but he did serve as Mayor of the City of Knoxville.

I wondered where the Protestant Ethic is as we are battered in this increasingly baffling economic situation. So I Googled it. oops. If I REALLY wanted to do a proper story on the Protestant Ethic, this Blog would turn into a thesis. Sorry, but I didn't know that the complexity of properly addressing the subject would have to include the work of German sociologist and economist Max Weber, etc., etc. I thought a brief reference to Martin Luther might be enough. WRONG!

Maybe my interpretation of the Protestant Ethic is simplistic, but I still believe that hard work pays off.

*My grandfather was an East Tennessee Republican, which at the time meant he had an uphill battle in any statewide election.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Do NOT Come Downtown Tonight



I am advising everyone not to come downtown tonight. It is the evening of the Christmas Parade. You will ignore my advice (and should!) if you 1) have ones in your care who love, love, love parades, 2) you love, love, parades or 3) have a loved one participating in the parade. Otherwise, I would advise that you not give yourself the opportunity to mix with 2/3 of the MSA of Knoxville that will compact themselves into our CBID.


Go to Bearden for their First Friday. (Except for this one day of the year, I really wish they would have Second Friday, so we do First Friday downtown and then come out west.)

My former City of Knoxville associate Mickey Mallonee (pronounced MAL o knee) has chosen to embrace the "Retire? What retirement?" attitude and join forces with Brad Cullen and Daniel Headrick to open Plum Gallery in the former Hanson space (5609 Kingston Pike, almost next to JJ Supershine and almost across from Calloway's)- plumgallery.net

Additionally, Jeff and Denise Hood are opening "The District Gallery & Framing" in the old Carpe Librum space -- the address is listed as 5113 Kingston Pike, but it sort of really fronts Mohican.
thedistrictgallery.com

FYI, you won't see me in Bearden. Tomorrow nephew Alex Fowler is marrying the lovely and talented Jeanine Brown of downtown theater fame. Family time!!!!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Frontload Washer? No!


What is that thing pictured? No, it is not a beer dispenser for the fridge. Read on and you'll find out!

An interesting turn in our post-eating Thanksgiving idle talk took us to the discussion of front-load versus top-load washing machines. It began when my sister-in-law commented about the mold that had developed in her front loader. Yuck! It seems that she had some company as others shared similar stories.

I thought about my own experience with a front-load. We had bought an early generation water-saving front loader. I vividly remember taking notes as I watched the instructional VHS tape. But (fortunately!) the machine broke only after three years. I wrote a blog about it on April 11, 2009. http://thriftyandproudofit.blogspot.com/2009/04/clothes-washing-energy-minutia.html

Based on the mold comment, I checked on the internet; and sure enough, it is a common complaint. http://www.networx.com/article/choosing-a-washing-machine-top-loading

However, what is fascinating to me is the high and low of the spectrum. In checking the Home Depot on-line catalog it looks like you can purchase a 4.3 cu. ft. capacity front load steam, Model PFWS4605LMG, for $1,499! However, the shipping is free. But wait! For $599 you can additionally purchase the GE SmartDispense Laundry Pedestal with Storage Drawer, Model # SPBD880JMG that allows you to store up to 6 months of laundry detergent and 95 ounces of fabric softener to be dispensed automatically during the wash and rinse cycles, pictured above. A time-saving and wise investment?

My daughter walked by as I am writing this blog. She remarked that they bought a top-loader for $200, and it works just fine.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

In-Store Coupon ONLY at Mast & Other Local Deals


2:09 a.m., Friday, November 25. I just returned from Old Navy where members of my family got terrific deals on jeans and other stuff. I got scarves for the Christmas gift bags that my small group puts together for Mobile Meals clients. We arrived at the store at midnight and spent 1/4 of our time shopping and 3/4 in line. whew! However, the people behind us in line got there at 9:30 p.m., but they did get one of the early bird giveways--a camera.

I intend to do my serious shopping with the locals. Looking through the paper this morning, I saw:

Season Passes at Dollywood

Friday specials (and some Saturday)

J.P. Coffins, FREE holiday Tote with $100 Bradley Purchase

Harb’s on Broadway, 30-60% off with coupon in Thursday’s paper (If you can’t find a Thursday paper when you read this and need a carpet, it might be worth going over to the News Sentinel and getting a copy.)

Hammer’s of Clinton: Register on Friday morning for three $100 bills and three $50 Hammer’s Gift cards to be given away between 8:15 and 9:15.

Turkey Creek Wine and Spirits, 20% off every wine

Amvets Thrift Store, 50% off everything, Friday, Saturday and Sunday

And noted in my Market Square weekly e-mail:

This Friday and Saturday, enjoy spectacular savings at Mast General Store. (ok, I am hearing you purists: “Mast is imported from North Carolina.” I say that’s close enough!) Coupons are available only in the store between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. There are no cut-out or print-out coupons available this year. The "Make Your Own Sale" means you can use the in-store coupon with any one item* in any department during the entire shopping day the coupon is issued.

On Friday, November 25th, pick up your coupon in the store between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. Enjoy 40% savings at any time during store hours on any one item* in the store.

On Saturday, November 26th, pick up your coupon in the store between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. Enjoy 30% savings at any time during store hours on any one item* in the store.

*Some exclusions apply. Limit one coupon per one customer for each day. Coupons apply to any single, regularly priced item in the store. The coupon cannot be used in conjunction with any other discount. Patagonia and gift cards are excluded. Sorry, coupons cannot be used online.

They say Black Friday, we say Purple and Green Friday! Join us the day after Thanksgiving for Bliss + Bliss Home's first Purple and Green Friday! Receive a $10 gift certificate for every $100 you spend, see a sales associate for more details!

Reasons to shop at Union Ave Books for the Holidays:

* Free parking for one hour in Locust St. or Market Square Garages with any purchase!

* Free same-day hand-delivery for downtown customers of any purchase over $20

* Free hand-delivery for Knoxville metro-area customers of any purchase over $50

* Free Union Ave book bag with purchases over $100!

* Buy a $50 gift card and receive a $5 gift card

* Buy a $100 gift card and receive a $10 gift card

* Send us your "Wish List" and we'll show it to your "Santa Claus"

* Support Local Downtown Businesses and avoid the crush at the malls!

Fizz has everything you need for your holiday shopping this year! From sparkly party dresses to snuggly sweaters, great jewelry, fun tights, scarves, hats, and gloves to everyday basics, we are your one-stop holiday shop!

As a thank you for shopping with us, Fizz will be giving a free gift with every purchase of $25 or more this Black Friday! Come get yours while supplies last.

JOHN BLACK PHOTOGRAPHY MINI SESSIONS!
Searching for the Merriment of Christmas & a great deal?
YOU FOUND IT!
Right after Thanksgiving, while the family is still in town and in between shopping trips...

Stop by JOHN BLACK PHOTOGRAPHY for your Family Portrait!

mini SESSIONS

30 minutes, 1 outfit

Unlimited people, unlimited Santa hats, unlimited bad sweaters and don't forget the dog!

only $100!

Also Christmas Card Sale - 5x7 watercolor card: one side is only $1, two sides are $2 - packs of 25.

FRI ~ SAT ~ SUN

Nov. 25, 26, & 27th

10am to 6pm Fri & Sat; 10am to 4pm on Sunday

(Friday morning is booked, Saturday 11:30 is open rest of morning is booked, call or email soon!)

Jams, Jellies, Jerky, Sauces, Cookies, Chocolate and more from area businesses! All food items are 30% off!!!

Perfect for gift baskets, hostess gifts, and gifts for teachers and friends. Supplies are limited, so hurry in!

SALES and SPECIALS

  • Clearance items are perfect gifts starting at only $1. Save over 75% on select items!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Does a Witch Wear Sequins? Of course!


1980's -- the country experienced an economic uptick, and there was some serious materialism going on. Think Gordon Gekko -- Knoxville style. Well, it wasn't exactly like that. However, it did mean a exceptional number of parties, events that required some serious clothes.

My most prized party-clothes possession was a sequined duster that I bought at Marshall Field's in Chicago in 1989. I am very glad that I do not have the receipt for the coat anymore, because today's me would probably be ashamed of what yesterday's me paid for it.

It is gorgeous -- and I swore to NEVER throw it away, even long after significant shoulder pads were passe and I was too old for bright colors.

It completed a great Halloween costume this year. With pancake make-up, sparkly fake eyelashes, and an awful stringy black wig, the $5 sequined witch's hat that my husband found at Walmart made for a super outfit.

The coat weighs almost 2 1/2 pounds, but it kept me warm! We were at a party in a tent, and the weather had turned exceptionally cold.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Cheap Pays Off -- Most of the Time


I am getting to the point where I believe that you can get a deal on anything at some time somewhere. My e-mail inbox is stuffed with deal blogs, and two this morning were G-O-O-D.

  • Long's Drugstore--the meeting place in West Knoxville (and to you Farragutans, Bearden is the heart of the REAL West Knoxville). 50 percent off! Who is NOT going to drop by Long's in the next month or so?
  • Christmas card deals. To my dear friends who are thinking "I never got a card from her in the 30 years that I have known her. What is she talking about?" You are right!! I do not send out personal cards. I send out cards to those with whom we have had business dealings. I think I have found THE deal for me this year. It came up through commonsensewithmoney.com. Through some magical power this blogger holds, she scans the half-off, etc., deals nationally. The one of which I think I will take advantage is the Simply Social Chicago: $15 for $40 worth of custom holiday cards, invitations and more from SimplyToImpress.com. Another one to consider is Knoxville's Half-Off Depot deal for today, $15 for $45:

    75 8X4 Customizable Slimline Holiday Cards with Envelopes from Premier Photo Mall

  • Cheap does not pay at the hospital! If you have surgery or extended treatment at St. Mary’s, Mercy, Tennova’s Physicians Regional, you get free parking in the garage! Yesterday I parked three blocks (three HILLY blocks) away on the street and found out about the freebee during the admission processing. Well, I can always use a little more exercise!
AS ALWAYS, STAY

Monday, October 24, 2011

Buy with a Conscience or Buy Cheap?


This past weekend my shopping habits can be summed up in one word: conflicting.

On Saturday we attended the Tennessee Food & Wine Festival held at the Knoxville Convention Center. At first glance, this looks very much like the Food Show annually sponsored by Food City. However, the ticket price was $10 versus $6, and for an additional $10, one could sample wine. Additionally, it was anticipated that attendees purchase products. It was a much smaller crowd, and the pace was slower. Also, as the crowds grew, the lines did not form neatly as they did at the Food City Show. That is when I realized that most of these people were not food show veterans as I am!

This festival was sponsored by the State of Tennessee Department of Agriculture and benefited the culinary program at UT. All vendors were from Tennessee.

It was great fun! A multitude of wine samplings! We like dry whites, and we found some nice ones.

The foods were interesting; and after sampling, we came back through and purchased quite a few for Christmas gifts. And that is when it hit me. I would NEVER have paid the prices for these products for my own consumption as a part of my normal grocery shopping. Purchasing for gifts puts this experience in a category by itself.

But I WAS doing the right thing. I AM supporting my fellow Tennesseans who are working hard to make a living selling jams, popcorn from Tennessee-grown corn, cookies, beef, oh, yes and wine.

Sort of a home-grown variation of free trade, right?

My awareness of buying with a conscience was increasingly heightened when we later drove over to Happy Holler. We did not do a good job of time management, and the Hollerpalooza was over; but we popped into Three Rivers Market. I noted a bottle of tonic water for more than $6. (My husband is a big G&T fan -- $1.50 is our average purchase price). Again, we succumbed to convenience and purchased some wheatberry salad at $5.99 a pound.

(Please note: the blog Couponing in Critical Times routinely posts "deals" at Three Rivers.)

Yet the next day I got into my couponing mode with absolute disregard of product origin. Included in my bargain buying was the national brand coffee that I bought for probably 2/3 the regular price after special pricing and coupon. It had "mountain grown" on the label, but the only location I could see noted was the business address in Ohio. I scored well buying deoderant for $.75 after special and coupon, but I imagine that my "creation care" friends might have trouble with some of the ingredients.

Bottom line: my conscience does not consistently work into my buying. Please excuse me, Mother Earth.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Maybe Smoking Would Be OK, If It Were Not So Bad


In a professional capacity, I have been tagged for a smoking cessation committee through the Knox County Health Department, so I decided to go public and blog on the issue.

I am an ex-smoker. I loved smoking! If some magic fairy princess came in and did two things, I would start smoking again in a heartbeat:

  1. Determined that it is not harmful to your health including your teeth and skin,
  2. Made the presence and smell of smoke not offensive to nonsmokers.
If smoking were not bad for your health, it probably would not be taxed so much; and I could justify the expense.

I smoked mainly in social settings (translation: I was drinking), and it kept me from eating as much. I grew up heavy but lost a significant amount of weight in high school, and have kept it under control for the most part. Smoking in my teens and twenties replaced a lot of chips and dip, and for me it was cheap. I started smoking in the tobacco-producing state of North Carolina, and my first purchase out of a machine cost me $.50.

According to Wikipedia, “smoking-related disease kills one half of all long term smokers but these diseases may also be contracted by non-smokers. A 2007 report states that about 4.9 million people worldwide each year die as a result of smoking.”

Unfortunately I prematurely lost one of the people I loved the most to smoking.

My mother started smoking in the 1940s when she started dating my dad, as he was a smoker (note: he quit in the 1960s). My childhood memories are laced with recollections of loose tobacco littering the bottom of her purse and often working its way into her compact and sticking to her lipstick, a few burns on the arms of her favorite family room chair, and an increasing household consumption of Kleenex as her coughing got worse. A couple of years after my dad died, she decided to quit. Some weeks after the challenge began, she developed shingles. “This is a sign from God that I am not to deal with this (excessive stress and anxiety due to not smoking),” and she recommenced smoking.

My mother’s tolerance for pain must have been high, because some years later she died only five days after the diagnosis of extensive lung cancer. How long the cancer was growing inside of her, we would never know.

I smoked occasionally throughout the years. I would give myself permission to smoke when we were on vacation without the children. My last great cigarette experience was in 2000 in Italy. I remember one moment of lived-out fantasy, of continental and cosmopolitan, as I relaxed in the piazza of a village, sipping grappa and inhaling an incredibly strong European cigarette.

I am very fortunate that I have not wanted to smoke in years. However, nostalgia overwhelms me occasionally as I stand next to someone smoking. If only . . . .

Check out a couple of websites that I found. The first is about the hard cost of cigarettes, and the second is more about the comprehensive cost. Smoking does not fit into being thrifty.

http://www.healthcalculators.org/calculators/cigarette.asp

http://www.quitsmoking.com/info/articles/costofsmoking.htm

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Need Music? -- There IS the radio


One of my 2011 sacrifices was giving up Sirius/XM. I loved it. I especially loved it on the road. From the day that we got that gleaming new automobile in 2005 with the dedicated XM button, I was a fan.

But it cost MONEY, and I had an honest talk with myself. I honestly can't remember how much we were paying, but in looking back in my checking account, it looks like $44.79 a quarter. ech! I did decide to put that money to better use. And if I were still plugged into Sirius/XM, I would likely never have discovered WKCS 91.1, Fulton High School radio.

Fulton High School is on a roll--higher standards which are resulting in better results for their students. My listening in on their radio station is a small way of being part of their community. You can read about the history of the station here:
http://www.wkcsradio.org/history/wkcs_history.htm

There's something special about knowing that you are listening to a radio station run by a bunch of high schoolers; but what is so weird is that they play music from my past. Just tonight as I pulled into home, "Come and Get Your Love" was playing. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-7eloXr2iak I had always thought this was played by an African-American group because it is so soulful. Wrong -- It's a Native American group.

I used to use an I-pod, but when I took it to the Apple Store to fix it, the music got stripped out. I don't seem to have the umph to reinstall. WKCS seems to be just fine for now.

P.S. The signal is not that strong. I lose it about at Cedar Bluff. Also, I do not listen to the broadcast of the sports games.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

What To Bring or What Not To Bring: Honor Thy Host

Pot lucks or covered dish gatherings seem to be gaining popularity due to our current economic situation. However, there are times when a host wants to truly offer the gift of hospitality and prepare and present the whole process, as Miss Manners points out today. Unfortunately our sense of "giving" has somewhat marred many an event:

The (European) custom (of bringing a small gift of chocolates or flowers) got mixed up with the jolly American tradition of cooperative meals — picnics, covered-dish suppers, family reunions and improvised parties by students. Nothing wrong with those, as long as everyone understands the deal. Now guests entering a gala dinner party look as if they are in the express line at the grocery store, each carrying one item.

How often have I seen this example of missing the intention of an invitation: I spent several hours in the kitchen preparing a superb meal, a three-course meal, including dessert. Then my guests brought a cake which we had to eat for dessert instead of the one I prepared. The Miss Manners response? You should respond: Thank you; I’ve made dinner, so we’ll enjoy this another day. Brilliant!

But as many of us DO have invitations for covered-dish, here are a few of my tips:
  • When you promise to bring a salad, bring one! The hostess might have worked hard to ask for the right balance of dishes.
  • Bring your dish ready to set out. Again, from Miss Manners: One of my guests offered to bring a fruit salad, and commandeered my kitchen for the better part of an hour to wash, slice/dice and arrange her fruit. I was frantically trying to do my last-minute preparations, so the intrusion threw me into a tailspin, and then my guest wondered why I was so frazzled.
This includes doing the last-minutes touches such as whipping up a topping. I remember one time when someone waltzed in and asked for my mixer--that would be my KitchenAid mixer that is so big that I keep it in the storage area. That thing is cumbersome, and I had to haul it out and place it on precious counter space.
  • Consider the presentation. Use glass, pottery, but not a mixing bowl! Touches such as parsley, etc. are nice, too.
  • Bring your serving utensil, one that you could lose. One website suggested going to the dollar store to have a few on hand.
  • Bring your own hot pads -- again, be ready to lose them.
  • If you don't cook, put something together that's EASY, but don't bring a bag of potato chips!! Our favorite easy dish is Allen's Beans that have been simmered in a little olive oil and Italian seasonings. If you really don't cook, visit Kroger, Fresh Market or Earth Fare and be prepared to pay a handsome price for an ample amount from their ready-to-eat section. That might make you think harder about learning to cook.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Coke Zero Point Special


Coke Rewards point collectors:. on Coke Zero® and POWERADE®

7 days only, 9/20 – 9/26. Dbl. pts. on all Coke Zero® and POWERADE® “black caps.”


Please remember that UT Knoxville football tickets have have free Coke Zero coupons on the back.

Thinking about all the can collectors who come in after the games and glean the tailgait areas, I have thought that in the same spirit, one could wait until after the game and collect ticket stubs discarded throughout the stadium, get the free Cokes, enter the points which can be turned in for more Coke, as I'll explain later.

A bottle of Coke gets you 3 points, a 12 pack gets you 10 points, a 20 pack gets your 20 points.

Where to find codes:

  • Under caps
  • Inside tear-off on 12-pks.
  • On multi-pack wraps

There are a lot of Coke branded stuff, food coupons and magazines that you can redeem points for, but the only thing that I redeem the points for are coupons for free 12 packs of cokes, which cost 240 points.

I get ribbed a lot for collecting and redeeming these points, but I have gotten a lot of free Coke in the past few years. A lot of my friends give me their points because they don't want to go through the process. I'm all about process, slow and steady. Remember, the Grand Canyon wasn't built in a day!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

A Great Weekend--Festivals AND Fairs

Yesterday I wrote about two great fairs in Knoxville--We have two wonderful cultural festivals as well.

The Hola Festival is celebrating its 11th year. It is ALL THINGS LATINO! It has been great to see this event mature into a wonderful presentation of cultures. I believe I was at a pre-Hola Festival at Pellissippi State where it was basically national displays. I have to admit that my husband and I slip over right as the evening activities get going. You can anticipate the fun as you read the website description: "The Passport activity, Heritage Tables and Children’s Section will be closing at 6:00 p.m. From 6:00 to 8:00 we will be gathering around the main stage at the Viaduct to dance to fun, live music! Come to either learn or show off your salsa moves! A fun way for the whole family to celebrate." But I am intrigued by the "after party" noted on the map in the Old City. I wonder what that is about.

Check it out: http://www.holaknoxville.org/festival/faq.php

And then there is venerable Greek Fest in its 32nd year of celebrating. I love the Greeks, and it is a must see and do for everyone.

But even before our Knoxville Greek Fest had gotten started, I already knew how much fun Greeks can have. My junior/senior high school boy friend is Greek.

The first date he asked me out was for a church fundraiser. hmm, didn't sound like what I would consider an appropriate first date. It was the most unique first date that I have ever had, for sure. He picked me up and we went over to the church hall before the event really got started. It turned out that he had an assignment, and he picked up a couple of his buddies to go along. It seems that we were responsible for picking up the entertainment for the evening--a belly dancer. (Note: this was not in Knoxville.) She was exotic, all right--all the way from Philadelphia. I doubt that in 1970 there were many belly dancers in the South.

During the performance all of the females had to sit in the back along the wall. This was not how I would have anticipated meeting my date's mother, aunts, girl cousin, etc., etc., etc. All the men sat around the perimeter of her dance area. I recall that a lot of money was raised.

Afterwards there was dancing and more dancing. Great food, great fun! I recalled these fond memories when we got to visit Greece a few years ago.

http://greekfesttn.com/default.aspx

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The fairest of the Fairs? Food or Emergency?


I L-O-V-E going to health fairs, women's events -- you name it!

We are fortunate to have two this weekend in Knoxville--and they could not be more different.

Per the posting, "The Food City Food Show will be held Sept. 23-24 at the Knoxville Convention Center, 701 Henley Street. Hours are 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday. Advance tickets available at Food City stores for $8 with ValuCard. They will be $10 at the door. Children 12 and under are free. Chef Hector Santiago, contestant of Bravo Network's Top Chef, season 6, will be featured entertainment on Saturday and Chefs Paul and Patrick Albrecht, co-owners of Atlanta's Great Food Group Inc., will be featured performers on Sunday. A variety of local culinary demonstrators will also be on hand, including Knoxville News Sentinel food writer Mary Constantine.

Here is the cooking school schedule:

Friday, September 23

10:30-11:15 Mary Constantine, News Sentinel food writer and host of "Stirring the Pot" on Knoxnews.com

12:00-12:45 Missy Kane "Fit and Fun with Missy Kane" Covenant Health's health promotion coordinator

1:30-2:15 Hector Santiago, Atlanta restaurateur/chef -competed in the sixth season of "Top Chefs" on the Bravo Network

3:00-3:45 Katie Cureton, Culinary College Trainer for the J.M. Smucker Co.

Saturday, September 24

10:30-11:15 Jimmie Jones, Food City Culinary Trainer- Cake Decorating 101

12:00-12:45 Mark McKinney -senior executive chef of the UT Healthy Living Kitchen WITH Lori Hamilton director of Healthy Initiatives for Food City

1:30-2:15 Chef Walter of WVLT TV

3:00-3:45 Chefs Paul and Patrick Albrecht, co-owners of Atlanta's Great Food Inc. Their Restaurants include Pauls, Social Vinings and Vinings Fish Company of Atlanta, GA."

I have been to this event many times. You'll learn a lot and you'll take away a lot of goodies. I am still using some terrific cleaner from Kelsan that I got there. The good folks at Food City give the proceeds to United Way of Greater Knoxville, for which I am very grateful as (here is the disclosure) I work for United Way of Greater Knoxville. We're working hard to support self-sustainability for our fellow Knox Countians. Thank you, Food City for supporting us!

Fair Number Two (I didn't go last year). It's the second annual EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS FAIR, which will be held this coming Saturday, September 24th, 2011 at Bearden High School. It will be from 10:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. Admission is FREE to the public.

According to their promotion, "There will be more than 40 booths, demonstrations and classes. Over 26 organizations will be represented. There will be Child ID kits, Ready Kit Bags, Door prize, Giveaways and Emergency and Disaster Services Vehicles on site. Some of the valuable information will include senior citizen care, financial preparedness, severe weather, emergency essentials for pets, short term food storage, family emergency communication plans and more."

For more information visit the web site at: PrepFair.org

I really want to go to this because emergency preparedness NEEDS to be part of everyone's agenda. I have had a close call to danger only once, but that was enough! We had to evacuate for the warehouse fire downtown in February of 2007. Living in a newly retrofitted historical building, we were BLASTED out when the alarm went off--pulsating lights, screaming alarms--and only seconds to put on some "street clothes" and grab our essentials. Fortunately I had been to an emergency preparedness presentation by some of this weekend's fair participants. I knew what to have close on hand. My husband and I were out of our condo building in no time, only to see a frightening fire just a block away that could possibly migrate to where we were with some terrific wind that evening. Yep, it was scary.

It was 2 a.m. After watching the fire from another angle (away from the wind), we went and joined numerous neighbors at the Walmart. Others hung out at the Waffle House.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

On Drugs? Save Money!

There is a lot of re-posting in the blog world. At least 1/3 of the information I find on coupon blogs I have already seen, such as the best deals at Kroger's, Walgreens or CVS. Most times they are cut-and-pasted word-for-word. Frequently the original information was for a market outside our area and the bargains are simply not available here. However, the ones that I follow are careful about reposting reliable information.

So I am very surprised that I have noted something that I have not seen on anyone's blogs:
saving big money on drugs at Kroger's!!!

Yes, I was thrilled when I opened the Kroger flyer this week. The feature took my breath away:
Transfer a prescription and get $25 in free groceries!! "Transfers are easy . . . ask your Pharmacist for details." (This plan is not available for government funded prescriptions or transfers from other Kroger's).

Kroger runs this offer from time to time, so I had anticipated it. However, it had been a
long time since I had seen this offer.

I was ready.

Medical experts highly recommend that a consumer get all his medications (over-the-counter and prescriptions) from the same pharmacy, to minimize negative drug interaction. What I do is totally counter to this advice.

I get my medications from all over the place. Between my husband and me, we have five prescriptions to take advantage of discount plans and fuel programs; but also importantly to anticipate a credit for transfer.

IF YOU HAVE PRESCRIPTIONS, here are the offers:
(official from the websites)

Kroger: "We're making it easier for you to save on two necessities: health care and fuel. For the first time ever, our pharmacy customers can now earn fuel discounts on eligible prescriptions. Save more when you choose from our wide selection of generic drugs. Not valid in Arkansas.

Please select the Kroger pharmacy nearest you for details."

Food City: Get 50 bonus points with qualifying prescriptions. (150 points earns you 15¢ off per gallon on a single fill-up (Up to a maximum of 20 gallons per fill-up).)

CVS: Earn 2% back with every purchase in-store and online at CVS/pharmacy.

Walgreens: For someone like me with prescriptions covered under my health insurance, I seen no advantage in getting my prescriptions there. If I am wrong, I would like to be corrected.

Target: cannot see any advantage. In the past, they have had $10 in-store credit for new and transferred prescriptions, but I haven't seen one of these offers in a long time.

Walmart: too far away from where I live, so I didn't check it out.

Just about every pharmacy offers $4 for a limited number of generics.

I know that a lot of people state that they get all their meds from one grocery store to stock up on fuel points. I maintain points at Food City and Kroger's--I never know which one I'll be near when I need gasoline.

But back to the $25 at Kroger's. I have a prescription that I originally filled at Food City (for which I got the 50 bonus points). I will transfer it to Kroger's. My cost (remember, I have insurance) is $8, so my net gain is $17!!!!! (By the way, I have a flex fund account through my employer, so I'll be paying that $8 with full-value, pre-tax dollars.) Additionally, I'll get the credit for the fuel program.

Yipee!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Couponing the Time-Saving Way!

On Sundays I look forward to getting the coupons in Sunday’s newspaper, but I dread the extensive clipping and filing. On a good day it would take an hour, more if I had been given more coupons from my neighbors. With the subsequent pulling of the expired coupons, it frequently felt like a fruitless exercise.

So I am trying something different.

I continue to read multiple coupon blogs (see my previous blogs for their addresses), peruse the Sunday newspaper inserts and determine what we need. But instead of clipping ALL the coupons and filing them in the big book, I am now filing the coupon packets by date, which can be found in VERY small writing on the fold of the coupon packet. I write the date on the front. Instead of locating them filed in my big book, I look them up using the coupon data base at couponkatie.com.

I tried it at Kroger last night. They are having a "Mega Event-- Save $5 WYB (when you buy)10 participating items."

Step 1. Review the items available through the Mega Event by looking through the Kroger flyer and checking the list at southernsavers.com

Step 2. Come up with 10 things that I want and for which I have coupons. (You can have multiples of 10.)

(While I am not going to file the Sunday coupons anymore, I still will file many coupons. These include the ones that Kroger mails me. Also, coupon bloggers post alerts on popular internet coupons. I print the ones I think I will use, because there are only so many printed copies allowed. I also have a section in my big book for Procter & Gamble's periodic flyers.)

Step 3. I look on couponkatie.com's coupon data base for others. I found a Birdseye coupon that I didn't know about. I went to the coupon site for which she had a link and printed the coupon. She also had listed a General Mills cereal coupon from the SS -- Smart Source -- insert of August 28.

Result of my 10 items (these are all products/brands that I would have bought even if I didn't coupon):

6 boxes of General Mills cereal (one e-coupon from Kroger's website for one box, $.50, one Kroger printed coupon that was mailed to me at home, $2 for four, $.50 for one (doubled) from the newspaper

2 boxes of Birdseye frozen vegetables. ($1 off if I bought Mrs. Paul's frozen fish. I'm a cradle Catholic--I crave fish sticks!)

1 Maxwell House Coffee ($1.25 coupon from the packet Kroger sent to my home)

1 Simply Orange juice. ($1 off that I had printed last month because someone posted a notice. I noticed that Southern Savers posted that this coupon was no longer available to be printed from its on-line source. Glad that I printed it when it was available! Timing is everything!)

1. I believe that ALL these items were specially priced. If I had bought any of these items individually this week instead of other weeks, I still saved money.

2. I combined 10 items, so I got $5 off.

3. I had $6.75 worth of coupons on these items.

A triple play! Now that is when I like to play the game of couponing! Sure, with some additional items that I bought without coupons, my Kroger receipt states that I only saved 39 percent. That's not going to get me on Extreme Couponers, but it is still REAL MONEY SAVED!

Additionally, it was much quicker to pull out the August 28 insert for that one coupon that I used instead of clipping, clipping, clipping, filing, filing, filing. I love saving time, too!




Saturday, September 10, 2011

False Optimism?

--Last evening, there would have been only one word throughout the entire evening to describe Gay Street: PACKED. Evidence that there is, indeed, disposable income. A friend had invited us after work to Nama's, and we positioned ourselves in the enviable position outside at the corner of Gay and Union, watching the world go by. (It was a great time to apply the credit that I had purchased at discount online some months ago!)

---Even though it's a Saturday, I woke up early as usual. I went to get the newspaper at about 5:30. I rode the elevator down with my neighbor on the way to the airport for a business trip. As I looked over to what he was carrying, I laughed to myself. His golf clubs, not to mention a compact laptop, had much greater volume than his piece of luggage. Real evidence of a seasoned traveler. But most importantly he was on his way to work, supporting the economy.

---On page 7a of the News Sentinel this morning, there is a very small squib about state revenue collections above expectations: $18 million more in August, 13th consecutive month that collections have exceeded budgeted expectations. (ok, the overall budget is around the $30 billion mark.) I'm thinking that this should have been on the front page of the business section. This is very good news! But the editors of the News Sentinel had even better news to celebrate on Page 1B! Dealership expansions for a local luxury boatmaker, a new aerospace and automotive manufacturing plant in Kingston--even a celebratory nod to the Krispy Kreme expansion on Kingston Pike.

I was feeling pretty good until I noticed that the stock market fell 303 points yesterday.

Oh well.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

The Mechanics of Couponing



Actually having the coupons in my pocket often has not meant that I use them the way I anticipate. I get distracted, I misread the sizes, I stick coupons in my pockets, I miscount items, and sometimes I just flat out panic at the checkout. Try as I can, I attempt to execute The Plan, but it doesn't always happen. However, The Plan gets me closer to my anticipated goal.

Here's The Plan:

I review the list that I have been developing throughout the week, cutting and pasting into a Word document notices from the super coupon bloggers that I follow. I develop my own shopping list of everything else that I need. I create one list. If the individual store lists are long, I create a page for each.

When the list is on Word, the internet coupons are hyperlinked. I print them off. I gather the other coupons I need. They are filed in a big binder, recycled from some training program long ago. I will review my filing system in a future blog.

I rearrange the list as best as I remember according to the stores' layouts. I print them out.

I have a plastic envelope system (photo) that my daughter gave me a long time ago. This was my couponing system until I got intense. Now it serves me well to hold the individual stores' coupons and store credits (such as ExtraCare bucks from CVS).

I take the big binder with me and into the store, because you never know what deals you may run across. Wouldn't it be horrible if you knew that you left THE coupon at home that would make a great deal a super deal? However, I only occasionally pull it out for these incidents.

I put my shopping list in the envelope system. I put the coupons for the respective stores in their envelopes. If I end up not using the coupons, I put them in the very back of the envelope system for re-filing in the big binder. This happens with some frequency because the information that I get off the blogs does not apply to our region or I just decide the deal is not good for me when I actually "confront it" in the store.

I stick the receipt and any credit slips in the respective envelope. The receipts get pulled out at home. The credit slips are there for use on a future shopping trip.

I try to have everything in order. It is amazing how off-task I get. Couponing takes concentration. I am not surprised that the Extreme Couponers are often in the stores for seven hours or more.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Sampling of Couponing


While the media has brought emphasis on EXTREME couponing, with the negative perception of hoarding all that "free" stuff, I believe that many couponers are like me and have much simpler agendas with much more flexible rules.

Rule #1 Try to incorporate a shopping trip with other errands. The cost of transportation plus the cost of TIME have to be factored in.

Rule #2 If I get some things for free that I won't use, that's a plus but not an aim--stuff like free or nearly free toiletries seem to accumulate throughout the year--enough for me to contribute to shut-ins Christmas baskets. Again, I work full time and have other interests. I am not willing to put a considerable amount of time into the process.

Rule #3 If I get a few things free or cheap through combining deals/coupons, I remind myself that I am far better off than if I didn't do it at all. The whole process has made me aware of pricing overall, thus helping with expenses. But I have never, never, scored the $100 worth of good for free. However, today's visit to CVS is typical:

My trip planning started with reading the CVS flyer that is on line and in the Sunday paper. I consult a number coupon blogs who post deals. My number one is CommonSensewithMoney.com. I follow at least six. Others I consult include. SouthernSavers.com and FrugalissaFinds. After a while you will notice that there is a lot of reposting of other blogs. That is perfectly acceptable in the blog world, as long as it is acknowledged.

I start a shopping list: I cut and paste in a Word document bloggers' listings that interest me. As the week progresses, more deals are discovered and the serious shopper bloggers post them. I additionally list things that I have noted are good deals. If I don't have paper coupons, I check the coupon database on couponkatie.com. I may add a few more deals to my shopping list that I have actually found on my own.

Today: Here's what I got
Pantene, price $3.49 ($1.50 off), but I had a free coupon from Pantene for my recent birthday.
Special K, four boxes, at $2.50 each, had two $1/2 coupons.

CVS has certain items that if you spend $30 for, you will get a $10 gas card. Among the eligible items I picked some from the Proctor and Gamble family (P&G's monthy individual coupon insert came out last week), which were Tide, Charmin, Covergirl make-up. I had coupons for all the items.

I bought just 11 items. I used 12 coupons, including Extracare bucks and a $3 coupon from CVS for my birthday. My receipt states that I saved $52.40. I had to pay $20.49, but while I did not get any Extracare bucks for future shops, I did get a $10 off for gasoline.

Additionally, the makeup went to Beauty Club credit (for every $50 spent, I get $5 ExtraBucks), I'll get some ExtraBucks seasonally just for spending money at CVS, and I get a little bit toward ExtraBucks since I used my own bags.



Sunday, August 28, 2011

Why Pineapple? Why Piggy?

When I started this blog, I was focusing on saving money. Period. Yet the real-life me was having to deal with how to save the money while maintaining a fairly active social life. A main part of that is that my husband and I live in a central location, and we oftentimes host gatherings. So when I recently redid my blog design, I wanted a visual to promote the balance of a gracious life and a frugal life. Thus the pineapple on one side of the scales and the piggy bank on the other.

The piggy bank's symbolism is obvious--saving money.

The pineapple might not be so well known as the symbol of hospitality to everyone, so here's an answer from our friends at answers.com:

The pineapple has served as a symbol of hospitality and warm welcome through the history of the Americas.

Christopher Columbus wrote the first account of a western encounter with the pineapple in the journal of his second discovery voyage across the Atlantic. He and his men landed on the Caribbean island of Guadalupe where the sailors enjoyed this sweet, succulent new fruit, which had already become a staple of native feasts and religious rites.

In 1493, Columbus first brought the pineapple back to Renaissance Europe that was largely devoid of sweet foods, including fresh fruit. The pineapple's exotic nature and sweetness soon made it an item that soon acquired both popularity and curiosity for centuries after its European arrival. For two centuries, as European horticulturists struggled to perfect a hothouse method for cultivating pineapples in Europe, the pineapple became even more a coveted commodity. In the 1600s, King Charles posed for an official portrait while receiving a pineapple as a gift.

In colonial America, hostesses would set a fresh pineapple in the center of their dining table when visitors joined their families in their homes. Visiting was the primary means of entertainment and cultural exchange, so the concept of hospitality was a central element in colonial life. The pineapple, then, symbolized the warmest welcome a hostess could extend to her guests, and then often it also served as the dessert for the meal. If the visitors spent the night, they would be given a bedroom with a bed in which pineapples had been carved on either the bedposts or the headboard -- even if that was the master bedroom.

Creative food display became a competition among the hostesses, because it declared her personality and her family's social status. Hostesses tried to outdo one another in creating memorable dining events. In larger, more affluent homes, the doors to the dining room were kept closed to create an air of suspense and excitement over the preparations of the hostess. Colonial grocers sometimes rented pineapples to hostesses desperate to create a dining experience above their financial means. Later, once that hostess had returned the pineapple, the fruit would be sold to more affluent clients who could afford to actually buy and eat it. Regardless of ones financial ability to actually buy and eat the pineapple, however, visitors to the homes that displayed the pineapple felt particularly honored that the hostess had spared no expense to secure one in their behalf.

By the Gilded Age, which was the era in which Samuel Couples lived, through the present day, the pineapple became a familiar symbolic image of welcome, good cheer, and warmth and affection between all who dwell inside the home.


Sunday, August 14, 2011

To Work or Not To Work

Coming from a family with strong single women, finding a husband would be a plus but not a requirement. If I did so find a spouse, the anticipated path would be to graduate from college, work until the babies come and then complement my husband's career with whatever I was doing at home and provide an increased enrichment experience for our children.

Well, I did find the husband in college. We married before I finished, and we will be celebrating our 37th anniversary in December. I did stay home after baby number 1, but I needed a breather.
More about that in a future blog.

If you have never experienced staying at home with infants and toddlers, believe everything you read about it. It is challenging, it is frustrating, it is sometimes lonely, yet it is satisfying and gratifying beyond words. However, there is something in the self of the typical American woman that craves production. Hence the popularity of mommy-blogging, of which I suppose I am technically a part.

In today's Wall Street Journal insert in the Knoxville News Sentinel, columnist Katherine Rosman writes about having to leave her children to present to a mommy-blog convention. I see great irony in this.

Please check it out:
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424053111903918104576506763028830854.html?mod=personal_fin_newsreel

Thursday, August 11, 2011

I lived SOME of "The Help"


Starting yesterday, millions of mature Southerners are engaging in cinematic mirror-gazing as they view "The Help." I am one; although as I want to write that my recollection of my community's relationships weren't mean-spirited-base as portrayed in the book/movie, the accepted class system was wrong, wrong, wrong. We know that now and in our heart-of-hearts we knew it then. The situation has changed and continues to change. Unfortunately in the meanwhile people suffered beyond the gross inequities to the ultimate sacrifice of dying -- lynchings, little girls in the basement of a bombed church in Alabama, Freedom Riders, Medgar Evers, Martin Luther King, Jr. . . .

I attended the movie with my small group (typically "small groups" are mini-groups of church members, but at least four churches are represented in our small group.) Most special, though, is a couple in our group are the proud parents of Shane McRae, who portrays one of the husbands in the movie. Shane's dad taught at Mississippi State for years, so Shane got to go back to the state of his youth -- yes the movie was actually filmed IN Mississippi.

To my peers: Go see the movie. We need to recollect from whence we came.

Thrifty Footnote: We got one of the tickets free through our Regal Crown Club membership!






Monday, August 8, 2011

Finding $5,291

I have written about this before, but $5,291 was the annual salary of my first full-time job after college. Just for fun, I have targeted this amount to "find" savings. I keep starting this little exercise over and over, and here I go again.

Today I went to CVS. It's interesting that when I first started couponing, Walgreens by far and away had more savings. However, they eliminated a rebate program and don't have the incentives that CVS has to stack savings. The main difference between Walgreens and CVS is that CVS does have loyalty cards. The Big Brother of CVS tracks your purchases, but I have nothing to hide--track on, CVS!

So, here is my first step in identifying the $5,291:
Bought four boxes of Kellogg's cereal on sale, saving 5.86
used Kellogg's coupons: 2.20
3 boxes of Hefty Bags on sale, saving 9.00
1 Maybelline Mascara on sale, saving .50
Used a $1.00 Maybelline coupon I got at the store 1.00
Extra Care Bucks earned because I bought a certain
amount of cosmetics 5.00
Previously earned Extra Care Bucks applied 4.00

All these purchases went to the $30 purchases
earning me $10 in gasoline credit 10.00

Total $37.56

Balance to save: 5,253.44

Please note that I didn't buy a whole lot. I can't keep track of a lot of items when I am stacking the coupons. I typically do two or three trips to Walgreens and CVS on a weekly basis.

Balance: The Path to Contentment

There is no doubt that we have been blessed, but we are sharing in the current financial challenges. On a day when the stock market plummeted again, I can't help but feel unsettled. However, the Scripture that I hang onto, day in and day out, is Philippians 4:6:

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

The word I focus on is "everything." There are opportunities to save, to enjoy, at just about every turn in life. I try to save whenever and wherever I can; but if the opportunity presents itself to spend time with good friends at a restaurant, I'll be careful in what I order. If a new business in our downtown community is just getting started, I'll buy from them once in a while because their presence contributes to the neighborhood's character.

When I first started this blog, I was on a spend fast. For a year I basically bought nothing for myself--no new clothes for a year. I embraced couponing and started stockpiling. Now I buy an occasional piece of clothing, oftentimes from consignment stores; and since I have gotten accustomed to the cycles of sales, I am not as inclined to go overboard in buying specials.

My daughter gave me a blog revamp for Mother's Day. It has taken this long for me to contact the designer and get it online. To use a house analogy, my old blog looked like a used mobile home while I like to think of this new design as a cozy cottage.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Eating Well -- Be Prepared!!


Trying to snack well, especially when it's a long time until that next meal--that is an ongoing battle for me. I could easily give into emotional eating. I've often downed a half box of crackers before I even realize it.

That's why it's good to have some good snacks, like Yoplait Smoothies, in the freezer for those episodes of temptation. A wonderful balance of fruit and yogurt, is just what I needed to get me through some serious weak moments. They are filling, satisfying and delicious, and being a smoothie makes it extra special. I was glad to enjoy the Yoplait Smoothies that the good folks from BlogSpark provided for me.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Coupon Fair



For anyone who is into couponing, your day is almost here! It's Coupon Fair time this Saturday. Most of the local couponing rock stars will be there. What great people! We are so fortunate to have them in our community, and you can meet them in person on Saturday. See you there--Faith United Methodist Church, 9-noon

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Getting Music for Free

This is not about Pandora or any of those other programs. This is about how procrastination sometimes saves you money.

In 1967 I was a typical high school freshman nerd. Oh, no, it was worse. I was overweight and IN A GIRLS' BOARDING SCHOOL. However, there was a signficant way to escape the nerdiness: music, and the best escape was S-O-U-L. My sister gave me what turned out to be my favorite record of all times. It was the Stax/Volt Revue, Volume 2, Live in Paris. Carla Thomas, Eddie Floyd, Sam & Dave and Otis Redding. Probably not a big seller compared to some of its contemporary recordings. Hmm, I am sure that it was not converted to eight-track, not a tape, not a cd. With our turntable long gone, I had thought about getting someone to make a cd from my old record. The internet has saved me!!! Some lovely person has put them on YouTube, and I can listen to the whole record through the playlist. I'm listening to it now.

Yeah, Sam & Dave, you got me hummin'!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Time Wasted in Cyberspace

I was in meetings all last week and all this week. There were no more than 20 people in the room, so it wasn't like you could get away with checking your phone during the meetings; but as soon as we took a break, everyone went into their own phone zone. It made me think of times gone by . . . .

There was a time you could smoke anywhere (reference Mad Men) and the time most people still smoked and then the practice started where you could go outside with all your buddies and stand around in the cold for a few minutes while you dragged on your cigarettes. Yes, during meeting breaks we all rushed outside in a pack. I feel for those few who still smoke. The smoking break used to be a real social event. I am assuming that it isn't anymore. (yes, I am a stereotypical babyboomer--smoked until my late 20's, then once in a while bought a pack, but the thought of smoking now makes me shudder.)

The rush to get on the phone reminds me of the rush to get the cigarette lit.

So much time can be wasted in cyberspace. I let my personal e-mail pile up this week, so I have just spent two hours catching up to last Sunday. My inbox still could be referred to as littered.

I need to weed! The first thing, appropriately for weeding, was a garden center that sends me notices. I have been in a condo for four years. Why do I need garden centers notifying me?

It will take some discipline, but I am going to unsubscribe to something EVERY TIME I get on-line. ugh.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

A Little More Money AND the Healthy Living Fair

I am trying to find $5,294 (see Jan 2, 2011 post)

Still to go $5,191.61

Last week's CVS extra care bucks $9.50
coupon on salsa 1.00
Free chips coupon 2.00
Earth Fare Coupon from Healthy Living 5.00
Free Coke 12 pack 2.50
CVS gift certificate from MyPoints 25.00
total 45.00

Still to go $5,146.61

(I forgot to track the week before's coupons. oops.)

The Healthy Living Fair was held at the Knoxville Convention Center January 21 and 22. This is probably the fourth or fifth year they have held it. 2010's event was plagued with icy weather. There also seemed to be fewer vendors. 2011 was a great event. The weather was cooperative, so there were a lot more people checking out what seemed to be a lot more vendors. They were very fortunate because a couple of the Biggest Losers stars happen to be from Knoxville, and they were there.

I got in free because my health club, CourtSouth, was a sponsor; so they had free tickets at the club. However, I figure they were giving out a lot of tickets because I didn't see anyone buying tickets when I arrived.

The Convention Center is about a half mile from where I live, so I walked.

There was a $5 coupon to Earth Fare in the magazine they gave away as well. It has no expiration date on it. I'm wondering how long they will honor them.

The most impressive occurrence was the demonstrators on the main stage. There were a number of health-focused outfits, such as dance clubs,represented. The "performers" weren't professionals by any means. In fact, many of them would be considered on the heavy side. But their willingness to show the public that exercise can be fun and beneficial was inspiring.

Remember: the number one way, America, to save money is to keep well. Exercise supports good physical and mental health!!!

Friday, January 14, 2011

a little more money

Got the $40 reward Home Depot card from our credit card


$5,231.61
40.00
still to go:

$5191.61

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Find More Money through Your Tax Return

Families who make less than $50K can get their taxes done and likely get other good financial advice at VITA sites. They only have to wait no more than a couple of weeks for their refund. Call 2-1-1 for the nearest site

Tax Preparers Feed on Immediate Gratification.

We have gotten flyers in the past two days or tax preparations. BEWARE!!! For fast money through commercial tax preparers, the filer is technically taking out a high interest loan against their anticipated refund. Also, there is a system of adding on additional fees.

Please, please encourage those who make $50K or less to go to a VITA site. There is a good chance they'll get back more than if they do their tax returns themselves.

Call 2-1-1 for a location convenient for you. They will start to open up in temporary sites in community centers, etc. next week.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Cmon, Couponers, Keep It Balanced

Recently TLC launched "Extreme Couponing." Unfortunately they are using their tried-and-true genre of exposing the unusual behavior of those profiled. The subtitle of the show could be "A Special Subgroup--Close To Becoming Hoarders."

The general perception of active couponers might be negative; but about a year ago a local coupon blogger, Coupon Katie, laid out the truth. Fortunately when I read it, I was in a teachable mood. She stressed that "It's all about BALANCE." At that moment I pledged to, indeed, keep it balanced.

After you have been couponing, you understand that there are cycles of sales. You'll get your chance at that super-duper toilet paper sale in a couple of months, so a couple months stockpile is probably going to hold you until the next great opportunity to buy cheap.

I am a business school graduate. One important thing I learned in school was "money now is worth more than money in the future." So, even a dollar or two applied to get a sale isn't worth it if you are not going to use the product until months later. Those dollars could be used TODAY to reduce your debt load or put into your retirement plan. That is why I don't understand people who save coins--make those pennies work for you!!!

If you DO get big into couponing, don't let the missed opportunities obsess you. Couponing is much like a sport. If you get news of a deal that, with a coupon, will actually MAKE you money, for example, and somehow you don't have that coupon in your file: show some character and take the loss gracefully. Think of yourself as a golfer who constantly looks at ways to take a few strokes off. Sometimes you get the shot, sometimes you don't.

I'd like to add that you need to look at the big picture--your entire life--and make sure that there is balance. For example, my husband is not a big fan of my couponing; so when he suggests doing something on a Sunday afternoon (that traditional time when couponers all around the nation are at their kitchen tables, gleefully mutilating the Sunday newspaper inserts), I would never say "nope, gotta get caught up on coupon clipping." Husband comes first and way before couponing. (We've been married 36 years). Another note: whatever he suggests, however, better be cheap or free. Last Sunday we went to the East Tennessee History Center--it's free on Sundays ($5 other days).

Finally, a tip on how to respond when you are at the store and someone makes some "funny" comment about your notebook or your big stack of coupons that you pull out. I tell them it's my hobby, and "if you have a hobby, does it MAKE you money?" They can't respond. end of conversation. Cha-ching!