Saturday, January 3, 2009

Staples Deals this week

Staples is one of my favorite stores - overall when I need office supplies - this is where I head first.

They have some $1 items and some great prices after Easy Rebates thanks to Jenn at My Shopping Addiction. Starts January 4th.

$1.00 items - Limit 2 per customer.
~ Quartet 8 1/2" x 11" magnetic dry-erase board $1.00, reg $6.99
~ Expo fine point dry erase markers 4/pack $1.00, reg. $3.99
~ Pilot Vball retractable pens 3/pack $1.00, reg $5.49
~ Sharpie permanent markers 4/pack black $1.00, reg $4.79
~ Staples medium binder clips 24/pack $1.00, reg $4.99
~ Staples small binder clips 40/pack $1.00, reg $3.29
~ Staples Hype! Pen-Style Highlighters 6/packs $1.00, reg $3.99
~ Writing pads, letter size white wide-ruled 3/pack $1.00
~ Staples gold paper clips 100/pack $1.00, reg $3.99

Staples Easy Rebate Items
~ Pentel Hyper G Retractable gel pens, medium 4/pack $6.99 - $3 instant savings - $3.99 easy rebate = FREE. Limit 1.
~ Staples photo plus 4x6 paper 60/pack $9.99 - $8.99 easy rebate = $1.00. Limit 5.

Flexible Spending Accounts

Last night and today I have been rounding up receipts and sending them off for reimbursement from our HealthCare Flexible Spending Account.

Perhaps you have heard of this account or seen it offered by your employer. It is a GREAT way to save on taxes.

There are 2 separate accounts that work very similarly. One is for medical / health expenses and one is for dependent care expenses.

Today I'll tell you how the medical one works and tomorrow I'll discuss the one for Dependent Care and how it differs.

1. Each year, you decide how much money (up to $5000) you and your family might spend on medical expenses not covered by insurance - things such copayments, over the counter medications (Tylenol, Advil, etc.), Lasix surgery, etc.

2. Your employer then divides the amount you choose by the number of paychecks you will receive per year and that amount is deducted from each paycheck pre-tax and placed into an account for you.

3. Once you have some qualified medical expenses you can then be re-imbursed the expense cost OR you may be issued a debit card that you can use directly for these expenses.

4. You have the entire year to use up the amount you choose. Some employers allow a grace period that allows you to incur expenses into March of the next year and apply that toward your remaining balance.

So you say how does this benefit me??

  • The money you set aside is taken out of your paycheck pre-tax -- essentially, you are getting this money tax free - which means that you are extending the buying power of your money. If you are in the 15% tax bracket, you get 15% more money to spend on medical items.

  • If you have a high cost medical procedure that your insurance company will not cover - say Lasix - you can have that surgery and receive re-imbursement immediately after the surgery from your account - then the money to pay for it is taken out of your paycheck throughout the year.

Some Words of Caution

  • Don't overestimate your amount - if you don't use it by the end of the year, you lose it. REPEAT: YOU LOSE IT!!!

  • Save your receipts - you may need them to substantiate some of the expenses or you may need to send them in for re-imburement.

  • Be prepared for that money to come out of your paycheck - it's not gone forever, you WILL get it back but you will not have it to spend on daily living expenses

  • Rules change when you leave an employer - check with your employer as soon as you know you are leaving to find out how long you have to spend your balance and how long you have to turn in receipts.

Hey, did this help? If it did, let us know!!!

Today's Negotiating Tip:

There is a big difference between haggling and negotiating. Haggling is all tactics while negotiating is strategic. Always negotiate. When you know you want to buy something, learn about it, know its worth, know what options are available, understand who you are negotiating with and have creative solutions ready for standard salesperson tactics. You'll come out a winner!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

New Year's Resolution

Welcome to Rainy Day Finances, sponsored by Rainy Day Financial Group. I'm Marie Perry and I'll be your host as we help you and your family save money every day! My husband Scott and I have saved over $25,000 and reduced our debt by $38,000 in just the past year and a half. Over this time we've found new ways to cut costs and manage our budget better.

Since then we've committed ourselves to helping others that are victims of credit cards or the bad economy. Scott and I teach Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University and provide counseling help to those in financial need.

Professionally I'm a tax preparer here in Georgia and have worked in the legal field for many years. Scott works for a large consumer products group and is a negotiator and cost cutter. We both teach classes on budgeting, coupon savings and negotiating for consumers. Together we are committed to helping YOU SAVE MONEY in 2009! Tht's our New Year's Resolution.

Today's Negotiating Tip:

It's a buyer's market out there so take advantage of it if you are able to. This means don't buy it on credit, but if you have cash and have planned (key word) the purchase, you can probably negotiate a great deal. Carry cash with you when you go and ask for the best deal possible. Remember to use the magic phrase "is that the best deal you can offer me?" and remain quiet for a period of time with the salesperson thinks about it. Everything is negotiable! Don't be afraid to walk away!

Look for more consumer negotiating tips as we blog away!

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