Saturday, January 10, 2009

Failed to Save Money

Scott says….

I failed to save any money today.

She says…

Forgot your lunch again?

Scott says…

Yes. So I had to buy lunch at the Sandwich Shop of Death at the building. Yuck! There were too small pieces of meat on the sandwich and some cold French fries. They charged me almost $7.00!

Marie says…

So, if I take the $20 you get per week and subtract $7.00, you should have $13.00 left in your wallet. Right?

Scott says…

Wrong. Bought a few biscuits this week. And some sweet iced tea. I’ve not used one single coupon all week, either.

Marie says...

So, basically you are broke again....right?

Scott says...

Did you see that the Braves are trading Schmolz this year? (changing the topic)

Marie says…

Not good, honey. You have to carry donuts into work tomorrow morning don’t you?

Scott says…

Crap! Forgot about that. Can you go find me a coupon?

Marie says…

Bailing him out of a jam as usual.

Sometimes you’ll have a bad week. Sometimes things just don’t work out. Don’t beat yourself up! Regroup and plan for the next week. You’ll be fine and you’ll still save money. Scott is still very conscience of what he’s spending and he’s learning more every day. I probably need to provide him a more robust collection of coupons for when he has to eat out. Oh, and maybe I should make him a sandwich since I forgot last night!

Today’s Negotiating Tip

Negotiating for a raise starts the day you are hired. One of the things that I do that helps me prepare is that I keep a daily journal at work. Each day I write down the major things that happen and I list all of the really good things that I do. Let’s say I negotiated a great deal on a contract. I’d list the specifics of the deal, why it was good, how much we saved and any other benefit to the company. Then I write down what it was worth to the company. Sometimes money isn’t the only thing. I keep this list and just prior to review time I send my boss an email with all my successes outlined. While this sounds a bit pushy, it really is a benefit to him. As a manager it is much easier for me to take this synopsis and develop the employee’s review documents.

So make it easy on your boss and tell him or her how great you are! It is hard to not give a raise to someone who has well-documented successes. You’ll make more money!

Our New Negotiator's Book Store

I've posted a list of all the negotiating books that I have on my shelf for those of you that would like to learn more about the topic. I've reviewed all of these and highly recommend them.


Friday, January 9, 2009

Les Miserables?

Am I miserable? Not really.

Marie and I teach Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University class at our church on Sunday mornings. We’ve been through the class ourselves, read all the books and have been able to pay off $38,000 in debt and save $25,000 in about 1 ½ years. I’m very proud of the hard work we’ve put in to do this.

But one of the people in the class asked me “but do you live a normal life?” Another asked me if I was miserable. I had to think about that one for a while. Really, I don’t live any different than I did before. My belly shows that I eat three meals a day. I’m fully dressed and the socks don’t have holes. Ok, one hole, but it is very small. Our car takes me to work. I have God, Marie and my daughter, so I think I’m far from miserable.

No, I don’t live abnormally. But I do live debt free. In America that is abnormal. But like Dave Ramsey says…”Live like no one else so you can live like no one else.”

So maybe I don’t live normally. But I like it.

Marie says…

I like it too, honey.

Today’s Negotiating Tip

The location of the negotiation can be very important to the outcome. Is it better to buy a used car at the seller’s home or at your home? Your home usually because you have the advantage of not having to drive the car back home. You may also have access to the internet to show the seller what the real Blue Book value is. If you want to negotiate with a Dentist is the best place his office where the other patience can hear you or over the phone where only the Dentist can hear? The Dentist is more likely to grant you a discount over the phone. Yes, you can negotiate with a Dentist. Yes, I have changed Dentist because I couldn’t get a cash discount.

Use location to your advantage and get the best deal for your dollar!

CVS Trip Today

Marie says...

I've decided this year that if I don't need an item, it has to be a moneymaker or Free in order for me to buy it. Now this may seem like common sense to you, but I have found myself buying some things that are a good deal and I've never used them. Of course, if it is a SUPER deal, I could buy and donate the item. However, there are so many items that I can get for Free, that even money spent on low cost / unwanted items is money that I don't want to spend this year.

Here's what I got today.

2 boxes of SoyJoy bars - 6 in each box - $6.00 each - get $6.00 ECB back on each
1 bag of CVS napkins - $3.49
1 Garnier Fructis shampoo - $2.99 - get $2.00 ECB back

Coupons used
$3/$15 CVS
$3 off CVS Brand item
$1/5 Soy joys bars - 2 of these
$1 off Fructis Shampoo, Conditioner or Treatment - RP 12/04
ECBS - $0.50, $4.99, $4.49

Total (before coupons) - $19.41
Total (after coupons & ECBs) - OOP - $.24

ECBS back - $12, $2
Profit = $3.78

Want to see more CVS savings? Visit the "Cents"ible Sawyer's CVS Superstars!...

Free Milk at Kroger

Kroger has a deal this week (through Sat 1/10) that if you buy 3 Kellogg products - you get a gallon of milk FREE.

PLUS, there are coupons available for some of the Kelloggs products which can really make this a sweet deal.

The items that qualify are:

  • Kelloggs cereals
  • Nutrigrain Bars
  • Special K Bars and Bites
Jenny at SouthernSavers lists the following as coupons available.

-$1 Kellogg’s Cereals, any printable
-$1 off Kellogg’s Corn Pops, Frosted Flakes, Froot Loops, Apple Jacks, etc. , RP 12/14
-$1 Kellogg’s Frosted Mini-Wheats or All-Bran Cereal, any 11.4 oz.+ RP 12/14
-$1 Kellogg’s Special K or Smart Start Cereal, any 11.4 oz.+ RP 12/14
-$1/2 Kellogg’s Spcial K Bars RP 01/04
(Buy 3 Cereals, use 3 $1 coupons, makes it $5.01 for 3 cereals and Milk)

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Fine for Checking Out Books

Scott says…

The library is a fine place for checking out books. Mostly because I incur fines since I can’t seem to get the books back in time. I’m a book junkie as you can tell by the constant book reviews. I’ll read three or more books a week on average. There was a time when I bought most of my books. But once you start keeping a strict budget you find out that books are VERY expensive and food is a necessity.

In order to keep my book budget to a minimum (ok, there is no book budget line but there is a Scott’s discretionary fund which is a whopping $20 per week) I’ve found ways to get books that I want to read without buying them.

1. The public library. This is the best use of government money (my money) in the world! I’m at the library once a week or more. The handy on line reservation system lets me view the available books and have them sent to the local branch. A friendly system call “Elf” let’s me know when the books arrive.

2. Remote library systems. Our county library is plugged in to other libaries such as other state and university library systems. I can get books on loan through this system using the computer as well.

3. Private libraries. When you start asking around you’ll find that most everyone has a stack of books at home. I raid my brother-in-law’s shelves all the time and return the favor by sending him DVD’s from my collection. Another friend of mine sells used books, so I swap out books with her.

4. Book swap. We started a book swap at our company. In the breakroom we placed a large bookshelf and everyone brought in some books. We can check out a book at a time from the shelves, or read them during a lunch break.

5. Club or organization libraries. The model train club I belong to has over 500 members. I got most of them to donate a train related book to a new library. The library now has about 400 rare books that can be checked out by any member for 30 days at no charge.

6. Barnes & Noble or other bookseller. I love to go to book stores and sit and read for free. They have comfy chairs, a great selection of modern titles and I can grab a game of chess occasionally. They get mad when I bring in my Thermos full of coffee, though.

Reading is fun and can be a very inexpensive form of entertainment! Save bucks, read books!

Marie says...

Why don't you tell them how you sit in the library and read Curious George books? And why didn't you mention Border's? What's wrong with my favorite book store?

Today’s Negotiating Tip

Timing is a very important piece of negotiating. When you choose to act is often critical. For instance, if you want to buy a car, which day would be better? December 31st or January 2nd? Most of the time December 31st is the best because the dealer needs to move the inventory off the lot to avoid paying taxes and they may also have annual sales goals to meet. When negotiating the price of a hair cut, is it better to do it at 9:00 am or noon? Often 9:00 am is a better time because a large number of people get their hair cut on their lunch break.

The next time you plan to negotiate a purchase, think of “when” and you’ll save money!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Today’s Negotiating Tip

Empathy is a powerful building block for your strategy. You will be able to best negotiate if you can put yourself in the other person's shoes. When you approach a negotiation, ask yourself:

  • What does this person want from the deal?
  • Can they afford not to win?
  • Are they in a hurry to sell?
  • Do they need to make a commission today?
  • Do they like their job?
  • Are they in a good mood?

Pretend you are the salesperson for a brief minute. You see her standing there in the appliances section. Put yourself in her shoes for a minute. Pretend that you are selling ovens and freezers. What day is it? Is it Friday? Maybe she is tired. Maybe she just started her shift at the store. How would knowing this affect her negotiating methods? Maybe she has not had a sale all week and needs to move something today or not get a paycheck. Maybe she has had the best week of her career and is looking at icing the cake with a big, fat commission from you. What clues does she give to tell you how she is thinking and feeling? Does her body language give you any tips?

Empathy is one of the first steps toward a win/win which we’ll discuss further as we go along. Start learning to watch for signals that the salesperson gives you. As we progress we’ll learn to interpret them.

And The Academy Award For Saving Goes Too…

Scott says…

Marie and I walked away from the theater. It was our date night. Our daughter was at the special “Parent’s Night Out” at her school, we had some extra entertainment budget money left over in our Dave Ramsey Financial Peace envelope system, and we had four hours to ourselves. We enjoyed a fine Chinese meal without using a coupon, which is rare. Then we went to see a movie.

We had two coupons for a free movie. However, when we got there we were informed that we couldn’t use the coupons to see the money we wanted to see because it had not been in the theater long enough. Marie and I looked at the other movies and decided we really just didn’t want to pay full price ($12.00 each) to go to the movie. That would have totally blown the budget. So, we went and had coffee and conversation instead.

Honestly, I enjoyed chatting with my wife more than I would the movie. Really, we don’t sit down and just talk to each other much. Our daughter is always there or we’re working at something or other. Either way, $6.00 worth of coffee made for a very pleasant evening. Saving money is great for your relationship.

Marie Says...

I enjoyed it, too! (wink)

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

No Such Thing As A Free Lunch

Scott says...

I love to eat out. If it weren't for money I'd eat out every meal. You can look at me and tell that I like to eat out. That's why only Marie's picture is on the blog site. When we started looking at our budget I was absolutely shocked at how much I was spending on restaurants.

Marie told me that I had to stop so I began looking for a way to change my habits. One of the big problems is that I don’t like cold foods, especially sandwiches. The other problem I have is that I feel like I have to get out of the building once per day. This goes back to my factory days when I was trapped in the dark plant building for twelve hours at a time with no window to look out of.

The unknown problem that didn’t make itself apparent until later was that I really just hate making my lunch at night, especially when I’m the one that cleans up the kitchen after dinner. So, to help me, my sweet wife came up with the solution.

She would make me a good, healthy lunch each day that I could heat up in the microwave. This would make it very easy for me. Now all I had to do was figure out how to get out of the office. We do have a park at our office but no picnic tables. My solution is that I’ve started getting books on CD from the library and I sit in my car and listen to books while I eat my lunch. So far this works well when Marie remembers to make my lunch. If she forgets, then I have an assortment of soups in my desk.

Right now I’m saving somewhere around $230 per month!

Today’s Negotiating Tip

One of the most sinister sales tactics know to the consumer market is the legendary puppy dog close. This closing tactic works like this. You go into a pet shop with your daughter and ask about buying a puppy. Your daughter picks one out but it is a bit more expensive than what you wanted to pay. The owner of the store tells you to take the puppy home for the night and if you decide you don’t like him, bring him back the next day. Now really, your daughter is going to let you bring that dog home, right? While this describes the tactic, you and I will mostly see this in other venues. The used car business will give you a three day free trial use of the car. Furniture and TV rental stores will let you take that big, wide screen digital theater set home just to let you see how it looks in your living room. Guess who winds up buying that TV after your friends and family see it in the your living room and you get the time to wear your “pride of ownership” t-shirt for a while. This is a deadly, deadly tactic with an amazing success rate.

Negotiators can only avoid this tactic one way. Do NOT take the merchandise home. While it can be tempting, your best defense is to recognize it and walk away. By the way…the next time your over this way come see my new leather sofa!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Today's Negotiating Tip

Tactic: Negotiate With Cash

When you are negotiating (not haggling, which is tactical) be sure to PLAN to carry cash. There is something very magical about cash. The salesperson that sees you count the bills and move them back and forth in your hands will watch the movements very closely. I hold the cash loosely in my hands and even drop a bill for more affect. The whole time we are talking I keep asking "is that the best you can do for me?" Then I shut up. The silence is a killer and the salesperson will feel like they have to talk. Cash is still king. By paying cash you should expect at LEAST a 3-4% reduction in price just because it costs the store that much to process the credit card payment. I never use credit cards by the way, and don't even have one.

Book Review - Blogging For Dummies

Blogging For Dummies
by Susanna Gardner and Shane Birley
ISBN: 978-0-470-23017-6

This is the book you want to read if you are new to blogging. It has everything you need to get you started quickly. I really appreciated the pointers on advertising and the blogs listed for blog help. It is easy to read, as are all Dummies books, and has some excellent information. The book is lacking on RSS feed info, so this is not a good source. If you haven't blogged yet, get this book and proceed.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Today's Negotiating Tip

Today's Negotiating Tip:
Don't forget when negotiating for a refund or exchange that your time is worth something, too. Today I had to take a drive belt back to the auto parts store because they gave me the wrong size. It took 30 minutes to drive back to the store along with gas and wear and tear on the car in order to make the exchange. I informed the store manager of this and got an additional 10% discount.

Book Review - The Huffington Post Complete Guide To Blogging

The Huffington Post Complete Guide To Blogging
By The Editor of The Huffington Post
ISBN 13: 978-1-4391-0500-9

This was a great book on blogging style and I really recommend it for that purpose. I’ll warn you, though. You’ll have to wade through a lot of “I hate Bush” and gay pride rhetoric to get to the meat of the book. Not that I care either way, I just don't want to read it. There is no purpose in liberal (or conservative) rantings in a technical book. But then again, if they hadn’t the book would have been thin and they couldn’t charge me $10.00 for it. Basically, if you are a journalist using blog media or you are having trouble with your writing style for your blog, it’s a great book. Otherwise, save your money and buy a newspaper. Or read their posts at The posts are pretty good!

When Working On Cars You Need a Good, Stiff Belt

Scott says…

In order to save money around the house I’ve taken to repairing cars on my own instead of using a mechanic. While I’m not the best mechanic around, many of the routine maintenance chores and part replacements I can do myself. Today I put in a stiff serpentine belt and a set of headlights.

There are three ways you can save money on car repair:

1. Buy the replacement parts on line. Once a year I’ll place an order for the parts that I need for both cars. I order them all together to avoid shipping and handling costs. My order will include oil filters, belts, air filters, wiper blades, lamps/lights and any other parts that need placing. Having them on hand makes sure I replace them on time which helps prolong the life of the vehicle, thus avoiding replacement costs. The headlights I bought came from http://http/ and cost me a fraction of the car dealer’s price.

2. Invest in good manuals for your vehicles and rely on internet advice. Today I replaced the actual front light systems since a dump truck with a load of gravel was kind enough to break both of them. My Haynes manual ( for my SUV gave me great instructions for exactly how to replace the headlights. I also replaced the serpentine belt and found the manual wasn’t quite enough, so I jumped on line and found the solution to my problem. No mechanics were injured during the entire process.

3. Do the work yourself. While I didn’t have the exact tools that I needed, I did have similar tools to get the job done. I took my time, made diagrams of parts that I dissected, kept the screws separated in a bin and believe it or not the whole car went back together without any screws being left out. Wow! Ok, I did burn my arm on the portable light. I gave it to my neighbor so that he can burn his arm, too.

All in all I saved $440 on the purchases and the labor and I invested two and a half hours in repair time. Not bad. Oh, minus $0.25 for a Band-Aid.

5 Inserts Tomorrow

Are you ready for some Coupons ???

Tomorrow's papers will have 5 inserts - 3 SmartSource and 2 RedPlum. Time to Stock up on coupons.

To see a complete list of what will be included - check out TaylorTown Preview.

Here in Atlanta, you can get 2 AJC papers for $2.50 on Sundays. I normally get mine at CVS when I make my weekly stop there.

This week last year, I was running late and got them at Publix later in the day on Sunday and the paper was discounted. I paid something like $1.60 for 2 papers FULL of coupons. Can't beat that.

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