Tuesday, March 23, 2010

EB Usage

I've been a bad hound lately- almost letting EBs expire again! I stopped by CVS yesterday after realizing I had $8.50 in EBs expiring, and picked up a few things.

$3.99 Colgate sensitive toothpaste (EB deal, limit 1)
$0.97 Kleenex tissues
2*$1.00 Lindsay Olives
$2.50 PAM cooking spray
-$3.50 EB
-$$5.00 EB
=$1.39 OOP

If I'd had my Q's on me I could have done better doing the Stayfree deal, but no biggie. The CRT fairies were smiling on me, and I got a $4/2 Stayfree CRT- combined with a BOGO Q and the EB deal going on I will definately be back for some moneymakin' Stayfree this week!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Clearanced Nuts at WAGS

My local WAGS has Deerfield farms bagged nuts on clearance. They were down to $0.50 for a small bag (2 oz for Walnuts and 3 oz for Almond Slivers). That works out to $2.67 a pound for Almond slivers and $4 a pound for walnuts, packaged in convienient little sizes! Definately check your WAGS- mine had these in the pantry aisle near the jello and things, not with the rest of the clearance merchandise.


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

My Retirement Game Plan

I don't have an actual number in mind. Because I'm very young (turning the big 2-5 this year!), I feel like there are so many variables that it is really difficult to get a good feel for what amount of cash I'll need and at what age.
What I do know, is that I want the possibility for the age number to be low! Unless the rules change, I'll be able to withdrawl from tax-sheltered accounts like my 401(k) at 59 and 1/2- but what if I want to go out at 50 or 55 instead?
That's why it is important for me to utilize multiple retirement vehicles. Right now I'm using:

1) My 401(k) with match through my employer- I like this because my employer matches it with some free money, and it keeps California's paws off some of mine- at least for now, and I can't see myself retiring in one of the highest taxed states.

2) My Roth IRA- I like this because it lets me grow earnings tax-free, and with our budget being 48% loaned this year (which makes me sick) federal taxes will certainly be going UP in the future. Also, my investment choices are basically infinate compared with my 401(k). I could use some on a home down payment eventually, but I'd rather let it continnue to grow if I can.

3) My Mutual Fund account- I like this because I could consolidate to cash if I need/want to. This lets me not only keep it as my "before 59.5 nestegg", but I have the option of using it for a down payment on a home, or liquifying some to live on during an extended job loss or something like that. It also allows me to save additional cash in years I max out the other two options.

4) Social Security- HA. Ha. ha. Government's cruel joke for us younger folk. Not a snowball's chance in you-know-where this program will pay me anything in 40+ years, but I'm stuck paying it anyways. Imagine how much that sum could be if my SS payments were invested modestly and the program worked as it was originally intended to... ah, sweet, parallel universe.

I think with very few (if any) exceptions, everyone should max out their employer match first if they have one in their 401(k). From there, it really depends on your situtation and what kind of taxes you pay now vs. what you expect to in the future. Of course, I'm just a regular gal and no expert, so don't go taking my words as gospel.

What about you guys? Thoughts?

Sunday, March 14, 2010

A little blog remodeling

I did a good deal of thinking last week about a lot (my cousin's death included), and one of the things I realized was that I wasn't posting much because I had inadvertanly made this blog primarily about couponing without thinking about what else I may want to put in it.

So I may be changing a few things. I started with the formatting, and the name. My real goal is beyond just saving and couponing, though I still intend to do and post about those things! It's about retiring early (to me retirement means having the freedom to do what you want, which may or may not include working) and maintaining a quality of life that I enjoy. If I drop dead in 10 years, I do not want to have pinched so hard for the future that I didn't enjoy my time here the way I could have- so I am working to find that balance.

Things I'm thinking about posting are things like retirement savings- both tax sheltered and not- what kind of investments I look at, why it can be better to rent, basically aspects of personal finance that I haven't talked about on here but think about regularly.

As for the quality of life bit, that goes back to couponing a lot. One aspect of frugality to me is not paying more for something than I need to. $3 may not be a lot of money for shampoo or toothpaste, but I can get them for free, so why wouldn't I? However, if one product is WAY better than another, I'll pay the difference in cost, but I need to have reason. Like whole grain pasta costs more than the regular stuff, and deodorant that doesn't irritate my skin (Dove) costs more than the other things I've tried. I'm still going to get those items as cheaply as I can, but I'm not willing to sacrifice the quality there to save a little bit (provided I am saving a decent chunk, of course).

So, thoughts? It's going to be a little ad-hoc around here til I get the hang of this, but I'm going to try and be around more for sure.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Bad things happen to good people

I got a call this morning that my cousin's husband has suffered a massive stroke and is completely brain dead. Some kind of brain stem growth that is inoperable because of where it is, and he is currently in a coma with things not looking good. Seriously?!?! The man is in his early 30's, and they just got married at the end of January (though we'd long considered him part of the family, they have been together nearly a decade), and I don't think had any family history. 24 hours ago he was fine, and now they are waiting for his sister to fly in and finish goodbyes before they pull the plug.

My neighbor's girlfriend is also in a coma, caused by a car accident (hydroplaning during all the rain last month)- it has been so hard on him. Seeing him fight that battle, and remembering how hard my father's death was on my mom- it just kills me to know she's going to have to go through all that. Married for 6 weeks before becoming a widow... it just isn't right.

With all the scum out there in the world, why does this crap always seem to happen to the best of people?

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Jamaica'n me crazy

One of the things I make a big point to save for are vacations. Some of the strongest memories I have of growing up, and especially of my father- as he worked long hours and I was in after school sports and things- were our family vacations. I think because of that I place a very high emphasis on vacations within my "fun fund". While a great vacation can be as simple as going home to spend time with family, I enjoy recharging in a more fantasy-type one if I can afford to do so. After all, to me personal finance is more than saving every dime I can- it's also about maintaining the balance between present and future.

Because I have been extremely fortunate, and live below my means, affording a vacation has been more about time than money for me since I graduated. I don't get much time off, and up til now I've been using most of it to travel home for weddings, and last year for Christmas, which was wonderful. However, I've managed to save up enough to take a trip with DBF in September to go to...

Jamaica! The place looks gorgeous, and some of our friends actually got married at this exact resort. We are going to Sandals, which is all inclusive (basically, zip-lining and a few excursion-type things like that we want to do will be extra). So once we're there, we do not pay for food, drinks, tips, anything of that nature. There is a beautiful beach and many pools, games you can borrow from the lobby, etc, so I'm sure a lot of our time will be spent just relaxing and enjoying the resort.

And the base cost? For our room, airfare, taxes, etc- and trip insurance (September is still Hurricane season there after all)- we will each pay $1,652.32. Even though we got it on a great sale, it's not cheap to be sure, but that is why I save for the thing! And considering everything that it includes, I believe it will be money I'm glad I spent. Super excited!

Monday, March 8, 2010

I love me some Rite Aid!

And some Covergirl! I was driving down to San Diego for work today and had to stop for gas, and lo and behold there was an RA in the same center. I decided it was fate, and went in armed with my Qs after the free CG makeup. I should also mention I used Coupon Dede for the first time for these, since I don't usually buy 5 papers.

4*8.49 CG Blast Mascara, BOGO
2*15.99 CG/Olay ageless foundation, BOGO
2*9.99 CG TruBlend foundation, BOGO
2*8.99 CG TruBlend pressed powder, BOGO
-5 BOGO coupons
=4.59 (I think, reciept is in the car), CA sales tax only

Even with the cost of the coupon handling (and btw I should have gotten more of these, the fillers I picked to get to the $3.00 minimum are lacking), I spent about 8.50 on all this makeup, which subtotaled at just over $100. I picked a variety of shades for the foundations/powders so I can donate them to a charity in my area that helps abused women prepare for job interviews and the workplace. My neighbor volunteers at the no-cost preschool some of the kids go to and I'm really excited to be able to give these to the organization. And heck, with a tax reciept, my pockets are pretty stoked too!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Rolling, rolling, rolling

I almost committed the cardinal sin of couponing at WAGS and CVS. Some of my EB's would have expired today, so I used them up in the nick of time last night!

$8.99 schick razor refills (normally I'd pass on this, but hey, had to buy something with the expring EB and it's a decent deal)
$4.99 Softsoap Nutriserum body wash
$1 Dollar Days Notebook
-$4 schick Q (2/28 insert)
-$1 Softsoap Q (March All You)
-$9 EBs
=$0.98+ tax
Recieved $3 EB for schick, $4 EB for softsoap

6*2.29 Kleenex boxes, on sale BOGO so paid that for 3
-$0.50/3 Q (you should be able to use 2 of these if you have them)
-$4 RR (from Goody hairties last week)
=2.37+ tax
Recieved $3 RR for buying 6 or more (not advertised, it's a national kleenex promo)

$8.99 Intuition razor (these are my FAVORITE!)
$9/2 Purex 3-in-1
-$4 Intuition Q (2/28 insert)
-$4.50 Purex BOGO Q (2/21 insert)
=9.49+ tax
Recieved $3 RR for Intuition, $1 RR for Purex 3-in-1

If your WAGS rings up the regular Purex as a true BOGO (5.99 for first, $0.00 for second), that is a better deal, but mine the registers were ringing them up half price each, so the BOGO Q wouldn't have made them free. They still would have cost a little less than the 3-in-1, but for the extra $0.25 each I decided to try these.