Friday, February 12, 2010

"Are Coupons Worth It"

a friend of mine posted this article and I thought it great. Especially after reading the hourly rate of using coupons is $86.40!

Clipping coupons hardly sounds like the subject of high finance–or even medium finance.

Save a dollar on cat food, some detergent or a couple of boxes of cereal. Who can be bothered? Who has the time?

A growing number of people, it turns out. And they're shrewder than it may at first appear.

The Great American Coupon is making a big comeback–thanks to the Great American Recession.

We redeemed some 3.3 billion coupons last year–a remarkable 27 percent leap from 2008, and the first year-on-year increase in 17 years, according to a report issued at the end of January by Inmar, a coupon-processing agent. (Online coupon use skyrocketed–companies issued twice as many as in 2008, but redemptions rose 360 percent.) The big upturn took off in October 2008, just after Lehman went belly up.

At first blush you can see why coupons fell out of fashion for so long–and why so many consumers still ignore them.

You have to make time to visit a coupon Web site or collect the flyers from your mailbox, the supermarket or newspaper inserts. You need to sort through to find the ones you want, cut them out, stick them in your purse or wallet–and remember to use them when you are at the cash register and you are trying to remember whether you bought everything on your shopping list and where you parked the car.

Average saving per coupon: Just $1.44, according to the Inmar report.

But let's treat this low finance topic for a moment the way we treat high finance. Let's subject it to the same math.

How long does it actually take to clip and use a coupon? Certainly the more you use, the less overall time you will spend per coupon, because so many of the costs–getting flyers, sorting coupons and so on–are generalized. Let's assume you spend a minute per coupon.

Saving $1.44 for a minute's effort is the equivalent of saving $14.40 for 10 minutes'.

Hourly rate: $86.40.

Maybe this would be as good a time as any to point out that the typical American working stiff–those lucky enough to have jobs right now–climbs out of bed each morning, goes through the miseries of commuting and endures the daily grind at the workplace for about $20 an hour.

Furthermore, money saved comes with an additional benefit. Unlike the money you earn at work, it is tax free. No payroll taxes. No federal or state income tax.

If your marginal tax rate were, say, 20 percent, you would have to earn $108 before tax to take home $86.40. If your marginal tax rate were 30 percent, you'd have to earn $123.

Very few of us ever do this kind of math, because we tend to treat low finance differently from high finance, and small sums differently from big ones. No wonder, even today, 99 percent of coupons are thrown away unused.

Yet finance isn't a separate topic from the rest of our personal lives. For all of us, our scarcest resource is time. Putting the right value on it, and putting it to the most productive use, is a financial challenge, as well as a personal one.

And the individual amounts of money may seem small, but they prove the old adage about tiny acorns and mighty oaks. Someone who saves $25 a week will save $100 a month, and $1,200 a year. Over a lifetime that can easily grow to $100,000 or more–even after accounting for inflation.

If motivation is an issue, the next time you find yourself facing a stack of coupon booklets and flyers don't ask yourself if you can be bothered. Try asking yourself if you'd like to earn more than $100 an hour for a job you can do, at home, while sitting on the sofa watching TV.

Write to Brett Arends at

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Buying 'off' season...

I took me awhile to get into the habit of buying my kids winter/summer clothes for the next year at the end of winter/summer that year. Sure, I'd pick up a clearance item here or there but never would buy a size bigger. Now that I've started, I look forward to swapping out clothes each new season. It buts a big smile on my face and I feel accomplished! I don't have to take my boys school shopping just before school, except for a pair of sneakers. I no longer have that anxious/dreading feeling of dropping $200 at once on each kid at school time...

All stores clearance ... you just have to look for it. You have to WAIT for it. So many things my boys have wanted that I told them to just wait ... and then I was able to surprise them with it a few weeks later, because it went on clearance.

I have some favorite stores I buy clothing at each year, Target (when it hits 75% or 90% off) and Old Navy (50% off clearance prices)being my top choices. But, you can also find some awesome clearance sales at Kohl's, JcPenney's, and Walmart. A lot of times, JcPenney's and Kohl's will have a coupon to get even more money off!

Just yesterday, I went to Walmart and scored some great clothes for Juliana for next winter. You can read about it here. And when I was home visiting, I scored at Old Navy & Target!
Here are some of the items I bought at Old Navy:
The t's for boys (Spiderman, Iron Man) were only $1.25 and long sleeve were $2.25.
Little girls sweaters $3.25
Long sleeve t's $2.25
Skirts $3.25
T's for woman $2.25 and $1.50
PJ Bottoms for me $4.99

and at Target:
Fleece nightgowns were $2.50
Long sleeve t's were 1.74
Jogging Pants were 1.74

If you join you can watch for when these sales happen. We report them as soon as we can ... and would love for you to give us a head's up as well. We can't be everywhere at once :)

Happy clearance shopping!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Buy One Get One Free = 2 free!

So, you got a coupon for a BOGOFree (BOGO=Buy one get one) item...while this is a great deal in itself, if you wait a bit, you might be able to make this an excellent deal!

Using a BOGOFree coupon when that item is on sale for BOGOFree = 2 items for FREE!

Search those ads to find the best way to use your coupon! Or search Our Coupon Home ... we may have a deal posted for that coupon!