Thursday, April 7, 2011

Help Japan & Earn Swagbucks

In light of the second earthquake hitting Japan in the last 24 hours, Swagbucks has extended their donation effort.  If you are a Swagbucks user, please consider donating a few of your Swagbucks.  If you are new to Swagbucks, they are offering a 50 Swagbuck bonus for new signups right now if you use code: HelpJapan at signup.  Once you get signed up, please do consider donating some of your Swagbucks.

Below is the original post I made after the last earthquake on 3/24

Swagbucks isn't just about helping yourself get free stuff, they are also about helping others and right now you can help out by donating your Swagbucks to Help Japan. Swagbucks is asking that you donate some of your Swagbucks (as little as 5, as many as you'd like) to go directly to All Hands Volunteers, a 501(c)3 organization.  If you'd like to donate some (or all) of your Swagbucks, just click here and select the amount you'd like to donate. Swagbucks will be collected and then converted into a cash donation (you can view the conversion chart on the donation page).  This is an easy way to help out without even feeling it.

And in the spirit of giving back, for those who are new to Swagbucks, if you sign up now they are offering you a bonus 50 Swagbucks (this is on top of the usual 30 bonus Swagbucks that they typically give, for a total of 80).  When you sign up just enter the code: HelpJapan during registration.  This offer is valid until 12pm PT on Monday, May 2nd (extended today due to most recent events).  If you are new to Swagbucks, you may be wondering what it's all about.  Swagbucks is an easy way to earn FREE stuff online and by FREE stuff I mean anything from Amazon gift cards to electronics.  You earn points (called Swagbucks) by doing things you normally do online (like searching the web using their search engine), or by entering special codes that they make available from time to time, or even by trading in your old video games, books and cell phones.  Then you take those Swagbucks you earn and trade them in for real tangible stuff.  To give you an example, I've already traded in for $70 in Amazon gift cards so far this year (that's about a $5gc each week).  Give it a try and with this bonus you are already more than 20% of thew way towards your first Amazon gift card (that's if you don't decide to just donate all your points to Help Japan).

$6.50 in Splenda Coupons

Head over to Splenda for up to $6.50 in printable coupons good towards Splenda products

Extreme Couponing: At Least they Showed Some Reality on Reality TV

I finally sat down this afternoon and watched the two new episodes of Extreme Couponing.  I have to say I was really happy to see that they did some some reality mixed in with the extremity.

Reality 1: Store coupon policies do change from day to day, sometimes from store to store and even from cashier to cashier.  The policy you totally thought you understood yesterday and the deal that worked just fine, may be completely different tomorrow.  You may remember my posts regarding the insanity of Kroger's Daytona Mega Sale, and their coupon policies have continued to change since then.  Wal-mart's coupon policy has changed at least 5 times since the first of the year!

Reality 2: To get 90% savings you really have to STOCK UP!  I was impressed to see that at least 2 of the shoppers walked out with 90% savings and still managed to walk out of the store with actual meat in their baskets and not just boxes of cereal and jars of mustard.  But, considering what it took for that to happen, I doubt it was worth the time.  I doubt that had this not been for a television show, that those couponers would have really called in friends to help them check out.  I doubt seriously that their average grocery trip before coupons is 20% of what they were dealing with on these trips.

Reality 3: Shelf Clearers suck!  At least on the first session of Extreme Couponing we got to see Nathan Engels from WeUseCoupons show some integrity by calling in special orders rather than clearing shelves.  I don't care what it is, if you are buying 50 or more of something do a special order and leave some on the shelf for the rest of us.  That's just rude!

Reality 4: Couponing is a trade-off.  You can save plenty through couponing without letting couponing run your life and take over your home, if you choose to do so.  But, if you aren't careful, couponing can quickly become an obsession.  It's ok to miss a deal now and then, some things are more important.  And if your children's playroom is stocked with can goods, you have to ask yourself will they really appreciate all this time and effort you are spending to save for their college? Or will they just wish they had time with you and toys to play with?

A friend of mine came over to watch the show with me. She's new to couponing and when we were done watching I could tell she was disappointed. She was hoping for a show that was a little more educational that taught her something about couponing.  Instead, she said we were given a new version of "Hoarders".  Sad, but true.

Nathan Engels is scheduled to be back on Extreme Couponing next week and I've heard that he's going to be talking some about the donation possibilities that become available to use through the use of coupons.  If you saw the first episode of Extreme Couponing, you saw where he built a giant tower out of Total Cereal before donating it to a local food bank (along with much of the rest of the groceries he bought for the show).  I've learned a lot through Mr.Coupon's forums at and he has a lot he can teach those who want to learn about the proper ways to use coupons and the realities of doing so.  About how couponing can help us save money for our family and help us give to others.  I really hope they give him the chance to do so on the next episode and that we see the show become a little more about educating those who want to learn how to save money, rather than just highlighting how obsessive some couponers can be.

$1 Off Fresh Produce

It's not often you find a coupon for anything off of fresh produce, so any discount is nice.  Here's a $1 Off Fresh Produce when you buy 2 boxes of Triscuit crackers. I'm not gonna run out and buy crackers just to get save on produce, but if there are other good coupons for the crackers to stack and they are on sale, it might make for a good deal.

$2 Off Any Clean & Clear

New Printable (or reset) for $2 Off any Clean & Clear product.

Dual Incomes Need Coupons Too

You may have noticed a few small changes to my blog.  When I started it about 6 months ago, "Money Saving Mode" was the first thing that popped in my head, mainly because that's exactly what we were in.  We had just signed up to start taking Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University and the only thing on our mind was saving money.  We'd used up the bulk of our emergency fund just a few months before to buy me a new car, and no it wasn't really an emergency, but it was a necessity involving my health issues.  If you're interested in reading more about that, you can do so here.The point is our Emergency Fund was running low, we had no budget and we spent pretty much everything that came in.  We have a good income between the two of us, for that matter we'd have a pretty good income without me!  But, we had nothing to show for it.  Yes, our cars were paid for (thanks to the emergency fund) and we had no other debt, but at some point we'd like to be able to retire.  We'd like to go on some nice vacations before then.  We knew we had to make some changes.  "Money Saving Mode" was about sharing our journey into this new land of saving money, in any way possible.

We've done really well in the last 6 months.  We took Financial Peace and during the course of the class we were able to build our Emergency Fund not only back to where it had been, but to where it needed to be.  We are at risk for my husband losing his contract this summer, so we have continued to pile extra cash into the Emergency Fund.  The funny thing is we don't even notice it anymore, we are so used to living within our budget.  My pay goes straight into the EF account.  We live off his, this includes having to pay OOP for all of my meds (luckily we do get reimbursed for most of it, but the 6 weeks we wait could really hurt if we weren't prepared).  Our budget also includes and adequate amount for us to go out and have fun.  Our "Dining & Entertainment" envelope is just that, an envelope.  We put a set amount in there every 2 weeks and that's what we go out to eat on or go to the movies or do other fun things with.  There have only been a couple of times where we've gotten to a point where we were out of fun money and still wanted to do something.  We also each have our own personal envelope that we use for things we need throughout the week, whether it's buying ourselves lunch, buying clothes or just buying something for each other.  We also use a cash envelope for Groceries.  This (as I've posted many times) is probably the hardest area for me to stay within budget and that's mainly because I have cut the Grocery budget many times since we started.  It's now at 1/4 of what we originally started at, and in my opinion two people should be able to live off of $50 a week in groceries, especially with the stockpile we have.  So the over-spending is all on me.

I knew when I started this blog that if I kept it up for 6 months I'd end up changing the name, although I had no idea what I'd change it to.  Growing and changing is part of life, and I want this blog to grow and to help others.  As I've read many other blogs from others sharing their insight on saving money, using coupons, etc the one that struck me is that most of them are Moms reaching out to other Moms. Often, they are mom's who have chosen to stay home with their kids and their couponing (and blogging) is their way of financially supporting their family.  I applaud that!

  There are always tons of deals out there for the Moms, deals for kids.  I don't have kids.  We are DINKs (Dual Income No Kids).  So while I know that a great deal is a great deal for anyone and I hope to help the Mom's who want to save too.  I really wanted to reach out to those who I can relate to the most.  Those of us with two incomes, plenty of income and way too much outgo.  Just because you have dual incomes doesn't mean you don't need to save money, and it certainly doesn't mean you can't use coupons.  Dual Incomes Need Coupons Too!

If you are a dual income family, and especially if you are a child-free family this will be the blog for you.  I won't be posting deals for kids stuff or baby stuff, or mom stuff.  But, I will post deals.  I will post deals that appeal to me (just as I"ve always done) and hopefully in the process they will be deals that will appeal to you.  I'll also post my thoughts on how DINKs can become DINKS with money by using coupons!

And the Winner Is....

The winning entry of the Random Samples Giveaway was #24
           247Mama said...
I'm a FB follower too!

Thanks :) I'll be emailing you in just a moment to get your mail details.