Saturday, May 16, 2009


I was quoted in the Spring 2009 Special Edition issue of “Consumer Reports” magazine, page 9. The article is titled “Ramp up your savings” and my comments address savings, budgeting and the utilization of financial software.

Furniture Store Coupon

Purchased a dining room set at Dunk & Bright Furniture Store. Mind you, we have had the same set for as long as we’ve been married, which is 16 years. After doing window-shopping for months now, we finally honed in on a set that we like that coordinates with our room's color scheme. Original price: $1,499 (or $1,500). Redeemed a $100 coupon given to us by our real estate agent (given to him by the furniture store), thereby making the price $1,399 (or $1,400). Further, there was a special running whereas the delivery charge of $75 was waived. Saved $175.

Discount Outlet Store

Purchased Mothers Day cards at Factor Card Outlet. These quality cards are dirt cheap to begin with, but they also sent me 15% off coupons. I think it’s well-documented in my Blog archives that I stopped purchasing cards at an un-named store long time ago because I refused to pay 8 bucks for one card. In this case, I bought cards for my maternal grandmother, mother, mother-in-law, sisters, sister-in-law, and aunts. Total cost for seven (7) cards: $5.93 less 15% discount of .89 equals a grand total of $5.04!

Coupon and Clearance Rack

Received a $10 coupon in the mail from Kohl’s. No minimum purchase obligation. Bought a nice, brightly-colored summer necklace. Regular price $22. On sale for $14.74. Came to a grand total of $4.74 (plus tax) with coupon. Saved $10.

While I was at it, I purchased a $30 belt for 90% off at $3, as well as $20 ivory-colored mittens for $2. Mind you, I don’t buy things for the sake of buying them just because they’re on sale. I need new belts and Spring time can still get frosty and nifty here in Central New York. Should have paid $50. Paid $5! Saved $45.

Anniversary Celebration Sales

I’ve come to take a liking to V-neck ribbed sweaters. I have a sea green-colored one and since I have Spring fever, wanted a yellow one. Went to The Salvation Army and found one for $5.99. In addition, I have a coupon reminding me that all merchandise is 50% off on May 16th. I hope to be there!

Easter Basket

Purchased an Easter basket for a special little boy for $24.99. When did Easter baskets become so expensive? I was expecting somewhere in the neighborhood of $7.99. But sometimes it’s about the gift, and not how much it costs.

Clearance Rack

Went into OfficeMax to buy something, but ended up purchasing $50 worth of attractive, name-brand give-aways for my Financial Literacy classes for between $1 to $4.50, max. These items are regularly-priced much higher.

Frequency Rewards

Bought a personal item at CVS. The CVS rewards card provides print-out coupons bearing instant discounts. Saved 50 cents today.

Gas and Groceries

Filled up the car with gas at 10 cents off per gallon. How? My local Price Chopper provides cents off per gallon of gas at the nearby Sunoco depending on how much one buys in groceries. I wasn’t too happy with the cost of laundry detergent and fabric softener, but at least it paid off in the price of gas. Regular $2.139/gallon. Paid $2.039 for a total of $23.25 for 11.401 gallons. Should have paid $24.39. Saved $1.14. There are times where I’ve saved 30 cents per gallon, depending on the amount of groceries I buy from Price Chopper.

Clearance Rack

Spotted a white hoodie for my husband James on a clearance rack regularly priced at $6.99 on sale for $1.75! Saved $5.24. It was the last one there. I wear the hoodie more than he does :-)

Credit Card Interest Rate Negotiation and Delayed Gratification

Two of our cash-strapped credit cards have arbitrarily jacked up our interest rates, regardless of the fact that we’ve been paying way more than the minimum, and on time. I called both companies and expressed (as calmly, politely and professionally as I could) that it is unfair to make the consumer pay for their money mismanagement while the CEOs make out like bandits. The CSR of one company offered me 0% balance transfer for one year with the understanding that there will be a 3%-soon-to-go-to-4% balance transfer fee. The other company dropped our interest rate to 3.99% fixed throughout the summer. I have marked my calendar to pay off the charges by the end of the summer. I must admit that I was surprised that they were even willing to negotiate with me given the current state of the economy and how financial institutions are begging Congress for money.

The interesting observation here is that both companies pushed hard to get me to cite a specific amount so that they could immediately deposit the money into our bank account. Of course, I know they want their 3% right now, but I am no stranger to delayed gratification; and since we don’t know the precise cost of the merchandise we’re shopping for (in this case, furniture), I repeatedly declined. . .what if there is a delivery fee? What if we throw in a couple of lamps? We don’t want to ‘borrow’ any more or less than we have to, so we’ll wait until we settle on the furniture. At least we’ll have decent rates when we make our purchases.

Gift Cards

Notice the year 2008. Found an old receipt where I had purchased a suit and accessories on sale at Macy*s for a Financial Literacy Seminar (it’s written at the top of the receipt). I apparently applied a $100 gift card toward the purchase. Items totaled $194.78 less 20% off down the line less $100. My receipt shows I paid $55.82 plus tax. Saved $138.96. Nice.

Store specials

My local UPS Store is offering a special of 1,000 B&W (black and white) pre-paid copies for only 2 cents per page! I happily plunked down $20.


Purchased lined index cards on sale/clearance for $1.25. They are regularly priced at $3.49. Saved $1.24

Coupons and TV infomercials

Saw an item on a television infomerical that proclaimed “You can only purchase our item here and no where else!” I found it on Amazon but before ordering, I found it on the shelf in Bed Bath & Beyond. 2 packs were priced at $9.99 each, but armed with my $5 coupon, I paid $15.

Restaurant Coupons

James and I dined at a local noodle restaurant and paid $22.39. Tack on $5, and that’s what we should have paid—$27.39.

Negotiating coupon expiration dates in this economy

It costs $150 per pop to replace an ink cartridge in my Color Laser Jet printer. Naturally, I called the two local office supply stores in my area to see who has the better price. Store #1 did not have the cartridge when I needed it and therefore, I could not use the generous $30 coupon, so I bought it at Store #2. Then, two more cartridges ran out of ink! Store #1 had the cartridges at a slightly lower price, but my coupon had expired. I called the Manager and explained the situation. He was more than happy to honor the $30 flat discount. It’s prevalent on the news and Internet right now that merchants are willing to negotiate with the consumer in this economy. My total purchase came to $298.21, almost $300! But with the $30 off, I paid close to $270. Any little bit helps. Since this puts Store #1 in a positive light, the name of the store was Office Max.