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Internet Deals and Daily Freebies

August 20th, 2008 at 05:16 am

In today's fast-paced, economically challenged society anything that can be done to conserve both time and money is welcomed into most every household. For me, one of the best ways to save both has been to find discounts and freebies on the internet! I'm sure there are a lot of people out there that look for the good deal when they are buying a big-ticket item like a refrigerator or a water heater, but what about those every day items?

You know, those things that you may want or need and don't really think about it when you are shopping for them, you just go get them? They may be much cheaper than a new car, but they can add up very quickly. What's a person to do? Fear not, there is an answer. I have found an extremely effective way to combat those prices and save both time and money.

I know it may sound strange, but while some people enjoy scrapbooking while others live for Monday Night Football, I love bargains! I have taken the search for discounts and freebies on the internet and turned it into an art form. Most people do not have the time, patience or inclination to research and hunt down bargains, but for me the feeling associated with trolling the internet for such things is a rush! Honestly, it's like an addiction. It starts out simply enough. Like many frugal people I anxiously await the delivery of the Sunday paper so I can start the coupon clipping. And when I find a store that will "double the coupon"? Double bonus! As much as I enjoy searching the paper for coupons my family will use it is over far too quickly and I am left looking for some other way to feed the addiction since the papers for the rest of the week offer little to nothing to help. Enter my friend the internet!

Having worked in retail for five years and marketing for an additional seven, I know that companies are always looking to save a buck. This is usually done via advertising. While it makes for sparse offerings in the papers, many companies have turned to internet advertising both because of the ease with which the advertisements can be placed and the money that is saved by utilizing this forum. In addition, it is cheaper for the supplier to package and ship the product directly to the customer taking advantage of these deals rather than pay to ship in bulk to a store from the warehouse, unload the items and set them up for display. Needless to say, it's obvious why stores would want to offer deals directly to you the consumer.

And it's all fine and good that the stores get so many benefits, but what about you? Well, the deals offered directly to the consumer are often far better than those that can be offered via the retail stores. In addition, and trust me this is a huge one when you have four kids, you don't have to load the family up to run to the store to find out that they are sold out of whatever it was you were after! Instead, you get to stay home, watch the kids play in the back yard and get spoiled as the postal carrier delivers your item of choice directly to your front door! Even without kids the benefits to this are obvious. With gas nearing or topping $4.00 a gallon (depending on where you live) wouldn't we all love to cut out as many unnecessary trips to the store as possible?

Now that you've made the decision to look for discounts and bargains on the internet, you might ask what types of deals are there. There is no short answer to that. Some sites will offer you free trial sample where you spend no money out of your pocket and are able to try the product before you go buy that great big bottle just to find out your son is allergic to it and you are forced to throw it away. Other places will offer free shipping for orders that are over a certain dollar amount or will throw in a free item to tempt you to order from them instead of a competitor. Still others will offer you a discount price on specific items purchased from their store or a "first time buyers" discount. Have a student in your house? There are literally hundreds of websites designed to help students obtain their textbooks as cheaply as possible, sometimes saving literally hundreds per semester.

We live in the era of Google, Amazon and EBay amongst many others. Why not take advantage of the opportunities that this technology affords us? Get out there and search those individual shopping sites, comparison sites and online auction sites. Search for vendors that have come out of the gates strong and established a strong, customer friendly presence. There are even websites that offer even more coupons that you can print out and use with those that you clipped out of the Sunday paper! Online shopping has opened a world of opportunity for people. Get out there and take advantage of it! After all, the holiday season is just around the corner and by shopping online you can avoid the crowds. That in and of itself is probably one of the better reasons to shop online!

In short, there are a plethora of reasons you should look for those online discounts.


America needs a 'Good Depression'

August 13th, 2008 at 12:33 pm

Get serious folks. We had a 30-month recession not long ago. Eight years later the market's still barely at its 2000 peak, a loser. Worse, we're back in a new recession. But Washington politicians are keeping it a secret, feeding us doctored feel-good statistics as legendary political historian Kevin Phillips wrote in "Numbers Racket: Why the Economy is Worse Than We Know."
So we blindly refuse to bite the bullet and stop our out-of-control spiral into collapse. America needs a big wake-up call ... and it's coming soon, whether you like it or not!

Last November we posted "17 reasons America needs a recession." Today it's far worse, and getting worse still. See previous Paul B. Farrell.
Most economists predict it'll take till 2010 to burn off our excess housing inventory. RGE Monitor say Fannie and Freddie bailouts aren't working; they'll soon be "profoundly insolvent" and need to be "nationalized." Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson has no long-term plans, he's a caretaker, plugging holes, anxious to get back to Wall Street's money machine, running out the clock till he turns over the catastrophe he enflamed to a new bunch of politicians and their armies of 42,000 greedy lobbyists.

Lessons learned? Zero. Why? Wall Street, Washington and Corporate America are a one-trick pony with one narrow-minded strategy: Economic g-r-o-w-t-h, bull markets, megabonuses. In good times they tout "free markets." But when greed bombs, these big babies throw free market "principles" under the "Reagan Revolution" bus as their lobbyists go whining to Congress for megabillion taxpayer bailouts and access at the Fed casino's discount window to siphon off more taxpayer money. What hypocritical wimps!

Wall Street and its co-conspirators are doing such a miserable job, America needs a new strategy: Stop all the short-term "hole-plugging." Let go and let an old-fashioned "Good Depression" do the job that our happy-talking leaders refuse to do. Let it clean house and reawaken America to basic values. Otherwise a "Good Depression" will turn into a new "Great Depression."
Here are seven strong reasons favoring
this alternative strategy:

1. Yes, an honest diagnosis: soul sickness in American capitalism
America's problems are not the economy, not markets, nor even politics. The endless bickering campaign is distracting us from facing our real long-term problems. Yes, our economic pains are real, but they're just symptoms. Since 2000 America has seen had a relentless, sickening overdose of bad news: stupidity, deceit, corruption and even evil behavior. Americans are n-u-m-b, suffering post-traumatic shock syndrome.
The real problem is our thinking, our brains -- something deep in our cosmic soul, says Jack Bogle's "The Battle for the Soul of Capitalism." We lost our values, our moral compass.

2. Yes, time to admit this really is like the 1930's Great Depression
Comparing today with the Great Depression has become common sport. In a Newsweek special "Seeing Shades of the 1930s," Daniel Gross writes: 75 years ago "Wall Street, after two terms of a business-friendly Republican president, self-immolated on a pyre of greed, incompetence and excessive optimism."
Like Dr. Scott Peck says in "The Road Less Traveled:" "Life is a series of problems. Do we want to moan about them or solve them?" We need to grow up, stop whining, roll our sleeves up and solve real problems.

3. Yes, a Good Depression would reveal self-destruct bubble-thinking
In a recent Atlantic article "Irrational Exuberance" author Robert Shiller warns: "Bubbles are primarily social phenomena. Until we understand and address the psychology that fuels them, they're going to keep forming."
Housing inflated 85% in a decade: "Historically unprecedented ... no rational basis for it." Today there's a huge excess housing inventory, higher-credit mortgages are now in jeopardy, the write-offs are now projected at $2 trillion -- on top of a $3 trillion war, $10 trillion federal budget, and more.
Bubble-thinking is contagious; it will trigger a pandemic. Shiller says "few people seem immune to boom thinking. The recent bubble grew so large partly because the very people responsible for the financial system's oversight came to share the general public's rosy expectations."
Unfortunately our leaders are still ignoring the underlying problem: Nothing is being done about "our psychological vulnerability to bubble-thinking."
Shiller then warns of a new megameltdown: "We recently lived through two epidemics of excessive financial optimism. I believe we are close to a third episode, only this one will spread irrational pessimism and distrust -- not exuberance ... our economic problems will become much worse than they need to be, and our social problems will multiply."

READ MORE: http://www.marketwatch.com/news/story/seven-reasons-america-needs-good/story.aspx?guid=%7BE8E9E137%2D3375%2D41D0%2D9601%2DFA4D14601140%7D&dist=TNMostRead

Save Money on School Supplies

August 10th, 2008 at 07:22 pm

Save Money on School Supplies

Back to school is a time when many moms witness their money sprout wings and take flight, finding their homes at retail stores across America. I know that consumer spending is good for the economy, but I don't take it upon myself to keep the entire US economy propped up, so when my first-grade son announced that he wanted a backpack with rollers, I saw this as a wonderful financial teaching moment. His school is small, and he doesn't walk to or from school. He didn't need rollers.

I told my son that I would give him $8 toward a backpack. I told him that if he wanted a fancier one, he could put up some of his allowance money for the difference. That's the rule at our house. Mom and Dad buy the basics the kids buy the extras. It was amazing how my son's perception of the need for rollers changed when his allowance was on the line. Yes, he has concluded, a regular backpack will do the trick this year. Thousands of parents are buying back-to-school supplies. From crayons and notebooks to calculators and lunch boxes, the list of what to buy can be as long as the list of your kids' excuses. I know that you are anxious to get your kids back into school, but there is no need to take out a second mortgage just to get rid of them. Instead, use some of these money-saving tips from Living on a dime. and you can happily send your kids to school and keep some of the cash for mom's back-to school celebration!

*Wait for the list to come out and stick to it, otherwise you might buy things you don't need. Remember, the Bank of Mom doesn't pay for frills. Any extras the kids want will have to be funded from their own cash reserves. I do understand that it is nice for kids to have "hip" back-to-school supplies. I look at yard sales and thrift stores for brand-name finds. For instance, I recently found a gently used Barbie backpack and a Barbie lunch box and no one would know that I paid $1.00 each instead of the $32 that Becky Johnson's mom paid. Who says stay at home mom's don't make any money?

*Don't buy back to school clothes. Children don't need an entirely new wardrobe every fall. Some mom's act as if aliens clothes-napped their kids' clothes the night before school and the fashion police will come arrest them if they don't buy the latest designer clothes right away. The kids wore clothes all year long, didn't they? If they need something like a new pair of shoes or new jeans then buy what they need, but don't just buy a new wardrobe because it's the thing to do.

*Use back to school sales to your advantage. If you know your kids go through a package of socks, underwear or jeans every six months then stock up while they are on sale. The same is true of crayons, paper, notebooks, backpacks and lunch boxes. My son went through two backpacks and two lunch boxes last year, so this year we will buy two while they are on sale instead of waiting until the middle of the year when they are full price. We will also be checking garage sales between now and then to find any good deals on those items. Don't be tempted to buy things that you wouldn't normally use, though, just because they're on sale.

*Go through last year's school supplies to see which things are still usable. If my student has a working calculator, the Bank of Mom will not extend credit for a new one.

*Limit activities to one at a time. Activity fees can add up fast. One at a time is the rule at our house. If you can't afford the activity, it doesn't hurt for the kids to use their own money to pay for it. The best way to teach them money management is to let them manage their own money when they have nothing to lose, instead of after they have maxed out the credit cards someone persuaded then to sign up for in college.

Tawra Kellam is the author of Dining On A Dime Cookbook. For more free tips and recipes visit her web site at Living on a dime In 5 years, Tawra and her husband paid off $20,000 personal debt on an average income of $22,000 per year.