Monday, October 12, 2009

Powerful Wisdom from Will Smith

A friend posted this on Facebook and it's amazing.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

I Got Your Petty & Vindictive Right Here, Buddy!

Special Election Day.

Here in California we're being asked to voice our opinions on several measures that will help us balance our state's budget and get us out of our current financial crisis. As per usual, I waited until the last minute to read the arguments for and against the propositions before going to vote this evening.

The California Secretary of State always has details of ballot measures posted online so we can read a bit more in depth about what's going on than what is sent in mail. Usually I have a pretty good idea which way I'm going to vote after reading the impartial analysis of the measure. Just for fun, I read the arguments for and against on the next page.

And that's where I lost my goat.

Maybe it's just my week for my goat to keep getting got, but I really don't take kindly to being called "petty, vindictive and childish" because I don't think legislators should get a raise during economic crises such as this one.

Maybe it's just me, but if the State can't afford pay little things like income tax refunds, then they can't afford to give folks raises. That's not childish. That's smart money management. You don't go out and buy a new car if the other one works fine and you're having trouble paying your light bill. Well, some folks do, but they're silly, too.

The proposition might have given me more pause if it would take money away from legislators. After all, we all need something to live on. But I think they can manage to hold out a bit longer at their current pay level with no hardship whatsoever.

The argument that the average salary of $116,000 is only middle class is really insulting to those of us who are nowhere near that level, but somehow manage to get by just fine. What a jackass. If they need more money, do what the rest of us do and get a 2nd job.

Or hey, here's a novel concept, manage that $116,000 better so you can get everything you need without too much stress. Honestly, if you can't handle a salary at that level, then what makes you think you can handle the State's budget? Oh wait. You can't. That's why we're in this mess to begin with.

So I guess it's a good thing he didn't call me snarky. I'd have to accept that move on. I digress.

Back to the pros and cons arguments on the Secretary of State website. It seems to me that the guy who wrote the argument against shutting these raises down missed the day they taught persuasive writing. I can't for the life of me figure any other reason for his beginning with such an inflammatory statement that is going to do nothing but alienate people and close their minds to any valid arguments he may have actually had.

Of course I couldn't find any because my reflex is to poke holes in anything the man says. If he were to tell me that the sky was blue, I'd look for a way to prove it was red just to spite him.

I'm sure you've figured out how I voted on this Prop by now. To be honest, I only clicked on the argument page to see if someone could convince me to vote the other way, but my mind had already been pretty much made up before I got there.

It's just that Pete Stahl and his name calling ticked me off. And now I'm letting it go.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

"Do You Need That Many Mustards?"

Since I've been learning how to shop for free, I've been having a blast. The last two days, however, I've hit a couple of snags. Yesterday, Target refused to adjust a coupon amount down to the purchase price of seven items I wanted to buy - per their own corporate policy - so I ended up only buying one of the nine total items I'd planned to purchase for a grand total of $.95. Then today, I get into an annoying discussion with the cashier at Pavilions when I tried to purchase 4 bottles of French's mustard.

Perhaps it's because the Pavilions thing happened on the tail end the Target fiasco that it has really stuck in my head. Here's the background:

Safeway (Vons, Pavilions, etc.) has a double coupon policy where they will double coupons up to $1. Not as good as it has been in the past, but that's still something. I ran into an issue at Ralphs where they only double one like coupon per transaction and I wanted to know if Pavilions had the same policy.

Instead of a simple 'yes' or 'no,' the cashier asks, "Do you need that many mustards?"

Huh? Really? Why is the number of mustards I wish to purchase your business? I don't have much of a poker face so I'm sure my expression immediately conveyed my annoyance and the woman got super nice. Turns out the answer to my original question is, 'yes.' They will only double one like coupon per transaction.

I'd been prepared for that answer and had already separated everything out on the conveyor belt into transaction groups so things went pretty smoothly from there, but I still can't get this woman's initial reaction out of my head.

Given the state of our economy, it always amazes me when people turn down money. Not that I'm in a position to do any major economic stimulation by myself right now, but every little bit helps. Under that theory, it's really bad business for stores to turn away sales like this.

Yesterday, Target had the opportunity to earn an additional $7.56 from me. Instead, they only got $.87. Granted, my out of pocket expense after coupons would've been less than $.50, but Target would've gotten the value of the coupon plus $.08 additional per coupon used from the manufacturer. Instead, they settled for $.87. If this is the corporate business model, it's no wonder sales are down.

Today, Pavilions got everything I'd planned to spend and more because the mustard hadn't been on my original list. I happened to walk down that aisle and see the bottles on sale at 2 for $3 making them $1.50 each. I had about six $.50 off coupons when doubled would make the mustard $.50 each. Of course I'm going to stock up at that price. It's silly not to. That's if you can consider four bottles stocking up.

So, yes. I do need that many mustards. Given that the purpose of a grocery store is to make money by selling products to customers, don't you think it's a pretty bad idea to try to talk those customers out of buying the products that cause the stores to make money?

Granted, $2 is not a very large drop in Pavilions profit bucket, but it is a drop. If you are trying to talk me out of a sale, you can bet there are cashiers all over the country trying to talk other customers out of a sale. It doesn't take very long for that same $2 to snowball into hundreds of thousands of dollars in missed sales.

Before long, the store will cut costs by cutting jobs if they don't have to go out of business altogether. And then where will you be?

What's really sad is that we, as average Americans, don't seem to get that we're all connected. This applies equally to both the cashier who negatively impacts the bottom line by talking customers out of sales then wonders why when they get caught in a massive layoff and the CEO who cuts jobs at the company only to wonder why no one is buying his goods anymore.

So to answer the woman's question, "Yes. I do need that many mustards. You need me to need that many mustards. The people we've annoyed in the line behind me with this stupid conversation need me to need that many mustards."

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Decoding a Couponer's Language

Learn the language of the couponers to find the best deals.

Chances are you've seen her on Oprah. Or you read about her amazing stockpiles in the local paper. Perhaps you've even heard her interviewed on the radio. You know who I mean. That savvy lady who can walk into a CVS, Kroger, Meijers Target or Walgreens and come out with hundreds of dollars worth of merchandise after only paying a few cents out of pocket.

She is a serious couponer. She's constantly on the lookout for great deals and broadcasts them even if she can't use them herself. She's also eager to teach couponing to anyone who is willing to learn. To take advantage of her tutelage, all you have to do is understand her. To do that you must learn her language. Here's a guide to get you started.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

I Love Getting Free Toilet Paper From Ralphs!

Once in while your coupons and store sales will perfectly align and you'll end up with some really useful products for free or for mere pennies. This is exactly what happened for me (and anyone else in the Los Angeles area) this past week.

Ralphs offered 4 roll packages of Angel Soft toilet paper for $.99 each. The sale caught my attention because I remembered seeing $.50 off coupons for Angel Soft toilet paper in my coupon binder. This was perfect because Ralphs doubles coupons up to a dollar. I was all set to go to Ralphs on Friday after work and get my free toilet paper.

Unfortunately, I saw upon closer inspection that the coupon was for a 6 pack and higher of Angel Soft. Bummer. I went to Ralphs anyway because I had a coupons for free Ben & Jerry's and Vitamin Water and the 12 grain loaves of bread I like were on sale for $.99. Even though I couldn't get my toilet paper, I was still able to get the ice cream, water and bread for a grand total of $1.03.

The next day, I was trolling my coupon sites and found that the insert preview had finally been posted. Guess what was coming out in the Sunday insert? You got it! $.50 off Angel Soft 4 roll packs.

I bought four papers and a teammate gave me her inserts. Off to Ralphs I went. I learned the last time on the Cottonelle deal that Ralphs only doubles one like coupon per transaction. I got five packs of the Angel Soft and did five separate transactions. Each one cost a nickle in tax. I got 20 rolls of toilet paper for a quarter. How cool is that?

There's still time. If you have this coupon, you can hurry in to Ralphs today and get your Angel Soft toilet paper for a nickle, too. If they're out, don't worry. Get a rain check. The coupon doesn't expire until June 21st.

Happy Shopping!

A Tutorial for Free Shopping at Walgreens

In the last post, I showed the results of my rolling register rewards at Walgreens. Here is a step by step tutorial to help you get the most of out of your Walgreens experience: How To Roll Register Rewards at Walgreens.

Happy Shopping!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Shopping for Free is FUN!!

I have this new pastime... Okay... obsession. It's called shopping for free and I love it!

Who knew using coupons and store rewards programs could actually get you more merchandise than you can shake a stick at for a tiny amount out of pocket?

Here's what I did yesterday at Walgreens:

(12) Colgate Cavity Protection Toothpaste [$.99 each, $11.88 total]
(8) Colgate Toothbrushes [$3.29 each, $26.32 total]
(6) Skintimate Shaving Creme [$2.99 each, $17.94 total]
(4) Scunci Ponytail Holders [$2.00 each, $8.00 total]
(2) Packets of Baretts [$.40 each, $.80 total]

My total OOP was $15.20!!! (Our tax rate is closing in on 10%)

It would've been lower, but a couple of my Register Rewards didn't print. Still, I think I did pretty darn good!

Walgreens isn't the only place that allows you to shop for free. Here's an article to help you learn how to get the most out of your CVS experience:

How To Shop for Free at CVS

Happy Shopping!