Getting Back in the Black

Feb 8, 2008

We've moved!

Decided to go all the way, site is now hosted at our own domain.

Hope to see you there!

What is the Economic Stimulus Package?

A comment over on really caught my eye just now. I've been trying to figure out exactly how the Economic Stimulus Package is going to affect me and my family over the next year and especially how its going to affect my taxes.

CF had this to say:

***They're temporarily removing the 10% tax bracket on the first $6,000 in income for single filers (total of $600), and the first $12,000 in income for married filers (total of $1,200)***
To use an example: Assume congress never passed this bill, and suppose you are someone (an individual filer) who would receive a $300 refund next year for your 2008 taxes. What would you rather have?

1. No stimulus package: $300 refund in April 2009
2. Stimulus package figured on your tax return: $900 refund in April 2009
3. Stimulus package as it has been passed: $600 in June of 2008 and $300 in April of 2009

I'm taking #3 every time.

While it may be an "advance" on next year's taxes, it's a prepayment of an excess that they've decided to give. If they had passed nothing, we'd be worse off. I hope this makes sense - sorry if it doesn't, but bottom line, we're better off financially with the stimulus than without.

I think thats the best summary so far of what is in store for us. My thanks to CF for clearing it up.

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Free Wireless Bluetooth Optical Desktop Elite

A week or two ago, I received email confirmation that I would be recieving a free wireless bluetooth optical desktop elite. This will be the best item to date that I have gotten for free. And no, it's not a scam; I didn't have to sign up for any credit cards, car loans, mortgages or listen to a timeshare pitch! All I had to do is play some online games. Granted, these aren't the most thrilling games in the world but I actually enjoy a couple of them like Flexicon and Clink. You can find these games at Microsoft Live Search Club.
Sign up for a free account, start playing some mindless games and earn points to get all sorts of prizes. I went with the keyboard but they have lots of other options like, mp3 downloads, frequent flyer miles, webcams, headphones, xbox or you can donate to your favorite charity. The only downside is that my confirmation email tells me that it can take up to three months for them to deliver my shiny new toy to my door. I hate waiting, but hey, it didn't cost me anything except for a little time that I would have wasted surfing the internet anyways! I'll be sure to follow up when I actually get this.

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Feb 7, 2008

How to save money on groceries part 2

Here are some great tips that I have learned and some great resources to get you started on saving lots of money on groceries.

1. I buy 2 Sunday newspapers to get twice the coupons. This is my best $2 investment every week. There are no coupon inserts on major holidays. Also if you want to know what coupons are going to be in your Sunday paper, find out in advance at

2. To save the most money, hold on to the coupons until these items go on sale. I look through all the store flyers and see what sale items match the coupons I have.

3. Find out if any grocery stores in your area, double coupons. If you live in the Silicon Valley area of CA, the answer is most likely, no.

4. I don't buy everything at one store. There are several stores in close proximity to where I live. I get the best deals from each one.

5. If you're a fan of organic produce, buy at a farmers market. I go every week and the prices for organic fruits and veggies are much cheaper than buying organic at the grocery store.

6. Coupon stacking is the greatest thing ever! Stacking is when you use multiple coupons for the same item. Stores like Target, Walgreens, CVS, Rite-Aid, Eckerd, Toys-R-Us, etc will allow you to use their store coupons and a manufacturer coupon on the same item.

7. Most of the stores I shop at have coupons you can print out on their websites.

8. You don't have to buy all the items in a buy 3 for $5 sale, etc. Sometimes, these are great deals and other times they will cost you money. When stores run sales like 10 for $10 it looks good, but sometimes these are items that normally run for under a dollar.

9. Don't expect to save a huge amount right away. It takes about a month to really start seeing results. Once you have a month's worth of coupons it starts to make a big difference.

10. Free is best! Stores like Walgreens have a few things you can get free every month. And sometimes, you can make money doing this. Let's say they have a rebate for a free bottle of shampoo. They will let you use a coupon for that item, but will reimburse the full purchase price. And if you choose to have your rebate put on a store card instead of a check they will give add 10% to that amount.

11. Experiment and find out what works best for you. We live in an apartment so we don't have the space to keep a huge stockpile of items like some super savers do. If you aren't going to use something, then it doesn't matter how much you save unless you plan on donating it. My husband only buys Charmin toilet paper, so I don't bother buying anything else. Instead, I look for the store that has the best sale on that brand.

12. I read these websites regularly to get tips, and to keep learning. and

As this blog grows, I will expand on all of these tips and share new ones

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How to save money on groceries

The first time I looked at how much money we spent on food every month, I was floored. We had been averaging about 700 dollars a month for groceries. What's even worse is that we were averaging over 500 dollars a month on eating out. By the way, there's only three of us. Twelve hundred bucks a month for two adults and a three year old is beyond ridiculous. I knew we could do better.

I started planning out meals using I printed out my shopping lists from that site also. That helped me see what I really needed to buy so pounds of produce didn't rot in my fridge like normal. Typically, I would plan about two weeks in advance. I noticed a couple things doing this. First, we were spending even more than I usually did but were spending less money eating out. We all have to start somewhere.

Since then, I've found a better way to shop. I plan our purchases around the sales ads and coupons. That makes a huge difference. It takes more time to shop this way but the savings are worth it. One of the greatest advantages to this system is that you will know what you are gonna spend before you even go to the store. For example, tomorrow I'll swing by Raley's and spend $6.25 before taxes for 10 cups of Dannon light yogurt, 2 Glade jar candles and 1 tube of Colgate toothpaste. Without sales and coupons, these items would cost me $16.29, that's a savings of over ten dollars (almost 62% savings)! My next post will list more detailed tips and websites for saving money on groceries.

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