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Eat Healthy, Save Money

by Derek Sisterhen on October 11, 2011

Christine Luken, the Coupon Queen, is back to dispel some myths and give us some solid ways to save money on healthy foods. After Christine’s last guest post, it was clear we have some very discerning fans that are looking for ways to make products that are good for them also good for the budget. ~D.S.

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There’s a myth floating around out there that I am constantly trying to dispel. It goes something like this: “I’m eating healthy/organic/gluten-free, and there aren’t any coupons for the food I eat.” Or: “The only coupons I see out there are for processed and packaged foods.”

Let me set the record straight: You can eat healthy AND save money! The two are not mutually exclusive.

Now, it’s true that there are many coupons out there for products like Pop-Tarts, Rice-A-Roni, and Frosted Flakes. However, there are also coupons and deals to be had for Kashi Frozen Dinners, Cascadian Farms cereal, Udi’s Gluten Free Bread, and all-natural Luna Bars. You just need to know where to find them!

The first strategy you need to follow to save money on healthy food is to buy it when it’s on sale with coupons. Then you need to stock up on it so you have it on hand when it’s not on sale. This is known in couponing circles as “stockpiling.” Stockpiling does not mean you designate an entire room in your house to food storage. It simply means that you buy enough to last until the next sale. Never buy more of an item than your family will use before it expires. Things like organic cereal and granola bars have a reasonably long shelf life. You can freeze extra loaves of gluten-free bread when it goes on sale.

So where do you find coupons for organic and gluten-free products? It’s true that there aren’t too many of these in the Sunday paper (although you might spot a few.) The best ones I’ve found are online. Coupons.com frequently has printable coupons for Kashi products. With printable coupons, you can typically print two of any coupon per month per computer. So if you both you and your spouse have laptops and your kids have a desktop computer, you can potentially print six of the same coupon. You can also have friends and family members print some for you. Another great website for printable healthy coupons is MamboSpouts.com. I also recommend that you follow Organic Deals on Facebook. I frequently re-post deals they share for organic and gluten-free products.

Another way to get multiple coupons for healthy food is to search for them on E-Bay. Just type in the product name and coupon in the E-Bay search bar. There are quite a few “coupon clipping services” on E-Bay that will cut the coupons for you so that you can pay a few bucks for ten to twenty of a coupon. Let me give you a real-life example of this. Just a few weeks ago, I went to E-Bay and purchased twenty 50-cents off coupons for Luna Bars, an all-natural, 80% organic energy bar for women, for $6 shipped. My local Kroger doubles coupons so these are actually worth $1 for me. Guess what? Kroger sells Luna bars for 99 cents each. I use my coupons (usually five or ten at a time) to get my energy bars for free! My cost for the Luna bars was $6 for twenty, which is 30 cents a bar. 70% off isn’t too bad! Sometimes, people in other parts of the country, like Colorado and California, will get organic coupons in their Sunday papers that I wouldn’t get here in Cincinnati. Just make sure you are buying from a reputable seller with a good rating and that you’re buying original manufacturer’s coupons.

Do you have a favorite brand of organic or gluten-free food? If you write or email the manufacturer singing the praises of their products, they will frequently send you free coupons! It’s also a great idea to sign up for your favorite brands’ email lists and follow them on Facebook or Twitter. They frequently reward loyal followers and subscribers with printable coupons and free samples.

One last tip to reduce the cost of eating healthy is to use coupons for your non-food items. Even if you have a hard time finding good deals on your organic and gluten-free food, you can still use coupons to get your toilet paper, garbage bags, deodorant, shaving cream, dish washing liquid, and fabric softener for less. Now you can eat healthy without emptying your wallet!

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Christine Luken is a Coupon Queen, Financial Coach, and author of the e-book, Confessions of a Coupon Queen: Secrets Retailers Don’t Want You to Know. Christine has a passion for helping families save money so they can build up their savings and pay off their debt. In her spare time, you can find Christine on the golf course, at the mall shopping for shoes (coupons in hand!), or at home watching cage fighting with her husband. You can find her on her website or email her directly.

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174 Past Due – The Non-Conformist Family Is Making Progress!

by Derek Sisterhen on September 25, 2011

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Past Due: Radio 174 – The Non-Conformist Family Is Making Progress!

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The Non-Conformist Family is back! We’re checking in with Josh and Sarah Gordon as they are five weeks into their action plan (they were the focus of Episode #169).

First Month Review:

During our cross-interview (Josh asked me questions about financial coaching, then I asked him questions about the last month), we learned a few important success factors:

1) A spending plan is just another piece of paper (or spreadsheet) until you know how much you’ve been spending. Josh and Sarah discovered their passion for coffee was a significant monthly expense.

2) Sometimes you just have to say “No”! The Gordons made a tough call by cancelling an impromptu trip with family, but they saved some money in the process.

Next Month’s Action Steps:

1) Continue to track spending, looking for continued patterns and behaviors that encourage or limit success.

2) Place every single penny of leftover cash flow into the emergency fund. (Josh even had a great plan to move $2 to the emergency fund every time he felt tempted to go out for coffee; sometimes we have to reward ourselves in other ways!)

We’ll look forward to checking in with The Non-Conformist Family in another month!

If you have a specific question, I’d be happy to answer it and further cultivate the wisdom of the Past Due Radio masses. The experiences of our listener base provide plenty of insight we all can learn from; don’t hesitate to ask – I’m happy to help!

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173 Past Due – Our Daughter Needs A Car, We Can’t Get A Loan

by Derek Sisterhen on September 16, 2011

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Past Due: Radio 173 – Our Daughter Needs A Car, We Can’t Get A Loan

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Robert and his wife Patricia are reaping a harvest of, admittedly, poorly sown financial decisions. They have a college-age daughter who is splitting the family vehicle with Patricia to get to and from classes, then to and from her part-time job. The family needs a car in the worst way, but no one is qualifying for a car loan.

In his submission, Robert acknowledged that they’ve been late on mortgage payments in the past, and are trying to clean up their finances, but now they feel limited with this incredibly inconvenient transportation situation.

Today we discussed:

1) How the pressure of inconvenience often drives us to rushed, unwise financial decisions. We must assess the true cost of paying interest on a used car (and likely subprime interest at that) in the context of the hassle-factor of sharing a vehicle.

2) The importance of Robert and Patricia openly confronting their financial situation for their children to see. It’s time for them to lead their kids – two generations of healthy money managers hang in the balance.

3) How sometimes the best course of action isn’t the most obvious. Robert’s daughter has already saved $3,000 toward the purchase of a vehicle and has the potential to save more than her parents.

This show exposed a lot of the systemic financial issues we’re seeing in American households with regularity: paycheck-to-paycheck living, financially unprepared children, the perpetuation of the “Sandwich Generation”, and knee-jerk decision-making in financial discomfort.

If you have a specific question, I’d be happy to answer it and further cultivate the wisdom of the Past Due Radio masses. The experiences of our listener base provide plenty of insight we all can learn from; don’t hesitate to ask – I’m happy to help!

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Saving Money Without Coupons

by Derek Sisterhen on August 30, 2011

We haven’t talked about couponing much on PDR, yet I know many in our audience are coupon mavens. Christine Luken is the Coupon Queen and has made a name for herself by how easy she makes saving money with simple coupon strategies. But today, she’s going to show those who prefer not to tinker with the ads in the Sunday paper how to save some cash. Christine is also giving away her e-book to the first three people to comment on this article. ~D.S.

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I’m going to take a swan-dive into the deep end of controversy and embrace my critics. I am the Coupon Queen and I’m here to tell you today that you CAN save money WITHOUT using coupons. To my fellow Coupon Queens and Kings, the previous statement is borderline blasphemous (and I hope they don’t show up on my doorstep tomorrow with torches and pitchforks!) Look, I love using coupons and the money it saves me, but I know I’ll never persuade everyone to use coupons.

I recently researched why people don’t use coupons, because it seems like a no-brainer to me. If I can pay less for something, I’m willing to put out a small amount of effort to accomplish that. However, not everyone sees eye-to-eye with me on this. Non-Couponers feel like it takes too much time, organization, and energy to use coupons in a way that will give them a good return for their effort. As much as I’d like to corner each and every one of these people and attempt to persuade them otherwise, I understand that I can’t win everyone over to my side. As the old saying goes, “Those convinced against their will are of the same opinion still.”

Rather than rail against the coupon-haters, I’m going to show them some love. As a Coupon Queen, I am always looking for a great deal and there are ways to save that do not involve coupons. So this is for all of you who can’t be bothered with coupons, for whatever reason. I believe that you still want to save money; you just don’t want the hassle of cutting, sorting, and organizing those little squares of paper.

One of the best ways to get a discount is to just ask for one! I’m not talking about hard-core, used-car-salesman negotiating here. It’s as easy as asking, “Is this your best price on this item?” or “Are there any discounts or specials going on today?” If you like to haggle and you’re not opposed to gently used items, there are deals galore to be found at Craig’s List, E-Bay, yard sales, thrift shops, and consignment stores. I have purchased clothing, books, jewelry, and other items with huge discounts that looked brand new! I also like to sell my shopping “mistakes” back to my local consignment shop and on E-Bay. If you prefer new, you can glean some awesome treasures in the clearance section of your favorite stores. (Some retailers specifically exclude clearance items from their coupons, so you’re not leaving any money on the table.)

Another way to save without coupons is by utilizing store loyalty cards. The nice thing about these cards is that most never expire. The cashier scans the loyalty card and you automatically earn discounts or free items. I frequently earn free smoothies and sandwiches from Panera, gift cards from Office Max, and fuel discounts from Kroger. If you’re going to use this strategy, you may want to purchase a larger wallet… I currently have 15 different store loyalty cards in mine!

I’m probably going to stir up some trouble with this next tip, because people have strong opinions about the store I’m about to mention. If you don’t want to mess with coupons, I suggest doing the majority of your shopping at Walmart. They really do have low prices on the name brand items that people use every day. (No, Walmart did not pay me to say that!) Many people don’t realize that Walmart also does price matching. If you are feeling ambitious, grab the sale ads for the other local grocery stores and take them with you on your next shopping trip to Walmart. If grapes are 88 cents a pound at Kroger, Walmart will match that price if you show them the Kroger ad. You don’t need a coupon and you don’t need to shop at more than one store to get all the good deals.

When is a coupon not a coupon? When it’s an e-coupon! Okay, they sort of are coupons, but hear me out! E-coupons are electronic coupons that are either linked to your store loyalty card or sent to your cell phone via email or text message. This is great for folks who don’t want to keep track of paper coupons and expiration dates. Typically, you’ll go to a store’s website, select the e-coupons you want to load to your store card. When you check out, you’ll swipe your card or have the cashier scan the barcode on your iPhone or Blackberry. The e-coupons will automatically reduce your total bill if you purchased those items.

Whether you are a Crazy Coupon Lady like me or a die-hard Non-Couponer, we can all agree that paying less for things we want or need is a good thing. Because, why pay retail if you don’t have to? Happy Shopping!

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Christine Luken is a Coupon Queen, Financial Coach, and author of the e-book, Confessions of a Coupon Queen: Secrets Retailers Don’t Want You to Know. (Use coupon code DRC9 to save 10% and to support Past Due Radio.) Christine has a passion for helping families save money so they can build up their savings and pay off their debt. In her spare time, you can find Christine on the golf course, at the mall shopping for shoes (coupons in hand!), or at home watching cage fighting with her husband. You can find her on her website or email her directly.

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151 Past Due – Will You Cosign A Car Loan For Me?

April 1, 2011

Past Due: Radio 151 – Will You Cosign A Car Loan For Me? Right-click to download Send me your feedback or leave me a voice mail: (919) 374-0501 Leave a review on iTunes I received a phone call last week from “Paul” (name changed for purposes of the show). Paul wants to buy a new […]

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The Super Target Effect

November 19, 2010

We live two miles from a Super Target. Not just any Super Target, but one of the top 30 in the Nation. Needless to say, they opened their doors in the right place. Target spends hundreds of thousands of dollars a year on market research, so of course they knew they were in the right […]

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How Many Hours Did That Cost?

August 31, 2010

Getting ready to shop the upcoming holiday weekend sales?  Maybe you’ve already been busy with back to school shopping.  Have you ever thought to calculate how many hours of work those dollars spent just cost you?  It’s a powerful tool that might make you step back and reevaluate how you shop and what you buy. […]

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Going Green to Save Green

August 28, 2010

We all know by now we should be using compact fluorescent light bulbs, unplugging electronics and appliances that aren’t in use, washing our clothes in cold water, and adjusting our thermostats when we aren’t home. These will all help save us money every month on our utility bills and it’s just better for our earth. […]

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107 Past Due – Big Money, No Whammies!

May 26, 2010

Past Due: Radio 107 – Big Money, No Whammies! Right-click to download Send me your feedback or leave me a voice mail: (919) 374-0501. Leave a review on iTunes What do you do when you receive a tax refund, bonus, raise, or other lump sum of money?  Do you pay off debts?  Do you save it […]

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Big Money, No Whammies!

May 25, 2010

What do you do when you receive a lump sum of cash? Do you put it in your checking account until you make a decision only to find it slowly whittles away? Or, do you throw it all at outstanding debt? Or, do you fix things around the house and with your car that you’ve […]

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