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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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Does Money Make Us Happy?

by Derek Sisterhen on September 6, 2011

Danny Kofke answered this question – “Does money make me happy?” – a long time ago. He and his family have accomplished more in the way of strong relationships and meaningful adventures on a salary most people would call meager. He appeared on Past Due Radio back in the good ol’ days when we broadcasted on AM 1030 in Raleigh. It’s great to have him back with us! ~D.S.

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We live in one of the wealthiest nations on Earth, yet so many people are unhappy. A lot of us seek professional help for this very reason. Clearly, having money can take away many worries, but it doesn’t automatically guarantee happiness.

Think about some of your peers. Do any of them make a lot of money but have nothing to show for it? There might be some who press the snooze button numerous times on Monday morning because they dread going to work. Even if you make $500,000 a year, if you are unhappy Monday through Friday you are not “wealthy.” Many people in this situation spend money and buy things to make themselves “happy.” Once the weekend rolls around, they can come up with some great reasons to buy things. “I work so hard and put up with so much I deserve ________________.” Fill in this blank with clothes, jewelry, eating out, and so on. I’ll make them happy, won’t it?

Let’s face it, buying things can bring about a sense of joy, but only for a moment. If I go out and buy a shirt it feels great. The first few times I wear it, it feels good. Then, after five or six times of wearing this shirt, something happens; it becomes old. How many of us have looked in our closet and said, “I have nothing to wear” even though we have 50 outfits staring back at us? At one point in time we liked these clothes (or at least we liked them enough to buy them) but, after a while, that feeling faded away. If our happiness is based on material things, we enter a vicious cycle of having to routinely make purchases to replace the dwindling happiness we once experienced from the previous purchase. Sounds a little expensive.

Emotions account for the largest component of any money problem. We know not to buy things we cannot afford using credit cards, but we still do. Let’s say we use a credit card with a 24% annual percentage rate (APR) and spend $1,000 on “happiness purchases”. If we didn’t make a single payment during the course of the year, we’d owe $1,240 after 12 months. An 8th grader can do the math, but we choose to look the other away. We’re too busy being happy with our new stuff.

The vicious cycle of happiness spending tends to drag other areas of our life into the whirlpool. Money and weight problems often go hand-in-hand. Just like the calculating simple interest, we now have easy access to basically all of the nutritional information for the food we eat. Yet nearly two-thirds of our country is classified overweight or obese. We know how bad it is to continually stop by our favorite fast-food restaurant to order a number 3 and super-size it, but we still do it. Why do we do this to ourselves? The answer is the same as why we buy things we can’t afford: the temporary feeling of satisfaction.

It’s pretty simple to have money and be healthy on paper. In practice, though, the results will show our true level of commitment. Imagine if you lived by the phrase “Eat Less Than You Burn, Spend Less Than You Earn”. Live healthy, live happy.

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Danny Kofke is currently a special education teacher in Georgia. His love of teaching and finances led him to write two books – How To Survive (and perhaps thrive) On A Teacher’s Salary and the just released A Simple Book of Financial Wisdom: Teach Yourself (and Your Kids) How to Live Wealthy with Little Money. Danny has appeared on numerous television shows including Fox & Friends and CNN’s Newsroom, and has been interviewed on over 250 radio shows. Danny wants to show others that, if this 35 year-old school teacher can gain financial wisdom, then they can too. He is living proof that a family can live wealthy on little money. To learn more about Danny, please visit dannykofke.blogspot.com.

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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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Try Budgeting Backwards

August 16, 2011

In true non-conformist fashion, Joshua Gordon takes a process that’s been done from top-to-bottom for thousands of years and makes it bottom-to-top. I think you’ll find his perspective intriguing (unless – like me – you actually do like eating broccoli). ~D.S. – – – – – I hate budgeting. Always have. Sort of like eating […]

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164 Past Due – What Are The Best Ways To Borrow $20,000 Fast?

July 15, 2011

Past Due: Radio 164 – What Are The Best Ways To Borrow $20,000 Fast? Right-click to download Send me your feedback or leave me a voice mail: (919) 374-0501 Leave a review on iTunes During a recent workshop for teens and their parents, we discussed the dangers of debt, how credit cards work, paying for […]

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158 Past Due – Selling a Car at a Loss to Dump Debt

May 22, 2011

Past Due: Radio 158 – Selling a Car at a Loss to Dump Debt Right-click to download Send me your feedback or leave me a voice mail: (919) 374-0501 Leave a review on iTunes Does it make sense to sell a car at a loss if you’re trying to get out of debt? Sue, a […]

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Unsubscribe

February 16, 2011

How many e-mails do you get a day from companies promoting ongoing or upcoming sales and specials? I’m talking about the e-mails that hit your inbox because you subscribed to them. Now how many times have you purchased items you weren’t intending to purchase because you received one of these e-mails? My guess is more […]

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144 Past Due – Why The American Dream Is Ruining Lives

February 11, 2011

Past Due: Radio 144 – Why The American Dream Is Ruining Lives Right-click to download Send me your feedback or leave me a voice mail: (919) 374-0501 Leave a review on iTunes Your belief system will dictate the way you behave. The way you behave will produce a certain set of results. Those results will […]

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Don’t Pay Full Price

January 7, 2011

I recently had a client ask if I had any “how to save” advice to help her adjust to her new lifestyle of taking control of her money and where it goes. The best advice I could offer was “Don’t pay full price for anything…ever”. I’ll let grocery items be the exception to this rule […]

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