Sunday, December 18, 2011


There were no coupon inserts in today's paper, but I did get some great printable coupons on (click link this page for their free sign up). 

Next Sunday, however, we can look forward to restocking our coupons with 4 inserts in the January 1st newspaper.  There will be 2 Smartsource inserts, one Redplum and one Proctor and Gamble.  Pick up a few papers and stock up on coupons for your favorite products, it's a great way to boost your purchasing power with very little effort or expense.


Just got back from my weekly trip to Walgreens.  I bought $27 worth of merchandise for $8.60.  I used a $5 coupon matched with a sale on a Gillette Fusion razor system, normally $12.99, on sale for $9.99 with a $4 register reward.  With the manufacturers coupon, I paid $4.99 for the razor and got $4 back in register rewards.  For my second purchase I bought 2 bottles of my favorite laundry detergent, which was on sale buy one get one free.  The laundry soap was $6.99 a bottle, with the second bottle free.  Using the $4 register reward it made the total for both bottles $2.99 plus tax for a total of $3.22.  Less than half the price of one bottle of detergent!

So, for less than the sale price of the razor ($9.99), I got the razor and 2 bottles of laundry detergent.  The razor will make a nice Christmas gift and they don't have to know I only paid .99 cents for it ;0).

Friday, December 16, 2011


I guess we can forget about the "Santa Rally" I talked about in my last post.  We had kind of a rollercoaster ride this week, up then down then back up, ending mostly flat for the week. 

I collected dividends from Centerpoint Energy (which I reinvested in more shares) and Realty Income Corp.  Otherwise not much activity in my personal accounts.

My MBCI store has generated some commissions for the month.  I've added a Garmin section and have been researching new items to add to the store.  Need to work on promotions to increase my commissions.  It would be nice to build up a steady stream of affiliate income.  Got to spend more time on that.

Thursday, December 1, 2011


Some thought the gains we saw earlier in the week were the beginnings of a "Santa Rally."  However, with today's market stall, I believe it's unlikely.  I think people are jumping on any good news, or at least no bad news.  We all want to see the economy and the stock market revive, but I still don't think that will happen without significant improvement on the jobs front.  That being said, if we get a little good news and avoid any major economic issues, we may still see a rally by the end of the year.  I don't think it will last much past January.  I still believe the best bet is good dividend yields for the foreseeable future.  

From my own investment accounts I collected some nice dividend payments today from ConAgra, Aflac and Intel.  I believe all 3 have good long term prospects and I plan on holding/increasing my positions as part of my core portfolio.  I'll be reviewing my investment strategy and tweeking my financial plan for 2012.  While my current investment plan is working out well, there's always room for improvement.   

Thursday, November 24, 2011


Heading off to the family Thanksgiving Dinner, just wanted to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Had a great morning of early shopping at Walgreens.  They had some fantastic deals for Thanksgiving day and the Black Friday shopping weekend.  Was able to match coupons and sales to purchase $150.00 in merchandise, including a new blood pressure monitor and bath scales that I'd been wanting for a total of $45.00.  I ended my trip with a $6 register reward, so I got everything for $39.00 or a little less than the regular price of the blood pressure monitor.  Along with the scales and the monitor I also got an additional 14 personal care and household items.  Not a bad haul for the price of one blood pressure monitor.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


Other than garnering a lot of unfavorable media attention and alienating average Americans, I haven't seen much accomplished by the camping out of the participants in the "Occupy Wall Street" movement.  I'm thinking if they were really wanting to change the world, or at least have an effect on Wall Street greed and political influence, they need to redirect their attentions away from camping out and crying the blues.  What they need to do is start a grass roots movement to encourage people to stop doing business with the major corporations who played a role in the financial meltdown.  The very companies and the people who run them are still rolling along, mostly unaffected by the financial crisis thanks to taxpayer bailouts. 

If the "Occupy" movement really want to make some changes, the only real way to bring these people down is to hit them in their pocket books.  I just watched a documentary recently, narrated by Matt Damon, covering the whole financial meltdown.  How it started, who was involved and which companies played the largest role in wrecking the economy.  This documentary listed corporations by name who played the largest role in bringing down the economy.  If the goal is to send a message to the people running these companies that this type of behavior will no longer be tolerated, then the best way to do it is to stop doing any business with them.  Cut up their credit cards, cancel your bank and investment accounts with them and avoid any business with them or their partners or subsidiaries.  Just make sure when you do cancel your accounts you send them an nice email or written communication explaining why you will no longer do business with them.  When the money stops, that's when they will stand up and take notice. 

In my opinion, the people who were responsible for the financial crisis should be in prison, not enjoying the good life on bonuses paid with bailout money.

Sunday, November 20, 2011


TLC's show "Extreme Couponing" has become one of my favorite shows.  I don't get to watch it at its' normal show time, so I catch up by watching the marathons on weekends.  Was truly inspired by the 16 year old from California who had filled his mother's garage with products after taking up couponing.  I personally only buy items I use or can share with family and friends, however, I can see the appeal of picking up any free items.

While my personal couponing habits would not qualify me for the show, I did save over 30% on this weeks grocery shopping and a whopping 60% on my Sunday morning trip to Walgreens!  Walgreens has become my favorite store by far.  I rarely go to Walmart, Kmart, Family Dollar or Dollar General anymore.  I get the majority of my personal care items, household cleaning products and some food items from Walgreens.  It's quick, easy and by matching coupons with sales and register rewards, it's next to impossible to beat their deals.  They also have some of the friendliest, most helpful staff members of any store I've ever shopped.  Keep up the good work Walgreens!!!

Saturday, November 19, 2011


I've been avoiding credit cards during the past year in an effort to eliminate most of my cards and bring the balances on my two remaining cards to 0.  However, back around the middle of August, I got the idea to use my cash back credit card like a debit card.  All the little things I purchase during the month go on the card, I carry very little cash.  On my paydays, twice monthly, I go online and pay the balance on my card so I have nothing that carries over and charges interest to my account.  So far I've earned about $13 and paid $0 in interest/fees.  While this is not much in earnings, I wasn't earning anything from my debit card purchases, so I'm thinking it's a big improvement.

I wouldn't recommend this strategy to everyone.  In my case, I have a low enough credit limit and enough money to pay off the balance even if I max out the card.  So there is not much risk as far as running up debt and paying outrageous interest rates on charges carried from month to month.  It definitely makes sense for me to use the card in this way.  It's convenient, it's easy, it earns extra cash for me and as long as I pay the balance in full, it costs me nothing. 

Monday, November 7, 2011


Last month I posted about utilities and the possibility of their benefiting from low interest rates for the next year or so.  Then it occurred to me that if you had only enough money to invest in a few stocks, you could do a lot worse than investing in a few good utility companies.

For instance, if you're goal were to receive monthly dividend payments, by purchasing shares in 3 different utilities paying dividends in different quarters, you could create just such a portfolio. 

As an example:

1.  MDU Resources Group (MDU) 3.1% dividend yield, pays dividends in January, April, July and October.

2.  NSTAR (NST)  3.7% dividend yield, pays dividends in February, May, August and November.

3.  Wisconsin Energy (WEC)  3.3% dividend yield, pays dividends in March, June, September and December.

All the above stocks have 5 year estimated dividend growth rates of 5 to 7%, meaning that dividend payouts should increase nicely over the next few years.  This is just an example, you'd want to do your own research and choose your own stocks, but the idea would work with any three stocks paying in different quarters.

Friday, November 4, 2011


We had a nice week overall although stocks ended lower on Friday on European financial woes.  As for my own investments, picked up more shares of BMY and T through dividend re investments.  Also made an extra cash deposit to my taxable account from money earned through my part time carpet cleaning business.  I've earned enough to pay for the equipment, so I'm investing half of my earnings in dividend stocks to create additional monthly cash flow.

Did my grocery shopping after work today.  Picked up a everything I needed for the week and saved a little more than 30% off with coupons and sale match ups.  Looking forward to my weekly Walgreens trip on Sunday for more great deals!

Saturday, October 29, 2011


Collected the first FDIC insured interest payment on the cash balance in my IRA account.  My investment company started offering the FDIC account option since money market rates have been so pitiful and I signed up for it right away.  As expected, the payment was nothing to get excited about, but it's that much more than I had.

Also collected dividends from SPY and CPB.  Reinvested the dividend in Campbell's Soup and kept the cash from SPY.  I believe these are the last two payments I'll get for the month of October.  Looking forward to the payouts in November from my holdings in energy limited partnerships.  I sold a large portion of my holdings in the partnerships to reduce exposure and collect on some of the capital gains, almost wish I'd held on to a few more units.  The cash payouts have been great!!!  But that's water under the bridge.  Don't plan on selling my remaining shares/units.  As it stands, I have taken all my initial investment, plus a substantial profit out of the 3 energy partnerships I have left.  So anything I collect now is icing on the cake.

Thursday, October 27, 2011


WOW!  It's been a nice couple of days for the stock market :0).  While you tell yourself a real investor stays with the market in good times and bad, it is nice to see some upward movement for a change.  How long it will last is another story.

Collected some nice dividends from AGNC and NLY today.  Using that money to purchase shares in dividend paying utilities.  Like I mentioned in an earlier article, I expect them to do well as long as interest rates remain low.  So I'm willing to put my money where my mouth is in this case.

I'm on a new schedule at work, so tomorrow is my last day of work for this week.  Looking forward to some R&R this weekend.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


It's a coupon bonanza in Sunday, October 30th newspapers with 3 coupon inserts.  Proctor & Gamble's insert promises to contain over $102 in coupon savings!  Red Plum and Smartsource also have inserts in the upcoming paper and promise even more great ways to save. 

I'll also be looking for new coupons on  Their coupons section has provided me with some fantastic deals and I've never had a problem redeeming any of their printed coupons in any of the stores I shop.  The cash back is a great little bonus as well.

Pick up some coupons and save yourself some money!!!

Sunday, October 23, 2011


My adventures in extreme couponing continue with today's shopping trip to Walgreens.  I matched coupons with advertised sales and register rewards for a savings of over 50%!  I purchased over $100 worth of merchandise including toothpaste, laundry detergent, lip balm, mouthwash, soft drinks, snack items, candy, coffee, kleenex, Aleve and Bayer aspirin and paid a little over $40 for everything.  My total savings was over $50 or over 50% of my purchase.  Making half of everything I purchased free!!!

I take Aleve (for arthritis) and Bayer low-dose aspirin (for my heart) on a regular basis.  Was extremely happy to get a 6 month supply of both at next to nothing!  When you're looking to trim a few bucks from your budget, you just can't beat coupons!


I wrote earlier in the month questioning the motives and agenda of the "Occupy Wall Street" movement.  While I agree there is way too much corporate greed as far as executive pay packages and bonuses, I think the whole protest may be misdirected. 

If you give the matter a little thought before jumping in to the fray, what seems to have triggered the movement were the outrageous bonuses paid out in the financial industry immediately following the government bailout.  If this is the case, then protesters should be occupying Capital Hill instead of Wall Street.  If the government had not bailed out banks and financial companies with taxpayer dollars then these companies would not have had the money available to pay out unearned and undeserved bonuses in the first place.  Obviously if you hand over taxpayer dollars to people who already make way more in income than the national average, they're most likely to look for ways to put some or all of this money in to their own pockets. 

I think the protesters should move their camps to Washington D.C. and change the name to Occupy Capital Hill.  After all, which is worse, bilking shareholders through overly generous compensation plans or handing over taxpayer dollars taken from the pockets of people who no longer have jobs or have much lower paying jobs than before? 


Recently I made some changes in my IRA account.  I sold my stake in Astrazeneca (AZN) and used the proceeds to purchase shares of Deere & Company (DE), Westar Energy (WR) and added more shares of Great Plains Energy (GXP).  AZN's prospects for increasing earnings per share looked kind of bleak, so the prospects of continued dividend growth seemed kind of slim.  So I sold the shares while I was showing an overall profit and reinvested the money with the above named companies who's earnings and dividends are more likely to increase over the next 5 years.  These companies are dividend plays with some potential for growth and are all part of my long-term holdings in my retirement account.

As for my taxable investment account, I plan to purchase shares of Duke Energy (DUK), Northeast Utilities (NU) and Wisconsin Energy (WEC) as funds become available.  Right now I'm a little short on cash due to ongoing medical bills related to my heart attacks last year.  So my cash contributions to this account have been quite small, although I do contribute additional funds on a monthly basis.  The money available for new stock purchases is coming mostly from dividend payments, so there's been less activity in this account than in my IRA.  After Friday's run up in the stock market they're both doing quite well.  If the economy picks up after the first of next year, as I expect, then I should see some nice gains on shares purchased during the downturn in both accounts.

I recently received an investment newsletter in which the author was promoting an investment strategy quite similar to my own.  In the article she pointed out how her portfolio of dividend stocks was paying out a monthly payment from $1,100 to $1,500 per month after only 5 years.  Of course she had a total of around $200,000 invested.  Way more than I have now, but the principle is the same.  My dividend payments go up every month from the dividends I reinvest from the previous months and from additional cash contributions on my part.  It's really only a matter of time before my own portfolio of dividend stocks are paying as much or more than I will receive in Social Security each month upon retirement.  It's a simple matter of having a plan and sticking with it.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


What exactly are the people who are occupying Wall Street hoping to accomplish?  So far I'm not getting any clear message of their agenda from any of the news that I've seen or read.  Could they be trying to destabilize the stock market even further?  How would that help their cause or causes in any way?  Perhaps the protestors need to go home and give the whole thing a little more thought, instead of trying to ruin what's left of their parents and grandparents retirement. 

My biggest question is, how do all these people have so much time on their hands?  I have to work for a living and when I'm not at work, I have responsibilities at home.  If they're not working, wouldn't their time be better spent looking for a job?  If they are working, why aren't they at work?  If they don't need a job because they're supported by government entitlement programs or are independently wealthy, then wouldn't they just be protesting against themselves?

I think they definitely need to give this thing a little more thought.  Flash mobs on Wall Street aren't likely to accomplish much. 

Monday, October 10, 2011


The Federal Reserve is pledging to keep short-term rates near zero until at least mid-2013, which is good news for companies who rely heavily on borrowed funds, including utilities.  In economic downturns most people still try to maintain lights and heat/air conditioning to their homes and businesses.  So while other companies may see a drastic reduction in sales, this is not often the case for utility providers. 

With some measure of guaranteed cost reductions from lower interest rates and reduced fuel costs, utilities should benefit over the next few years.  Investors should benefit as well, since utility companies are required by law to pass along a certain percentage of profits to shareholders in the form of dividend payments. 

While no one can predict where the market is headed, I think a good case could be made for utilities coming out as the big winners of the current economic turmoil.

Thursday, October 6, 2011


Monday I downloaded the Kindle app for my Ipod Touch.  So far it is working great!  I've downloaded some of the free books from, much easier to do than downloading books to my ereader.  This time I've picked out some classics from H.G. Wells.  Although I've seen most of the movies based on his books, I hadn't actually read too many of them.  So far the writing is superb!  I'll also be able to pick up some of the newer investment books for a fraction of the the printed copies.  (#401) 

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


The month of October started out on the downside for the stock market Monday and given the performance in the Asian markets overnight, I think we'll see more of the same today.  My accounts started the month off with a nice dividend payment from Reynolds American (RAI:NYSE).  Their current dividend yield is 5.67% with an annualized dividend of $2.12 per share.  RAI is one of my long term investments.

Looking ahead for the market, I'm expecting October to be much like the month of September with continued weakness in share prices.  I'll be busy adding to some of my current positions while prices are down.  I expect to continue buying through at least the end of this year.  I think stock prices are cheap and it's a good opportunity to beef up some of my long term investments, so I'm not as active in searching for new investments.

Thursday, September 29, 2011


I just finished a letter to the editor of my local paper proposing that the City Council should consider an ordinance requiring owners of dogs with a reputation for attacking people and other dogs to carry at least $100,000 in liability insurance.  What prompted this letter was the recent proliferation in my neighborhood of pit bull owners.  Just today, one of these dog owners was walking 2 pit bulls and another large dog in front of the building where I live.  When they spotted a guy walking his beagle, the pit bulls went berserk trying to get at them and the woman had to sit down on the curb to restrain them.  Even then, they turned on one another.  I couldn't help but think what an attack by these dogs would do to someone on blood thinners, like myself or to someone elses small child or small pet.  God help the guy if he'd been just a little closer, at the very least the beagle would have been toast.  It has gotten so bad that I'm always nervous when walking my 5 lb. chihuahua.  He's already been attacked 3 times by large dogs.  Each time I've managed to retrieve him just in the nick of time.  I don't know how well I'd fair against a couple of pits, I'm thinking not good. 

In the town where I grew up, they started having a lot of problems with people not keeping control over their dogs, so they passed an ordinance requiring the dog owners of certain breeds, with reputations for dog attacks, to carry $150,000 in liability insurance and to muzzle their dogs any time they took them out in public.  Even then they continued to have so many problems, it got to the point the city banned pit bulls entirely. 

I like dogs and I think you should be able to have any dog you choose, but I also think you should be responsible and accountable for your pet.  If you choose to own a dog with a reputation for vicious attacks, then you should be responsible enough to carry insurance if something bad were to happen.

For those of you who own pit bulls and would argue your dog would never do such a thing, I say tell that to the little kid who was attacked in front of my sister's house by the neighbors pit bull, or to the mail man in a nearby city who is undergoing extensive plastic surgery for being viciously mauled by 2 pit bulls on his route.  Or explain that to the guy in southeast Missouri who barely survived when his four pit bulls turned on him and nearly killed him.  He'd had his dogs for several years and had never had a problem.  Then ask yourself, what if my child were mauled by a pit bull or by my own dog?  How many of these stories do we have to hear?  Face it, some dogs have a reputation because they've EARNED IT.

So, in my opinion all dog owners should be required to carry liability insurance.  If you can't afford the insurance then you most likely shouldn't own a dog in the first place.  It would be financially irresponsible to be unable to pay for any damages caused by your pet.  My dog could turn on somebody some day, but I think I could afford to pay any damages caused by my 5 lb. chihuahua.  Can you say the same about your dog?


Look for the Proctor & Gamble coupon insert in the upcoming Sunday paper for over $97 in coupon savings.  For every P&G coupon you redeem, Proctor & Gamble will make a donation to the National Breast Cancer Foundation.  Save some money and help support a great cause!

Saturday, September 24, 2011


The stock market rebounded slightly on Friday, but not enough to regain losses from earlier in the week.  I added some shares of Australia's largest telecom to my IRA account.  As it turned out, I could have saved nearly 10% by waiting until the end of this week, but it should all work out in the end. 

I don't put much stock in the new jobs stimulus program.  The only beneficiaries of the last stimulus were big banks and bank executives, who promptly paid themselves large bonuses.  I figure this program will prove more of the same.  So much for change in Washington, although I noticed from a CNBC article that Nancy Pelosi's net worth increase during the past year by over 50%.  Wonder how that happened?

Well, enough of that.  After work today I'm off to the Lake of the Ozarks for some much needed R&R.  Hope everyone has a great weekend!!!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


Didn't really need much in the way of groceries at home, but am planning to spend an extended weekend with friends at their Lake Ozark condo, so I picked snack and food items to take along on my trip.  For $18.26 I got: 2 boxes Cheez Its snack crackers 13 oz., 2 boxes Stouffers Stuffed Peppers, 1 bag fun size Baby Ruth candy bars, 1 bag fun size Butter Finger candy bars, 2/4pks. Yoplait Yogurt and 2 pkgs. Chips Ahoy cookies.  The peppers will make a nice dinner one night, saving some cash by not eating out.  The snack items will come in handy while we hang out and watch movies or play cards at the condo.  The regular retail price of items purchased:  $30.68.

Sunday, September 18, 2011


Have I mentioned that I LOVE SHOPPING AT WALGREENS?!!!  I'm sure I have.  Today was another great shopping experience there.  Even though it was one of their less spectacular ads, I was able to match up coupons with advertised sales and register rewards for a savings of a little over 50%!  What a deal.  I spent only $19.01 but I got Folgers coffee, 2 packs of bagels, 3 Carmex and 1 Blistex lip balm, Infusium shampoo, Colgate Pro Relief Sensitive toothpaste, 12 double roll pack of Angel Soft toilet paper and 2 cans of Comet cleanser with bleach.  Not a bad hall, will be a nice addition to my stockpile. 

The thing I love most about Walgreens is the great deals, but I also like shopping there because it is so convenient compared to the big box retailers.  No long lines, no hateful employees, no third degree over every coupon and no isles piled with freight.  Fast, friendly service, neat, clean and well stocked store!  Fantastic, keep up the good work!

Between Walgreens and the grocery stores (mostly Gerbes and Schnucks), I'm down to spending $40 or less per week even though I'm purchasing about 5 times as much in groceries!  It's all about matching the coupons with the sales. 

Thursday, September 15, 2011


Thanks to coupons I'm beginning to see the possibility of early retirement once again.  A few years back, when I lost my job to the economic downturn and had to take a much lower paying job, things didn't look too good for an early retirement.  Then, after suffering a couple of heart attacks last year and being faced with ongoing expenses for medical care, I had pretty much given up hope of retiring even a few years early.  Now I'm beginning to think I might get out of the rat race earlier than I expected, thanks in part, to using coupons. 

I've only been maximizing coupon use since June of this year, but in that same time period I've been able to triple my monthly savings and investment amount.  While my income from my job has actually declined with less hours, I've seen a dramatic increase in earnings from due to increased use of printed coupons.  They pay 10 cents for every printed coupon redeemed, which may not sound like much, but when you're using a lot of coupons, it really starts to add up. 

My taxable stock portfolio produces 8 dividend payouts per month, 2 of which I'm currently reinvesting for growth and the remainder I'm having paid in to an FDIC savings account which pays interest.  My taxable account is set up for automatic investments each month to increase my stock holdings.  Both of my retirement accounts are also set for automatic investments.  So by the time I actually retire I can expect to draw at least 8 payouts per month, while continuing to reinvest dividends in at least to stock positions each month for increased dividend income. 

With the money I'm saving by couponing, I'm also paying off the remainder of my old debts and will be debt free much sooner than I expected.  As soon as that happens, I'll be able to triple my monthly investment contributions once again which should lead to a much earlier retirement than I had hoped for. 

Monday, September 12, 2011


I've been concentrating a lot lately on my tax deferred retirement accounts and decided it was high time I took a close look at my investment plan for my taxable portfolio.  I spent a few hours this afternoon reviewing my holdings and decided to purchase shares in 3 utility companies to round out my account.  I put in an order to buy shares of DUK, AEP and EXC.  All three stocks have dividend yields close to or above 5% which will add nicely to my cash flow.  I've set my account to reinvest dividends automatically in 2 different stocks per month and pay the remaining 6 dividends to my cash account.  In this way I'll be building a nice cash reserve in an FDIC insured, interest paying account and will be increasing my stock holdings at the same time. 

For a while I had been reinvesting all dividends, however, since I've signed up for the savings plan at work and I'm still investing in my own IRA account, with the new plan for my taxable account I'll have tripled my savings contributions per month.  I think that's probably enough.  The great thing about my current investment plan is that it's all automated.  Everything is set so I have to do nothing but sit back and watch the dividends roll in!  Of course I'll still be actively managing my accounts, making sure that my investment choices are still right for my goals, but otherwise there is very little for me to do.  That's the way it should be, something simple that allows you to sleep at night. 

Thursday, September 8, 2011


From an earlier post in May when I wrote about QE2:

''Since the total cost of QE2 came to $6 billion, that works out to $850,000 per job created. I figure I could retire quite comfortably on about a third of that amount. So if the government had simply offered early retirement to people like myself, they could have easily freed up 2,100,000 jobs. Now if you had 2,100,000 job openings and 2,100,000 new retirees with adequately funded retirements, not only would you create additional jobs to support the needs of the retirees, but income tax revenues would have increased since retirees would still be paying income taxes, and the government would have recouped the money spent on early retirements in the form of income taxes. Given the fact that new hires are usually hired on at a lower pay scale than seasoned employees, it would have had the added effect of keeping inflation in check by lowering payrolls and reducing overall costs for businesses. Private corporations and state governments do this all the time, offering early retirement as a way to reduce payroll costs. Why not apply the same method on a national level if you're going to spend the money anyway? Something our political leaders may need to look into.''

Corporations and state governments do early retirement buyouts, why not the Federal Government?  In the case above, instead of creating just a few hundred thousand jobs, for the same tax dollars they could free up a couple of million jobs and create additional jobs to meet the needs of an additional 2 million retirees.  Granted, they're not talking about spending an additional $6 Billion, but the principle is the same. 


I suppose the big news this week is the President's jobs program, or as Shakespeare might call it, "Much ado about nothing."  Another $3 billion of taxpayers money down the drain.  The last "stimulus" program didn't stimulate much as far as I can see. 

Anyway, the market is much the same as last week, up and down, but mostly going nowhere fast.  I expect to see more of the same, which is good news for me since I'm in the buying mode.  Not so good for those who bought in at loftier prices. 

Got some great deals with coupons this week!  Took advantage of Schnuck's 10 for $10 sale, matched up coupons on some needed items and walked out with a 70% savings on my total grocery bill.  I expect to do as well or better at Walgreens this coming Sunday.  Already making my shopping lists and matching up coupons with their ad.  I created a simple spreadsheet with Microsoft Works to keep track of my coupon savings starting the first of this month.  Just curious to see how much I'm actually getting with coupons.  I'll post the results at the end of each month. 

Friday, September 2, 2011


We gained some and lost some in the market for the last few days of August and the first few days of September.  My accounts ended pretty much flat for the week.  I did collect some decent dividends from AEA, AFLAC, Intel and ConAgra, so it wasn't exactly an unprofitable week.  Still in the buying mode.  Reinvested my dividend payments in additional shares of current holdings.  I really don't see any sustainable rallies in the market until after October.  I think we'll just be seeing more of the same minor ups and downs.  Don't really think there will be a double dip recession, although I do think it will take quite a bit longer for the economy to recover.  Which, as far as I'm concerned, spells prolonged buying opportunities. 

I've decided to invest my extra check this month from SendEarnings in my cash accounts.  I'm working toward building additional cash reserves along with beefing up my stock holdings.  I should receive my first statement from my savings plan at work by the end of September.  It will be great having an additional investment account, especially one with 100% matching contributions.  I've already decided any new raises will go toward increasing contributions to the plan.  With the company match and tax deferral it's the best opportunity available to me at this time.

I've been offered a new job with better pay and reduced hours (something I want), but it involves working at the county jail.  So I'm going to have to think that one over.  It's a new jail and they're working through setting up their operating system, think I'll wait and see how things go before I make a final decision.  I'd be working for a private contractor, so it wouldn't be in my best interests to take the job and have them lose their contract leaving me unemployed.  Think I'll wait until they've at least finished construction.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


Just finished reading a new prospectus from one of my former holdings, which only convinced me that I was right to get rid of my shares.  Prospectuses can be a slow read to say the least, but this one really took the cake.  It involved the same list of investment risks as other prospectuses normally contain, but was written in such a way as to imply the company has never really made any money,  they don't really try very hard to make shareholders any money, but you still may have to pay taxes on distributions as if you had made money.  Granted, paying taxes on some fund distributions even though you've actually suffered a loss, is not unheard of.  However, the blatant way in which these guys came right out and said they weren't really trying to make shareholders any money and were still going to charge a management fee, is either the height of honesty or audacity, I'm not sure which.  Glad it's no longer part of my investment portfolio. 

Monday, August 29, 2011


Well the week is off to a good start with the stock market closing slightly higher.  I suspect the higher close is mostly attributable to less than expected damage from hurricane Irene over the weekend.  Given that, and remarks from Bernanke on Friday of last week, I still wouldn't hold out much optimism for any major upward moves anytime soon.  Right now I'm sticking with the buy low strategy, adding to positions in some of my best holdings while the price is down.  If I'm right, it could be a big payoff somewhere down the road and in the mean time I'll collect more in dividends with the increase in number of shares in my portfolio.

Got some great deals over the weekend at Gerbes and Walgreens matching coupons with store sales.  Saved 40% on my grocery store purchases and closer to 70% from Walgreens.  Anybody not using coupons is passing up a great opportunity to save, save, save!!!

Got my sign-up paperwork back from Edward Jones for the company savings plan.  Kind of anxious for payday to see if they've started the witholdings.  If, as I suspect, the before tax witholdings have little effect on my take home pay, I'll most likely increase witholdings within the next month or two.  I'm not maxed out on matching contributions, so I could increase my own contributions as long as it doesn't cut me too short on cash flow.  Just have to wait and see...

Requested another check from  This will be my third check from them.  I intend to use it to repurchase some UVE stock I sold in my taxable account.  Got the medical bills down from my heart attack and follow up care, so I'm really concentrating on rebuilding my investment and cash positions.  If my health and the economy holds out, at least as well as it has been going, I should be in pretty good shape by this time next year. 

Thursday, August 25, 2011


Recently I was talking to one of the guys at work about signing up for the company sponsored savings program.  Although he is also eligible, he said he was probably not going to enroll.  Now our company, like many others now days, is a little tight fisted when it comes to giving raises.  They are few and far between and you're not going to get much of one regardless of performance.  The guy I was talking to is also one of those guys who are constantly complaining about not getting a raise.  Yeah, I like raises too, but there is something to be said about the number of people out of work right now and being thankful that you at least have a job.  That being said, why would you pass up an opportunity to help yourself to a raise.  Where we work, they might be stingy with raises, but their savings plan is quite generous, offering a dollar for dollar match of employee contributions.  For every dollar we put in, our employer contributes an equal amount, up to a certain percentage of our pay.  Why would you pass that up???  It's like they're offering you the opportunity to give yourself a raise.  I don't know about anybody else, but if the only thing I have to do is save a little money to get more money from work, I'm going all in.

I'm afraid he didn't see it that way.  He said he couldn't afford to defer any of his pay for savings, even though I explained to him that money withheld in "before tax" dollars would most likely make little if any difference in his take home pay.  This is something most people fail to realize.  If you're withholdings for savings are in "before tax" dollars, your taxable income is less and therefore you pay less in taxes on the remaining paycheck.  Which means that often times, your take home pay remains relatively unchanged.

As I've mentioned before, I have no real plans to continue working for my current employer until I retire.  However, why shouldn't I take full advantage of all the benefits they have to offer while I'm there?  No matter how much I end up saving, with employer matching contributions and more than 10 years before I plan to retire, it could definitely add up to a significant amount of money when I'm likely to need it most.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


Attention Couponers:

Sunday August 28, 2011;  There will be 3 coupon inserts in the Sunday paper.  One Proctor & Gamble, one Red Plum and one Smart Source.  Don't miss out on the chance to stock up on some great coupons!  A lot of my coupons expire August 31st, so it will be great to pick up new ones for more great deals on shopping.  This week I'm taking advantage of the buy 10 get $5 off and buy one steak get one free deals at my local Gerbes store.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


I enjoyed the "Big Interview" video with Mark Cuban on (click on title for link).  Especially liked what he had to say about diversification in today's stock market.  His comments about the best place for the average American to put their cash to work really hit home with me.  Especially the part about paying off credit card debt and stocking up on non-perishables for the home.  You're putting the money to good use by reducing high interest debt and protecting future purchasing power by stocking up for the home and avoiding future inflation.  Smart moves with much more potential for getting the most from your money in today's economy.

Friday, August 12, 2011


We had a tumultuous week with the stock market to say the least.  However, I was able to take advantage of the lower stock prices to add to my positions in Clorox, EVEP, LGCY and SGU.  These are all long term holdings in my taxable portfolio.  I also managed to get things moving with work so I'll be able to take advantage of the generous 401k plan there.  They offer a dollar for dollar match up to 5% of my salary.  While I've always looked at my current job as a place to ride out the economic downturn, meaning I hope not to be there much longer, I figure I might as well take advantage of the opportunity to build on my investments while I'm there.  I can always do a rollover on the 401k when I leave.

I doubt we've seen the last of volatility in the market, so I'll be looking to add more to my current investments in the coming weeks and months.  As long as the market is down I'm looking at it as a sale on future dividend income.  So I'll be buying as much as I can afford.  Let's face it, volatile or not, with interest rates in the toilet for the foreseeable future, the stock market is still one of the best games going.

Monday, August 8, 2011


The market plunged over 600 points on the first day of trading after the S & P announced its' downgrade of U.S. debt from AAA to AA+.  While many are fleeing the market for the supposed "safety" of gold and bonds, I'm looking at things from a different perspective.  The U.S. stock market is having one hell of a sale!  Stocks which were valued at much higher prices just last week are down several dollars per share.  So I'm thinking it's time to pull out the stops and go all in.

I'm not recommended this for everyone else, it's what I personally have decided to do in response to the latest market reversal.  It worked out well for me in 2008 and 2009 and I'm looking to repeat the process.  So I've once again set all stocks in my investment portfolio to reinvest dividends, which I'll continue to do until we see some recovery in the market.  Right now I'm hoping that will be way down the road.  The longer I have to pour money in at the lower prices, the better it will be when the market recovers. 

In the mean time, I'll be satisfied knowing that I'm adding to my dividend portfolio at greatly reduced prices.  I'll also be boosting regular monthly investments to both portfolios for the foreseeable future. 

Thursday, August 4, 2011


Kraft has announced plans to split in to two separate companies, spinning the second company off to shareholders by the end of 2012.  One will be a global snack business and the other a North American grocery business.  The grocery business, with revenues around $16 billion a year, would include its' U.S. beverages, cheese and convenience meals with brands like Maxwell House coffee and Jello.  The snacks company would include their high growth European and developing markets units along with their North American snacks and confectionery business, with annual revenues around $32 billion.  It would include brands such as Oreo cookies and Cadbury.

Krafts two largest investors, Warren Buffet (Berkshire Hathaway) and Nelson Peltz are both fine with the split.  Peltz pointed out that it was in the "best interest of shareholders" to separate the high growth snack business from the meat and cheese business.  Allowing investors to take advantage of both companies.  My only real concern is how debt will be divided between the two companies.  We'll just have to wait and see how that goes.  Otherwise, I'm thinking it's a good thing for shareholders.  I'll be adding to my position in Kraft (KFT:NYSE)  in the months before the split.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011


Well here it is, August 2nd, central Missouri continues to suffocate under sweltering heat, I'll sure be glad when the heat wave is over.  The heat in Washington saw some relief with the deal to raise the debt ceiling, although I wouldn't say it was a victory for either side or for the U.S. economy for that matter.  Be that at is may, most seasoned investors know that adverse market reactions to bad economic news make for great times to pick up bargains on good stocks.  So I'll be concentrating on adding to some of my positions while prices are down and looking for bargains on new additions to my portfolio.  I think I made a good decision to sell some stock last month and pay off high interest debt.  Not only did I free up cash flow, but I got out of the stocks before further declines and put the money to good use.

Collected some great dividend payments at the end of July and the first part of August, so I'm pretty happy about that.  My investment company added an FDIC insured account for parking cash as an option to their traditional money market account.  With the interest on the FDIC account being .5% compared to .01% for the money market account, I've moved my cash to the insured account to pick up some additional interest. 

While the stock market is not doing so well, I've been racking up bargains right and left with couponing.  Picked up $97 worth of merchandise at Walgreens Sunday for just $24 and saved another 67% on my weekly grocery shopping at Gerbes.  The only problem I'm having is finding anything I actually need.  I've built up such a stockpile of groceries, household and personal care items that my shopping lists are getting smaller and smaller.  The good thing about that is I'm able to wait for the very best deals.  Which means that my average savings are going up with each trip to the store.  When I started couponing, I was averaging a 20-25% savings each trip.  Now I routinely save 50-75% on my purchases, allowing me to keep more of my hard earned money. 

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


Have had a busy couple of weeks.  We've been short handed at work, so I've been picking up extra hours there.  Also sold off a few shares of non performing stocks and put the money to better use paying off some high interest debt.  I'm on schedule to have all my debt paid off by the end of next year, at the latest.  So I'm pretty happy about that.  As it is my free cash flow has increased dramatically from the debt payoffs. 

I've also been busy with my couponing.  In the 2 1/2 months I've been matching coupons with store sales I've managed to build a sizable stockpile of household and personal care products.  I now have enough surplus to help supply 3 additional households.  It really feels good to be able to assist others, something I could not afford much of before using coupons.

On my most recent trips to the grocery store I saved 40 and 42% off my grocery bill.  On my latest Sunday shopping trip to Walgreens I was able to purchase $115 worth of merchandise for $49 with the use manufacturers coupons.  Where shopping used to be a chore for me, I find now that I'm excited to go to the store.  Can't wait to see what kind of deals I'll find next!

One thing that has really surprised me is that I'm doing a lot less shopping at the big box retailers.  I always assumed they had the lowest prices overall.  While this is true of some of the items they carry, I've found that I'm getting much better deals at the grocery stores and Walgreens than I was getting by shopping Kmart, Walmart or Target.  I'm sure it depends on what you buy most, but in my case, I'm doing less and less shopping at the big discount stores and more of my shopping at the smaller establishments.  In my area, the customer service at the smaller stores blows the big boys out of the water.  I'm not sure why this is, but I find my shopping trips much more enjoyable in the smaller stores. 

Saturday, July 16, 2011


"Our true choice is not between tax reduction, on the one hand, and the avoidance of large federal deficits on the other."  It is increasingly clear economy hampered by restrictive tax rates will never produce enough revenues to balance our budget just as it will never produce enough jobs or enough profits." 

"In short, it is a paradoxical truth that tax rates are too high today and tax revenues are too low and the soundest way to raise the revenues in the long run is to cut the rates now."

President John F. Kennedy, in his Dec. 14, 1962 speech to the Economic Club of New York.

Thursday, July 14, 2011


My grocery budget for this week is $25 but I plan to purchase $40 in groceries.  I scanned the grocery store ads in Wednesdays' paper to see who was having the best sales on items I needed.  I decided to make all my purchases at the local Gerbes store.  This week the store is running a special:  if you buy 10 of any items from a large selection, you recieve $5 off.  I picked out 10 items I currently need, plus some stock up items, and prepared my shopping list.  I then matched up items on my list with the current coupons I have on hand.  I was able to find another $8 off with coupons.  They also have a special on one of the stock up items I'm buying, so if I buy 5 I'll get a catalina for $2 good towards my next in store purchase.  

So this trip I'll spend $25 out of pocket and I'll get another $15 in groceries free, for a total savings of 37.5%.  This does not include the frequent shopper's discount I'll get at the register when I use my shopper's card, so the total savings will most likely be higher than 37.5%, but even if that weren't the case I'm still getting a great deal.  The $15 I'm saving on this trip represents the entire cost of 2 bottles of Wisk laundry detergent, 2 large bottles of Tropicana Pure Premium Orange Juice and a weeks supply of Yoplait yogurt, making them entirely free! 

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


U.S. stock markets ended lower today after Moody's downgraded Ireland's debt rating, while debt woes here at home continue to be a drag on stock performance. 

With not a lot of relief in site on debt worries, I tend to agree with Duke Energy (DUK) CEO, James Rogers, that the U.S. should pass incentives to bring U.S. profits home.  Our corporations have over $1 trillion in profits overseas and would be more likely to bring those profits home if U.S. tax laws were changed.  If companies had some incentive to bring this money home and invest in the U.S. modernizing and upgrading facilities, it would create jobs and provide more economic stimulus than the Obama taxpayer funded program.

On a personal note, I've added shares of Kraft Foods (KFT) to my IRA account and plan to continue an active stock purchase plan for the foreseeable future.  As long as the market lags and prices are down, I'll be looking to build on current positions and maybe add a few new ones to my taxable account as well as my IRA.     

Friday, July 8, 2011


I've said it before, there can be no real economic recovery without jobs.  Until our government does what is necessary to help businesses create more jobs, our economy will not make any meaningful recovery.  They can throw all the funny money they want towards quantitative easing, they can bailout whomever they please, but if they don't help get the people working again we're going no where fast.  All you have to do is look at the latest response in the stock market to June's poor employment report to see the truth of the matter. 

Yes, most people still have a job.  The rate of unemployment in Missouri currently stands around 8.9%, which means 91.1% of the states workers are employed.  However, when nearly 1/10th of the workforce is out of work it becomes a matter of perception.  How do the other 9/10ths percieve the state of the economy, with so many unemployed and so much talk of record government deficits?  When the majority of consumers believe we are living in hard times, like now, then it becomes a self fulfilling situation.  If the consumer is faced with hard times, they stop spending.  In a consumer driven economy this brings everything grinding to a halt.  When consumers don't spend, businesses lose money and begin to down size.  Down sizing leads to further unemployment creating an even more dismal view of the economy, leading to even further belt tightening by consumers until eventually things grind to a halt.  Or at least slow to a dreadful pace.  Instead of costly quantitative easing, huge bailouts and very unpopular health care reforms, perhaps the current administration should have considered boosting the economy by returning cash to taxpayers in the form of additional refunds.  Maybe some of the people who've lost their homes could have avoided foreclosure, maybe some of the uninsured could have afforded health insurance, at the very least it would have given the economy a much needed influx of cash.  Unlike bank bailouts, where the money was paid out in the form of record bonuses to bank executives while the banks themselves showed their gratitude to the U.S. taxpayers by clamping down on credit, jacking up credit card interest rates and foreclosing on homes.  

It's a sad state of affairs in the U.S. right now.  I'm hoping for a landslide victory for Republicans in 2012.  We're not getting anywhere with the current administration so let's vote them out in the next election.  "YES WE CAN!!!"

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


I had a lot to do after work today.  One of my errands involved stopping by Wal Mart to pick up a prescription, so I thought I'd use a few coupons to get some things while I was there.  I didn't need much, just picked out 7 items.  Didn't have to wait extremely long in the checkouts, so I thought it would be a quick in and out trip.  WRONG!!!  What actually happened, the cashier short changed me by nearly $5 on my coupons and I had to go to customer service to get it straightened out.  So I had to wait in line there and when I finally got to the counter, they had to go back to the original cashier and check the coupons before they could give me a refund.  I ended up spending an extra 30 to 45 minutes in the store because of their mistake.  While I did get a refund, I didn't hear any apologies for the inconvenience, which makes me wonder how long this type of thing can go on before it starts costing them business.  So it's not likely that I would ever invest any of my hard earned dollars in Wal Mart stock.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


It was a rough start to the work week for me, half our opening staff called in, so I was overloaded with work all morning.  Had to take a nitro tablet to get rid of chest pains, so I decided it was best not to work an extended shift.  It's really hard to read my employers' response to my health problems since the heart attack.  On the one hand, if I just do my job, I work circles around most of the other workers, but on the other hand I'm not quite as capable of doing all the extra work I used to do.  So I'm never really sure where I stand with them, even though they are currently short on help and my medical problems hasn't cost them anything, since I'm not covered under their insurance program.  I sometimes get the feeling they would just as soon be rid of me all the same.  You'd think my boss would be a little more sensitive given that her husband suffered a heart attack around the same time I did.  But who knows???

Anyway, the stock market ended its' 5 day rally, closing down today.  So maybe I'll still have a chance to pick up some bargains over the summer.  Just have to wait and see what happens with the jobs report later this week.  If the numbers are good I'd expect to see more upward movement in the market.

I read an article yesterday about a money management company who moved their clients out of stocks entirely, thinking that the efforts to forestall default in Greece is simply a stall tactic.  While cash isn't a bad thing, I'm not so sure I'd expect the bond market to perform much better than stocks for the remainder of the year.  With interest rates so low and governments scrambling to come up with the money to pay their debts, I'm thinking it's just as iffy a proposition either way.  I'd prefer to stick to dividend stocks myself.  Still no guarantees there, but I'd choose a well managed corporation paying out dividends to government bonds any day.  I figure anything politicians have their hand in is not a very safe place for your money. 

Saturday, July 2, 2011


The stock market ended the week with one of the best gains we've seen in the last two years, most likely due to Greece adopting austerity measures, making the country less likely to default.  It will be interesting to see if the rally holds up as the jobs report and other economic indicators are released after the holiday weekend.  While I'm expecting a drop in July, if that doesn't happen I'll be making some adjustments to my investment strategy.  Right now I'm taking a wait and see approach.

Thursday, June 30, 2011


Wanted to wish everyone a Happy Independence Day weekend!  Friday is the start of the holiday weekend, although I have to work Friday and Saturday.  Looks to be a busy weekend for us at work, but I'm looking forward to shopping the 4th of July sales on Sunday and Monday. 

We've had a great few days with the stock market, July is coming in with a bang (pun intended), but I don't look for it to last.  So I'll be looking to get some deals on stock purchases in the month of July.  My first stock purchase for my IRA account will be Kraft Foods (KFT).  You already know the name and most likely, like myself, use a lot of their products.  Their dividend payout is a little over 3%, so they should make a great long term addition to my retirement account.  At the very least I've got 8 1/2 years before I can start taking distributions from the account, so I'm looking to add only stocks I feel comfortable holding for that length of time.  Kraft is definitely one of those stocks. 

Hope everyone has a happy and safe holiday weekend!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


Sunday I made my weekly Walgreens trip and scored my largest savings to date.  I purchase $178 worth of merchandise for $56 in cash.  By taking advantage of advertised sales, manufacturers coupons and register rewards I was able to save around 70% overall.  I got several items entirely free with coupons and register rewards including 4 Dove Men Care body wash, 2 Sun laundry detergent (75 loads), 2 Dove Men Care deodorant, 2 Reach toothbrushes and 2 Colgate Total toothpaste.  Since I've already accumulated about a years worth of deodorant, body wash and bar soap and about 6 months worth of laundry detergent, I was able to give some of the surplus to family members to save them a little money as well. 

While it didn't have anything to do with coupons, I also got the best deal ever on a 27" LCD TV.  I've wanted one for a long time, but wanted to wait until the prices went down.  Since my televisions both work great, I didn't see any need to replace them right away, so I've held off buying.  As it turned out, the guy who rides to work with me bought a larger LCD and gave me his old one free of charge.  You just can't beat free!  I've decided to put my oldest television in the next yard sale and use the cash to purchase more items for my stockroom. 

Friday, June 24, 2011


It's been a slow investment week for me, although I did put in an order to purchase shares of Merck & Co. Inc. (MRK) for my IRA account.  Their price is down from the 52 week high of $37.68, their current price being $34.55.  With the economy and the stock market slowing I thought now would be a good time to pick up shares.  They have a current dividend payout of $1.52 which represents a 4.40% payout on their current price per share.  While they stand to lose some in sales due to expiring patents I believe the earnings per share will still be good going forward, with their strong Research and Development Department and share repurchases.  

I've owned shares of Merck before in my taxable account and made a tidy profit, both from dividends and capital gains.  This time around I'm taking a buy and hold approach, so I'll be investing for the long term.   

Thursday, June 23, 2011


I've written favorably about the legalization of marijuana before.  The war on drugs is a lost cause and the sooner we realize it, and stop wasting taxpayers money, the better.  Yes it should be restricted, much like tobacco and alcohol.  It would create badly needed jobs here at home and put a stop to some of the violence the drug trade is causing in neighboring countries such as Mexico.  If you take the money out of the illegal drug trade by making it legal, the black market ceases to exist. 

As for cocaine, which some are also advocating legalizing, I think it should only be legalized as a strictly controlled substance.  Even then I believe it should only be used for medicinal purposes.  What that might be, I have no idea, but I'm sure the R & D departments of some of the major pharmaceutical companies would welcome the chance to find out.  At any rate, decriminalisation of currently illegal drugs would undoubtedly be a boon to tax revenues and jobs, and we could definitely use more of both.  Although I think all tax revenues from legalization of marijuana and cocaine should be strictly set aside to pay off the national debt.  Otherwise I believe tax and spend politicians would piddle away any revenues on pork barrel projects and special interest groups.  While we would still benefit from a decrease in drug related crime and violence, why not put the money to good use by reducing the national debt.

I can't very well justify talking about legalizing drugs without some mention of tobacco.  Currently I think the tobacco industry is the target of a modern day witch hunt, being blamed for untold deaths and diseases.  Don't get me wrong, I quit smoking for health reasons in November of last year and I don't think anybody with any sense would argue that smoking is not bad for your health.  However, it gets to be a little ridiculous when people can't even smoke outside (banning smoking in public parks etc.).  I mean come on!!!!  Do you really think someones cigarette smoke is any more detrimental to your health in a city like New York, where you're breathing in exhaust fumes from hundreds of thousands of automobiles every time you go outdoors?  And what about the people who get on their high horses about smoking?  Have they given up driving their cars so people won't have to breathe their exhaust fumes?  Have they lost weight and gotten into shape so they're not causing a burden to taxpayers for weight related illnesses like cancer and heart disease, which they're so quick to point out are caused by cigarette smoking?  I've never heard of cigarette smoking causing diabetes, but obesity has created an alarming upswing in diabetics in the U.S..  Are we going to carry on about tobacco use until we've created another black market to support the drug cartels?  Wake up people, we have a lot worse problems than cigarettes. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


I checked out the grocery store ads today and it looks like Schnucks had the best overall sales.  I made a list of sale items I needed, matched up my coupons and headed to the store.  This time I filled the cart, getting $76 worth of groceries for $46!  My overall savings this trip was a little over 40%.  I also got a coupon for $5 off my next purchase for purchasing $15 worth of Kraft products.  I plan to use the $5 in conjunction with more manufacturers coupons to stop by tomorrow and pick up six packs of Oscar Meyer and Ball Park franks, which will make the hot dogs almost free!!! 

I'll finish up my weekly grocery shopping by picking up the rest of the items I need at Moser's and Gerbes.  Moser's has a good 10 for $10 sale going and Gerbes has a great deal on Lays Potato Chips and a buy one get one free deal on steaks.  I plan to get produce, salad dressing, bologna, frozen vegetables and croutons at Mosers for around $10.  At Gerbes I'll buy steaks and potato chips and I'll stock up on hand soap and deodorant (5 for $5 sale) while they're on sale.

I installed shelving in a large closet off my living room for non-perishable items and I'm beginning to get a good stockpile of items.  As for groceries, after tomorrows' shopping, I shouldn't need much for a couple of weeks at least.  My freezer and refrigerator as well as all my cabinet space is pretty filled up.  I've spent so little money in the past month and I can't remember having so many groceries in my house.  I LOVE COUPONS!!!

Sunday, June 19, 2011


The stock market finally ended it's weeks long losing streak by closing higher on Friday.  Was not a very busy week for my investment accounts.  I collected dividends from Calamos (CHY) and Realty Income Corp. (O) and added more shares to my stake in Great Plains Energy (GXP).  Otherwise it's been a pretty slow week for me. 

I'm sticking with my plan of reinvesting all dividends automatically until the current correction in the market has run its' course.  When it begins to look like we're on an upward swing, I'll reset my account to have dividends paid in cash.  In the mean time I'll be adding to all my holdings while the prices are low. 


Got up early this morning, got my coupons clipped from the paper and made my weekly trip to Walgreens.  This trip I purchased several personal care items for my stockpile, soft drinks, pasta and miscellaneous items, which would normally have cost me $27.06.  With coupons, register rewards and advertised pricing I saved a total of $16.57 or a little over 61% off my total bill!

Not quite sure, but I think 61% might be the highest percentage off on any of my shopping trips so far.  Like I've said before, I may never get to 100%+ savings like some of the people on TLC, but if I can consistently save 30-75% off, I'll be extremely satisfied.  By far, the biggest savings for me is how little I eat out anymore.  I went from eating out 8 or more times per week to practically 0.  The food I fix at home is so much better than what I got at the restaurants.  It's healthier, tastier and a whole lot less expensive.

For more printable coupons, I have added links to Coupon Mom and Coupon Cabin on the MBCI link exchange section.  Happy Savings!!! 

Friday, June 17, 2011


If you're like me and you use a lot of Proctor & Gamble products, you'll want to check the Sunday, July 3rd paper for the Proctor & Gamble coupon booklet.  It promises to have "coupon savings over $83."  Don't know about you but I could sure use an extra $83 in coupon cash!

HAVE A GREAT WEEKEND!!!  Be sure and check back on Sunday to find out what kind of great deals I get at Walgreens...

Thursday, June 16, 2011


A coworker, who doesn't have a car, asked me to take them shopping today so they could stock up on food and household supplies.  Since taxis are so expensive, they offered to pay me $50 to take them shopping.  I had made up my shopping list yesterday when the grocery store ads came out, so I agreed to take them and did my own shopping at the same time.

I matched up my coupons with sale items and picked up a few extras that I didn't have coupons for, but were on sale.  Our first stop was Walmart, where I took advantage of all my buy one get one free coupons to add to my stockpile of body wash and deodorant.  Since everything I bought was buy one get one free I got $22 worth of products for $11.  Next up was a stop at Super D's for 4 bottles of Trend laundry detergent, which was on sale 2 for $3 and I added those to my detergent stockpile.  From there we stopped a block over at Schnuck's where I purchased enough tortilla stuffing mix and tortillas for 4 meals.  With coupons and sale pricing I paid $5.12 total.  The final stop was Gerbes Supermarket where I stocked up on frozen vegetables, ketchup, yogurt, pierogies, fried chicken, stir fry vegetables, candy bars and Parkay margarine.  With my frequent shoppers card, manufacturers coupons and doubling I got everything for $20.  So I spent just under $50 and got a total of $85 in groceries and personal care items.  Since I shopped with my coworker and they paid me $50 for taking them shopping, I spent $0 of my own money.  While it might seem like I ran all over town to save money, I drive a Honda Civic, so I doubt I used even a gallon of gas since all the stores were close together and I don't live far from my coworkers house. 

The whole point of all this is, when you begin to look for ways to save money, opportunities present themselves that you would never have thought possible.  The way I look at it, for a couple hours of doing something I like to do, shopping for bargains, I made $85. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


Opinion:  I've been seeing a great deal in the news lately about possible GOP nominees for the 2012 Presidential election.  Historically it's been very difficult to defeat an incumbent President during presidential elections.  If the Republicans hope to have any chance of defeating Obama in 2012, they're going to have to come up with nominees with broad appeal to the American public.  

For president I'd say Texas Governor Rick Perry is a good bet.  Personally I've never met anyone from the state of Texas that I didn't like, so I may be a bit biased here.  Still, from a political standpoint, I think he'd stand the best chance of beating Obama in 2012.

As for vice president, 4 possibilities come to mind.  First and foremost, I'd pick Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal.  Perry and Jindal have both proven themselves as leaders of their respective states, experience that is sure to come in handy when dealing with national issues at the presidential level.

As for the other 3 possible nominees, I'd have to go with Mitt Romney, Marco Rubio and Sarah Palin, in that order of preference.  Mitt Romney as a seasoned politician with a great deal of experience and a wholesome family oriented appeal.  Marco Rubio for his appeal to the Hispanic community and Sarah Palin for her appeal to women voters and tea party activists.  

I know there are a lot of people who would disagree with my picks, but like I said, it's my opinion.  We'll just have to wait and see who gets nominated and who actually wins the election.  Personally I'd like to see Perry and Jindal in 2012.  


Just printed off some great money saving coupons from's coupon section.  I got coupons for Milky Way candy bars, Ball Park Franks, Yoplait Yogurt and more!  Right now they have a $5 sign up bonus going with Sendearnings, so if you're interested in picking up some great coupons and making a little extra cash, now would be a great time to take advantage of their free sign up! 

I'm especially happy with the coupons I got today, since Milky Way is my favorite candy bar and I love yogurt.  It's nice to get a good deal on them though, so I'm looking forward to my next trip to the store.


With news from China showing inflation not as bad as expected and the economy slowing, Asian and European stocks rose overnight.  I look for U.S. stocks to follow suit today.  Although stocks will most likely rise some today, I wouldn't expect this to point towards any kind of return of a bull market.  I fully expect the markets to continue to lag throughout the summer, with small increases here and there depending on economic news from around the world.  

As far as a sustainable recovery, I don't really see that happening until jobs recover.  While there may be a bit of a recovery in the fall, as long as the jobs picture remains bleak, the stock market isn't likely to make any sustainable advances.  Government intervention has proven ineffective at creating jobs, so it will most likely be up to the private sector.  The big corporations will eventually have to see it as an advantage to create more jobs, boosting the economy, by putting some of the massive stockpiles of cash they have right now to work.  If a company can no longer invest extra cash profitably, they traditionally returned the cash to shareholders in the form of dividends or share buy backs.  However, as much as I like dividends, I'd rather see some of the money put to work creating jobs.  More jobs mean more consumers with expendable cash, leading to increased business and profits.  An increase in business profits from a growing economy is the only real way to sustain a long term recovery of the stock market and the absolute best way to reduce massive government debt by resultant increased tax revenues.

Is this likely to happen?  Eventually, I think it might, but for now I think companies will continue to stockpile cash as a protection from poor liquidity in the credit markets.  When money is not available in the form of loans, the companies who have a large cash reserve will fair better than those who depend on loans for day to day business expenses.

Sunday, June 12, 2011


Sunday, June 12, 2011:  Made my Sunday morning trip to Walgreens, which is rapidly becoming a ritual with me.  As long as I keep finding great deals, I'll keep going.  On today's trip I saved over 50% off my bill with sale items, store and manufacturer coupons and register rewards. 

I spent $29.12 out of pocket in two transactions.  I got a total in savings of $29.23 with $3.00 in register rewards to use towards future purchases.  On this trip I picked up snack items, soft drinks and coffee, body wash and bath soap, paper towels and facial tissue, lip balm, toothpaste and toothbrushes, bandages and antibiotic cream.  I bought multiples of each item, so I'm stocked up for quite a while.  Looking forward to next week's advertised specials from Walgreens!

One thing I've noticed since I've started couponing:  Even though I thought I'd never build up huge stockpiles of products, I have stocked up enough groceries, household and personal care items that I could go quite some time before having to buy anything else.  Which could come in very handy should some unexpected expenses, (like car repairs or trips to the doctor), pop up.  Even if that doesn't happen, having these items on hand allows me more time to build my coupon collection and look for big money saving deals.  I'm now beginning to see how the people on TLC's "Etreme Couponing" manage to get so much for so little.  But even if I never get to that point, I'm pretty happy about saving 25% to 50% on a regular basis.  It allows me to live a much better life while spending a lot less money. 

Friday, June 10, 2011


Been busy at work this week, not really sure why.  With school out and being past the first of the month, the restaurant business usually slows down, but not this time around.  Got in some extra hours, but the heat has really been getting to me. 

Added to my positions in PFF, AEA and CNP in my taxable portfolio and AFL in my IRA account.  Also made a cash deposit to my IRA to purchase shares of B&G Foods.  Earned some extra cash on, will be getting another check from them soon.  I'll be adding that to my regular investment account.  Stocks have had a turbulent week to say the least, but it's helped me pick up shares at a lower price, so I'm not entirely disappointed with that.  I'm looking for a few good months of lower prices to help build up my holdings.  Want to be in a good position when the market eventually starts to rebound, in the mean time I'll be happy to collect the dividends along the way.

Still learning as much as I can about "extreme couponing".  It fits in so well with my whole savings and investment plan and has already allowed me to increase monthly cash deposits to my accounts.  As I get better at saving on purchases, I'm planning to redirect all the savings towards income producing investments.

Read an interesting article on today about OPEC.  Ex CIA director, James Woolsey said, in order to be really secure the U.S. has to "break oil's monopoly over transportation and to break OPEC's monopoly over oil."  He makes the point that we are currently funding both sides of the war on terror by fueling the coffers of the very terrorists who seek to destroy the United States.  I've always thought the way to put a stop to terrorism is to take away the money, in other words find a replacement for imported oil.  Without the billions we spend on oil, funds for terrorism would soon dry up.  It can be done, we as a nation just have to make up our minds to do it.   

Thursday, June 9, 2011


In one of my latest searches on couponing, I came across a great website to learn how to maximise your savings with coupons.  It's called The Krazy Coupon Lady and you can visit her website by clicking on the title of this post or by following the link on my link exchange.  I'm personally hooked on shopping at Walgreens and she has a fantastic video showing you how to get the best deals when shopping their sales.  If you're interested in saving money by couponing, this is one site you definitely don't want to miss!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011


Didn't do as well on my shopping today as I did Sunday.  Still got a total of 10% off my bill at Walmart and saved a total of 30% off my bill at the grocery store.  The amount I saved on my grocery purchases was enough to pay for a package of boneless ribs and a package of butterfly pork chops.  Also had coupons for more Nestle Crunch bars for around 50% off and picked up some Wishbone salad dressing which was on sale, 2 for $3, with the $1.50 coupon on 2 I got one bottle free!

Overall I'm satisfied with my shopping trip.  I stayed within my budget and managed to save a significant amount on my purchases.  Probably won't be doing any grocery shopping for a while, since I've built up quite a stockpile at home and need to use some of it up to make room for more.  In the mean time, I'll be looking for great deals on household or personal care items and building my stockpile of coupons.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


There seems to be a building panic and uncertainty in the stock market media of late and why not, there are a lot of things going on in the world to bring the market down.  However, when have we not had a lot of problems in the world?  Jeff Goldblum's character in one of the Jurassic Park movies says, "Nature always finds a way."  In economics, business always finds a way to make money.  As investors, it's up to us to find the right investments at the right price that are going to make money.  In the current investment climate there is no room for panic, it's time for cool collective analysis.  It's time to take advantage of the great opportunity that's about to present itself in the next few months.

For those who keep there cool and are courageous enough to weather the downward trend in the market, it is time to pick up some quality dividend stocks at bargain prices.  I've been writing a lot lately about how much I've saved on everyday purchases with coupons and sales, now the stock market is about to go on sale and I'll be buying.  What I'll be buying is yet to be determined, but I fully intend to purchase as many shares of stock as my budget will allow while prices are down.  In keeping with this train of thought, I've reset both my investment accounts to reinvest all dividends for the foreseeable future.  Not only will I benefit from lower prices, but I'll save on commissions since reinvested dividends are commission free. 

Monday, June 6, 2011


The coupons from Sunday's paper and some of the new printable coupons from Sendearnings have netted me some fantastic deals today!  I used 2 manufacturers coupons from the paper and a register rewards coupon to pick up laundry soap and fabric softener for 60% off!  Also picked up an extra in store coupon booklet and got 33% off on Chex Mix and Bugles, making one bag free!  I found these sale items at Walgreens, where I also purchase AA batteries on sale and got a $1 register rewards coupon good on my next purchase.  Overall I saved a little over 50% on my Walgreens purchases!!!  Got some Nestle's Crunch candy bars almost free with double coupons at Gerbes.  Will be anxiously awaiting the grocery store sale ads on Wednesday to plan my latest shopping trip with my new stockpile of coupons.  I've got a grocery budget for the next 2 weeks of just $40, so I'll really have to stretch the dollars, but I've done well in the past few weeks and have quite a stock built up so I'm thinking it won't really be all that hard to stay within budget.  It would be great if I could do the two weeks on $20.  We'll see how it goes. 

One handy tip I've learned about couponing:  I use most of my $1 or over coupons at Walmart, since the local grocery stores do not double coupons over $1.  The coupons for less than a dollar I save to use at the grocery stores, where I'll get twice as much off my purchase through double coupons, which often makes it less expensive than purchasing the item at discount stores and just getting the face value of the coupon.  It doesn't always work out that way, so I before I use some coupons, I'll do a little price checking to see where I'll get the better deal. 

Friday, June 3, 2011


I've written a lot lately about my use of coupons as a money saving tool but I haven't talked much about where I get my coupons.  You can do a search and find several sources on the internet for free printable coupons, however, the one I use most often and the one I think has the best deal is by far the coupon section on (see link at top of page).  Sendearnings is a shoppers rewards program that I've been involved with for quite some time now, but it wasn't until recently that I took advantage of their printable coupons.  Boy was I missing out!  For each coupon you print and redeem, they pay an additional 10 cents to your Sendearnings account.  Now 10 cents may not sound like much but when you start using coupons for purchases the way I have (I try to have a coupon for EVERYTHING I buy) then it can really add up quick.  So you save money by using the coupons, then you get paid an additional 10 cents for every coupon you redeem, what could be better than that?  It does take about 3 months for the coupons to go through all the processing so you get the credit to your account, but once the payments start, you'll have a steady stream of small credits to your account as a bonus for saving with the coupons you use.

I've found I save the most when I build up a stockpile of coupons and match them up with the sale items in the weekly store fliers from our local newspaper.  I look for items on sale that I normally purchase or would like to try, match up coupons with advertised sale items and make my shopping lists.  When I find a great deal on laundry soap, body wash, shampoo or cleaning supplies, I stock up on those items while I can get the best deal.  It may sound complicated, but it really isn't.  I usually clip the coupons I like from the coupon insert in Sundays paper, check the coupon section on Sendearnings and review the coupons I have on hand, then I go through the store ads and make out my shopping lists.  I clip the coupons to the lists for each store and I'm ready to shop.  I do all this in about an hour on Sunday mornings while I'm drinking my coffee and when I've got my lists ready I make one trip and hit all the stores to pick up the deals.  It's pretty exciting to see how much more you can get with the same amount you normally spend and sometimes with a whole lot less!  I'm definitely hooked on couponing!!!

Thursday, June 2, 2011


Took advantage of Schnuck's 10 for $10 sale this week to stock up on some groceries!  I purchased a total of 32 items including hot dogs, lunch meat, frozen entrees, chimichangas, steak burritos, cole slaw, Healthy Choice soups, pasta sides, Crunch and Munch, salad mixes and salad dressings.  The grand total before discounts and coupons came to $59.39!  After store discounts on sale items, manufacturers coupons and store doubling on coupons, my final total was $33.81 for a total savings of $22.58!!!  That works out to around a 38% savings on my overall purchases.  Could have saved even more, but I didn't pay close enough attention on checkout and was overcharge by $1.90 and didn't get credit for one of my $1 coupons.  Still not too bad for a couple hours work....


The top 5 dividend leaders of the Dow Jones:

1.  AT&T (T)  5.45%

2.  Verizon (VZ)  5.28%

3.  Merck (MRK)  4.14%

4.  Pfizer (PFE)  3.73%

5.  Intel (INTC)  3.73%

Of the five, Intel announced a raise in dividends this year.  A good dividend payout, although not reason enough to invest on in a stock, may decreased volatility in an uncertain market.  Something to keep in mind in the next few months.  I currently own shares of AT&T (taxable and IRA accounts) and Intel (taxable account) as part of my long term investment plan.