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 that...an 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.