Monday, December 17, 2018

Setting Life and Online Goals for 2019

For the past 20 years, I always spend the last week of November and first week of December reflecting on the year that is closing and deciding what I want to accomplish in the year that is about it start.  I set goals for myself.  What did I get done this year and what do I want to do with the next?

I've always taken this pretty seriously but this year it seems to be even more important than ever.  I'm not 100% sure why but the fact that I'm closer to 50 than I am to 40 just might have something to do with it.

2018 has been OK.  It's not quite over yet but it's close.  I didn't hit everything that I wanted to do this year.  There really aren't any excuses or reasons, I just didn't do it and that's 100% on me and only me.

The main reasons that I do this a little early is to prepare.  Changes can be a bit difficult.  Getting "into the groove" or finding that rhythm that works can take a few weeks.  Since I start a little early by the time the first week of January rolls around that groove has been found and new habits have hopefully taken hold.

I look at everything and I mean EVERYTHING.  From my work to my hobbies to what needs to be done in the house all the way to the food that we eat.  It isn't "new year new me."  This is "what changes do we need to make this year that will improve our lives."

To kick off 2019, January is going to be the first of at least two no spend months for 2019.  (I'll still be posting the deals though!)  By doing that, we will be jump starting our savings account for 2019.  Our food stockpile is still ridiculous so that will help a lot and is the main reason we are doing it.  We will still pick up produce every week, but just won't be paying out of pocket for it.  I'll have a video posting the first week of January that talks about this and how I'm doing it.

If you haven't heard of a no spend month, it is where you pretty much pay your regular monthly bills like rent/mortgage, utilities, buy gas for your vehicle and that's it.  You don't buy anything else for the entire month unless it is a dire need.  Not even a pack of gum.  It's a great way to jump start a savings account and utilize a food stockpile to get rid of things that have been hanging out for a while.

A few other things that I want to work on in 2019...

  • I let Ebay go by the wayside this past year and I still have a lot of inventory so I'll be getting that back on track to get rid of it.
  • Be more aggressive on continuing to build my residual writing portfolio, including my websites.  I really slacked off on those in 2018 and it shows in my income.  :( 
  • Speaking of websites/residuals, since I slacked off on those I also ended up taking a hit on my Amazon Affiliate income, so I'll be working on correcting that this year too.
  • We took no real vacation last year because of my mouth procedures and Spudward's medical issues so there are a few trips in our future this year, we just have to decide where and when we are going.
  • We need another vehicle but agree that we don't want a vehicle payment, so we will be car shopping sometime this summer/fall.
  • Finish the house remodel.
  • Continue to build the savings account even though we do have some large projects coming up. 
  • We are also both going to be getting new iphones this year but won't be signing any contracts with anyone.  There's also a HUGE reason why we are going with Apple vs. Android and it isn't because we are Apple Fanboys because we aren't. 
  • Getting back into what I call sensible and ethical couponing.  I'll be posting a video on this the first week of January too.
Those are just the tip of the iceberg.  I plan on sharing some of these things with you.  I have plans for RB50, it is part of my online goals this coming year. 

2019 is definitely going to be better than 2018.  Hopefully I can teach you or show you things that you may have never considered, knew about or thought of that will make your life easier and better too.  Couponing for over 20 years and digging myself out of a financial hole... twice, has taught me a few things that hopefully I can share with you and you too can benefit from at least some of the tidbits that you'll find here.  We'll see!

Are you a planner or more "fly by the seat of your pants" kinda person?  What are some of the things that you want to accomplish in 2019?

Happy Monday to you!

Thursday, November 29, 2018

How to Avoid Getting Ripped Off by Fake Sales and Deals

Is there anyone out there that doesn't love to feel like they are getting a good deal on something?  Not that I know of.  Even people that don't bargain shop love to get what they believe is a good deal when it drops in their lap or email.

So what's the problem with sales and deals and why am I even mentioning this?  Because it looks like retailers have really improved their marketing tactics and psychological manipulation when it comes to peddling their wares both in store and online.  If you haven't been paying attention and don't know how to catch it, you may just fall for it.

Something to ponder for a moment... if a store constantly has a sale on their jeans for $19.99 a pair, is it really a sale or is it their regular price?  If the price never goes higher that $19.99, in reality it is their regular price.  A lot of online fast fashion retailers use that tactic.  BooHoo is a good example.

Even though I occasionally do deal videos on them, if you price check the regular prices at CVS to other stores you'll very quickly find that CVS is generally higher priced, sometimes significantly, on almost every item in their store.  Now, the price doesn't really matter if you use coupons, CRTs and Extra Care Bucks to whittle the price down to free or close to it but it's a great example of what we are talking about here.

Another example are the deals that Target has been running lately.  Last week was the $10 gift card when you spent a certain amount on Legos.  I randomly priced checked a few of those Lego sets and they were significantly cheaper on Amazon, even after the gift card would have been applied.  In the end, it was a deal that really wasn't a deal and the only way you would know is if you price checked.

ALWAYS take two minutes to check the price before you buy.  Always.

I'll give you an example here with Axe Body Wash which is something I purchase on a regular basis for Cory.  Target is running another gift card deal this week and Axe is included.  Spend $40 and you'll get back a $10 gift card.  Sounds like a good deal if you use Axe, right?  Wrong.  It's not a deal at all.

Let's do a bit of math here...

16oz. Axe body wash is $5.79 each.  40/5.79 = 6.91
You'll need to buy 7 to hit the $40 mark.
7 x $5.79 =  $40.53
There are no coupons available right now.
$40.53 - $10.00 gift card back to you = $30.53 is your oop for 7 of these
$30.53/7 = $4.37 is your final price per body wash.
Sounds like a decent deal, right?
It's a 25% savings, right?

Now, let me show you this...

The same exact body wash is $3.97 each at Walmart.

So, is the gift card deal on Axe really a good deal now?  No.

Granted there are a ton of scenarios that are out there for other things that are included in the gift card deal that have coupons, Cartwheel and app rebates that can make for a really good deal if you use the items that are included, but I wanted to show you how price checking can help protect you from overpaying.

Price checking is easy.  All you have to do is go to Google and enter the product name and any identifying information like a model number, size, etc. and search.  Google will show you reputable retailers that have that product for sale and what the price is.  It really is that simple.

For the Axe body wash, you would enter "Axe black body wash 16oz."  You'll want to double check the ounces or size of any product that you check to make sure it is a match on any page that you look at.  Google is good, but sometimes retailers can make mistakes on their site page tags.

Get into the habit of doing this and you may be surprised to find just how many deals really aren't. 

I hope you found this little heads up useful.  I try really had to stay positive but when I see something that costs people money that has a simple solution, I have to say something.

Hope you are having a fantastic Thursday!