The Joy of Saving for your Vacation.

My wife and I have never been on a cruise. We know many people who have been on several cruises in their lifetime and they have enjoyed them very much. I think it would be great to take a vacation and enjoy each others company and escape reality for a while. The beaches, the ocean, the resorts, it all sounds wonderful. So why haven’t we gone yet? Well…to be honest…we just haven’t saved up for it yet. But it’s on our list though!

Right now, we have “other things” we’re saving for. Just recently we saved up the money to build our kids a huge playground in the backyard. We did the saving, we did the building ourselves, and now the kids can enjoy it to the fullest. We enjoy watching them play on it with their friends and we can bask in the fact that it’s all paid for.
But before we even built the playground, we were excited about it.

You see, once you start saving…once you put that first dollar in the jar (or the savings fund), the anticipation and the excitement can begin.

We’ve done this for a while, so when we say we’re going to save up for something, we MEAN it! Right now, we’re excited about the theme park passes we’re planning to get before the summer starts. We’ve been building the excitement in our kids about the parks we’re going to. We are ACTIVELY saving up for this right now, because it was the next thing on our list. We can keep the excitement going on and on until the day comes for us to buy them. Then we are really going to enjoy ourselves. The best part of all, is that we won’t be coming home from the theme park wondering how we’re going to pay for it all…because we already did!

Contrast that with a family who doesn’t save. Using the theme park example, the parents decide to take the kids to the theme park on impulse. They say “Surprise kids, we’re going to the Disney World!”. They go the following weekend and they pay for everything on credit. When they get to the theme park the worrying begins. The kids are having a great time, but the parents are scratching their heads wondering “how much ARE we spending?”. The father says “Let’s just go with it…we’re here to have fun!” but the mother just isn’t too sure. They can try to forget about the growing cost…for a while…but in the back of their minds they know reality is coming back soon, and this realization STEALS the joy they could be having in this moment.

I don’t know about you…but I don’t want to be worrying about money WHILE I’m on vacation! I’d rather know that the trip is already paid for and that the spending money for souvenirs, pictures, food, snacks, hotels, and transportation have already been paid for in advance. That way, I can lay back, watch, and enjoy my family having the time of their lives. When I get home…I don’t have to worry about the post-trip blues. Yes, I still have to come back to reality, but the adjustment won’t include a credit card bill!

I know it’s sounds old fashioned…but saving up for your vacation allows you to have positive anticipation BEFORE it starts…FUN while you are away…and NO BILL when you get back. The alternative is to miss the anticipation stage altogether, go on a trip and worry about money while you are away, and have a bill come in your mailbox when it’s over.

So it won’t be long before we have completely saved up for our theme park passes. We are looking forward to having many great times over the next two years with them.

So what’s next?

Well…I’m anticipating walking up to my wife with sunglasses and a Hawaiian-shirt on saying “Do you know what day it is?? TODAY is the day we start saving up for a cruise!”

Is there something you are saving for right now?

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“You use coupons?… You MUST be POOR!”

Imagine that you are waiting in line at the grocery store and the person in front of you hands the cashier a fistful of coupons. You might think “UH!, of all the lines I could pick from I chose THIS one!” or you might think “I don’t have time for this!”. But have you honestly looked at the person in front of you, with curiosity, to find out how much they saved? I’ll bet that you’d be pretty shocked.

My family and I use coupons everyday, and we’ve seen just about every reaction imaginable from the people behind us in line and from the cashier too. The strangest reaction, however, was when someone said: “You use coupons?… You MUST be POOR!”

Now, that has left me pondering… “Are we poor, because we use coupons?”

To answer that question, I took a look at my family’s financial situation as a whole. We have ZERO consumer debt, a few medical bills here and there, and our home mortgage. We spend about $400 a month on groceries, toiletries, and health & beauty products. That is probably 50% less than the average household who spends $600-$800 on these items. Could we spend as much as other families on their grocery bill? Can we not afford more?

The answer is yes: We COULD spend $600-$800… but we DON’T HAVE TO… Because we use coupons.

You see… while other families spend $600 to get $600 worth of groceries and other stuff, we’re spending $400 to get $4,000 worth of groceries and other stuff. We’ve been tracking our spending and savings for the last year and a half and we managed to have a CONSISTENT savings rate of 85%-92% every month. How can this be? It’s all because of those little coupons!

Using coupons doesn’t mean you’re POOR… it means you’re SMART!

For example, let’s say your family likes Jenni-O Turkey Burgers and you need TWO boxes. One box normally costs $8.59, which means for two boxes you’d pay around $17.18. But if you had two $2.00 off coupons and the boxes were on a buy one get one free sale, you can save a lot of money. Consider the following:

Scenario 1: No Coupons, No Sale
Buy 2 boxes of Jenni-O Turkey Burgers: 2 @ $8.59 each = $17.18
You pay $17.18 for two boxes

Scenario 2: Use Coupons, No Sale
Buy 2 boxes of Jenni-O Turkey Burgers: 2 @ $8.59 each = $17.18
Use 2 $2.00 off coupons: -$4.00
You pay $13.18 for two boxes

Scenario 3: Use Coupons, Buy One Get One Sale
Buy 2 boxes of Jenni-O Turkey Burgers: 2 @ $8.59 BOGO = $8.59
Use 2 $2.00 off coupons: -$4.00
You pay $4.59 for two boxes
Price for EACH: $2.30 a box!

Isn’t it SMARTER to pay $2.30 a box, rather than $8.59 a box? …and this is just ONE ITEM. What if you applied this principle to EVERYTHING you buy?

If you’re in debt, living paycheck-to-paycheck, it’s really worth it to use coupons to improve your situation. The money you save will help make your payments easier. For more information about how to use coupons effectively like this, follow this guide I wrote a couple of years back.

For some offline learning, The “How To Shop For Free” book by couponing expert, Kathy Spencer, is a MUST HAVE!

And finally.. visit www.couponfedfamily.com or www.couponfedfamily.com/facebook to see how my family and I save 90% on just about everything!

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Did You Spend too Much for Christmas?

My wife and mother-in-law recently went shopping for Black Friday. Having already preselected the deals they were going to get…they executed their shopping trip and bought just about everything they wanted. When they came back they had many great stories to tell. All of these stories had me shaking my head in dismay. There were people buying 2 carts full of toys at Toy’s R Us. Big TV’s, Blu-Ray Players, and all sorts of big-ticket electronics were sold at Target and Walmart in droves. The frenzy didn’t end till well after 6:00pm Friday night.

But then something strange happened. On Saturday (VERY NEXT DAY) there were long lines at the RETURN DESKS! The same people who waited in long lines to BUY stuff are now waiting in long lines to RETURN it? Big Screen TV’s, Blu-Ray Players, and toys were all being returned. Could it be that they found a better deal somewhere else? I have my doubts!

What is going on here?

I had always thought that the returns would happen AFTER Christmas…meaning AFTER the items were wrapped up and given away as presents. Not So! It appears that people who were caught up in the spending frenzy of Black Friday were buying things on CREDIT CARDS! They bought too much stuff using money they didn’t have, and came into the store with NO PLAN. After they had a chance to sleep on it, the buyer’s remorse kicked in and convicted them. They spent too much on credit and they know that they cannot afford the payments. The only thing left to do is to take the item back.

So how to you avoid waiting in line to buy things you’ll just take back later? It’s easy…USE CASH!

You can’t possibly overspend if you run out of cash now can you? And you won’t overfill your cart if you think you’ll see the word “DECLINE” when you use your debit card. You should already have an idea of what you’re going for when you shop and how much it’s going to cost. Set yourself a limit before go as well, in case you DO find some unadvertised deals out there.

Christmas should never leave you in more debt than what you started with. The problem is that many people feel obligated to out-do their siblings, or their parents, or their friends and digging themselves into a hole. Instead of CHARGING to buy gifts for people when you are low on cash…MAKE the gifts instead. I have found that the best gifts were hand made and were more meaningful than any gadget money can buy. Make something that is uniquely you, and has meaning for the person you are giving it to.

If you were caught by the spending bug…don’t fret. I know your heart’s in the right place. Pay it off as fast as you can and start saving cash for next Christmas!

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