Tipster Tuesday: FREE, $1.00 & $2.00 School and Home Office Supplies at Staples This Week

Go to Staples for some fantastic deals on school and home office supplies. Prices are good from 3/15-3/21. (Limit 2 per item- except as specified for Delta Elite pens. While supplies last. In store only.)

PENS, PENCILS, HIGHLIGHTERS AND CRAYONS
FREE AFTER EASY REBATE- Staples Delta Elite retractable ballpoint pens, black 2/pack (5.29-$2.30 instant savings -$2.99 Easy Rebate= FREE (Limit 1 rebate per customer)
$1.00 BIC Ultra Rround Stic Grip ballpoint pens, medium, black, 12/pack
$1.00 Pilot FriXion Ball gel pens, fine, assorted, 3/pack
$1.00 BIC Atlantis ballpoint pens, medium, assorted, 4/pack
$2.00 Staples gel stick pens, medium 12/pack
$1.00 Staples assorted mechanical pencils 12/pack
$1.00 Ticonderoga pencils 12/pack
$1.00 BIC Brite Liner assorted highlighters, 5/pack
$1.00 Crayola crayons standard, 24/pack

PAPER, PADS, PHOTO PAPER, INDEX CARDS, ENVELOPES
$1.00 HammerMill CopyPlus copy paper, 500 sheets/ream
$1.00 Staples Accel 4.25″x5.5″ fat book, 200 sheets (this is a spiral bound paper notebook)
$1.00 Writing pads, perforated, letter size, white, wide ruled, 3/pack
$1.00 AFTER EASY REBATE- Staples photo plus 4″x6″ paper 60/pack (this is paper for printing your digital photos on)
$2.00 Staples ruled index cards, 3″x5″, white, 500 pack
$1.00 Staples Pull & Seal #10 Envelopes, 25/pack
$1.00 ALL 12/pack Staples clasp envelopes

POST IT’S, TAPE, GLUE STICKS
$2.00 Post-it 1/2″ unprinted tape flags, 4/pack
$1.00 Scotch Magic tape dispenser, 3/4″ x 850″
$1.00 Staples glue sticks, 4/pack

3 HOLE PUNCH, SCISSORS, STAPLER, BINDER CLIPS
$1.00 Staples binder 3-hole punch
$2.00 Westcott 7″ soft-handle scissors
$2.00 Staples black full-strip stapler value pack
$1.00 Staples soft grip binder clips, medium, 12/pack

GET MONEY BACK WHEN YOU RECYCLE ANY INK AND TONER AT STAPLES
Get $3 back in Staples Rewards (per cartridge) when you recycle any ink and toner (limit 10 cartridges per customer per month). Visit StaplesRewards.com for full program details.

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Coupon Database Has Been Updated With Coupons Through Today- 3/15/09

Please go to the coupon database (the link is on the right hand side of this blog)- or click here, it has been updated to include coupons from this Saturday’s Jersey Journal and Sunday’s NY Post. See this post here for info on the coupon database and for ideas on using and keeping your coupons.

Please note that the coupon database will not be updated next week (March 21 and 22). Those coupons will be updated when the database is updated for the following week (by Monday March 30).

Thank you.

Why Not Consider Wednesday: Why You Should Be Tracking Your Spending

How I became a Recessionista Before the Recession Started.

Last January, I decided to create a spreadsheet to track how much money we spent. While my husband initially rolled his eyes at my project (especially when I asked him every day- how much money he spent in each of the categories I created) we both learned a lot about our spending habits by reviewing our totals at the end of the year. However, we didn’t have to wait until the end of the year to learn some valuable lessons about where our money was going. The numbers on the spreadsheet told us a lot

This year we decided to continue to track our spending again. Here are some of the reasons why you might want to consider tracking your spending too.

Tracking what you spend your money on allows you to:

1. See what you are spending your money on
2. Make projections about what you will owe and when it will come due
3. Reduce stress from not knowing how much you will owe and when it will come due
4. Stop making purchasing decisions based on impulses, but rather, make them based on what you truly value and appreciate

1. What Do You Spend Your Money On?
There are generally two categories that people spend money on: fixed costs and variable costs. Fixed costs include things like the rent, a mortgage or car payments. It is usually pretty easy to list these items and account for them. Variable costs are items that fluctuate depending on usage. These are items like utilities, groceries, dry cleaning, and one time costs. One time costs are things like an unexpected hospital stay or a broken hot water heater.

In order to determine what you are spending your money on, you need to create or find a spreadsheet you can use and then enter information into it daily, before you forget what you have spent your money on.

Additionally, you need to make sure you don’t just enter all your variable costs into a category labeled miscellaneous. Indeed, if you are going to go to track your spending, you want to be able to see exactly where all your money is going. To be sure, you will need to have a category labeled miscellaneous. However, the less you put into this category the better. Some of the items you might want to pull from the miscellaneous category include: Dry Cleaning, Gas, Commuting Costs (ie the Bus, Train etc), Groceries, Take Out, Drug Store Purchases, Kids Classes and Toys, Entertainment, Babysitting, Cleaning Service, Travel, Clothing/Shoes/Makeup/Hair, Charitable Donations, Gifts, Taxes.

2. Make Some Projections
After you have tracked your spending closely for at least one month, you can start to make projections about what you will owe and when it will come due. Granted, you might not have a high degree of accuracy using just one month’s figures, but at least you will be able to make an educated guess about how much you will spend for the year. Go ahead- fill in the spreadsheet for the upcoming months. Dry cleaning $x each month, utilities $y each month, taxes $z in April. Now make some adjustments to try to get things to be as accurate as possible. Do you use more energy in the winter when it is cold? Add a little something to the figures you have input for utilities for the months of December, January, February. Do you go to a lot of holiday parties in December- add a little something onto your dry cleaning bill for that month. Do you have reason to believe you will be paying more taxes this year? Go through this exercise for all your categories. Now add all the monthly totals to come up with a grand total for the year. Are you surprised by what you will spend for the year? Try playing around with the spreadsheet a bit. Reduce a few numbers here and there.

Ask yourself two questions. First, do you like what you see? Second, are you being realistic? If not- go back and fix things. When the answer to both of these questions is yes, then you have effectively created a budget for your household.

Perhaps when you have heard the term budget in the past it has conjured up negative feelings. Here is why it shouldn’t. Businesses have budgets and make projections about what they will earn and what they will spend. So, if it is acceptable for businesses to make decisions based on a budget, then why shouldn’t it be acceptable for you?

3. Tracking Spending Reduces Stress.
When you don’t know how much you owe and when it comes due, it creates a great deal of stress. Creating a budget allows you to figure out exactly what you can do to make sure that your expenses don’t add up to more than your income. However, if your expenses do add up to more than what you earn, having a budget allows you to see how long your savings will last. Moreover, having this type of budget allows you to show family members how certain purchases will affect your bottom line. Consequently, purchasing decisions can be based less on impulse and more on reason.

4. Tracking Spending Helps You Make More Informed Decisions About Purchases
When you are buying that tall skim no whip mocha at Starbucks every week are you really thinking about how much money you are spending in a year. Probably not. Assume you spend $10 on coffee every week at Starbucks. There are 52 weeks in a year. $10 times 52 equals $520. Now if you get a lot of pleasure out of that coffee, you may well determine that spending $520 on coffee is worth it. But maybe you won’t.

A lot of personal finance blogs will talk about budgeting and then get into a discussion of wants and needs. The problem is- human beings truly have very few needs. Food, shelter, something to cover our bodies with. So everything can then be thought of as a want and as unnecessary. This can leads one down a slippery slope where everything that is wanted should be denied and all money should be saved.  That’s just not practical.  Like the dieter who constantly denies themselves the piece of chocolate cake and then goes on a binge eating every sweet they can find, I worry the above practice can lead to a situation where the individual, tired of always saving every dime might just go out and binge on unnecessary purchases.  That’s why I think that getting that Starbucks coffee every now and then can actually be a good thing.    

To me, the issue really is more about what do you value and what can you afford. Some people want to save as much as possible for retirement, for their kids college, for an emergency fund etc. etc. etc. and other people are happy saving just a little less so they can experience different things that life has to offer. However, we all have very different ideas of what will make us happy and content. Additionally, we all have very different financial situations. Thus, just because someone values something very much, they may still not be able to buy it. 

Nevertheless, everyone can benefit from tracking their spending and creating a budget. So why not give it a try?