Tuesday, September 17, 2013

More Cost Saving Opportunities at the Library

Some of you may know that the Friends of the Library have launched a Museum Pass program that can save you money when you want to spend some time at an area museum. The Friends have purchased memberships to five popular museums and have made them available to South Brunswick Public Library cardholders who are members of the Friends of the Library group. 

Memberships start as low as $10.00 but for that small investment, you can have access to the passes and receive all the other benefits of a Friends membership: Copies of the Library’s bi-monthly Compass newsletter, via U.S. Mail; Invitations to “Friends Only” book sales; DVD rental coupons; and Overdue fine coupons.
And if you decide to become more involved you may: Meet other friends who have an interest in organizing Library Programs and Special Events and gain satisfaction knowing that you are supporting your Library in a very special way! 

The passes that are available and the benefits they include are:

  • The Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton, NJ, good for four people that would be $12 per person without the membership card.
  • Garden State Discovery Museum in Cherry Hill, NJ for 6 people plus receive a 20% discount to the Discovery Store Gift Shop. The entrance fee is normally $10.95 plus tax per person.
  • The Guggenheim Museum in New York City, good for up to four people and half-price for others in your party, plus 10% off the restaurants and gift shops and the opportunity to skip a long entrance line. Entrance fees are normally $22.00 per person.
  • The Insectropolis in Toms River, good for two that would normally cost $7.00 per person.
  • The Zimmerli Art Museum on the Rutgers campus in New Brunswick, for 2 adults with a 10% discount at the museum store (children under 18 are free at the museum). The regular entrance fee is $6.00 per person.
On Labor Day, my husband and I used the pass to the Guggenheim. You can read more about our experience on the Library blog at: http://southbrunswicklibrary.blogspot.com/

But we got additional cost savings for this excursion by doing some advanced planning and couponing. We discovered that you can print out coupons to park in the city. If anyone has ever purchased Broadway Theater tickets, you know that you get a coupon for parking at the Hippodrome on your eticket or ticket envelope. But if you are not going to be near the Hippodrome at 6th Avenue and 63rd Street, you can find coupons for other garages online. TripAdvisor (www.tripadvisor.com) suggests to “always seek a coupon for discount parking in NYC.” The two sites they recommend are: http://www.iconparkingsystems.com and http://nyc.centralparking.com. I used QuikPark (www.quikparkgarages.com) where I could enter my dates of arrival and departure and get a site specific coupon quoting the total price I would pay including the 18% NYC tax. They have garages all over the city and the search on their site starts with entering your destination so that you can find the cheapest lot or garage in the best proximity to where you are going or staying. I know this is not the “greenest” solution, but by the time you pay for the train or bus fare for everyone in your party and subway or taxi fare from the station to your destination in the city, not to mention the possibly of having to pay for parking where you board the train or bus, this option of driving in and parking with a coupon might be more affordable tolls not withstanding. 

If the program is a success, we hope to expand the choice of museums so become a Friend today and take advantage of the Museum Pass program and a whole lot more! It is the Friends who fund the FREE and fun programming we do here at the library – your support is greatly appreciated. You can join online at http://www.sbpl.info/help-the-library/friends/join/

Friday, December 7, 2012

Season's Greetings

I'm sorry that it has been so long since this blog has been updated.  The club is still meeting on the first Thursday evening of every month at 7:00 p,m, in Program Room 1B in the South Brunswick Public Library in Monmouth Junction.  In fact, there was a very successful meeting last evening where the leaders Kathy and Jolly handed out some very informative information on December and End-of-the-Year Savings and Discounts.  They also provided some very helpful information on the tax benefits of charitable giving.

If you are interested in getting a copy of this handout, send me your email address and I will send you a copy and add your name to our mailing list, if you are not alreay on it!  Send your request to outreach@sbpl.info.

As we wrap up the year, we are hopeful that the economy will improve and we won't have to tighten our belts quite so much in 2013.  We haven't fallen off the fiscal cliff yet and hope that things won't get worse before they get better, but saving money and being generous as an extension of that frugality are good tactics no matter what shape the economy is in.

Everyone is welcome to comment on anything on this blog and if you are interested in becoming a guest blogger for the Living Rich Club on the topic of "How to live well on a tight budget," let me know.  The group's purpose is to share information about savings, discounts, financial and tax benefits, ways to de-clutter your life and improve the way that you live.  Please join us and bring your thoughts and ideas to share.

Have a wonderful Holiday Season, no matter how you celebrate, and let's all work toward a peaceful and prosperous  2013 for all.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Be Part of the Change to LIVING RICH

The South Brunswick Public Library Savings Club (formerly the De-Clutter Club) will be morphing again this fall into the LIVING RICH Club.  This has been done to expand our scope from coupons to include all kinds of ideas to live frugally but Live Rich!

The first meeting will be on Thurdsay, September 6, 2012 at 7:00 p.m.  If you have ideas to share for living the best life without breaking the bank, or if you want to know what some of these ideas are, come join this friendly group for good conversation and exchanging ideas (and coupons). 

Share your ideas here on this blog and request topics to consider at future meetings and on future posts.

The library will be expanding to include ways to share patron generated information to help the community.  This blog will be one spot where you can come and learn from your South Brunswick neighbors and beyond how to achieve your goals while living within your means.  This is part of the library's mission to provide free, open and equal access to ideas and information for all members of the community.


Saturday, April 7, 2012

Overseas Military Base Coupon Donations

I have just read the specifics from the website http://www.ocpnet.org/Base%20List/BaseList1.htm for adopting a military base to which we can send coupons.
We can select a base or bases at a future meeting, but the rules are as follows:

1) Expired coupons are OK but no more than 2 months expired.

2) Divide the coupons into "food" and "non-food" catergories.  Note: "Food" means items consumed or eaten by humans.  Pet food is non-food but vitamins are food.

3) Put the coupons in envelops or baggies - no rubber bands or paperclips

4) Add up the total of all of the coupons in the envelop or baggie and include the total on a note enclosed with the coupons or written on the envelop.

Because they want coupons no more that 2 months expired, we should send a package once a month.  I will send the ones I got this past Thursday and let you all know where I send them and how much the postage was.

Great meeting this month.  The next meeting will be in the same room, Program Room 1B, on the first Thursday in May.  The date is May 3 and the time is 7:00 p.m.  I will have someone make sure the room is set-up and the lights on.  Kathy and Jolly will run the meeting although it didn't seem to be necessary to do anything once we got to the meeting and started to share.

I will miss you all and try to come as often as I can...I hope you will all continue to come to the meetings and share your ideas for frugal living.

Friday, March 9, 2012

My Experience Reviewed

As promised, I am going to try to describe my experience the first time I tried using Internet downloaded coupons at the store. 
I chose to use the coupons at the Stop & Shop, since they are one of the stores that participates in the YourBucks Savings offers from Coupon Network.  By the way, the coupons say Super Stop & Shop, but I don’t think the store I went to in Monroe is a “Super” store – the coupons worked anyway. 

There is a nice summary on the bottom of the receipt that breaks down the savings you get and where the savings were from.  My total was $162.00 before savings and after deducting my $27.17 savings, my total was $136.35.  Not too bad, but I could have done much better with more planning.  

The savings were $15.77 (for 13 items) from using my Stop & Shop savings card and purchasing things that were advertised in the store that were on special that day.  This is something I look out for all the time in the store, so I guess I am not a true beginner.  In fact, according to the receipt, I have a year-to-date savings of $56.98.   $29.18 of that savings was from the shopping I did between January and now and the total doubled with that day’s savings, so I did see an improvement without much effort! 

$3.00 was from what they called “Personal Thanks Savings 2.”  I looked this program up on their website and was not able to determine where that particular savings came from.  The summary goes on to say that $.40 of my savings was from doubling coupons (which I did not know that Stop & Shop did) bringing the savings on my S&S card to $19.17.  The rest of the savings of $8.00 was from manufacturer’s coupons, which the receipt informs me that I used 5 total. 

When I went to their website, I found that I should register my card online by creating a Stop & Shop account.  I have had the S&S card for at least 8 years, but I have never registered it online.  I also clicked on “Stop & Shop Card Account” and “updated” my account which automatically entered me in a sweepstakes to win FREE groceries for a year. 

At the bottom of the receipt are listed the store “rewards.”  The first one is called the 5% program for which I earned 135 points from this shopping trip.  I got a coupon at the register for 5% savings off a future order, which may be from this 5% program, but that coupon also expires in two weeks.  The fine print on the coupon says that the 5% is calculated “after discounts and coupons.”   The other rewards programs listed were for Frozen Food Month and a Sandwich Program.  They added a note that the Deli Sandwich program is ending on 3/24/12 – “please redeem your coupon for free Deli Sandwich on or before” that date.  Online, I looked up for more information about these reward plans.  The Frozen Food month promotion is that you receive a 10% checkout coupon when you spend $75 on frozen foods from 2/24 through 3/22.  I couldn’t find any information about the Sandwich Program on the website.  

What is not listed on the receipt are the YourBucks offers that printed out after I was done paying.  They were printed with the purchase targeted offers that come out normally after a shopping trip.   The YourBucks savings are for savings on your next trip.  They expire fairly soon – within 2 weeks of purchase – and they are only for a deduction from your total so you would need to purchase at least that much on your next trip.  I received $2.00 from Kraft, $1.00 from General Mills and $.50 from Dole.  I just have to remember to have them with me and I have to go back to S&S within the two week period.  

The S&S website includes savings like printable coupons and a copy of the weekly circular, information about promotions (including one to support your local school and one to get discounts on Shell gasoline), meal planning and healthy living tips, and a BETA test of a shopping list program.  Each time you use this shopping list, you are entered into a contest to win one month ($600) in free groceries. 

As predicted, I am starting to get email in the account I opened for coupon gathering, but it is not all junk mail.  As Kathy says about flyers and circulars, the ones you get sent to you have additional discounts over and above what you can get in a newspaper or from the store itself.  I was happy about the meager savings I got, but I am not so sure I will be able to find the time to do the additional planning that would be required to do better.  There are a lot of offers available – I suspect that you should select one or two methods (sites) that work easily for you as you get started and then add additional steps as you have the mind to do this! 

Good luck to you all.  Keep visiting this blog for more discoveries and please, feel free to add your ideas.  I have invited you all to be contributing authors on the page so you can post your own information if you wish. 

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Observations from the Start

I will admit that I am a complete newbie to the world of living thrifty using coupons, etc.  I am about as qualified to host a Savings Club as I was to host the De-Clutter Club!  That is why I am happy to see that we have Kathy and Jolly and other members of the club that are truly practicing what they preach. 
I thought, since I am starting from the beginning, that I would share some of my observations.  On the Friday after our meeting, I tried to look at some of the websites we discussed to print out some coupons for products I will definitely use.  I found out fairly quickly that you have to register in each site, so I created a Yahoo email specifically for the purpose of gathering coupons.  Just tracking where I have registered will be the first hurdle.  I suggest always using the same user name, email and password throughout, so that you will always know how to get into any site.  And use a separate account since I can imagine that you will be getting a lot of mail!  

The first site I went to visit was www.taylortownpreview.com, which is useful to see what coupons were issued on what date and in what paper or circular, but it is really just a clearinghouse for other coupon sites, such as www.coupons.com and www.couponloop.com.  Most of the information on Taylor Town is expired or way out-of-date.  On coupons.com, you have to download a coupon printer in order to print the coupons they have to offer.  Once I downloaded the “printer,” I got a message that the coupon I was going for had expired.  This was very frustrating.  

I visited a few other sites and found that some are just blogs of information from other couponers that need to be read through or searched to get useful information, some are more about freebies, some are about larger ticket purchases and some are very complicated to get into.  I was getting a little discouraged that this was going to be harder than I thought. 

www.livingrichwithcoupons.com has a tab for beginners with useful information and, as I said in a previous blog, www.hotcouponworld.com has Couponing 101, 102 and 103 and other practical tips of the kind that Kathy shared with us in her packet of information.  This, however, takes a lot of time to read through and digest.  I thought it would be a simple task to just find a coupon and cash in on the savings. 

I surfed a little from some of the sites and found a site called www.couponnetwork.com which features the Coupon Network Advisory Board and offers a blog site called Smart Living, about what is new and trendy in the world of coupons and organizing your life.  Many of the links to information on the blog were dead links but there are taps to printable manufactures coupons and a program called YourBucks Offers that prints deals that are specific to certain stores such as Stop & Shop, Target, Kmart and Walgreens – all stores that are convenient to my home.  This site is nice in that you get a summary page of product offers (18) from which you can get more information or you can select and the coupon is added to “Your Wallet.”  These products can be sorted by category, featured brands or store.  Once you add everything you want from Coupon Network and from YourBucks Offers to your wallet, you can print all the offers consolidated 3 to a page.  I imagine this will save some printer ink.  I used this site to print about a dozen manufacture’s coupons and YourBucks offers and it was very easy. 

Tomorrow, I will tell you how things went when I went to Stop & Shop, armed with my coupons and YourBucks offers.  I will share some more observations and try to make some preliminary conclusions about my first attempt as saving money.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Sharing Forward

At the first meeting of our new club format, we had a mixed group of savers. Some were well into their quest to save money on their household budgets and some, like me, were there to learn how to get started. Using Kathy's packet of information as a jumping off point, we shared the things we have learned, asked questions and got great answers...I think even the hard core savers picked up some new resources and learned about others that were not worth wasting time on.

It is amazing how many good websites are out there that can help obtain and organize your savings. Each one has strengths over others which makes them all worthwhile to pay an occasional visit. One tip I learned about having multiple sites that you deal with is that some sites have limits on how many of a particular coupon you can print, but if it is a great deal, you may want to find the same coupon on a different site.  Some of the sites even give you a preview of what coupons are about to come out so that you can make sure they are included in the paper you buy.  Apparently the local papers are available at discount prices in the dollar stores, but they don't always include all of the circulars or the shoppers are taking multiple circulars out of the other papers on sale.  It is worth doing some research as to what coupons you can expect to find when you buy your paper.  Some of these new subscriber deals to get home delivery of a particular paper bring the price down to well below the dollar per issue you can get at the dollar store and you are pretty much assured that you will get all of the coupons.  You may have to cancel your subscription once the trial period is over and resubscribe several months later when you are again considered a "new" subscriber.

There was a good discussion about ways to get the savings without having to use paper and printer ink printing out an actual coupon. There are some stores where you can download the deal onto your shopper card and the savings will be deducted at the register. Everyone felt that this was great news and hoped that all stores will eventually go this route.

Some of the sites that were shared are: thecouponclipper.com; taylortownpreview.com, livingrichwithcoupons.com, moneysavingmom.com, fatwallet.com (we were warned that fatwallet.com has a running commentary by the users that can get a little mean from time to time), slickdeals.net, afullcup.com, couponsuzy.com and hotcouponworld.com.
There are also other kinds of sites where you can get valuable coupons for new products as long as you agree to help spread the word about the product after you try it. One of these sites mentioned was bzzagent.com where you can sign up to participate in various product categories like food or cosmetics.

The conversation about couponing always brings up a discussion about the Extreme Couponing television show on TLC. One of our members had the inside scoop on some of the contestants that seem to buy huge quantities of items that it seems that they couldn't possibly use in a lifetime and it turns out that some of these individuals turn around and sell these items at flea markets for a sizable profit.

Thanks again to Kathy, Jolly and everyone who came and shared their expertise and enthusiasm. I think we are really off and running on this new topic. We hope to see more new people at our future meetings. The more people we have, the more we will all get to know.