Save Up to 50% on Your Grocery Bill!

Save Up to 50% on Your Grocery Bill! free pdf ebook was written by The Franklin Prosperity Report on August 22, 2011 consist of 20 page(s). The pdf file is provided by and available on pdfpedia since March 31, 2012.

the franklin prosperity report ‘a penny saved is a penny earned’ september 2011..a little, well, crazy in a hurry. now, we at the..have a confession to make right up front: i don’t...

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Save Up to 50% on Your Grocery Bill! pdf

: 977
: 5
: March 31, 2012
: The Franklin Prosperity Report
Total Page(s)
: 20
Save Up to 50% on Your Grocery Bill! - page 1
Franklin Prosperity Report ‘a penny saved is a penny earned’ September 2011 / Vol. 3, No. 9 The Does ‘Super-Couponing’ Actually Work in the Real World? We Put ‘Extreme’ Shopping Strategies to the Test Editor’s note: You may have seen television shows such as “Extreme Couponing” on TLC, and you’ve undoubtedly heard stories about people getting hundreds of dollars worth of groceries for pennies on the dollar. You don’t want to be stuck behind those people in the checkout line, but otherwise, such feats certainly seem like heady accomplishments. However, a closer look reveals the obsessive nature required for that level of couponing success. Hunting for coupons online and in print for hours every day, driving miles from store to store, hoarding products in overflowing cupboards (and basements and garages and under beds) can get a little, well, crazy in a hurry. Now, we at The Franklin Prosperity Report love saving money. It’s our raison d’être, in fact. But having heard so many of these wild-eyed grocery coupon tales, we wondered what an average person realistically could save without quitting her job and dedicating her entire existence to the search for fliers and buy-one-get-one-free promotions. So we recruited one of our top writers, Karla Dial, who is based in Colorado Springs, Colo., and issued her the following challenge: Working with couponing expert Jill Cataldo, how much could she and her husband save on their grocery bill while still having a life — and some closet space? Here’s her story, in her own words, chronicling her month of coupon clipping and smart shopping. I have a confession to make right up front: I don’t like grocery shopping. So I’ve always kept my shopping strategy fairly simple: I keep a notepad on the refrigerator and jot down what we’ll need to pick up on our next trip as things run out. Then, at the store, I try to get in and out fast, Save Up to 50% on Your Grocery Bill! INSIDE . . . 8 • Why automatic 401(k) rebalancing may be a bad idea for your long-term wealth • Get a loan from a banker you can trust • hich hotel rewards program gives you the W most benefits? • Don’t pay retail price! Negotiating tactics for clothing, mattresses, furniture and more Continued on page 2 Investing 13 • How to escape a poor-performing annuity • Hire your first employee . . . without the headaches Insurance 15 16 18 20 Small Business 11 Spending Dr. Franklin’s Mailbag Franklin Matters Ask Franklin
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Save Up to 50% on Your Grocery Bill! - page 2
Continued from page 1 which means sticking strictly to the list. Being concerned about health, I often find that I shop the perimeter, where all the fresh produce and meats can be found, while occasionally dipping into specific aisles for packaged items like canned tuna and cat food, among other necessities. The rest of the store consists of what I refer to as “the Elvis aisles” — the ones where you’d find Elvis if he were still alive, scarfing down potato chips, candy bars, and all the other highly processed, cellophane- wrapped, sugar-laden things I generally like to limit in my house. (My husband, unfortunately, loves these aisles.) All told, we don’t do much to save money when shopping, which is simply unacceptable in this economy. So I was ready for the challenge when asked to be a guinea pig for this article, and to find out whether an everyday working couple can indeed save significant money on grocery shopping. Saving Money: It’s Not Just Coupons That Matter First, taking stock of our spending habits, I found we spend an average of $174.16 per week on groceries, usually making two trips per week. It seemed like an awful lot for two adults and a cat, considering some single-income families with kids spend less than that. Enter Jill Cataldo, a super-couponing expert who writes a syndicated newspaper column that reaches 20 million people nationwide. She also teaches live workshops and runs her own blog (www.jill- Cataldo, who lives in Chicago with her husband and three kids, strikes me as pretty normal: Like me, she’s health conscious, doesn’t want to drive all over town shopping at multiple stores, and is too busy to spend 60 hours a week preparing for one shopping trip, the way some people do on television. Jill Cataldo is a couponing expert and founder of Super-Couponing workshops. Her insight and advice can be found at “Super-couponing is not your mom’s couponing,” Cataldo tells me. “It’s as much about tying your purchases to the retailers’ sales cycles as it is about using coupons.” Essentially, this involves the same tactics as making a killing on Wall Street. Except that, instead of buying low and selling high, you are buying low and saving up for Armageddon. Every item in the grocery store is on its own 12-week price cycle. By paying attention to those prices, you can figure out the cycle — or rely on websites that track those prices, such as,,,, and Once an item is 50 percent off or more, it’s time to stock up. “It’s a little bit different way of shopping because you’re shopping ahead of your needs,” Cataldo says. “You never really run out of anything, and you’re never forced to buy anything at the worst time.” 2 September 2011
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More Savvy Shopping Strategies Surprisingly, Cataldo avoids bulk stores and “everyday-low-price” stores — the reason being that both tend to price items near the midpoint, thus never having those 12-week sales cycles. The same goes for house brands at any grocery store. Cataldo shops only one grocery store and one pharmacy, once a week, usually loading her cart with national brands. In addition to matching a sale with a coupon, super-couponing can involve stacking a store coupon (sometimes found in aisle dispensers near the prod- uct) with a manufacturer’s coupon (often in newspaper fliers and sometimes on the product itself in the form of a peel-off sticker) whenever possible. This doesn’t just discount the price — it sometimes results in overages in which you get money back. Cataldo also recommends paying attention to “Catalina” promotions — the coupons that are printed out at the store register with your receipt (aka the things I’ve been throwing away all these years). Those can save money on a future trip. In addition, some stores (such as Walgreens and CVS phar- macies), will print out register receipts that are cash-back award coupons, to be used on anything in the store. After talking to Cataldo, I realized there are more sources for coupons than I imagined. In addition to those Sunday newspaper inserts, I can get deals by registering my loyalty card at the King Soopers website, (King Soopers is my local grocery chain, owned by national retailer Kroger.) This allows me to view a list of e-coupons and click on the ones I want to add to my card; some third-party sites do the same. The discounts are taken when I swipe it at the register. Several dedicated websites offer printable coupons. My first act of enlightened shopping was to register on Cataldo’s blog. Because I have been getting my news online for the past several years, my next step was to subscribe to The Denver Post — Cataldo says the larg- est newspaper serving an area often has more coupons and higher per-item savings than smaller ones. I clicked through several coupon-offering sites Cataldo has listed on her blog:,,, and I registered my King Soopers card on and loaded several poten- tial coupons on to it. My next stop was the King Soopers website to look up the coupon policy. Bad news: I can use either a manufacturer or store coupon on an item, but I can’t stack them. I also can’t combine digital coupons with paper coupons. Digital coupons will not be doubled. These policies are a setback, but I remind myself that’s why we’re doing this experi- September 2011 Subscriber Exclusive For access to past editions, visit Check your e-mail inbox for this month’s password. (Remember to use lowercase letters.) 3
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ment — to find out where the potential pitfalls are for us real folks who want to save money. Eight Steps to Savings Bliss The sidebar that begins below, “Karla’s Grocery Shopping Diary,” chronicles a month’s worth of shopping. After reading it, you’ll learn a couple of things about saving on groceries: • One, saving significantly will take trial and error, and perhaps as much as three months of practice, before you’re making a good dent in your spending. • Two, achieving the show-stopping savings of those featured on “Extreme Couponing” is next to impossible without approaching it as a full-time job. But that doesn’t mean you can’t benefit greatly from using their strategies, minus a generous portion of the “extreme.” Success is going to take some patience and the right tools — certain websites, stores that allow you to stack coupons, and possibly a degree in computer science. However, take heart in the knowledge that your odds of saving big improve the longer you do it, and the larger your collection of newspaper inserts. As a recap, we’ve distilled everything learned over the course of this experiment into eight actionable tips: 1) Before you visit the store, visit the World Wide Web. Start by register- ing at Cataldo’s blog, It’s free and it’ll connect you to a number of other resources you’ll want to get familiar with, including Karla’s Grocery Shopping Diary May 8: My husband and I formulate a shopping list, load digital coupons on to our card, and head to King Soopers. One of my coupons is for frozen vegetables, and after a lengthy search, I find some green beans and broccoli fitting the coupon parameters. We end up with 52 items in our cart, spending $129.06 and saving $17.95 with coupons — 14 percent. Clearly, we have a long way to go in our quest to get to 50 percent or better. May 15: I check and the weekly ads on the King Soopers site for digital coupons. At the store, I buy 60 items for $152.06, using $6.50 in manufacturer and $22.85 in digital coupons to get $29.35 off my total — 16 percent of my purchase. Better than last week but nowhere near the 50 percent goal. I register on for $5 a week. The 30-minute tutorial tells me what I suspected: It will take a few months to build up to 50 to 70 percent savings on my grocery bill because it will take that long to build up my pantry. But once I do, I’ll be buying only steeply discounted items at the store and shopping from my own pantry the rest of the time. I should give myself 12 weeks to get a feel for price cycles. May 22: I peruse to learn how it works. It indexes sales at several stores, including Kroger, which owns King Soopers. 4 September 2011
Save Up to 50% on Your Grocery Bill! - page 5,,, and, among many others. Bookmark all these sites in a folder under your “Favorites” so they’re easy to revisit each time you’re preparing to shop. 2) Subscribe to the local newspaper. Make sure it’s the largest paper serv- ing your area because it should include the most coupons. You also may be able to determine which day of the week contains the most fliers and coupons and just buy the paper individually that day each week; it’s up to you. (You’ll also want to buy an accordion file folder, such as those available at OfficeMax or Staples, so you can save and sort coupons and fliers by date.) By the way, in the hunt for coupons, “extreme” couponers have been known to raid dumpsters and recycling bins for extras, but we obviously don’t recom- mend such behavior. After all, no amount of “$1 off detergent” coupons can wash away your loss of dignity! 3) Create a master list of essential foods and toiletries you use in your home. This is what you’ll use to assemble your grocery list and also help you focus on the products you need to watch as you learn their 12-week sales cycles. 4) If your local grocery store and pharmacy offer a club card or rewards card, be sure you sign up. If you’re already using these cards, you may just be swiping them when you check out, but be aware that there are more savings you may be missing. Indeed, many cards now offer coupons that you “load” on to the card, but you must visit the store’s website to do so. Just follow the prompts to scroll through the offers; usually it just involves a click and you’ve automati- Clicking on “Kroger” takes me to a list of sale items ranked by percentage discounted. I can build a shopping list here, with a counter on the left side of the page that keeps a running account of how much I will spend and save. The “Available Coupons” tab takes me to a list of places to find them — digital, printable, or the date of the newspaper insert. I try it, only to find that some of my e-coupons are good only in Ohio and others are found in newspaper inserts that predate my collection. Four hours later, I still haven’t eaten breakfast and am nowhere near ready to go shopping. I print my list from the site and force my poor husband to find the relevant coupons in the inserts we have, crossing off all the items we don’t have any for. Then I print out all the e-coupons I can, registering at the relevant websites as I go, each of which offers to email me coupons in the future. Great, but this is turning into an all-day project. I remind myself that getting started is the hardest part but that this will all pay off later. I remind my husband, too, for good measure; he’s getting as cranky as I am. Because I can’t find any deals for food items I actually need, I am left with a list of personal- care items. So we head to Walgreens and use our coupons on its Register Rewards products. Do we need all this stuff? Not at the moment — but this is what super-couponers do, isn’t it? Buy low and stock up for later. We spend $52.57 on shampoo, conditioner, split-end treatment serum, body wash, shaving gear, foot stuff, eye drops, and bar soaps. We save $24.36 — 68 percent of our total — and get $14 worth of Continued on page 6 September 2011 5
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cally downloaded a digital coupon to your account, which will be activated at the store when you swipe your card at the register. 5) Stay away from bulk-buy stores such as Costco and Sam’s Club, and also avoid the house brands at any grocer. Occasional shoppers can indeed save money at all those locations and with house brands when compared when full- price branded goods elsewhere. If you aren’t interested in a more dedicated approach to saving money on groceries, then by all means, shop Costco, Sams and pick up house brands. But if you really want to take your savings to another level, you need to take advantage of the sale cycles at traditional grocers, where name-brand items go on sale well below their “midpoint” costs. Those sales generally don’t occur with house brands, and such deep discounts are not the norm at “everyday-low-price” retailers, either. In other words, if you plan ahead and time your shopping right, you can get brand-name products at prices lower than you’d find at the typical bulk store or via a house brand option. 6) Remember that your house is not a warehouse. One of the tactics of extreme couponers is to buy items in bulk — and not just a few extra but hundreds in some cases. Simply put, that’s just ridiculous, especially considering that so many things you may buy have expiration dates. Instead, set a limit. Some saner couponers swear by the “rule of three,” meaning that you never have more than three of any one item on hand. For a deal, you may need to stretch that limit sometimes, but for the most part, it’s a solid guideline to avoid unnecessary excess. 7) Limit how much time you spend planning your trips to the stores and hunting for coupons. There’s a fine line between frugality and obsession, Continued from page 5 cash-like Register Rewards to use on our next purchase before June 5. I feel like I’ve been hit by a truck, but there’s still no food in the house. I walk my husband through the basics of loading coupons on to his loyalty card and send him off to buy whatever he wants. He returns an hour later, bearing frozen pizzas, energy drinks, and ice-cream bars. Someone’s made full use of the Elvis aisles today! But he’s saved $32.20 — 35 percent of his $90.79 trip. The knowledge that we didn’t pay full price consoles me slightly. May 27: I register at and watch the five-minute tutorial. The deals are color-coded — green items are free, blue items are 50 percent off or more, and everything else is in white (so buy it only if necessary). I need only rice cakes, but I don’t see a deal for them here. I click through the sale items and make a short list of things to stock up on. Some are actually food! According to my tracker box, if all goes as planned, I will spend $37.76 on the 27 items I’ve selected and save $71.44, or 65 percent. I click the tab that allows me to gather my coupons — some of which are available right on the site — but get an error message. I’ll have to figure this out later. In the meantime, I hit Walgreens with my 14 Register Rewards bucks in my wallet. I find no rice cakes but plenty of the sugary products my husband likes. My story is due in a few days and I feel pressure to prove this can be done — 50 percent or better . . . this time with food! So I prowl the aisles searching for discounted 6 September 2011
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and you don’t want to cross over from the former to the latter. Cataldo suggests not spending more than one or two hours per week maximum, and preferably less, on planning and coupon hunting. 8) Pure monetary savings shouldn’t be your only driving goal when you shop. In the world of coupons, it’s much easier to find savings on cook- ies, crackers, candy, and other processed food than it is to find savings on healthy items such as fruit and vegetables. In the long run, you’re much better off putting your health first, and savings second, when building your grocery list. The Take-Home Message Despite reaching my 50-percent-off savings goal only twice (and winding up with a little too much junk food in the process), the monthlong experiment in “super-couponing” wasn’t bad at all. In April, my husband and I shopped eight times, paying a total of $696.65 for an average of $87.08 per trip. In May, we shopped 12 times (more mainly because of this article), paying a total of $804.92 for an average of $67.08 per trip. Admittedly, the weekly average we were spending was $201.23 per week in May, putting the bill higher than it was in April, but that’s misleading. If I stick with these new shopping tips, my weekly average will certainly drop month to month, as the products we’ve stocked up on during sales come into play, knocking things off future shopping lists that we would have ended up paying full price for. In the final analysis, then, shopping smarter and using coupons can be a fruitful — and sometimes even exhilarating — experience. Just don’t let the chase for cheaper consumables consume you. snacks, nutrition be damned: energy drinks, trail mix, chocolate-covered toffees, licorice, and cheese. I end up with $9.62 in store discounts added to my $14 in Register Rewards, spending a grand total of $4.55 on $27.80 worth of products — saving 84 percent. Yes, 84 percent! So this is what super-couponing feels like. I feel 10 feet tall and bulletproof. May 29: With my growing newspaper insert collection organized by date in my new case file-folder system (one of Cataldo’s tips), I log back on to to search for deals on the things I’m out of (egg whites, tuna, peanut butter, avocados, and the still- missing rice cakes). I see only one coupon — for a jar of no-stir peanut butter I’d bet is full of hydrogenated oils. I turn my attention to fixing whatever computer glitch prevented me from getting my e-coupons from the site two days ago. This takes half an hour. Once done, I’m able to see a list of printable coupons . . . but not the ones I want. A scene from “Extreme Couponing” pops into my head: One of the shoppers saying that anyone who claims to spend less than 10 hours a week prepping for a shopping trip is lying. I believe her. With the prep done, it’s time to hit the stores. At Walgreens, we spend $126.95 on personal- care products, junk food, and three cans of tuna, saving $35.78 (22 percent) and earning another $15 in Register Rewards bucks for future use. At King Soopers, we spend $106.38 on real food, saving 15 percent with coupons. We then visit Whole Foods to grind our own peanut butter and buy recycled toilet paper, spending $33.65 and saving no money — but lots of trees and wildlife. September 2011 7
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Investing The Pitfalls of Automatic Portfolio Rebalancing If you participate in a 401(k) or other retirement account, you may have been given the option to have your portfolio “automatically rebalanced” for you at set junctures, such as quarterly or yearly. The idea behind rebalancing is to minimize investing risk by reverting the balance of stocks and bonds to percentages you initially set, based on your time horizon to retirement (generally heavier on stocks when you are younger, more bonds as you age). For instance, if your portfolio holds 50 percent stocks and 50 percent bonds, your stock-to-bond ratio may have shifted to 60 percent stocks and 40 percent bonds during years when the stock market is rising and equity values appreci- ate. Traditional rebalancing basically forces you to take the profits you made from equities and use them to buy more bonds, thus achieving that initial 50-50 ratio. The question is: Should you agree to have your portfolio rebalanced automatically? Matthew Tuttle, a regular contributor to The Franklin Prosperity Report, is the founder and CEO of Tuttle Wealth Management in Stamford, Conn. Absolutely not, says Matthew Tuttle, CFP, MBA, CEO of Tuttle Wealth Management in Stamford, Conn. “Automatic portfolio rebalancing is stupid,” Tuttle says. “The idea that you’d rebalance a portfolio based on a calendar date to me is kind of crazy.” The correct way to rebalance is to understand the underlying market dynam- ics and act accordingly. “The key to safety is staying in harmony with the major market trends,” Tuttle says. “So, if you see that those trends are favoring small caps over large caps, you overweight small caps; if stocks are doing better than bonds, you overweight stocks. To me, age has very little to do with it.” Nor does Tuttle like the method of portfolio rebalancing that calls for investors to increase the portfolio percentage of bonds as they move closer to retirement. “Conventional wisdom says that, as investors get close to 65, they should have most of their portfolios in bonds,” Tuttle says. “That pretty much guarantees that, at age 80, you’re going to be working at Walmart, because life expectancy is increasing. I’m going to my grandmother’s 96th birthday party next month.” Shifting almost everything to bonds as you age is risky because rising interest rates will bring capital losses and because bonds don’t keep pace with inflation, Tuttle says. 8 September 2011
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To be fair, not all financial advisers are completely anti-auto-rebalance. Whether you should allow automatic portfolio rebalancing depends on the kind of investor you are, says John Graziano, CPA, PFS, CFP, president of Graziano & Co. in Bayonne, N.J. “Hands-on investors who either actively monitor their portfolios or use a financial professional should not be automatically rebalancing,” Graziano says. John Graziano is president of Graziano & Co., an accounting firm based in Bayonne, N.J. He can be reached through his site, However, allowing automatic rebalancing can keep hands-off investors out of trouble. “The really negative part of being hands off is that the ratings of the funds and sub-account they chose for their portfolios may not be as good as they were when the investments were purchased,” Graziano points out. Even if you’re a hands-on type, you might want to ask a financial profes- sional to monitor your investments along with you. Graziano says his firm monitors portfolios with its hands-on investors free of charge. “It’s part of the service we provide,” he says. Need a Loan? It May Pay to Be Your Own Bank Borrowing from your 401(k) retirement plan used to be considered taboo, left only for a worst-case financial scenario — and even then frowned upon because of the potentially deleterious effect on your long-term gains. Darrell Canby, CPA, CFP, is a shareholder at Canby Financial Advisors in Massachusetts. He has over 35 years of experience as a tax professional. However, difficult economic conditions and today’s low 401(k) loan rates make borrowing from these retirement accounts a more appealing practice, or at least an option to consider when in need of a cash influx. In fact, a new study by researchers at the University of Michigan says a 401(k) loan can make you richer, provided that you use the loan proceeds to reduce or eliminate high-interest debt. Current 401(k) loan charges are the prime rate plus 1 percent — and the loans can last up to five years (or 15 years if used to buy a home), accord- ing to the Profit Sharing/401k Council of America. If the prime rate is 3.25 percent, you’re looking at a 4.25 percent interest rate; compare that with the 14.88 percent average annual percentage rate nationally, and you can see quickly why a 401(k) loan is an enticing option. Oh, and the best part? Instead of that interest going to the bank, it goes right back to you, deposited into your 401(k) account. “If you’re borrowing from your 401(k), you’re not technically pulling money out permanently, so you don’t have to pay tax on it,” says Darrell Canby, CPA, CFP, shareholder at Canby Financial Advisors LLC. “You’re going to repay the loan, and the interest you pay is to yourself.” September 2011 9
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“Reducing high-interest debt means less cash outflow and is certainly cheaper than paying the high interest on something like credit-card debt,” Canby says. “For many people, borrowing from their 401(k) plans and using the money wisely may be a smart financial move.” Of course, there are drawbacks that must be taken into serious consider- ation before you self-fund your own loan. First, realize that at a portion of future 401(k) contributions made via automatic payroll deductions go toward paying down the loan, which slows your investment account growth. In addition, should you lose or otherwise leave your job and fail to repay your 401(k) loan within 90 days of your final day on the clock, you’ll be on the hook to pay federal income tax on the amount you borrowed, plus a 10 percent penalty if you’re younger than 59½. In that scenario, that loan quickly morphs from a cheap option to a very expensive one. Canby also points out that only through hindsight can you calculate what you missed in retirement savings growth by temporarily removing some money from your account. For example, if you take two years to repay a $20,000 loan from your 401(k) and you were invested in the S&P 500 Index, which appreciated for each of those years, your opportunity loss would be what the appreciation would have been on that $20,000 over that two years, compared with the money you saved by using a low-interest loan to repay a high-interest one. Opportunity loss always depends on what the market might have done, and every would-be 401(k) borrower lives in a different financial situation. “If you have $100,000 in your 401(k) and borrow $20,000 to reduce high- interest debt, that’s one thing,” Canby says. “But if you have $20,000 and you borrow the whole thing to do that, it’s quite another. You have to look at the total package.” Also of note, depending on your employer, there may be limitations on what you can obtain a loan for (usually education expenses, medical expenses, or to avoid foreclosure or buy a first home). With all of that in mind, if you’re currently facing down a perilous moun- tain of debt and are committed to a multi-pronged plan of eliminating it, the option of taking out a 401(k) loan — once almost universally frowned upon in personal finance circles — actually could be a very helpful part of the solution. Ben’s Good Cents “Who is wise? He that learns from everyone. Who is powerful? He that governs his passions. Who is rich? He that is content. Who is that? Nobody. 10 September 2011
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