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By now, most of you are probably familiar with selling your gently used goods on your phone through apps. These apps help you earn extra cash by selling and promoting your used (and new) goods to customers all over the country.

Published in The Frugal Edge
Wednesday, 29 August 2012 15:31

Breaking news

 Heads up couponers! Those with a Dollar Tree nearby will be happy to know that on Sunday, Aug. 26, the retailer will begin to accept manufacturer coupons.

The Chesapeake, Virginia-based discount retailer has more than 4,500 stores in the U.S. it touts more than 300 in Florida alone and it stocks everything from beach toys and holiday decorations to toothbrushes and various food items. While the majority of its merchandise is off-brand, the discounter does sell some name-brand merchandise.

During the currently difficult economy, stores like Dollar Tree have done well by going for the lowest denominator when it comes to enticing shoppers it offers merchandise for $1 or less. And now they've added another weapon to their marketing strategy to attract more customers by accepting coupons. Other competitors such as Dollar General and Family Dollar already accept coupons and although Dollar Tree doesn't say they are competing with them, this is surely an attractive incentive to shop more at the discounter.

Published in The Frugal Edge
Wednesday, 02 May 2012 23:00

Spring into cleaning

Spring has sprung and now that it's May, the cold weather will soon be behind us. With the warm weather on the horizon, we all look forward to heading outdoors and enjoying nature. But before we can go out and play, the warmer temps will likely throw many of us into cleaning mode.

I don't want to clean. I don't like to clean. However, the last thing I want to see when the weather warms up and the windows open to sunshine is those little dust particles flying around in the sunlight. I know I can't get rid of them all, but it doesn't hurt to try and have a nice clean home to start off the summer.

Now I could write a book on cleaning and organizing, but I only have a 30-minute attention span. Instead, I'm going to condense my thoughts into a short list of tips to help you get started:

Published in The Frugal Edge
Wednesday, 18 April 2012 16:25

A pain in the (g)as pump

As gas prices rise, so does my anxiety. We are planning a trip to New Jersey this summer to visit family and based on current prices, it seems the most expensive part will be the fuel to get there. While there is speculation that gas prices will rise to $5 a gallon by summer, I'm not totally convinced since the same claim has been made albeit unsuccessfully for the past three years.

However, I could just be in denial.

But what has caused gas prices to skyrocket? One consumer myth is that gas station owners and operators are making a killing at the pumps. In reality, most operators make their profit from selling snacks, sandwiches and soft drinks inside the store rather than from fuel sales. According to the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS), a trade group representing gas station and convenience store owners, the markup on motor fuel sales averaged 18.5 cents per gallon in 2011. However, profit margins in 2011 typically were 3-5 cents per gallon, which sets the average breakeven on fuel sales after expenses at around 14 cents above the wholesale cost.

Published in The Frugal Edge
Thursday, 29 March 2012 12:39

Companies ending distribution of coupons

EDITOR'S NOTE: (This story is from The Maine Edge's annual April Fools Day edition. As such, you can safely assume that most of it - if not all of it - is totally made-up.) 

NEW YORK In a series of announcements that shocked consumers and advocates across the country, major manufacturers said this week that all were ending their distribution of coupons.

The announcements, timed minutes apart that appeared to some as having been well planned, essentially stated the companies felt the time had come to end the longstanding tradition of couponing, Citing both distribution costs and a desire to push up product margins, the consensus in the announcements by Johnson & Johnson, Proctor and Gamble and several others spelled doom for an industry that distributes over 300 million coupons a year, which last year saved consumers $4.6 billion.

And some are crying foul.

'There appears to be collusion among these companies in ending couponing, and I'm not sure if that's legal,' said William Pletnau, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney General's office. 'The fact that these announcements were so close together with no knowledge beforehand, it certainly doesn't pass the smell test for us.'

Published in The Frugal Edge
Wednesday, 21 March 2012 16:55

A candy-less Easter basket

There's little doubt that kids love holidays. From Halloween treats to the goodies on both sides of the Christmas season, kids and adults alike consume a lot of sugar from the various sweets that accompany such times of the year.

While Halloween reins supreme in candy consumption, Easter is the second most important candy-eating occasion of the year for Americans, who consumed 7 billion pounds of candy in 2011, according to the National Confectioner's Association. In fact, we spent nearly $1.9 billion on Easter candy last year, while Halloween sales were nearly $2 billion. Christmas weighed in with an estimated $1.4 billion, while Valentine's Day was just over $1 billion.

Here are some other neat Easter tidbits:

Published in The Frugal Edge
Wednesday, 14 March 2012 16:45

Spending the extra money

I read an interesting article this past week written by Dave Ramsey. A well-known author and founder of The Lampo Group and Financial Peace University, he's toured the U.S. and has been an advocate of debt-free living for years.

His piece, entitled 'Save or Splurge: 7 Items That are Worth the Extra Money,' essentially claimed that while he urges being frugal, there are certain things in life worth the extra money. Although I didn't agree with the list completely, I quickly made a mental list of those things I find worth spending extra money on after reading his article. It also got me to thinking that even when you are 'willing' to pay extra for certain things, you can still save money by watching for sales/deals and by using coupons.

Published in The Frugal Edge
Thursday, 08 March 2012 13:37

How to save money on prescriptions

I have worked in the medical field for some time and the most frequent complaint I've heard over the years is the cost of medications. And depending on whether you pay an insurance co-pay for generic medications, fill your prescriptions at Walmart or Rite Aid, or even buy a one-month supply, you could be overpaying.

Physicians try their best to help patients end unnecessary medications, and medical staff often tries to educate patients about alternative methods to get their prescriptions when costs are beyond the patients' means. On the supply side, some pharmaceutical companies will help patients who are financially unable to keep up with prescription costs, especially for unique medications that treat unique conditions.

Here are some tips on saving money on your prescriptions:

Published in The Frugal Edge
Wednesday, 29 February 2012 17:05

Extreme couponing near Bangor

If you haven't seen Extreme Couponing on TLC, it's worth checking it out at least once. These couponers are just that, EXTREME. They are able to get tons of products super cheap if not free with coupons, and often wipe out shelves by buying 50-plus items at a time, doing multiple transactions in one shopping trip, and other tactics.

Although this may seem amazing to some, it's not to those who want or even need to buy the sale items only to find them all gone. Shaw's in Bangor recently experienced this when sale items were gone by the end of the first day of the sale and found it hard to recoup products fast enough to accommodate customers. However, they have done well the past few weeks responding to both product demand and customer concerns regarding coupon limit issues. Store personnel take their coupon policy seriously and have posted couponing rules throughout the store, so as to discourage extreme couponers from wiping out shelves.

Published in The Frugal Edge
Thursday, 01 September 2011 18:52

The Frugal Edge

Back to school stresses of both kids and parents

Published in The Frugal Edge

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