Monday, May 13, 2013

Couponing for the Rest of Us


I wanted to take some time to review this book which offers a very good introduction to the world of couponing. 

Some background information on me so you know the perspective that I am coming from....I have been a couponer since 2006.  I ran a blog in Nashville which highlighted the deals for Publix (a grocery chain based out of Florida that has stores in FL, GA, AL, SC, NC and TN).  I taught coupon classes in Nashville from 2007-2010. 

I really enjoyed reading Kasey's book.  She gives a very thorough and well-written overview of couponing.  Her writing style is excellent and I actually thought that book was easy to read and very comprehensive but not too overwhelming.  Perfect for the person that is trying to learn about couponing.  I also thought that the book provided a nice personal perspective on her own journey with couponing.  She is an affable writer and is probably someone that I would enjoy spending time with so you will also enjoy purchasing her book and spending time with her.

If you are interested in learning how to coupon and the subject matter is overwhelming to you then I highly recommend purchasing her book.  You can read it a chapter a night and the information is very useful.  It will teach you why you should use coupons, how to gather coupons, how to organize coupons, and how to organize your shops.

In general I loved the book but I disagree with Kasey in a few areas. 

1.  She utilizes some scriptures throughout the book and I found these distracting as they didn't fit the context of what she was writing about.  I am a bible-believing Christian and was actually put off by her use of the scriptures as they were taken out of context and inserted carelessly at times. I'm sure she means well, however, careful consideration should always be given when inserting God's word.  A proper hermeneutic is essential when dealing with scripture. 

2.  She tries to set standards for couponers regarding how many coupons they should take at the store and whether or not they should take peelies off of products.  I believe that these are personal conscience issues and they shouldn't be dictated by her opinion.  I also found her information to be inaccurate regarding peelies.  IRC's (Instant Rebate Coupons) are put on the products by the manufacturers (not the store managers) and the manufacturers could care less if you peel them before you buy the product (yes, even if they have language that says that they are to be used after purchasing the product).  I researched this issue and spoke with many manufacturers and they informed me that they are to be used just like regular coupons.  My neighbor used to be one of the people that put "peelies" on products for a living.  The author may have an ethical issue personally with peeling the stickers off the product but it is not "wrong" to do so.  I believe that coupon ethics are not black and white and everyone should do what their conscience dictates and that will be different for each person.

3. I found alot of the information in her book to be more useful for the markets where there are Publix stores as several of her examples are for these specific stores (i.e. the Buy 1, Get 1 deals and the doubling of coupons).  Some stores do have Buy 1, Get 1 deals but they are not as prolific as the deals at Publix.  I have lived in several different states and you can get the most for your money if you shop at Publix when they double store coupons.  The other states that I have lived in (CA and TX) are vast wastelands for couponers and it is much more difficult to save large amounts although you can still save some money.  These states, for example, generally do not allow for doubling of coupons at most of their stores and the Buy 1, Get 1 deals are fewer and far between.

4.  The store coupons that Publix puts out in their fliers are actually coupons that they have negotiated with the manufacturers.  Publix is not losing money on these coupons.  They are essentially manufacturer coupons (even though they say "store coupons" on them).  You can still use them in conjunction with a manufacturer coupon.  I just wanted to make it clear that the store is not taking a "loss" on the product when you use these coupons.  The manufacturer's work with Publix to put out these coupons for all kinds of reasons.  Sometimes the manufacturer really wants their product to move off the shelf (i.e. grocery stores set limits for that manufacturer's product and if the manufacturer doesn't meet that limit then their product can get pulled and the store will put another product in it's place) and sometimes they just want to be the market leader in their particular category.  Sometimes they are just changing their packaging and they practically give their products away to get them off the shelves.

Still, even with the above, I thought that this was an excellent introduction.  In fact, I thought that it was one of the best introduction books that I have ever read.  It is very well-organized that is important when covering a topic like couponing.  Good job Kasey!

Available May 2013 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

5 Days to a Clutter-Free House

The authors....two very experienced women.  I love that the people that wrote the book have been working professionally as organizers.  They are very positive and helpful.

Let me start off by saying that this book is very well written.  I read books constantly and the spelling, grammar and punctuation in most of the books that I read is horrendous.  This book was a welcome breath of fresh air because it was easy to read and actually enjoyable to read.  The writers are organizers and you can tell that they are good at their jobs from the way that they organized their book.  Their advice is clear and concise and simple to follow.

They have a quick and effective plan for helping you to get your house clear of clutter.  It is a good plan.  A solid plan really.  The most difficult part of the plan.....assembling a team of people to help you to clean up the clutter in 5 days.  This might be a reasonable plan depending on what stage of life you are in or depending on the kind of community that you live in.  For example, when I lived in a small town in Nashville I probably could have found 5 friends to come over and help me clean up my clutter.  I live in Dallas now and everyone here is busy so unless you have some kind of incentive to dangle in front of your friends this might be difficult to plan.  You can always pay for help, however, that isn't feasible for many people. 

Still, the plan is solid and would greatly help someone that has loads of clutter in their house.  I have a mild amount of clutter in my home (mostly due to getting rid of stuff during each of my 4 moves over the last two years).  I probably enjoyed the chapters in the second section of the book more as they focused on managing yourself, your house, your family and your time.  The writers give several examples throughout the book to help you to get a "move on" and get "organized."  I found their tips to be imminently useful (which is why I am giving the book 4 stars instead of 3).   I am already an organized person but I really learned alot about my motivation for keeping my home tidy.  They gave me new reasons to stay on top of the clutter in my home. 

I think if you approach the book with the attitude, "I'm going to learn a few new things," then you will be happy with your results.  Organization can be overwhelming for many.  Taking things one step at a time will help to lighten the load if your home is disorganized.  I have small children and I just think that this stage of life is a busy and messy one.  I don't want to spend all of my time keeping my house tidy while I have small children underfoot.  I know that it would be impossible for me (a very organized person) to keep my house tidy at all times.  I know that my children will suffer from my absence.  So, read the book and learn a few new things and enjoy a more organized home.

**Available February 2013 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.**

Monday, January 21, 2013

"Cheaper, Better, Faster" by Mary Hunt

When I first received this book I wasn't sure what to expect.  I've thumbed through several "tips" books and have found them to be less than helpful.  I was thoroughly expecting to be frustrated by this book.  I didn't think that the book was going to be that useful.  I have always had a difficult time sifting through the tips offered in these kinds of books as either the organization of the material is not useful or the information itself is mundane.  Imagine my surprise when I found myself actually learning a few things while going through Mary Hunt's book.  I even found myself enjoying her book.  I am definitely glad that I own a copy of it.  This is a great book to keep for some light reading.  It is definitely not something that I would just sit down and read from cover to cover.  I would keep a copy in the bathroom and thumb through a few pages at a time.  I promise that you will learn some things that you didn't know.  Here are some of the helpful tips that I learned while perusing it's pages over the last month:

ROAST - faster with the bone
A roast with the bone in will cook faster than a boneless roast.  The bone carries the heat to the inside of the roast, so it cooks more quickly. 

MAKEUP - blush color
to find the right shade of blush, check the color of your skin after exercising and try to match that color.  Blush should add a healthy glow, not introduce a foreign color.

Friday is the most expensive day to check into the hospital.  Hospital labs usually close for the weekend, and you may waste 2 1/2 days and a lot of money just waiting for the labs to open on Monday.  If you must be admitted for surgery, insist that you go in the day of the surgery.  An early admittance will run up your bill and is usually for the convenience of the staff, not the patient.

REMEDIES - bee sting pain
To soothe bee stings, immediately wet the spot and cover with salt.

HICCUPS - getting rid of them
Eating a teaspoon of sugar gets rid of hiccups in a flash.

SHOWER DOORS - soap scum
Apply a dab of ordinary cooking oil to a damp sponge and use it to remove soap scum from your shower doors.  Rinse the doors well. Cooking oil will also prevent soap scum buildup.

BUGS AND SUCH - fruit flies
Set out a small dish of vinegar that contains a few drops of detergent to repel fruit flies.

GARAGE SALE - coffee
People will stay longer and be in a better mood if you serve coffee, and -who knows- you might even sell the coffeepot.

The above is just a sampling of the tidbits that I found useful.  You will most likely find other tips useful.  I was really surprised by how helpful this book really was.  I will certainly keep it around as a reference as it was pretty easy to navigate.  The book is divided into chapters and within those chapters the book is divided alphabetically by topic.  An index would have been helpful, however, it might have taken up too much space because of the number of tips and the variety of topics.

So, my summation.  I think it is worth it to actually purchase this book.  I found the tips to be worth the price of the book.  I give the book a solid 3.5 stars out of 5.

Available January 2013 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.