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Archive for August, 2007

401K and other thoughts...

August 31st, 2007 at 09:43 am

It's the end of August! Only 4 months left in the calendar.... Where did my time go???

Anyway, I increased contribution % of my 401K. It's back to 20%. I may adjust it again if $$ becomes too tight, but I want to see how I can do it first. Like they say, "Pay yourself first." Plus, I hate paying tax.

I have to say, American tax payers are so generous, I cannot believe how nice people are. I thought Japan was bad, but it was nothing compared to U.S. tax! I'm also amazed how nice American people are about their medical system, too. There's no national health care system??? Unbelievable.... And, look how many people have debt due to medical issues. I have never heard of such a thing before I came to the States, and I couldn't understand why people have "debt" due to medical cost.

OK, there are people who struggle financially due to illness in Japan, too. But, it's not because of medical cost, it's because they cannot work. Normally, there's a cap what people have to pay for the medical expense. I used to pay 10% of the cost, which came about $5 or so per visit. There's no such a thing as "network", so I could go and see any doctor I wanted as long as they have time for me. Also, free or inexpensive health check up is provided by local health offices administered by the Ministry of Health. They make an announcement like, "Stomach cancer screening on Sep. 1 & 2, between 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at ABC health office" in the local paper.

If you work for a corporation, they provide annual medical exam. Seriously. The group of doctors and nurses came to our office cafeteria once a year, set up a medical office there, checked our height, weight, did eye exam, hearing exam, X-ray, and one on one consultation with a doctor. Needless to say, it's all free, and all done during working hour because it's considered as a duty of the company to provide good care for their employees. I took it for granted because it was my norm, but now I know it is not the case in some countries.

Luckily, both my husband and I work for rather large companies now, and they provide good benefits. But, of course, we cannot work forever. I hope we won't have any serious health issues....

Apple Hill

August 30th, 2007 at 08:50 pm

We received a free local newspaper today, and I found a guidebook for Apple Hill.

Yes, it's the Apple Hill season!!

There are many orchard along with hwy 50 (freeway between Sacramento and Lake Tahoe) and they have yummy pies, jellies, juice, etc.

I always visit one orchard that makes awesome jalapeño jelly. I got many compliments when I served deep fried cream cheese wan ton with the jelly at the party. (It is so easy to make, almost ridiculously easy.)

I bought three jars and they didn't last very long because they're soooo yummy and we couldn't stop eating them LOL. They're kind of expensive, $6 a jar, but I cannot find the same quality or taste anywhere else.

I was waiting for this season to come, so I can buy those yummy jalapeño jelly!

Slow day - both work and spending

August 29th, 2007 at 10:11 pm

It was rather slow day at work because it's almost month end and I just sit and watch everyone to finish their month-end activities. I'm busy in the beginning of the month when I have to close the numbers for previous month.

I thought about going to Longs and Walgreens, but decided not to. I wanted to have at least one no spending day this week, and I thought today would be a good one.

I bought a book of stamps on the way home, though. $8.20 and used two stamps to mail my rebate envelops..

Came home and cooked dinner. Salmon with lemon butter, penne as a side dish, and green salad. Cheesecake and strawberry for desert. It was yummy.

Tomorrow will be my spending day. I need to pay my third installment of my tuition, and need to buy some milk. I will go ahead and buy rebate items at Walgreens and Longs tomorrow.






Veges and fruits

August 29th, 2007 at 09:01 am

I went to Safeway and bought some fruits and vegetables before sale ends. (Our sale cycle is Wed - Tue.)

I bought:
Green grapes 4.66 lb. $3.68 (.79 per lb)
Head lettuce $1
Nectarines 1.74 lb $1.74
Jumbo artichoke $1.50
Strawberries 1lb $1.50
Total $9.42

79 cents per lb. for grapes is the lowest I found around here so far. According to my receipt, the regular price is $2.99 per lb.

I haven't been to Walgreen or Longs this week. I have shopping lists and coupons for these stores, but I just don't have any motivation to shop this week. Maybe tomorrow. I need to get rebate books for these stores anyway.

Stockmarket is down again

August 28th, 2007 at 03:29 pm

And I'm looking for some good stocks to buy.

I have a couple of K to play with. First, I was thinking about having the $$ in some type of CD, but since stock market is going down these days, I thought it's a good chance to buy something.

There's one stock I have my eyes on, and it was down about $1 today. Needless to say, I was excited about the price coming down! LOL (That means my 401k balance is down, too, but I don't care at this point. I just won't look!)

Back to school night

August 28th, 2007 at 08:32 am

I went to my DD's back to school night last night. It started from 6:30 p.m. and ended 8:30 p.m. Looong day for me, but it's ok. It's nice to see her teachers and learn what they're planning to teach this year. Also, I didn't go to a high school in U.S., so it's really interesting for me to experience different type of education system.

This year, DD has 8 classes. English, Spanish, Pre-Calc, Chemistry, AP World History, Symphony band, Leadership, and Health/Driver's ed. She's sophomore in high school and she told me this year sucks for electives because she can only choose two. Health/Driver's ed is mandatory, that leaves only two electives and she chose the symphony band and leadership class which she cannot live without. It means she doesn't have P.E. this year. She will take it in her senior year but she doesn't like the idea because she'd rather take some type of AP class. (Yes, she's a nerd.) I should have her talk to the school counselor and see if some type of sports activity will substitute P.E.

btw, I found this article. Some of you may have read it already, but I thought it was pretty good.

http://finance.yahoo.com/banking-budgeting/article/103404/20-Timeless-Money-Rules?mod=oneclick



Mailing out rebates

August 27th, 2007 at 12:08 pm

I filled out the rebate forms for Longs Drug and Walgreen's. I need to make a copy and mail them out today. I am also mailing my second Kellogg rebate.

The value of rebate is rather small in August because there weren't many good deals. It seems September is much better.

Making a shopping list

August 26th, 2007 at 05:38 pm

Today's Sunday. It's coupon day and new weekly ads day for drug stores. I love Sundays : )

I went through all three Drug Stores' ads for this week as usual. It seems like a good week!

Walgreens has much better rebate items than last month. Pantene Pro-V hair care, Remmel foundation, Aquafresh toothbrush, Clear care contact solution, and Zantac. Well, I won't use Zantac for sure, but it's a good deal for people who use it. I'm happy about the contact solution. I need some soon.

Tomato sauces are finally on sale. 4 for $1, and I have 40 cents off coupon. Make them 15 cents a can.

By the way, if you use Zantac, you can get three for free. It's offered as a free after rebate item at Walgreen, Longs Drug, and Rite Aid. Too bad, I don't need it. (I should be glad, though...)

Longs Drug has Efferdent as a free after rebate item. I need it for my DD's retainer. They also have Nestle fun size candies for 2 for $5. I have a couple of $1 off coupons for Nestle candies. Time to start stocking up candies for Halloween.

Rite Aid is just OK. Maybe I will buy some notebooks, because Mead 1 subject notebooks are "6 for 96 cents."

Party

August 25th, 2007 at 03:15 pm

I went to the part with my friends last night. One of our friends is in mortgage business and he threw a party to get his name out.

The theme was 70's and some people looked like they're at a Halloween party. (I'm sure they can reuse their outfits in October.)

I can hardly drink, but my friends drink like fish.... Sometimes I have to remind them there are people in this world who CANNOT drink more than one glass of wine.

Grocery shopping night

August 23rd, 2007 at 01:00 pm

I went out with my friends last night for B.D. outing for one of my good friends. After I came home about 9 p.m., I realized we were out of milk. That means DH will have a temper tantrum. (Yes, DH. I don't have a son.)

So, off to Safeway. Actually, it is nice to go grocery shopping at night because the store is pretty empty.

In short, I paid $71 for grocery that should last for about 10 days....could be more.

For example, I bought three thick pieces of rib eye steak (my DH is the steak and mash potato man), about 5 lb. of chicken thigh, 3 lb. of ground beef, a rack of baby back rib, two case of bottled water, two gallons of milk, 4 bottles of Cattlemen BBQ sauce, 2 boxes of Cheez It, lettuce, cucumber, green pepper, grapes, tomatoes, etc...... My receipt says Club Card savings $53.18, Coupon savings $4.60, Total savings value 46% $60.78.

And I get 10 cents off per gallon at the Safeway gas station which is cool.




Kellogg Rebate No. 2

August 23rd, 2007 at 07:54 am

I'm doing the Kelloggs rebate no. 2.

I bought:

2 Frosted flakes that had the "Buy 2 get 1 free" peelie coupon on the box. $2.50 x 2 = $5
2 Toasted honey crunch $2.38 x 2 = $4.76 - $1/2 coupon = $3.76
Kellogs Speical K cereal $3.98 x 2 Free from coupons
4 Yogos fruits snack $7 - $2 (using two $1 off coupons) = $5

Total paid $13.76
Less rebate $10

Final price $3.76

Losers....

August 22nd, 2007 at 01:37 pm

Sometimes people I work with wear me out.

I'm really tired of hearing,

"It's not my job."
"I didn't do it."
"I don't have time."

I feel like I'm doing their work, making corrections of mistakes they made, when I don't really have time to do all that!!

Sorry, I had to vent somewhere.

Kellogg's another rebate

August 21st, 2007 at 03:40 pm

Kellogg published another $10 rebate form last Sunday. I almost ignored it because I already sent my rebate in for the previous one.

Well, this one has the different period and PO number. This means another rebate!!

I know there's Buy 2 get 1 free peelies on Kellogg's boxes these days, and I still have a couple of $1/2 coupons. So, it will make the deal sweeter. More cheap cereals!

Where did the $$ go???

August 21st, 2007 at 10:58 am

I noticed that our cash flow is really tight in August. I realized it's because August is the "Back to school" month.

We spent quite a bit on DD's clothes and shoes. I just wrote a check for her school bus pass. Her marching band fee of $160 is due soon also. Oh, she wants to buy a yearbook, that's another $60 something....

I also had some expenses for my school. Tuition installment, parking permit, and textbooks.

I hope September won't be as bad as August Frown

$1.06 shoes

August 20th, 2007 at 08:09 pm

I was organizing coupons last Saturday and found $10 off from $10 purchase mailer coupon from JC Penny that expires 8/18 (Last Saturday.) I was glad I organized my coupons that day.

Fortunately, or unfortunately, I live five minutes from the mall. I went to JC Penny, thinking about getting a free T-shirt or something.

Well, I found a pair of silver strappy sandals.
The original price was $45, and it was 50% off, down to $23.01. Then, there’s an additional discount of $11. The sign said “You pay $10.99!” Well, I paid 99 cents plus tax, after using the coupon. Paid $1.06. Even my cashier said “Wow! It’s a great deal!”

ALL laundry detergent

August 20th, 2007 at 09:15 am

I did the Uniliver deal at Longs last week.

ALL laundry detergent Price $6.99 BOGO
Bought six bottles.
$6.99 x 3 = $20.97
Coupons $1 x 3 (I only had three coupons for ALL Mighty kind)
Coupons $0.5 x 2
$20.97 - $4 (coupons) -$10 (rebate) = $6.97

I could knock off $1 more because I found one more ALL mighty coupon AFTER I went shopping.... Oh well.

$1.16 per bottle. Not great, but o.k.


MOMA

August 20th, 2007 at 08:59 am

My advice is to implement "Strategic Purchasing" for your personal purchases.

My three effective tools for strategic purchasing.

1. Store flyers
2. Coupons
3. Rebate books from drug stores

This is my weekly routine.

Sunday: Buy a newspaper and read drug store weekly ads and see if there's any "free after rebate" items. After checking free stuff, then look for other items I can get dirt cheap with coupons.

Tuesday: The sale cycle for grocery stores around here starts on Wednesday and they distribute store ads on Tuesday. I go through three store ads that are around my house (Safeway, Bel Air, and Save Mart) and look for $1 items and BOGO items that I can match with coupons. Also, they announce deals in their ads (like movie deals, etc.), so I keep my eyes on these.

As many of you know, people who don't care about saving money often laugh at coupon clippers like me. But, in my opinion, I'm only buying things strategically, utilizing large corporations' marketing strategy.

OK, I will talk about some marketing stuff, so stop reading if you get bored with these "academic" BS Wink

In marketing, there are "Pull Strategy" and "Push Strategy."

Pull strategy is that manufactures "pull" customers into the store and have them look for the product. For example, companies often give out high value coupons to consumers. (like, "Try me free" type of coupons.) Consumers bring the coupon to the store, and they will ask a store clerk where the product is. This is the "Pull strategy."

"Push strategy" is that manufactures "push" stores to sell their products aggressively. They provide programs like "Buy 10 items from XYZ brand and get $10 free coupon for next purchase." type of deal. This is the "Push Strategy."

Well, we, the very smart consumers, take advantage of both ends and get these products at the bottom price, often "free."

I've been clipping coupons and using rebates for only a couple of years, but it saved me so much money.