The Savvy Guide to Coupons

by Stacy Francis, CFP®, CDFA

Think coupons spell cheap and cheesy? So did I, until a couple of weeks ago the woman in front of me in line at the grocery store used a whopping sixteen of them, saving over thirty dollars. This, with hardly any effort! I just had to ask for her best coupon shopping advice.

If you have yet to try this way of saving, or if you’d like to get more out of your clippings, read on!

  1. The Internet is not just for shopping and email – it’s for saving as well. Check out sites such as hotcoupons.com, valupage.com, and coolsavings.com.
  2. Your Sunday paper, too, can be a wonderful resource. Allocate a compartment in your purse or wallet to this purpose, clip, and save!
  3. Many stores have fliers with coupons at the entrance. If this is true for yours, don’t miss out on this golden opportunity. You can combine these savings with the ones already in your purse. I now check the flyer at Whole Foods every time we shop. We save a minimum of $10 on every grocery visit.
  4. If you can’t find coupons for the brand you like, try giving the company a call. Many companies are happy to send valued customer coupons – you just have to ask.

I am taking the first, staggering steps toward becoming a coupon customer, using them mainly for restaurants and travel. What about you?

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Stacy Francis, CFP®, CDFA

Stacy Francis is the Founder, CEO and President of Francis Financial, Inc., a Wealth Management and Financial Planning firm. With over 18 years of experience in the financial industry, she is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ (CFP®), a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst™ (CDFA™), and a Certified Estate Planning Specialist (CES™). She is the Co-Director of the Association of Divorce Financial Planners’ (ADFP) Greater New York Metro Chapter and a member of the Women Presidents’ Organization (WPO) and an honoree member of the Private Risk Management Association (PRMA). A nationally recognized financial expert, Stacy has appeared on ABC News, CNBC, CNN, PBS Nightly Business Report, The Today Show, Good Morning America, Fine Living Network, and The O’Reilly Factor. Stacy attended the New York University Center for Finance, Law and Taxation.

Great Ways to Shop More and Spend Less

by Stacy Francis, CFP®, CDFA

My husband and I went shopping this weekend, to stock up on fall clothes for our son and us. Considering how bad of a recession news sources like to tell us we’re in, we expected to find oodles of blowout sales and bargains.

We didn’t. Even though it was a Saturday, the mall was as deserted as classrooms in July. But the prices . . . let’s just say I haven’t paid retail for clothing for a long time. These days, obviously I’m not the only one keeping tabs on my spending. For those of you dying to shop even with a thinner budget, below are some ideas.

1. Outlets. Spread across the country, these are to bargain hunters what Paris is for gourmets. Vendors ranging from Forever 21 to Gucci and Dior set up shop in outlets these days.

2. Online. Apart from the obvious bargains to be made on eBay (watch out for copies), sites such as Bluefly.com can be true goldmines. Many brand stores let you buy their stuff from their websites as well – a great resource if you are seeking, for instance, a rare size.

3. Sales. Though obviously not as frequent as I thought, sales do happen. When they do, it is not unusual to come across discounts of more than 70%.

4. Vintage. Far from the last resort for poor men that they used to be, vintage stores are turning into fun and hip options for the label lover on a budget.

5. Coupons. No longer only in the Penny Saver, coupons for luxury items can be found on sites such as billiondollarbabes.com. Many times, you can find the coupons you need by visiting the website of the store for which you are headed.

Being financially savvy does not mean losing your style or having a boring time. By using ideas like the ones above, you can stretch your budget and shop more for less.

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Stacy Francis, CFP®, CDFA

Stacy Francis is the Founder, CEO and President of Francis Financial, Inc., a Wealth Management and Financial Planning firm. With over 18 years of experience in the financial industry, she is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ (CFP®), a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst™ (CDFA™), and a Certified Estate Planning Specialist (CES™). She is the Co-Director of the Association of Divorce Financial Planners’ (ADFP) Greater New York Metro Chapter and a member of the Women Presidents’ Organization (WPO) and an honoree member of the Private Risk Management Association (PRMA). A nationally recognized financial expert, Stacy has appeared on ABC News, CNBC, CNN, PBS Nightly Business Report, The Today Show, Good Morning America, Fine Living Network, and The O’Reilly Factor. Stacy attended the New York University Center for Finance, Law and Taxation.

Shopping Triggers and How to Curb Them: Depression

by Stacy Francis, CFP®, CDFA

At a seminar today, a woman desperate to take control over her finances confessed that her worst shopping trigger was depression. Whether she was feeling lonely, overworked, fat, poor, or just blue in general, the only way she could cheer herself up was through shopping. While this may sound ludicrous to some, her problem is far from uncommon.

When everything else goes wrong, we reason, can I at least have a Dior lipstick? And for many of us, shopping does create a buzz not all that different from a glass of wine or a divine bar of chocolate. We do feel better, as owners of that gorgeous lipstick that makes us look so special. But just as with any short term high, the problem is, when the warm fuzzy feeling disappears we are worse off than we were before. Because the next time we are feeling lonely/overworked/far/poor/blue, we need to add to the equation that we are also in debt.

In a way, shopping to cure depression can be compared to drinking to cure depression. Sure, our chances for liver failure are significantly smaller, but credit card debt can be a major hassle – and make you feel a whole lot worse. There are other ways to cheer up and lose those gloomy feelings: exercise, spending time with friends, meditation, choosing better foods, etc., etc. – and these are things that will help you in the long term as well. Next time, opt for one of those.

Check out all the articles of our Shopping Triggers series.

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Stacy Francis, CFP®, CDFA

Stacy Francis is the Founder, CEO and President of Francis Financial, Inc., a Wealth Management and Financial Planning firm. With over 18 years of experience in the financial industry, she is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ (CFP®), a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst™ (CDFA™), and a Certified Estate Planning Specialist (CES™). She is the Co-Director of the Association of Divorce Financial Planners’ (ADFP) Greater New York Metro Chapter and a member of the Women Presidents’ Organization (WPO) and an honoree member of the Private Risk Management Association (PRMA). A nationally recognized financial expert, Stacy has appeared on ABC News, CNBC, CNN, PBS Nightly Business Report, The Today Show, Good Morning America, Fine Living Network, and The O’Reilly Factor. Stacy attended the New York University Center for Finance, Law and Taxation.

Shopping Triggers and How to Curb Them: Hobby Shopping

by Stacy Francis, CFP®, CDFA

A friend called me up last night. “We are getting the old gang together,” she said, “for some shopping.” Would I care to join them?

This last shopping trigger (for now, anyway) is also one of the most common, and one of the most encouraged by all sorts of media, from mainstream movies and TV shows to books – not to mention magazines. The explanations for why so many women list shopping as one of their favorite hobbies vary. Some say it is in our DNA – that women have always been gatherers and shopping is the modern version. Others say we are trying to attract men by looking good, and yet others say c’mon – shopping is fun!

Whatever the reason, this hobby can have a devastating effect on your finances, both in the long and the short term. Because not only do we hit up shopping malls even when we may not need anything – when we shop together, we encourage each other to spend more. Because how could you possibly resist buying a pair of designer jeans when four of your best friends are staring admiringly at you, telling you your derriere has never looked better? It is even worse if you go shopping with friends who have more money than you do, or ones that tend to overspend.

I am not trying to be the party pooper (ok I will be honest that I am probably the only woman on the face of the planet that does not like shopping), or tell you that you shouldn’t meet your peeps at the mall. But take a look at your finances first, use cash only, create a budget for yourself, and stick to it.

If your friends truly care about you, they will respect this and you will have a lovely day without getting in over your head.

Check out the other articles in our series on Shopping Triggers.

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Stacy Francis, CFP®, CDFA

Stacy Francis is the Founder, CEO and President of Francis Financial, Inc., a Wealth Management and Financial Planning firm. With over 18 years of experience in the financial industry, she is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ (CFP®), a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst™ (CDFA™), and a Certified Estate Planning Specialist (CES™). She is the Co-Director of the Association of Divorce Financial Planners’ (ADFP) Greater New York Metro Chapter and a member of the Women Presidents’ Organization (WPO) and an honoree member of the Private Risk Management Association (PRMA). A nationally recognized financial expert, Stacy has appeared on ABC News, CNBC, CNN, PBS Nightly Business Report, The Today Show, Good Morning America, Fine Living Network, and The O’Reilly Factor. Stacy attended the New York University Center for Finance, Law and Taxation.

Shopping Triggers and How to Curb Them: Plastic Instead of Paper

by Stacy Francis, CFP®, CDFA

Yesterday, a dear friend invited me to a pre-sale event in a major department store. There would be free champagne, she told me, excellent service, fun music, wonderful people and above all – of course – some killer outfits, just off the catwalk. Now, the thing is, this has been quite an expensive month for me, with vacation times along with some unforeseen expenses. So I told her that unfortunately, I’d have to pass because of money.

“Why,” she asked, “don’t you just charge it?” I nearly gulped out loud! Doesn’t she remember that I am a financial planner? That is like telling a dietician to start living only on a diet of McDonalds!

This leads us to our next shopping trigger: those wonderful, glistening, magic little cards that are sometimes able to bring us so much pleasure. Because, we reason, why would we pass up fabulous deals and pay more for the things we want later, when we can just seal the deal by charging them, and then pay them off when we do have the money?

The answer goes a little deeper than the obvious one of the financing charges that make most personal finance experts recommend that we double the sum of each purchase we charge but do not intend to pay off the same month, to get an idea of the actual cost. It is also this very behavior-- to seal the deal fast by putting up the plastic -- that gets so many of us in debt, severely damaging our financial futures. Instead, think about how much better of a deal it is to pay cash when you actually have the money, and stay clear of the murky depths of credit card debt.

Check out the other articles in our series on Shopping Triggers.

Comment

Stacy Francis, CFP®, CDFA

Stacy Francis is the Founder, CEO and President of Francis Financial, Inc., a Wealth Management and Financial Planning firm. With over 18 years of experience in the financial industry, she is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ (CFP®), a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst™ (CDFA™), and a Certified Estate Planning Specialist (CES™). She is the Co-Director of the Association of Divorce Financial Planners’ (ADFP) Greater New York Metro Chapter and a member of the Women Presidents’ Organization (WPO) and an honoree member of the Private Risk Management Association (PRMA). A nationally recognized financial expert, Stacy has appeared on ABC News, CNBC, CNN, PBS Nightly Business Report, The Today Show, Good Morning America, Fine Living Network, and The O’Reilly Factor. Stacy attended the New York University Center for Finance, Law and Taxation.