Doing Something Good For Someone Else

Breast Cancer Site logo

As the new year gets underway, gone are all the bell-ringers, pleas for donations and reminders to give so you can take a tax-deduction.  But the need for food and services still goes on.  Recently, there was a Facebook meme going around that encouraged women to post their bra color in their status as a ‘silent’ way to keep breast cancer awareness in forefront.  It was fun and the comments often funnier.  I was glad I wasn’t the only one wearing a boring bra, but I was inspired by those who had on something truly different.

My friend ‘L’ posted on her FB today that we should actually do something for breast cancer awareness and included a link to The Breast Cancer Site.  It got me thinking about the bookmarks I have for the various giving sites and how I click on them daily without really thinking about what each click means.  I’m so focused on my life and thinking I should be doing more, not realizing or giving myself credit for actually taking a positive step toward doing something good for someone outside my family.  ‘L’ reminded me that a simple action of clicking a mouse can really make a difference on a daily basis.

I admit that I’ve worn ‘the yellow bracelet’ and CycleGuy wears his every day — we have 60 or more in the storage cabinet in the garage.  Yes, we supported LiveStrong and each day we show that.  It was cool and fashionable, but the main thing was that we gave and it shows we are part of a something bigger than us.  But we don’t always need that external display letting others know we support a cause.  But I digress, so back to clicking at a website and doing something good.

Without even going anywhere we can all do something good for someone else each and every day.  Often the psychological boost we get from being socially conscious is enough to get us out of that slump of having to face another day filled with laundry, work, traffic, grocery shopping and making dinner.  You don’t have to be a social activist nor do you have to commit large sums of money to make a difference.

Everyday can be a ‘Make a Difference Day’ simply by clicking your mouse.  Here are some easy ways to Do Something Good for Someone Else:

The Breast Cancer Site

The Hunger Site

The Animal Rescue Site

The Rainforest Site

The Literacy Site

The Child Health Site

Bookmark these sites and click daily.  Encourage your friends and family to do the same.  In only a few seconds you can make the difference in the life of a total stranger.  How good does that feel?  I think it feels pretty great!

Feel free to post a comment and share your thoughts on how you feel when you can do something good for someone else or tell me what you do to help others.

Why Is Saving So Difficult?

Blue Piggy Bank

When I was growing up, if you wanted something you had to save for it.  Sure, I’m dating myself back to the 80’s with my big hair and new wave music.  But, the reality is that credit cards were not ubiquitous and most people didn’t buy things on credit.  If you wanted to fly and see grandma you had to have the money when you bought your plane ticket.  Going out to dinner meant you better have cash in your wallet or a check that wouldn’t bounce come Monday.

About the only place you would get credit was at the local furniture store or a loan at the bank.  I remember going in with my mom looking for a new couch.  I was 7 or 8 at the time.  I also remember going in there every week and dropping off money to pay for our cool new couch that doubled as a trampoline when Mom wasn’t around.  There was always this urgency each week to go pay Mr. Daw at the furniture store.

It seems that there was no such thing as instant gratification.  Or maybe the definition of ‘instant’ has changed.  We now live in a 24/7, text-message, twitter, cell phone, all news-all the time kind of world.  We can’t even wait for water to boil in a kettle any more, thanks to the microwave.  Forget voice mail, that’s so 1980s.  We have two-way paging and texting and instant messaging.  People answer their phone when they are in the bathroom — is it really that important that it can’t wait a few minutes?

As a kid, I just had to wait.  Even now, as a parent, I’m trying to instill in my daughter that we can’t always have everything right now.  So when did it change?  When do we go from it being OK to wait to needing it right now?

Ah, yes, College!  All you needed was a student ID and they’d give you a credit card.  Job?  Uh, no!  Paycheck?  What’s that?  But the credit card companies were out in full force handing out free credit cards and T-shirts.  Who doesn’t need a free T-shirt?

But not everyone goes to college, so they’re great savers, right?  Not always.  Maybe they joined the military or got a job right out of high school.  Our soldiers are told they need to establish their financial history so credit card companies hand over the plastic as easily as saying ‘Yes, sir!.’  Soldier = job security, so why not.  New job at 18 means you qualify to get a credit card.

What no one ever really taught any of us newly minted credit card holders was what it meant to have a credit card and what responsibilities we had.  Of course you had to pay the bill when it came in, but they were so nice to let us pay in easy low monthly payments.  I’m establishing my credit history, right?  Wrong.  Debt, here I come!  Instant gratification is my BFF!

No one ever taught us about the value (and virtue of saving).  It’s not an intuitive process.  Our brains are not programmed to desire saving.  We want instant gratification.  We’re born that way.  Ask any child if they want one M&M now or a bag of M&Ms next week, what do you think they’ll tell you.  Yep!  One M&M now please (they use their manners because you taught them!).  But, a whole  bag of M&Ms next week is so much more.  Not to our brain.  Our brain wants it NOW.  And we’ve all seen the child having a fit because they can’t get what they want RIGHT NOW.  No matter how much mom and/or dad cajole the child or bribe with some sort of delayed gratification mechanism, the child wants what he wants and he wants it NOW!

So, we’re born not wanting to save.  That doesn’t mean that’s how it should be.  Saving is important.  We’ve all hear the saying about saving for a rainy day.  Most of us know that it’s sunny right now and that’s all that matters.

Add to this that saving is a drag.  Saving takes effort and work  Clipping coupons, watching sales, rebates, where to buy gas — that’s a lot to keep in our brains.  Yes, there are places we can get help and guidance (like right here at Saving for Someday).  But that takes time away from doing something cool and fun and buying stuff and hanging out with our friends.

Inflation and the job market and the ‘Great Recession’ have all contributed to the belief that saving is difficult.  They have also contributed to the reality of saving being difficult.  Prices have gone up faster than salary.  Our money just doesn’t go as far as it used to go.  Which is an even more compelling reason to look for ways to save.

Every year manufacturers and retailers spend billions (yes, with a B) of dollars on consumer promotions.  They’re trying to drive people in to the stores to buy more stuff.  Still, less than 5% of all coupons and promotions are redeemed.  It may seem like the whole world is using coupons and holding up the line at the grocery store.  But, truth be told, it’s only a small fraction of shoppers who are dedicated couponers.  It takes time and scouring ads and websites and clipping coupons just isn’t as fun as, say, playing Wii, going to the movies or out to dinner.  It’s not quick and easy, so we don’t want to do it.

The great thing is that we can change this mindset of needing immediate gratification and thinking saving is a drag.  By setting SMART saving goals, savings can become easy and natural.  Here is how you do it:

Set a SPECIFIC goal

Make it MEASURABLE

Make it something you can actually ATTAIN

Your goal should be REALISTIC

And it needs to be TIMELY, give yourself a target to work toward.

Saving goals are often HUGE and overwhelming.  It’s great to have lofty goals like owning your house outright or paying for your child to go to college.  They seem so large and out of reach, though, that after a short period of time we just give up.  Don’t give up!  Just set smaller goals so that when you reach them you’ve trained yourself to see saving as something rewarding.

We need to retrain the brain to believe that saving isn’t so difficult.  We need to impress upon ourselves that saving brings instant gratification.  We’re all Saving for Someday.  We just need to start now by defining what that ‘Someday’ or however many ‘Somedays’ you have really is.

We no longer live in caves and hunt/gather.  Food and shelter is not that scarce.  We don’t have to worry about not eating for weeks if we can’t find an animal to kill.  We are living in 2010.  We have evolved!  And now is the time for our feeling about saving to evolve.

Save Today for Freedom Tomorrow!

I’d love to know what you think.  Please share your thoughts and/or comments.

Kraft Catalina Deal at Albertson’s and Fry’s (Kroger)

Stock up for Super  Bowl!

Buy 5 Kraft cheese & dairy products between 1/1/10 & 1/24/10.

Buy 5 or more & get a $5 coupon off a future shopping order!  Pair this with some high value coupons for an even better deal.

All items must be purchased in one shopping order. If you are buying more than 5 items, break it into multiple transactions to maximize this program.  Limited  to product in stock. No cash back.  Offer expires 1/24/2010

Choose from the following cheese items (6 oz or larger only unless otherwise specified):

Kraft Singles
Kraft Parmesan Cheese
Kraft Natural cheese (chunks, shredded, crumbles(5oz), sticks and cubes)
Kraft String-ums cheese
Kraft Cracker Cuts Cheese
Kraft Deli Deluxe Cheese Slices
Philadelphia ready-to-eat Cheesecake filling
Philadelphia Cream Cheese
Velveeta Cheese product
Cracker Barrel Cheese
Cheese Whiz process cheese
Breakstone’s Sour Cream
Breakstone’s Cottage Cheese
Knudsen Sour Cream
Knudsen Cottage Cheese

Sara

Fry’s Food & Drug 1/6 – 1/12

This week has some great deals at Fry’s.  Fry’s doubles coupons every day.  Coupons will double up to $1.00, meaning anything over $0.50 will be taken to $1.00 and anything $0.50 and under will be doubled.

Here are some of the best deals I found.

The following Skippy deal is amazing if you’re a peanut butter loving family.  If you do not have any coupons, you can check on eBay or CouponDeDe.

Skippy Peanut Butter 15 – 16.3 oz — $1.49 each
$0.50/1 coupon in 11/15 RP (this coupon will be doubled!)
Total = $0.49 each

Clementines (3lb bag) — $1.99 (First 4)

Mangos — $0.50 ea

Chicken – Drumsticks, Thighs, Leg Quarters (Kroger Value brand) — $0.67/lb (First 4)

Chicken – Fryers, whole (Tyson) — $0.67/lb (First 4)

Pork Picnic Roast (sold whole in bag)  — $0.99/lb

T-bone Steaks — $4.77/lb (First 2)

Ritz Crackers 7.5 – 16oz  — $2.50 ea

Snyders Pretzels — $2.00 ea
$1/1 coupon in 12/6 SS
Total = $1 each

Gorton’s Grilled Fish Fillets 6.3 – 11.4 oz — $2.99 ea
$0.50/1 coupon in 1/3 SS
Total = $1.99 ea

For more deals and to generate a shopping list, go HERE.

Free TurboTax Business with eFile

TurboTax is offering a FREE download of TurboTax Business (a $109.95 value) with eFile included.  This is for C-corp, S-corp, partnerships and multi-member LLCs only.  State download is additional.

This is one of the best tax-filing software programs on the market.  I’ve used it in the past and found it easy to use.  The FREE version does not include the year over year transfer feature, but if you are willing to pull out your prior year return, or if this is your first time using TurboTax Business then this is a fantastic deal!

Save More with the Home Depot Newletter

Recently it has felt like spring in some parts of the country.  But, it’s not too early to start getting ready no matter where you live.  The Home Depot has a new Savings Newsletter that you can sign up for. You will get a preview of the local ad plus exclusive coupons and savings!  You might want to set up a separate email just for these types of deals.

Each month, the newsletters contain special subscriber-only coupons or promotions and can add to your savings.

Click Here to Sign up for the Home Depot Savings Newsletter!

Sara

Free Photo Calendar courtesy of Shutterfly and Target

Target and Shutterfly have teamed up to offer a completely free Photo Calendar this week.

1. Log in to Shutterfly and click on “My Account” at the very top right. Or sign-up for a new account and get 50 free prints.

2. Scroll to the bottom of the page for the “Enter Special Offer Code” link. Click on that link.

3. In the next window, enter the coupon code FREECALENDAR into your account.

4. If you click on “My Special Offers” you will see the details. The expiration date is January 17, 2010.

5. Just pay shipping (about $4.99) when you order your free 16″x20″ Calendar Poster.

Setting Goals for 2010

Goal setting is a powerful process for thinking about what you want in your ideal future.  It is also used for motivating yourself to make this vision of the future a reality for you.

The process of setting goals helps you choose where you want to go in life.  By knowing precisely what you want to achieve, you know where you have to concentrate your efforts.  You’ll also quickly spot the things that can distract you and take you off course.

A great acronym for setting your goals is SMART.

S = Specific
M = Measurable
A = Attainable
R = Realistic
T = Timely

Specific

Goals should be straightforward and emphasize what you want to happen. Specifics help us to focus our efforts and clearly define what we are going to do. Specific is the What, Why, and How of the SMART model.

WHAT are you going to do? Use action words such as direct, organize, coordinate, lead, develop, plan, build etc.
WHY is this important to do at this time? What do you want to ultimately accomplish?
HOW are you going to do it? (By…)

Ensure the goals you set is very specific, clear and easy. Instead of setting a goal to lose weight or be healthier, set a specific goal to lose 10 pounds or to walk 5 miles at an aerobically challenging pace.

Measurable

If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it. In the broadest sense, the whole goal statement is a measure for the project; if the goal is accomplished, the is a success. However, there are usually several short-term or small measurements that can be built into the goal.

Choose a goal with measurable progress, so you can see the change occur. How will you see when you reach your goal? Be specific! “I want to read 3 chapter books of 100 pages on my own before my birthday” shows the specific target to be measure. “I want to be a good reader” is not as measurable.

Establish concrete criteria for measuring progress toward the attainment of each goal you set. When you measure your progress, you stay on track, reach your target dates, and experience the exhilaration of achievement that spurs you on to continued effort required to reach your goals.

Attainable

When you identify goals that are most important to you, you begin to figure out ways you can make them come true. You develop that attitudes, abilities, skills, and financial capacity to reach them. Your begin seeing previously overlooked opportunities to bring yourself closer to the achievement of your goals.

Goals you set which are too far out of your reach, you probably won’t commit to doing. Although you may start with the best of intentions, the knowledge that it’s too much for you means your subconscious will keep reminding you of this fact and will stop you from even giving it your best.

A goal needs to stretch you slightly so you feel you can do it and it will need a real commitment from you. For instance, if you aim to lose 20lbs in one week, we all know that isn’t achievable. But setting a goal to loose 1lb and when you’ve achieved that, aiming to lose a further 1lb, will keep it achievable for you.

The feeling of success which this brings helps you to remain motivated.

Realistic

This is not a synonym for “easy.”  Realistic, in this case, means “do-able.”   It means that the learning curve is not a vertical slope; that the skills needed to do the work are available; that the project fits with the overall strategy and goals of the organization.  A realistic project may push the skills and knowledge of the people working on it but it shouldn’t break them.

Devise a plan or a way of getting there which makes the goal realistic. The goal needs to be realistic for you and where you are at the moment. A goal of never again eating sweets, cakes, crisps and chocolate may not be realistic for someone who really enjoys these foods.

For instance, it may be more realistic to set a goal of eating a piece of fruit each day instead of one sweet item. You can then choose to work towards reducing the amount of sweet products gradually as and when this feels realistic for you.

Be sure to set goals that you can attain with some effort! Too difficult and you set the stage for failure, but too low sends the message that you aren’t very capable. Set the bar high enough for a satisfying achievement!

Timely

Set a timeframe for the goal: for next week, in three months, beginning of summer. Putting an end point on your goal gives you a clear target to work toward.

If you don’t set a time, the commitment is too vague. It tends not to happen because you feel you can start at any time. Without a time limit, there’s no urgency to start taking action now.

Time must be measurable, attainable and realistic.

Everyone will benefit from goals and objectives if they are SMART.   SMART, is the instrument to apply in setting your goals and objectives.

[Thank you Goal Setting Guide]