lindysbargainlife

A self-described cheap skate shares tips on financial frugality.

Voting for laughs

Right before the election, I, like many other responsible adults, urged every registered voter to get out and do their duty. It appears that many people thought we meant doodie because according to various news outlets, there were a lot more write-ins this presidential election cycle than in previous years.

Despite the complexity of how various states handle write-in candidates (some don’t allow any, some require the write-in candidate be registered and some have a hybrid of those rules), about one percent of voters in states that allow write-ins chose to exercise that option.

O.K., if you were really holding out hope for Jill Stein or Gary Johnson, I suppose I understand that. But Kanye West, Homer Simpson, Hennessy? Many people even voted for pets.

I guess that’s a sign of rebellion or maybe just laughing to keep from crying, but I worry too much about my future and that of those love to waste something so precious.

It’s too late for do-overs, so maybe in the next four years let’s pray that many of those jokesters have grown up.

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An online experience soured a brick-and-mortar relationship

For the past decade, I was probably the most ardent Kohl’s shopper there was. I loved the prices, the merchandise and never had a big problem with customer service. I can’t put my finge…

Source: An online experience soured a brick-and-mortar relationship

An online experience soured a brick-and-mortar relationship

For the past decade, I was probably the most ardent Kohl’s shopper there was. I loved the prices, the merchandise and never had a big problem with customer service. I can’t put my finger on what specifically happened or when it happened, but the store started to lose it shine for me.

I bought a new house a few years ago and looked to my favorite store for a lot of redecorating. I picked a specific design for the kids’ rooms, their bathroom, the master bedroom including an en suite bathroom and new linens for the kitchen and guest bath.

I had transitioned to more of an online shopper by then and set out to order almost everything on the website. Me being my cheapskate self, I looked for discounted items that would work within my design plan.

Unlike some other sites, it Kohl’s didn’t indicate how many of each item are left. I spent hundreds on towels, bedding, bathroom accessories, rugs, etc. I eagerly awaited the arrival of my purchases.

Things trickled in slowly and one box had the completely wrong stuff. I ordered bathroom rugs, waste baskets, soap dispensers, towels, etc. from a specific collection, but since my shower is glass enclosed, didn’t order a shower curtain and since a huge picture window over the tub had obscure glass, it didn’t need a curtain. The box contained two shower curtains, two window curtains, no waste baskets, no towels and one soap dispenser was broken.

A customer service rep told me over the phone that I could take the items back to any store. O.K. But what about getting the things I did order. Turned out there were no more online, but I could try the stores. So she gave me a list of stores in metro Atlanta — at the time there were probably about 20 — and the phone numbers. I was supposed to call around looking for them items.

It took hours and most of the stores were so busy that most had nobody available to check to see if my items were on the floor. They all suggested I come in. So I went to three stores and found half the things I needed. I was so tired and so disgusted with the experience that I started resenting my decision and hating my new house.

I complained to an online number, but they seemed indifferent to my plight and asked me what I expected them to do. I really didn’t know. So a few years later, many Kohl’s across the country are shutting down — namely the two closest to where I live.

I had stopped frequenting Kohl’s as often after my unsatisfactory experience. Did others experience similar frustrations or was Kohl’s fate just a sign of the retail times. I certainly can’t answer that. But, I still do a lot of shopping online, but like many people, I also do a lot in person. If I have issues with one aspect of a company, it will certainly affect everything else.

 

The power of the vote

This isn’t a political column, so I’m not endorsing one candidate over another. I am, however, urging everyone to vote. I know, I know, that’s the message everyone is shouting rig…

Source: The power of the vote

The power of the vote

This isn’t a political column, so I’m not endorsing one candidate over another. I am, however, urging everyone to vote. I know, I know, that’s the message everyone is shouting right now. So why haven’t you voted yet?

— My vote doesn’t really count.

Come on, now. You’re smarter than that. Just like a blizzard is made up of millions of snowflakes, the winner of any political race is made up of hundreds if not hundreds of thousands of votes. Don’t be the dummy who’s always got the most to say, but actually does the least.

— It doesn’t really make a difference. They are all the same.

This election has probably brought out two presidential candidates who more opposite than any other in history. And while it’s true that nobody rules alone. The president, senator, governor or mayor that you vote for does a lot to shape policy.

— I don’t have the time.

The news is full of people single parents, disabled folks and those with transportation issues and multiple jobs who are finding the time to cast their ballot. My son, who turns 18 on Monday, voted for the first time. Since he wasn’t actually 18 yet, he had to fill out a provisional paper ballot. It took three or four times longer, but we suffered through.

If you really don’t want to vote, nobody can make you do it. But just like the lottery, you don’t win if you don’t play.caz-vote

Don’t call it a comeback!

Welcome back to Lindy’s Bargain Life. Yes, it’s been a minute since I regaled you with my bit of wisdom and wit, but it’s not because I haven’t had anything to say. Like just about every adult in America, I’ve been trying to make it.

If you’re asking what is it, then this column really isn’t for you. As the song I used to sing in the church choir goes, I’ve been up, down and level to the ground. And I’m sure it’s the same for most of you.

But I’ve come to the realization that things don’t get better by wishing and hoping. If you want to improve your situation, you’ve got to get your rear in gear. And that’s what I’m doing now. I’m growing my own brand. And although I have a full-time job, growing kids, a husband, a house, other needy family members, friends whom I love dearly, volunteer work and occasionally wanting a little sleep, I’ve made a commitment to put myself out there.

I’ve read plenty of blogs and columns and while many are good, I’m not sure they have much more to offer than I do. So look for my take on things twice a week. And I won’t just be on this blog. Follow me in Twitter, Snapchat, Facebook and Instagram. If  people half my age can do it, I’m willing to give it a go.

 Always

Be

Coin-conscious!

Lindy

Lindy’s Bargain Life: Have you filed your tax return?

bargain tax

I may not be the queen of procrastinators, but I’m somewhere in the royal court.

I’ve been married for almost 18 years and I’ve yet to arrange the wedding photos in their album. The box has moved from West Virginia to South Carolina to two different cities and four houses in Georgia.

So I know a thing or two about putting off things that are difficult or time-consuming.

However, I’m pretty good about filing my taxes early.

My birthday is Tuesday and my goal every year is to have my taxes filed before the big day.

So, the husband and I pulled out our return from last year to give us an idea of what we’d need this go round.

And to my amazement this year there was a minimum of cursing and crying. Dare I say the experience was almost enjoyable?

The difference this year is that tax preparation software has gotten a lot easier to deal with.

I know a lot of people who use Turbo Tax, some use Tax Act, but for the past five or six years, we’ve been using H&R Block and have never had a single problem.

Sure, like all the others it tries to upsell us to consultants and extra packages as well as a way to get our refund quicker. But we stuck to our cheapskate nature and used only what we needed.  Our situation hasn’t changed much since last year, so we were done in about two hours with federal and state. It cost less than $60 to e-file both. Our returns were accepted the next day via text message and e-mail. We were told our refund will be deposited in our bank account in 21 days or less.

Last year it took about a week. And a co-worker who filed his taxes last Saturday received his refund on the following Friday.

That’s why I’m such an advocate of filing early. If you need convincing, here’s other good reasons:

  • You get ahead of the pack. As we get deeper into tax season, it will take longer to process returns. And subsequently, it will take longer to get your money.
  • You have a better chance of avoiding identity theft. If you get your return in before the fraudster, guess who gets the refund check?
  • If you have a kid filing for financial aid, you’ll need to have your taxes done beforehand. And if even you’re not looking for loans, many scholarships require that you have financial aid paperwork on file.
  • You’ll avoid having to file for an extension if you’re missing paperwork.
  • You get a chance to double-check your work. Anyone who’s ever taken a standardized test knows how valuable that is.
  • And most importantly, you get it out of the way so you don’t forget.

If you want to know more about new things going on with income tax season, check out irs.gov. They even have an app this year called IRS2Go that helps you track your return.

Lindy’s Bargain Life: To coupon or not to coupon

 

If you were walking along and saw a quarter on the ground would you pick it up? What about a dollar? Or 10 dollars? Or 100 dollars?

 

I used to look at coupons like that. It was basically money lying around that was waiting for someone to pick it up. But when talking to people who don’t coupon, their biggest complaint was time.

 

I never thought much about how long coupons took to procure, cut out, sort, etc. And then I wondered if it was really worth it.

 

How much is your time worth?

 

We’d all like to think that our time is valuable, but it’s human nature to not always be productive as we should.

 

A few months ago, a man in the grocery store saw me grappling with my coupons. He asked me how long it took to get them together to shop.

 

I didn’t have an answer right off the bat for him, but he got me to thinking about that.

 

I used to spend about five hours every week with coupons. And that’s not including the actual shopping. Not only did I cut them out of the newspaper, I went to online sites and printed out coupons as well. I’m also a member of several store loyalty clubs and they send me coupons.

 

Just about every time my family goes to a restaurant, we have coupons. There’s a pouch in the car with everything from Steak N Shake to O’Charley’s to Smokey Bones and Popeye’s. We don’t eat out that much, but I’d hate to make a spur-of-the-moment stop and not have my coupons handy.

 

Is it really necessary to spend so much time to save money?

 

So I conducted an experiment. I went on a typical grocery shopping trip and didn’t use any paper coupons. I did, however, go to the store website and in about ten minutes clicked on e-coupons. These digital offers were tied to my loyalty card. I inputted my number at checkout and the coupons were automatically applied to my purchases.

 

Not surprisingly, I saved about half as much – but I still saved a significant amount, nearly $65. And I still had enough time to be productive doing something else, well that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. Never mind that the dent in the couch has gotten a little deeper.

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