The Walgreens Drugstore Game by Amanda Grossman – A Review

If one of your resolutions for the new year is to save money, you’ll want to check out Amanda Grossman’s new ebook, The Walgreens Drugstore Game:  Strategies to Turn Pocket Change Into Thousands of Dollars’ Worth of Free Stuff.

Grossman is a penny pincher who blogs at Frugal Confessions.  She and her husband knocked out student loan debt when they married and are now living debt free (except their mortgage).  She also quit her job and is now living the dream of working at home.  A look through her blog shows she knows how to save money and get the best deals.

Now, she wants to share those deals with others.

I’ll confess that a few years ago, I played the CVS drugstore game with a fair amount of success.  However, I never conquered the Walgreens drugstore game.  It was just too complicated for me.  In the years since I stopped playing the drugstore game at all, Walgreens has only gotten more complicated (or so it seemed to me) by adding in a new rewards incentive.

However, after reading Grossman’s book, even I feel like I could tackle Walgreens drugstore game.

If you’re paying full price for toiletries and personal care items, you’re simply paying too much.  Grossman will show you how to pay less than a few dollars to get $20 or more worth of merchandise.

A Primer For Those Who Don’t Use Coupons

If you’re not much of a couponer, don’t worry.  Grossman explains in detail the many different kinds of coupons that are available.  She also explains where to find them, including how to get a steep discount when buying the Sunday paper for the coupons and advertisements.

If you’re an experienced couponer, don’t worry.  Simply skip over this section.

Clear Explanations and Examples

Once you understand the basics about coupons, Grossman delves into how to find the best deals for the Walgreens drugstore game.  What I like most about this book is that Grossman doesn’t just explain how to score the deal, she also provides real life examples from her own shopping trips.

In fact, she makes the process seem so manageable, that even I registered for a Walgreens Balance Rewards Cards and signed up for discounted Sunday papers to be delivered to my house.  I’m tired of paying full price for toiletries, and even if I’m only half as successful as Grossman at the Walgreen’s game, I’ll be saving a lot of money.

Advanced Savings Strategies

If you already save a fair amount with coupons, don’t worry.  At the end of the book, Grossman includes advanced savings strategies.  Frankly, at my current coupon skill, these strategies went over my head, but for others who are used to couponing, they could be very helpful.

At only $4.99, Grossman’s book, The Walgreen’s Drugstore Game, should save you enough money that you’ll recoup the money you spent to buy the book on your first trip to Walgreens using her tips.  Everything you save after that in the weeks to come will be extra money in your pocket, which we all can appreciate.

How Much Life Insurance Do I Need?

Life insurance seems like a second thought to so many people.  You’ll notice that the title of this article isn’t “Do I Need Life Insurance?”.  That’s because there really isn’t much question about whether you need life insurance or not.  I suppose there might be a few exceptions, but pretty much everyone needs and should have life insurance.  It’s just a matter of how much you need.  There’s a couple of ways to figure out how much you really need.

How much life insurance can I afford?

This is probably the most popular method of choosing life insurance.  And it’s completely wrong.  If you ask most people how much life insurance they can afford the answer is almost always “little” or “none”.  Again, wrong answer.  Most of us carry car insurance because it’s something that covers us against a loss.  If our car is damaged in an accident, we have the insurance to help with the cost of repairing or replacing the car.  To the people who depend on us for income, we need to have life insurance in place to help with the costs of continuing on when our income is lost.

How much income do I need to replace?

This question is usually a pretty good place to start when determining how much life insurance you need.  If you’re a regular budget-maker, you probably have a pretty good idea of how much income you and your family need to pay the bills and keep food in the fridge.  It’s probably not your entire salary, but it might be close.  Take into account any investments you have, as well as assets that might become unneeded if you die.  You’re family probably won’t need that second car anymore, for instance.  Also, any payments on those assets that can be disposed of can be discounted as well.

How long do I need to replace the income?

Once you know how much income you need to replace, the next question you need to ask is how long you need to replace it for.  In an ideal world, you’d be able to buy enough life insurance to set your family up for life.  Your spouse would be able to quit work and take care of the kids full-time.  You’d be able to pay for the children’s college education.  But, the world we live in is far from ideal.  Most of us won’t be able to afford the premium payments on a life insurance policy that will pay out enough to do those things.  In a romanticist world, your spouse would grieve for your loss for the rest of his or her life.  That isn’t all that likely either.  It’s far more likely that your spouse will remarry at some point.

All of that still leaves us without a real answer to the time question though, doesn’t it?  You’ll have to make some assumptions in order to really answer the question.  Assume that your spouse will get remarried.  Assume that you’re not going to be able to pay for your kids’ college education with the pay-out.  I think a good starting point is somewhere around 3-7 years.  Some will say that’s too long.  Others will say that it’s too short.  I don’t think there is a perfect answer.  And, when you’re faced with a question that has no perfect answer, you’ve got to find an answer that is as close as possible.

Calculate, then purchase.

You’ve answered how much income you need to replace, and you’ve got a pretty good idea of how long you need to replace it for.  Now, you’ve just got to put the two together and come up with how much life insurance you need.  Multiply the income number by the length and you’re in the ballpark. Let’s say that you determine that you need to replace about $30,000 a year in income.  You’re married to a real hottie, who shouldn’t have any issues with finding suitable future spouses, but you don’t want him or her to rush into it, so you use the 5 year length.  $30,000 a year X 5 years = $150,000.

You might want to add a bit extra for sudden expenses at the time of death, like funeral, casket, and burial.  But, that’s a pretty good ballpark number for how much life insurance you should buy.  Now comes the big step…  You’ve got to purchase it.  Find a good place to compare life insurance policies and costs and get all the information compiled.  Then pull the trigger and purchase the policy.

That will be the hardest part of the whole thing.  If anything does happen to you, your family will be thankful that you did.

Achieving Your Goals Takes Time: Remember This As We Head Toward the New Year

I loved to bake.  Muffins, homemade French bread, homemade sandwich bread, cakes, brownies, you name it, I made it.

And then I found out I was gluten and wheat intolerant.  I tried to bake gluten free items, but I didn’t understand how all of the different flours worked, and after making pan after pan of hard, tasteless gluten free baked goods, I gave up.

Just recently I tried again, and this time I hit upon success.  I learned how to make my own gluten free all purpose flour (thanks to the Internet), and I found a recipe for gluten free pumpkin bread.  I used that recipe and altered it to make a delicious, sugar free, GF banana bread.  But my daughter is egg intolerant, so, after I perfected the recipe, I experimented with making it egg free, and again, I came up with a good bread.

My love of baking is returning.

What does this have to do with personal finance?

Actually, quite a bit, especially as we enter the last few weeks of 2013 and head into 2014.

In just a few short weeks you’ll notice blog writers changing their focus from how to save on holiday gifts to setting goals for the new year and steps to achieving your goals, especially financial goals.

Maybe it’s that people drink too much during the holidays, or maybe it’s that people are unbelievably optimistic as they head into the new year, but many of us set ridiculously difficult New Year’s goals.  And then we’re disappointed with and hard on ourselves when we fail.  (And often we fail the first week of the new year.)

Change takes time

Change is a step-by-step processMaking any big change doesn’t happen overnight because the calendar turns to a new year and you’ve made a list of things you want to accomplish.

Change is a step-by-step process, and it can be a long, painful journey.

It took me a year to finally learn how to make a good gluten free bread and enjoy cooking again.

Likewise, my husband and I are 25 long months into our debt repayment journey, and we’re only now reaching the halfway point.

In those 25 months, though, we’ve learned how to wait to purchase things we want rather than rushing right out and buying them, and we’ve learned to stay within our budget.  Would I like to be debt free now?  You bet.  But I also appreciate the valuable lessons I’m learning along the way.  After all, those lessons will help us stay out of debt forever in the years to come.

As you enter this holiday season, go ahead and think about things in your life that you’d like to change.  Maybe you’d like to put more money in an emergency fund or add to your retirement account.  Set your financial goals, but don’t expect changes in your behavior to happen automatically.  Know that any good change in habit takes months, maybe years, to be cemented in as a permanent part of your fabric.  Be patient with yourself and know that each step you make in the right direction is a step that is getting you closer to your goal.

What steps do you take to make sure you are achieving your goals?