Wednesday, September 23, 2009

5 Secrets to Maximizing Coupon Savings

I didn’t realize she was talking to me, at first. Undeterred, she tapped me on the shoulder and repeated her emphatic question, “How did you DO that?”
"That" was checking out with two carts overloaded with groceries with an initial total of $498 and then paying only $187 for all of it while receiving a handful of coupons from the cashier.
I looked at my questioner's shopping cart with a few store brand items and then back into her imploring eyes and I knew what she was thinking. I had been there myself only a few months before. But that was before I learned the five secrets to taking home carloads of brand-name products for much less than I used to scrimp and save on generics.
Though I had some dairy products that I needed to get home quickly, I was able to quickly share with this desperate mom a few of the secrets I had discovered.
  1. Buy lowIt’s the classic investment strategy: Buy low – Sell high. With a slight variation. In this case, you’re going to buy low and USE high, meaning: You will use the products you bought at a low price later, when the price is higher.

    Every week, grocery stores drop a portion (about 1/12) of their merchandise to its lowest offered price. Over a three-month period, almost the entire store goes to its rock-bottom price. And that’s when you should buy your groceries from that portion of the store.
    You’ll use it later; when the price has gone back up.
  2. Stack savingsMultiply your savings by using a store coupon in conjunction with the rock-bottom price. Throw in a manufacturer’s coupon for more savings. Use a store loyalty card, store rebates, and manufacturer rebates, to stack on even more.

    All of these savings can be stacked on one product, making your groceries pennies on the dollar!
  3. Buy more than you needWhen you need it right now, you’re willing to pay more for it. But if you can plan head and buy all you can use between rock-bottom trends, when you need it, you will already have it.

    Known as stockpiling or food storage (though many more items than food can be stored for future use), buying more than you need is simply a continuation of “buy low.” You don’t want to run out of something before that low price cycles back around, so buy more than you need, but not more than you will use.
  4. Use a coupon for every itemLeave no product un-couponed. Even on “free” items, use a coupon. When you’re taking advantage of a buy-one-get-one (BOGO) deal, you are getting two products; use two coupons. Although it seems you’ve already gotten one item for “free,” what you really have is two products that have been marked down 50%. You can realize additional stacked savings by using a coupon for each item. Alternately, if you have a “save $ on two” coupon, you can use it in a BOGO deal because you have bought two items.

    Bonus: if your coupon is a manufacturer BOGO and the store is offering a BOGO sale, both items are free. This works because the store marked it down 50% and the manufacturer gave you 50% off, for a total of 100% savings!
  5. Understand the fine printStacking savings is great, but not always allowed. Understanding the fine print on your coupons will let you know when you can—and can’t—stack savings.

    One coupon per customer means you can only use one coupon, regardless of how many items you purchase, or how many transactions you go through. But, do you have other “customers” in your family?

    One coupon per transaction means you can only use one coupon per payment. Check with your store for their preferred method of allowing you to make multiple transactions to multiply savings. Typically, you can make multiple transactions during one visit to the checkout counter.

    One coupon per purchase means you can only use one coupon per item. An individual item is a purchase, not your entire shopping cart, and not everything you ring up in one transaction. If you buy two bottles of shampoo and have two “one coupon per purchase” coupons, you can use one on each bottle of shampoo; each of which is a single purchase.

    Not to be combined with any other offer means any other “offer” from that entity. In this case, you wouldn’t be able to stack a manufacturer coupon with a manufacturer rebate. But if the store puts it on sale, a manufacturer coupon is still redeemable with the store’s “offer.”
Now that I have it typed up, I’m going to print this list and keep some copies with me when I go to the store, for the next person who asks, “How did you DO that?!”

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Putting Christ "Back" in Schools?

To my Facebook friends who have invited me to the Cause: Put Christ Back in Schools

Dear Friend,

Your invitation is one of many I've gotten for this cause and I've ignored them all. I wanted to tell you why, though.

Christ is in schools. King David wrote,

Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there Your hand shall lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me. (Ps. 136:7-10)

The government-run, taxpayer-funded schools are no different. He is there.

Christ Is In the Schools
He is there whenever two or more are gathered in His name. He is there in the lives of every Christian who teaches, serves lunch, sweeps the floors, and sits at a desk to learn.

But, He is not acknowledged. He is not given His due worship and glory. The State has taken that for itself. And by "The State," I mean: those in authority, those who have elected or appointed them, and those who have—by tyranny and blasphemy—urged those in authority to keep their acknowledgement of God "private," as though God was a concept invented by man, rather than the Creator of the Universe.

The government school system has been set up against God. It usurps the authority given by God to parents to train up children in the way they should go. It perpetuates the lie that church and state must be separate; that the state is not subject to Christ; that God is irrelevant and to be relegated to Sunday mornings and secret prayer closets only.

Rather than trying to put Christ "back" in schools, we should be encouraging Christians to remove their children from these temples of secular humanism that devote hours on end to teaching our children values training, tolerance, private religion, and the "good of the state."

Seventy-five to eighty-eight percent of children of Christian parents who attend government schools turn their backs on Christianity before they complete their teenage years. Do some make it? Sure. But only some.

It's true, Christ is not acknowledged in government schools. It's also true that that is cosmic treason against the King and His Son. Should they be worshipped in schools? Without a doubt.

But given the fact government-run schools—by official policy—do not acknowledge and worship God, should Christians be giving their children—His children—over to their care?

By contrast, if the proponents of another religion set up a "free" nationwide school—let's say it had great academic success, fun extra-curricular activities, and welcomed and recognized students of all religions—would Christians put their children in that school? If once a generation of students had been through that school, what if the leaders decided to stop allowing the outward practice of religions other than their own? Would Christians leave their children there? What if, after another generation, the leaders decided to incorporate their religious beliefs into its daily training, would the Christian graduates leave their children there? After all, "it was good enough for me."

Should Christians leave their children in a school that openly recognizes and practices another religion, while working to put Christ "back" in schools?

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

How do you spell that, again?

Teaching phonics and reading to little ones can be so much fun! As they learn the sounds of letters and try to sound out words, it's very satisfying to see them decipher the codes.

And lots of fun!

Driving to HEB grocery store tonight to pick up a few necessities, but 3yo Cinderella (yes, the one in my profile pic!) asked from the backseat in her cute little bubble voice:

Cinderella: "Why are we not toing home?" (She still has lots of words that start with 't'!)

Me: "Because we need to get some things from at HEB, Sweetheart."

Cinderella: "Oh! Tan we dit some ponies while we're day-uh?"

Me: "No, we're just getting what's on the list tonight."

Cinderella: "I mean, I want you to white dem down."

Mommy: "You want us to write them down?"

Cinderella: "Yes. Will you white ponies down on da list, Mommy?"

Mommy: "Do you know how to spell it?"

Cinderella: "Mmm-hmm."

Mommy: "How do you spell 'ponies?'"

Cinderella (sounding out the letters, just like we've taught her): "FFffff, PPppp, KKkkk"

Mommy (sounding it out, too): "F, P, K?"

Cinderella: "Mmm-hm." Pause. "Den a fow-uh."

Mommy (stifling a giggle): "A flower?"

Cinderella: "Mmm-hm! ...and a song!"

Me: "I like the way you spell 'Ponies.' I think we should spell it that way from now on!"

I had to write this down, because I know that Cinderella won't be here forever and I'll forget the precious things she says. But, I'm going to spell 'ponies' with a flower and a song from now on!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Advising a New Twit

A homeschooling friend on Facebook (who called himself a "New Twit") asked me the other day:

Jim Bob, YOU seem to be somebody who actually knows how to use all this social networking stuff. Any tips for me?

Always happy to assist friends who are new to social media, I answered and began the following conversation:

I'd love to give you some tips. ;) There's a lot you can do. Conversely, there's a great potential for what Clay Clarkson calls, "Social NOTworking."

First thing to do is set limits on how much you're on.

On Facebook, the only applications I installed are Causes and NetworkBlogs. Everything else is a HUGE waste of time. Only check in at regularly schedule times so you can batch what you're doing on FB. I'm check it when I get home from work around 3PM, and that's it, pretty much.

More later... And I'm happy to answer any question you have.

I've seen (and like) Causes... don't know about NetworkBlogs. Will go figure it out...

My goal is to revive a lot of my old contacts and develop a fairly steady presence on Twitter/FB/Plaxo and a blog. I have a LOT to do, but much of it is maintenance and/or marketing, so I think I may be able to afford the time it takes to build an "online presence" by turning little snippets of information into "news you can use."

Having said that... Twitter looks like a potential black hole for "free time." I just got a note from Rob Schearer (Greenleaf) who says, "Twitter is the internet service for people who wish they had a stalker."

On the other hand... it's been a blessing to be able to forward info on Jessica Hulcy's progress or Israel Wayne's speaking tour in Japan. There's room for SOMEBODY to winnow this chaff to share the grain with people who want to keep up on things but actually have a life...

The great thing about NetworkBlogs is that you can add your blog. And when you post something to it, all of your FB friends will know about it and can go read it.

Twitter can be tied to FB and Plaxo, as well, updating your status on both whenever you Tweet. Which is a great feature when you have folks following you on Twitter so you use TwitterFeed to post a tweet about new blog entries so your status on FB and Plaxo is automatically updated.

You should be able to revive your contacts that way, though I wouldn't recommend spending too much time on Plaxo. Sign up and accept connections, but I find it's less a part of my regular social connecting that FB and Twitter.

Look at each of these for whom they connect you to:

FB, you typically want to connect to actual friends. It's easier to post real transparent updates that way. If you're going to use it for "friends" of your business / ministry, then set up a fan page so you can communicate with clients that way.

Twitter is for collecting anyone and everyone who might share an interest (any interest, so it CAN be a little less targeted). But, it's also a way to 'eavesdrop' on a public conversation and make new 'friends' that you might not have met otherwise.

Plaxo is good for maintaining contact information with colleagues and friends, but FB does quite a bit of that as well. It's a little less invasive to connect on Plaxo and therefore a little safer (relationally speaking). It can let you connect a little easier with folks that might be on the fringe of your acquaintance.

LinkedIn is also a great resource for communicating with colleagues and learning what folks are doing professionally. There's limited connectivity to Twitter, but its better benefit is to present a "living" resume of work you're doing or looking for.

Many folks I'm connected to, I'm connected on all four. My blog readership is nowhere near what my Twitter/FB/LinkedIn connections are, but that's my fault for not posting enough. ;)

And yes, Twitter is a great way to keep up with information about situations like Jessica's and Israel's. The best way I've found (so far) to winnow Twitter is using TweetDeck. It can be a bit of a memory hog, but it is great for creating searches and groups to help you narrow down what actually gets your attention. You can also use TweetLater to send you tweets that match a certain search criteria. It has some other cool functionality which can help with "batching" your social media activities for maximum effectiveness.

The thing to think about regarding Twitter is learning how "others" use it. Some aggregate, some only follow select people; some post only business updates and alerts, others post the most mundane things about life; some use TweetDeck and other tools to see what folks are saying; others use widgets to post Twitter streams on their blogs. Figure out how the folks YOU are trying to reach use it, and then participate that way.

Hope all that helps.

How do you use social media?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Update: Jessica Hulcy Awake!

This arrived this morning (Tuesday):

Dear family and friends,

Jessica's Ford Explorer was broadsided in Melissa, TX about 11:30 on Monday morning. We think she was hit by a volunteer fire truck responding to an accident. After a 25 minute extrication process she was Life Flighted as a level 1 (the most severe) trauma case to Parkland Hospital in Dallas.

She is still in critical condition. Here is what we know so far:
  1. She is still unconscious but is moving all four limbs and attempting to pull the tubes out of her throat which is encouraging to the doctors.

  2. Major Lung trauma, punctures to both lungs. Both were collapsed. One is now working well and they are still draining the other. Doctors are checking for possible damage to wind pipe and trachea.

  3. Head trauma. Medium amounts of blood on the brain. Closely monitoring this to see if it improves. Surgery not necessary now, but possible to come.

  4. As of now multiple broken ribs on both sides, broken left wrist, broken left arm in 2 places. Will require surgery. Possible broken left leg and right wrist. She has undergone 4 hrs of X-rays, over 1000 X-rays taken so far. They are working the broken bones in the order of most life threatening so there is a possibility of more discovery of broken bones.

We will be sending out another email as soon as we know more. Thank-you for your prayers.

Jason Hulcy

Latest Update (Tuesday afternoon): from her son (via Lisa Guidry):

I was just in to see her and she was awake. She was squeezing my hand and could show 2 fingers upon command. She has always had a fear of not being able to breathe, more than the average bear, so please pray specifically for her to be at peace with her condition, as much as possible.

Praise the Lord with me... and keep praying!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Please pray for Jessica Hulcy - Unconscious After Collision with a Fire Truck

Jessica Hulcy has just been in a traffic accident; she was broadsided by a fire truck. She is alive but badly hurt, in critical condition but stable. Her lungs are collapsed. She has no broken bones. There is some brain trauma but nothing to operate on. She is unconscious. Back in the most challenging days of home schooling there were few options for curriculum. Abeka, BJU or write your own. Two neighbors wrote their own and developed one of the first widely used curriculums written for home education... vs a classroom. Jessica Hulcy, author of KONOS and national speaker... and friend of Texas home school families... Please keep her, the family and doctors in your prayers...

Her husband's name is Wade.

Friday, February 13, 2009

The Whole Point of Social Networking

Perry Belcher has this whole social networking thing figured out:

Take 10 minutes to watch and listen. (One caveat, he does drop a couple of bombs as he's talking, so screen before sharing with your children. But those notwithstanding, the philosophy of what he's saying is dead on.)

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Learn Christian Entrepreneurship at Venture Academy

My good friend (and writer of Homeschooling Today magazine's "Venture Forth" column) Wade Myers has a passion for training up Christian employers. Next month, he will be hosting a Basic Entrepreneurship Training Course. My twelve-year-old son and I are making plans now to attend and I hope you will join us.

Here are the details from Wade:
The Venture Academy Basic Entrepreneurship Training Course is a six-day intensive mini-MBA training course to prepare Christian entrepreneurs for entrepreneurship. This is first in a series of courses to be offered by the Venture Academy.

When:March 23-28, 2009
Where:Camp Marymount, Fairview, TN (book your flight into Nashville)
Who:Current and future entrepreneurs of all ages and experience. Class size is limited to the first 60 students
What:Lectures and workshops designed for the Christian entrepreneur and aspiring entrepreneur. Whether you already own your own business, or hope to some day, this training is for you.

Forty sessions will cover
  • Sales & Marketing,
  • Human Resources,
  • Accounting & Finance,
  • Technology,
  • Operations,
  • Business Plans,
  • and more,
…using Harvard Case Studies taught by top Harvard MBA, Wade Myers.

Download the Conference Brochure (PDF)

Register for the Conference

I hope to see you there!

Monday, February 09, 2009

Nathan Clark George

What a day!

I had the privilege of attending the National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) Convention in Nashville just for the day today. I met lots of great folks, and reconnected with others.

One of the men I met was Nathan Clark George, whose music and family have inspired and entertained many as they travel together around the country.

The learn more about the George family, see the Charlottesville VA Daily Progress: Keeping the show on the road. I look forward to knowing him better and hearing more great music from him.

Be sure to pick up his CD "Pull Up a Chair" and the DVD documentary of his family by the same name. Both are available from Franklin Springs Family Media.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The BIG Announcement

The Most Distinctly Christian Home Discipleship Magazine

Homeschooling Today magazine is my favorite publication of all. I first read it right about the time James and Stacy McDonald bought it and have always loved the portrait it has painted of Christian family.

It was with great fear and trepidation that I accepted the role of Editor-in-Chief of the magazine when James offered it to me in the fall of 2006. A short three months later, James told me that God was calling him into more and more full-time pastoring in Peoria and that he was looking to sell the magazine.

Knowing that my good friends Steve and Kara Murphy wanted to purchase a family business that would allow Steve to hand off his construction business to two of his young protégés, I told them that the magazine was for sale. In February 2007, they bought it and kept me at the helm while Steve finished up his last construction/remodeling job.

Because of the increasing time demands on the McDonalds in the new direction the Lord was taking them, the Murphys inherited a production schedule that was almost a half-year behind. In the following twelve months, we worked very hard and with the Lord’s help published ten "bi-monthly" issues: something even some fans said couldn’t be done.

Going Strong
Now after two years, the magazine is on-track, has undergone a great redesign, just launched a new community-focused website, added a digital edition, and is in more capable hands than it ever has been.

The redesign is complete and in the talented hands of Erika Schanzenbach. Bookshelf and Beyond, where you can learn about the greatest resources available to homeschoolers, whether they be new books hot off the press, or tried and true standards from years gone by, is now under the close scrutiny of private homeschool librarians, the Cottrill family.

Instrumental in launching the new HST website, Ken Griffith will continue to tweak and fine-tune it, endeavoring to make it a community portal for all things related to the biblical family. A handful of capable men are making sure Homeschooling Helper, FirstYear, and The Father-Led Home e-newsletters and email blasts keep arriving on-time in your inbox to deliver encouragement between issues, right when you need it.

I have loved every minute of labor at Homeschooling Today magazine: communicating with writers and potential writers, working with editors and publishers, maintaining and updating the website, training customer service interns, speaking at conferences, and especially co-laboring with my friends, Steve and Kara Murphy. But best of all, I've seen God use the magazine to bless the lives of many: encouraging them in their daily walk to disciple their children, exhorting them to think biblically about curriculum, schedules, organization, college, marriage, government, entrepreneurialism, and so many other areas. I am grateful I have been able to serve Him here!

Now He's calling me to serve Him elsewhere.

Parting the Waters
During a Christmas trip to Texas, Amy's and my hearts were stirred to return to Texas to labor with the saints there, closer to our siblings and parents, that we may care and provide for them as the Lord allows. Thus, we began praying that He would move us back to Texas "soon." We pictured paring down our belongings, beginning a job hunt, finding someone to whom I could hand off the labor at Homeschooling Today magazine (but also knowing I could do much of the work remotely as long as high-speed internet was available), preparing our house to sell, and looking for new digs as soon as God revealed my next position.

We arrived home after almost four weeks on the road and began seeing His answer to our prayers the very next morning, when Steve let me know that the long-term plan for keeping the magazine financially strong would require letting me go. This is the second time God has closed employment doors for me here in SW Virginia, which tells me He heard our prayer and was answering our request to return soon.

Editorial oversight will now rest in the capable hands of Steve and Kara Murphy with the trusty help of long-time friend, supporter, and prayer warrior, regular contributor and former Managing Editor, Marilyn Rockett, who was indispensible to me when I wore the Editor-in-Chief hat.

And though He closed a door here before He showed us the one He will open in Texas, it is clearly His hand moving us, directing our hearts like a watercourse "wherever He pleases" (Proverbs 21:1). Our response is to trust Him and begin our journey to the land He will show us.

But, This is a bad time to try to sell a house. And, We’re in a recession. Don't you know that Folks are being laid-off all over the country?

The waters have not yet parted though we move toward the shore while the river overflows its banks (Joshua 3:14-16) and threatens to wash us downstream. We look forward to seeing Him part the waters, allowing us to cross over on dry ground.

New Work
In addition to the new employment we trust He will show us, God has given Amy and me personal success and a voice to help others save lots of money in these difficult times by using coupons to lower their monthly grocery spending. (See In the House of the Wise for details. And look for an upcoming online training class.)

For those of you liked Inherit the Land produced by Franklin Springs Family Media ( and hosted by yours truly, I hope you will be pleased to learn that I am working on a couple of more projects with Ken Carpenter. Both projects are still in the infancy stage but I am very excited about their potential to deliver a powerful message.

As always, I will continue to be an advocate for home education, writing and publishing where He allows. In that vein, there are some other potential projects in the works that I hope to share with you soon when I have more details and they’re ready to go public.

Not Forsaken
Please join me in praising God and thanking Him for His promises and His provision for my family up until this day and for what He is going to do.

I have been young, and now am old;
Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken,
Nor his descendants begging bread.

—Psalm 37:25

P. S. Resumes are available on request and a list of my work history and qualifications are available on LinkedIn:

Friday, January 23, 2009

2009 Master Books Scholarship Essay Contest

$3000 College Scholarship

Just received this from New Leaf Press/Master Books:

For Immediate Release:
January 19, 2009

Master Books®,a division of New Leaf Publishing Group, proudly announces a new scholarship essay contest which will award one talented high school student $3000 to go towards funding their college education.

Master Books, the world's largest creation-based publisher, is committing its resources to encourage students to further their education on a firm biblical foundation.

"This scholarship opportunity is an example of just how strongly we feel about the importance of a biblically-sound education," said Tim Dudley, president of New Leaf Publishing Group. "We support students with evolution-free education products from an early age and are thrilled to provide one deserving student with the economic boost that may make a huge difference in their college career. It is truly an honor."

The Master Books scholarship is open to any high school junior or senior or the equivalent thereof from any public, private, or homeschool venue. The applicant must be a U.S. citizen and have a minimum GPA of 3.0 or above. This scholarship is a one-time award and may be used at any accredited two-year, four-year, or trade school withing the contiguous United States. This award covers only tuition and university-provided room and board. the scholarship monies will be forwarded to the college, university, or trade school of the winner's choice upon receipt of a copy of the winner's confirmed admission to their chosen school. Application deadline is April 1, 2009.

Students planning to apply for this essay scholarship may download two FREE chapters of the book, Evolution: The Grand Experiment, by Dr. Carl Werner at After reading these two chapters, students are invited to write a 500 to 1500 word essay with the following focus:

Develop a magazine article based on the information contained in chapters 14 and 15 of the book Evolution: The Grand Experiment addressing the issue of ethics in scientific research.

The essay will be judged on creativity, clarity of thought, accuracy, research, grammar, and spelling. The student's essay will be the property of Master Books and may be used as an example or to promote this scholarship. The student winner and his/her parent or guardian will be notified by email of their winning status and then must submit a written acceptance of the scholarship award by no later than July 30, 2009. If the acceptance of the scholarship is not received by July 30, 2009, the monies will be awarded to the 1st runner-up.

The Master Books Scholarship will be submitted to the winner's accredited school upon receipt of a copy of their acceptance to that school. If the scholarship winner does not complete a full semester at the accredited school, the monies must be returned to Master Books to be awarded to the 1st runner-up. The winner agrees that all of his/her scholarship combined benefits does not exceed the cost of tuition, fees, and university-provided room and board as stated in the institution's cost of attendance.

Visit or

Request a scholarship link to post on your website.

For more information, contact: Janell Robertson ·