Friday, March 31, 2006

Five top websites for printable coupon - AOL

According to AOL, here's the top five websites that provide printable coupons:

The Top Five Coupon Sites ComScore Networks ranks the Internet's most popular sites for penny-saving promotions. Here's our two cents on the five most-visited sites from the past year:

1. - It's colorful, well organized, and has good sorting functions. And who doesn't love a mascot piggy bank in cool shades? An extensive registration, however, means consumers who don't want to provide their home address may want to look elsewhere.

2. - Presentation is geared for the mature shopper; good category breakdown, but you can expect to do a little sifting through other offers to find the actual coupons.

3. - Browsing is fun here, especially when you stop to watch the video coupons. But those without a newer operating system to support the special Coupon Printer are out of luck.

4. - Efficient site for the efficient shopper; all specialized searches have clear links right on the homepage.

5. - Name sound familiar? These guys have been making traditional mailbox deliveries for years. ValPak does include printable coupons, and offers deals for restaurants and entertainment along with consumer goods.

Reason to check out coupons online:
'Online coupons can be far more accurate than newspaper coupons, Boal adds, because merchants can change offers in real time. "In the offline world, printing and distribution takes months and months of scheduling," he says. "In the online world, they can change coupons in five minutes."'

I tend to go to a certain vendor's site and search for coupons also (example: Palm Beach Tanning Salon allowed me to print a coupon for 2 free sunless tannings). I also use for local deals.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Financial article for Married People

Well, since it is "marriage theme" week, for married couples out there who are having issues with finances, here's the article for you.

"Marriage and Money: Get It Right"

"NEW YORK (MONEY Magazine) - Some economists argue that marriage makes financial sense precisely because it allows each partner to specialize in what he or she does best. But you can get into trouble if you use Mars and Venus notions as an excuse not to talk about what's up with the money."

I remembered discussing this with a friend about the idea of marriage "boosting" one's finances.

Funny advice for "him:

· Use plain English. Do you pepper money discussions with talk of market cycles and P/E ratios? Jargon, and the whole investing-as-sport mentality that goes with it, is a conversation killer for many women. When you talk about money, just talk; don't show off. Focus first on what you both hope to accomplish, only then on how a specific investment will help get you there, says financial planner Mary Claire Allvine.

That is, use plain english if your wife is dumb.

· Get the facts. Money is a hugely emotional topic. (Duh.) Defuse it by making sure you both know what's going on with your debt, assets and income. You can debate through eternity who flashes the plastic with more reckless abandon. How best to pay off a specific credit-card balance given your monthly income and expenses is a question you can actually resolve.

Finances do affect the marriage in a big way if both sides have different ideas of managing finances. Finances shouldn't be a taboo in the marriage. Share your feelings and discuss.

Hmm. This article seems to assume that the wife knows nothing and is passive in the financial relationships. Married women out there, step up and know your finances! After all, you are going to live longer than your husbands and you do not want to tap on your grandson's shoulder asking him to help to balance your checkbook that is 6 months behind.

Anyway, if you think your money fights are serious, check this out.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Free Almay Moisturizing Lotion - FULL SIZE

Get this free, while supplies last from:

Almay Offer

Use any 2 of the following UPC Codes:

00309973947009 00309977345023 00309976609034 00309976837055 00030997688202 00309971318054


Monday, March 27, 2006

Marriage has changed.

This is a CHAMP article (for hearing readers - CHAMP means awesome, wow hehe). Thanks to Nake ( who has shown me this article, thinking of me.

You need to register to view this - but it is fast and no biggie.

"Marriage is for White People"
By Joy Jones
Sunday, March 26, 2006; Page B01

Excerpts that caught my attention:

"A woman who takes that step is bold and brave," one young single mother told me. "Women don't want to marry because they don't want to lose their freedom."

Right. :-D

"Among African Americans, the desire for marriage seems to have a different trajectory for women and men. My observation is that black women in their twenties and early thirties want to marry and commit at a time when black men their age are more likely to enjoy playing the field. As the woman realizes that a good marriage may not be as possible or sustainable as she would like, her focus turns to having a baby, or possibly improving her job status, perhaps by returning to school or investing more energy in her career."

This can be applied to any race. As I am white, and I do agree with her observation by applying it to me.

"As men mature, and begin to recognize the benefits of having a roost and roots (and to feel the consequences of their risky bachelor behavior), they are more willing to marry and settle down. By this time, however, many of their female peers are satisfied with the lives they have constructed and are less likely to settle for marriage to a man who doesn't bring much to the table."

Damn right.

"In other words, for the circumspect black woman, marriage may not be a business deal that offers sufficient return on investment."

So, marriage is no longer an institution where women turn to for financial support and profits. Do not get married :-D unless you find a companion that you swear by and live together forever though health, sickness, etc to death.

Meanwhile, I shall enjoy dating and my independence.

Free meal at Noodles n Company

No catch. Just type out ur name, email and birth date.

You get a coupon for free entree at Noodles n Company thru email in approx 1 day. Plus another one for ur birthday.

Do it.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

It's unofficial - Lowes sucks.

Back to my flooring project. A guy from Lowes stopped by this week to do measurement. Mind ya, I had to shell out $30 for Lowes to do an estimate. The guy looked nervous and went ahead and measured rooms without confirming with me. Yes, the rooms he did were correct, though. I did not tell him that I wanted the front door entry to be a bit wider.

Know what he did? He went to the kitchen, and measured 1 wall and its adjunct wall, and tada it was like 12 x 5. Um. There are an oven, a refrigerator, and a dishwasher that will need tiling too but he measured just the room itself, wall to wall. He did not discount the cabinets which take up maybe 15% of the room. Idiot. He did the same thing with the hallway and bathroom. The cabinets occupy 30% of the room. I was suspicious. Contractors will determine the cost by multiplying labor by the square feet. I am not going to pay for labor on areas that would not have tiling. I asked him how many square feet did he get. He said 252. I was like hell no. I told him I came up with 152 sq ft myself.

Doh. He did re-calculating and came up with 222 sq ft. Again, I mentioned the cabinets and such. He said that generally there tend to be 10 to 20% waste included. Ummm ok.

Guess what was their estimate? $2589.66. And that does not include the tiles, trim molding and grout. So that would end close to $3000. And I got this sloppy measurement which I PAID.

Screw Lowes.

The Home Depot guy came over yesterday morning. First thing when I opened the door, he greeted me by signing "Home", and spelling "Depot". I was instantly impressed. He looked cute - dorky cute type. Shaggy hair, dark and curly. He was very through and asked me which rooms, and asked me if I wanted it to be wider or narrower. I was pleased. He had this electronic "laptop" which he wrote on to communicate with me, and to put down information on measurement and others. He asked me if the refrigerator had an ice maker. Notice: Lowes did not ask that. I said no. (Yes it does but it is not hooked up. If it is, it means more money to move). He took his time, measuring every inch and inch, writing on his "laptop". (Lowes took just 10 minutes). Then he showed me his diagram of my flooring. Wow. I was stunned. It was very exact, down to the doors, nooks, and such. He had me to sign it, confirming it was correct. That is it. I am impressed. The Lowes guy just wrote down on his paper, the numbers and a sloppy diagram. Home Depot has far more advanced technology and the guy that came out was very polite and accurate.

Home Depot rocks. Maybe it won't rock when I find out the quote from them on Monday...eeps.

A local contractor (who signs) will come out this Thursday to do an estimate. I heard many positive remarks about him, although I heard one con - he was a little expensive. Let's see.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Win Ben Stein's Money

Heard of that tv show, "Win Ben Stein's Money"? I think I saw it once but it was not captioned. Darn. Ben Stein seems like an intelligent guy who know what he is talking about. My coworker Brian showed me his website full of his writings, especially on money. Fresh and smart perspective, especially the one on Walmart.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Home project updated

I have decided not to tile my dining room. My dad brought up a good point over the weekend- I am not going to live in this condo for a long time, so it is not worth my time and money to replace the dining room, as the carpeting is still good. So I have decided to just replace the flooring in the kitchen, hallway, bathroom and the foyer. The bathroom's floor is not damaged, but I desist the look of its ugly vinyl flooring. Kitchen and Hall definitely need to be replaced, thanks to Socks' anxiety one day last Spring of '05. The tile flooring of the Foyerits flooring is cracked and damaged, from previous ownerships and the shift in the building's foundation.

So it comes down to around 152 sq feet (possibly less as I decide to/not to replace the flooring under the dishwasher and the oven).

Last Saturday morning I visited Nebraska Furniture Mart. Wow. If you are a person thriving on a mininum number of choices, NFM is not the place to go. It got abundant number of choices I was not able to decide on anything initially. Then I decided to look at the cheapest tiles on sale - and finally found this tile for 88 cents each sq foot. It looked very nice and of course I loved the price. I got 2 samples of same tile to bring home - one light beige and one dark beige. Asked about installation cost. $9 flat per tile? Eeek forget it. Moving on. Home Depot's starting asking price was 4.99 for basic installation (then it adds up because I require backboarding as I have wooden floor underneath the carpeting).

Moving to Lowes. Wow. Saw even cheaper tiles - going up from 78 cents each. This tile was on sale, and all of its boxes are right there to bring home. So I tried to talk with a Lowes representative and found its customer service sux (i waited a good 30 min before one guy finally started talking to me) and he was uncertain because of my deafness ::groans::. Finally I managed to get a quote set up. One of Lowes' contractors would call me sometimes today or tomorrow, he said.

Lowe's install price seems similiar to Home Depot, but they do not have set price for everything - like 19 cents per carpet sq foot for removal. The man told me that the contractor come over and make a bid. They do not have fixed price. Hmm. That is interesting, way opposite of Home Depot. Home Depot has fixed price for every thing, no "bid". Looks easier to negotiate with Lowes when the quotes come.

Realizing I need to do local contracting justice, I looked up (wow the web has everything doesnt it), and it has list of hundreds of local contractors. Sigh. So I picked 4 that sounded most appealing. Called first one. Whoa. $12 per sq foot for install and it does not even include removal! Sheesh. "Thanks for your time." ::hangs up the phone::

I kinda knew it - local contractors cost more than "mass retail contractor" but possibly better quality, but eh, I was just asking for basic tile installation - nothing fancy like 2x2 mosiac tiles on the bathroom wall. Other 3 local contracting companies I contacted, all of them had answering machines. Will call back sometimes later and keep you updated.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Weirdest thing I got in the mail..

I knew spam and chain mails were bad but this thing I got in the mail. Wow.

It was from of some Church (wont mention here, not wanting to offend people of that denomation). It was a slender envelope with wordings on the back ... "Open and you will be blessed". It came with a prayer rug (paper) with picture of Christ with his eyes closed, but a tear rolling down his cheek. The instructions told me to look at Christ relaxed and his eyes will open and know what you need. So I stared at his eyes...

His eyes opened!

Eh. It was an opticial illusion. The envelope came with other bunch of paper, including a checklist of what I need - such as a car, house, health, and the amount of money I want. Wow. So if I am in need of money, I just write down the amount and mail it back. Next day I am $40000 richer. A lady on this info commerical sheet said she got 40k the next day and was blessed. Along with other testominies (sp) of other "customers" saying... "My husband was saved by this Prayer Rug".... "I got 10k!" ...."He healed my health."

Sounds like a good deal eh?

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Cheapest person you ever known

Those people are sick. Enuff said.

P.S. I went to Home Depot last night, and they will give me a quote in around 2 weeks (they r sending someone over to my home next week on Saturday to measure). And I decide to not to tile my dining room. Ok that saves me $1000. Whew.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

My latest home project

Last spring and summer my furry companion known as Socks decided to destroy an area of my kitchen's vinyl flooring and an area between hallway and the kitchen (carpeting). I covered up the damage with some ugly rugs. Also, my door entry area has cracked ceramic tiles (think the building has set over last 20 years)

It has been almost a year, and I am overdue for floor replacement. The reason why I have delayed so long is - cuz its so much work and decisions :( vinyl, carpet, stone, ceramic, unglazed/glazed, self install, professional install, where.


1) door entry area dining room/kitchen/hallway/bathroom
2) door entry area/dining room/kitchen/hall
3) kitchen/hall/bathroom/entry
3) kitchen/hall/entry

and some more combination. Whimpers. The max sq feet I get is 274.7 and the min I got was 180.

Plus the type of flooring. I decided not to get carpet for obvious reasons - kitchen and bathroom get wet alot. Same goes for wood flooring. I came down between vinyl and ceramic flooring. The prices really are different. Vinyl is very cheap and it is like $300 for the whole thing, but ceramic goes ummm between 1000 and 2500. Much difference there. And yet I want ceramic flooring. Prettier and last longer. And Socks can't damage the ceramic floor (as far as I can think of), as he damaged the vinyl flooring pretty easily.

Now its ceramic tiles. Then - self install or professional install? I have so many corners in my measurements. It will be unfair to collect people and do hell job to cut ceramic tiles. And it will take days. Ugh. It would be a total mess. Way cheaper yes. So I am really leaning toward professional installation.

Now its ceramic tiles plus professional installation. I came upon this website that has alot of good tips

now I have to decide -
1) buy cheap tiles somewhere, hire professional installer
2) buy tiles and get installation service at same place

I plan to check out Home Depot and Nebraska Furniture Mart. I have 15% discount to Home Depot so I think maybe prices will be similiar to NFM but who knows. And I still do not know yet what the rough estimate will be. I will have to get estimates for the mininium and maximum sq feet and discuss with my budget and decide from there.

Wish me good luck. Any advices will be appreciated. I plan to head out to Home Depot after work to discuss the options. NFM this weekend. Someone suggests Lowes... but eh. Maybe I should.

By the way if you are interested in the flooring guide, Home Depot has a really good one (it makes you decide which kind of flooring you want) Tile Flooring Guide . You can go back to the menu to look at different kinds of flooring (vinyl, carpet, hardwood) .

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

confession of a shopaholic

I have a confession to make. I am addicted to shopping. Especially clothes. It is this sense of euphoria, like serotin in your brain giving a release, every time you buy a new clothing item.

I have this bar - I would not buy t shirt any more than $10, pants more than $40, et cetera. Slowly I am seeing this bar getting higher. I bought 2 $38 pairs of cropped pants. I usually do not do that. But the fabric is really good and lasts long, I try to convince myself. It is a sense of brand that makes one feel good. Ugh, look at what I am saying here. It is the words of a trendy shopper who follows brand.

And what? I almost bought a $104 pair of sandals. I tried it on. And then said no. It is too much. I knew it will last long. I do have this sandals that I bought for $40 back in 2001, it is originally $99, and it is still in good shape and I still use it often. But still.

I shopped from 12 pm to 9 pm last Saturday with my good friend. And I am still tempted to go out and shop more. This is an addiction. Like the whiff of nicotine seeping into the blood, you go out wanting more.


Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Congestion Charge

This is surreal. Stockholm reduced its road traffic by 25% in one month. How? By charging drivers between 6:30 am and 6:30 pm daily in the city.

-- Traffic at cordon points reduced by 100,000 vehicle passages per day or 25%
-- Train and transit passengers increased by 40,000 per day
-- Congestion during peak hours dramatically reduced
-- No major re-routed traffic problem
-- Time tables for inner city bus lines have to be redesigned due to the increased average speed
-- Parking fines reduced by 29%
-- The automatic charging system in operation from day one
-- About 350,000 vehicle passages identified per day
-- The system has been fully operational during the charging hours of 6:30 AM to 6:30 PM Monday to Friday.

I am sure the angry Swedes were not happy with paying for road usages, but think again - it helps to reduce pollution by using less cars, and making them to use the public transportation, which is cheaper and more efficient.

It will not help KC if we do that, but we do not have severe traffic congestion problems like Los Angeles, Chicago, Toronto, New York, et cetera. That and public transportation is barely here in KC.

The link is here.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Sidekick users only - MoneyClip

I have a recommendation for Sidekick users out there who have a desire to budget and manage their accounts, but not really using such programs at home.

MoneyClip 2.0

It costs $5.99 (.99 upgrade) for one time download. Last summer I knew I had a budget problem but did not really have motivation to go on a computer and make my own budget thru a program (probably Excel). Sidekick is an utility that I use everyday, "on demand" (an ever changing IBM slogan) in my hands. This budget program is just perfect for me.

I get to add my accounts (liability/assets) and it shows my balance. It lets me to update with daily transcations. Yep everything is manual, (except for calculating part) and does not let you to compare your accounts with actual ones online, so that might be a con for many.

It is nothing fancy - but it lets you to create categories, transcations, accounts, budgets. Budget is cool thing I use - I set budget for food for $200 a month and it lets me to subcategorize the food into Groceries and Restaurants. It is pretty useful for me. Another con is that it does not automatically move to next month; I need to change the dates myself.

Another nice thing is that it is password protected, although if you forget yours, everything is lost forever. But it is not a must to enable your password, but very strongly recommended. Just a remainder not to depend on this program entirely (although I am). Also you can export your data in a .qif format so you can download it to your computer as backup.

Most cool thing about the .99 upgrade is that it has "quick entries" so it will set up recurring transcation automatically (i.e. your paycheck, saving deduction, bills). I recently uploaded this so I am thrilled about this new option.

Ever since I have set my own budget planner, my budget has been improving slowly but steadily into a good shape, with some adjustments here and there.

Budgetting rules!

Friday, March 03, 2006

Stupid move? CC advices

I might have made a stupid move. I just could not resist this temptation - free $100 gift card when you sign up, and 3% back on any restaurant purchases, so I applied for Citi Professional.

I found this out by reading my favorite blog, mymoneyblog. He talked about $100 Gift Cards back in Nov. This guy got a $100 Target gift card for signing up and making a first purchase.

Target gift card, definitely will be in good use for me because I use Target practically all the time, especially grocery purchases (except for fruits, but that is whole other story...). The citi professional lets you to choose any gift card it lists. Such as Home Depot, Target ...

Why did I do it why did I do it. I already have Citi Dividend Platinum card which gives you 5% back on any drug, food and gas purchases and 1% on anything else. But it does not include restaurants. And I tend to go out alot, despite my trying to budget less of that occurrings. The Citi Professional will help with that, especially giving me 3% back on every eating out purchase.

My FICO score might be impacted but I do not think it should be affected too much because I dont think I will be getting any big loan or looking for a place anytime (low FICO score will impact such activities, i.e. higher interest or even worse, rejections). As for credit cards go, I think I have 5 credit cards, but only 2 I use regularly. I do not count the American Express Corporate card because it is on IBM's account, even if it is in my name.

-NY n Company card (I go to that store all the time)
-Think FCU card (only one with no rewards, low APR, for emergencies)
-Citi Dividend Platinum (for 5% back on gas/food/drug, 1% back on everything else)
-Neb Furniture Mart card (I applied for it to get zero financing on my new TV last year)
-Sears card (I applied for it to get zero financing plus discounts on my new washer/dryer/refrigerator last year) now I do not know where it is anymore..

I do not need the Sears and NFM cards anymore. That is what sux about credit card deals. They offer you awesome one-time reward(s) if you sign up. That time I was looking for items for my new place, especially washer/dryer/refrigerator. They came in handy. But that was only one time I ever use them. Well, NFM gives me 3 months 0% financing if I use the NFM card anytime. I used it for a new couch last fall.

As for the NY and Company card goes, every time I get a statement, I get a bunch of coupons in the mail which is nice.

The whole point of the high rewards cards - PAY YOUR BALANCE OFF MONTHLY. Plainly if you do not, you are basically getting ripped off. The APRs are like 20% or more. Which will hurt you severely if you miss a monthly payment or just pay the minimal. PAY IT FULL. Period. Do not let the credit card companies win. Take advantage of their offerings but do not make them reap yours. If you feel you cannot pay the balance in full monthly, go for lower APR cards (which usually have no rewards/bonuses).

Wednesday, March 01, 2006


Last Monday evening I went out to get my last free UV-free tan ::sniffs:: then decided to go to Wild Oats food store next door. It is an organic whole food store. My entertainment book offers 4 $5 off $20 coupons. Well, it does not hurt to check the store out, as it is my first time, and it is quite pricey compared to regular retail food store.

So I bought fruits, veggies, and some other stuff, trying to make it to $20 but not more. And I spotted this. Potstickers!

Potstickers. mmmmmm. Last October when I was visiting my friend ( in DC, we had those late midnight snacks as potstickers. Very craving and tasty. He told me they r found in asian food markets. And I havent gotten around to go to an Asian food store here. And it's right there in Wild Oats! Who would have known? At 3.99, I thought the price was actually reasonable. Hehehe....Im looking forward to my late midnight snacks known as potstickers.

Now that reminded me of a pretty interesting Korean film where a man was kidnapped and trapped in a room for (30 years?) and he was fed only but potstickers. When he escaped out of his jail, he went to every restaurant in Korea, eating their potstickers until he found the very potstickers familiar to him then went after the bad guy who put him in jail. I forgot the name of the movie. I'm sure someone will mention it in the comments here.