Sunday's Chicago Tribune ran an article regarding a woman named, Jill Cataldo. Jill is considered a coupon queen. She offers, via her website, a blog, news venues, and both live and dvd seminars, instructions on what has come to be known as "extreme couponing". What she prefers to call coupon-advice.
One of her recent live presentations (a four-hour event held in South Carolina) was attended by over 2500 people that wanted to hear her advice and learn her methods for saving money through utilization of coupons.
Here are a few interesting statistics I found regarding today's popular "couponing":
- Every hour spent couponing in 2011 is worth an estimated $100
- 25% of those couponing, spend at least 30 to 60 minutes per week searching for coupons
- The average coupon user saves about 12% off their grocery bill per trip.
Here's another statistic to know and consider:
It is estimated by the US Department of Labor that the average family of four spends $8,513 per year on groceries, or about $709 per month.
If you apply the average 12% savings to the average monthly grocery expenditure, a healthy $85.08 in savings is realized each and every month due to couponing. In a year that amounts to about $1,021. "Couponing" accomplishes real monetary savings.
Now ... let me preface what I'm going to say next with this statement ... I applaud everyone taking control of their finances. Trying to budget and save money for themselves and their family, seeking new outlets to do so, examining all avenues to reduce wasteful spending, finding new methods to enjoy better quality foods and products. I'm also a Certified Financial Planner, so I give a big thumbs-up for these actions.
But I'm confused in some ways by couponing efforts. Because from what I know personally, I'm not seeing that same interest or commitment of time being focused on the securing of mortgages by new home buyers or those seeking a refinance. Nor the search for their mortgage lender. Adding to my confusion over this mindset, is the statistic I read online last week quoting that Americans devote more time to the purchase of a new car than they do finding their loan officer or mortgage.
To that I say ... huh???
Given the importance of working with the right mortgage lender, shopping for, and securing the right mortgage program for a new home purchase or refinance ... doesn't the act (at minimum) call for the same effort and amount of time devoted to it as the effort and time grocery shoppers devote to a month's worth of couponing? Perhaps more?
Jill Cataldo got 2500 (described "eager") participants to her seminar on couponing. And this was not an isolated incident. She regularly pulls large crowds.
For most of the lenders I know and have talked to, it's a real struggle to get potential home buyers or clients to attend a FREE mortgage seminar. Turnouts are typically weak. And this prior and post to the current recession. I personally know of no lender, either an individual, company, or bank, that has offered a seminar and enjoyed anywhere near the same kind of response that Jill Cataldo did.
I ask ... how is it that the wisdom and value of attending a seminar on couponing is obvious, but the importance of giving the same amount of time and effort regarding their mortgage and mortgage process is not?
Consider what can be gained at a mortgage seminar. Through their attendance, those contemplating an upcoming home purchase or mortgage refinance can learn much of value. Concrete, timely, helpful information and mortgage strategies that can save them very large amounts of money.
The quoted savings within that blog prove beyond a doubt that investing time and effort into your search for an experienced mortgage professional and in your mortgage education paysoff. And not to dramatize, but working with the right professional lender can also be the difference between mortgage success and failure. So the consequences of not being educated about the entire mortgage process are very real.
Couponing is wise. No doubt about it. But so is matching your couponing efforts with the same amount of energy, the same devotion, the same attention, the same amount of time expended when seeking the best loan officer and mortgage program for you. Or even surpassing them.
"Extreme" saving practices should not only apply to couponing efforts. It should apply to your mortgage education and lending efforts as well.
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