Category Archives: Newsworthy

coupons feed people

How Coupons Are Feeding People in Need

Jesus of Nazareth fed a crowd of thousands with two fish and five loaves of bread.

Short of inventing a food replicator a la the Star Trek series, humans can’t duplicate Jesus’ miracle, but we can find inventive ways to feed the hungry.

What if you could feed 150 people with only $20? (And no, we’re not talking about Ramen packs here; we’re talking real food.)

More people would probably spread the joy of food to the homeless and hungry if food were so cheap, right?

But a few people around the United States found a way to make their money go farther when feeding the poor.

It’s called extreme couponing and it’s not just for the obsessive penny pincher anymore.

Lauren Puryear Plans to Feed 30,000

Before Lauren Puryear of Woodbridge, Virginia began extreme couponing, she fed the poor with donations and her own pocket money.

She ran a non-profit called For the Love of Others and the money they had wasn’t enough to do the good they wanted to do.

But ever since she and her non-profit adopted extreme couponing, they’ve made donations go farther.

How much farther?

From September 2016 to March 2017 she fed 26,000 people with only $500. That’s getting pretty close to the miracle of the loaves and fishes.

And it seems like Lauren Puryear is going to make and exceed her goal of feeding 30,000 by September 14th, 2017 (her 30th birthday).

You might think that extreme couponing would take all of Lauren’s time during the week. But it’s actually a rather short affair.

Lauren only spends about 5-10 hours a week snipping out coupons.

Of course, she recruits family and friends to help, but for an activity that feeds thousands of people each month, you can’t beat that time commitment cost.

Other People Extreme Couponing to Feed the Poor

Other organizations took note of Lauren Puryear’s success.

The southern branch of the New Jersey Community Food Bank is trying their luck with extreme couponing in Atlantic City.

And the Touch Feeding Ministry in Asbury run by a Reverend William Williams III also took on the practice for their program.

Jerry Ascione of Coral Springs, FL hit upon extreme couponing back in 2002.

He noticed a coupon for Walgreens (his place of employment) in a local free classifieds paper that was worth more than the price of the item. He realized the store policy was to pay out the difference at checkout.

This was when he had the brilliant idea to give the money and the goods he obtained with these “moneymaker deals” to the homeless.

He now drives around handing out free food, water, and money during his time off. He sees hunger as an epidemic in our country and he wants to do something about it.

And by doing so, his faith in humanity has soared. He recalls one time when he gave someone food and they shared it with a friend before digging in themselves.

You Too Can Feed the Hungry

While extreme couponing might be the most cost-saving way to feed the hungry, you don’t have to be an extreme couponer to do so.

It just takes seeing someone in need and filling that need.

So, go and give. Your life will never be the same.


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facebook greeting cards

Facebook Starts Greeting Card Service (Sends Hallmark SAD Emoji?)

sad emojiHave you heard that the social media giant Facebook has dipped its toes in the greeting card industry? The reasoning for this foray into greeting cards is that fewer users are sharing personal data on their Facebook pages.

More and more user-generated content centers around sharing news articles, memes, photos, and videos. (and that’s making traditional greeting card companies like Hallmark sad!)

The Facebook “moments” feature

Facebook has spent more time trying to get users to switch back to sharing personal data by implementing the “moments” application. The “moments” feature will include bright images that remind the user of a holiday or event taking place in their location.

For example, in the middle of November, you may get a reminder of Thanksgiving coming up. Under the image, Facebook will guide the user to either comment about the event/holiday or check out more information.

Facebook hopes that this will engage users and help friends and family connect during the holidays. The social media giant has also become an online card maker by launching a holiday greeting card program using animated images.

“We care about our community and want to make their experience more delightful with the launch of this program,” Gary Briggs, Chief Marketing Officer at Facebook, wrote in a press release last December.

“We hope to give people new ways to connect and share and be informed about events and moments happening in the world around them. This is just the beginning and we’ll continue to work to make these messages better for our community around the world.”

In December of last year, Facebook offered a total of 18 different online holiday greeting cards. If you’re looking for a festive holiday greeting card for Memorial Day or the 4th of July, check out the options available on Facebook.

CleverCards mobile app customizes greeting cards

clevercardsSeveral years ago, Facebook partnered with the company Cleverbug to sell mobile applications. These mobile apps create online greeting cards for users.

The mobile app, called CleverCards, includes photo calendars for sale. Users also have access to an address book. This mobile app integrates with your Facebook account.

The user is able to design and customize a holiday greeting card using their own preferences.

Since this greeting card app links to a user’s Facebook account, it sends birthday reminders. Also, the user can pull up personal photos on Facebook for their greeting card.

The mobile app allows users to both send paper cards through the mail and post e-cards on a friend’s Facebook walls. If you have an iOS, android phone, or a desktop computer, you can purchase and install the CleverCards app.

Those with an iPad or iPhone can also use this mobile app. Printed cards cost the user $2.99. Yet, digital cards sent through Facebook or email are free.

This mobile app includes an address book option as well. The address book makes it much easier to send paper greeting cards in the mail to family and friends.

As of October 2013, CleverCards reported a 300 percent month-over-month company growth. The business has mobile app users in more than 170 countries across the world.

How Hallmark reacts to Facebook’s greeting cards

“What’s dangerous is to not evolve” – Jeff Bezos, Amazon CEO

Very true, Jeff, and huge media companies like Facebook are making traditional brands like Hallmark look like Do-Do birds.

Since the company is based on printed greeting cards, Hallmark has had to change some of its strategies. The business is now embracing electronic greeting cards as well.

With Mother’s Day coming up in a few weeks, the company created digital cards for children to send to their mothers by email.

Hallmark has struggled to compete against services and products in the digital age. Facebook’s foray into digital and print greeting cards has been somewhat difficult for Hallmark to handle.

In July 2015, Hallmark announced that it would close down its distribution center in Enfield, Connecticut, according to National Public Radio (NPR). As many as 570 jobs were cut in this closing.

Maria Brenny, a former Hallmark designer, and marketer, told NPR that major changes are in store for the greeting card industry due to new technologies.

“It doesn’t really surprise me,” Brenny said regarding the layoffs. “I would say that the personal expressions industry is facing something, kind of like climate change shift, where things aren’t going to go back to the golden age that they were in the ’80s.”

From 2010 to 2015, the company has had to cut its workforce from a full-time staff of 22,000 to approximately 10,500 across the globe. Yet, some other parts of the company are profitable.

Hallmark also sells wrapping paper, toys, and books. The company owns real estate property, Crayola, and a cable channel. Nonetheless, the company has seen a 2 percent decrease in annual revenue over the last several years.

“The industry is declining, and from 2015 to 2020 we expect it to continue this downward trend,” Sarah Turk, and analyst with IBISWorld, told the news source.

Yet, there are certain solutions that some have taken. Investing in digital greeting cards is a good idea. Also, one greeting card company has been selling their cards through a candy bar vending machine.

Being innovative could always save Hallmark and the greeting card industry.

Other Card Companies Getting nervous?

Right now Facebook seems to be directly affecting traditional greeting card companies like Hallmark and American Greetings, and the more nimble online companies like Shutterfly (get coupons)Vistaprint (today’s deals), and Snapfish (today’s deals) aren’t directly threatened yet.

You can imagine that Facebook certainly might have their eye on expanding well-beyond greeting cards, and there is no limit to where they might expand.

Come to think of it, perhaps actual human-engagement will be rare in the future, and AI “companion robots” will put companies like Match.com and FTD Flowers out of business, as people will decide that actual humans are just too much drama?

The benefits of Facebook greeting cards

Ok, back to Facebook Greeting Cards. Have you ever forgotten to send out a Christmas card, maybe a Passover or Easter card to your loved ones? If you do forget, Facebook’s new feature will keep you in your family’s good graces.

The biggest benefit of these greeting cards includes personalization for all major religions. The cards account for Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Others are neutral and festive cards that would work for any denomination including atheists.

Other great features of these cards include animation. Most of the greeting cards include an animated video that will engage users. Best of all, you’ll get to choose a card from 18 different options.

Facebook’s move into the greeting card industry may make things harder for Hallmark. Yet, it provides new options for the everyday consumer.

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turbotax not free taxes lobby

NOT Free? Why TurboTax Lobbies Against FREE & Simple Tax Returns

logo turbotax freeTurboTax doesn’t like “free” tax – For most Americans, the dread of tax season begins long before the calendar turns to April. When the first tax form comes in, Americans face a dreaded question of whether they want to put in all of the information themselves or pay a professional to do it for them.

Neither is a great option, as both of them require a time commitment and the compilation of all necessary forms and information to make sure that the return is as accurate as possible.

But what if there was a third option: having the return already prepared for you by the IRS and simply having to give it a once-over to confirm its accuracy?

Sound too good to be true? It is, for one reason: the tax preparation companies like TurboTax don’t want you to have that free option available to you.

Turbotax spends millions to lobby against free tax filing

turbotax lobbyist

Despite the fact that several European nations including Spain, Denmark, and Sweden already offer their citizens a return prepared by their government, TurboTax’s parent company Intuit and other tax preparation firms have been staunch opponents of bringing that same freedom to the United States. The reason is pretty simple: Intuit doesn’t want to lose the business of TurboTax customers who choose their software program to file their return.

Currently, TurboTax ranges from “free” for the most basic use to $135 for its top-of-the-line software. Most Americans don’t need the most expensive package, which is for small business owners, but neither do they qualify for the most basic level of tax preparation either, resulting in some kind of cost for them to figure out their taxes.

Having tax prep be “not free” is very lucrative for TurboTax

free signWhatever refund those Americans get isn’t the refund they receive, because before they can claim it, Intuit helps itself to a portion of the money as its fees for the service. That portion comes out to be just under $1.5 billion per year, an amount that Intuit doesn’t want to give up without a fight, as evidenced by the $13 million that the company has spent to lobby against bills that would give Americans the option of having the IRS compile their returns for them.

It’s no surprise that Intuit has fought so aggressively against such a program. Part of TurboTax’s appeal is that it’s supposedly the easiest and least expensive way to file taxes, as compared to meeting with an accountant and paying for their services. If an easier way exists, TurboTax’s appeal drops quite a bit, and in practice, the idea of having the IRS file returns for Americans has proven fairly popular.

The added irony is that the “free” version of TurboTax’s software can still cost you over $100 by the time you complete the filing process. Their premium versions can cost a lot more, even after the discount from a coupon or service code.

The state of California offered free filing of taxes

In California, the Ready Return program didn’t attract much attention, but the overwhelming majority of those few Californians who allowed the state to handle their return reported being happy with the process and said they would use it again.

That’s a problem for Intuit, which is why it’s openly admitted that it doesn’t want the government to be in the business of preparing returns for its potential customers. In the past few years, Intuit has gone as far as to claim that having the government file tax returns would be a massive expansion of big government, despite the fact that former president and noted small-government advocate Ronald Reagan was in favor of allowing the IRS to provide Americans with their returns.

Free federal tax returns would be optional

There’s another fact in there that Intuit doesn’t want its potential customers to know: nobody would be affected by such a change if they didn’t want to be. If someone didn’t trust the government’s math or liked the process of doing their own taxes, they’d still have the option to do their taxes themselves by opting out of return-free filing. Much like the program in California, which is now known as Calfile, an IRS filing would be completely optional for anyone who wants to take part.

But for those Americans in the other 49 states, TurboTax will remain one of only a few options for Americans for the foreseeable future. With so few options, all but the most tax-savvy of Americans will have no choice but to spend part of their hard-earned money on one of the most basic acts of citizenship there is… and in many cases, they’ll be giving that money to someone who wants to make sure that reality never changes!

Know someone who uses TurboTax? Please share:

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