Don’t Be Led by your problems

Don't Be Led by your problems

This is one of the hardest things to do, but if you are following your dreams you will likely find that your problems are easier to handle and resolve.

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To Stop a Nosebleed Right Away Head to Your Freezer

freezer cold packWe had a nosebleed at my house last night.  You know, one of those gushers that won’t stop no matter what you do.  I remembered that the night before I had seen on Pinterest (did I mention how much I love Pinterest?) that you can stop a nosebleed right away by putting keys or a metal spoon that had been left in the freezer on the back of your neck.  Well, I hadn’t put any keys or spoons or anything else that was metal in the freezer, but I did have a freezer/cold pack.  I took it out, put it directly on the back of the neck and voila! after about 30 seconds, the nosebleed stopped.  Apparently the cold constricts the blood vessels to stop the bleeding.  I was a little worried that it would “wear off” and the nosebleed would start again, but it didn’t.  So, the next time we have a nosebleed in my house, I’m heading right to the freezer.  I think I’m going to stick to the cold packs though, I don’t need anything else in my freezer.  🙂

You can find this and other home remedies at Tipnut.

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Get a Target REDcard DEBIT card – save 5% on all purchase & get free shipping!

Target REDcard debit cardI like to save money where I can, but I don’t like to sign up for new store credit cards to score deals.  Every time I’ve been in Target and they ask me if I want to sign up for their Target REDcard I always smile and politely decline thinking that they were offering me another credit card.  What I didn’t know is that Target offers DEBIT REDcard that ties directly to your bank account.  So basically you’re getting another debit card for your bank account, but it can be used only at Target.  Why would you want to do that?  The savings, my friend, the savings.  Now, you’re not going to save enough money to retire early, but there are a few perks from using your REDcard debit card that come in handy.

  • 5% off all purchases
  • Free shipping on all Target.com purchases (no minimum)
  • Support your kid’s school – designate the school of your choice and Target will donate up to 1% of your REDcard purchases at Target & Target.com
  • Ability to earn a coupon for 5% off with qualifying pharmacy purchases that can be stacked with your regular 5% off when you use your REDcard
  • No fees!

Here are some great ways to leverage the extra savings:

  • Combine your  5% with clearance and/or coupon deals for maximum savings
  • Do your grocery shopping at Target and get 5% off of your grocery purchases
  • Christmas shopping – who can’t use extra savings when shopping for toys and gifts?
  • Electronics purchases – when deciding where to buy your electronics evaluate to see if it would be cheaper at Target after your discount vs. other electronics retailers

One note is that it doesn’t work with Target mobile, just online or in store.  You can apply for a Target REDcard debit card online or in store.  You can find more information here.

Happy shopping!

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Donate Expired Coupons to be Used by Military Families Overseas – REVISITED

A couple of weeks I posted about donating your expired coupons to be used by military families overseas.  Some of you expressed concern that the process seems very time consuming because they request that you total up the value of the coupons you are donating and separate the coupons between food and non-food.  It does take a little more work than just gathering the coupons and putting them in the mailing envelope but it doesn’t have to take you a lot of time.

In addition to your expired coupons you can also send coupons that you don’t use and would normally throw away.  This is a good way to get your kids involved.  Clip the coupons you want from the circular and then hand them over to your kids to clip the rest.  You’ll be surprised how many coupons you throw in the trash each week.  Here’s what I had clipped for the military families last week that I would have normally thrown away.

Stack of coupons I would normally throw away

Here’s the process I use for preparing the coupons for shipment.

First, I figured it would be easiest if I could keep all the coupons of the same denomination together so I took the empty envelope from junk mail and bills I received and cut the top flap off so I didn’t have to mess with it all time.  I wrote the coupon denomination on both sides of the envelope, 25 cents, $1, etc.

Envelopes for coupons

This is what all the envelopes look like

All coupon envelopes

Then, when I clip my coupons for the week or sort through my coupon binder and remove all of the expired coupons I sort them by denomination on the table.  Again, this is another great opportunity to get your children involved and you could even make a game out of it.

Sorted coupons by denomination

I then place them in the appropriately labeled envelope and keep them in a drawer and add coupons to the envelopes until I am ready send a batch overseas.  To get the coupons ready for shipment I first get a total of the value of the coupons I am sending.  To do this,  I take each envelope and count the number of coupons then multiply them by the denomination of each envelope. When I’m done, I total them all up and voila! you have the value of the coupons you’re sending.  You can keep track of the totals of each in excel or on a piece of paper, whatever works best for you.  Here’s a look at one I did in Excel.

Coupon totals

It generally takes me 5 minutes or less to do this portion.  As I do the coupon count I sort them into 2 piles – food and non-food which is how they need to be grouped when you mail them.

Overseas Expired Coupon Program

As you can see, it does take a little work, but this is a great way to help others at very little cost to yourself.  Once you get a system down that works for you, you’ll find that it takes less time than it seems like it would.

If you have other suggestions on how to make the process faster and easier, please share them in the comments.

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Get what you really want by saving your change

One of the biggest obstacles that people see to going after what they want is lack of money.  Whether it’s something fun like a trip, a product like an iPad or something else, “I don’t have the money” is one of the things I hear most often.  One of the tricks I use to overcome this obstacle is saving my change.  I take at least one trip a year where most, if not all of it, is paid for by saving my change.

Let’s face it; we aren’t emotionally attached to change like we are with bills.  Saving a set amount of money a week or programs like save every $5 bill that comes into your possession are hard for me to do.  I have so many other things I “need” to spend that money on that it’s hard to part with it.  And when I do manage, I wind up “borrowing” it and never pay it back.  

Money in the jar

I would just be too tempted to spend this

But change is a different story.  I like the satisfying “chink”, “chink”, “chink” as it drops into the bowl.  I’m relieved to empty the weight out of my pockets and my purse.  And I rarely borrow it back.  Frankly $5, even in quarters, is heavier than I want to carry around.  If I happen to have a dollar or two in my pocket when I drop my change into the bowl at the end of the night I may add that in there too, but I always bury it under the change so I can’t see it.  In this case, out of sight is truly out of mind.

Piggy Bank Savings

I’m sure you’re probably thinking that it would take forever for your spare change to amount to anything.  Here’s the secret.  Never use change to pay for anything, only use bills.  For example, if you buy something that costs $4.01, don’t give them the penny so that you get bills back.  Give them whole bills so you get change.  You just picked up 99 cents for your savings.  At the end of the day, you don’t really notice the difference in your wallet, but you will notice it in your savings jar.  It’s amazing how quickly it adds up.

pile of change

Pick your savings jar with care.  Think about what motivates you.  I like the big clear jar because I can see the change adding up quickly which makes me want to keep adding to it.  It’s also immensely satisfying when the jar is filled to the top.  My boyfriend wasn’t much of a believer when I told him we were going to do this, but after we filled the jar and it paid for our last vacation, he’s hooked.

Save your change Unsolicited Advice Online

Make sure that you put your jar in a place that ‘s convenient to drop your change into but not in place where everyone is always going to be looking at it and tempted to dip into it.

I think the key to saving is to make it as painless as possible and to have a goal. When you get to use the money for something you really wanted it’s doubly rewarding.  We put a sticky note at the bottom of the empty savings jar with the date so we know how long it took us to save for that particular thing.  It’s never as long as we thought.

Do you have any tips for saving?

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A Day of Giving Back

Practice Random KindnessI recently saw a blog post written by a woman who spent her birthday doing random acts of kindness for others with her children. I was so inspired by the small, inexpensive, but thoughtful things that she did. I think one of the things I love the most is that she did these things with her children. What a beautiful lesson of selflessness to teach them about giving to others on a day we traditional celebrate as being all about us.

Here’s how they spent their day:

  • Left a box of cookies and a thank you note for the mailman
  • Took a plate of homemade goodies & a thank you note to the nearby firestation
  • Took “have a great day” cards that the kids handmade to the local assisted living facility
  • Took handmade goodies to the local mechanic who has looked at their car for free
  • Took 2 vases of flowers to the hospital & left homemade coloring books & crayons in the waiting area
  • Left change in the vending machine for others
  • Went to their church & left a donation for the food pantry, books for a family in need & notes for the children’s pastors
  • Took homemade goodies to their librarians
  • Collected carts from the Wal-Mart parking lot & took them all the way into the store
  • Stopped at the local toddler park and handed out presents
  • Hid Easter eggs with prizes in them all over the local playground
  • Hid dollars in the toy section of the Dollar Store
  • Bought a book at the bookstore to pass on to someone else
  • Became a “personal shopper” in the bookstore for a total stranger
  • Mailed treats to family and friends with handwritten notes
  • Left diapers & wipes on a changing table in a public restroom
  • Picked up trash everywhere they went
  • Smiled at everyone they saw & generously passed out compliments
  • Made donations to local charitiesNo act of kindness no matter how small is ever wasted - Aesop

I highly encourage you to take a moment and read her blog post  to see her adventure in giving in her own words as this is an abbreviated list. I don’t expect everyone to do what she did (although it would be wonderful), but my challenge to you is to do one thoughtful random act of kindness every day. It doesn’t have to be big. It doesn’t have to cost money. Just be kind. Kindness is actually easy but I think that sometimes it gets lost in the rush of our day.

Try Kindness

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Playing with Your Food ~ Hungry Happenings

It’s Food Friday and I think we should spend a little time playing with our food.  I want to introduce you to Hungry Happenings, a site that definitely makes food fun. 

Take for instance the “chocolate chalkboards” she came up with that can be used for just about anything but is perfect if you are planning a Superbowl party (or taunt your friends who are rooting for the opposite team).

Hungry Happenings Football Chocolate Chalkboards

If the chalkboard project seems like more than you’re willing to tackle, don’t worry, the food projects on the site range from fairly simple to more advanced.  Take this deviled egg daisy.  It’s easy to make and I love her idea of putting the egg filling in the middle of the plate (although the filling is my favorite so I can’t guarantee there would be much left for everyone else if I did it this way).

Hungry Happenings Deviled Egg Daisies

This site has really made me think about presenting food in a new way.  One of my favorites is the “Spa mask” dip.  So cute and really easy to make.  I can see bringing this to a party and impressing my friends (although my secret is out now on how to do it!)

Hungry Happenings Spa Mask Dip

If you’re more ambitious these polar bear cookies are too cute for words.  I would love to see how they turn out if you give them a try.

Hungry Happenings Polar Bear Cookies

Here are a few other projects that caught my eye that you might like:

Starfish Smores

Chocolate Caramel Apple Cauldrons

Hungry Happenings Chocolate Caramel Apple Cauldrons

Sleeping Bag Wraps

Hungry Happenings Sleeping Bag Wraps

Each project includes step by step instructions and lots of pictures of what it’s supposed to look like to help you along the way.  This is a great site if you are just looking for a few easy party pleasers, if you’re an expert yourself, or if you are just starting out and want to learn how to work chocolate, fondant, and the like.  I highly recommend subscribing to the site and don’t forget to subscribe to Unsolicited Advice while you’re at it.

All pictures are the property of Hungry Happenings.

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Swap clothes your kids have outgrown for ones you need with ThredUp

ThredUP boxKids outgrow clothes so fast that it seems like there is always a closet full of clothes that they can’t wear anymore and a long list of new clothes you need to buy.  ThredUp  is a website that allows you to swap those outgrown or unwanted clothes with other parents. 

Here’s a brief overview of how it works:

Select a box that you want to receive from the online community and pay the box price, which starts at $9, plus $11.35 for Priority Mail shipping.  According to ThredUp, the average box has more than 15 items in it which makes your cost less than $2 an item.

ThredUp Community 

To fulfill your half of the swap you’ll need to prepare your own box of items which you will list and on the community forum and send to the person who selects it.  You are not necessarily sending your items to the person you received items from, but the person who selects and actually needs the styles and sizes you have to trade.  I have to say, ThredUp makes this portion pretty easy.  They tell you which free Priority Mail boxes to use and you can either order them online or pick them up from the Post Office.  Because you are using Priority Mail you can request a free pick up of the package so you don’t have to leave home to ship it unless you want to.  AND you don’t have to pay for postage because the person who selected your box pays for the shipping. 

When you list a box yourself you will receive $10 for every box you send out that receives a 3 or 4 star review from the recipient.

If you don’t have the time or the inclination to put together a box, list it on the forum and ship it, ThredUp now offers a concierge service.    They will send you a postage paid bag that you can stuff full of clothes (visit the website for details on what they will and won’t accept) and set by your front door/mail box to be picked up by the mailman.  You earn money for every piece of item that meets their quality standards.  The cherry on the sundae is that they make a cash donation to Coats for Kids for every bag you send in.

I have not used ThredUp, but I see rave reviews about it on their Facebook page and in other places.  Let me know what you think if you give it a try or are already using it.

Have fun swapping!

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Wal-mart offers contest to get your product on their store shelves

Get on the ShelfHave you ever dreamed of having your product sold at Wal-Mart? Well, now is your chance. Wal-Mart has launched a program called “Get on the Shelf” where they are giving companies and individuals an opportunity to submit their product and an accompanying video to be voted on by the public. You can submit any type of product in the categories that Wal-Mart carries (which is most everything these days). Three winners will get an opportunity to sell their product on Walmart.com and free marketing support. According to the website the grand prize winner will get:
• featured placement on Walmart.com
• valuable marketing support
• advice on scaling up
• and a spot on Walmart store shelves!

Go to www.getontheshelf.com to enter by fill out the form and submit your video or to check out the video overview of the program for more details. The contest deadline is February 22nd, but try to submit your entry as early as possibly to give your product maximum exposure. Voting will take place March 7th to April 4th to narrow it down to 10 finalists. The final round of voting will be April 11 to April 24th to select the lucky three. You can use any means you’d like to get the word out to vote for your product. If you enter, please let us know in the comments so we can vote for you!

This is a great opportunity to get your product noticed even if you don’t win. Good luck!

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Shopkick app is an easy way to get discounts and free gift certificates

If I can earn “free money” while doing things that I normally do or with a small amount of additional effort, I’m all for it.  I found the free Shopkick app (available on both Android & iPhone) a little while ago and after giving it a good test drive, I’m quite pleased with it.  Basically you have the opportunity to earn points in several different ways that can be redeemed for gift certificates to places like Best Buy, Target,  Restaurants.com, Old Navy, Toys R Us and several others.  Here’s how you can earn points or “kicks”:

  • Instant Surprises
  • Walk-ins
  • Scans
  • Linking your Visa card
  • Watching

You can use any combination or all of the options to earn kicks.

INSTANT SURPRISES
This is one of my favorite ways to earn kicks.  On the “nearby” tab look for stores that have a green bubble or balloon on the far right hand side.  If there is a number in it that’s how many points you can earn by walking in or scanning products (more about that later) or if it has a dark green star in it there is an instant surprise.  If you see a number on top of the dark green star that means you have the opportunity to earn points by walking in or scanning AND there is an instant surprise.

Shopokick instant bonus

Instant surprises are great because you don’t have to be in a store to collect them.  Shopkick randomly assigns “instant surprises” (well it’s random to me, I’m sure they have some method to their madness) to stores that show up in the “nearby” tab.  These range from a single kick, sometimes more, or one of three pieces in a collection.  Once you collect all 3 pieces you get a bonus.

This is an easy way to collect kicks.  Before I leave home I go through the “nearby” tab and collect all the instant surprises which only take a couple of minutes.  When I get to work, I do the same.  This tab is populated by your GPS location so you should have new instant surprises available when you move to a different location.  When my boyfriend and I are in the car traveling and he’s driving, I love to collect the instant surprises and refresh as we go along to get more.  I’ve been known to collect more than 100 kicks at a time this way. It would also be a good task for a child to keep them busy while you drive.

 

WALK-INS
When you select a store and see points for walk-ins all you need to do to collect these points is simply walk in the store, open that store on the app, wait for the app to locate you and it will instantly award your points.  If I’m in the mall shopping or shopping next to a store that offers walk-in kicks, often Best Buy or Old Navy, I take the couple of minutes to walk in and collect my kicks and then I walk right back out.   You do actually have to be inside the store to collect walk-in kicks.  Shopkick is far more precise than Foursquare in determining your location so you won’t be able to score kicks by trying from the parking lot or even in front of the store.  Still, it only takes a couple of minutes and is usually worth 50 or 60 kicks.

Shopkick Walk In Instsructions

SCANNING
Scanning products is another easy way to earn kicks.  Have you noticed that these are all pretty easy?  When you select a store on the app in the “nearby” tab it will show you if there are any scans available.  Select the line that shows the number of scans and it will show you a list of the scans available and the number of kicks each scan is worth.

Shopkick scans

Locate the products in the store, scan the barcode, and you are instantly awarded the kicks.  Sometimes you will be asked to scan a QR code instead, especially for consumer electronics that are usually locked away like cameras.  I usually pass by these items as I’m shopping so it’s no big deal to stop for a second and scan the bar code or QR code.  This is a quick way to rack up kicks.  See, easy!

LINK YOUR VISA
The newest way to earn is by linking your Visa through Shopkick.  I’m sure this is perfectly safe, but I try to put my credit card information out there as little as possible, so I am not currently using this option.

WATCHING
You can also earn kicks by watching commercials and other videos on your phone. 

I only use Shopkick when I am out shopping anyway and I’ve been able to quickly collect the points for 2 $5 Target gift cards.  In addition to the gift certificates you can earn, many stores offer special deals and discounts through Shopkick.  Take this recent Christmas discount from Toys R Us. 

Shopkick Exclusive Offer $10 off at Toys R Us

Here’s a few tips for using Shopkick:

  • Collecting instant surprises should be your first priority, but if you have the time and the inclination, click on every store in the “nearby” tab.  You will earn a point for every store you click on that will help you move to the next “level”.  The higher your level, the more opportunity you have to earn kicks.
  • When you select a store and are looking at the special offers and instant surprises make sure you scroll all the way to the right.  There are often instant surprises hidden there that you would otherwise miss.
  • If there is more than one person in your family with a smartphone, have everyone use Shopkick.  This way you can rack up points faster (you’ll have separate accounts but you’ll each be earning points towards gift certificates)
  • Mark the stores you go to most frequently as a favorite on the “faves” tab.  If you’re in the store for a walk in or a scan and it says it can’t locate you, go to the “faves” tab and select the store you’re in from there and you will be able to access the scans or walk-in.  I don’t know why that works, but it has worked for me every time.

Ready to give Shopkick a try?  Shopkick is free and you can download it here and you will get 50 bonus kicks (and so will I, thank you!).  You can also download it through the iTunes App Store or Android Market, you just won’t get the bonus kicks.

Happy shopping!

 

 

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