Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy 2010!!!


It's still a couple hours away, but I'm planning away. I'll be saying good riddance to 2009. It was a tough year in very many ways. I'm super excited about 2010 though! I'm starting it on a good note. From beginning to get my house in order, to getting my finances in order, with baby number 2 on the way, and my optimistic attitude about life refreshed. It's gotta be better than the last year afterall!


For the next few weeks I'm going to be working very hard on this blog, and on following my own advice. Sometimes that's the hardest part. Easy to say what you should be doing. Harder to actually do it. I intend to dust off some old posts and review the information. Sure, we could always just go back and read my old posts. But if I do the work and repost, then I can also add some details that I might not have known or thought about back then.


I'm also going to get back to work on my candle business. The economy made for a tough year last year. I had a couple advertising experiments that didn't work out, and my craft shows didn't go as well as anticipated, so I stepped back from it all for a bit. Now I'm back on track. Maybe not in the same way, but with renewed energy and ideas, and with the small let downs far behind me.


Something I haven't really advertised on this site, but another thing that wasn't working for me so much . . . I'm a Southern Living at Home consultant. My contract comes up for renewal at the end of March, so I'm trying to figure out if it's worth it to try for another year. If anyone is interested in having a party or coming to a party, or anything at all, let me know. I absolutely love their products. I've got to sell the stuff just to support my habit! But we'll see. 1 year old and a baby on the way kind of has me scared about filling out my schedule too much.


I'm also going to start tracking some very specific goals that I will document on here. To keep myself honest and in hopes of getting others to try similar things. I will post details on those specific goals in posts as soon as I have them better defined.


Have fun tonight, and be safe. And let's look forward to a prosperous new year together!

Coupon Sunday 1/3/10

There will be 5 inserts in this Sunday's paper. Sharpen those scissors, and buy several papers! I'll be buying five papers. The winter months are when I'm able to be the best organized and work on my stockpile most effectively.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Charitible Contributions



With the end of 2009 fast approaching, now is the time to start getting your tax documents in order. I like to do some year end cleaning and get everything I don't need to Goodwill. This way I'm not as likely to lose my receipts.

The program that I like to use to keep track of my donations is http://www.itsdeductible.com/. This website is done by the makers of Turbo Tax. If you use Turbo Tax, you can even have it import the information straight into the program. Even if you don't use Turbo Tax, it's still a very valuable program.

Most people have a hard time valuing the items that we are donating. Since they are no longer of any use to us, it's tough to imagine that they are worth anything. Most people end up using a garage sale value. The price you would stick to it if you were having a garage sale. Nope. That is waaaaaaaaay low. It's Deductible will let you search for an item, and it has the accepted IRS value automatically assigned to it.

For example, I bundled up all of my magazines. Most of them are even still in the wrapper because I just didn't have time to read them. If I took them to the half price book store to sell them, I would be lucky to get a penny a piece. It's Deductible tells me that if I donate them, the value is 50 cents a piece for new condition, and 25 cents a piece for decent condition. With 120 magazines, that amounts to quite a bit! And it's paper that won't be sitting in the landfill, or even needing to go through the recycling process yet. Clothing has much higher values than you would expect too.

Sign up at http://www.itsdeductible.com/ and start entering your information. It's a free account, and you can track monetary donations too. It's a quick and easy way to keep track of things, and you'll be very happy when you sit down to prepare your taxes because this will be a piece that is already done!

Personal Update

Well, I've let it slide again. Let me just say that during pregnancy, I'm useless. I don't know how other women keep things together so well. However, I'm now 21 weeks along. All the morning sickness is gone. And I'm just starting to get big. So I'm feeling wonderful right now! I'm sure it will be about two weeks before I start getting the aches and pains from the big belly, but until then, I'm happy! I even have a decent amount of energy.

The other news I have is that from an ultrasound we had on Christmas Eve, IT'S A GIRL!!! The pictures weren't 100% conclusive, but from what we seen, and what I know, we're pretty confident that pink is the color to buy.

That's really about all that's going on in my life. I'm working hard making a baby, and trying to keep up with the other one. Dawson is such a good boy. He had a great Christmas. I tell you, the holidays are so much more fun with a little one. I couldn't sleep on Christmas Eve because I was so excited about Dawson waking up and getting his presents.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Craft Shows

I set up at the Fairfield High School Craft Show last weekend. I want to detail some of my experiences to give you an idea of what to expect if you decide you want to do craft shows too. After researching the show online to find out who to contact, I called to get an application emailed to me. This one cost $40 to set up at. It was an extra $5 for a table and extra $5 if you needed electric. I had my own tables, and didn't need electric. The application included details that I needed to know for the show. It ran on Saturday from 9 to 4 and I was allowed in to the venue on Friday after 7 to set up. So I got there Friday night with all of my things and got everything set up. As soon as you arrive you will want to locate the people in charge and find out where to go. High school craft shows can be nice because they tend to have teenagers hanging out to help you unload your car and get it to where you need it.

It is relatively safe to leave your things just about anywhere you will be selling at. I just put a tablecloth over the top of my things to keep it hidden. There's always a chance that some things will walk off, but when you are in the situation where you are taking your things somewhere else to sell them, it's just a risk you have to take. I've found that other vendors tend to keep an eye out for suspicious behavior and so do the people that are in charge of the show or festival. This is pretty standard in my experience for all shows I've done.

On the morning of the show I try to get there at least fifteen minutes before it opens to settle myself in. There are almost always a couple things I forget that I have to set up when I get there in the morning. I also bring my cash box with money to make change. This is the one item that you do not leave alone no matter what. Guard it with your life. Also, I don't leave my cash in it when I'm walking back to my car. I have never ever had a problem. But at a really good show, you just don't want to be an easy target. I put the cash in my purse, or send it home with my mom while I'm packing up, or something. Then the cash box is just a piece of furniture like anything else so I don't have to worry about it.

At the show, it's v-e-r-y b-o-r-i-n-g. When you're busy dealing with customers, it's great. But even at some of my best shows, there are times when I'm just sitting around doing nothing. I try to bring a book, or clip my coupons, or something to pass the time.

The other big problem is finding time for potty breaks. Ask another vendor to keep an eye on your booth while you're away, then hurry. Be sure to take your cash box with you.

Once you've done a few shows, you'll have your own routine established, and won't think twice of any of the things I've listed. But having an idea of how the process works can really diminish the stress of getting started.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Small Business Info


Ok, I haven't done a small business post in a loooong time. And I think we'll go with a topic near and dear to my heart. Rent. The last company I worked for (which will remain nameless as they are a list of dirty words that I don't use in this blog!) They just recently purchased a shopping center by my house, so it has me thinking about rent costs and things that go along with setting up a space for a small business.


If your business is tiny like mine, a space in a shopping center might seem like a far away dream. Having worked for a property management company . . . let's just say to think of it more like a far off nightmare. Please email me if you are thinking of getting a shopping center space so I can give you some more information on what to look at in your lease. I have some very specific and very important information on this.


So if you aren't ready for a shopping center space just yet, where else can you sell what you make? For me, festivals and craft fairs have been a great start. The downside, it's a ton of work. But any level of running your own business is a ton of work.


Festivals have been the most profitable for me. Also the most amount of work, and the highest amount of risk. They range in cost from about $65 on up. The top range of festivals that I'll do is $125. Anything more than that isn't worth it to me. That may not be the same for everyone though. A couple things to look for when you are looking over the application is to see if there are any other requirements that are going to cost you. A couple festivals that I've opted out for require the vendors to have their own liability insurance. There are some that require you to have a business grade fire extinguisher. I opted to make that investment since my craft involves fire. Another large expense for festivals is the tent. A halfway decent tent is usually around $100. The tent is a pain and a half. Take a look at the cute little picture on the side that shows how easy is it to pop it up. Then laugh. I almost always take my hubby with me when I have to set up a tent. It is not a one person job. Even with two people, it's still not easy. If my hubby isn't with me, I play the damsel in distress to get some man help from other vendors. Learn to look stressed out and helpless. Against my principles, but a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do.


Another big problem with festivals is weather. It's very risky. If the weather is bad, there won't be as many customers. And you have to sign up for the festivals months in advance. So there's no way to know ahead of time. An extra bonus is that if the weather is bad, not only will you have fewer customers, you also run a pretty big risk of losing inventory, and possibly even your tent. Last year I lost two tents in storms. I just love it when the tent loss comes on a Saturday so you have to run out Sunday morning and get a new one and rush to set it up and get things ready before the festival opens on Sunday.


But festivals are not all bad. Far from it. Once your set up is done, it's fun. Most customers are in a good mood. Because they are at the festival to relax and have a good time. They usually have money in their pockets ready to spend. And they are happy to look at new and different things. It's a very laid back atmosphere, and sometimes there's beer. And guess what? It's your business. You're the boss. If you want to drink, drink! Personally, I indulge (when I'm not pregnant) but I am usually very discreet with my cup.


This time of year, craft shows are getting underway. These are great! Not quite as profitable as the festivals, but you don't have to worry about the weather. Most craft shows I've been involved in are around $65 to $100. I've seen some for $25. Setup can still be stressful. But without the problem of the tent, it's not terrible. A lot of the same principles of festivals apply. Customers come in looking for crafts with money in their pockets. The biggest challenge with craft shows is finding ones that are big enough. I've done some that are great. I've done others where no one seems to know about them, so no customers show up. So ask around. Other vendors are a great resource to find out about good shows.


Once you've decided where to sell, the most important tip I have is to just relax and have fun. I've seen vendors get totally stressed out during set up. And I've been one of them too. But if you give yourself plenty of time, have a plan for how set up is going to play out, be prepared for the fact that there will probably be some hiccups, (like finding out that the organizers changed your space as the last minute) and just enjoy yourself. Try not to let things aggravate you too much, and when things don't go as smoothly as you would like, make the most of it. Bad weather is a good opportunity to network with other vendors. You will find that there is a family-like atmosphere among vendors. Most are friendly and willing to share information and experiences. And don't worry, you'll have your own horror stories to share soon too! The horror stories are horrible when they happen, but they turn into bragging rights among vendors! Mine is about how I was out at the Scarecrow Festival in Washington Court House, OH when that freaky hurricane blew though. I had made the hour and a half drive only to find my tent in ruin, and had to hurry up and pack everything into the car while street lights were flying down the street. Even better, it took two trips to get everything there, and I ended up having to leave some things there because not everything would fit in the car in just one trip. But I did have the help of some very nice vendors and people in the community.

Baby's First Picture


Ok everyone, here s/he is! 13 weeks confirmed, and only one baby in there, so happy day! We'll be getting another ultra sound at 20 weeks. Since Dawson was 5 weeks early, this doctor seems to be wanting to do several ultra sounds to make sure everything goes fine. Everything is great so far. They will be watching pretty close later on. I like having an early baby, just not five weeks early. Let's aim for just 3 weeks early, which is still considered term. You hear that Baby D?

Big Coupon Day this Sunday


There will be 3 inserts in this Sunday's paper. Lots of good ones too. One of note is that there a .55 cent off coupon on Hormel Pepperoni. At Meijer, the coupon doubles to $1, and they often have the large slices (found in the refrigerated section of the deli/produce dept) on sale for $1. So free after coupon. Just watch out for them to come on sale. There will also be more diaper and wipes coupons. Save those up for a good Walgreens sale.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

What Have I Been Up To?

Not much. LOL. I've mostly been trying to cope with morning sickness and exhaustion still. Knock on wood, it seems to getting better. I'm super excited about my first ultra sound tomorrow. I should be 13 weeks along. I'm somehow convinced that there is more than one tumbling around in there, so we'll see. I think there's something in my brain that's telling me that my past couple months of laziness and sickness will make more sense if there's more than one. But we'll know tomorrow. I'm also hoping that maybe my calculation are off and maybe I'm further along than I think. Please God!!!! I despise being pregnant. Even the actual labor isn't as bad as the 9 months of pregnancy.

Another thing contributing to my increased energy I think, is that I'm back on my anti-depressants! Yay! Happy pills are good! Most people probably aren't quite so open about this, but I've suffered with mild depression since I was a teenager. A few years ago I finally got treatment for it, and I want the whole world to know that if you have a problem, you should get help. It doesn't made you weird or crazy, or unable to handle life. It just means that you have a problem and take a medicine for it. No different than blood pressure medicine or anything else. If you need it to be and feel healthy, then get it. Life is hard enough without suffering needlessly. Without the medicine, I feel pathetic. With it, I feel like me.

Let's see, what else? Dawson is doing great. Some of the new things he's been doing . . . he can use utensils pretty well to eat. He likes spinning around in circles until he falls over dizzy. And he loves watching Sunday football with Daddy. Dave gets so loud and excited (obnoxious) when the Bengals score, and Dawson just loves it. So I've joined in on getting loud and excited over touchdowns too, just so I don't get left out. LOL. He's also got a little football. He throws it at Dave, and then runs to him to get tackled. Adorable. I don't like watching sports on tv, but with Dawson's excitement, I find that I look forward to the games every week now too. Weird, huh? King of bummed that this week is the bi-week. Kind of weirded out that I know what the heck a bi-week is.

So that's my life right now. I will post ultra sound pictures when I have them! And I probably won't get a chance to post again until after the holiday, so I want to remind everyone to go candy shopping on Sunday. Clearanced Halloween Candy can be great for munching on, sticking in lunches, or using to make candy or cookies. Hershey Kisses wrapped in orange foil taste the same on top of a Christmas cookie as what the ones wrapped in red or green do. And if you have a sweet tooth and like to eat candy in general, it's better to have it in a small serving size than to buy a full sized candy bar. Economical and healthier.

Check out this video

I found a link to this on Hip 2 Save. But this is a neat little video that aired on Good Morning America about how one woman is able to buy groceries for her family of 6 for less than $4 a week. I'm not that organized. But using The Grocery Game does help me keep my bill very low. The highlight for this week for me was free Snuggle fabric softener and 99 cent All detergent at Kroger!

http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/Parenting/mom-feeds-family-week/story?id=8463295

Monday, October 26, 2009

Dining out with baby

I came upon this money saver by accident. I've been patting myself on the back ever since because it was PERFECT for my family. We went out to eat on Friday, and had a wonderful time. There was a yummy looking appetizer I wanted to try. It was around about $6.50. Then I noticed that the appetizer I wanted was also part of a larger appetizer sampler that was about $9.50. The sampler came with chicken tenders as one of the sampler items. Then a quick glance at the kids menu showed me that the cheapest thing on the list was about $3.50. So instead of getting the single appetizer, we got the sampler and fed the chicken tenders to Dawson for his meal. So, aside from the fifty cents in savings . . . .

We got the appetizer I wanted, along with potato skins which are always yummy.

We were able to feed Dawson the bulk of his meal while we were at the "just snacking" stage of our meal. He didn't get fussy waiting on food. And he was done and happily playing with his fork when our entrees came out. We were able to enjoy our meals like normal people instead of letting it get cold while figuring out how to feed a toddler and ourselves at the same time.

It was a lot more food than would have been included in a regular kids meal. So we had enough leftovers for an additional meal for him the next day.

And does it annoy anyone else that kids meals are the simplest, most basic foods, tiny portions, and they want to charge you like 4 or 5 bucks for them? I'm sorry, but a grilled cheese sandwich is not worth $4 when you can get a regular sized and quality entree for $8. The standard chicken tender kid meal was $5 and included two tenders. And I'm sure if we had ordered that, it would have been a whole different quality. For just the $3 extra on an appetizer we would have already bought, we got 4 delicious tenders that Dawson just LOVED, and like I said, the four potato skins. He enjoyed one of those too.

I have to say, after doing it this way once, I will ALWAYS do it this way. As he gets bigger, and with another baby on the way that will eventually eat kids meals too, we might need two appetizers. But I found it very enjoyable to have the extra options to munch on. And forget the cost savings. LOL. Having the food there so early and fast to get Dawson fed was spectacular!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Sharpen Your Scissors


Two inserts in the paper tomorrow. I haven't looked really closely, but I did see that there are a lot of diaper coupons. If you need diapers like I need diapers, you might want to grab a few papers.

Extra Extra

After stockpiling for almost a year, there are some items in my stockpile that I know I'll never use. All are things I got for next to nothing. Like Head and Shoulders shampoo. Great product, but I prefer the girly and fruity smelling shampoos, and hubby prefers the man smelling stuff. And since I can always find great and/or free deals on those, no sense in having the stuff we don't like take up space in my closets. Or I've found out that hubby will only use the gel deoderant stuff that squeezes through the holes. (Or I have to listen to him complain everyday when he puts on the other stuff.) So I may as well free up the space.

This is actually a really good time of year to go through your cupboards and closets and clear out unwanted items. Many charities are in need of things for the holidays and winter season coming up. Another thing I like to do is put together gift baskets. I may not use the full size St. Ives face wash that I got for 49 cents, but it goes great in a gift basket for a teenager paired with some lotions and makeup. If you've been a super couponer for any time at all, you probably have some things to get rid of. Be creative, and remember, it can do someone else a lot more good than it will ever do you if you have no intention of ever using it.

I actually read earlier today that some person had stockpiled 120 cans of Campbell's Tomato Soup. Wow! Evidently this person got the soup for just pennies after coupons, and took it around to her neighbors. What a great idea! How nice would that be to just grab a package of lunchbags, stick a couple cans of soup in it and maybe a pack of crackers or something, and pass them out to your neighbors, just to be nice? Or stick the can inside a large mug with some decorative packaging filler, then create your own little blend of spices to add to it. Put it in a little bag with a cute little label and one of those cheesy poems about how to make a happy home by adding a cup of love and a dash of kisses, etc. That would be a nice little Christmas gift for teachers, people at church, neighbors, coworkers, whoever. And all you would really have to pay for is the mug. Find a good deal at Oriental Trading Company and buy them by the dozen, and there you go.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Check your car insurance

I switched companies for my car insurance today and am now paying almost half of what I used to. Huge savings. Better coverage. Crazy that I didn't do it sooner. Check around. I used Progressive this time. I'm going to make it a habit to compare rates about once a year now. It's easy when you can just answer questions online to get a quote. And what does the commercial say? Ten minutes could save you. It's true. Be sure to cancel your old policy after the new one is in effect. And I've seen commercials for Allstate where they'll cancel your old policy for you. Lots of neat benefits out there right now. I like Progressive because they'll cover vet bills for my puppy dogs if they're in the car during an accident too! Costs them very little, but they get huge happy customer points on that one. It's just a nice thing to do.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Prescription Savings


A good way to reduce your grocery costs is by transferring prescriptions. This past year I've been able to transfer my prescriptions from pharmacy to pharmacy every month in order to take advantage of some free money towards my groceries. My family as a whole has five prescriptions, and we have to spend the money on them every month no matter where we get them. So I choose to transfer and get the free money towards groceries and other necessities. There are some downsides to this. First, it's a pain in the you know what. You can't just call the little number on the bottle and have the prescription ready for you when you get there. You need to take the old bottle to the new pharmacy, then wait around for them to do their thing. Plus, you often get pharmacists that are mad that you're taking advantage of those offers. I used to feel bad about it. Until Meijer Pharmacy had a whole bunch of coupons in the Entertainment Book last year for it. The coupons were valid every other month. So that tells me not only do people do it regularly, Meijer EXPECTS that people do it. They were encouraging people to do it. So after that, I no longer feel bad. So it's just a matter of dealing with the inconvenience to myself. And the snotty pharmacists, who cares? If their company is releasing the coupon, then they have to deal with it. Not my fault. I'm just taking advantage of a good thing.


So, there are a few rules to be aware of when transferring prescriptions. First, be prepared to wait. Also, be sure to go to have it filled when the last pharmacy you used will still be open. The new pharmacy needs to call the old one to transfer it. If you don't want to wait, you should be able to drop it off one day and pick it up the next.


Another big important thing is that you have to be organized. All but one of our prescriptions, if we have to go a day without, then we'll live. So I have a bit of room with that. But it's important to know what you need when you need it and from where you need it. It's easy to get confused. I keep all of my info listed on a calendar.


The last thing to keep track of is the rules for the different stores, and the coupons that are available.


Rite Aid - printable coupon on their website, can only transfer two in a six month period


Target - can transfer as much as you want, but you have to have a valid coupon. The coupons are released regularly, but there is some time between them where the last coupon has expired and the newest coupon hasn't been released yet. It's also difficult to find these coupons in the store. So be sure to save them from your Sunday papers. Sometimes you can ask a cashier, and they will give you one from the ad they keep at their register.


Meijer - their pharmacy coupons print off from the catalinas at the registers. The coupons are readily available if you shop there. It's also nice because you can do your grocery shopping while waiting on your prescription.


CVS - they sometimes have coupons available, but they usually aren't very high value. On the other hand, they do accept competitors coupons. So take in a Meijer or a Target coupon when you transfer. I personally don't like CVS, so I don't go there often. I don't know if there are any rules as to how often you can transfer with a coupon.


Walgreens - Every once in a while they have coupons in their ad. These are great because they have them readily available at the front of the store, and they are usually valid for several months. I try to get enough coupons saved up to last for the entire time period that they are valid. I used to transfer every other month, but I was told once that I could only do it every six months. I'm not sure what the official rule is.


K-mart - There are sometimes coupons available in their ad. I don't so much like using Kmart for this though. All other pharmacies that I've ever used have had a flat amount coupon. No matter what the price of your prescription, you get the certain amount in a coupon or gift card. At Kmart they only let you have the same amount that you paid for your prescription. In reality, it makes sense and I can't blame them. At the same time, Kmart has a pretty high markup on their merchandise, and it's not as beneficial for me when I can go somewhere else and not have that rule.


Kroger - every once in a while I've come across coupons for the Kroger pharmacy. I've usually gotten them in the mail when they send out coupons and things for Kroger card members. Very rare, but I certainly use them when I get them.


Personally, I usually transfer back and forth between Meijer and Target. Just because it's easiest for me. Both Meijer and Target are the only ones that let you use the coupons on NEW prescriptions. But with five prescriptions a month, this usually gets me between $50 and $125 of free money towards groceries each month! This method isn't right for everyone. Sometimes it's cheaper to get the prescription through mail order. Or if you don't have insurance, then your medication may be cheap enough at one place to cancel out whatever savings you would get from the coupon. But my insurance doesn't give me a big enough discount with mail order, and my copays are the same no matter where I go.

Friday, October 16, 2009

10/18 coupons

There are 2 inserts in this Sunday's paper. I personally will not be buying extra papers because there is only one coupon that I will definitely use. 50 cents off on Super Pretzels. Doubles to $1, does not make sense to spend $1.50 on a paper for 1.00 worth of coupons. However, anyone that wants to send extra Super Pretzel coupons my way, feel free!

If you're wondering how I know exactly what coupons are going to be in the paper . . . they are listed at Taylortown and Coupon Clippers.

Another good site for sneak peek deals is www.iheartwags.com. You can see the Walgreens ads several weeks in advance! This can be very helpful. I knew not to buy soda one week it was on sale because it was going to be priced even better the following week.

Kroger New Gas Rewards

You can now get up to a dollar off per gallon of gas by shopping at Kroger. The details are here.

Now after puzzling over the fine print, you might be wondering how this is a good deal. After all, you would have to spend $1000 in groceries to equal a dollar off per gallon of gas. There are a couple couponer tricks though. First off, the points are calculated BEFORE COUPONS. So if you have $100 worth of groceries, then your big stack of coupons takes you down to only $20, you still get credit for the full $100. This is awesome! More reason than ever to take advantage of those free after coupon deals. I got a few things at my trip yesterday that I don't need, but they were free, so I got them anyway. They go straight to my donation pile, but counted towards my fuel rewards. So worth the effort, and it helps someone else who will receive the items I donate.

Another tricky way to get more points is to buy gift cards. Let's say you're going out to dinner to Olive Garden with your honey. Instead of just paying at Olive Garden, stop by Kroger and grab a couple gift cards first to cover the cost of your meal. $50 in gift cards is the same as $100 in groceries. This is great for Christmas shopping in the near future too. Give gift cards as gifts, or, if you're shopping at a particular store, buy the card at Kroger and use it yourself. So long as it's stuff you already intend to do, and so long as it doesn't make you feel like a crazy freak, go for it! I admit, sometimes I feel a little weird with the couponing! But it's worth it to me to feel weird for a few minutes at the store so that I have a few more bucks at the end of the day. And saving money on gas is one of the things that's hard to do.

(I'm still trying to figure out the fuel rewards for Biggs. I've heard of people only paying pennies per gallon on their gas by shopping at Biggs, but I'm not a Biggs shopper, and I haven't had any luck finding any good information that makes it easy. If you know of any, please post.)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Coupon Organization

I've been couponing for almost a year now, and you wouldn't believe the coupon mess around my house. I've tried several different methods of organization, and I just haven't found anything that works for me. The best way is to clip and sort everything. But that takes forever. Then clearing out expireds at the end of the months is a pain. Seems like a lot of work for nothing. In the end I usually go through my ginormous stack of random coupons one by one to find what I'm looking for. Not fun. But I don't know if I'll ever find a good method.

Here's the method I'm trying now. On Sunday when I get my coupons, I clip them, then put all coupons from that date in one envelope. Most coupon sites list coupons by the date they were in the paper, so when I'm looking for one in particular, I can just grab the envelope for the date, and just sort through that small stack. It seems to be working so far. I've also been stapling together like coupons so I only need to find one to have all of them. It makes them easier to clip that way too. I stack the like coupons, staple, then cut them all at once instead of each one separately.

If you have any other methods that you find quick and easy, please post a comment.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Recycling Heat


As the weather starts getting chilly, I know I'm already starting to dread the high heating bills. There are a few things that I do to reuse and conserve heat. The biggest one . . . reuse my dryer heat. I disconnect the tube thingy that vents it outside, roll up a towel and put it in the hole that leads to the outside, then hang the open end of the tube off of the shelf over the dryer, pointing towards the rest of the house. When I dry my clothes, instead of sending that heat outside, it helps to heat my house. And the best part, it's nice humid heat. It really helps keep the house more comfortable when the air gets dry with the cold. If you have an electric dryer too, try it! Be forewarned though, it may take some experimentation to learn how to place the vent. I just let it lay on the floor to start with (figuring that hot air rises) and then I had a puddle of condensation on my floor.

Another thing that I do is keep the heat turned down at about 60 or 65 degrees. Then I use space heaters to warm the room that I'm in. I always like to be snuggled under a blanket anyway, so it works. At night an electric blanket on the bed helps to warm just the area that I need. I usually set the programmable thermostat at the low level overnight, then have it start warming up a bit more when it's time to get out of bed.

Of course, how you manage your heating is up to your personal comfort goals. For some reason, I really hate having to pay for heat. I don't know. It just seems like one of those things that shouldn't cost an arm and a leg and my first born. Never underestimate some of the old fashioned heat conserving methods too. Light some candles, get a couple big dogs, and snuggle up with your loved ones!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Still Alive

Hello everyone. Sorry I've been missing in action for the last month. I've been dealing with morning sickness, and keeping busy with my candle business when I'm able to function. It's been crazy. I haven't even had time and energy to do my couponing. Plus, cravings being what they are . . . going to the store with a list isn't exactly working out. I've actually paid full price for a few things. GASP!

But I do have some news. My candles are now available for sale at a new age store in Hamilton!!! Maiden, Mother, Crone on B Street is carrying some of my fragrance oils, candles, tarts and incense on consignment. This is a first for me and I have been very excited and have been working very hard on getting things together for it. I've also gotten back to doing my festivals and craft shows. It's been tough with the sickness and the tiredness. But it also feels really good to be out and working again.

Dawson was also sick for a few days. Just a little bug. No big deal. Enough to freak me out about flu/swine flu. But he's fine. He also had his yearly checkup for his heart. He has a tiny murmur, it's still there, but everything is fine. The doctor expects that it will heal itself, it just has to be checked every year.

If anyone knows of any good craft fairs going on in the Cincinnati/Dayton areas, please leave a comment or email me. I'm still working on my schedule. I will post it here once I've got things lined up. If anyone has any good contacts with the Lakota East High School craft fair that you can set me up with, I would appreciate it. I've heard there's a waiting list to get into that one, but I'm not above bribery. wink wink.

So, I'm trying to get back to normal, so I will be posting more regularly again.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Sharpen Your Scissors


There are going to be 5 inserts in the paper this Sunday! I recommend grabbing at least 3 papers.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Wednesday Wisdom


"A well adjusted person is one who makes the same mistake twice without getting nervous."
Alexander Hamilton
I came across this quote on a cobblestone when I was walking in downtown Hamilton. It made me think of how I've been feeling down from having trouble getting my business moving forward. I feel like everything I do ends up yielding nothing but more expense. I know that logically, all of the things I'm doing will add up to a total package that creates my marketing campaign. But I have a lot of emotions wrapped up in my business. On one hand that's good. It makes me passionate about what I do. But on the other hand, it puts a lot of personal stress into it when things don't work out the way I want them to. I need to not fear making mistakes. Mistakes are tools for learning. They are just as important as doing things correctly. I must not be very well adjusted, because they do make me nervous. But this quote reminds me that I'm allowed to make mistakes and it says much more for me if I keep on going rather than shutting down and feeling sorry for myself.
On the topic of Alexander Hamilton, I LOVE this commercial!

Business Marketing



Ok, just a warning, I'm going to plug Vista Print again. LOL. I swear I don't work for them. It's more like they work for me.




First, a review of some items I recently ordered. I got some flyers. I customized these with a couple pictures of my candles and created tear tabs on the bottom. I intend to hang them on bulletin boards wherever they'll let me, and hopefully people will tear off my little tabs and take them home and visit my website. The flyers are beautiful. A slight gloss finish and brilliant colors. Much nicer than I could have printed myself. I got a set of 25 free. I also got a box of business cards with the glossy finish. They are stunning. I will only order glossy from now on for my business cards. It was a free upgrade this time around, and hopefully I'll be able to continue finding those deals so that I only have to pay shipping. A third item that I got was the two tone bag. I like it. It will suit my purposes. But it isn't as high of quality as I've come to expect from Vista Print. The material is thinner than I expected and the printing is less than amazing. Still good mind you. And still priced fairly for a custom print job on a nice bag. Just not quite as nice as I would have liked.

Another point I want to talk about here is how you can be original with the different products. This picture shows a tag that I made for my incense bottles. It includes instructions about how to use it, along with the ever important disclaimer that says not to leave incense burning unattended. I'm having this printed on note cards. It is normally something I would print myself, but this way I will have a nicer tag, professionally printed, and almost the most important thing . . . it coordinates with my logo and the design that I have on my other marketing materials. Since I consider my incense bottles to be works of art, I also included spaces on the back of the card to write in the title of the bottle and the artist. The artist is usually going to be me or my mom, but it adds to the idea of the hand painted bottle being thought of as art.
So get creative with your Vista Print products. A note card doesn't just have to be a note card. A business card doesn't just have to be a business card. I've used their free business card deal to make coupons. I intend to put coupons for 25% off of an order in every order that I ship. And maybe I'll hand them out when I go to certain events too. I've had post cards printed to use as flyers. Because I won't be mailing them in the near future, but I want to walk around and hand them out to neighbors. So the post cards are a better size for my purpose and I get a larger quantity in the free deal than what I would get with the flyer product. I think I'm going to use the flyer product to create letterhead since their letterhead is expensive. It might not print correctly since it's a slightly glossy paper, but I'm willing to try, and of course I'll report back here. The flyers will also be good to create order forms that would be filled out by hand.


Product Review - Dove Visibly Smooth Deodorant


Product review on Dove Visibly Smooth deodorant. I received a free sample of this in the mail along with a bunch of coupons. They had included a letter asking me to do a review, and I have been putting it off for a while because it didn't seem to be working. It works fine as a deodorant. Not my favorite in that regard, but certainly effective. However, it took a loooooong time for it to reduce the appearance of my armpit hair. I am a brunette, so it doesn't so much stretch out the time I can go between shaving. But it has made the hair much finer. So it's easier to shave and less likely that I'll miss anything when I'm in a hurry. The scent is nice, but not overpowering. All in all, I like it. It is probably my new favorite. Although I'll still use Degree if I'm working out in the yard or doing something more intense. Note that it takes several months for a noticeable change in the armpit hair category.

Monday, September 7, 2009

I'm Back!

Hello everyone. I'm back from my little vacation. I hope everyone had a wonderful long weekend. I'm starting to get more happy little pregnancy symptoms like morning sickness. Baby D is the size of a pea now. And my little guy Dawson was such a perfect little angel all weekend! He handled the car trip wonderfully. He was a little bit shy with his cousing Logan, but got along great with his cousin Lauren and Aunt Linda. He's a ladies man, what can I say? He ate and slept very little over the weekend too, he couldn't be bothered with it, he was too busy. So I'm expecting a grouchy baby tomorrow. Last night he went to sleep at a decent hour, but woke up in the middle of the night and wanted off the bed. We let him get down and we expected him to run around playing. Nope. Like two seconds later, we didn't hear any noise so we peeked to see what he was up to. He was fast asleep on the floor! I'm so proud of what a good boy he was/is though. Everyone kept asking us if he ever cries. Nope. Only when he doesn't feel good. Well, and I got in the pool with him a bit too fast one day and he was scared.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Happy Weekend!

First off I need to point out that there are no coupon inserts this Sunday. So we all get a break.

Second of all, I will be on vacation until Wednesday, so I probably won't be posting anything until then. There's a chance I might find myself in front of a computer and something to say. I'm just not planning on it. So everyone have a happy weekend and be safe!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Explainer - When Pills Aren't Enough

The post below is a guest post from a fellow blogger. There are several of us who have traded rants, and so my step kid drama is posted somewhere else out in blog land.

See more from this author at: http://www.3giraffes.net/

When Pills Aren't Enough - Parental Advisory Explicit Lyrics

IS THIS SHIT REALLY HAPPENING??or...How to win friends and influence people in the office.... Unbelievable. Un-fucking-believable. I swear, the only reason I stay is because I need the job. If I wouldn't lose my house, I'd quit tomorrow. This place is a fucking zoo. I should have known that going to work in a political office was going to be a fucking nightmare. I'm just lucky (or maybe THEY are) that I haven't beat the shit out of someone yet.
So, get this: I've been here for 16 months. I work, ahem, worked for a presidential appointee. When January 21st rolled around, she was unemployed. So, three months later two new appointees come in. The Big Giant Head and his third in charge. The Big Giant Head (heretofore called BGH) brought in his own assistant, so the assistant that had been at that desk for 16 years comes to my desk. I was assisting the third in charge (heretofore called Sneaky Bitch or SB). They moved me to assist the second in charge, who is not here and won't be here until the winter time. I hope you can follow this better than I can....So, for the last eight fucking months, your taxpayer dollars have been hard at work paying me big $$$ to sit at a desk, write a blog, facebook, email, do online courses and basically spin my blonde ass around in a chair until I got dizzy. SB moved me to assist the BGH's assistant Queen Bee (are you following this?) so she could get to know the Who's Who of The Agency. While I sat at a NEW desk, listening to her make phone calls to the wrong people, calling people by the wrong name, telling people the wrong name of the person in the meeting with the BGH I would try to tell her Who's Who during our moments alone. The last time I tried, she put her hand up (think, "talk to the hand") and told me she didn't care. So, I basically told her to fuck herself (but much more politely). I lasted a whole week with her. They moved me back to my old desk from April to July, EXTENDING my working hours to do nothing all day. Well, not nothing. I put the newspapers on our cute table and made copies from 7-8 in the morning. So from 8-4:30, I did nada. Zilch. Nothing. At $30 an hour. Taxpayers' expense.
So, I took a day of leave in July. The next day, I come to work and they tell me in no uncertain terms to "pack your shit, you're moving. You probably shouldn't count on coming back to the Office of the BGH." OK, cool! I've got a new job! One that will keep me busy!! Alright!! So, I moved across the hall to work for, let's see, we'll call her Face with Two-Sides. Seems everything was going great! I was busy, I was keeping her happy, I was planning The Agency stuff, everything. Now, here's where the politics step in. In this particular office, there is a 25 year old boy. Sorry--man. He works here because he was little fetch and tote in the big Capitol building up the street. He's a favor. First job out of college. He's been here two months. He's a fucking little pussy, ass-kissing, brown nosing, power-tripping piece of guano. He is actually junior to me. He wasn't my boss. He isn't ANYBODY'S boss, but he really thinks he is. He and I were working on a couple of projects together. Needless to say, if you can't tell by my description, we didn't get along so well. So, I walk into his office to let him know of a conference call. You know, "Hey Guano, there's a conference call on the mating habits of squirrels in 15 minutes." He gets in my face about "withholding" information from him because I didn't tell him the subject??? WTF???? So, in my best retired Navy drill instructor, Marine Corps wife, aircraft carrier flight deck-running jet mechanic bitch voice, I tell him not to use that tone. Period. Don't EVER talk to me like that again. End of conversation.
But, it wasn't. If only it were that easy. I send him a very detailed email about the project. Now, think "Office Space"...."Ummmm, yeah. I don't get your email" he says as he walks into my cube. "What don't you get, Guano? It's very easy. It has all the required information. Don't you read English?"
His response? "Baby, you need to calm down." That didn't calm me down. I freaked. I flipped the fuck out. Could have probably handled it better, yes. But I freaked. I was completely in his face. It wasn't pretty. "Did you just call me 'baby'? 'Baby???' Are you fucking serious??? I'm a forty something woman, you don't call me 'baby'. Not in the office, not in the hallway, nowhere." Again, I thought that was the end of the conversation. As you guessed, it wasn't.
He went to Mouth with Two-Sides who went to Sneaky Bitch who went to the Big Giant Head. FIVE DAYS LATER, I get called in to THE office (put in soap opera suspense music here). "Do you get along with Guano?" "No sir, I don't." "Have you had a bad week?" "No sir, I haven't." A few questions later, this one is my fave, "Do we need to get you some help?" They didn't even ask my side. What they did was tell me pack my shit and they were transferring me to another division. OH, and if I can find a new job outside The Agency in three weeks? I won't get a letter of reprimand in my personnel file.

So, what's the lesson here? NEVER, EVER, EVER work in a political office. Not office politics, political office. Because if you're just a permanent person with a career here, you don't even match up to the people that are here on a term basis and you certainly won't win against their friends.
How did I handle it??? I got drunk. ALL WEEKEND LONG. A bottle of tequila and a case of beer, all weekend. I was doing shots at some BBQ we were at and I have no idea what they were....it helped. I came back to work with a whole new fuck you attitude...But, I'm keeping it to myself.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Time Out Tuesday - Now Everyone Knows!


Ok. I'm not the kind of person who is good at waiting. I hate waiting. So it shouldn't surprise you to know that I only found out yesterday, and now I've told everyone and their brother that I'M PREGNANT!!! 4 weeks along. Due date is May 7th, just three days before Dawson's birthday. My hubby, Dave, is hoping that this one will come a bit early too and arrive on his birthday which is April 16th. We'll see. I just hope that this one will wait a little longer than Dawson did so that there are no health concerns or hospital drama.


I've already been going through all of my baby stuff and taking note of what I need. Of course, if it's a girl, I'll need oodles of things. But if I have another boy, then I won't need as much. Which just means that I'll get to spend the money on things that are more fun. The really fun thing is that I can be super prepared this time now that I know how to do the stockpiling thing.

I'm SOOO excited! I'm going to try very hard to eat right this time. My doctor had wanted me to lose weight last time, so I'm going to try really hard to do that this time. Ideally I'll lose five pounds throughout the pregnancy, then have the baby and lose another thirty automagically. But this time I also know what to expect. If I don't follow my doctor's advice and eat properly to lose some weight, then everything aches much more than it needs to once I start getting big. Plus my blood pressure was high last time and I'm hoping that won't be as big of a problem.

Sorry I've Been Away

Sorry for the lack of posts this past week. There have been a few things going on. Partially due to the last Time Out Tuesday rant, and other things too. More info to come late tonight in my next Time Out Tuesday post. My computer has also been acting up. Blech. No fun.

So then. It's the first day of the month and there is a little housekeeping to do:

Be sure to go to coupons.com to print your coupons. If you're new to it . . . when you sign up, there will be a small coupon printer application that wants to install on your computer. Then you can go through a list and select coupons to print and use just like any other coupon.

PG esaver, be sure to go through their list and select the coupons you want to add to your Kroger card. These automatically come off your order if you buy the product and can be combined with a paper coupon.

UPromise, login and select the coupons to be added to your card. These are different, instead of giving you money off, they put money into your UPromise account.

Lastly, I suggest going through your coupon stash and get rid of your expireds. Don't forget, these can be sent to military families overseas. They can use them for up to three months past the expired date. If you know someone overseas, share the love and send them your useless coupons.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Wednesday Wisdom


Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without. - Confuscious


Something I keep having to remind myself is that I'm not perfect. Or more exactly, that I'm not able to be perfect. A lot of times I get hung up because I'm not able to do and be all of the things I want to. I want to be Brie from Desperate Housewives. I want to look tragedy in the eye and polish my silver first because it needs to be done. I want to box up my emotions and put them on a shelf in the closet until I'm ready to deal with them and have time to deal with them. Then take out one small box at a time. I want to be so impeccably dressed that a single stray thread on my clothing draws my attention to fix. How amazing would that be? However, as I've also learnt from Brie is that an image of perfection is not truly perfection. What good is it to appear perfect if you have to hide away from reality? No one is perfect. No one. Even if they appear to be. That's one of the things I disliked about traditional employment. I could work all day as hard as I could, and as smart as I could, and be at the top of my game. But someone was always there to point out the small flaw in my full day of spectacular work. Was the small flaw a major thing? No. Was it unfixable? No. But since it was a mistake, attention was drawn to my flaws rather than my successes. No one is perfect, yet in every job I've ever had, I was expected to be perfect. Then of course, I turn around and deal with people in other jobs that are so bad or uncaring at what they do that it's ridiculous.


On top of all that, we tend to be harder on ourselves than others are on us. Why is that? For me, I keep expecting that I should be able to be perfect. I try to do everything right. I'm mad at myself when I make a mistake. That's part of what makes it even harder to have someone else point out the mistake.


So what can we do about it? First off, if you're running your own small business, whatever stage you are at, don't be so hard on yourself. Set realistic goals. Realize that you will make mistakes. Learn from your mistakes. That's what they are there for. Think about how you would fix that mistake in a normal job. Most likely, the exact same way. Except then you would have seventeen people giving you a hard time for making it, even though it's already fixed. Laugh at yourself. Laugh at the craziness of the world. And remember how wonderful it is to be a great big ole diamond with a flaw.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Vocal Point

Well, there's nothing like changing your mood like freebies! Not that anything could really cancel out the prior post other than resolution, but you get happiness and distraction where you can.

So, Vocal Point. This has been the number one freebie site that I have signed up with. You just set up a free account, and they randomly send you free things!!! Today I had a sample size box of Kashi cereal waiting for me, which came with a coupon for a free full size box, along with several other coupons for $1.50 off. I have also received coupons for the new Bounce bar, free Rice Krispies, free Frosted Mini Wheats, and those are just the things I can remember offhand while other things are on my mind.

Set up your account at Vocal Point and just wait for the freebies to start rolling in. You never know when or what you'll get. But it sure is a nice surprise when something arrives.

Time Out Tuesday - UGH

Well, I hesitate to write this post. The thing most on my mind today is causing a lot of anger for me. But it's pretty much the only thing on my mind today, so there it is. And in the pursuit of writing an honest blog and sharing issues with others, I've decided to go ahead and write about it. Any other day I would have let it go. But on Time Out Tuesday, the whole purpose is to share a little bit more about myself and my family rather than just my business and deal shopping. So here goes.

My husband has three kids from another marriage. In the internet world, they are skids. Short for step kids. And their birth mother, although referred to in a multitude of nicknames in my household is abbreviated as BM. I like the double entendre implications there, although I tell you, I would have never named my blog Business Mommy if I had realized that the initials were the same. That is why you will NEVER see it abbreviated!

Anyway. My husband is a wonderful father. Definitely to our little boy, but I seen him in action first hand with his other kids once we were in a serious relationship. We all got along great too. To make a long story short, the same second we announced our engagement was the same second BM started keeping the kids from my husband. And after three years of trying to stop her from her manipulations, and a guardian ad litem (lawyer for the kids appointed in extreme cases) named MARTY HAAS doing what was easy rather than what was right, we've been through family therapy, court orders and everything trying to make her give my husband his kid time, and she has fought it in such extreme ways that my personal therapist (which I needed to help me get through all of this specific craziness) can't even believe what the legal system has let BM do to keep his kids from him. My therapist doesn't humor us either. He tells us how it is. And the court ordered family therapist specifically told us that we needed to play nice because BM was playing dirty and the easiest way through it all was to make her feel ok with things. Well, since I don't curse on this blog, my answer to that is BS. (I originally started the couponing when I was going to be regularly feeding three extra kids a couple times a week.)

So again. I know that I said I would try to make the long story short. Believe me, I am. The point we are at is that it was determined that BM has brain washed the kids so much that it is impossible for the kids to have a real relationship with their dad at this point. So he's allowing the step father to adopt them and stepping back so they don't have to be a part of this battle their entire childhood.

So this woman is crazy. I know. Everyone says that about their spouses ex. I was actually fine with her for the most part in the beginning. My hubby always told me she was crazy. But everyone thinks that about their ex too. So I was operating under the impression that anyone gets away with what they can if you let them. So for the sake of brevity, let's just assume that I'm right when I say that she's crazy. And not in the fun and harmless way that I am. :-) In a way that she is willing to put her children in extreme situations just to keep them from their father.

So here we are. Part of allowing the stepfather to adopt them and my hubby to stand back until they are adults and can make their own decisions, is cutting off child support. The one good thing in all of this. All of this stuff had been decided back in February. And the child support was supposed to stop on August 1st. And guess what, it hasn't. Her lawyer has even sent us mocked up documents (yes, we are filing an ethics violation charge) saying that child support cessation documents had been filed and were in process. Today is when we are finding out about this. Our lawyers were finally able to get ahold of her lawyers who have been putting us off for three weeks now. And now they are "sending a letter." Which means there is some other issue going on. I don't know what the letter entails yet. But odds are that it isn't good. So I'm freaking out in a major way. I'm feeling like an animal backed into a corner. Someone is about to get hurt. But because I'm a nice person, it's most likely going to be me imploding on myself.

I'm sorry to write such a long post about this. Oh, and Marty Haas is in Northern Kentucky. Do not give him your business if you have need of him. He is supposed to be an advocate of the children, but he realized early on that my husband and I are easy to get along with, and BM isn't, so we've been the ones that he argues with because we listen. All therapists have told us that it is in the best interest of the children for the father to be in their lives, even if the father is a loser, which my husband definitely is not. But Marty, although he pretends to be sympathetic and even angry when she does things she isn't supposed to, has never done anything to try to make her stop. He wouldn't even make her take them to the court ordered therapy.

So this is my personal issue of the day. Strike that, week. No wait, FOR THE LAST THREE YEARS. So I'm getting a little cranky. But, even though it doesn't help me at the moment, what it will turn out to do once things are over and I've settled down . . . the lesson here, for life, for business, for whatever, taking the easy way isn't always the easiest way. If my husband and I had been harder to get along with earlier on and had been squeakier wheels, then BM most likely would not have gotten away with the things that she did. Her brain washing of the children would not have been able to go so far, and we would have a normal blended family. Which isn't easy. Even when things were good, it was never easy. But it was still fun, and everyone got along and had a good time. Other than normal kid stuff, along with my own personal problems of having not been around children much, then being in a mother type role to pre teens. Certainly less of a mother role and more just assisting my husband in his parenting role. But before you've had kids, it feels like a mothering role.

So please pray for my family. We've had one disaster after another for three years. Not just in the step kid department. I keep saying, we don't need things to be easy. We just need for everything little thing to not have to be such a struggle. This adoption thing was supposed to be easy once it was decided. Ceritainly not easy emotionally, but everybody has signed their stuff, so it was just to be a waiting for stuff to be finished thing. I'm hoping that our three years of bad luck will be canceled out by winning the 250 million dollar lottery tonight! LOL. If you don't play the lotto, wish us luck. If you do play the lotto, then I understand your conflict of interest!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Competition




My prior post touched on this a little bit. If you're in business and someone realizes that you're doing good, you will have copy cats. It takes ten minutes tops of opening up shop for someone to come in and think "that's a good idea, but instead of buying it, I'll go home and make it myself." It's frustrating of course. You put the effort into the idea, and someone else is just going to copy it. Or maybe they buy one to take it home and copy it and sell it too. Either way, no fun. But there's nothing you can do about it. I suggest remaining friendly to those types of customers, and realize that theirs won't turn out anywhere near as good as yours. You have much more practice and knowledge. I always have a mental chuckle when people see my hand painted incense bottles and say that they're going to make one themselves instead of buying mine. Yes, sometimes people are rude enough to even tell you outright. It's even funnier when they ask for directions on how to do it. LOL. "Trade Secret" is the phrase to use. Another very infuriating question that I sometimes get from people is "who is your supplier?" Are they serious? I never tell those kinds of things. It's possible to find out. But if they're asking me outright, they most likely don't have the sense to do the research. I'm usually too flabbergasted by the question to have any sort of good comeback. I'm still trying to decide if it's better to make a joke of it with someting along the lines of, "if I tell you, I'll have to kill you," or if I should be a little bit rude right back. The important thing to remember is JUST BECAUSE SOMEONE ASKS, IT DOESN'T MEAN YOU HAVE TO ANSWER. I've found it hard to do. But it's necessary. I think our natural inclination is to answer whatever questions others ask. In any part of life. And if you're able, turn the conversation to your advantage. Here's an example that I was able to turn into a sale . . .



Customer: How do you make candles?


Me: (in a vague and summarized way) Melt wax, add scent and color and pour it into a mold.


Customer: Where can I get the scent? (or the ruder version . . . Where do YOU get the scent?)


Me: These fragrance oils over here (theatrical wave of my hand towards my fragrance oil selection) can be used for making candles. They can also be diffused in an oil warmer, . . . (insert entire sales spiel here) and they can even be worn.


Customer: How much do you use to make candles?


Me: Up to an ounce per pound of wax. I have a hundred and sixty different scents . . . here, smell. (I open a popular scent and hold it out.)



By this point the person is usually distracted. I've found that including the ounce per pound figure is complex enough to make them realize there's more to it than they thought. And if the person is truly interested in making their own candles, then they realize that my fragrance oils are wonderful and reasonably priced.



Prepare yourself for these types of customers and have an idea of how you want to respond. If you're like me, then you'll still be taken a bit off your game when you actually have to deal with it, but at least you can pick your chin up off the floor and have your talking points already planned out to fall back on.

No Shopping Time

Well, I think it's about that time again. I'm taking a small shopping break. Of course, I'll still need to run out for milk and a couple minor necessities (i.e. beer) but with all of the great deals from last week, I'm sick of messing with it for now. I need to take some time to get my coupons back in order. And it's the end of the month, so that means going through everything to get rid of expireds too. But I intend to go about three weeks without any major shopping trips. After doing a soda and snack run at Walgreens anyway. They have good deals on Pepsi products this week. And on Tostitos too. I have tons of salsa from a couple months ago, and it's a fairly healthy snack (comparitively.) And I've got a gazillion boxes of cereal, so I think I'm set for a while.

While I'm on my shopping hiatus, I'm going to focus on organizing what I've got, doing some intense yard and house work, and working on my candle business like crazy. I just got a huge order for my Birthday Cake candles!!! So that has renewed my enthusiasm. . . . and a word from our sponsors . . .

Birthday Cake candles are great for a gift, or for yourself. The scent of freshly baked white cake topped with buttercream icing. The candle is white with confetti colors inside of it. Get them fresh out of the oven at www.lmfcandles.com.

Back to our regularly scheduled programming. Seriously though, I put a lot of love into my candles, and the birthday cake ones are something special. I'm pretty impressed with myself on those. LOL. This is my most popular scent in candle form.

Ok, ok. So this coming week I'm going to be working very hard on my business. I will be researching marketing options and getting the shop in my garage back into shape. I had a minor setback with it due to some leeching. Someone sees your good idea and wants to do it too. Which is fine in some circumstances, but in this one it's just too close for comfort. Took the wind out of my sails a bit. But I'm back, and I'm not going to let it bring me down. All it's going to do is change the way I market.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Product Review - Pledge Mulit Surface Spray


I got a bottle of this Pledge a few months ago, and finally decided to try it out. I LOVE IT! I almost used the whole bottle in one night because I was trying to find more things to clean. I liked it so much that I might even pay full price for it. With a coupon of course. I didn't fall off the wagon or anything. Just that I won't be waiting around for a sale to get it for a quarter if I need a new bottle right away.


You can use it on practically all surfaces. So I had one rag and one bottle and could wipe down anything in sight. It smells like a light version of regular Pledge. So it's nice not to have the strong chemical smell. It does a great job on everything.


One complaint. On the bottle it says streak free and no residue. Well, you can tell from the photo that there are streaks on my stove. Could be my fault. My rag might not have been optimal for streak free cleaning. But still. There it is.


All in all . . . This is DEFINATELY a product that I find to be worth the money.

Friday, August 21, 2009

A Time To Give

Part of learning about coupons and building my stockpile has made it more important to me to give to others. I have so much stuff that I get for practically nothing, that I've found myself wanting to share my information and my stockpile with others. I wrote yesterday about how I dug into my stockpile to give my brother bunches of things to help him get started in his new house. I've also taken little things with me to festivals to give out to the kids while their parents are shopping in my booth. Little girls love getting their own bottle of lotion. One other thing that I love to do is put together cute little gift packs with my deal shopping finds. But once the recipient gets all excited about it, I point out that the entire thing cost me about $3.00, and the most expensive part was the cute container I put it in. This tends to get people excited about couponing, and I love getting others addicted to this game.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Inventory

My pantry and storage closets are bursting at the seams. I've found the need to take an inventory of what I have. I will continue buying things that are free or super cheap to give away or stock pile. My brother moved into a new house a few days ago and I enjoyed having extras to give him so he could get his supplies started out. It's rough when you're starting out and have absolutely nothing in the fridge or pantry. It made his life easier, and I felt good about being able to help him out with my hobby.

The way that I'm going to manage my stockpile is to go through and take an inventory of different items. Then I'll figure an approximate date on when I expect that I'll start running low. Let's say that I have six bottles of body wash. That should last me about four months. So I'm going to put a note on the calendar towards the end of the year that I need to look at body wash and see how my supply is. Maybe I've found more super deals and bought more so I'll just change the date. Or maybe I'm running low and need to start keeping an eye out for good deals. At this point in the year though, I don't want to have to worry about running low during the holiday season. So I want to try to have a six month supply of essentials. My mind will be busy with my business. I won't want to have to think about shopping for normal stuff as much.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

More Vista Print Info


Ok. So if you've been reading my site longer than two days, you know how much I love Vista Print. In my ordering today, I noticed a couple tricks to ordering. First off, they ALWAYS have sales with free or discounted stuff. So if there is something you want, just wait around for a few days and your sure to find a deal. Make sure you're on their email list, and make sure you navigate to their page from the emails they send you. I attempted to fill my cart with free and discounted things, then went to Mr. Rebates and came back to the site. Silly me. That didn't work. The prices all changed. My total had originally been $21. It changed to like $70. So I just went back to the email and followed a link and my cart changed back to what it had been. So getting the rebates definitely isn't always worth it.


Also, there are some things that are kind of pricey. It may be worth it to buy a larger amount at a later date, but for now, my business can't afford it. So every time those things come up free, I grab some. Along with a small order of something else. There's still a processing fee, but if they are things that I truly need and can put to good use, then it's worth the processing fee.


I'm still loving the email marketing too. It's so easy to do. I did come across a small hiccup when I sent an email yesterday. It somehow didn't send to anyone. I know I selected people for my list. But since I checked right away to see if any bounced back, I seen the problem and resent it successfully.

Wednesday Wisdom - Courage


"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" Winston Churchill


I don't think it would have been possible to find a more appropriate quote for me this week. As I'm trying to get myself ramped back up from past failures to be able to face my next plan of attack. Although I don't like to even think of them as failures per se. Things that haven't worked out right are more like learning experiences where I've found out what doesn't work.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Kroger Trip 8/18


Ok. I'm impressed with myself today. I scored some better than free Chicken Helper. And what's better than free you ask. It was 90 cents for three boxes, and my coupon took off a whole dollar! They paid me to take their food! You can't get much better than that.


So here's the run down. I paid a total of $19.71. Let's see. I got 4 boxes of Total cereal, 3 boxes of fruit snacks, 3 cans of veggies, 2 packs of pillsbury cookie dough, 10 rolls of Grands biscuits, 12 boxes of Chicken Helper, a package of chicken tenderloins, a bottle of terriaki sauce, 4 bars of Neutrogena soap, and a box of raisins.
There's only one type of the Chicken Helper that is on sale for that low price. Not sure why. But it's a type that my family loves, so it works for me. I made up three boxes of it, added three cans of veggies, made some mashed potatoes and Grands, and put it all together. It's like chicken pot pie without the pie. And an easy and painless way to get my family to eat extra veggies. And now I have easy leftovers for lunch for a few days too.

Time Out Tuesday

Excuse any typos you may find. As I write this, my little guy is napping on my back. What started as a "let's annoy Mommy so she will get off the computer" maneuver turned into a cozy place for a nap spot.

So. What has been going on with me outside the world of small business running and deal shooping? Not a whole bunch. I had been in a bit of a mopey, feeling sorry for myself state for a while. I feel like I've been working so hard with zero results. And with only one working car right now and that one being used by the hubby for work, I've felt trapped inside. True, I rarely went out when I had the car here to use, but just knowing that I was able to if I wanted to made a huge difference.

After spending a few days in the doldrums, I decided that it isn't pretty, so I need to pull myself together and get back into my groove. So I leaped out of bed this morning at the crack of noon and got busy. Even put on a touch of makeup. So I'm feeling pretty good today. I was awake until 4:30 am last night. Thinking about all of the things I wanted to get done today. I should have just gotten up and done a couple of them and I might have fallen asleep earlier. But that would have gone against the procrastinators mantra. Why do it today if you can put it off until tomorrow? Stay up all night worrying about it instead.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Couponers Unite!

While I was at Kmart today taking advantage of their super double coupon promotion . . . (any coupons up to $2 are doubled) I overheard a woman telling someone about how she never pays for most of the stuff she gets because of coupons. As she walked by, she seen me with my envelope full of coupons and we got to talking for a few minutes.

It's fun to go shopping and run into people that share your hobby. We shared some tips with each other, things that were new to each of us, and we complained about how we couldn't get our friends and family members to join in as much as we would like. (Come on guys. I do the hard part, all you have to do is take the coupons I hand you and go to the store and pay your 15 cents for your toothpaste.)

It was also helpful because she had already scoped out some of the coupon matchups, and so had I. So we were able to save each other time by pointing out if something was already gone, or if we had seen something that was a great deal. We couponers are our own little club. It's easy to become a member. Just start clipping your coupons and reading some blogs. Especially if you can find local ones. Then you may even be able to meet with the writer and get one on one info!

Friday, August 14, 2009

FREE, FREE, FREE


Several items I will never pay for again . . .


With combining sales and coupons, there are several things that I should never had a need to pay money for ever again.


Toothpaste - I have gotten so much free toothpaste, that I probably have a big enoug stockpile to last for the rest of my natural life. At least for as long as I have teeth. LOL. I still "buy" more when I get it free, and I also give it to friends and family. Not everyone has time to coupon and deal shop, so I feel better knowing that my work can still help them out even if they aren't the ones showing up at the store with coupons in hand themselves.


Deoderant - This one is a bit trickier. I can get a lot of deoderant free, or next to free. But my husband insists on a specific type that usually isn't free. He doesn't so much care which brand, but he has to have the gel type that squeezes through the holes. So I recently had to pay 50 cents each for a dozen deoderants for him. My needs are less specific, so mine is always free, or maybe 9 cents.


Mustard and hot sauce - I think I have a big enough supply of these two condiments to last for the rest of my life! I still "buy" more when I get the coupons that make them free. Although I do usually take a quick look around the aisle to see if anyone else wants my coupon to get a bottle free before I grab it myself. I'm planning to put together some cute gift sets with it. Throw in a cute basket and a cute, inexpensive pot holder from IKEA, and a couple other odds and ends and it will be beautiful.


Celestial Seasonings Tea - around the winter holidays, Kroger marked these down to $1 a box. With a 50 cent off coupon that doubled, these were completely free. I'm not much of a tea drinker, but for free, I'll have it occassionally. Besides, I want to drink more because it's healthy. These are also good for gift sets. Put it in a basket with a mug or two, and you have a wonderful Christmas gift.


Lots of other things - There have recently been a lot of really good beer rebates out there. One that my family did was the 12 pack of Smithwicks. You spend $50 on groceries, buy the 12 pack of beer on top of that, then get $20 back. I've been doubling up on rebates. I just inform the cashier ahead of time that I will need multiple receipts. Then I spend my $50, and I try to include as many other rebate items as possible to lower my total after rebate amount. Recently it's been the $20 back from the beer, $6 back on a case of Snapple, $7 back on a pack of Pediasure, and $10 back on 10 cans of AMP. So out of $50 worth of groceries, I end up getting $44 back. Is that a deal or what?!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Internet Shopping Rebates

As you can see from my banner, I really like the Mr. Rebates website. I have explained how this works before, but I will touch on it again just a bit. Any shopping that you want to do online, go to the rebate site first, do a search for the store you want to shop at, then click the link to take you to that store. Any purchase you make, you will automatically get cash back on.

Mr. Rebates is my favorite. There are other sites out there too that work the same way. Cashbaq and Ebates are the other ones I'm familiar with. If you have an account at all three sites, just compare the percentage rates at each one to determine which site to use. For example, if I was making a purchase at Brylane Homes, Mr Rebates gives me 5% back, Cashbaq pays 2.5% back, and Ebates pays 3% back. So I would use Mr. Rebates to make the purchase.

Don't forget to do a separate search at Retail Me Not to find a coupon code!

This is especially great for the Vista Print products and services. Mr. Rebates gives you 10% back on Vista Print products.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

I heart Vista Print

Well, I talked about the Vista Print email campaign thing a few days ago. I love it! I've sent my second campaign now, and it is such a useful tool. For all the reasons I stated before. I won't go in to all of the details again since you can just go back and read it. It's fun! It's only been a week and I'm already nearing the limits of the free trial. I have 45 email addresses to use, and I'm going to need to be entering more before my email next Tuesday. So I'm going to have to pay the $10 then I'll be able to have up to 250 email addresses. I anticipate that I'll be needing the $30 package by the end of the year. That allows me to have up to 2500 emails.

Anyone who has looked into advertising at all knows that $30 a month to make that many contacts is a reasonable price. As a comparison, think about how much 2500 stamps would cost. And think about how much time and effort it would take to deliver 2500 flyers door to door. Print advertising is more expensive too. This way you are reaching an audience that wants to hear from you. And if they don't, they can unsubscribe and you can stop messing with them.

Another point I want to make with this . . . I have attempted to send a mass email before. I have a huge list that I got from doing a bridal show. (Very expensive, boring, and a lot of follow up work required to get orders, I don't recommend it.) I had attempted to use that list to send a mass email a couple months ago. A lot of them were invalid email addresses, and a lot of people unsubscribed. With me doing it manually, that means I need to go through my list and delete those people. It's a lot of work. Plus, just sending the emails bogged down the system. I must have reached some sort of limit on outgoing emails because after about 100, they stopped sending. Frustrating and time consuming. And of the people that didn't bounce back or unsubscribe, I have no idea if it's hitting their junk folders and never being seen, or if they're ignoring it, or reading it or what. With Vista Print, if I see that a person isn't opening the emails I send, I can delete them from my list.

Wednesday Wisdom


Restlessness and discontent are the first necessities of progress. -Thomas Edison


It's nice to think that there's a reason for all of the problems that are going on in my life! I do feel that there's a reason for everything and that our problems and suffering are there for us to learn from. BUT IT'S SUMMER VACATION. I'm supposed to have a break from learning during summer break, right? Oh well. Nothing I can do about it if I'm supposed to learn something from my hardships. I think that these things keep happening to push me forward with my business. If I didn't have so many things that I need money for then I might not work so hard to make my business successful.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

One small step for Business Mommy!


Thank you to all who visited yesterday! I reached my first goal of having 50 visitors in a single day! This is largely due to my muffin tin post that was linked to Her Cup Overfloweth. Thank you Michelle for giving me a fun post to be a part of, and thank you for coming up with the idea that is helping me feed my little guy, Dawson, in a way that he is loving!


Michelle also posts a lot of fun craft ideas for kids. Maybe you can find something fun to do with your little ones too, or maybe she can inspire you towards a new idea for your own crafts.

Band of Barbies

This is a new blog that I've started reading. Band of Barbies is written about small business issues. Particularly those that face women. The most recent post is about the difference between businessmen, and businesswomen. Most notably, the women are labeled as bitches. I think most women deal with this stereotype, whether you work in the business world, or if you own your own business. The key is to take pride in being called a bitch! All it means is that you've outmaneuvered a man to the point that he has no other recourse to cover for himself other than to call you a name!

Time Out Tuesday - Sometimes Life Sucks

Have you ever had one of those days where NOTHING goes right? Have you ever had one of those years? I swear, the past three years of my life have felt like that. There have been a couple spectacularly good things. Meeting and marrying my hubby, and having my baby. But everything else just seems neverending. I'll give you the short list. Trees falling in the back yard, breaking a cap on my tooth, hubby breaking a cap, lap top died, other computer died, hubby got laid off, got new job, got laid off again, luckily got new wonderful job, I got laid off, lots of expensive medical fees (happily not for anything life threatening,) dealing with an unpleasant person on an almost daily basis, dealing with a herd of little unpleasant people, and dealing with the side effects that come with being laid off and having lots of medical (and ahem. . . legal) expenses.

And remember, that's the short list. LOL. It's feeling like things are never going to get to a normal level. I certainly don't expect life to be perfect. I'm just ready for it to not be so freaking hard. I feel like I'm in a leaking boat and throwing out bucket after bucket of water to keep from sinking. Most of the time I'm able to just barely stay afloat, then as soon as I start to make some progress, another wave comes along. At least I have my family. And all of these hardships have pointed me in the direction of learning about the saving money websites out there. And my own challenges of finding money leftover to still be able to work on my business when it feels like every penny goes out the door has inspired me to write this blog and hopefully help others in similar situations.

All of this hardship in my life should be ending in the near future. And when it does I'm going to be fortunate to have gone through all of this. I'll already know how to live frugally so that I'll be able to get the most for my money.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Muffin Tin Monday


Lunchtime!

The muffin pan has turned out to be a spectacular way to feed my son his lunch. I did it three times last week. He loves it! It's easy for me because it allows me to have a better idea of the kinds of serving sizes and variety that I want to be giving him. And he loves sticking his fingers in the holes to find his snacks. I try to pick things that aren't too messy so he doesn't have to get in the high chair for them. His favorite is peanut butter sandwiches made out of eggo waffles. The peanut butter melts into the waffle squares a bit when they're still warm, so it makes it less messy for him to eat. So there's two holes with sandwich sections, then two holes with fruit, then I usually put a dessert in one, and a snack in one. The snack has been Quaker rice cakes. He loves them. And the dessert has been M&Ms. He usually starts with dessert. He takes after his momma. I don't include veggies because he won't eat veggies when he has options. If they are the only thing in front of him, he likes them. Next to anything else, forget it.

I've found that the muffin tin is also good for his memory. I put it on a tv tray and try to get him to sit on the couch with me to eat. Nope. He's too busy for that. But he pays attention to where everything is, and he sticks his hand up to grab and gets exactly what he wants. I realized this when I turned it around once to try to convince him to eat something other than M&Ms first. He got so frustrated and kept looking under his rice cakes trying to figure out why the candy wasn't there when it should have been. So I don't trick him anymore. So long as he's eating other things too, let him start with the candy.