Friday, February 26, 2010

Coupon Sunday 2/28/10

There will be 1 insert in the paper this Sunday. Check out the list at the Taylortown link on my right sidebar. There is a good $3 off of Purina One brand pet food that I will use. That coupon by itself makes it worth buying extra papers for me. However, I will probably look into purchasing these individually through ebay instead of buying the extra papers.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Outlet Malls

I was out shopping at the outlet malls this past weekend, and wanted to point out a couple tidbits that I came across. I'm used to buying most if not all of my clothes at Walmart or Target. I'm just not that into things like that to spend money on name brand things. If I'm going to put a couple hundred of dollars into a single item, it's going to be an ipod or a steam cleaner, or something that I'll get more use out of. New York and Company is about as high end as I go. And that's only because they have good coupons and sales!

At the outlet mall this weekend, I came across a few really good deals that I want to share. Don't expect to just walk into a designer store and to find anything and everything at good prices. Yeah, good prices if you shop in season, and are up on the latest styles. I don't care about that stuff. I care about getting items I love for good prices. I look for things that are going to last more than one season. I follow the same guidelines I do at regular stores. Head straight to the discount section. Theoretically, the whole stores are discount sections. Not really.

Coach. Super expensive purses and wallets. They often have coupons for 20% off circulating online. Follow Hip 2 Save in my sidebar, you'll be aware when the coupons are available. However, everytime I've gone to the store (not often, but still) they've handed me a coupon when I walked in the door whether the online one was available or not. But here's the trick. Everything in the store is marked down. But in the back corner, they have an extra percentage off the already marked down price. I like the 50% off section. This can take a $500 bag down to $150. Still pretty pricey if you're used to Walmart shopping. But my opinion is, why am I putting all of the time and effort into the deal shopping and couponing if I can't splurge once in a while. Even better . . . after sales and coupons, you can get a nice wallet for about $30. Last time I was in Kohl's looking for a wallet, it was going to be $30. Heck no! I'll get real designer for that price!

Ecco. I wasn't very familiar with Ecco shoes before. They're nice, but kinda boring. I like slutty shoes. But being 7 months pregnant and balance being an issue when the ground is kinda slick, I thought some sensible shoes would be a good plan. Almost every pair is like $130. And I have ginormous size 11 shoes. I never get deals on shoes. Never. But I was pleasantly surprised to come across a pair that I liked, then found out they were marked down to only $30. !!!!! Happy day for me! Again, same price I would pay for a halfway decent pair at Walmart or Target.

Also, found an awesome deal on Diesel cologne for men. I've had my eye on getting my husband a bottle of this stuff for a long time. But it's usually $65 for a bottle. In a store window I came across a gift set marked down to $35. It was a steal that included the cologne, after shave, and some shower gel. All for a cheaper price than a single bottle of cologne would have been.

So when you hit the outlet malls, don't expect to get something for nothing. Everything is still pricey. Especially if you're looking for something very specific. A little research, and an eye for a deal will help you out though. Keep in mind that it's only a deal if you would have bought your normal brand for a comparable price. If a shirt is half price, but still $30, that doesn't help me since I normally get shirts for $20 or less. (Unless it's a specific or special need.) So just because it used to be $60, it's not going to be a good deal for me unless it's less than $20.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Coupons 2/21/10

There will be three inserts in the paper this Sunday. Check out my link for Taylortown Preview on the right sidebar to see what's available. I will probably buy 3 papers.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Update

Well, I'm moving slower and slower everyday. Officially 7 months along now. You know that scene from The Grinch Who Stole Christmas where his heart grows three sizes too big? Well, that's the way I feel about my stomach and chest right now. Flip me on my back and I rock back and forth like a turtle trying to get back up. LOL. But even with all of my complaints, this pregnancy is much easier than the last one. Even with all the aches and pains and mood swings and impatience, at least I don't have constant morning sickness. And I'm definitely getting moodier in direct proportion to the size of my belly, I don't just break out crying uncontrollably if someone looks at me the wrong way. So all I can say is that it could be much worse. This baby seems to be much more . . . high maintenance though. She complains and kicks me in painful ways if she doesn't like how I'm sitting or laying. Dawson didn't do that. He kicked me painfully when he got bigger and ran out of space, but it was a space issue. These kicks have been feeling like complaining, not like stretching. Not even born, and already a diva.

So anyway. I've still been working very hard on my website. I'm happy to report that some of my search engine optimization seems to be working. If you do a search for hand painted incense bottle in google, then my site comes up as #1!!! Go ahead, try it! And be sure to actually click that link to go to my page. If you do a search then go to my page, it tells google that my site was the one that you were looking for and it helps my ranking! Still working on getting somewhere with other key words. This stuff ain't easy.

As far as the money saving . . . excellent grocery shopping week. This coming week will be similar. Stocking up on laundry detergent and grands biscuits. And other things, but the Purex laundry detergent is nearly free, so I'm getting as much as I can. I'm ordering some coupons from ebay because I need to at least get enough for the whole year. See www.moneysavingmethods.blogspot.com for some details on the Purex deal.

I've also done some surveys. I qualified for one survey that paid me a dollar, and another product evaluation that will pay me $4 to test a product. So that's pretty cool. I'm also back to trying to find some mystery shopping opportunities. I can't run around much, but if the place is close by, or if it's for something I need, then I'm applying. Right now I want to be able to put as much money as possible into my business, so absolutely anywhere that I can save money or earn a little bit extra is going to help me reach my goals.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Things To Do

Notice that there is a new list on the right side bar now. These are the major things that I do to earn and/or save money. I'm trying to get myself more organized, and this list will help keep me together. This is just the short list. I will be making some changes to it in the near future. Right now the mystery shopping and survey links will take you to Money Saving Methods. The coupon link will take you to The Grocery Game. And the small business link will take you to my small business website. This will change soon, but this is the quick and dirty way to show how I do things.

I've learnt everything I know about mystery shopping and finding survey sites from Carrie at Money Saving Methods, so until I create my own content, see her info. Even after I create my own content, I will still be directing you to her info. But along with my own two cents too. Same with surveys. And as far as I'm concerned, The Grocery Game is the best way to get coupon matchups. If you haven't tried it yet, sign up for a free trial for a month. It's an excellent service. Well worth the cost.

Coupons 2/14/10

There is only one insert in this Sunday's paper. I won't be buying any extras. It will be nice to have a break from coupon day. Especially with as stressful as the last one was. I ran all over the place, and none of the papers had all of the inserts. :(

Monday, February 8, 2010

Baking Day!

I LOVE to bake on cold and snowy days. So I'm gearing up for this big snow storm scheduled to start at any minute now. I despise driving in snow. But since I'm still laid off and doing the stay at home and take care of baby and work on running my own business thing . . . snow storms are beautiful. I hate that hubby has to go out and drive in dangerous conditions. But at least I get to greet him with warm yummies fresh from the oven when he gets home. On Friday I made homemade hot chocolate.

Tomorrow will be more advanced. I'm going to attempt to make homemade yogurt. See the link here if you want to try it out too. http://www.thefrugalgirl.com/2009/10/how-to-make-homemade-yogurt-2/ I'm also planning to make some type of bread. And pudding and jello, and cookies. And we'll see what other concoctions I can come up with too. But the yogurt is the big experiment. If it turns out right then I'll start buying frozen fruit to blend into yogurt smoothies. And I read someone elses post about adding caramel, bananas and brown sugar. Mmmm.

I'm a total sugar addict these days with the pregnancy. I'm sure I'll come up with all sorts of other things too. I was craving peanut butter, jelly and marshmallow sandwiches the other night. Just suddenly at about 2am, peanut butter. But I'm very nearly 7 months along, and so far I've only gained 7 pounds!!!!!!!!! So I'm indulging in the sugar cravings. It should make my baking day interesting.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Coupons 2/7/10

There will be four inserts in this Sunday's paper.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Google Adwords - Continued

Well, I think I may have figured out the problem with Google. Mind you, I don't know for sure BECAUSE THEY WON'T TELL ME. But I think I'm too sexy for them. ;) My guess is that when I created the ad, they ran some sort of filter on my entire site, and well, some of my fragrance names probably came up as naughty. Like Butt Naked and Opium. And those are very popular scents specifically requested by many customers, so even Google isn't going to make me get rid of them. I'm going to attempt to appeal the decision. I think if a live person looks at my site and sees that just because Opium is listed, it doesn't mean I'm selling drugs, and Butt Naked doesn't bring up anything naughty, then it will probably be fine. Again, assuming this is actually the reason I got kicked out.

On the plus side, my search engine optimization is working. I have no idea how or why. But I will just smile and pretend like I know what's going on! If you do a search in Google for Light My Fire Candles, my website comes up! Actually, my Light My Fire Candles Blog is in the #1 spot, which is fine because it links to my web page. (I'll make it more seamless when I learn how.) And within the top 30 spots, there are several links to my blog, a couple links to other blogs that have talked about me, and one link straight to my site. So that makes me pretty happy. None of that cost anything. It's something to do with how I set up keywords and stuff.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Google Adwords

Well, this has become a sensitive topic in my house these days. How odd does that seem? I've been doing a lot of research and work on advertising my new website. I will go into some specific details when I learn more. It's a lot of work since I know so little about it. But one thing I learnt very quickly, don't use Google Adwords. And if you do, don't depend on it. People have lost their entire businesses from depending on Google. It's craziness. One thing that does make me happy though is that I'm reporting about this using Blogger, which is the Google software to write blogs. Neener. Not that I'll make a dent in their bottom line. LOL. If they cared about what little old me had to say, I wouldn't be having to say it.

Ok. What is Google Adwords? It's a PPC advertising vehicle. PPC means pay per click. If you use google to do searches, you probably notice along the right side of the screen that there are little boxes with advertisements that are similar to what you searched for. Anyone (theoretically) can run these types of ads for their business. You just go in and create an account, create your ad, then pay for it. In my case, I had a $50 credit to use from the place that is hosting my new site. You say how much you want to pay per click. I set it up to pay 20 cents per click, and to spend up to $10 a day. I wanted to kind of test the waters with my free credit, then decide how much to spend after that.

Nope. Now before I go further, let me show you the actual ad I created. This is exactly what I created. The only difference is that in the actual ad, the first line would be a link to my website.

Highly Scented Candles
Pillars, Votives, and Tarts
Perfect for Valentine's Day
www.lmfcandles.com

Well, I've never done this sort of thing before. Internet advertising is new to me. So I wasn't real sure if I was reading the reports correctly. I was nervous about the account going over the amount I could spend, and also excited to start getting some traffic to my site. Even if the clicks don't end in sales, at least it gets me some traffic, which helps with my ratings. But maybe I'll even get lucky and get a few sales in the process. Well, a day went by and nothing seemed to be happening. I literally spent hours between setting up the ad, then trying to figure out what was wrong with it. Another day went by, nothing. Meanwhile, an account that I had with Bidvertiser, another PPC site, was working just fine. So after puzzling over it for a couple days, I finally emailed Google. Turns out that my account was under review. They made it sound like it had something to do with the credit card I used. Ok, whatever. Inconvenient, since I had wanted that traffic over the weekend, but if they are working hard to keep my info safe, then I could wait for them to verify it.

Today I got a nice email telling me that my account was suspended due to a violation of the terms and conditions. I've read that entire document three times now, and hubby has read it for me too. I can't find anything that I could possibly be in violation of. It's a little three line ad. None of the stuff I use is copywrited to anyone else. Nothing I sell is illegal. I used valid information when setting up my account. Everything is normal. So I sent an email asking them for more information so I could fix it. The response I got, and let me actually copy and paste this because my jaw dropped when I seen it. I so could not believe it.

"Our support team is unable to provide any further information. Please do not contact us again."

So I'm beyond upset. Trying to get the internet segment of my business up and running, and getting black balled by google before I even have a chance to get started. I've been searching, and it turns out that this is a very common problem. Tons of people have had the same exact experience as I have. Or for those more devastated by the problem, they've been running ads and have built a decent business and depended on being able to run their ads, then suddenly had their accounts suspended for "violating terms and conditions" without being able to get a real reason, and then being told not to contact them again.

I really just wish I could get it fixed. And I'm probably going to be wasting my life all week trying to figure out how to get it fixed. It's obviously a mistake. I know how to read and follow a contract. My last job entailed reading, interpreting and enforcing contracts. I can read and write legalese with the best of them. If there is some term or condition that I'm breaking, then it absolutely isn't obvious.

I'm also going to be filing complaints with the Better Business Bureau, and the Federal Trade Commission. I doubt it will get me anywhere, but I have to do something. I mean, I can't exactly boycott google. But I also don't want to have to sit around for the rest of my life getting pissed off everytime I have to do a search.

But my point, other than venting some of my frustrations . . . this can and does happen to anyone for any or no reason at anytime. If you do decide to use google adwords for your business, be sure to build up other marketing strategies at the same time. If they would give us reasons, it would be easier because you could just read a list and say, ok, I won't do that. But without a reason, who knows why they're shutting people down? It could be because I'm a woman. It could be because a cross referenced search has shown them that I have a mental disorder. It could be because they have an aunt that makes candles and they don't want me competing with her. Who knows? I suspect it's because I have a $50 credit on my account that they don't want to honor.