Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Day 6-Closets: Clothes

(c) Google
They say that clothes maketh a man (OK MS. Word stop it).   So why is it that we treat clothes so bad?  After all, it all started with Adam and Eve.  It says in the bible that after they ate of the apple, they discovered that they were naked, hid from God behind a bush and covered themselves with fig leaves.  Since that time, we have been having clothing issues including how to take care of them.
OK, that is not how the story goes after Adam and Eve ate the apple, they had worst problems after that time, because God does not care how we look, but man does.  I am going to leave that one alone for now.
Welcome to day 6 of the 12 days of organizing.  We are finally finished in the office area for now, and hitting something a little more personal:  your clothing.  In two weeks, 2015 will be here, and if you do not have your outfit together to ring in the New Year, folks will be talking about you for a couple of weeks (unless you plan on staying at home and kick it with Ryan Seacrest, which in that case, we need to talk about your social life—just kidding)
Can we agree on something?  Clothing makes a person feel good when they are clean, fresh, and void of rips and tears.  (Although after all these years the jury is still out on ripped jeans.) Any time you have a piece of clothing that does not meet yours or the fashion industry’s idea of clothing, you do not feel at your best, and if you are like me, you feel withdrawn, dirty, and unloved, and the only way to solve the problem is to go shopping.
Well not so fast, my friend, this is no ordinary post.  In addition to helping you organize your closet, I am here to help you save money too.  Once in for all, 2015 will be the year that you do not go to the store every two minutes for an outfit.  We are going to make your current stuff work so that you only have to buy a few new pieces, not a whole closet.
Step 1-set aside a whole day to do this.  (Yes, I said a whole day).  Chances are that you have not looked at whole closet since summer.  
Step 2-take everything out of the closet.  By doing this, you are looking at every piece of clothing in there, and you are making decisions on what to do with it.  You also know what you actually have in your closet.
Step 3-take each piece of clothing and look at it.  When you are looking at it, you are deciding the following: 
·         Am I wearing it currently, and if not, why? 
·         If I am not wearing it, and I do not like it anymore, can I donate it or toss it?  Put it in a toss pile or a donate pile.  Throw away the toss pile, and take the donated clothing to a local shelter or charity that except the clothing and will give them to a family who needs them.
·         If I am not wearing it because of the season?  If that is the case, pack it away for the season.  A note about seasonal clothing:  It does not matter what season it is, as long as you have a place to put it while it is not in season.  When you are ready to wear it, try it on first to see if you can still wear it.  If so, place back into the closet.
·         Can I still wear it?  Look ladies, we all have our favorites, but if you cannot fit into it anymore, you just cannot fit into it anymore. Do not try to make it work or save it for when you can fit it again.
·         Once you have done all of that, it is time to do the next step in the process:
Step 4- inspection time.  You should have already done this, but in case you have not, it is time to inspect all the piece of clothing you decided to keep.  If you find that it is torn and you can repair it, keep it, but if you cannot, toss.
Step 5-replace your clothing back into the closet.   You can do this one of two ways:  put like items together, which is the most common way of doing it, or you can mix and match items into outfits.  Now do not emulate Clueless (if you have seen the movie).  Cher has clothes for days, and she can look into her computer, match articles of clothing, and have a banging outfit in a matter of minutes.  Most of us cannot afford a rotating clothing rack.  Not bad for a 16-year old.  This is also the time, when you would store your out-of-season clothing for the next season.  Just know where you stored them.
You can do this same process for your accessories, shoes, purses, and clothing that are in your drawers.  I recommend that you do it once a year to the maximum of every 6 months to change out your out-of-season clothing.
Once you have done this, you can now replace the articles of clothing that you have tossed either because of wear and tear or not fitting anymore.   A new piece to an already established outfit can renew it and make it new again.  Match the outfit with different accessories, a new top, or a new pair of shoes. So now you do not have to spend as much money.
Don’t just concentrate on the clothing itself, make your closet very special and inviting.  How?  By putting up organizational units, buying new hangers (I have invested in some Joy Mangano 

Huggable Hangers, which are supposed to be better than the wire hangers that you get from the cleaners and the plastic tube hangers you get at the dollar stores).  Have boxes for your purses, hooks for the items you use most often, and if you share with your spouse, pick a side for your clothes and a side for theirs.
Don’t forget about the thrift stores and consignment shops, where sometimes you can save even more money.  You just have to know how to negotiate the prices, and make sure that the top you picked out, looks just as new as one from a regular department store.
Now you have an excuse to REALLY go shopping, but do not overdo it.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Day 5-Budget

Example of a budget in Excel- my go to software of choice
(c) P.Lynne Designs
Welcome to day 5 of our 12 days of organization.  Yesterday, was meal planning, and I had fun helping you make the decision of sitting down and cooking a meal with your family.  The day before, we created your home management guide, and days 1 and 2 dealt with your computer. 
Today, it is all about your finances (with or without the computer), and I know what you are thinking as you read the title (maybe), but I have to say it:  everyone must have a budget.  The reason:  so you know how much money you are making and where you allocate your money each month.   I will have to say that I am not an accountant, never aspired to be one, and I respect those who love crunching the numbers to make them work, so do not ask me specifically what to do with your money.  I can say through years of experience, that I have cried over many a paycheck, thrown up my hands in discuss when there was a bill that I (not the creditors) forgot that was due, and pouted like a little child when that item I wanted so bad was on sale and I could not get it.  That does not say that I have it down to a science now, but it makes me breathe a sigh of relief, knowing that I have money for the next month. (That still does not stop the pouting, lol) that is the reason for having one.
What do I need for this project?
This ties into day 1 of the 12 days of organization, but I am going to give you a leeway:  you do not have to plop your budget on a computer.  What I want you to do, if this is your first time creating a budget, read day one to see if this is for you.  I say that, because there may be older adults reading this blog, and if you do not feel comfortable placing you finances on your computer or if you are reading this from a public computer, such as one at the library, then the computer may not be the best for YOUR situation.  This is something that I failed to mention day 1, and I apologize.   With that being said, you should still be able to do this project and even the home management guide on day 3.
If you do not have a computer for any reason, you may purchase a ledger from an office supply store.  The types I have found best in the past were the ones that support 12 months.  You should be able to place a pay and receive column on it.  The pay is anything you pay out like bills, while receive is for anything like your paycheck, pension, or social security check. The steps are as follows:

Step 1-figure out your income.   This should not be hard. All you need is a weekly pay stub, and input your paycheck AFTER taxes.  Please note:  This is in US dollars, but this should apply in any country you reside and work in.  If you live in the US, but you freelance your work to other countries, this is a totally different system, IF that company does not pay in US dollars.  Please consultant your employer on how you receive your payments, BEFORE you figure out your income.  If your pay is more than one company, as in freelance work, working a second job, and any government payments to you, simply add them up.
Step 2-divide and conquer part 1.  Take that amount from step 1, and divide it by 12.  This is your working amount.
Everyone’s household is different, however, the more categories you have, the less money you have allocated per month.   The best way to do this is to divide it between the following main areas:
·         Essentials
o   Food
o   Clothing
o   Shelter
o   Health
·         Billing
o   Credit cards
o   Subscriptions
o   Memberships
·          Other
Once you figure out how much you need in each category, you should be able to track your spending.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Day 4- Meal planning


Are you hungry?  I know I am, and I get upset when I cannot find something to eat around my house.  Welcome to day 4 of our 12 days of organizing.  Before I continue, let me recap:
Day1, I talked about investing in financial software, and that it does not have to be expensive to do.  Day2, I talked about cleaning out your computer and preparing it for the coming year.  Day3, it is all about creating a home management guide and with to put in there.
Today, I want to talk about meal planning.  First of all, the project that goes hand and hand with meal planning is cleaning out your pantry.  Once you clean out your pantry, then you can go about your business of finding out what you to plan a good meal. Did you know that you have actually three pantries in your home?  You have one for your can goods and other things that are non-perishable.  Your second pantry is your fridge, while your third pantry is your freezer. 
Step 1-Go through each pantry (remember you have three), and first of all, get rid of anything that has an expiration date.  You are pretty safe if you have things that are a few days pass the due date, BUT if, for example, today date is December 14, 2014, and you have something that was dated December 14, 2010, chances are that it is time to get rid of it.  For your fridge, if it is ready to take legs and walk, toss it.  If it smells like something has died, bye-bye.  If it looks like your child’s science project, and they do not have one (or if you do not have kids), it is time for toxic city USA. Buh-bye. For the freezer, make sure that the meat and other things do not look it is old and stinky (I had a package of chopped steak that looked like it was made from shoe leather (and it smelled when I opened it).  Anyway, if you want to know how long you can keep a food item, click HERE
Step 2-Make a food budget, especially if you are in a situation (EBT or Food Stamps).  You do not want to go over that budget.   Incorporate coupons and other money saving things (such as rebates).  I admire someone who wants to become an extreme coupon clipper (like on that TLC show), but you do not have to shop like them (I mean does anyone have the need for 75 bottles of mustard, unless they are part of a co-op, food pantry, or have a family like The Duggars).  Do not go over that budget, but if you do, do not beat yourself up for doing so, especially in these first few months of your new system.
Step 3-Make a mandatory list of must haves.  You can do this while you are cleaning out your pantries.  I would also use this time to keep your spices in check too.  This can be a running list of groceries and create a new one as you need it (like for special occasions) or create a new list each month.  The choice is yours.  If you have a family, get their input too, but remember your budget.  Also include any one-time special dietary needs.
Step 4 (this is where the real meal planning starts) - find up all your family’s favorite recipes, include the ingredients into step 3’s list making.  Do not go shopping yet, because you need a calendar to sit down and decide what day you are going to fix what meal.  There are also several printables that you can use to plan out a week’s worth of meals. 
Step 5-enjoy your success.  If you plan it carefully, you should have a month’s worth of meals, which not only will save you money in the grocery store, but prevent you from eating out (please include weekend meals).  Invest in a slow cooker.  Cook big batches of food, so you can freeze some, and when there are times when you do not want to cook, pull out a meal.  Most meals do freeze well.  You can freeze the uncooked portions as well, have a set of instructions ready to follow and I should not take that long. 

This is the end of day 4.  

Saturday, December 13, 2014

12 days of organization: day 3 - create a home management guide.

Welcome to day 3 of the 12 days of organization. Today we are talking about creating a home management guide. I have an article about this very subject that I created about a year ago. I think it's about time that I update you on this subject.
First a word about Home management...What it is not!!!
I believe that everyone should have a daily schedule on how you run your household…and why.   Attitude is the key.  If you are creating this guide because I or someone else said you need to and that this is mandatory, you are barking up the wrong tree.  You are doing this because you WANT to, you WANT some structure in you and your family’s life, and this will HELP you run the household smoothly. 
A Household Management Guide should be just that, a guide, and my guide is different from your guide.   I am a single person with no family living with me, but I have a family.  I still need to have them included into my guide, even though they live at a different address.  If you are part of a couple (married, significant other, roommates), this guide would be different from mine, and if you have kids (with or without a partner), it would be different still.   Do you see what I mean? 

What is needed to create one?

A lot of this information I have gone over with my previous post from last year, but I will go over it again.   To go paperless (digital) or not is entirely up to you.  There are advantages and disadvantages to both.  I am a difficult person, so I do both.  Why?  One copy is the main one I work from, while the other is a back-up copy.  If you are going with traditional paper, you can create a guide 3-ring style or spiral.  I like 3-ring, because you can easily add or delete a piece of paper, such as a takeout menu, your child’s softball practice schedule, or a change up in your cleaning routine.  I go paperless as a backup to the 3-ring, because you never know, you may lose it.  For that, you need a scanner (I recommend a 4 in 1 one that prints, copies, faxes, and scans), and room on your hard drive, external drive, or cloud server like Dropbox, ICloud or Media fire) for your receipts, schedules, and other paper items that you want to scan into the computer. Next, you want dividers.   Avery or Pendaflex are brands that I use, but there are as many styles out there as there are brands, so choose the one you like.  If you are already keeping a filing system, use the same brand that you use for your folders.

As I explained in my post last year, what you put in your guide is up to you.  I have in my guide:
·         A calendar (Daily, weekly, and monthly)
·         A cleaning schedule
·         Grocery list
·         Birthday list and gift guide
·         Take-out menu (in with my grocery list)
·         House decorating list
·         Family list
There are some people who put in things like devotionals, school schedules, and even vacation list.   For my devotional category, I attend a regular bible study, so I do not need to list it twice (I can, but why the extra paperwork).  I will have a school section, because I plan on going back to school and there is still the possibility me adopting (all under family list).  Vacation will be created when I plan it, and will be separated as it is not part of my household.  Speaking of it, finances is also separate.
How often should you look at it?

I would have to say as often as you need to, but make it consistent. 

Last thoughts about the home management guide:
·         Name it what you want, so it does not feel like a chore to have it.
·         You do not need to have it to stay organized IF you take on the attitude of it being mandatory to use it.
·         Positive attitude is the key to making this guide work.
·         There are all kinds of printables out there in cyberspace (many are free), for you to use.  Many of the creators ask that you copy it for personal use ONLY.  If you do, please respect the creator of the printable and do not reprint for profit.   There are also many tuts (tutorials) out there to show you how to make your own.
·         Make you guide your own

·         And have fun using it, not a chore, and you will use it for many, many years to come.  Just change it out from year to year.

Friday, December 12, 2014

12 days of organizing: day 2-Clean your computer.

(c) Copyright
I am on this computer almost every day.  It seems that if I am not on it, my life is not complete, but it is. I…
  • ·      Use social media
  • ·         Write
  • ·         Create

·         And do both business and personal stuff on here.
I will admit that I do not have enough memory to use all 5 office products at once, have my internet browser open to Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, AND my blogs.   I want to sync it all in one convenient place, and have massive amounts of data at my disposal.
If you are like me, then you are in good company.  My generation (Post baby boomers) started the home computer era (not sure yet if I am a proud mama or regret every moment of it), but it is today’s generation that is perfecting it by the nano-second.
So, with all this data, from playing the latest upgrade of Candy Crush Soda (in case you are in the dark, Candy Crush gave birth to a baby soda) to downloading your latest bank statement, you have to wonder if you have any more room to do anything.  If you are having this problem, it is time to clean out your computer (and while you are at it, your smartphone and table).
True story:  I wanted an app for my smartphone, and so last night, while I was waiting on my nephew to get off from work, I tried and failed to download it.  Why? Because my phone is so full of photos until it is crazy.  I need to store my photos elsewhere.  So how do you store all of those photos of your 2 year old eating a grape while watching their favorite show on your Ipad?  Simple, and you know how I love simple…cloud software.
So my tip for you today is to clean out your computer. I tend to look at it this way, it is a fresh start to the coming year. This process is simple and it takes only about an hour to complete it. If it takes more than an hour to complete this task, you are doing too much. You will need the following:
·         Your computer, of course
·         a notebook
·         either an external hard drive or access to a cloud website
The bulk of this project will be spent on your computer. Your 1st step is to search for all of your photos. If you have an external hard drive, go and create a photo folder called “photos or pictures” and transfer all of your photos onto the external drive. I will show you how to upload on a cloud website later, but it is the same process as uploading to an external drive. Next, go through your email program, and delete any emails that will not be related to 2015,that you can either get rid of entirely, or archive.the ones that you want to archive, place inside the cloud server.once you have done that, already to move on 2 the next phase of your computer clean up.

Now make sure that your programs are up to date.
Clean out any unwanted programs and find the latest update for your programs. Next, make sure that all of your drivers and other tools are up to date on your computer. Finally, in this area, make sure that all of your equipment is up to date for your operating system and computer.
Smart phones
While we are on the subject of cleaning your computer, do the same for your smart phone. Make sure that you upload your photos from the phone to the cloud server. Make sure all of your apps are up to date, and that any apps that you don’t need you delete from the phone. I will not go into tablets, E-readers, or any other type of electronics, because the process is the same.
I hope this tip works out for you as you near the end of day 2.  Next we will tackle day 3, which is a little bit lengthier, but you can do it. It will be on the subject of creating a home management guide.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

New Series: 12 days of getting ready for 2015 and beyond

(c) Microsoft Corporation
Hi, I have not written a series in like forever (Does January 2014 count?)   Anyway, I was just getting ready to go somewhat automatic in 2015.  That is my goal.  I want to streamline my business without looking streamline.  There are some things that I want to do, make it look effortless, all while taking the time to do the things that I am supposed to do.   Even though, unlike many of you, I do not have any children nor a husby (my friend Jennifer’s term for her husband), yet, I do have a family (parents, siblings, niece and nephews) who think that I can drop things and do stuff for them.  I cannot take time out to fight with my computer, the internet, and insensitive people, and have a successful business.  I have other things to do, as well as friends, family, and clients to see (just came back Sunday from a weekend celebration of my aunt and uncle’s 50th anniversary in Detroit).
So I was working on my business budget, when it hit me, this is a 12 days of organization moment, 2015 style. Here is what I am thinking:  What if I give you little tidbits that have helped me along the way, or discovered for the first time.  You know, that duh (or as Oprah Winfrey says “Ah Ha”) moment.  We have until the end of the year to do this or to figure it out, and I know you can do it.  With that being said, here is day 1 of the 12 days of organization.
Warning:  Links ahead
Software (day 1)
As I said in my introduction to this series, I was working on my budget for my business today, when this first tip hit me in the face.  I have tried and failed at sophisticated software like Quicken or Quickbooks and other accounting software.  I am sorry to tell you this, but this type of software is made for a small business accountant (which I am not).  They are also too expense for my business at the moment.  I am more of a home business owner, who reps for a direct selling company called Longaberger (TheLongaberger Company), which sells baskets, pottery, and wrought iron (shameless plug).  I do not run the company, and I seriously doubt if Tami Longaberger wants me to run it.  Another company I have and actually own, is a company called P.Lynne Designs, which is my baby, started it from scratch with my own two hands, is a custom scrapbook album and greeting card company.  I am also a freelance writer on the side. (More shameless plugs) All of these can use Quicken and other types of accounting software like it, but most of the categories that my finances fall under, do not meet that software’s recommendations.
My tip for you today is nothing more than to GO SIMPLE!  If you do not mind it, use software like MS Excel and other products like it.  I even use it for my personal finances.  The reason why is Excel is more cost effective than Quicken, and there is a payment plan for MS. Excel, but you have to get the whole MS Office365 for the subscription.  Once you get to the point of needing to expand your business, go with an accountant, a good one.  He or she can show you what software they use to manage your finances, and could have a copy of that software installed on your computer so you can see how they are keeping track of your finances, but you have to ask for it.
The good thing about Quicken is they do show you where to plug in the numbers, so come tax time or calculating your totals each month, you will not have difficulty finding what you need, but you can also use a template in MS Excel.   The bottom line is if you do not have to spend the money, don’t, but if you understand accounting software, and you do not mind the cost, go for it.  I am just letting you know about the type of accounting software that I use.  By the way, this software also works on a Mac, but if you are not totally feeling the need of having to deal with Microsoft products, there are some great substitutes as well.

Tomorrow, I will have another tip.  This time it is an old tip that I often mention every year:  Clean out your computer.  That is day two.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Slight changes to the blog.....

I popped on here briefly to first of all wish everyone a happy rest of the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.  Mine was eventful, that is all I can say on that one.  I enjoyed it while I could. 
Second of all, I am starting to do what is called yearly themes on all of my blogs except 2 (I have a total of 5).  I have seen what they do for other blogs, and it will give me a focal point.  I am floating all over the place.
So with that being the case, I am going to do a holiday theme in December that will carry you until January.  Starting January 1st, I am going to have a tech themed every other day (Monday, Wednesday, Friday). Tuesday, Thursdays, and Saturday I am will have an organizational day, and the weekend (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday) will be buy day, in case you go shopping on the weekends.
I know I have mentioned that I was going to change my blog (which at the moment is a little on the messy side), but life had gotten in the way and I did not want to let go of it totally.  Coupons are slightly going away for the moment, unless I share with you what I receive in my email.  I was working with a coupon service, but I could not get the password to work right, so it was a fail.  Not only that, when you work with a coupon service, you need to have the time and the dedication for that in your life, and I do not have that kind of time.  Maybe later on in 2015 when things have settled down.  It is also taking me a little longer to prepare to shut down the blog in Blogger and transfer it to WordPress, but it is coming.  I need to have it up and running in WordPress first.
Also starting in January, I will be excepting ads, but I have not worked out the final details in terms of pricing, but it will be reasonable and affordable for anyone from a business owner who has a home business, direct selling, or online shop to a small business.  Corporations at the moment need not apply, but I will have a place for you.

Well that is it for now.  I hope you will enjoy the changes.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Agent Ace Crate & Barrel Giveaway

Sponsored by: Agent Ace
Hosted by: Mom Powered Media
Agent Ace is the new way to find the best real estate agent. When you've thought about buying a home, how did you figure out who would help you with that? Did you find someone who you felt you could trust to get you what you wanted from it, whether that was a good price on a new home or the best sale of your old one? A lot of homeowners and potential buyers will just pick a random agent from a list online without a lot of background on what they're best at. It's like throwing a dart at the Yellowpages. With just a little information from you, Agent Ace can match you with the best agent to sell your home or buy a new one.
They're not a service who bases their list on whoever pays the most in your area either, so there's no worry about what goes on behind the scenes. For those of us in the market, Agent Ace a completely free service. Their innovative, patented technology — the Agent Connection Engine (ACE) — makes an unbiased evaluation of every agent who has bought or sold a home just like the one you’re trying to close on based on the information you've provided. They gather and analyze years of past home sales data from ALL the real estate agents in your state, not just a small network. Then they promise to recommend the single best agent for your needs — based on facts.
Agent Ace is free, easy to use, and there’s no obligation to use any of the agents they recommend. You're not locked into anything if you don't find someone you think fits or if maybe you decide you're not ready yet. They make up to 3 agent recommendations for buying and 3 for selling so you can choose the best fit for your needs and your style. Once they identify your best agent, the experienced Agent Specialists will screen them and confirm that they can fully commit to you. They do the initial contact and the sometimes awkward "Hey, can you take a new client right now?" questions for you. Once they’re sure it's a great fit, your recommended agent will give you a call within 24 hours (but usually sooner). It’s as easy as ordering take-out.
[Agent Ace Home Photo]
If you're even considering getting into the housing market for your dream home, whether to buy or sell, you can check out Agent Ace's amazing system from the comfort of your home (in your pajamas) at
Speaking of Dream Homes, Agent Ace wants to help you decorate yours. Two lucky winners are going to receive Crate & Barrel gift cards! The grand prize winner will receive a $250 gift card and a runner up will receive a $100 gift card. The sweepstakes is open to residents of the US through November 24, 2014. Enter using the form below and Good Luck!
Disclaimer: The participating bloggers were not compensated for this post. No purchase is necessary to enter. One entrant per household, per address. Void where prohibited by law. Winner(s) will be contacted by email and have 48 hours to respond before a new winner is chosen. The sponsor(s) will be responsible for product shipment to winner(s) of this sweepstakes. This event is in no way administered, sponsored, or endorsed by, or associated with, Crate & Barrel, Facebook and/or Twitter, Google, Pinterest. Contact if you have any additional questions or comments.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Follow-up to I hate trials…But.

Warning: I am not affiliated with this company.  The purchase I made was strictly with my own money 

In today’s busy world, people often turn to subscription services to do all sorts of things. You can get subscription services for craft kits, gardening, wines, and even things for your pets.
Having foods subscription services are no exception to the rule. In a matter of days, you can have any food item, such as chocolates, and food meal kits. Today, I am focusing on the food meal kits service, what does the service entails, and what can you expect when you are charged for the delivery.
Delivery services have been a commonality in today’s society. The reasons for having such services very between the haves and the have-nots. For the haves, it is a symbol status, or a way to replace the hired help. For the middle class, it is a way to keep up with the Joneses, or “I am just too busy to cook a meal” type of day. As for the have-nots, this is just another way to say “I’m sorry, but you cannot have this type of service, because of the cost of the service.” I’m sorry I have to say it, but it is the way of the world, that in less you are able to use this type of service, it is not feasible to have it. I will explain it all in a moment.
So I decided to try such a service, give it a review, and see if it’s something I would like to keep on a more permanent basis. I have already tried one service, which is not really of food meal type of service. It is a healthy snack service, called Nature Box, and you can see my review of the service here. For that service, I am only going to use it one more month, then see if I can pause it for a couple of months. I like the service, my only complaint is, before I can finish a bag of snacks, there is a new delivery in my mailbox. So by pausing the service, it would give me a chance to catch up. I will have to let you know what happens in a different post.
The service I decided to try first, is called Blue Apron. I signed up under The Nive Nulls connection. If you have been following this blog, you will see that this is how I signed up under Nature Box, even though I did not use their link up. It was more of a recommendation. Anyway, after I finished watching one of their videos, I clicked the link, and it took me to the Blue Apron website, and I filled out my information. With their offer (The Nive Nulls) it is three meals, correction, two meals you get free. At this particular time, you also give your payment information, which I did. My first delivery date is this coming Friday. Today, the payment department charged my debit card. I will be honest to say, that I thought I would be charged in November, so I called customer service, and she explained the payment process further to me. It is important to understand all agreements before signing up for service like Blue Apron. I have not canceled service and I will explain in a moment, but first more on subscription services.
Food service kit subscriptions are not the only products I have tried in the past…I used to subscribe to magazines, CD’s, and scrapbook kits, and they all basically do the same thing:  products come in the mail  at a certain fee (usually monthly), and you either read it, listen to it, or make it.   You have to be careful to know what you want out of it before you buy it.  I have three major tips (two of which bears repeating):
1)      Make sure you check your finances before going into any subscription services.  I know it sounds a little stupid, because of course you want to be able to invest into it.  That is what a subscription service is, an investment.  It is like a mortgage or car payment, only smaller.  You need to know where your money is going at all times.  What if there is an emergency and you need to pay for something on the fly, like an unexpected bill?  It is a little hard when your subscription for wine took the bulk of your money for the week, and you do not have a backup credit card or bank account. One way to do it is track your finances for a month to see where it goes.  Make sure that the subscription service is WITHIN YOUR BUDGET.  You do have a budget?  If not, you should.  If your bank has a way for you to check your money online, check at least once a week. Question everything that you find wrong.  If you use checks, make sure you document everything.
2)      Next, research different services that do the same thing.  Check out pricing, and make sure there are no hidden fees. Check on policies, and see if there is an out clause.   An “out” clause are rules and regulations in case you want to cancel.  Some subscriptions have hidden fees if you cancel in the middle of the month as oppose to the beginning or end of the month, but all should allow you to cancel at some point.  Make sure they will return the unused portion of the month, if you can cancel in the middle or if you fee is an annual fee.  Get a clear understanding of everything, and document everything if you decide to go with that service.  Also in the case of food services, make sure you tell them of all known food allergies, better yet, do not subscribe if you, for example, are allergic to tree nuts, and everything processed in that plant touches any hint of a tree nut.  This is for your safety.
3)      Finally, Make sure this is what you want.  Many things have been addressed under #2, so this bears repeating:  many people buy things only to be disappointed and it is not what they really want.  I am also talking to myself.   Do you really need to part of the Chocolate Bar of the Month club?  Make sure it is a need and not a want.  I know I am talking to myself when I say this.  If joining a meal plan kit does help you save time in the grocery store because you are busy or you like trying new things, and you have the funds to get it, then do it.  If it make you lazy, because you do not feel like grocery shopping, or you do not feel like looking for scrapbooking supplies at a local scrapbooking store, or you have picky eaters, you may think twice about joining a service.
So back to my subscription with Blue Apron. My subscription plan consists of three meals for two people. Now my problem with that, is I am a single person. I can, however, have a friend over, or even have my parents try it. I can do whatever I want to do with the kit. But for right now, my plan is to fix a meal, and save the rest for lunch. This is the problem for most single people. Your average meal for any service, is for two people. I guess this is the average serving norm.
What does my kit consists of? According to the description from Blue Apron, the kit comes with a recipe card and all the ingredients you need for the recipe, packed in some kind of iced container. According to my plan, the meals are supposed to be delivered this Friday. The next time I have a delivery, it will be next Friday, on November 7. As long as I do not skip a week, then I will have a delivery every Friday. However, I have chosen to skip the 14th and 21st. The week of Thanksgiving is an automatic non-delivery week. So my next delivery after November 7 is around the first week of December. I chose it that way, so I can give my full evaluation to see if this service is right for me. If this service is not right for me, I will cancel before my next actual delivery date in December.

So, tell me what you think about Blue Apron, if you have it, or food delivery meal kit services in general. Do you think it is a waste of time or perfect for the busy person? What do you think about the cost? What do you think about subscriptions in general? Do you like them, hate them, or have no thought about them at all? I would love to hear your comments. 

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Target savings: apparel

Fall is about a month and a half old, and you have not prepared for the winter months. You need to find winter apparel for the kids, a couple of sweaters for hubby, and you want a new coat. Now is the time to get all these items, before the holiday rush, especially since Black Friday is around the corner. Jump ahead to the front of the line, get all of your holiday shopping done before Black Friday, and the holiday rush.
Below, are specials for both apparel for the whole family, as well as specials on shoes. Unless specified, you can use them for both online and in the store. Have fun finding those deals.Good from October 26-November 1.
(Warning: there are affiliate links listed below.)