Archive for the ‘Save Money + Save Time = Save Sanity’ Category
Happy Earth Day from all of us here at the kids belts office!
In honor of this holiday (is it really a holiday? Shouldn’t someone be giving me gifts or something?), here are some simple tips on how to be more green.
- Flip the switch: Yep, just turn of that light when you leave a room. Also, if you have a room that gets great natural lighting, don’t turn on a light at all! (Bonus tip: change out all of your light bulbs for those low energy ones that last forever and save money, too!)
- Tap water: Did you know that the bottled water industry sold 8.8 billion gallons of water in 2010, generating nearly $11 billion in profits and the energy required to produce and transport these bottles could fuel an estimated 1.5 million cars for a year. According to treehugger.com 1500 plastic water bottles are used EVERY SECOND!!! Wow, all that just to have someone else fill up a bottle for me and slap a label on it. Make a commitment to make this small change: Fill up your own water bottle! Yes, it is that easy!
- Peddle Power: No, not “flower power”, peddle power. Try to start eliminating one car trip a week by riding your bike. Headed to the store down the street for a few things? Ride your bike instead of turning the key. It’s a small change that can add up!
- Be a Bag Lady: Bring your own bags to the grocery store or farmers market. You eliminate the waste of plastic or paper bags, plus some stores, like Target, give you 5¢ off your total for every bag you use. Bonus!! Save the Earth and save money!
- Up-cycle: This one is my favorite. Instead of buying new and getting the same thing that everyone else has, go thrift shopping! Get something gently used and make it your own with a new coat of paint, or a coat of furniture wax. Same goes for clothes. I have been to thrift stores where the clothes on the racks still have the original tags! Bring it home and wear as is, or add your own touch, change up that t-shirt into a tank. Pinterest has tons of ideas on up-cycling clothing!
There you have it, now start hugging some trees and make everyday Earth Day, after all, it’s the only planet we’ve got!
Does that image look familiar? It should, I used it when I blogged on my kids belts blog about “Magic Mesh“. Well, I did it again… I got sucked into the “As Seen on TV” section again. This time for a book, “Who Knew? 10,001 East Solutions to Everyday Problems”. I know, it’s a very wordy title, but an attractive one non the less.
I did get a bit distracted by some of the other items in that section…
Who buys this stuff?? Oh wait, I do! Well, at least some of the cooler ones. I’ve never bought any of the ones I listed here, at least not that I’ll admit in public.
That’s enough goofing off, back to the book with the ridiculously long title.
Despite the silliness that is “As Seen On TV”, this book has some great tips! What I like is that the tips are short an sweet. There is no extensive reading. Thank goodness, cause who has time for reading?? Here are a few samples of their simple solutions:
- Freshen Shoes
Get rid of nasty odors by sprinkling salt in them and leaving them overnight. The salt will absorb moisture.
- Light Candles without burning fingers
To light hard-to-reach wicks at the bottom of jar candles, use an uncooked strand of spaghetti. Light the end of it, then use it like a fireplace match.
- Makin’ Bacon?
Always rinse bacon under cold water before frying — it will reduce the amount the bacon shrinks when you cook it.
- Dryer Lint
Instead of throwing away lint you’ve cleaned out of your dryer’s screen, use it as kindling for your fireplace. It lights quickly and can be stuffed places paper can’t.
- Worry-Free Carving
To quickly and easily sanitize a cutting board, rub salt into it with a wedge of lemon.
Last week, in my kids belts blog, I shared with you that I am on a spring cleaning kick. After I posted that blog, I got to thinking, I should share with you some tips on how I tackle my spring cleaning. I’m not saying that my way is the only way, but it is the right way…
5 Tips for Tackling Spring Cleaning:
- One room at a time – I know that sounds simple enough, but I know from experience that it’s easier said than done. I was a wanderer… there, I admit it. I wandered. I would start in one room find something that belonged in another, head to that room and see something that needed to be in another room, so I’d take it there and it would just gone on and on like that with me circling the house and completing nothing. Now I focus on one room at a time.
- Clear the floor first – if you can’t navigate the room safely, you aren’t going to accomplish anything. Clear the floor first, put shoes back where they belong, throw away old coloring books and broken crayons. Remove anything else from the floor that doesn’t below in the room.
- Clear the furniture of debris – remove toys, papers, mail, clothes. Here’s the tricky part… throw stuff away. Actually look at what those papers are, is that mail junk, am I going to wear those clothes again? Make a decision and deal with the items appropriately. Now, clean out from under those couch cushions….
- Rearrange furniture – Did you know that rearranging your furniture is the cheapest way to redecorate? Just try moving that couch over there and put the recliner in that corner. It’s magic! The room looks totally different! (Plus moving the furniture, makes it to where you have to clean under it!)
- Dust/Clean the room from top to bottom – literally, in that order. That way the dust settles on the stuff you haven’t dusted, yet. Eventually, it lands on the floor and you vacuum/mop it up!
Hope that helps you tackle your spring cleaning!
Back in February I reviewed eMeals, which is a meal planning website. I really liked the service and I highly recommended it to everyone, and still do. However, I came across this other really cool site recently, called Food on the Table. This site is very similar in that it does diet specific menu plans with recipes utilizing the sales at your local stores, but the best part about this site is that it’s free! Yep, you heard me right, FREE, just click here and the promo code is already entered for you!!
This site is great. When you log in, it takes you through a step by step to get your account set up. You get to choose the stores where you shop, your food preferences (low-fat, low-carb, gluten free, vegetarian), the recipes you want for the week, and then it gives you your shopping list! What’s really convenient is that you can also add random items to your shopping list so that you have everything in one place, and I don’t know if your desk looks like my desk at the kids belts office, but the less paper the better! If you have a smart phone or tablet, you can also download their app, and you know me and iPhone/iPad apps… I’ve got to have them!
The recipes are really easy to follow. I think all of them are ready in under an hour and most are under 30 minutes. A 30 minute meal? I think I can even handle that! Once you have finished editing your shopping list, the next option is how you would like to receive your list. You can get it in almost any way imaginable, except by carrier pigeon… That’s a shame to, cause I would love to receive something by carrier pigeon. Anyway, you can print just your grocery list, just the recipes or both. You can also email the grocery list to yourself or send it to your iPhone! You gotta love technology!
This site even sends you notices that it’s time to set up your next weeks worth of meals, as well as new dinner ideas. I really like what this site offers and the best part, like I said before, is that it’s free for life! So at least if you try it out and don’t like it, you aren’t losing anything!
Ok, it’s almost summer and I am fully in vacation mode… Not that I’m actually going on vacation, mind you, but I think my brain is. One of the bad things about living in FL is that aside from the 3:00pm thunderstorm, it’s beautiful out (albeit hot) most of the time. That makes it really hard to stay cooped up in the kids belts office, but I do it to continue saving the world from droopy drawers one child at a time!
One thing that comes with summer is the lack of my desire to cook, but it is one of those necessary evils… In the summer I like to cook a lot of one dish meals, Vegetarian Lasagna, Summer Sketti, and now that I found this one (courtesy of Florida Coupon Savers who got it from All You Magazine), it will be added to my list of summer meals (and winter too for that matter). The other really nice thing about this meal is that it costs less than $2.00 a serving which includes the protein, vegetables and starch all in one!
Biscuit Topped Chicken Potpie
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 1/4 tsp Baking Powder
- 1 tsp Salt
- 9 Tbsp Unsalted Butter
- 1/4 Cup plus 3 Tbsp Milk
- 1/2 cup Heavy Cream
- 2 1/2 Tbsp Cornstartch
- 2 Tbsp Unsalted Butter
- 1 Shallot finely chopped
- 1 1/2 cups Low Sodium Chicken Broth
- 2 cups Frozen Mixed Vegetables, thawed
- 3 cups Shredded Rotisserie Chicken
- 1/2 tsp Salt
- Make biscuits: Preheat oven to 375. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Mix flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Use a pastry cutter or fork to cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse sand. Gently stir in all but 1 Tbsp milk. Turn dough onto a lightly floured countertop, knead just to bring together; pat into a 1/2 inch thick circle. Cut into 6 biscuits with a 3 inch cutter. Place on baking sheet, cover and chill.
- Make Filling: Whisk cream and cornstarch in a bowl. Melt butter in a large pan over medium heat. Sautee shallots until softened, about 3 minutes. Stir in broth, vegetables, chicken and salt; bring to a boil. Stir in cream mixture; cook, stirring until thickened.
- Transfer filling into an 11×7 inch baking dish; arrange biscuits on top. Brush biscuits with remaining 1 Tbsp of milk. Bake until biscuits are golden, about 18-20 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.
I hope you and your family enjoy not only the recipe, but also the money you save by not eating out when you get a case of “Idon’twanttocook-itis”!
I am definitely one for being frugal. I love a deal, I mean, who doesn’t. I even got into couponing a few years ago to help save money and fill my need for getting the best deal possible. However, then the kids belts business and family time caught up with me and the couponing fell by the wayside.
Now that I have gotten a better handle on my time management (and, quite frankly, because gas prices have gotten so high, I have to save somewhere), I am getting back into couponing. I know what you are thinking, “it’s takes too much time”, “my coupons expire before I use them”, “I never save that much money, so it’s not worth it.” I use to think those same things, but then I found Florida Coupon Savers.
This site is great because they take the sale flyer, they find the coupons and then they match them all up so you can save the most money possible at the store! I live in Central Florida, so the best part is that they cater to this area. We don’t always get the same coupons or even the same value coupons as some of the bigger metropolitan areas, so when I would go to those sites, I would notice more match-ups, but I could never find the coupons. I would get so frustrated. They cover our major stores; Publix, Winn Dixie, Walgreens, CVS, Target, etc.
Know what’s even better than all of that? It’s a FREE site! They don’t charge for any of it. I have seen coupon sites actually charge a monthly fee for “sharing” their match-ups. I spoke to one of the owners of Florida Coupon Savers, and she said “We don’t feel like you should have to spend money to learn how to SAVE money.” With that being said, they even offer FREE couponing classes in and around Central Florida.
My favorite section is the “Post Your Trips” page. Here they show you their actual shopping trips and how they saved money.
How cool is that? I love this site and think that is a great resource. They even post deals on clothing, gifts, shoes, accessories and restaurants!
Are you ready to coupon with me?
I’m busy, you’re busy, he’s busy, she’s busy, they’re busy… So the question is, if we are all so busy, who’s making dinner? Really, who has time to plan the meals, hunt down all of the ingredients at the store and then to actually remember what you had planned to make for the week and inevitably realizing that you forgot to pick up a key ingredient while at said grocery store resulting in you either having to make another trip to the store or giving up and calling Papa John’s.
Ugh… I have fallen into that pit of dis pare more times than I care to mention. That’s why, when I came across a Groupon last month for something called eMeals, my attention was peaked. It’s hard for me to leave the kids belts office, get the kids, help with homework, do some laundry, spend some quality time with the family and cook a good healthy dinner and eMeals seemed like it would take the guess work out of it for me. On their website they claim, “eMeals is a simple system to solve your dinner time dilemma with easy meals based on delicious recipes and a consistent grocery budget.”
I have to say, this is one of the coolest services out there. It really takes all of the guess work out of dinner. When you sign up, you pick a plan (there are so many to choose from; Gluten-Free, Budget-Friendly, Low-Fat, Portion-Control, Vegetarian, Organic and there is even a section for picky eaters), print the menu and shopping list, shop and then cook and enjoy.
An eMeals plan includes:
- A family-friendly,organized 7-day dinner meal plan – with concise and easy to follow recipes and directions.
- A complete, corresponding grocery list – just print and go!
- The member’s only option to participate in eMeals Referral Program
Here is a sample of the shopping list. You can customize it to the store of your choice. It also pulls in pricing so you can budget properly. They strive to keep a weeks worth of dinners under $100. Oh, yea, they even will include if an item is on sale. How cool is that? The list is also organized by section, that way you aren’t hunting all over for all of the ingredients. When you are in the freezer section, you have a list of everything you need from there. It also includes a list of staples to keep in your kitchen that work for multiple meals.
Above is a sample of the meal plans/ingredients/recipes. Yes, I said recipes, look at those recipes. They are all about a paragraph long and are ridiculously easy to but together. The best part? The kids have enjoyed everything that I have cooked so far. This is a really a great program and I can’t say enough about it.
I would highly recommend eMeals to anyone who is looking for variety, healthy meal ideas and even to save money. If you only have to buy what you need for the meals, then you are saving money by not buying unnecessary things!
It’s a new year! 2012 already? That happened way too fast, but I am a bit disappointed because I was sure that by now we would all be driving flying cars and using teleporters.
But I digress, back to the new year and new resolutions. This year I resolve to have the best year in kids belts history! That should be easy because I only have to compete with 3 years and while they were great years, I am certain that this will be the best. That’s not my only resolution, like tons of people out there, I am making a resolution for health. Maybe I should be more specific, good health. I’m not looking to lose mounds of weight and be super model skinny thereby making my head look hugely disproportional to my tiny frame, I just want to be healthy. In my search for healthy-ness (shhh, I can make up words if I want…), I thought I would pass along some healthy shopping tips that I picked up.
- Shop the perimeter of the store. That’s where the good fresh stuff is located. The produce section, fresh meat section and dairy section are the best places to shop for clean eating.
- LIST LIST LIST Take a few extra minutes before you go shopping to plan out your weeks worth of meals and make a list. If you have a smart phone, there are so many free apps out there that are specifically for shopping lists. The really neat thing about those apps is that they will also organize your list for you into sections so in the long run it makes the shopping trip go much faster! (I like the ShopListFree app. It’s very basic, but also user friendly.) Some of the apps even include pricing, so you can keep it budget friendly!
- Focus on Fiber Officially, fiber is a type of carbohydrate that the body can’t digest. Most adult women should shoot for over 20 grams of fiber a day; men should shoot for over 30 grams. Some great sources are whole fruits and vegetables, whole grain breads and breakfast cereals, and all manner of beans. You should choose foods that list whole grains (like whole wheat or whole oats) as a first ingredient. Bread, cereal, crackers and other grain foods should have at least 3 grams of fiber per serving.
- Avoid Overly Processed Food Box mixes and canned food, while they are convenient, are riddled with sodium. Try to avoid boxed food altogether and if you must get canned food, always opt for low/no sodium choices.
- Buy Lean Cuts of Meat There are so many choices out there now with chicken and turkey (ground meats, sausages, cutlets, etc…) that it’s much easier to make substitutions. Beef and pork aren’t too bad in moderation, but you definitely should get the very lean cuts.
- Dairy Opt for low-fat items. Cabot has some really great low-fat cheese options (Cheddar, habanero, jalapeno and pepper jack). Skim milk is a good choice and if you are going for yogurt, opt for Greek yogurt. It packs more of a protein punch and has little to no fat. Plain Greek yogurt also makes a wonderful substitute for sour cream.
- SAY NO TO IMPULSE JUNK Resist impulse buys while standing in the check out isle. Don’t let those candy peddlers win! You don’t need the candy bar or that bag of chips. Put it back…
- Resist the Twinkies Ok, it’s hard to jump into healthy eating, so if you are going to pick up some not so healthy treats, limit it to what you can fit in the top of the buggy (you know, where a small child usually sits). Then when you get in line to check out, re-evaluate those choices and ask yourself again if you really want (NEED) it.
- Don’t Meander Shop with a purpose. When you aimlessly meander through the store, you open yourself up to more impulse buys. You also fall into the stores sales traps, the end caps. The end caps are where bad food goes to tempt you and the store pretends that they are “practically giving it away”. Usually, the deals aren’t that great anyway. Just walk away.
- Don’t Go Hungry A huge mistake is to shop when you are hungry. Everything looks good when you are hungry and when you are hungry your stomach is telling you that you NEED it all. So save yourself some trouble, eat before you shop. You will thank me later.
So, that’s it. That’s my miracle list for healthy grocery shopping. I know that its not an exhaustive list by any means, but it is a start. I hope you can use at least a few to make your 2012 the healthiest ever!
- Try to see your product and displays through the eyes of the buyer. Case in point: the t-shirts on our inflate-a-toddlers we used to show Dapper Snappers kids belts in action. I had made cutesy logoed shirts for them. It detracted from the product and gave some the wrong impression. Passersby thought we were selling t-shirts!
- Learn how to overcome sales objections. One of our biggest battles was with buyers who would object with “What about adjustable waistband pants?” That’s a tough one, but Hubby figured it out and made toddler belt sales to those buyers easily. You may know your product inside and out, but what differentiates it from what could be considered competition? What makes yours better? Try and phrase your answers so that you aren’t discounting the competition but instead pointing out the positives of your own product. And remember; you are not just selling your product, you are selling yourself, so be confident. If you are unsure, then they will be too.
- Be prepared to wheel and deal. Buyers don’t just want a deal, they want to be made to feel special. They want free stuff and promises of continuing discounts. The more money they have, the more power they try to wield. But it pays to be flexible. We had a very well respected couple come buy from us. Their very presence commanded the upmost respect. I won’t call them by their first names because it just seems disrespectful. They got the deal they asked for and we landed a very big fish that even our rep at the time couldn’t land. But know what your bottom line price is. As another exhibitor put it to us, “You aren’t making Dapper Snappers for practice.” Know the cost of your product and everything it costs to get it to the customer, then decide what your “show special” will be. Free shipping is a very big seller.
- Network! There are endless opportunities to network. Buyers know other buyers. Exhibitors know everyone. And lots of people will come to your booth to try to sell you something. It could be an inventory tracking program or packaging or even their fabulous PR skills. Be prepared to say “no” or “please email me”. Never let them get between you and your potential customers. Most of them know better than to keep talking when they see you start to speak to a passerby. Some could keep you from your buyer because they don’t know any better or they have no scruples. Don’t let them. Oh, and you will also get to meet the press. This could be anything from industry magazines to blogs.
- Be prepared. Have plenty of price and line sheets, business cards, brochures, and catalogs. Bring order forms, pens, and clipboards. Make sure all your product is in pristine condition and you have plenty of samples to show. Most shows will allow a Sample Sale the last day of the show, so be prepared for people to stop by and ask to buy your samples on the spot. It’s a good idea to have a little cash on hand, and/or a mobile credit card reader like Square available.
- Keep your booth clean. You would be amazed at the mess that accumulates by the end of the day! Bring a little floor vacuum. Have a hidden garbage can. Don’t eat in your booth if you can help it (crumbs get everywhere and certain foods don’t have a very pleasant aroma). Make sure you have a way to keep yourself organized. Organizers for business cards, folders for orders, sticky notes, etc.
- Bring candy; preferably chocolate (Godiva, Toblerone, Lindt are all great ones to offer). Put it in your booth so that people see it but it’s not easy to access without coming into the booth. People will walk by and grab handfulls without even stopping if it’s in easy reach. Candy is always a great way to draw people in.
- Have an attention getter. We use a large prize wheel. Boy does that get peoples attention! You don’t have to go through the expense of getting a prize wheel though. You could do something as simple as a string of flashing lights, or have a video (no sound that will irritate your neighbors) playing in the background. People stop when they’re attention is grabbed by lights, movement, and sound. Use it to your advantage. Make them curious.
- Have an extra chair available for people to sit down. Trade shows are typically very long and exhausting. Just sitting for a moment and eating a bite of chocolate will put a smile on their faces and they will be more willing to listen to your pitch.
- Design your booth so that it’s open and inviting. People like to browse. The more stuff you have, the more crowded your booth becomes and then it just isn’t as inviting as it could be. Keep it simple. They’ve already been inundated by a bazillion products crowded in tiny little booths. Give them something refreshing to look at.
These are only 10 of many tips to make your trade show exhibition a success. Do you have any you’d like to share? Please leave a comment!
PS. Check out this video Hubby did at a trade show for a laugh!