Monday, August 17, 2020

Ibotta is easier to use than ever with Walmart Grocery Pick Up.

 FTC disclaimer:  This post contains affiliate links.

I have used iBotta for years.  The concept is really simple -- you open the app and add offers you want to redeem, then pick up the items on your next trip to the store.  Some stores you are able to add your savings cards, and in that case that is all you have to do.  Other stores you will need to snap photos of your receipt and scan the UPC codes, but it's an easy way to get money back.

I got $66.28 back on my groceries last week!  It can really add up, especially if you watch the bonuses.  I finished a few bonuses last week which included buying 30 different items (I got $10 for that, and $5 because I did 12 of those on a weekend, so it was what we used to call a "double play".)  I also was able to get bonuses because I bought the same item in two different shopping trips.

But here is how it has become so much simpler and I have been able to save so much more during the pandemic. . . I have my Walmart account connected to iBotta.  So when I go in to place a curbside order, I open my iBotta app and just add what I want to my cart.  I love this because currently Walmart has free grocery pick up at $35, and you know it's not difficult to get $35 in groceries. 

But what I really love is I don't have to go chasing through the store to find new products.  For instance, iBotta recently had $10 back on any Back to the Roots kit to grow some organic food.  These were $12.99 at Walmart, so I put one in my cart and the shopper found it for me because I wouldn't have had any clue where to find it in the Supercenter!  So now, I have a kit to grow my own mushrooms for $2.99! 

Lately there have been some really good offers, I even got a pint of dairy free ice cream for free, and Pretzel Pop Tarts have been 50% off.  With my husband having not been to work since March, being able to get discounted groceries sure is a plus right now!

All you have to do is download the iBotta app by clicking here and put in my referral code of mtgkg.  Link your accounts with iBotta, and then shop with your phone in hand.  I'm so happy that you can now use it with Walmart Curbside pickup, and I have gotten so many discounted groceries since I have discovered this great trick!

Sunday, August 9, 2020

What is ZonDeals? Why should I sign up for this deal site?

This post contains affiliate links.  
I first heard about ZonDeals about two years ago. Since then I visit almost daily to see what items are new.

It is a site where you can get coupons to get things on Amazon very inexpensively -- sometimes even for pennies.  To make the most of it, you should have Amazon prime, but there are sometimes things that ship free -- just hit the item and click on the box that says 'see the item on Amazon' to see if it is free ship -- as some items do ship from China and not the Amazon warehouse.  The coupon codes very from a small percentage although I have seen things as much as 99% off.

It has helped me with stocking stuffers for Christmas.  One of the funniest was a chin strap snore
reducer that I paid under 25 cent for -- shipped.  My husband's family all snore loudly.  In fact, one time I walked into my inlaw's house and thought their washing machine was acting up, but it was just his brother sleeping, so the laughs that came with the chin strap were plentiful.

I've gotten some nice stuff -- including a mailbox that shows our house number.

I've gotten a number of vitamins and supplements.

And probably the best things I ever got was one night about two years ago, I saw an offer for a box of 20 N95 masks for $6.  I have allergies and thought these would be helpful, so I ordered a box, and set them in with my medical supplies.  Needless to say, come March of this year, N95 masks were in short supply.

I also have been able to buy elastic to make masks. This was very helpful because I had donated all my elastic to a friend who is a nun who was sewing masks.  Then I dug out my 70 year old sewing machine and I was out of elastic for the ones I started sewing.  My savings on this was only 50% which is low for many of the ZonDeals coupons, but it was something I was happy to find!

Some of the items are odd -- I've seen Russian alphabet blocks.  I've seen other things I wonder why anyone would order them, but stuff changes rather regularly, and although it's not as good as it used to be as it used to be that I could select economy shipping from Amazon and earn digital credits, I still take a look at ZonDeals a couple times a week.

New items appear at midnight pacific time.

The amount you can save is dependent upon how much you buy that you actually need.  I feel like it's a spendy savings.  One thing I recently bought was decorations for a fiesta.  It was a great price.  Did I NEED them?  No, but they will be great if I ever want to decorate for a fiesta skill contest.  (I enter contests and sweepstakes as a hobby and am always looking for great props.)

ZonDeals is a site I enjoy, and I check back with it often because you never know what might show up next!

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Don't High Five a Deacon -- Father's Day 1989

Dad only went to church on occasion.  One of those "on occasions" was Father's Day 1989.

The church was one I did Bible quizzing with, a little more on the upscale side than those churches in my hometown.

As is custom in some congregations, all fathers were given a small gift.  Most churches I've attended will give a "soap on a rope" which my dad used to leave in the car for a few months until the summer sun made the "Wild Forest" scent a little much and Mom or I would move the box with the corded soap to a box of things to sell when we would have a garage sale.

Father's Day 1989, however, was a bit different.  The church handed out small wrapped gifts to each dad. Inside each was a tire gauge.  I was sitting with the teenagers and we were passing this picture of Dad down through the pew and each of us were trying to keep from laughing as it came to us.  (Passing pictures was as popular as passing notes, and often just as entertaining.)

I was passing a note to the pastor's son to tell him "That's my grandmother's dog upside down with it's legs in the air" when I noticed a lull in the proceedings.

Pastor K was going on "Someone must have it!  It is just a small piece of paper taped to the package that says 'Happy Father's Day'. "

Unknown to me, Mom was nudging Dad to raise his hand.  More description as to how "Happy Father's Day" was written from the pulpit.

Dad slightly slipped up his left index finger.  This was a standard greeting to people.  Like "We're #1" except he wouldn't raise his hand in the air to do so, only about shoulder height unless he was driving and then he would keep his hand on the wheel and "wave" by raising a digit or two.  How he thought anyone could see this was beyond me.

Pastor K seemed THRILLED to find that someone really had won the big prize for the day, and that his pestering from the pulpit for the recipient to acknowledge the gift had finally been rewarded with a father admitting he had "Happy Father's Day" written on the gift wrap of his tire gauge.

Dad had to go to the pulpit to collect his winnings.  It was a $20 gift certificate to a local steak house.  Instead of "Thank you", my dad bellowed, "ALLLLLL RIGHHHHHTTTT!"

Dad left the pulpit area to resume sitting with Mom.  I was receiving a note from a friend that said, "Maybe he will start coming to church more often."  I glanced up and saw Dad high-five a deacon on his way back to his pew.

My last Father's Day with Dad was in 2006.  His gift that year came from my recent trip to Israel -- a Pittsburgh Steeler's t-shirt in Hebrew.  My husband used that, backwards as his t-shirt under his dress shirt at our wedding as my husband gave his own private shout-out to my dad, whom he never met.  The most memorable Father's Day with my dad was the year he high-fived a deacon visiting a church in which he barely knew anyone.  We laughed about that for years, and I still do.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Help! I Think My Guinea Pig Has Mites!

Do you think your guinea pig has mites?  Well, I have news for you. . . the answer is YES!  All guinea pigs are carriers of mites.  However, most of the time they lay dormant, and don't cause any problems.  

My guinea pig started having seizures and I thought it was due to high blood pressure or something related to old age.  When I took Lucky to the vet, I commented about the seizures.  The vet tickled him on the back, and said, "Seizures like this?"  Sure enough, Lucky had a seizure.  Usually you don't want to let a guinea pig have a seizure, they can hurt themselves, or hurt a human.  (I will likely have a small scar where Lucky's jaw clamped onto my wrist while I was trying to support him and keep him safe during a seizure.).  So, you don't want to do anything to CAUSE a seizure.  (In the vet's case, he did it to see if it was mites.)

Another sign a guinea pig has a mite flare up is if they have scabs on them from biting at themselves or scratching.  Mite flare ups can be caused by being around other guinea pigs with active mites, a guinea pig who hasn't been feeling well, stress, or even old age.  Be sure to not confuse mites with ringworm -- that is another issue entirely and needs different treatment (as well as more care because humans can catch ringworm from a guinea pig)

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

What I did on my summer vacation in 2017 and since

This post contains affiliate links.

One of my readers pointed out that I hadn't done a life update since 2017, so I figured it was time I did that.  I pretty much quit blogging for a while because I lost a contract I had to write monthly, and I just started redoing some old posts and such to keep some traffic coming to the blog.  I have missed writing, and I finally made some money from Google AdSense, so I'm thinking of getting back into it.  I took a blogging course a few years ago, and the only thing that happened was my page views went down, so that was super discouraging.

Trips we have taken since I last wrote:

My husband and I went to the Nazarene General Assembly in Indianapolis.  I went to a Nazarene college over half a lifetime ago, and I wanted to to go the alumni banquet and see friends.  The one friend I was hoping to see and didn't passed away about a year ago -- killed by a drunk driver.  We weren't close, but knew each other and were still friends on Facebook.  From Indianapolis, my husband and I decided to road trip a little further west -- a bucket list item for me has always been to go to all 50 states, so we went out to Iowa and went to Antique Archeology, up into Wisconsin and visited a town that was filled with dozens of troll statues, had cheese curds at a bar, and visited Illinois for the first time and even played mini-golf in the basement of a funeral home!

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Christmas Without Debt: Win Your Christmas!

FTC disclaimer:  This post contains affiliate links.

It's always close to Christmas in my planner!  I keep a countdown so  the holidays don't catch me off guard and I will be prepared for , both with online selling, and just plain out preparing for Christmas with gifts, goodies, and decorations.

For many years I WON my Christmas -- sometimes down to the turkey in the oven.  How did I do that?  Well, I will tell you.  There are no guarantees that you will win, but it's something fun to do, and normally every year for the past twenty I have won a few items I was able to use as gifts.  Last year I won a nice set of watercolor pencils I was able to give my husband who likes to do art.  I also won him a wood chisel set which he thought was really cool.  His grandfather was into woodworking, and while he hadn't done any before Christmas, he was excited to try his hand at it.

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Getting Hired with VIPKid in 2020

Do you want to make $22 an hour while at home?  I know I did, so I started looking into teaching English online.  I have a four year degree, an American accent, and a TESOL certificate, so I was set to apply for VIPKid.  One of the best things about teaching English is you don't need to speak the language of your students -- you learn how to teach even if you know nothing of the student's language -- even if the student speaks very little English, you can still successfully teach them.

If you don't have a TESOL, you can take the class for free once you get hired by VIPKid or go ahead and get your certificate from somewhere like International Open Academy so you can use your same certification to teach English elsewhere.

What hours can you work?   All your students will be in China, so you will be teaching on a schedule that alligns with THEIR time zones.  Current teaching hours in the main US time zones are:

Eastern: 8:30 PM - 10:00 AM
Central:  7:30 PM - 9:00 AM
Mountain 6:30 PM - 8:00 AM
Pacific. 5:30 PM - 7:00 AM

Friday, April 3, 2020

I've saved and made thousands of dollars with these phone apps!

FTC disclaimer:  This post contains affiliate links.

Selling your stuff on eBay is super easy with the app.  This is the one that has netted me the most money, but then again I love 'picking' and reselling.  I like the app because I can take the photos, edit them, and create the listing all right on my phone or iPad.  My husband lists on eBay occasionally, and he has never even listed from a computer, he's always listed from a mobile device.  I also like the portability of it.  There was one time I was sitting in a car listing and selling items I was listing.  How is that for fast turn around?

Store apps!  You would be amazed at how much you can get back through the apps of your favorite stores.  I don't really shop at Target, so I don't use Cartwheel, but I love Kroger, CVS, Walgreens, and Dollar General apps.  There are coupons you can add to your cards and sometimes even freebies!  Walmart's store app works slightly differently and you scan the QR code on your receipt after you shop there, and they will see if there are any advertised sales anywhere else in the area and refund you via a Walmart e-gift card.  Even gas stations get into apps.  I have Sheetz, 7-11,  and Circle K on my phone, and there are often coupons there as well as purchase x number of items get one free offers.  Cici's Pizza, Chilis, and Rita's Italian Ice have rewards programs.  I am sure this is just a drop in the bucket of the many rewards programs and store apps out there, but these are the ones I use and am most familiar with them!  I have saved the most with the Kroger, CVS, and Sheetz apps.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

How to Price Items on eBay -- a 20+ year seller shares her secrets

This post contains affiliate links.

I've been selling items on eBay since 1998.  My current account was created in 2003 and merged into my first one, but I still have over 21 years of experience selling.

What are my best tips and secrets for pricing an item?

First, check eBay for completed listings of the item you would like to sell.   This will give you a good idea on what people have been asking for their items.  Second, click the box for "sold items".  This will tell you what people have been asking for their items.  Look at the top priciest items -- are they auction or fixed price?  I tend to list fixed price because I feel that I can ask higher prices and always add best offers and run sales.  When did the item sell?  Christmas sells all year long, but if you are selling in August, you might see lower prices on items than you would after Thanksgiving, so this is another reason I like fixed price listings -- I charge Christmas prices in January.  In fact, January is a huge time for crafters to buy Christmas patterns as they are planning for next year.

It is at this step I decide if I can make enough to make listing worth my time.  eBay fees are not exactly cheap, but they do allow for a world wide audience.  If I can't make about $10 profit, I won't list an item.

I generally price my items a bit above what the highest has sold for on eBay.  I have these things going for my sales:
  • I am an experienced seller (20+ years of experience)
  • Great feedback
  • I ship worldwide (many people don't)
  • I am willing to wait for the right buyer.
  • I give 10% of all my sales to charity.  This helps sales.  You can read why here.
For items I can't find the exact item, I will search comparable listings.  Say I have a collectible for Florida State University, but I can find something similar for Vanderbilt.  Because Florida State has a bigger fan base due to Football, I would charge more than the item for Vanderbilt.  Items for schools that have die hard fans often will sell better than a school with no football team, such as New York University.  

I found what I could tell was a vintage drinking glass for the Nebraska Cornhuskers one time.  I couldn't find anything like it online.  So I decided to list it on auction, and listed it at the lowest I was willing to take.  From my research I figured I could get at least $30 for it.  Some of the people who collect Nebraska items want everything, and after searching eBay, Pinterest, and Google, I couldn't find any drinking glasses just like this.  So I listed it with good photos.  Seven days later, it sold for over $50.  The buyer sent me several photos of his Cornhusker room with hundreds if not thousands of items licensed by the University of Nebraska.  I could have easily thought, "It's just an old drinking glass" and put a $9.99 buy it now on it.  But I decided to research and it paid off -- it sold for about 53 times what I paid for it.

I also consider cross collectors when I find something that I don't know how to price.  There are people who collect cat items.  There are people who collect figurines made by a certain company.  If I had an item that would appeal to two or more different types of collectors, I would charge quite a bit more if I could find nothing to base my pricing on -- I figure 

I'll admit, sometimes I do make mistakes and wish I had sold things for more than what I listed them for.  But it's much rarer these days after I do research.  I started using fixed priced listings in 2014.  I had bought a Christmas Cross Stitch Stocking Kit for $1 and it sold for $28.  I was happy until I saw some of the prices Christmas Cross Stitch Stocking Kits can bring.  Had I waited I could have sold my kit for over $60.  (If you follow the link, you will see I didn't have nearly the expensive lesson as I could have.)  
I started pricing my items high after that.  My mother loved to watch my listings and she told me I was listing things for more than they were worth and I was expecting too much from them.  Well, I have sold consistently since then -- and I will run sales from time to time to get stuff that has sat around for a while to move.
As Jay and Rayne say at Scavenger Life, I "list it and forget it".  Yes, I'll run sales, I'll see what best offers come in, etc. But sometimes I list as high as I possibly think someone will pay for an item.  I had an item sell last year for $60 that I had originally listed at $325.  It was a glass item marketed to kids in the 1980s and I had hoped to get more for it because I expected collectors would really want it.  But after a year on eBay I took a decent best offer, the item is now out of my storage and I don't have to worry about breaking it.  I paid 25 cents for it, so I still made a great profit, just not as much as I had hoped, but I'm still happy about it.  
In the end, pricing kind of depends if you want the "fast nickel or slow dime".  I prefer more money, and I have enough listings up that I daily make a "slow dime" sale.  Each person has to decide exactly how they want to list.  I have enough listings that I make lots of sales, but I remember the times when I needed money so desperately, I priced lower than I should have because I wanted to ensure things would sell.

Finally, I want to share with you my favorite tape dispenser.  This has a place for regular transparent tape, packing tape, as well as a pencil holder where I store my Sharpies for shipping.  Other than my scale, I consider this tape dispenser to be the single best item I ever bought to invest in my eBay business.  

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Gift Ideas for Dialysis Patients / those with renal and kidney disease

FTC disclosure:  This post contains affiliate links.


I know this is a narrow field, but I wanted to include gift ideas for those on dialysis and with kidney disease.  My mother was on dialysis and people often didn't know what to get her, and often bought her gifts that weren't really the best for her when a small change would have made a gift so much better and useful with the dietary restrictions on those with kidney failure.  Here are some ideas my mother would have liked.  These might vary from gifts that are GOOD for dialysis patients such as a water bottle that lets you know how much you have drunk, because my mother wouldn't have liked that.  But hopefully these ideas can give you ideas for gifts you may not have thought of but will be well loved.

Here are some ideas:

1.  Long sleeved sweatshirts, sweaters, dress shirts, and blouses.   Most dialysis patients have very bruised arms and they like to keep them covered.  Don't overlook shops that cater to Jewish and Muslim women.  They may have some very lightweight long sleeved shirts that are great for summer as the average American doesn't wear long sleeves in summer, finding something appropriate for hot weather can be difficult to find.  Kosher Casual makes "sleevies" (sleeve extensions) which can turn a favorite short sleeved shirt into a long sleeved one.

2.  A blanket with sleeves (such as a Snuggie)   I would suggest this in black because it could get blood stained during dialysis.  Or go with a fun design such as this Superman blanket with sleeves.