Archive for the ‘Household’ Category

For sons and daughters it doesn’t take much to make dad feel special on Father’s Day.  For me, if my four-year-old daughter tells me “Happy Father’s Day” and gives me a big hug, it’s more than enough.  Couple that with one of those special Picasso-type illustrations of me working on my truck and my heart melts like Christmas fudge on an exhaust pipe.

On the other hand, self-created abstract art isn’t the best gift for every situation (perhaps, unless your last name is Braque).  For instance, when my daughter is thirty, a couple of marker lines and a Princess Sofia sticker on a piece of construction paper might not send the same message as it does now.

Furthermore, sometimes moms like to step up to the plate and get their husband a small gift to show how much they appreciate the role he plays in their child’s life.  In this case, a gift that everyone (but maybe especially dad) can enjoy may be a great approach.

Why struggle to find the perfect tool or grilling set, when you can let him pick out his own and have it shipped for free?  For this Father’s day how about give the gift of Amazon Prime.

Shop Amazon – Give the Gift of Amazon Prime

Free shipping, an endless supply of movies, music, and TV shows…why not?

I haven’t paid for cable or satellite service since around 2005.  I’ve always preferred movies to “regular” television.  When streaming services such as Amazon Prime Video took the stage around five years ago, I’ve never really looked back.

For watching both Amazon Prime Video and Netflix on the same television we use the Samsung BD-J5700.

It took us a while to find a device in our price range that was capable of playing all the apps we wanted and offered both DVD and Blu-ray capability.  We’ve had a great deal of luck with the wireless networking capability of the Samsung BD-J5700.  So if dad’s birthday is around the corner, this may be your next move.

To all the Fathers out there, Happy Father’s Day!


Jordache Williams | Atlas Concepts

Jordache Williams, of Rock Hill, South Carolina, is the Program Manager for Atlas Concepts, LLC.  He understands that sometimes a small piece of information is the difference between success and failure. His contributions to the Shop Talk blog are purposed with sharing relevant information based on his own experiences.

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Cracking a Coconut, Not a Big Deal

Posted: January 31, 2016 in Household
Tags:

I’m not a huge fan of coconut.  It’s not that I necessarily don’t like it, it’s just not on my list of favorite edible delights.  I mention this because I believe my perspective on the fruit allows me to have a different approach to writing about my experience with it, as opposed to those who possess that undying love which bleeds through all too many “how-tos”.

My wife, on the other hand, does love coconut.  So waltzing through the grocery store before a forecast winter storm (you know, just to see if there are any eggs, bread and milk left), I decided to grab a coconut as a project to pass some of the time I was plausibly about to spend in the home.  So as a first-timer, I did what many of us do and grabbed an electronic device with internet capability and began to “research.”  Oh, the horror!  There’s stories of people nearly loosing fingers getting into these things.  It just didn’t seem that difficult, so I took what I believed to be the best of several pieces of information and got to work.

I went for simple items I could locate around the house:

  • flathead screwdriver
  • hammer
  • 2” common nail
  • butter knife
  • vegetable peeler
  • re-useable k-cup filter

Now let’s begin.

If you have a need for the water inside of the coconut or simply want to prevent a mess in your kitchen.  Use the hammer and nail to make one hole each in the three dark spots that make up the “monkey face.”  Drain the water from the coconut, then (if you’re going to ingest the fluid) strain it through the re-useable k-cup filter.

Cracking Coconut (11)

Yes, you can probably use a traditional coffee filter, but I’m assuming if you’re saving this juice, then you believe it to be some precious commodity and throwing away a filter drenched with it may seem like a waste.  I was able to retain exactly one cup of coconut water.

Cracking Coconut (9)

The coconut I purchased was from Brooks Tropicals, grown in the Dominican Republic.  I learned from the packaging that the coconut was grooved to make the process of getting into it easier.  Simply use the hammer to drive the flathead screwdriver into the groove.  For me, this resulted in the coconut cracking, mostly around its circumference.

Cracking Coconut 14 and 15

If the crack seems to stop, just work around the coconut with the same technique.

Cracking Coconut (16)

At some point the coconut should split in two.

Cracking Coconut 1 and 2

Now, take the butter knife and work between the hull and the skin of the fruit.

Cracking Coconut (3)

Once you have removed the chunks of fruit, you’ll take the vegetable peeler and remove the skin.

Cracking Coconut (6)

You should be left with a pretty significant amount of edible coconut, wash and prepare as desired.

Cracking Coconut (8)

So whether you believe the coconut is a fruit, nut or drupe…the reality is, they are not all that complex to crack.  Don’t let the stories fool you into not indulging in a fresh coconut, especially if it’s something you love.  I’m starting to think that those who have had such horrific accidents getting into coconuts are the same people that probably should have supervision while eating them.

The simplicity of the project may, however, be more burdensome than you imagine if you have a spouse who, after your first successful attempt, deems you the coconut master.  It could end up being another one of those part-time jobs you don’t get paid for.


Atlas Concepts LLC_Jordache Williams_Shop TalkJordache Williams, of Rock Hill, South Carolina, is the Program Manager for Atlas Concepts, LLC. He understands that sometimes a small piece of information is the difference between success and failure. His contributions to the Shop Talk blog are purposed with sharing relevant information based on his own experiences.

Young Living Lemon_Sticker Removal 001

In my continuing efforts to rid all of the chemical-filled, toxic junk out of my home, I have begun incorporating natural products into as many aspects of my family’s life as possible.

I’ve done well with cleaning up our eating habits, and even completely transformed our medicine cabinet. Now I’ve begun replacing our household cleaning products with items that are natural, are non-toxic, smell amazing, and are 100% safe for my 3-year-old to help me clean with (yay for finally getting some help!!).

Said 3-year-old is often guilty of sneaking some stickers away and mysteriously finding surfaces to stick ’em on that WILL NOT let go of them, no matter how much I pull and scrape to get them off. In the past I’ve used commercial products to remove them and, although the sticker did indeed come off, my furniture ended up being damaged in the process.

Not willing to create ANYmore ugly marks on my wood furniture, I decided to try Lemon essential oil from Young Living, and it is a Godsend…which I knew because of all of the ways I already used it…but THIS was different. My favorite part is that my total cost was $.04 to remove two stickers. That 4 cents possibly saved me:

  • The cost of repairing/refinishing damage done to my table caused by harsh chemicals of commercial products
  • The cost of replacing the table if the damage is beyond repair
  • The cost of buying a candle or knick knack to cover said damaged spots (ok…so I might have done this on occasion)
  • The headache of dealing with damaged stuff just because I wanted to get a Sesame Street sticker off of my coffee table!!

Here is step-by-step how I removed this sticker (to give you an idea of how well-stuck it was—it had been there for 2 years, during which time I have scraped & pulled at it periodically…then finally given up and accepted that it would be there permanently):

Young Living Lemon_Sticker Removal 002

Remove the top from the Lemon essential oil bottle, place my finger directly on the opening, turn the bottle over with my finger still covering the opening…this applies the equivalent of one drop of oil onto my finger. Note: you can alternatively drop 1 drop directly onto the sticker; however, my Lemon oil tends to flow very freely out of the bottle, and I knew I only needed a little bit.

Next: Rub the oil directly onto the sticker with your finger until the sticker is saturated with the oil (takes just a couple of seconds).

Young Living Lemon_Sticker Removal 003

Then: Rub the sticker with a paper towel or other soft cloth (i.e. microfiber, etc.). You may have to rub a little harder in some areas depending how stuck the sticker is.

There was still some sticky stuff remaining after this (but the sticker itself was gone), so I took the same finger I’d initially rubbed onto the sticker and rubbed the remainder of the oil onto the sticky stuff (should be just a teeny bit of oil left on your finger to do this). Then I rubbed it again with the paper towel.

Young Living Lemon_Sticker Removal 004

Ta-Da!!! It was totally gone! For the sake of visuals, in the photos I purposely left the knicks in the table so that you can see where the sticker used to be (if it weren’t for those dang marks on the table I’d never have a clue where the sticker even was).

Young Living’s Lemon essential oil is SO versatile (this is one of the oils that gets used EVERY.SINGLE.DAY in my home)…what’s your favorite way to use it?


Simply Savvy Blog_Jessica

Jessica D. Williams of Rock Hill, SC has experience in banking, the mortgage industry and tax consultation.  She is the Owner of Jessica DeVinney Photography and enjoys serving the Greater Charlotte, NC area—with specializations in Senior, Family, and Wedding Photography.

 

Simply Savvy Blog_Young Living Essential Oils Eyelash Growth

Somewhere between years of eyelash curling, eyelash treatments, and wearing fake eyelashes, my natural lashes began thinning and falling out easier (even while simply washing off my makeup at night).

A few years ago I finally began researching some products promising to condition and grow long, healthy lashes. Many were met with mixed reviews, but I bit the bullet and tried some.

Although I did sporadically see minor improvement, I still experienced the most common side effects with each product (i.e. eye irritation, darkening around the eyes, etc.). And in each case, as soon as I stopped using the product, my lashes went right back to their brittle and falling-out state. Not to mention I was spending entirely too much money trying out all of these different products.

I soon realized that the end definitely did not justify the means and simply gave up. A friend introduced me to Young Living Essential Oils a few months ago, and I immediately fell in love with them. After I made over my medicine cabinet, I began attempting to incorporate these pure oils into the MOST everyday aspects of my family’s life, not just turning to them when we wanted to treat an ailment.

So I did some reading regarding hair conditioning and strengthening using the oils, and have decided to use the oily method to finally get the healthy, full lashes I’ve tried to grow for so long!

Here’s the Eyelash/Eyebrow Conditioning & Enhancing recipe I’ll be using:

Drop 1 drop each of Lavender and Cedarwood essential oils into a new tube of mascara. Apply daily as usual.

Here’s hoping those spidery, Kardashian-esque lashes are just a couple tubes away 🙂

How using essential oils will save you money:

Simply Savvy Blog_Young Living Essential Oils Eyelash Growth 002

1 drop of Lavender essential oil = $.09 (calculating 250 drops per 15ml bottle)

1 drop of Cedarwood essential oil = $.04 (calculating 250 drops per 15ml bottle)

1 new Cover Girl Professional Natural Lash Mascara = $1.87 on clearance

Total cost = $2!

Compare that to the average cost of prescription eyelash treatment ($100+), and the average cost of some of the non-prescription eyelash growth products I’ve tried, which was between $20-$40.

To order your Premium Starter Kit from Young Living, just follow these simple steps:

1. Head on over to the sign-up page.

2. Select Sign up as: “Wholesale Member” (this will get you 24% off forever & always!)

3. It should be done for you, but just to be safe, make sure that my member number is both the Sponsor ID & Enroller ID: 2187729

4. Fill out your name, billing & shipping address, SSN, and contact info. (Your SSN will never be used unless you make over $600/year selling Young Living products, in which case they’d send you a 1099 as required by law at the end of the year. And never fear! If you don’t decide to pursue the business end of YL, it will never ever be used.)

5. Read and Check the Terms & Conditions

6. Create a username, password and pin. Write these down so you can quickly & easily access the site again! 🙂

7. The fun part! Select your Premium Starter Kit! I recommend the Aroma diffuser for its farther reach, handy timer, and, well, pretty look. It is only $10 more than the standard Premium Starter Kit.

8. I recommend clicking “No, thank you.” for Step 3. No need to sign up for Essential Rewards at this point!

9. Enter your payment info.

10. CHECK OUT! Be sure you get all the way to the confirmation page.

 

Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional, and am in no way recommending the use of essential oils in place of any medication prescribed to you by your medical doctor. I am merely sharing my enthusiasm for Young Living Essential Oils, and sharing my and my family’s experiences with using them in our daily lives.


Simply Savvy Blog_Jessica

Jessica D. Williams of Rock Hill, SC has experience in banking, the mortgage industry and tax consultation.  She is the Owner of Jessica DeVinney Photography and enjoys serving the Greater Charlotte, NC area—with specializations in Senior, Family, and Wedding Photography.

 

 

Simply Savvy Blog | Young Living | headache eraser

Sinuses, allergies, lack of sleep, dehydration, the holidays, family visits, school functions, writing content for 4 blogs, re-developing a website, the seemingly endless to-do lists….basically ANYthing I do can, and DOES, result in some type of headache…often.

No matter what the cause, having any kind of headache instantly throws a major curveball in my day (or several days sometimes), and I am NOT a fan of taking any type of medication with regularity for plenty of reasons (side effects, building a tolerance, chemicals, establishing a dependence…just to name a few).

My determination to find a healthy, natural remedy for these headaches (aside from reducing stress) led me to trying a range of essential oils. I had been using essential oils for years for various “home remedy” types of things; however, I was totally oblivious to the idea of creating recipes by using a combination of essential oils.

I, very wisely, purchased a Premium Starter Kit from Young Living Essential Oils and immediately set out to find the perfect headache recipe for me…well, it didn’t take long at all (thankfully!).

Headache Eraser Roll-on

What you’ll need: 1 empty (and clean) roll-on container, Peppermint essential oil, Frankincense essential oil, Lavender essential oil and a carrier oil, which is needed for dilution…I used sweet almond oil.

How to make it: Combine 20 drops of Peppermint, 20 drops of Frankincense, and 10 drops of Lavender essential oils directly into the roll-on bottle, then fill the remainder of the bottle with the carrier oil you choose. Shake well to blend.

How to use it: Roll directly onto the location(s) of the headache.

This eraser has not failed me yet! I have used it 10+ times over the past few months and my headaches have consistently subsided within just a few moments…and totally GONE within minutes.

Product locator

I use sweet almond oil frequently to dilute essential oils that I plan to apply topically. I get mine here.

Roll-ons allow me to take, and use, my essential oil recipes anywhere I go. I have had consistent success with these.

To order your Premium Starter Kit from Young Living, just follow these simple steps:

1. Head on over to the sign-up page.

2. Select Sign up as: “Wholesale Member” (this will get you 24% off forever & always!)

3. It should be done for you, but just to be safe, make sure that my member number is both the Sponsor ID & Enroller ID: 2187729

4. Fill out your name, billing & shipping address, SSN, and contact info. (Your SSN will never be used unless you make over $600/year selling Young Living products, in which case they’d send you a 1099 as required by law at the end of the year. And never fear! If you don’t decide to pursue the business end of YL, it will never ever be used.)

5. Read and Check the Terms & Conditions

6. Create a username, password and pin. Write these down so you can quickly & easily access the site again! 🙂

7. The fun part! Select your Premium Starter Kit! I recommend the Aroma diffuser for its farther reach, handy timer, and, well, pretty look. It is only $10 more than the standard Premium Starter Kit.

8. I recommend clicking “No, thank you.” for Step 3. No need to sign up for Essential Rewards at this point!

9. Enter your payment info.

10. CHECK OUT! Be sure you get all the way to the confirmation page.

 

Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional, and am in no way recommending the use of essential oils in place of any medication prescribed to you by your medical doctor. I am merely sharing my enthusiasm for Young Living Essential Oils, and sharing my and my family’s experiences with using them in our daily lives.


Simply Savvy Blog_Jessica

Jessica D. Williams of Rock Hill, SC has experience in banking, the mortgage industry and tax consultation.  She is the Owner of Jessica DeVinney Photography and enjoys serving the Greater Charlotte, NC area—with specializations in Senior, Family, and Wedding Photography.

 

Pain Cream Recipe Using Young Living Essential Oils

As unfortunate as it is, I have recently realized that I am indeed getting older (boo!) and am experiencing more and more general aches and pains.

I, quite often, have mid-back pain (I’d love to think it’s just from sleeping on a bad mattress, haha) that I have simply been tolerating because I can’t stand the thought of taking pain medication on a regular basis. I had tried several topical creams to relieve it, but they were comprised of nothing but chemicals I couldn’t pronounce, and realized that I had NO CLUE about what exactly it was I was putting onto my body.

After doing some research, I found that there were quite a few homemade pain creams out there that were made up of totally natural ingredients. I read through, what seemed like, hundreds of reviews and testimonials of these products improving the pain and general health of many people.

So I decided to give it a chance, and ordered the Premium Starter Kit from Young Living Essential Oils, and the day I received it was the day my family’s physical, mental and spiritual health began improving….sounds a little dramatic, but that is the TRUTH.

One of the first things I made was the pain cream I’d read so much about. I whipped it up and had my husband apply it to my back, and within minutes the pain in my back and across my shoulders was totally GONE! And not to mention, I smelled amazing.

Here’s the recipe I used:

3/4 c organic, unrefined coconut oil

10 drops each of PanAway, Valor and Peppermint

I heated the coconut oil in a glass bowl in the microwave (didn’t take long since it liquifies at 75 degrees). Removed the bowl from the microwave, added the oils, stirred very well (some even whip it together using a hand mixer when the coconut oil is a little more hardened), then poured the mixture into a glass jar (which was an empty coconut oil jar).

NOTE: to make the recipe a little more concentrated, use 2 Tablespoons coconut oil as opposed to 3/4 c.

This pain cream works well on muscle soreness from exercise as well.

For ordering information click here.

Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional, and am in no way recommending the use of essential oils in place of any medication prescribed to you by your medical doctor. I am merely sharing my enthusiasm for Young Living Essential Oils, and sharing my and my family’s experiences with using them in our daily lives.


Simply Savvy Blog_Jessica

Jessica D. Williams of Rock Hill, SC has experience in banking, the mortgage industry and tax consultation.  She is the Owner of Jessica DeVinney Photography and enjoys serving the Greater Charlotte, NC area—with specializations in Senior, Family, and Wedding Photography.

Simply Savvy_refill foam soap_mainMy family and I had always used typical liquid hand soap until one day, through the magic of couponing, I had the opportunity to obtain several bottles of foaming had soap for free.

Well, this foam soap was an instant hit, but after a few weeks we had used up all of the bottles I’d gotten for free, and I certainly didn’t want to BUY any more–without coupons it wasn’t exactly the cheapest stuff in the world.

But I was determined to continue to provide my family with the foaming soap they so desired.

I did a bit of research, tried several different methods, and finally settled on the easiest and most cost-effective way to refill a foaming hand soap bottle.

Simply Savvy_refill foam soap_ingredients

You’ll need 3 things to refill your foaming hand soap dispenser:

1. Liquid hand soap (I got this large Equate brand container of soap from Wal-Mart for $2.88)

2. An empty foaming hand soap dispenser (as mentioned above, I got this Dial dispenser free using coupons)

3. Warm water

Simply Savvy_refill hand soap_1tbsp

Pour 1 tablespoon of liquid soap into the empty foaming soap dispenser.

Simply Savvy_refill foam soap_water

Pour in warm water until about an inch and a half of space remains at the top, screw the pump back on, then shake well until the liquid soap is totally dispersed.

Simply Savvy_refill foam soap_foam

You may have to give it a few pumps before it comes out initially.

And you’re all done!

Like I said, I spent $2.88 on the large liquid hand soap container at Wal-Mart and I’ve been refilling my hand soap dispensers with it for over a year and it’s not even half empty.  Tons of money saved + having a way for my family to keep using their much-loved foaming hand soap = one happy girl!


Simply Savvy Blog_Jessica

Jessica D. Williams of Rock Hill, SC has experience in banking, the mortgage industry and tax consultation.  She is the Owner of Jessica DeVinney Photography and enjoys serving the Greater Charlotte, NC area—with specializations in Senior, Family, and Wedding Photography.

 

We’ve all seen them on television…those ladies (and gentlemen) madly rifling through their coupon binders, clearing shelves of merchandise, and getting 1200 bottles of Vitamin Water for free from the grocery store…not because they need it—just because they can.

This is not the universal description of a “couponer”; however, these ARE the individuals who feed the perception that all couponers behave this way.

Not all couponers are created equally, and it is 100% possible to use coupons to immediately provide relief to your financial stressors, broaden your creativity, introduce you to new people, and give you an enjoyable hobby that your whole family can participate in.

You can reap the benefits of couponing without having to dedicate hours of your life to it, and you do not…DO NOT….have to be “extreme” about couponing to benefit from using them.

Atlas Concepts_featured

There are, of course, a multitude of reasons people choose to participate in couponing, but here I will give you my top three reasons for doing so.

  1. To Save You/Your Family Money

This would be the MOST obvious reason for couponing. I simply want to remind you of that fact, and to let you know that it is EASY to do, and it does not have to consume your daily life just to save a few hundred dollars a month.

My household consist of three members (myself, spouse, and child), and our monthly spending for groceries is between $80 and $90.  This dollar amount includes meats, produce, dairy, and other things that there are rarely coupons for, because for everything else there are coupons.

And I do not buy tons of Sunday newspapers or dumpster dive for coupons.  On Sunday mornings I go to Wal-Mart and buy three newspapers (note: if you are interested in using this method just be sure to ALWAYS inspect every single paper you buy to ensure that no entitled couponer has stolen the coupon inserts out of them….in case you don’t pay much attention to the news, yes, this happens A LOT).

After buying the newspapers I go straight home, stack all of the inserts, cut out ALL coupons, and place them all in my binder.  This total process takes about an hour of my time, and this prevents me from EVER having to miss a deal because my insert for this/that deal is at home….just be sure to remember to always take your binder with you. 🙂

Overseas Coupon Project

  1. To Bring Relief to Others

There are various ways of achieving this, but the primary method my family uses to help others by couponing is to donate our expired coupons to a military post overseas.

Overseas military commissaries accept manufacturer’s coupons for six months past their expiration date, and ALL military commissaries will allow overages (which many typical grocery stores do not).  So there are quite a few ways that military families may benefit from your expired coupons, and this does not take any extra time on your behalf.

Think about it…you ALREADY have the coupons cut and in your binder, so when they expire you simply take them out, stack them, count them and ship them to an overseas military post of your choosing.

Another popular way individuals choose to aid others by couponing is by actually donating the items you get from using the coupons (many choose to simply donate the free items if they are items you and your family don’t want to use).  The only time I get to do this is when I know I have items that will expire before my family can use them.  Otherwise I typically use everything that I get from couponing.

Atlas Concepts LLC_Couponing

  1. TO TRY NEW THINGS!!!

I know that there are some who swear by one certain type of toothpaste or shampoo, and will never, ever even CONSIDER switching…BUT if you are open to trying new products, then couponing is the perfect way to sample things without having this go through your head:  “Oh Aveeno’s got a new moisturizer out, but it’s TWELVE DOLLARS! I WOULD try it, but I ain’t spendin’ twelve dollars on that…I’ll stick with what I’ve got.” Ok fine, so not everyone has that EXACT thought, haha. But you know what I mean. (And no, it’s not as simple as coming across a coupon for “$12 off any Aveeno product”…it would be more of a coupon “stacking” scenario.)

This is a HUGE reason why I coupon…because I like to try new things.  I do not simply cut coupons for items that I have been using for years, or that I know I like, etc.  If I typically use Hidden Valley Ranch salad dressing, but I have a coupon that is going to make Ken’s Strawberry Vinaigrette Salad Dressing free, then I get the Ken’s and my family gets to have a different tasting salad for the next couple of weeks, haha. You see?

I mean, what’s the worst thing that could happen? You end up not liking the new product you tried? So what! It didn’t cost you anything, and now you can give it to someone else to try…again, at no expense to them.  Added bonus: this method and outlook can lead to some REALLY creative meals 🙂

For more information on donating your expired coupons, see Overseas Coupon Project.

If you would like to learn the basics of couponing, Amazon has a great Kindle ebook (if you don’t have a Kindle, just download the Kindle App on your mobile device) available here.


Simply Savvy Blog_Jessica

Jessica D. Williams of Rock Hill, SC has experience in banking, the mortgage industry and tax consultation.  She is the Owner of Jessica DeVinney Photography and enjoys serving the Greater Charlotte, NC area—with specializations in Senior, Family, and Wedding Photography.

This post covers a topic that plays a huge role in my weekly schedule.  It’s something that, if you discipline yourself and make time to do it, can really pay off in a HUGE way. No, this is not a post about dieting or developing the perfect workout regimen. What I’m talking about is…dun-dun-dun…online surveys!!

For the record, I am a test-taker…not professionally, or for some designated research company, etc. But in general I have always enjoyed, and been decent at, tests and quizzes—both academically and personally (i.e. personality tests, “what your favorite movies say about you” quizzes, etc.).  And years ago when I initially learned of various websites who offered rewards for completing surveys I didn’t hesitate to sign up.

Some give points, some give money, some give coupons, gift cards, samples, and so on. And I was interested in them all, or at least trying them all, however skeptical I may have been.

So I began taking an online survey every single day; not always on the same site, or of the same type, but definitely every day.

Now, let’s talk real-life for just a sec, who really wants to spend 45 minutes of their life every day to answering a bunch of questions about the last watch they purchased, or which pattern you like best for preemie diapers? Simple answer…nobody! So YES I have skipped many surveys, or simply quit while taking surveys…and in some of those instances, I very well could have been only a question or two away from obtaining $2.45 in my account…but some days I just couldn’t do it.

But I have had great success with several sites that offer different types of rewards, and I wanted to share that info with others who may be interested in doing the same. In my experience, the best site for:

–>Gift cardsYale SOM elab. These surveys are administered by the Yale School of Management, and there is an application/selection process before you may begin taking their surveys. But they are worth it. Many of them are short, as in 10-15 minutes for a 1 in 40 chance to receive a $25 Amazon Gift Card. And I have indeed received quite a few gift cards from completing their surveys. Some of their surveys will offer a gift card simply for completing it; however, these are typically smaller in the dollar amount…maybe $5-$7 or so.

–>Rewards earned from accumulated points – e-rewards, mPoints, and Rewards Gold. By taking e-rewards surveys (who reward you with SOMEthing even if you don’t qualify for the full survey) I have accumulated THOUSANDS of miles in my US Airways Dividend Miles account. Granted you don’t have to cash in your points for just miles…e-rewards does offer magazines and gift cards; however, I haven’t been traveling as much as I used to, so being rewarded in miles is a great way for me to keep my Dividend Miles account active (so that none of my miles will expire).

mPoints has been great for me as far as receiving material items. For example, I received a case of wine for free as a reward for completing their surveys and viewing ads. This one was great because it took no time at all! I had been accumulating points for only several weeks before I was able to begin cashing them out for rewards. Way to keep me interested!

Rewards Gold is a free magazine site. It is as simple as signing up, filling out your information, and completing a short survey…well, MOST of them are short, but there have been a few that took a little longer.

But the thing about their surveys is that they require more text answers from you, not simply 20 multiple choice questions and done.

So if you’re a fast typist, then it’s possible to complete a survey in 5 minutes.

The best part is the reward is instant! You don’t have to spend days and weeks accumulating points before you are offered a subscription…I’m talking you hit “submit” on your survey, then you’re immediately taken to the screen to select your choice of magazine.

You are not providing ANY payment information, and these are FULL subscriptions…not trials.

Atlas Concepts LLC_Simply Savvy_Mags

 

The list of subscriptions my household currently receives is:

The Wall Street Journal (daily print and digital versions)

Professional Photographer Magazine

US Weekly

Family Circle

Wine Spectator

Cigar Aficionado

Watch!

Martha Stewart Living

Martha Stewart Weddings (digital version)

Bloomberg BusinessWeek

Shape

Self

Better Homes & Gardens

Forbes

 

These are ALL from submitting Rewards Gold surveys.

 

–>Ca$h money – Opinion Place. This is survey site I’ve been using the longest. They do restrict you to one survey per week (that you qualify for), but they pay cash via Paypal.

My payouts have varied from $2.50 to $7. To ensure that you don’t forget to take advantage of their surveys, simply put a reminder in whatever calendar you use and have it as a standing appointment every week. Note: Opinion Place surveys are never very lengthy.

I’m sure that there are hundreds of survey sites that people swear by, but the ones I’ve named here are simply the ones that I have had the most experience with.  If you know of any great ones that aren’t named here, please feel free to share your experience by posting a comment.


Simply Savvy Blog_Jessica

Jessica D. Williams of Rock Hill, SC has experience in banking, the mortgage industry and tax consultation.  She is the Owner of Jessica DeVinney Photography and enjoys serving the Greater Charlotte, NC area—with specializations in Senior, Family, and Wedding Photography.

The absolute BEST use for your expired coupons is to donate them to participating U.S. military posts overseas, since most international commissaries will take them. The official coupon policy for military commissaries states:

“Commissaries located in foreign overseas areas accept coupons up to six months after the expiration date stated on a coupon.” (-commissaries.com)

We adopted an installation in Italy to send our coupons to. There is a list of available installations that are currently accepting coupons at the Overseas Coupon Project (OCP) site. The coupons do not have to be arranged by type, or all of the like ones grouped together, etc. The only organizing you MUST do is to separate them into two categories—food and non-food (there are detailed explanation on the OCP site delineating what qualifies as “food” and “non-food”).  After all of my coupons are in those two piles, I then follow these simple steps:

  1. Sort and Add

The quickest way to total these mounds of coupons is to sort them by amount, count how many you have of the same value, and multiply! For example, if there are 50 coupons that are all $.75 off then simply take 50 x $.75 to get a total of $37.50 worth of coupons.  This method saves a lot of time. I couldn’t imagine the time it would take to calculate every single coupon individually!

Overseas Coupon Project

 

  1. Write down your totals

This step should probably go without saying, but PLEASE do not attempt to keep a running total of all these coupons in your head.  You MUST write it down.  Primarily because the ACS, Soldier Support Center, or volunteer who will be receiving these loads of coupons will need to know the precise value of the coupon hauls they’re getting.  They do not want just rough estimates.

Atlas Concepts OCP

 

  1. Keep ‘em separated

After totaling the value of your two categories of coupons, place them into separate envelopes (or Ziploc bags).  Mark one “food” and the other “non-food” so that it’s easy for the recipient to begin their sort and distribution process as soon as they open the box.

Atlas Concepts OCP

Note: the coupons do not have to be stapled, rubber banded, or otherwise clipped together, simply place them in the envelopes.

Atlas Concepts OCP 2

 

  1. Pack ‘em up

After you’ve placed all of your coupons in their respectively labeled envelope or Ziploc bag, close the bag/envelope to prevent any coupons spilling out and becoming damaged or mixed up during transit, and place the enveloped in whatever shipping container you’d like to us.

I personally find it easiest, and most economical, to use a USPS Priority Mail Medium Flat Rate Box—you get them yourself from the stand in most post office lobbies, and you pay for the shipping ($12.35 as listed on USPS.com) when you take it back to drop it off.

Atlas Concepts OCP 2

Note: Be sure to jot down your “food” and “non-food” total onto a slip of paper and place it inside the box with the envelopes of coupons.

  1. Ship ‘em out

Atlas Concepts PostageYou’ll need a Priority Mail shipping label sticker, as well as a US Postal Service Customs Declaration form (these are both available in the lobby of the post office).  I typically grab several at a time so that I can save time with future shipments by filling them out at home—my 2-year-old doesn’t always enjoy standing there waiting for me to fill out a bunch of forms 🙂

The customs form can be a little confusing at first, mainly because your shipments will go to an APO, not a simple street, city, state address, and there are no designated spaces for APO formatting on these notes.  So the image below explains the way to do it.

Atlas Concepts Customs Form

  1. This top area should be simple…it’s YOUR information 🙂
  2. This section is for who the package is being shipped to. The lines are as follows:
    • Addressee’s Last Name: simply write in the ACS, or name of the volunteer your shipment is going to at the installation (you may cross over the line separating last and first name), just treat it as one line.
    • Business: this will be the Base name, or the individual whose ATTN: the shipment goes to
    • Address: this will usually be where you specify the unit where your shipment is going
    • Postcode/City: this is where you place the APO information (treat these two spaces as one also).
  3. In this section you are asked to specify the contents of your package, and what the value of the contents is. In the space you write “Manufacturer’s Coupons” and the value is $0.00.
  4. Don’t forget to sign and date this document. Your parcel cannot be shipped without this, and do not rely on the postal worker to catch it if you omit your signature.

 

You’re almost done!  The way that OCP keeps record of how much each base is receiving is solely by the information you place in their donation tracker.  After each shipment, you’ll go to the Donation Form on the OCP website and enter the required information.  I also recommend creating a simple tracker for your personal records as well.

That’s it! You have just helped out countless military families who may not have access to many of the coupons that we do…and subsequently just toss out with the garbage.  Our “trash” can truly be another individual’s treasure.

Feel free to ask any questions regarding this post, or any additional couponing questions you may have.


Simply Savvy Blog_Jessica

Jessica D. Williams of Rock Hill, SC has experience in banking, the mortgage industry and tax consultation.  She is the Owner of Jessica DeVinney Photography and enjoys serving the Greater Charlotte, NC area—with specializations in Senior, Family, and Wedding Photography.