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The Art of Grocery Shopping

One of my greatest struggle with sticking to a budget, is that I always overspend what I budget on food. Here are some of  tips to help an Adult when going Grocery Shopping:
  1. Write a menu of what you want to eat for the week. Make sure to include breakfast, lunch, and snacks. There are software products available to help adults who are more visual thinkers. 
  2. Based on the menu create a list of what you will need to prepare the items on your menu.
  3. Look in your cabinets and refrigerator, for items that are on your list, remove those items from your list. If you go the supermarkets to buy cleaning products or toiletries, you will need to check your bathroom, closets, and if you are like me anywhere else in the house where you put these items. Add items that you are running low on, on to the list.
  4. art of grocery shopping
  5. Can you afford the items that are on your list? This will be difficult to determine if this is the first time that you have set a limit for yourself, or if grocery shopping is new to you. Once you have shopped a couple of times with a set limit, you will understand whether your food budget is realistic, or if you will have to make changes to your limit or what you buy. A lot of adults with ADD like to use online services that will deliver the groceries to you. This can be helpful for several reasons; it will total up all you purchases before you make them, it reduce the time of a mundane task, and it helps to control impulse buying.
  6. If you are planning to go out shopping, make sure you eat a proper meal before hand. This helps you keep a clear head and reduce impulse buying, by not buying things that you are craving because you are hungry.
  7. Have you checked circulars, newspapers or the Internet for coupons for the products that are on your list? This can be dangerous because you might also be tempted to buy additional items that you do not really need.
  8. Before you head out decide if you want to go to one store or more than one store. While you can save money by going to additional stores, I would not recommend it. First the additional money and time that you spend traveling could negate any savings that you get. Second it adds a lot of complexity to a task that should be done as simply as possible.

11:36 PM | Posted in , | Read More »

Shopping Tips for a Gift with Tight Budget

Have you seen the prices of greeting cards lately? It is hideous! Once you purchase the card and gift-wrap, your overall cost can easily increase by $10 to$15. If you are on a tight budget, this can be difficult as you spend more on the fluff and less on the actual gift. Not only are greeting cards expensive, their sizes often overwhelm small gifts, which make the overall presentation, looking goofy and unbalanced. Basically, you really don’t need to spend on expensive greeting cards to make an impression.

We all have this perception that greeting cards are the perfect match to gift giving. Although true, there are cost effective ways that can help you spend more on gifts and less on greeting cards. For instance, packaged blank cards are the best way to go as you pay less per card then individually. The other advantage of blank cards is that they are not specific to an occasion and can be used for anything. You should always have a pack handy and ready to use, as you never know when you will need to buy someone a last minute gift or card.

gift shopping tips with tight budget
Choosing the right card can be time consuming. As the overall look of your gift is very important, you must consider size when choosing your card. The safest way is to choose a small size gift card, as it will fit to any size gift. In my opinion, the Groovy-0-Grams mini cards are the best to use as they fit perfectly on any size gift and they are very affordable. For the price of one greeting card, you get six per pack and you can use the mini cards for six different occasions. Now that’s a bargain! Not only are they affordable, the mini cards are really fun to use as they focus on different personalities rather then occasions. They also promote positive self- esteem, which is a gift in itself.

Being prepared in advance with a pack of mini cards will save you time and money. And, when those last minute gift frenzies strike, you will spend more on your gift and less on the fluff. Happy gift shopping!

For more gift shopping ideas and tips please log on at http://www.groovyarts.com

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A Guide to Safe Online Shopping

Despite the many benefits of shopping online, many people still have some reluctance towards parting with their cash on the net, therefore we've compiled a general checklist and answers to the most common questions to help put your mind at rest.

Vendor Checklist
If the answer is no to any of these question then do not purchase from the retailer in question.
1.Do they have a secure server?
2.Are their contact details clearly visible on the site?
3.Are their contact details authentic?
4.Do you trust them?

safe online shopping
How Do I Know I'm in a Secure Server?
Whilst in a secure server a closed padlock symbol should be visible somewhere along the bottom of your browser, you should also notice that the beginning of the site address will have changed from http:// to https:// again signifying that you are on a secure server.

It should be noted that a large majority of sites only make use of their secure server during the payment procedure.

Helpful Hints
1.Always keep a copy of the order confirmation .
2.Always read the small print.
3.Contact the retailer if you have any questions or doubts.
4.Never shop with a retailer you don't trust, no matter how good their prices.

Useful sites:
Office of Fair Trading : http://www.oft.gov.uk --> Includes helpful online shopping advice.
Trust UK : http://www.trustuk.org.uk -->Non-profit organization endorsed by the Government to enable consumers to buy online with confidence
Trading Standards : http://www.tradingstandards.gov.uk -->Offers consumer protection information in the UK.
The Consumer Gateway : http://www.consumer.gov.uk -->Offers sound advice for consumers.

You can find more information about shopping online, especially in UK at this site Zoink - UK Shopping Directory

12:10 AM | Posted in , | Read More »

Christmas Toy Shopping Online

With the Christmas season approaching, here are 10 reasons to do your toy shopping online.

1. Child free. Trying to shop for the Christmas presents with your children in tow does not really work. Why not shop on the Internet when they are in bed or busy with something else?

2. Crowd free. Avoid the hustle and bustle of the High Street, trying to get a pushchair around a cramped and busy shop.

3. 24/7 shopping. The Internet is open for shopping at all hours. With the exception of a couple of large supermarkets, why tie yourself to when your local toy shops are open?

4. Range of toys available. You can find pretty much every toy available on the Internet. It's a great way to find unusual and different ideas when you get stuck in the rut of buying the same type of present year after year - after all, our niche is wooden toys and we stock some very hard to find items. A surefire way of getting away from the cloned High Streets and malls we live with today.

5. Time saving. The children are not with you - and do not know what you have got them. You are not fighting off the crowds of other shoppers. You can fit your shopping into a time that is convenient for your. No finding the last parking space in town. Get the toy shopping out of the way and when you do go to the High Street, you can relax and shop for fun.

6. No shopping bags. Five full shopping bags hanging off the pushchair, the car parked at the top of a multistory carpark a mile away and the busy shopping center to negotiate. Shop online and juggling the shopping bags is history (as is keeping out the little prying hands and eyes).

7. Home or work delivery. The majority of online stores will happily deliver to your workplace or home. If you want the toys quickly, many stores will offer a courier option. While most stores will charge a postage and packing fee, just think how much you have saved on car parking, petrol and time - and if you spend enough, the store will probably throw in free postage.

8. Range of payment options. On the Internet you can pay easily by card. Many stores will accept payment by cheque or postal order. Then there are also the online payment options such as PayPal. Don't forget that PayPal and many banks and credit card companies offer Internet fraud protection for online purchases.

9. Discounts. You may well get a good price on the Internet, but the trick to getting extra discounts is to sign up for mailing lists on websites that interest you. You will probably find that from time to time you will get extra offers, discounts and lower shipping costs.

10. Right to Cancel. In many countries you have extra rights when purchasing online. In Britain and the EU, you may cancel your order at any time during the first seven working days after delivery - for any reason at all.

Above all play safe when paying for your Christmas shopping. Check the page that asks for your payment details either has a padlock icon at the bottom or https:// before the web address. Check that you have 'real world' contact details for the shop. Do a quick search on the Internet for the store to see if anyone has reported unresolved problems.

Enjoy your Christmas shopping!

For more information about Christmas toys please visit here: Christmas Toys

4:37 PM | Posted in , | Read More »

Mystery Shopping an Excellent Additional Income Source

Though the name itself may seem a bit mysterious, the concept of mystery shopping is actually straightforward. Also referred to as secret shopping, performance evaluations, service checks and front-line evaluations to name a few, mystery shopping allows companies to obtain a “snapshot in time” by trained researchers who know in advance what they are to evaluate. It provides management a method to quickly yet efficiently evaluate their business practices, deliverable, and employees from the perspective of a non-biased consumer. Mystery shoppers visit or call businesses posing as ordinary customers and provide detailed evaluations of their experience using written reports or questionnaires.

Mystery shopping is used in a wide variety of industries such as retail, restaurants, financial institutions, convenience stores and gas stations, service providers, manufacturers, department stores, travel and entertainment, etc.

Though there is a certain level of responsibility and professionalism required to be an effective mystery shopper, you should never have to pay to get a job. There are dozens of companies claiming that by paying them a registration fee they will send you job opportunities and teach you the steps to becoming a shopper. This may be true, but is also completely unnecessary.

mystery shopping income
The legitimate mystery shopping companies in the industry NEVER charge fees to the shopper. Training, tips for improvement, and shopping opportunities are provided free to registered shoppers. Mystery shoppers are either paid a pre-arranged fee for a particular shop, a reimbursement for a purchase or a combination of both.
Though it is possible to make a living solely from mystery shopping, it is not very common. Most shoppers view this as a second income source or as a way to obtain fully reimbursed meals, products, and services.

The registration process with leading mystery shopping companies has improved over the years. Most provide a simple online form that takes only a few minutes to complete. Once you have registered with a company or two, they will start informing you of shopping opportunities. Most of these are “first-come, first-

serve”, so be sure to provide the company with an email address that you check regularly, and a phone number where you can be easily reached.

Be willing to accept last minute assignments and treat bottom-of-the-barrel assignments just like top-of-the-line assignments. At first, take whatever you can get. This will allow you to build a reputation with each company. The old adage, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression,” is exceptionally true in this industry. Make sure you completely understand the instructions for the particular shop, be impartial, and focus on accuracy. You may be required to document employee names and descriptions, prices, inventory

evaluations, etc.

Go hi-tech. More and more mystery shopping companies are requiring shoppers to have access to the Internet, email and a fax machine. Some shops even require the use of a digital camera to capture product placement, signage, cleanliness or other focus points.

Complete all assignments on time. If you absolutely cannot complete an assignment, contact the mystery shopping company immediately so they can reschedule the assignment. Dependable shoppers get the best assignments!

Assignments can be as basic as sitting in the parking lot of a fast food restaurant for 20 minutes to document drive-throe service times to taking an all-expense-paid trip to a resort for 2 weeks to document your daily service experiences.

Now that you understand the mystery shopping industry a little more clearly, the next step is to locate a few top mystery shopping providers and register, remembering that even if a firm doesn't have a client in your area today, they may next month. Once registered with a company, it would not hurt to call or send an email to express your willingness to shop and to confirm your professionalism and attention to detail. Just make sure that you do not send an email full of typos and grammatical errors – definitely not the type of first impression that you want to leave.

Another method for finding potential shopping opportunities and to gather further industry knowledge is by monitoring online mystery shopping message boards and forums. To locate a few, type words like “mystery shopping message board” or “mystery shopping forum” into your favorite browser.

Mystery shopping may not become your next career, but it will provide you with some extra income, free goods, and maybe even a few adventures along the way!

Written by: Steve Pearce
Steve Pearce is the Dir. of Business Development for National Shopping Service.


6:00 PM | Posted in | Read More »

Mystery Shopping Basics

Can You Really Get Paid To Shop?

If you have ever thought about being a mystery shopper (or secret shopper, as they are often called), now is the time to give shopping a serious look. The industry is hot and continues to grow, providing shoppers with more and more shopping opportunities. There are many individuals who are currently making money in their spare time and even some who are making a full time income. Secret shopping is a fun and
exciting way to make money. Besides the sheer thrill, shopping also offers people great flexibility - you can work from home on your own schedule. With this in mind, it isn't surprising that mystery shopping is very popular with stay-at-home parents.

What Is A Mystery Shopper?
mystery shopping form
Mystery shoppers are freelance professionals who are contracted to pose as real shoppers in order to evaluate several aspects of commercial retail establishments. Among other aspects, secret shoppers can evaluate customer service, product availability, product pricing, product quality, store cleanliness, website operations and telephone customer service. After shoppers evaluate a business, they are then required to
report their findings to the companies that contracted them.

Because the general shopping population is comprised of all kinds of different people, virtually anyone can be a secret shopper. Shopping can be especially appealing for individuals who desire to shape customer service and product quality, as their findings are taken seriously. Of course, the idea of getting paid to shop while getting free meals and merchandise is also very appealing.

However, mystery shopping is a business and needs to be taken seriously. You do need to posses a few characteristics like being dependable, professional and observant, and you need to be able to act as a real shopper. Of course, you need to have reliable transportation to conduct your shops and writing well and being able to separate your findings from your opinion are also important.

Why Is Secret Shopping Such A Big Industry?

The business world is very competitive and companies are constantly searching for ways to improve their customer service and the quality of their products. Companies that care want to know what their customers think; they want to be informed of things that need improving. Armed with the right information, businesses can make necessary improvements. Shopper findings are used in future employee
training materials, to improve business operations, to improve product quality and to compare one location to another.

Mystery shopper reports are also used to point out positive things. Shopper findings are used to help identify store locations and employees due rewards for outstanding customer service or cleanliness. Secret shoppers are sometimes even allowed to reward employees on the spot for meeting certain criteria. It can be fulfilling for a shopper to hand an employee a certificate for a paid day off for doing a great job!

Get Started As A Secret Shopper Now!

If you are interested in being your own boss, working from home, getting paid to shop and helping to improve commerce in your area, then mystery shopping just might be for you. One thing you need to remember is that this is not a get rich quick scheme. Mystery shopping is a legitimate industry and mystery shoppers are professionals who work for the money they make. You can earn a good part time and even a full time income as a shopper if you want. Now is the time to take the first step and become a secret shopper today.

Copyright Jennifer Callahan, Mystery Shopping Secrets. Jennifer's how-to manual will show you exactly what you need to know to become a successful mystery shopper. Get started on the right foot by visiting her site now at http://www.mysteryshopnow.com.

Written by: Jennifer Callahan
Jennifer Callahan is a successful mystery shopper with over 3 years experience and has a knack for helping new shoppers get off on the right foot so they can also become successful in the industry. Jennifer is the author of "Mystery Shopping Secrets," which is a beginner's guide to mystery shopping made for beginning shoppers and people interested in starting in the industry. "Mystery Shopping Secrets" is available from her website.

1:00 AM | Posted in | Read More »

Make Profits On Online Shopping

Time was when shopping was a painful experience, a chore to be lived with. Cash Back schemes have now brought the fun back into shopping. One can now shop online and purchase all that you need without even leaving home. What's more, these online purchases also pay you back a certain amount on your purchases. Online purchase stores are now offering its customers up to 40% Cash Back on every purchase made. For shoppers, who do not like to venture out for their shopping and make all their purchases from online stores, these Cash Back rebate programs actually pay them back for just the pains you are taking to go online.

Now, you may say that all this seems too good to be true, and might be skeptical about the whole idea. But all the skepticism becomes mud once you have the hard cash on your hands..... Yes, the Cash Back. The Cash Back Rebate Program works once you make a particular online shopping site, such as ours, your gateway to make all your online purchases. The share of the commissions which we get from our online stores for bringing customers to them is then shared with...... who else, but YOU.

profit on online shopping
The Cash Back Rebate Program on the web consist of Cash Back on Credit Cards, Cash Back on Real Estate, Cash Back on Mortgage and Cash Back on Juvenile Money, apart from Cash Back shopping. When you log on to an online site offering Cash Back on Real Estate, find a good real estate agent who can buy you a good property or sell you a good one, and you will receive a share of the commission that is paid to the site by the agent for finding him a customer. This same principal operates on all the online sites which provide Cash Back Rebate Programmes to its surfers. Cash Back Mortgages provide you with a very useful cash injection at a very expensive time of your life.

The unique concept of Cash Back must have become clear to you by now. You can now prepare yourself to just sit in front of your computer and not only make your purchases, but also get paid back for it. Cash Back is shopping made bliss when you get all that hard cash in your hand after all the purchases you have made.

Sites which offers Cash Back opportunities to its surfers have quality stores like eBay, Circuit City, Hotwire, Advanta, TechDepot, Best Buy, Target on its site. So you're purchasing from quality stores as well as saving on cash. It's a veritable windfall for you, so don't miss out on such opportunities which you can find plenty on the net.

Written by: Ricky Ahuja
Ricky Ahuja is currently the CEO of http://www.ruinit.com , overseeing all operations for the company. He formed the Company and immediately tasked himself with orchestrating and building a strong management team, innovating its Cash Back Wizard technology and improving the user experience. Ahuja made the critical decision to partner with Nusance Technologies, a then little known company with a unique approach to Web programming and development.

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