Help http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/5573/all en-US 5 Ways to Keep Anxiety From Ruining Your Budget http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-keep-anxiety-from-ruining-your-budget <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-ways-to-keep-anxiety-from-ruining-your-budget" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/friends_women_jogging_538947995.jpg" alt="Friends keeping anxiety from ruining their budget" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Life gets tough sometimes. When work is overwhelming, you are fighting with your parents, and the news seems to get grimmer every day, you might find yourself shopping your way into a better mood or pulling the covers over your head and ignoring all of your responsibilities.</p> <p>Stress, anxiety, and depression affect all of us at some time or another. And whether you are dealing with occasional and momentary periods of stress, or you are in the grips of a long-term and serious depressive episode, your mental state can often wreak havoc on your finances. It's not easy to protect your budget from your anxiety's destructive impulses, but the following types of self-care will not only help you to feel better when stress strikes, but they will also protect your bottom line.</p> <h2>1. Recruit an Accountability Partner</h2> <p>Accountability partners are an important strategy for improving your finances. Not only does having a partner motivate you to stay on the straight-and-narrow while you pay down debt or increase your savings, but working with someone else can offer you encouragement when you are feeling down and add some fun to a long process.</p> <p>All of these benefits are also crucial if you are trying to keep your budget looking healthy while you're dealing with stress, anxiety, or depression. In the case of trying to keep your mental state from hurting your finances, your accountability partner may act a little bit more like a sponsor from a 12-step program. You can call that person when you are overwhelmed and count on her to remind you of why a shopping binge will not actually help you feel better.</p> <p>Obviously, you and your accountability partner need to be able to offer each other the emotional support you both need. In times of widespread anxiety, it can be a little more difficult to find a partner when everyone is feeling overwhelmed. However, leaning on each other is often a great way for two friends to both feel better and make the best financial choices for themselves.</p> <h2>2. Meditate</h2> <p>Mindfulness meditation has been proven to <a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2014/01/07/260470831/mindfulness-meditation-can-help-relieve-anxiety-and-depression">alleviate the symptoms</a> of both anxiety and depression. The focus of such meditation is to train your brain to remain in the moment, rather than obsess over the past or worry about the future. Such mindfulness will not only help you to put worries in perspective, but it can also help you to recognize the link between your emotions and your financially-destructive behavior.</p> <p>For instance, let's say that after a day of bingeing on news online, you badly want to put a lavish vacation on credit, just so you have something to look forward to. If you take 10 minutes to meditate instead, it can help you to see that your anxiety will not be helped by a vacation you can't afford. It will also allow you to feel your anxiety, rather than push it away, which is a much more productive method of getting past the negative feelings.</p> <p>If you have never meditated before, there are many <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/well/guides/how-to-meditate">beginner's guides</a> out there to teach you the practice of mindfulness.</p> <h2>3. Go for a Run</h2> <p>Exercise is the closest thing we have to a no-fail antidepressant. Research has shown that people are <a href="https://today.duke.edu/2000/09/exercise922.html">happier after breaking a sweat</a> than they were beforehand, even if they had to force themselves to go to the gym.</p> <p>In addition, an exercise habit can help you to avoid budget-destroying habits you might otherwise engage in, like retail therapy or a weekend-long Netflix marathon that keeps you from taking care of your grocery shopping and laundry.</p> <p>Of course, when you are in the midst of a deep funk, the idea of lacing up your sneakers and going out for a life-affirming run sounds about as enticing as getting a root canal. This is another place where your accountability partner can help you do what's best for you both. Set up a regular date to exercise together, and you will both get to enjoy the endorphins and the good company.</p> <h2>4. Volunteer</h2> <p>Depression, anxiety, and stress are often side effects of feeling helpless. When it feels as if you have little power over your circumstances, it's easy to retreat into bad and expensive habits to help yourself feel better.</p> <p>But there is always meaningful work that we can do to improve lives &mdash; even if we can't improve our own. That is why volunteering for a cause you believe in can be such an important tool in improving your outlook on the world. According to a 2008 study by the London School of Economics, people who volunteer <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18321629">experience greater happiness</a> than those who do not.</p> <p>The researchers theorize that volunteering makes you happier because it helps to put your situation in perspective. In addition, volunteering your time helps alleviate depression because it allows you to feel like you are a part of something important that is doing good in the world.</p> <h2>5. Engage in Productive Self-Care</h2> <p>Sometimes things feel so bleak that you really do need to retreat and take care of yourself. There is nothing wrong an occasional &quot;Stop the world, I want to get off!&quot; day for yourself. But there can be a fine line between healthy and productive self-care, and self-destructive wallowing. For instance, buying a bottle of nail polish might make you feel good, which could prompt you to keep buying to keep that good feeling going. Instead, you might be better served by inviting a friend over to paint your nails together.</p> <p>To make sure your self-care is helpful rather than harmful, start with your needs. Ask yourself what needs are not being met right now, and listen carefully to the answer that bubbles to the surface. Wallowing is often a passive reaction, whereas productive self-care is when you engage in fulfilling your unmet needs. Taking the time to think through what you need may help you realize that you don't actually want to go out drinking, but instead you need to talk with a good friend.</p> <h2>Don't Let Depression, Anxiety, and Stress Hurt Your Finances</h2> <p>When your thoughts get stuck in a hamster wheel of anxiety or depression, the easy method of handling your distress can often cause you financial stress. Being intentional and mindful about how you handle your negative mental states can help to alleviate your feelings of helplessness and keep your finances healthy.</p> <p>If you are experiencing severe depression and/or suicidal thoughts, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/emily-guy-birken">Emily Guy Birken</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-keep-anxiety-from-ruining-your-budget">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/flashback-friday-84-frugal-ways-to-eliminate-stress">Flashback Friday: 84 Frugal Ways to Eliminate Stress</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/flashback-friday-38-ways-to-get-more-sleep-tonight">Flashback Friday: 38 Ways to Get More Sleep Tonight</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-prevent-the-winter-blues-from-busting-your-budget">5 Ways to Prevent the Winter Blues from Busting Your Budget</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/your-stressful-job-may-be-making-you-healthier">Your Stressful Job May Be… Making You Healthier?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/flashback-friday-the-119-best-fitness-hacks-for-busy-people">Flashback Friday: The 119 Best Fitness Hacks for Busy People</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Frugal Living Health and Beauty Lifestyle anxiety bingeing budgeting depression exercise Help mental health overspending self care stress volunteering Tue, 06 Dec 2016 11:00:09 +0000 Emily Guy Birken 1843967 at http://www.wisebread.com 7 Signs You Have a Serious Spending Addiction http://www.wisebread.com/7-signs-you-have-a-serious-spending-addiction <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/7-signs-you-have-a-serious-spending-addiction" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/man_money_wallet_86784517.jpg" alt="Man learning signs he has a spending addiction" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>We all splurge once in awhile, buying that extra pair of shoes or that top-of-the-line laptop computer that we didn't really need.</p> <p>But what if your splurging was something more? What if your splurges were a sign of a deeper shopping addiction?</p> <p>Shopping addiction might sound like a fake condition, but it's real. The World Psychiatric Association refers to it as compulsive buying disorder, or CBD. According to the association, CBD is characterized by excessive shopping and buying decisions that lead to either remorse or, even worse, prevent you from paying your bills, socializing, or interacting with your family members.</p> <p>The association says that 5.8% of the U.S. population battles this condition throughout their lives.</p> <p>How do you know if you are suffering from CBD? Here are seven clues that your shopping is more than just a fun diversion:</p> <h2>1. You Hide Your Purchases</h2> <p>We're supposed to buy items to use them. But those suffering from shopping addiction often hide their purchases deep inside bedroom closets, under their beds, or in other hiding spots. Why? They are hiding their purchases from a spouse, partner, or family member. Those suffering from shopping addictions often want to hide the evidence of their overspending. This is one of the top warning signs of a spending addiction.</p> <h2>2. You Constantly Break Your Household Budget</h2> <p>Each month, you vow to keep your spending within the budget you've set for your household. But every month, your spending shatters your careful plans. You might feel remorse over this, but you overspend every month anyway. This inability to stick to a spending plan is another of the key signs that your shopping habits are out of control.</p> <h2>3. Your Overspending Happens All Year Long</h2> <p>It's easy to overspend during certain times of the year, such as during the winter holidays. Overspending all year long, though, is a more serious sign of a serious spending addiction. The World Psychiatric Association makes it a point to say that compulsive buying disorder isn't just a seasonal problem; it's a yearlong spending pattern.</p> <h2>4. You Buy Items You Don't Need</h2> <p>Do you come home from a shopping trip with bags full of clothing you'll never wear or electronics that you'll never use? Buying items that you neither want nor need is another sign that your shopping habits are out of control.</p> <h2>5. You Can't Buy Just One</h2> <p>Buying one pair of jeans isn't so bad. Coming home with a dozen? That's troubling. Buying items compulsively is another big sign of a shopping addiction. If you can't just buy one pair of shoes, and instead feel compelled to buy eight &mdash; that's a good sign that your shopping is controlling you instead of the other way around.</p> <h2>6. Remorse</h2> <p>How often do you feel remorse or guilt when returning home after a shopping spree? If it's often, you might be struggling with a spending addiction. The World Psychiatric Association says that remorse is one of the top signs exhibited by consumers who are not in control of their spending habits. You should be able to return from a shopping trip pleased with your purchases. If you're feeling the opposite, it might be time to seek help from a therapist.</p> <h2>7. You're Anxious When You're Not at the Store</h2> <p>Finally, if you often find yourself anxious when not spending, you might be suffering from a significant spending addiction. You should be able to relax and enjoy the time you're not spending at the stores. If this contentment eludes you, and if instead you are constantly planning out or imagining your next visit to a shopping mall, you might be a sufferer of CBD.</p> <h2>Where to Turn for Help</h2> <p>If you do feel you may have a problem with shopping addiction, you have several options. Donald Black MD, a professor of Psychiatry at the University of Iowa College of Medicine, told WebMD that there are no medications or standard <a href="http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/addiction/features/shopping-spree-addiction?page=3">treatments for shopping addiction</a>, and that some doctors seek to treat underlying depression with antidepressants or behavior modification therapy. Ultimately, Black said, behavior change is necessary. Other doctors interviewed told WebMD that suffers should seek help from groups like Debtor's Anonymous or local credit counseling agencies, as well, as most shopping addicts are heavily indebted.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dan-rafter">Dan Rafter</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-signs-you-have-a-serious-spending-addiction">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-stop-your-mindless-spending">5 Ways to Stop Your Mindless Spending</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-everyday-money-tasks-youve-been-doing-wrong">12 Everyday Money Tasks You&#039;ve Been Doing Wrong</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-ways-to-avoid-buyers-remorse">6 Ways to Avoid Buyer&#039;s Remorse</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-terrible-money-situations-you-need-to-stop-getting-yourself-into">6 Terrible Money Situations You Need to Stop Getting Yourself Into</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-do-we-feel-buyer-s-remorse-anyway">Why Do We Feel Buyer’s Remorse, Anyway?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Shopping cbd compulsive buying disorder Help overspending psychology shopaholic spending addiction therapy wasting money Fri, 16 Sep 2016 09:00:06 +0000 Dan Rafter 1793092 at http://www.wisebread.com I Lost My Tax Documents… Now What? http://www.wisebread.com/i-lost-my-tax-documents-now-what <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/i-lost-my-tax-documents-now-what" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/000081177679.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>It's human to make an error. Unfortunately, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) isn't so forgiving of tax filers' mistakes, including incomplete forms and missing documents. For example, forgetting to include your taxpayer identifying number, such as your Social Security number, costs you <a href="https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/n746.pdf">$5 each time</a> it's missing from required returns and statements.</p> <p>Even heftier fees apply when you forget to include necessary tax documents with your filing. Are you missing documents or other needed information for your upcoming taxes? Here is what you can do to fix this before the filing deadline comes in April 2016.</p> <h2>1. Prior-Year Tax Information From the IRS</h2> <p>You can request current and the past six years <a href="https://www.irs.gov/uac/How-to-Get-Your-Prior-Year-Tax-Information-from-the-IRS-1">tax return transcripts</a> and tax account transcripts from the IRS.</p> <p>While a tax return transcript shows most line items, including accompanying forms and schedules that were originally filed, it will not include changes made afterward. To request an updated return that includes those changes, you need to request a tax account transcript.</p> <p>To request tax return or tax account transcripts, you can:</p> <ul> <li>Call 1-800-908-9946;</li> <li>Use the IRS's online tool &quot;<a href="https://www.irs.gov/Individuals/Get-Transcript">Order a Transcript</a>;&quot; or</li> <li>Request a transcript by mail or fax using the appropriate form (<a href="https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f4506.pdf">4506</a>, <a href="https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f4506t.pdf">4506T</a>, or <a href="https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f4506tez.pdf">4506T-EZ</a>).</li> </ul> <p>The IRS doesn't charge a fee for transcripts that are up to three years old. However, the IRS does charge $57 for every actual copy (different from a transcript) of a previously processed tax return. Actual copies are generally available for the past six years. Victims of a zone declared as a federal disaster by the President may have this fee waived.</p> <h2>2. Forms 1099 for Interest and Dividend Income</h2> <p>You can retrieve missing forms <a href="https://www.irs.gov/uac/Form-1099-INT,-Interest-Income">1099-INT, Interest Income</a> and <a href="https://www.irs.gov/uac/Form-1099-DIV,-Dividends-and-Distributions">1099-DIV, Dividends and Distributions</a> by requesting them from the bank or financial institution that issued them.</p> <p>The deadline for most forms 1099 is January 31st, so if you haven't received them by that date, you may need to wait a couple more days. Remember that you don't usually need to attach these forms to your return. As long as you can retrieve the necessary information from the financial institution, you can put together your return. For example, some financial institutions may offer you a summary or key data from those forms in an online portal.</p> <h2>3. Forms 1099 for Miscellaneous Income</h2> <p>Another very important form from the 1099 family is the <a href="https://www.irs.gov/uac/About-Form-1099MISC">1099-MISC, Miscellaneous Income</a>. This is a key form for sole proprietors, freelancers, and independent contractors, who receive most of their income from clients or part-time employers rather than full-time employers.</p> <p>If you receive at least $600 as payment from a single individual or company within a year, you need to have a Form 1099-MISC from that individual or company. While you don't need to attach those forms to your return, they would be essential in case of an IRS audit. Users of Schedule C to itemize deductions are almost three times more likely than a corporation to receive an audit. The IRS would slap a 25% inaccuracy penalty on top of applicable taxes and interest to wrongdoers. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-tax-return-mistakes-even-smart-people-make?ref=seealso">8 Tax Return Mistakes Even Smart People Make</a>)</p> <p>Add up your invoices or paystubs from everyone that you have received a payment from and, if that total adds up to $600 or more, double check that you have a Form 1099-MISC. If you don't have one, request one from that individual or institution.</p> <h2>4. Receipts for Donations</h2> <p>Cash and non-cash donations are some the most common ways to reduce your taxable income. Depending on the size of your donation, you may be off the hook to provide documentation. If your cash or non-cash donation is less than $250, a paper or printout of an online statement can suffice as proof of your donation.</p> <p>However, for <a href="https://www.irs.gov/taxtopics/tc506.html">donations greater than $250</a> you need to get a written contemporaneous acknowledgment for each one of them. For non-cash donations worth $5,000 or more, you'll also need a qualified appraisal of the items.</p> <p>Some qualified nonprofit organizations accepting cash donations provide updates on your donations on a rolling basis, so you may receive one in the mail without doing anything. In most cases, you need to contact the recipient of your donation to request a total if you're unsure of how much you have donated for the year.</p> <p>Organizations, such as Goodwill, that accept non-cash donations generally don't replace receipts when those documents are lost lost or stolen. If the market value of the donated items is less than $500, you should be fine under most circumstances by itemizing the items in the appropriate schedule.</p> <p>A best tax practice is to keep a digital copy of your donation receipts in case you misplace them.</p> <h2>5. W-2s</h2> <p>It's possible to get past (up to six years) and current copies of your <a href="https://www.irs.gov/uac/About-Form-W2">Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement</a> directly from the IRS following the directions outlined above. However, it takes the IRS five to 10 days to fulfill online requests and up to 30 calendar days to fulfill requests via fax or mail.</p> <p>For some taxpayers, all that they need to file a <a href="https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-prior/f1040ez--2014.pdf">1040-EZ return</a> are their W-2 forms. When you're so close to the April 15 deadline, waiting more than a day may not be an option. In those circumstances, check directly with your HR department about a missing W-2. Most employers are able to provide you a replacement faster than the IRS, and some of them even offer retrieval directly from an online portal, such as Workday, UltiPro, or BambooHR.</p> <h2>What If I Can't Get Any of My Tax Documents on Time?</h2> <p>To buy yourself some extra time, you can <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/filed-an-extension-heres-what-you-need-to-know?">file an extension</a> by April 15th. This would extend your filing deadline until October 15th. Remember that you're still liable for the applicable late filing penalty if you owe taxes (5% of the amount due for each month or part of the month your return is late).</p> <p>In 2016, tax-filing procrastinators have some good news, because most taxpayers will have until <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/top-three-tax-facts-to-know-for-2016">Monday April 18, 2016</a> to file federal taxes. Residents of Maine and Massachusetts are extra lucky and have until Tuesday April 19, 2016 to complete their returns.</p> <p>Still, don't wait until the last day and gather those missing tax documents as soon as possible.</p> <p><em>How did you deal with the loss of tax documents?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/damian-davila">Damian Davila</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/i-lost-my-tax-documents-now-what">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heres-what-happens-if-you-dont-pay-your-taxes">Here&#039;s What Happens If You Don&#039;t Pay Your Taxes</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/beware-these-6-phony-irs-calls-and-emails">Beware These 6 Phony IRS Calls and Emails</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-great-places-to-get-free-tax-advice">6 Great Places to Get Free Tax Advice</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/35-bizarre-things-you-can-be-taxed-on">35 Bizarre Things You Can Be Taxed On</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/20-amazing-outrageous-and-just-plain-weird-tax-deductions">20 amazing, outrageous and just plain weird tax deductions</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Taxes forms Help IRS lost documents transcripts Wed, 16 Dec 2015 18:00:10 +0000 Damian Davila 1619695 at http://www.wisebread.com 4 Ways Outsourcing Chores Can Save You Time and Money http://www.wisebread.com/4-ways-outsourcing-chores-can-save-you-time-and-money <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/4-ways-outsourcing-chores-can-save-you-time-and-money" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_shopping_000022890952.jpg" alt="Woman outsourcing chores and saving time and money" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>We're busy people, with lives filled by family, work, errands, chores, and tons of other tasks that pull us in a million directions. Add all of this on top of being a self-employed business owner, and there are times when I find myself sacrificing sleep, or skipping meals, as a way to get more things checked off my list.</p> <p>Two years ago I quit my day job to freelance full-time and have been in time-crunch mode ever since. As a way to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/give-yourself-a-break-the-productivity-secret-thatll-change-the-way-you-work">become more productive</a>, I've learned how to outsource work I don't have time for, or don't know how to do.</p> <p>What if you delegated household chores so you could regain control? Here's how to outsource your life so you have more time and money.</p> <h2>1. Avoid Grocery Shopping</h2> <p>Grocery shopping is one of my least favorite chores to do each week. Unless you're a personal chef (like my husband), you probably hate <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/save-100s-next-month-with-these-10-grocery-shopping-tips">going to the grocery store</a>, too. Instead of wasting your time on this chore, why not have your groceries delivered? If you live in a big city, check out services like <a href="http://www.anrdoezrs.net/click-2822544-10782119-1406910980000">Peapod</a> or <a href="https://fresh.amazon.com/">AmazonFresh's</a> food service.</p> <p>Just order your regular grocery items that you purchase every week, such as milk, bread, toilet paper, and other consumables, and get them delivered right to your door. No driving through traffic, or weaving in-and-out of the busy produce section.</p> <p>The great thing about these services is that you can find the best prices, use coupons, and take advantage of weekly discounts, just as you would if you were going the traditional grocery shopping route.</p> <p><strong>Time saved per week</strong>: One hour or more (depending on how long you usually take to meal plan and drive to your local store).</p> <p><strong>Average monthly cost</strong>: Cost of groceries plus delivery and tip (plus $99 a year for Amazon Prime).</p> <h2>2. Look Stylish on a Budget</h2> <p>Retail therapy is a great way to unwind, score some fashionable finds, and hang out with friends, but it's not always great for your budget. Limit your regular shopping trips by outsourcing your clothing needs using services like <a href="http://www.anrdoezrs.net/click-2822544-11713107-1413249375000">Stitch Fix</a> or <a href="http://www.shoedazzle.com/">ShoeDazzle</a>.</p> <p>A box is delivered straight to your front door that includes styles based on your personal taste. You only pay for the items you like and want to keep, otherwise you simply return any unworn clothing or shoes.</p> <p>The upside is you get customized picks, from designers and professional stylists, without ever leaving the house. You'll also be able to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-ways-stores-trick-us-into-impulse-buys-and-how-to-resist">avoid any impulse buys</a> or unwanted purchases simply by choosing the bare essentials.</p> <p><strong>Time saved per week</strong>: One hour or more (depending on how long you usually shop).</p> <p><strong>Average monthly cost</strong>: $55 for clothing and shoes (plus $20 processing fee applied to purchase).</p> <h2>3. Get Help With Daily Errands</h2> <p>Odd jobs around the house constantly seem to stack up. From cleaning the car, to mowing the yard, to cleaning out the gutters, a resource like <a href="https://www.taskrabbit.com/">Task Rabbit</a> can help. No task is too big or too small.</p> <p>If you need a ride to the airport, furniture delivered on a certain day, help walking the dog, or deep housecleaning, you can use this service to find the right person. You can even pay someone to stand in line for you at the DMV! This service is currently available in 19 cities and counting, so save yourself time by outsourcing your daily errands.</p> <p><strong>Time saved per week</strong>: Two hours or more (depending on chore).</p> <p><strong>Average monthly cost</strong>: Cost of errand billed hourly.</p> <h2>4. Hire a Bookkeeper or Household Manager</h2> <p>As the breadwinner for my small family, I don't always have time to prepare reports, pay taxes, and manage the affairs of our household. If you're in the same position, you know the importance of these tasks, and how vital it is that the <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-simple-ways-to-save-money-by-tracking-your-receipts">bills are paid on time</a>, but you also want to spend your time with your family and friends.</p> <p>One way to solve this is to hire a part-time bookkeeper or household manager. For $125 a month I work with a virtual bookkeeper who helps manage my bills, bank accounts, schedules appointments, and deals with other household projects. This allows me to spend my time at a yoga class, or going on a date with my husband.</p> <p><strong>Time saved per week</strong>: Two hours or more (depending on chore).</p> <p><strong>Average monthly cost</strong>: $100 or more depending on tasks.</p> <h2>You Really Can Save Time and Money With Outsourcing</h2> <p>Life's too short to spend a lot of time on doing household chores or trying to DIY tasks that are too complicated. Thanks to a rise in outsourcing services, you can delegate any kind of chore you don't have time to do. This will allow you time to do more important things, like spending quality time with your kids, or enjoying a weekend with friends.</p> <p><em>Have you tried outsourcing chores? What's another way to save time and money each week?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/carrie-smith">Carrie Smith</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-ways-outsourcing-chores-can-save-you-time-and-money">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-6"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-5-credit-cards-for-groceries">The Best Credit Cards for Groceries</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/flashback-friday-53-grocery-shopping-tricks-thatll-make-your-life-easier">Flashback Friday: 53 Grocery Shopping Tricks That&#039;ll Make Your Life Easier</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/save-100s-next-month-with-these-10-grocery-shopping-tips">Save $100s Next Month With These 10 Grocery Shopping Tips</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-and-worst-times-to-go-grocery-shopping">The Best and Worst Times to Go Grocery Shopping</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/flashback-friday-122-no-fuss-dinner-ideas-thatll-save-you-money">Flashback Friday: 122 No-Fuss Dinner Ideas That&#039;ll Save You Money</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Productivity Shopping chores errands groceries Help outsourcing Wed, 26 Aug 2015 11:00:20 +0000 Carrie Smith 1533307 at http://www.wisebread.com The 7 Best and Worst Ways to Ask for Help http://www.wisebread.com/the-7-best-and-worst-ways-to-ask-for-help <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-7-best-and-worst-ways-to-ask-for-help" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/businesspeople-working-186959998-small.jpg" alt="businesspeople working" title="businesspeople working" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>There's just no two ways about it: asking for help is hard.</p> <p>Whether you're at work, at home, or with your friends. Even when you know that it's normal, that everyone has to do it, and that a highly-touted business skill (delegation) is only asking for help in disguise. It doesn't leave you with a good feeling. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-ways-to-work-smarter-not-harder?ref=seealso">The 5 Best Ways to Work Smarter Not Harder</a>)</p> <p>So we're here to help by listing out some best (and worst) practices to employ when making a request of someone. And no, you don't have to ask.</p> <h2>What to Do When Asking for Help</h2> <p>First let's look at ways to make asking for help easier for you to accept and for your aide-giver to provide real assistance.</p> <h3>Understand Why You Need Help</h3> <p>Before you ask for aid, <a href="http://www.foxbusiness.com/personal-finance/2014/05/01/how-to-ask-for-help-at-work-without-looking-bad/">understand the problem</a> well enough to know why you can't complete the task yourself. You will feel better about asking for help when you know that you aren't lazy, crazy, or stupid. Whether you need help because you don't yet have the right skills, you've been asked to do something outside your area of expertise, or you are exhausted for any reason, your need for help will make more sense to you.</p> <p>When you know why you need help, you can also explain it to the person you're asking. This can help them feel better about helping you, because they know their aid is truly needed. If you need to defend asking for help, this can be an asset there, too.</p> <h3>Choose Whom to Ask</h3> <p>Most people are more than <a href="http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-to-ask-for-help/">happy to help you</a> out. It's true. Think about how you feel when asked to help someone. It's likely that you enjoy helping people, especially when they are asking you about areas of your expertise, and when they are respectful of your time and energy.</p> <p>Find someone to ask who has some expertise in the area where you're struggling. Then, choose a time to present your request when they are not overly busy or stressed out. If you have to ask someone like your boss, try to ask them between projects or, at least, between meetings.</p> <p>Knowing that people like to help and that the person you've asked is an expert in the field in which you need aid can give you the confidence to approach the meeting positively and confidently.</p> <h3>Have Something to Offer</h3> <p>Before you go asking for help, come up with a list of possible solutions to your problem. Even if they're a bit far fetched, having something to offer is many times better than having nothing. If you're very uncomfortable asking for help, or it feels threatening, you can even pose your question as &quot;Which of these options seems best to you?&quot; This allows your respondent to give an opinion or offer a solution of their own.</p> <p>If you are really and truly stuck, at least bring a list of specific questions when you ask for help. This indicates that you've thought about the problem from multiple perspectives, and that you are fully engaged in finding a solution.</p> <h3>Ask for Something Specific</h3> <p>People are more likely to help you if you ask them for something specific. When you do this, you're letting people know exactly what you want from them, which lets them calculate how much time and energy it will take for them to help you.</p> <p>Asking for something specific also allows you to demonstrate your understanding of the problem. When you know exactly what you need, you show that you understand the issue, even though you can't solve it yourself. This can help you feel better about asking for help and look better doing it, especially when you're asking for help in the workplace.</p> <h2>Things to Avoid When Asking for Help</h2> <p>Your request will go over much better if you avoid some simple mistakes.</p> <h3>Don't Be Insulting</h3> <p>There are a million ways to insult someone when you ask them for help. Whether you imply that they don't have anything better to do than solve your problems, or you make allegations that their mistake caused the problem in the first place, all insults make people less likely to help you and more likely to look down on you if they do.</p> <p>If you aren't sure whether your request is insulting or not, just don't make it. If you must ask, run your request by a third party before you make it, so you can edit it, if necessary.</p> <h3>Avoid Rudeness</h3> <p>Be sure that you ask for help and don't demand it. In fact, bring out the big guns and use &quot;please&quot; and &quot;thank you&quot; in the process of making your request. This offers respect to the person you're asking, and it helps keep the panic away. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-one-word-you-need-to-start-using-today-to-have-a-better-life?ref=seealso">The One Word You Need to Start Using Today to Have a Better Life</a>)</p> <p>Being polite helps both you and the other person to feel good about the conversation. And when people leave a conversation with you feeling good, they're more likely to help you and to continue to think well of you.</p> <h3>Quench Panic</h3> <p>Asking for help is different from asking someone else to take responsibility for you or your projects. People are more likely to help you and to feel positive about doing it when they know you aren't asking them to be responsible for your entire life.</p> <p>This probably sounds like something you would never do, but when you're pushed to the point of needing to ask for help, you can also be in a panic. When you panic, it's easy to overstate your problem and make it bigger than it is. This can overwhelm the person you're asking, especially if they are busy or tired (and who isn't?)</p> <p>It's also easy to give in to your fear and want to abdicate all responsibility for whatever is going wrong. When you get to the point of asking for help, it's often because you are getting pretty desperate for a solution. This desperation can push you towards wanting to give up entirely, which would make someone else responsible for everything.</p> <p><em>How do you feel about asking for help? What do you do (or not do) to make the process easier?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/sarah-winfrey">Sarah Winfrey</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-7-best-and-worst-ways-to-ask-for-help">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/invest-your-time-in-these-13-things-while-youre-in-your-20s">Invest Your Time in These 13 Things While You&#039;re in Your 20s</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-little-ways-to-make-yourself-a-better-person-while-watching-tv-tonight">15 Little Ways to Make Yourself a Better Person While Watching TV Tonight</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-powerful-brain-hacks-you-can-do-in-under-2-minutes">8 Powerful Brain Hacks You Can Do in Under 2 Minutes</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-ways-to-feel-better-fast">25 Ways to Feel Better Fast</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/people-who-love-expanding-their-minds-do-these-13-things-do-you">People Who Love Expanding Their Minds Do These 13 Things — Do You?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> General Tips Personal Development asking for help assistance Help Thu, 02 Oct 2014 11:00:06 +0000 Sarah Winfrey 1225624 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 People You Should Have in Your "Personal Emergency Kit" http://www.wisebread.com/5-people-you-should-have-in-your-personal-emergency-kit <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-people-you-should-have-in-your-personal-emergency-kit" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/emergency-152973680.jpg" alt="emergency call" title="emergency call" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>They say it takes a village to raise a kid, but the truth is, it takes a village to get through life in general whether you have kids or not. And to exist in a relatively peaceful village, you have to ensure that you're surrounding yourself with the right people &mdash; especially for emergency situations.</p> <p>I'm sure you can think of plenty of folks in your own life who lend a helping hand when you need it. That's great; keep them around. If you don't have these people, however, it's time you let your guard down and let some new folks in; you never know when you're gonna need them, but when you do, you'll be glad you found each other.</p> <p>To help you evaluate who's missing from your &quot;personal emergency kit,&quot; here are five types of people who can make your life easier in times of crises &mdash; plus a bonus guy who may be the most important of them all. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-emergency-situations-you-must-prepare-for-and-5-you-can-ignore?ref=seealso">Emergencies to Prepare For</a>)</p> <h2>1. A Neighbor Who Will Alert You When There's Trouble at Your House</h2> <p>&quot;Roseanne&quot; is one of my favorite shows, and I love the episode when Roseanne thinks her uppity neighbor, Kathy Bowman, is giving all her high-end furniture and housewares to charity while Kathy and her family are on vacation. A truck, presumably from a Salvation Army-type establishment, pulls up to Kathy's house and empties it while Roseanne looks on in disbelief at her neighbor's frivolous &quot;goodwill.&quot; Roseanne &mdash; spotting something in transit from house to truck that she deems too good for &quot;charity&quot; &mdash; goes over to the moving guys and pays them $20 for a tacky ceramic dog. Long story short, Kathy returns and tells Roseanne that she's been robbed blind, much to Roseanne's surprise. Excellent episode; that lady still cracks me up 20+ years later.</p> <p>The moral of that anecdote is that good neighbors are hard to come by these days, so when you find one, hang on to them tight. This neighbor will help you rest easier while you're on vacation because you know they're looking over your home well, but they'll also keep a watchful eye even when you're away for just a few hours. This neighbor can collect your mail for you if you're taking an extended vacation, and call the cops if they spot strangers lurking about.</p> <p>If you don't have a neighbor like this, get in one's good graces soon. You don't want to regret it later.</p> <h2>2. Someone Who Can Watch Over Your Kids at Moment's Notice</h2> <p>Those of you with kids know that there are times when you might need to put your kids in the care of someone responsible at a moment's notice to deal with any number of issues. Maybe you need to rush your spouse to the hospital in the middle of the night; maybe you just want to go to the supermarket in peace. Whatever the case, it's not a bad idea to create a relationship &mdash; preferably with another parent so you can trade off and establish an equitable rapport &mdash; who can serve as your go-to lifesaver when you need to pawn off your kids in an instant.</p> <h2>3. A Local Handyperson Friend Who Will Give Your Issue Priority</h2> <p>Picture it: Sicily, 1922.</p> <p>Just kidding. That's the famous catchphrase of the &quot;Golden Girls'&quot; Sophia Petrillo &ndash; I watch <em>a lot</em> of TV Land, you guys.</p> <p>Picture this instead: It's 4 a.m. and your toilet is overflowing, so much that water and other toilet-esque things are seeping into your carpet and hardwood floors, and you need this stopped <em>now</em>. Who ya' gonna call?</p> <p>Hopefully your friendly neighborhood handyperson, whom you've treated very well over the years and sufficiently compensated for his or her time and expertise, will be on the case in a flash. Hopefully.</p> <p>If this person isn't currently in your life, make him or her part of it immediately and be the best friend you can be. Unless, of course, you like the idea of trying to stop the rush of gushing you-know-what with your bare hands in the middle of the night. Diff'rent strokes, I suppose. (See what I did there? Too much TV Land!)</p> <h2>4. That Friend Who Will Drop Everything to Help You Out</h2> <p>You know how when you're moving and you need help carrying those heavy boxes of books up four flights of stairs and everyone on your contact list is suddenly busy? You can still consider those folks friends, I guess (albeit very loosely), but if they can't help you schlep your junk around town just for the heck of it, don't be surprised when they let you down many other times.</p> <p>Instead, keep close that one friend who's there for you no matter what, no matter when you need them. This is the guy or girl who's spending an otherwise lonely Friday night with you; the person whose shoulder you can cry on; the one who will never judge you; who will pick you up on the side of the road when your car breaks down at 2 a.m.; the bestie who will bring you soup when you're sick; the amigo who will, in the same day, trash talk your lousy significant other with you then embrace him with open arms when you inevitably take him back for the fifth time; and above all, this is the confidant who will keep your darkest, dirtiest secrets safe and sound forever and ever &mdash; no matter how much somebody is willing to pay for them.</p> <p>As you know, these kind of friends are hard to find and even harder to keep. You're extremely lucky to have this person in your life &mdash; and don't you soon forget it.</p> <h2>5. A Co-Worker Who Will Cover for You When You Can't Get to the Office</h2> <p>Late for work because you overslept? Can't make it in until noon because your kid accidentally tried to burn down the house this morning? Life happens, and these situations will go over much smoother &mdash; perhaps even under the radar altogether &mdash; if you've made a pact with an influential co-worker to cover each other when one of you can't make it to work on time or at all on a particular day. This person can bring your important documents to you from the office or help you finish up a few things while you're handling your emergency.</p> <h2>Bonus: That Dude Down the Block Who's Building His Apocalyptic Hideaway</h2> <p>You've seen him bringing in large buckets of rice and gallons upon gallons of water, lots of ammunition and firearms, tactical gear, and enough wood and concrete to build a bunker (which he is definitely doing); and you probably think he's crazy. That will all change when the zombie apocalypse comes, <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/nasafunded-study-warns-of-collapse-of-civilisation-in-coming-decades-9195668.html">which just got kind of real</a> by the way, and he's basically your last hope for survival. When that day arrives, he'll probably forget your name and leave you to fend for yourself, but it's not a bad idea to invite this dude over for dinner tonight, get to know him, befriend him, and eventually ask him to legally adopt you so you can have at least a little peace of mind when the ish hits the fan. This impending end-of-the-world scenario is hypothetical of course, but so was space travel at one point. Ponder that.</p> <p><em>Do you have other people that we should have in our &quot;personal emergency kits?&quot; Let me know in the comments below.</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mikey-rox">Mikey Rox</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-people-you-should-have-in-your-personal-emergency-kit">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-5"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-be-charming">How to be charming</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/take-amazing-party-pictures">Take amazing party pictures</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-second-best-way-to-make-your-household-more-secure">The Second-Best Way to Make your Household More Secure</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/giving-is-better-than-blogging-or-is-it">Giving is Better Than Blogging... or IS it?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-easy-ways-to-make-someone-happy-today">25 Easy Ways to Make Someone Happy Today</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Life Hacks emergencies friends Help neighbors Thu, 01 May 2014 09:00:26 +0000 Mikey Rox 1137580 at http://www.wisebread.com 11 Ways to Have Fun at Your In-Laws http://www.wisebread.com/11-ways-to-have-fun-at-your-in-laws <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/11-ways-to-have-fun-at-your-in-laws" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/235004809_eccdb799f5_z.jpg" alt="happy family" title="happy family" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Visiting in-laws can seem like competing on &quot;Survivor.&quot; You have to learn to thrive in a foreign environment amid unfamiliar ways.</p> <p>Though I have never been on a reality television show, I have made numerous visits to the homes of my husband's family, just the two of us in the beginning and later accompanied by children.</p> <p>I have learned survivor-like skills such as how to accept and overcome challenges, make shrewd decisions, and show an unflagging spirit (that is, how to&nbsp;select Christmas gifts for all ages,&nbsp;contribute to meals for extended family gatherings, and get active children to behave well during multi-hour car trips).&nbsp;</p> <p>Over the years, I have also learned ways to enjoy what may otherwise be an emotionally and physically draining experience due to the stress of travel, holiday preparation, and alien surroundings. Consider these techniques to increase genuine pleasure of visiting your in-laws. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-tips-for-hosting-holiday-houseguests">15 Tips for Hosting Holiday&nbsp;Houseguests</a>)&nbsp;</p> <h3>1. Pack Your Own Supplies</h3> <p>Missing the amenities of home can make you miserable. So if there are a few things that can bring you pleasure or keep you comfortable, then carry those with you. If your in-laws aren&rsquo;t coffee drinkers (mine avoid caffeinated beverages for example), pack a great instant version or your own grind. If beds and couches are in short supply, bring a sleeping bag, pad, or blankets; or book a room at a hotel or inn. &nbsp;</p> <p>Be self-sufficient with your own supplies, rather than expecting others to provide all that you want or need.</p> <h3>2. Bring a Book</h3> <p>Reading a book gives you a fun escape without completely ignoring everyone else. Unlike watching a movie, listening to music, or playing a game on a digital device, reading is not totally isolating and generally considered acceptable during extended visits.</p> <p>Just because you may be with people who you see occasionally doesn&rsquo;t mean that every moment must involve deeply meaningful interaction. You can join and exit group discussions while reading, and you may find that the right book is fodder for conversation.</p> <h3>3. Take a Walk</h3> <p>Out-of-town visits are generally not conducive to fitness activities. But you may be able to step outside your in-laws&rsquo; home and take a walk in the neighborhood to get fresh air and exercise.</p> <p>On my trips, I have enjoyed walking with my immediate family and some of the in-laws. Along with way, we study the architectural styles of nearby homes and businesses, tell and listen to family stories that involve a certain street or house, and note changes that have taken place since one or all of the siblings have moved from the area.</p> <h3>4. Go on an Outing</h3> <p>Getting out of the house for a few hours is a great stress reliever. My in-laws live in a small city, so there is not much to do there in terms of cultural or sporting events, art or historical museums, etc.</p> <p>However, the city has an expansive park near their home and the city&rsquo;s center. When our children were younger, my husband and I took them to the park&rsquo;s playground, which included old-fashioned slides, swings, and teeter-totters.</p> <h3>5. Help With Food Preparation or Clean-Up</h3> <p>There are various levels of expectation regarding contributing to meals and clean-up when visiting. I won&rsquo;t claim to be an expert in all situations, but I do know that lending a hand can be a pleasant way to pass the time; you don&rsquo;t have to take charge, but you can participate. You may learn a new recipe or cooking technique, plus you get to hear stories that may not otherwise be told at the family table.</p> <h3>6. Learn (to Love) Family Stories</h3> <p>Every family has a set of stories that are told and retold. The introductions may vary, so you may not realize that you are going to hear a familiar story until you have invested your attention and time into listening to what seems like the same-old, same-old recounting of a long-ago event.</p> <p>But these defining stories can help you to understand the family's values as well as the times and circumstances that they experienced. You may hear about the reaction of a child to her first sleepover camp, which reveals much about individual personalities and family dynamics. You might learn about a close call during a foreign war or <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/survival-basics-for-depression-era-kids">economic harshness in the early 20th century</a>. You'll hear the stories many times, so learning to love them and detect nuanced differences in each retelling can make visits more pleasant.</p> <h3>7. Learn Family Secrets</h3> <p>My mother-in-law often talks to me about the past of the immediate family as well as more distant connections. She shares stories of difficult circumstances, belligerence that caused personal and financial problems, romantic and career plans gone awry, regrets, disappointments, and life-changing illnesses along with instances of grace that saved family members from disaster.</p> <p>Like the tales that are told and retold, they help define the family &mdash; who they are as individuals and as a whole. The stories can help illuminate the rationale behind decisions and possibly give you understanding and compassion for unusual fears and biases. Hearing about heartbreak itself is not fun but helps put your current troubles into perspective.</p> <h3>8. Get to Know Someone Each Time You Visit</h3> <p>Discover how interesting your extended family is. Take some time to learn about another family member's world &mdash; what they do at work, how they spend their free time, and even the circumstances of their childhood. You don&rsquo;t need to drill this person, but you can work on making conversation as a way of laying a foundation for future interactions.</p> <h3>9. Be Prepared to Tell Your Story</h3> <p>Family extroverts are always ready to tell you about what&rsquo;s going on in their lives. Being surrounded by talkers who are eager to share the highlights of the past year (the real-life equivalent of the holiday newsletter) can be trying, particularly if you are an introvert.</p> <p>By the time you feel comfortable sharing what&rsquo;s happening in your life, your visit may be over. Prepare for the extended time with family by thinking of things you would like to share, such as career milestones, hobby-related accomplishments, or vacation plans.</p> <h3>10. Don&rsquo;t Think About Work</h3> <p><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/america-is-the-no-vacation-nation">Having to worry about work can be a drag on your happiness</a>. Unless you are required to be connected, cut off digital gadgets and work-related distractions. And, as much as possible, don't think about the office, store, or project worksite. You don't need the double stress of dealing with professional concerns and family issues at the same time. Let yourself enjoy a change in environment.</p> <h3>11. Befriend the Kind Relative</h3> <p>During the first several years of family visits, I often felt like an outsider who needed to display the survivor-like traits of loyalty and value to the team. However, I realized later that I&nbsp;ought to have been focusing on the family members who loved and adored me for who I was.&nbsp;Discovering that person or those persons is essential to enjoying the extended visit.&nbsp;</p> <p>The kind relative may not be obvious at first. Look to those who accept you &ldquo;as is&rdquo; while encouraging you to become the (better) person you hope to be. Certainly beware of inappropriate liaisons but don't ignore the kind aunt, sister-in-law, or cousin. She can become not only an ally but also shed light into family dynamics, reinforce how endearing you are, and help you to feel the love that may not get showered upon you in a crowd.</p> <p><em>How do you have fun at your in-laws? Are the visits naturally enjoyable or have you learned to embrace new and different circumstances?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/julie-rains">Julie Rains</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/11-ways-to-have-fun-at-your-in-laws">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/3-life-lessons-ive-learned-since-becoming-a-parent">3 Life Lessons I&#039;ve Learned Since Becoming a Parent</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-amazing-board-games-you-can-diy">8 Amazing Board Games You Can DIY</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/23-recipes-for-slime-your-kids-can-make-and-even-sell">23 Recipes for Slime Your Kids Can Make — and Even Sell!</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/3-reasons-not-to-save-for-your-childs-college-fund">3 Reasons Not to Save for Your Child&#039;s College Fund</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-fair-way-to-split-up-your-familys-estate">The Fair Way to Split Up Your Family&#039;s Estate</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Family family visits Help holiday travel Tue, 18 Dec 2012 11:24:31 +0000 Julie Rains 956838 at http://www.wisebread.com 3 Life Lessons I've Learned Since Becoming a Parent http://www.wisebread.com/3-life-lessons-ive-learned-since-becoming-a-parent <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/3-life-lessons-ive-learned-since-becoming-a-parent" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/mother and son.jpg" alt="Mom and child" title="Mom and child" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The past few months have been a blur as my husband and I welcomed our first child into our lives. Between 3 a.m. feedings, poopy diapers, walking and rocking the baby, and trying to fit a shower into my day, the parenting learning curve has been a steep one. I&rsquo;m learning more every day, and in the midst of this dramatic life change, three glaring lessons have stood out to me since I brought my daughter into the world; three life lessons that took becoming a parent for me to learn. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-important-lessons-frugal-parents-teach-their-children">7 Important Lessons Frugal Parents Teach Their Children</a>)</p> <h2>1. Don&rsquo;t Judge</h2> <p>I have to confess that before I had a baby, I subconsciously (and let&rsquo;s admit it, consciously) judged other parents. This included parents frantically trying to calm a screaming baby while shopping, mothers quickly mixing a bottle of formula to give their children while on the run, frustrated parents yelling at their kids, parents who put their kids to sleep in a swing, etc&hellip;.</p> <p>I guess the universe had a karmic lesson to teach me &mdash; after my baby was born, I had difficulties breastfeeding, and finally, when my baby wasn&rsquo;t gaining weight, I was forced to supplement with formula. Good gracious, now I was the one feeling judged and guilty when I whipped out a bottle of formula in front of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-ways-breast-feeding-saves-money">other breastfeeding moms</a> in the nursing lounge at the mall! Additionally, while I had sworn I wouldn&rsquo;t be one of those moms who bought every swing, bouncer, or toy available, now I found myself desperately spending money on any gadget that promised to let me put my baby down for a few minutes and have a cup of coffee. Lesson learned &mdash; don&rsquo;t judge other people&rsquo;s parenting choices, or life choices in general. Instead, I&rsquo;m learning to accept that everyone makes the best choices they can given their unique circumstances.</p> <p>I&rsquo;ve found a new level of acceptance and camaraderie with other moms, even if they&rsquo;re just strangers I meet at the grocery store. We swap stories of staying up late at night, which swing works best for calming a baby, and &ldquo;crying-it-out&rdquo; versus &ldquo;attachment&rdquo; approaches to sleeping. The best thing is, although we&rsquo;ve all made different choices, our babies are all doing fine.</p> <h2>2. It's OK&nbsp;to Accept Help</h2> <p>Whoever coined the saying &ldquo;It takes a village to raise a child&rdquo; never said a truer word. While I admire superhero moms who seem to manage to take care of their families on their own with nary a helping hand, I accept that I am not one of them. After days without sleeping, I finally accepted offers from family and friends to watch the baby while I napped, or to clean the house while I held the baby. I was grateful to relatives who bought groceries and made dinner, and I stopped feeling bad about asking the in-laws to take the baby for an evening so I could have some time to myself. I realized that although I felt like I was inconveniencing my friends, they were genuinely happy to help, and I finally found the freedom to feel grateful rather than guilty.</p> <p>In fact, I&rsquo;m starting to believe that modern American life is not conducive to raising children well. Think about it &mdash; in traditional cultures, the entire extended family lives in close proximity, so that grandparents, as well as aunts and uncles, are close participants in the raising of a child. It&rsquo;s not all on the mom or dad. But in our modern culture, where extended families are separated by large distances, all the responsibility falls on the two parents, one or both of whom are probably working full time. Instead of relying on a network of relatives, parents now have to find community through parenting groups, play dates, lactation workshops, and other modern inventions. There&rsquo;s probably nothing we can do about the culture, but it&rsquo;s helpful to realize that we were meant to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/can-you-afford-to-have-a-baby">raise our kids in a community</a>, and that there&rsquo;s nothing wrong with needing help.</p> <h2>3. Beware of False Guilt</h2> <p>There are so many things that make you feel guilty as a parent, as I&rsquo;m sure all you seasoned parents can attest. As a first-time mom, I tend to feel guilty about everything. A short list includes giving my baby a pacifier, letting my baby sleep in her swing, bonking my baby&rsquo;s head on the car seat handle, and more. That&rsquo;s not to mention the guilt I feel when well-meaning friends ask me <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-side-jobs-for-stay-at-home-moms-and-dads">what I do all day at home</a> (because I should be working) or when I have to decline doing someone a favor because it will interfere with my daughter&rsquo;s naptime.</p> <p>As a natural people-pleaser, there are days when I feel like everything I&rsquo;m doing is wrong. But I&rsquo;m slowly starting to learn that I have the right to make mistakes and say no to other people&rsquo;s requests, and I don&rsquo;t have to feel bad about it. I&rsquo;m able to bring a lot more happiness and joy into my family&rsquo;s life when I&rsquo;m not guilt-ridden. In fact, I hope that my daughter will learn the same lesson and will eventually grow up to be a joyful, confident person who can learn from her mistakes and stand up for herself without being burdened by false guilt.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/camilla-cheung">Camilla Cheung</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/3-life-lessons-ive-learned-since-becoming-a-parent">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-frugal-living-skills-you-should-be-teaching-your-children">7 Frugal Living Skills You Should Be Teaching Your Children</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/24-tips-for-having-a-baby-without-going-broke">24 Tips for Having a Baby Without Going Broke</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-money-rules-thatll-save-you-big-in-babys-first-year">5 Money Rules That&#039;ll Save You Big in Baby&#039;s First Year</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-places-to-get-cheaper-diapers">5 Places to Get Cheaper Diapers</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-infant-nail-clippers">The 5 Best Infant Nail Clippers</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Family Personal Development baby guilt Help life lessons parenting Tue, 22 May 2012 10:00:12 +0000 Camilla Cheung 929267 at http://www.wisebread.com How to be the best customer http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-be-the-best-customer <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-be-the-best-customer" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/customer_servicetempx.jpg" alt="" title="Customer service" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="240" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>We've no shortage of &quot;How to do good customer service&quot; articles designed to be applied from the company's side. But <strong>what about customers?</strong> We need each other to thrive, and whether you're in front of the sales desk or behind, we're all humans. An obvious point worth remembering because just about anyone who's worked in customer relations has tales of customers who weren't just dissatisfied, they were abusive jerks. And there's <strong><em>never, ever</em> a good reason to heap hurt on someone else</strong> &mdash; such wasteful emotions clog reasonable complaints.</p> <p>As someone who's both answered thousands of issues in varying roles (and created documentation to support it) and has bought products from a variety of companies ranging from the monolithic to 1-person operations, here's what I've learned. It's biased towards smaller companies since it's easier to enact change with them, but can apply wherever you'll be listened to.</p> <h2>Document everything</h2> <p>If a frontline agent isn't doing a service to their company by being rude to you, get their name. Consider recording your calls (be aware of <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Telephone_recording_laws">obtaining consent</a>; companies will often say on the line they're recording <em>you</em> for training purposes!). Tagging the emails they send you. And so on. Create a history if you're routinely being wronged.</p> <p>If you need to bring bad behavior to a supervisor's attention, <em>don't</em> present your case as &quot;I hate ALL OF YOU IN THIS COMPANY&quot;. Rather, if it's a specific problem with an individual, you're willing to go beyond and point out <strong>you generally like doing business with people who work here, with an <em>exception</em></strong>. It'll be their word against this troublesome employee's, but if you have evidence, they can't cover it up. (And if it's numerous people or the general mindset of a company that has you irked, yeah, you should take your business elsewhere.)</p> <p>In an age of electronic surveillance, taped support calls gone wrong have become a way to escalate problems when a company doesn't listen and a consumer feels helpless, so they amplify it through The Consumerist or one of many comedy sites.</p> <p><object height="385" width="480"> <param value="http://www.youtube.com/v/Ryas9OANw-E&amp;hl=en&amp;fs=1&amp;rel=0&amp;color1=0xcc2550&amp;color2=0xe87a9f&amp;hd=1" name="movie" /> <param value="true" name="allowFullScreen" /> <param value="always" name="allowscriptaccess" /><embed height="385" width="480" allowfullscreen="true" allowscriptaccess="always" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" src="http://www.youtube.com/v/Ryas9OANw-E&amp;hl=en&amp;fs=1&amp;rel=0&amp;color1=0xcc2550&amp;color2=0xe87a9f&amp;hd=1"></embed></object></p> <p>Related, <strong><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/topic/personal-finance/consumer-affairs">Wise Bread has a Consumer Affairs category</a></strong> you'll want to check out, including <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/i-just-things-should-work-properly-too-mr-dyson">Paul Michael's sucky experience with a Dyson vacuum cleaner</a>.</p> <p>I don't recommend going out of your way to destroy a company, but use documented proof to substantiate the poor treatment you've gotten, which will hopefully <strong>help management solve the problem</strong>, and possibly thank you for getting their attention, as a result.</p> <h2>Learn to file effective bug reports</h2> <p>A surprising second point? Not so much when you realize it's a finer level of documentation. Observe the connections: while &quot;bug report&quot; is most commonly associated with computer software and electronics, the <strong>key importance is being able to show someone else how you arrived at a problem via a series of steps they can follow</strong>. If it sounds similar to giving driving directions, that's exactly true. And it's important in <em>any</em> sort of conflict resolution.</p> <p>If you buy an app and discover bugs, sending bug reports (via the developer's preferred channel) will help them make it more stable, and hence, better. Bug reports don't have to be boring text instructions. Especially when you need to show visual elements, consider using a video recording tool like <strong><a href="http://www.jingproject.com/">TechSmith's Jing</a></strong> (free basic version, I love it) to make video bug reports and narrate what's happening &mdash; show stuff as-it-is!</p> <p><em>Don't</em> assume a company's quality assurance will find all bugs. It's true they should do rigorous testing to deliver a robust end result, but the fact is <strong>there are far more variations of possible computer systems than they'll ever be able to try inhouse</strong>. Customers who whine about problems they're aware of instead of spending the same time to step up and communicate aren't useful.</p> <p>Many companies give discounts and free products for being an exceptional bug reporter, including <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beta_test#Beta">beta tests</a>. Don't expect entitlement and be familiar with the company's culture beforehand &mdash; some, like <a href="http://torley.com/picnik-is-beautiful-convenient-and-a-lot-of-fun">Picnik</a> who I'm helping test their Show feature, are much more amendable to personal contact with customers than others. After all, continue <strong>to communicate. Loyalty never gets old</strong>, and if a product is going to serve you for months and years, having a close bond means you'll be taken seriously. Not all customers are the same and you <em>do</em> want to be the best, yes?</p> <p>Plus, after you've gained an understanding, you can teach other customers how to file bug reports, too, empowering their experiences.</p> <h2>Don't bitch about what's out of an employee or company's control</h2> <p><strong>Focus on actionables.</strong> What <em>can</em> be done.</p> <p>For instance, if your Internet Service Provider goes offline because someone drove their car into a tree, knocking down power lines and cutting off your connection, it's uncalled for to ring the ISP up on a cellphone and scream &quot;FIX IT NOW YOU @#$%ING IDIOTS!&quot; They can't &mdash; that's likely the electric company's responsibility. All your insults serve is demonstrate is what a jerk you are. Better approach: <strong>call and ask for a status update</strong>: &quot;What's going on and when can you expect it to be fixed?&quot; <strong>Learn instead of accuse.</strong>&nbsp;<em>Simple.</em></p> <p>Yes, professionals should have backups and contingency plans. But notice how there's no such guarantee as 100% uptime in the industry. Be forgiving of occasional mistakes, and they will be forgiving of yours. <strong>Continue to make suggestions where a company can improve their service</strong>: you may not get a personal response depending on volume, but if I really enjoyed my stay at a hotel, I send in the comment card.</p> <p>Another example of fruitless bitching: you're calling a human in billing about technical issues you have with a website. They cheerfully mention they'll escalate your details to the engineers (who aren't on the phones since they're heads-down programming) and suggest you take the initiative by posting on the company's forums. But you continue to gripe to the billing agent about it. They can be sympathetic, but your words are being wasted and you're tying up time that could be spent on another customer's actionable problems. <strong>Make it a priority to learn about <em>what</em> goes <em>where</em></strong> so urges you have to connect will be effective.</p> <p>When in doubt, ask questions &mdash; for emphasis, <strong>learn instead of accuse</strong>. You have every right to remind a company if they haven't been responsive (<a href="http://torley.com/acronis-true-image-2009-awful-customer-experience">like I did for Acronis True Image 2009</a>). But don't point fingers. The blame game is played by losing attitudes which are too much talk, not enough walk. <strong>If someone is just, they'll admit fault.</strong> And for all you CS reps reading this: unfortunately, while a rare minority, there are customers who have mental illness and need to see a professional. Don't be their doctor. And <em>never, ever</em> tolerate abuse. It works both ways.</p> <h2>When you're treated right, be vocally appreciative</h2> <p>Perhaps this should've been #1. But I wanted to see if you noticed.</p> <p>Customer service reps endure more abuse than they should have to. Like I said, no one deserves abuse. On the flipside, <strong>I've hardly ever felt productive, friendly workers get sufficient customer praise to inspire them each day and keep going!</strong></p> <p>This is why I'm doing my part: <strong>every time I believe I've been treated exceptionally, I directly send a testimonial</strong>. I also often use <a href="http://twitter.com/torley"><strong>Twitter</strong></a> and <a href="http://torley.com/"><strong>my personal blog</strong></a> to get the word out about awesome products that are made by awesome people. Word-of-mouth is especially important to small companies that can use all the earnest marketing they can get to thrive. Like what I wrote about bug reporting earlier, some savvy companies keep track of &quot;key influencers&quot; and may offer you goodies. These are mutually beneficial: <strong>the company's product adds value to your life, you help support them in ways beyond paying money</strong>.</p> <p>In the service industry, this also applies to eating out. You're a restaurant's customer. Received lovely, attentive service? Then <a href="http://www.oprah.com/media/20080909_tows_waiter">generously tip waitstaff</a> who've given you consistently excellent treatment. <strong>Actions have consequences and you're frugal, not chintzy.</strong></p> <p><strong>Customer service is an ecosystem</strong>: an honest, friendly worker who gets berated and hears no good words is going to be very confused, and even frustrated about why they even bother to go above and beyond. So pay attention to what makes you smile.</p> <h2>What is a supercustomer?</h2> <p>A supercustomer is not necessarily someone who throws a lot of cash at a company, although that can be part of their makeup. I use &quot;supercustomer&quot; to describe those &mdash; <em>the best!</em> &mdash; who <strong>go beyond the call of customer duty</strong> (intriguing way of looking at it, hmm?) and don't just routinely consume, they <strong>actively participate in improving the people &amp; products of the businesses they enjoy</strong>.</p> <p>The Internet has opened up many opportunities, from the trusted reviews of <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/vine/help">Amazon Vine</a> to the &quot;People-Powered Customer Service&quot; (as redundant as that may seem, we need to be reminded in an era of voice mail and faceless megacorps) of <a href="http://getsatisfaction.com/">Get Satisfaction</a>.</p> <p>Old ways of putting a wall between the people who use the products and those who make them are stupid and dying, because in the end, <strong>we're all humans who want to be happy</strong>.</p> <p><strong><em>So be the best customer you can be!</em></strong></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/torley-wong">Torley Wong</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-be-the-best-customer">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-ways-to-be-the-perfect-customer">10 Ways to Be the Perfect Customer</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/can-cheap-applecare-on-ebay-be-trusted">Can cheap AppleCare on eBay be trusted?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-ways-youre-being-a-terrible-customer">8 Ways You&#039;re Being a Terrible Customer</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/can-you-spare-a-square-5-quick-tips-on-toilet-paper-usage">&quot;Can you spare a square?&quot; 5 quick tips on toilet paper usage.</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/i-just-things-should-work-properly-too-mr-dyson">I Just Think Things Should Work Properly too, Mr. Dyson. UPDATED 7/7/09</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs Shopping abuse bug company customer Help product service support twitter Fri, 03 Jul 2009 18:26:18 +0000 Torley Wong 3349 at http://www.wisebread.com A Restaurant Where You Pay What You Can Afford For The Meal? http://www.wisebread.com/a-restaurant-where-you-pay-what-you-can-afford-for-the-meal <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/a-restaurant-where-you-pay-what-you-can-afford-for-the-meal" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/sameimage1.jpg" alt="Same Cafe" title="Same Cafe" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>It sounds like something out a movie, but it&rsquo;s actually right out of Denver, my home city. And this wonderful idea is not only incredibly innovative and generous, it&rsquo;s also working well and making thousands of needy people happy in the process. </p> <p><a href="http://www.soallmayeat.org">So All May Eat Caf&eacute; (SAME Caf&eacute;)</a> was founded by Brad And Libby Birky, a couple who moved to Denver from Illinois. They had worked in various shelters and soup kitchens for eight years before they decided to take a chance and open SAME Caf&eacute;. They paid off their car, saved up around $30,000 and then sank it all into one of the most amazing caf&eacute;&rsquo;s in America, if not the world.</p> <p>The principal is simple; pay what you can. The menu in SAME Caf&eacute; suggests prices for certain meals, but they are simply that &ndash; suggestions. <strike>Examples included $5-$15 for a complete meal (which is cheap even on the high end) and around $3 - $6 for one course, such as soup. For those with enough money to pay a decent amount for their meal, it&rsquo;s a guideline. </strike>For starving musicians and artists, homeless people or anyone else down on their luck, the meal could cost a buck or even a few cents. </p> <p>If you have no money at all, no problem. You can work off your meal in the kitchen washing dishes, clearing tables, mopping floors, peeling vegetables, whatever you can do to pay back what you have just ate. It&rsquo;s the kind of payment plan that gives people a real sense of worth. It&rsquo;s not a soup kitchen, it&rsquo;s not charity, but it is the most flexible and humanitarian restaurant out there. </p> <p>It&rsquo;s not only the concept that is fresh though. Brad and Libby Birky have put an emphasis on healthy food, like fresh organic fruit and vegetables. Many of the people who come in for a bite to eat at SAME Caf&eacute; haven&rsquo;t seen these items for a long time (and in this economy, a burger is cheaper than a handful of fresh broccoli). And although the menu changes daily, you are guaranteed two types of pizza, soup, salad and a homemade dessert. </p> <p>As you can imagine, Brad and Libby already know they won&rsquo;t exactly get rich with this kind of venture, but as their volunteering background suggests, they are in this for people ( to be exact, the beauty and grace of feeding people), not money. And the last I heard, they were applying for non-profit status. </p> <p>Brad has been quoted as saying &quot;everybody should be able to have a good, healthy meal, whether they can afford it or not.&quot; I tip my hat to you Brad, and your wife Libby. In times when capitalism is king, you have both risen above it to do something truly special and unique. </p> <p>For those of you in the Denver area, SAME Caf&eacute; is located at 2023 E. Colfax Ave., between Race and Vine streets. Opening hours are 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday; closed Sunday and Monday. Payment is cash or check, no credit cards.</p> <p>You can also check out their website: <a href="http://www.soallmayeat.org">http://www.soallmayeat.org</a></p> <p><em><strong>UPDATE</strong>: Brad Birky was kind enough to get in touch with me and point out a few changes to</em> <em>SAME Caf&eacute;. First, as you can see from the verbiage that's been crossed out, there are no longer suggestions for meal prices. Brad and Libby felt that the suggested prices put too much pressure on people to donate a particular amount. And second, </em><em>SAME Caf&eacute;</em> <em> now has offical not-for-profit (501c3) status, which is great news. </em><br /> &nbsp;</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/paul-michael">Paul Michael</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/a-restaurant-where-you-pay-what-you-can-afford-for-the-meal">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-6"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/trade-versus-localization">Trade versus localization</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/making-a-good-and-memorable-first-impression">Making a good and memorable first impression.</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-most-valuable-things-to-plant-in-your-garden-this-spring">10 Most Valuable Things to Plant in Your Garden This Spring</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-remove-yourself-from-mailing-lists-and-eliminate-junk-mail">How to Remove Yourself from Mailing Lists and Eliminate Junk Mail</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/less-corn-planted-despite-ethanol">Less corn planted, despite ethanol</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs Entrepreneurship Food and Drink Green Living charity dining Help homeless innovation working poor Tue, 26 May 2009 19:31:22 +0000 Paul Michael 3202 at http://www.wisebread.com Use Holiday Hiring to Get Your Next Job – And Keep it! http://www.wisebread.com/use-holiday-hiring-to-get-your-next-job-and-keep-it <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/use-holiday-hiring-to-get-your-next-job-and-keep-it" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/JSU.Tim.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="313" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p><em>[Editor's note:&nbsp; If you recently lost your job, take a look at Wise Bread's collection of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/lost-my-job-tips-for-the-recently-laid-off">tips and resources for the recently laid off</a>.]</em></p> <p>I'm already getting emails from retailers letting me know that they need temporary workers for the holiday season. And while I'm not looking, I know plenty of people who have been left in search of a job, and with little time to spare. I caught up with Tim McCormack, President of <a href="http://www.jobsourceusa.net/">Job Source USA</a> (Omaha, NE), who opened my eyes to the world of possibilities. Here are the questions and answers most likely to get Wise Bread readers a chance at employment for the next few months, and possibly longer:</p> <p style="margin-bottom: 0in;"><strong>What kind of business does Job Source USA help retain employees for, and do these industries all require additional help during the holidays?</strong></p> <p style="margin-bottom: 0in;">Job Source USA is able to provide temps, temps-to-hire or direct hire employees to all types of business. For example, right now were are helping<br /> local retail businesses for the holiday season. In addition, though it is months away, we are starting to place individuals who will help accountants<br /> and tax preparation businesses with personnel for the tax season that begins right after the holiday. We are always working ahead of schedule so that we<br /> can provide our clients with the best possible employees.</p> <p><strong>When do businesses usually start hiring for holiday business?</strong></p> <p style="margin-bottom: 0in;">Businesses start hiring for the holiday season at the end of September and the first part of October. It's important to start early. Again, the best possible employees are those who are prepared and armed with a job plan. Those are already coming to use with resumes in hand trying to secure top-level temporary holiday jobs.</p> <p><strong>What percentage of new holiday hires would go on to become permanent employees? Do they replace existing employees, or does the workforce expand?</strong></p> <p>A lot depends upon the business needs of the company we place them with. Between 50 - 60 percent of those people that are placed with a company during the holiday season go on to become full time employees. These people are not displacing existing workers, some of these workers may be replacing workers who would be moving on to another job or who in the normal course of events choose to do go back to school or to do something else.</p> <p><strong>What can job applicants do to increase their chances of getting hired for the holidays? How can this be an advantage for being kept on permanently?</strong></p> <p>Applicants should have a good work history and good references, and once they are hired they should live up to their references....</p> <p><strong>What affect will the current economy have (if any) on this year's holiday hiring practices? </strong></p> <p>The economy is a big factor, and there is no doubt it will affect all of us here in the United States. However, our staffing company must keep a stockpile of qualified workers who are ready to go to work on an hour's notice. While we do have customers who plan ahead and work with us a good deal in advance of their needs, at least half our clients are simply reacting to a situation that arises when a worker doesn't show up for work for one reason or another.</p> <p style="margin-bottom: 0in;">Will we be able to place all these people? It depends on what is happening in the economy the month before the holiday season. Hiring for the tax companies will not be affected by the economy -- Everyone still must file a tax return. And while the manufacturing portion of our business has experienced a temporary<br /> slow down, the retail and service area seems to have remained steady. That could change tomorrow!</p> <p style="margin-bottom: 0in;">&nbsp;</p> <p style="margin-bottom: 0in;"><strong>So there you have it! Whether you use a company like Job Source USA to assist you in your career aspirations, or go straight to the source of that &quot;Now Hiring for the Holidays&quot; sign, there are things you can do now to keep you employed later.</strong></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/linsey-knerl">Linsey Knerl</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/use-holiday-hiring-to-get-your-next-job-and-keep-it">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-5"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-warning-signs-that-it-is-not-the-job-for-you">6 Warning Signs that It Is Not the Job for You</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/five-j-o-b-s-that-aren-t-that-b-a-d">Five J.O.B.’s That Aren’t That B.A.D.</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-signs-youre-working-for-an-impossible-boss">7 Signs You&#039;re Working for an Impossible Boss</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-resume-mistakes-that-will-hurt-your-job-search">10 Resume Mistakes That Will Hurt Your Job Search</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-make-your-sluggish-workday-go-a-lot-faster">How to Make Your Sluggish Workday Go (a Lot) Faster</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> careers cash employment Help hiring Holidays jobs Making Extra Cash Wed, 24 Sep 2008 22:16:16 +0000 Linsey Knerl 2456 at http://www.wisebread.com Know a homeless veteran who needs a job? Call Bill O'Reilly. http://www.wisebread.com/know-a-homeless-veteran-who-needs-a-job-call-bill-oreilly <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/know-a-homeless-veteran-who-needs-a-job-call-bill-oreilly" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/1486028118_ce2d098113.jpg" alt="O&#039;Reilly" title="O&#039;Reilly" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="200" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Last night, quite by accident, I found myself listening to Bill O'Reilly's &quot;The Radio Factor.&quot; This is not a habit of mine, I left work late and don't usually catch talk shows after 6pm. Anyway, I became quite engrossed as I heard Bill O'Reilly make a rather generous offer to homeless veterans. And I'd like everyone to help spread the word.</p> <p>As some of you may be aware, O'Reilly is currently involved in a feud with Presidential hopeful (very hopeful to be honest) John Edwards, over the plight of homeless veterans in America. I'm not about to get into the grizzly details of the whole fight, I have neither the time nor the research to back either side. But the basic argument is this. Edwards claims that the 200,000 homeless veterans sleeping on America's streets every night are there because of our ever-declining economy.</p> <p>Bill O'Reilly calls BS. He says that most of the 200,000 homeless vets (if indeed there are 200,000...that figure is also disputed by O'Reilly) are there not because of the economy but due to drug and/or alcohol problems, mental illness and possibly a desire to stay on the streets and avoid the 9-5 daily routine. I'm paraphrasing here, but you get the picture.</p> <p>Who's right? That's not actually the point of the article, although the <a href="http://www.nchv.org/background.cfm">National Coalition for Homeless Veterans </a> has a website with some very alarming figures. No, this article is about an offer that O'Reilly made on the air last night, 1/23/08, that I think needs to get out to the people it was intended for.</p> <p>In a moment of supreme selflessness, Mr. O'Reilly offered to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/lost-my-job-tips-for-the-recently-laid-off" title="tips for getting a job">get a job</a> for any homeless veteran who wants one. Now, that's quite an offer, especially in this current economic climate. But I got to thinking...&quot;hmm, how on Earth are any homeless veterans going to hear about the offer?&quot; After all, it's not like they make up any real portion of Bill's regular audience. Would they even have a radio?</p> <p>I wasn't the only one who thought that way. Someone called in with that question but Bill, sticking by his offer, said that the homeless vets could get this information through the various organizations set up to help them out.<a title="jump" name="jump"></a></p> <p><img height="379" width="500" title="Bill offer" alt="Bill offer" src="http://healthcarehacks.com/files/fruganomics/u17/billoffer.gif" /></p> <p><a href="http://laurenstephens.net/uploads/856d100bcf.pdf">Full-size printable flyer available here to download </a></p> <p>Wisebread.com is obviously not one of those organizations, but I have a platform to get information out to people and I think this is an extremely important piece of news that homeless vets need to hear. So, I've done something about it. Print out as many copies as you want of the flyer above and do what you can with it. Post it in store windows, on bulletin boards, lamp posts, and give it to any homeless veteran you see collecting change. The numbers on it are toll-free, so they won't need to use any of their money (if they have any) to make the call.</p> <p>Am I doing this to spite Mr. O'Reilly? Absolutely not. I'm doing it because he made the offer and I think it's an offer worth promoting and supporting. It could give hope and a new life to many of these fallen heroes. Let's help O'Reilly stick by his word and give a whole bunch of worthy people a genuine break.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/paul-michael">Paul Michael</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/know-a-homeless-veteran-who-needs-a-job-call-bill-oreilly">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-be-the-best-customer">How to be the best customer</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/jar-of-nothing-the-perfect-present-for-the-picky-prick-in-your-life">Jar of Nothing: the perfect present for the picky prick in your life</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/i-lost-my-tax-documents-now-what">I Lost My Tax Documents… Now What?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/does-it-pay-to-be-a-jerk">Does it pay to be a jerk?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/poll-would-you-support-the-consumerst-in-the-dell-scandal">Poll: Would you support the Consumerist in the Dell scandal?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Extra Commentary Bill O'Reilly Help homeless veterans support The Radio Factor Thu, 24 Jan 2008 22:20:44 +0000 Paul Michael 1675 at http://www.wisebread.com Ask the readers: What kind of content do you want to see on Wise Bread? http://www.wisebread.com/ask-the-readers-what-kind-of-content-do-you-want-to-see-on-wise-bread <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ask-the-readers-what-kind-of-content-do-you-want-to-see-on-wise-bread" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/girl_notes.jpg" alt="taking suggestions" title="reader&#039;s suggestions" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="239" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Your opinion means a great deal to us. We would love to know what type of stories you want to see on Wise Bread. More credit card hacks? More frugal cooking tips? More pirates? </p> <p>Please take a second to fill out these two survey questions or better yet, drop us a note in the comments. We will read every single suggestion and take them all into consideration. Thanks for the help everybody!<a name="pollstarts" title="pollstarts"></a></p> <p><script language="javascript" src="http://www.polldaddy.com/p/67489.js"> </script> <noscript> <a href ="http://www.polldaddy.com/poll.asp?p=67489" >Take Our Poll - What type of content do you want to see on Wise Bread?</a> </noscript></p><p><script language="javascript" src="http://www.polldaddy.com/p/67527.js"> </script> <noscript> <a href ="http://www.polldaddy.com/poll.asp?p=67527" >Take Our Poll - What topic area do you want us to cover?</a> </noscript></p><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/will-chen">Will Chen</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ask-the-readers-what-kind-of-content-do-you-want-to-see-on-wise-bread">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/join-our-tweetchat-on-thursday-316-12pm-pacific-for-a-chance-to-win-prizes">Join Our Tweetchat on Thursday 3/16, 12pm Pacific for a Chance to Win Prizes</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/join-our-tweetchat-at-400-cdt-for-a-chance-to-win-prizes">Join Our Tweetchat for a Chance to Win Prizes!</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/financial-decisions-of-young-adults-highlights-from-our-chat-with-rutgers">Financial Decisions of Young Adults: Highlights from Our Chat With Rutgers</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/i-lost-my-tax-documents-now-what">I Lost My Tax Documents… Now What?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/join-our-tweetchat-on-thursday-39-12pm-pacific-for-a-chance-to-win-prizes">Join Our Tweetchat on Thursday 3/9, 12pm Pacific for a Chance to Win Prizes</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Announcements bloggers content Help improvement Tue, 10 Jul 2007 01:04:25 +0000 Will Chen 819 at http://www.wisebread.com