Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Guest post: Bartering

by Jim Noland

Another neat thing I like about Fall and all it's bounty is that it is a time to maybe do a little bartering with the fellow down the road. Or the lady who owns the peach orchard on the other side of town. Bartering has been around a long time -- longer than Obama's speeches.

Kidding aside, bartering has been with us since before we came to this country. For those of you who don't know how it works, it is really pretty neat. You trade something of yours with something of someone else's. Like, I might have a huge crop of tomatoes and my neighbor might have a overabundance of corn. We get together, and I trade some of my tomatoes for some of his corn.

You can barter just about anything you can think of. My grandfather once, as a kid, worked for this rancher, putting up hay in the rancher's barn. He worked putting up this hay for three days. My grandfather said he worked his butt off for this guy! He had NO money to pay him with, but he had a .22 rifle. He traded those three days worth of work, putting up his hay, in trade for that .22.

At the end of those three days, he walked away with that .22 and over 300 rounds of ammo. Was it a fair trade? You bet it was. Grandfather used that .22 to put meat on the table for his mom and pop and six siblings, even though it was squirrels and rabbits and sage hens. It helped keep his family fed. And it helped his dad supplement what food and whatnot the family needed.

They ate a hell of a lot of beans, he said. Sometimes three times a day. He still loved his beans right up to the day he passed.

So, you could barter for some beans or maybe fix something for somebody, and take some produce, or chickens, or whatever in trade for your time.

With the way the economy is right now, a little bartering could be a good thing. Think about it. Have you extra of something, and maybe your neighbor has something you might like or need? Go have a little chat. Maybe you can work a little magic and you both get what you want or need.

And, we all would be helping each other. When it comes right down to it, isn't that what we should be all about?

Jim blogs at: http://granddadscorner.blogspot.com

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Free Breakfast at Chick-Fil-A

Chick-Fil-A is giving away free breakfast next week. Yum!

I love, Love, LOVE the Chick-Fil-A fresh-brewed tea. I buy it as a gallon whenever I go there. It is fresh and tasty and sooooooo refreshing.

Oh. Sorry that I got distracted by their iced tea before I told you how to get a free breakfast.

Go to the Chick-Fil-A Web site:

You will click on the Free Breakfast link, then click on the button for "Make Reservation"
You'll choose the location, date, and item that you will want for your free breakfast.

Those of you in the Denver area can go directly to: http://denverchicken.com/

Another thing I like about Chick-Fil-A is the cows. They totally crack me up. My friend Tessa and I went to Chick-Fil-A a few weeks ago, and I was so happy to see a cow in the drive-thru! The cow stopped by while we waited in line and got a high-five (from me) and a hilarious cow-related knock-knock joke (from Tessa). Go, Chick-Fil-A cow! Go, Tessa!

I somehow missed Cow Appreciation Day this year, but help remind me to participate, fully dressed as a cow, next year.

Chick-Fil-A has an entire cow section on its Web site and a gallery of cows at http://www.chick-fil-a.com/Cows/Gallery -- but won't it be great if there is a cow when you go have your free breakfast?! That's How I'm Gonna Do It!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Mystery Shopping

I have been a secret shopper for more than 20 years. I started doing it because I wanted something fun to do. Over the years I've done a lot of shops, everything from fast food, eyeglasses, eye exams, gas stations, hotels, bars, restaurants, retail, movies, and more. Sometimes I go long periods of time without doing any shops, and sometimes I do a lot of shops.

Right now I'm doing lots of shops. You will never get rich from mystery shopping, but you can eat and be entertained for free, and get a little cash with it, too.

If you want something fun to do, too, here is some information on the companies I shop for most frequently.

It's also, sometimes, a little bit of an acting job. You can be an entirely different person on some of these assignments, and some of them even require you to use an alias. Back in the early 1980's a friend and I had made up a fake name for me or Loretta Pomegranate. Unfortunately, I have never been able to use that for a mystery shop 'cause it's too obvious. I told Jim that he should be Pete Moss. That one cracks me up! (Jim doesn't think it's all that funny.)

How this works:
You sign up as a shopper. The company collects information from you, such as your name, social security number (they need it to pay you), address, your age, etc. Some also ask you about the equipment available to you (i.e., cell phone, digital camera, fax, scanner), and about your likes and dislikes, or your shopping habits or preferences. Some will ask you to provide a writing sample.

There is also a certification process from the MSPA -- Mystery Shopping Providers Association, the professional association for mystery shoppers. http://www.mysteryshop.org/
That's also a great Web site to look for to learn the basics and what to look for so you don't fall victim to a fake shopping company or other scammers.

The MSPA also offers a certification. Becoming certified also lets companies know that you are not just some random person, and it adds credibility to your skills. You can get the silver certification online fairly quickly, and you can get the gold certification at a workshop or you can get the DVD from the MSPA and do it at home. Be sure to save your receipts for your taxes!

Okay, now on to my list of favorite companies to shop for. I get brownie points or $5 for some of these referrals, so please say that I referred you. (Kathleen Noland, and my email address is kathleennoland @ yahoo.com) Or send me an email and I can send you a referral link for some of these companies.

Jancyn - http://jancyn.com/
then click on the "Shop for Jancyn" tab or on the Shopper FAQ
For this company, I have done fast food and casual dining shops. They also have retail shops. This company reimburses quickly, so you will only wait a few weeks to get reimbursed and paid.

Bestmark - http://bestmark.com/
then click on "Become a Shopper"
I have done clothing retail, fast food, casual dining, and fine dining shops for Bestmark. I have also done Web inquiries and phone inquiries for them. They also pay/reimburse quickly.

MarketForce - http://www.marketforce.com/the-shopper-force/
MarketForce has a large variety of shop-types, including fast food, gas stations, audits for compliance, merchandising, movie theater checks, promotional materials installation, retail, etc. They can keep you busy, and their reimbursement and payment process is also quick. In addition, they offer direct deposit, which makes it even faster.

I am signed up with 36 additional companies. You can find a list of legitimate companies on the MSPA Web site. There is also a lot of information on the industry there, so you can educate yourself.

Be sure to read your shopper agreement and look at the FAQ's. You'll get a lot of information there.

If you want referrals from me, just email me and let me know!

Today, we are having a free dinner, and I'm having a free massage. That's how we're gonna do it!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Today? A free item at Denny's in Colorado

Today Denny's is celebrating in the State of Colorado.

Everyone who visits a Denny's in Colorado will get a free item from their Tour of America Menu with the purcase of any other Tour of America Menu item of equal or greater value.

So, go get a free "something" at Denny's with your meal.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Travel for free?

I don't travel much, and we usually go via roadtrip when we do.

I found this article interesting; it's on how some people are traveling free:

Basically, if I understand it correctly, people buy $1 coins by using their mileage-accumulating credit card. Then, the coins arrive and they use them to pay their credit card bill. In the meantime, they rack up miles on their cards that they then use to fly for free.

People are always thinking, huh?

Monday, July 11, 2011

I love a pedicure

I love to get a pedicure. I like the way it looks, and I like the way my feet feel afterward.

But even a discount pedicure at the salon is a luxury when you're on a tight budget. So, why not give yourself a pedicure at home?

If you are like me, you have some pedicure supplies that you've accumulated over the years. I looked in my closet, and found cuticle remover, some nippers, toenail clipper, emery board, nail polish, and top coat -- everything I needed to do this at home.

In the shower, I always have a foot file so I can keep up the good work of a pedicure by keeping the dry skin away.

Before I took my shower, I put the cuticle remover on around the edges of my nails. That's what the instructions said to do.

I remembered to use the foot file and a scrub when I washed my feet. It was amazing that the cuticle remover cream took off all the dry edges around my nails. I didn't even need to use the nippers later, 'cause it did such a good job.

Then, I trimmed and filed the nails, painted them (two coats of polish), and finished with a top coat. Once the polish was completely dry, I used a lotion that smells good to moisturize my feet.

My feet looked and felt great.

That's how I saved at least $25 this weekend on a pedicure!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Free Slurpee from 7-11 (on Monday, 7/11)

7-11 celebrates its birthday each year by giving away free Slurpees!
When: Monday, July 11, 12:00 a.m. until 11:59 p.m.

In fact, a friend tells me that they do it every year on their birthday, so put it on your calendar for next year, too.

Here are the details:

If you visit their Facebook page and click that you're attending the birthday Slurpee giveaway, they'll even send you a reminder so you don't forget.

Thanks for my friend Joannie for telling me about this.

Monday, that's how we're gonna do it!