More Free Stuff for Grown Ups!

One of the best things about being a kid was that you always seemed to get a free surprise-especially when it came to food. Fast food restaurants would often, if not always provide a free toy with the kids’ meal. Over the years I collected a lot of toys from McDonald’s. Too bad I didn’t keep any of them. They’re probably collectibles now and worth a lot on eBay.

I enjoyed going to the seafood restaurants Red Lobster as a kid (and still do!) because after you finished your meal, the waiter/waitress brought out a treasure chest filled with toys for you to pick out one.

Cracker Jack and kids’ cereals have toys buried in the bottom of the box. I’m pretty sure I must have dug into the box at one point, trying to get that toy.  Don’t forget the chocolate egg with the toy inside, known as the Kinder Surprise. The extra surprise is that you have to put the toy together, which is a good way for kids to use their fine motor skills. I personally was never really into building stuff, but for some reason, it was fun to put a Kinder Surprise toy together.

 

Image Courtesy of ImageryMajestic/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image Courtesy of ImageryMajestic/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I even had a book called, “Free Stuff for Kids” where you could write to organizations and have free stuff mailed to you from them such as stickers, pencils and bookmarks. I would eagerly check the mailbox every day to see if my package of free stuff had arrived.

It’s quite obvious that being a kid is fun. Being an adult? It’s still fun, but unfortunately not as much. You have more stress, responsibilities, less sleep and bills to pay. As the saying goes, “Oh, to be young again.”

This may not amount to much, but I feel adults deserve some fun free surprises too. While we do have some free samples, such as the food ones from Costco, I feel we deserve a little more.

Whatever happened to random free samples in the mail? It could only just me, but I feel now they’re non-existent and I would have to take the time to sign up for one. When snail mail was more popular, I remember finding free samples of cereal or little packets of shampoo and conditioner in my mailbox and getting super psyched about it! I thought to myself, Wow! Free stuff that’s actually useful!

While the free snail mail stuff seems to have died down a bit, the beer companies still remember that adults like free stuff. You’ll often find a free t-shirt, hat or beer opener in the box.  The coolest free thing I’ve seen in a beer case was a small portable USB charger. Considering how much our society is obsessed/dependent on technology, it’s definitely a handy thing to have.

Even though I don’t eat the same kinds of cereals that kids do, I still eat cereal. I eat it almost every day. I haven’t really received any free stuff lately. Some cereals will ask you to mail in a couple of UPC codes in order to get something, but why can’t I relive my childhood days and get excited about finding a small surprise in the cereal box? Something light like a pack of gum? What about a pocket flashlight? Or a USB stick? You really can never have too many of those lying around.

Those items may seem pretty random, but isn’t that the whole point of the surprise? It’s unexpected and it’s random.

If it seemed to costly or too much of a hassle to include a free item in a cereal box, at least have a coupon in there to get 50 cents off the next time I purchase the cereal. Aside from kids with newspaper routes and teenagers with part-time jobs, adults are the ones with the money. Just because we make more money, doesn’t necessarily mean we want to spend more money.

Just give me something! Ideally, for free. :P

What the coolest free thing you received? Should there be more free stuff found in products for adults?

Managing The Toy Clutter

Our daughters birthday was a few days ago. This past weekend we held a little birthday party for her where her family and God parents came over for a BBq and some treats. It was a good day and she had fun which was most important. Being the only young child in the family, she gets a lot of attention. There is nothing this little girl needs. Between her family and our friends she is constantly receiving gifts, it’s sort of insane actually. People love to bring her little toys and treats but for her birthday we outright asked people to please not bring any gifts. Truthfully this was partially selfish as my husband and I are up to our eyeballs in toys and the other part being realistic, she doesn’t need anything.

After the party where every guest in attendance ignored the request for no gifts and seemingly brought two, I am officially feeling overwhelmed with the sheer volume of stuff one child has. Though we’re unsure if we’re done having kids (thus planning on holding onto everything until said decision is made) I am officially setting plans into action about getting rid of some of her things. Not only do we not have the room for it all, no child needs this much.

too many baby toys

 

image credit

There are a number of options for handling when your kids have too many toys:

Sell

If we decide to round up a bunch of her things to sell I plan to reinvest the money made back into her. People spent money on her so she should get the money redirected to her in some way. If we make money on selling things given to her I will either put the money into her education savings or save it for something she needs (like growing out of her shoes or clothes).

Donate

We have a favorite charity that accepts clothing and household goods that we occasionally donate to. I would do the same with her stuff if I didn’t think it was worth selling but that someone else may get enjoyment out of it.  My sister works as a preschool teacher in an area of town with a lot of low-income families. I have also given her stuff in the past to pass along to families who may need it. Other places to donate are shelters for women and children, children’s hospitals, churches or medical centers (think waiting rooms).

Trade

There is a massive clothing and toy swap around here every year where people are able to exchange with other family’s for huge items. If you have nothing to exchange things are often for sale but the main logic is to swap.

Keep

Despite what I’d like the majority of what has made its way into my home will remain her until we’ve made the decision about future children. At which point we will likely sell or donate when we’re finished.

People love buying little kids gifts. My husband and I have made it quite clear that we would rather have money given to us to invest in her education savings than another stuffed toy or noise maker entering our house and, for the most part, our close friends and family have listened (to that we are so thankful, as will kiddo come graduation day!) but for the other non-listeners in our life, we’ll have to take it one toy at a time and manage the best we can!

2 Strategies for Following Through on Your Financial Goals

We’ve all been there. We’ve made a list of financial goals and set out to achieve them. It’s a great feeling… until you fail to follow through. It can be difficult to stay motivated to reach any goal, let alone financial goals. 

Things come up. Fun new products are released. Houses go on sale. And the buy-now-and-don’t-pay-until-2018 deals can seem tempting (though they never should!). So, how can you stay on the road to monetary success in that type of environment?

financial goal motivation

Don’t deny yourself purchases, just delay them

Before you make that purchase, ask yourself if this purchase goes along with your long term financial goals. If not, then pass on it. But maybe this purchase isn’t something that you had thought of when you put your money into savings and you really do want it or need it. How do you know if it’s worth getting off track for?

When you find something that you are interested in purchasing, don’t buy it just right then, but rather put it on a list of things that you want. Put it on the list… and wait. For at least a month. If, after a month, you are no longer interested in the item, then you just made a very good financial move, and all it took was a month. On the other hand, if you are still excited about making the purchase after taking this time to reflect on the purchase, then chances are good that this will be a wise fiscal decision for you.

Stay up to date with the world of finance

One of the best ways to keep your eyes on the prize is to keep finance in the back of your mind. The great thing about finance is that it is a topic that is growing, changing, and evolving all of the time. There are lots of new and interesting tips and bits of information coming out constantly, and the internet is a great way for you to get these.

Start following Forbes Finance and keep an eye out for topics you love. The site has loads of finance information that focuses on the individual, and many of the emotional issues that come along with money.

CNN Money is another great website with posts that focus on finance from the perspective of young adults and deliver breaking news stories involving finances.

If you ever start to feel a little lost out there amidst all of your financial goals, find your way back to the goals that started you along the journey, and check in with the community that cares about finances the way that you do. Learn from your past financial mistakes and work toward future success!

How do you keep your financial goals in mind? And what are your favorite big-name finance sites? 

Tipping Here, There and Everywhere

I myself have never been a server, but I know the importance of tipping. If I receive decent service, I’ll tip 15%. My definition of decent service is being friendly, delivering the food in a timely manner, asking if I need anything else, you know, the usual stuff. I’ve rarely received amazing service, but the odd times I have, I will tip almost 20%. Mind you, the server would have to go above and beyond what they normally do.

Everyone knows that with certain professions you are expected to tip. Some of these include restaurants, bars, hair dressers, spa services, taxi drivers and food delivery people.

I have no problem with giving them a tip because they are providing a service. Obviously the tip percentage varies, depending on the type of service. For example, I would tip a pizza delivery person way less than what I would tip my hairdresser. I have long thick wavy hair which is a blessing and a curse at the same time. My hairdresser seems to be the only one who knows how to cut and style my hair in a way that requires very little maintenance.

Coffee shops, such as Starbucks often have tip jars by the front cash. I rarely buy a fancy five dollar drink at Starbucks.  I usually just purchase the regular coffee. However if I did want to splurge and buy a five dollar drink, I wouldn’t tip because the drink already cost me five dollars. I do respect the fact that these baristas do go through training and it does take a bit more effort to make a cappuccino (or a no whip soy latte mocha-frappe-cappuccino) versus drip coffee, but does it really warrant a need to get rid of my extra change? Then I’d be paying MORE than five dollars for a drink.

Image Courtesy of tiverylucky/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image Courtesy of tiverylucky/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I have noticed in the food courts that some food vendors also have tip jars by the cash.  The food is already made and right in front of you, so basically all that the employee is doing is scooping it onto a plate, just like Lunch lady Doris would in your high school cafeteria. If anything it should be the cook in the back getting a tip. But even then, isn’t a lot of the fast food  ready to cook frozen stuff or requires very little preparation?  Again, except for my brief stint as a hostess (by brief I mean two weeks), I don’t really have any experience in the food service industry so I couldn’t tell you for sure.

The same goes for gelato and ice cream places. Is scooping ice cream or handing me samples of gelato with those tiny plastic spoons really that labour intensive? Unless I see you actually making the ice cream by hand, i.e. crushing that ice, then I am just going to pay the price of the ice cream and nothing more. Sorry.

It seems that major fast food establishments are the only places that don’t have tip jars right by the cash. Perhaps it’s because they find it tacky?

So where do you draw the line when it comes to tipping? Sure it’s only loose change, but it can add up if you feel obligated to tip everywhere. In most cases (except with restaurants that say for larger parties, a gratuity is added automatically. Ok fine, but when it’s almost 20% and I get crappy service that is NOT FINE), tipping is expected, but still optional.  I find when I’m on vacation; I tend to tip a lot more than usual.

Do you feel everyone is asking for tips these days? What’s your tipping strategy?