Monthly Archives: December 2016

Surviving Holiday Shopping

Are you cognizant of the emotional, visual, psychological advertisements of the holiday season? The National Retail Federation forecasts holiday retail sales to increase by 2.3 percent this year to $447.1 billion. While this is a moderate growth indicator from the previous years where 2008 was -3.4 percent and 2009 as 0.4 percent, it suggests consumers are overcoming the ripple effects of the recession.

In my opinion, it connotes consumers’ remembrance of the timeless wisdom of Benjamin Franklin: A penny saved is a penny earned. They thought twice before spending their hard-earned dollars. On the same token, a positive growth indicator means we are taking baby steps out of our cozy, safe homes and into the long, long lines at the department stores.

Advertisers know consumers will be armed with cash, debit cards, credit cards, and charge cards to purchase items during the holiday season. Advertisers are aware of the shift in mindset occurring during the holidays. It never fails. Entering any store during the holidays you will hear loud music, see enticing packages, along with smelling enchanting, aromatic perfumes in department stores. Consumers are lined up at the doors at 4:00am to catch the hottest deals, especially during Black Friday. And, once Black Friday is over Christmas is just around the corner. However, with unemployment at almost 10 percent, and credit remaining tight, I believe consumers will closely plan their spending.

Here are tips that will ease the emotional, visual, and psychological anxiety of holiday shopping along with tips to save money for the holidays:

1. Designate an allowance aligned with your financial goals. You can possibly have credit card debt, car loans, and/or other monthly expenses while simultaneously you are working towards paying off your credit card debt, saving for an emergency fund or a down payment for a home. A key question you should ask yourself is how will this allowance affect the results of my financial goals? Allocating money for holiday spending may or may not affect your financial circumstances. However, an allowance provides spending parameters. It also requires planning how the money will be spent.

2. Layaway. Layaway used to have a stigma. Not anymore. If you want to purchase merchandise but cannot pay the full price in cash, you can pay it over time until it’s paid in full. In the interim, the store will hold on to the merchandise. In addition, you avoid charging it on your credit card.

3. Make a list of the people you plan to buy gifts. Write down next to each person their very own spending limit. And, if you know what each person’s gift will be, then write it down next to their name. For example, if you write down your best friend, Lisa, next to her write “$50 Bath & Body Works.” This is the maximum amount you will spend on her gift. Your list should look something like this:

Name Amount Gift
Mom $50 Perfume
Dad $50 Sweater
Brother $50 Cologne
John $50 Wii games

Lisa $50 Bath&Body Works

Total $250

Of course, $50 is not your limit for everyone. Keep in my mind, your total holiday budget includes the cost for gift wrapping.

Note: Even though, you set a budget, it doesn’t mean you have to spend your entire budget. It means you must not exceed your budget.

4.Compare prices. Avoid anchoring or clinging to the discounted or sales price. It should have no bearing to the decision you need to make regarding the merchandise. If your spending limit is $60, then the discounted price for the merchandise from $100 to $80, which is a 20 percent decrease from the original price and not 20 percent savings, is by no means a savings for you. As a matter of fact, it is $20 over your spending limit. As you make your rounds around the department stores you will frequently see signs marking down prices and indicating the savings for the corresponding merchandise. Remember, a discount is only a discount from your original spending limit. In addition, be aware of the “Buy One Get One Free” deals. It’s not a deal if you don’t need it. Therefore, make sure you shop around and compare prices. Also, check out the discount stores, such as Ross, TJ Maxx, Marshalls, etc. Go online to compare and search product prices. You can use websites such as Google Shopping, Amazon, eBay, DealTime, slickdeals, or Pricegrabber.

5.Getting a group of friends together to hold each other accountable. The idea is for each person to pair up with another member in the group to come up with an amount of money they would need to save for the holidays. I would encourage weekly chats or if you want to send a text message to each other to keep each other on track and accountable.

6.Try to save at least $5 a day. The best way to do this is to cut back on dining out for lunch and dinner. If you are strapped for cash, you will need to plan and save ahead of time to save up for the holidays. Put the money in a safe place in your home or if you happen to have a separate account just for the holidays.

7.Plan your meals ahead of time. You can keep an eye out on who is offering the best deals.

8.Exchange gifts. This will dramatically reduce costs. If you have a big family or group of friends you will just buy one gift. You can take it a step further and implement the Secret Santa. Write names down on a piece of paper and put them in a bowl. Everyone will have to pick out a name and that’s the person for who you will buy a gift.

9.Pay attention to your electricity bill. Depending on where you live you don’t have to turn on your heater or A/C. Living in GA I am cutting out on using the heater at night. During the day it’s been in the 80s and 70s. Warm enough to keep the windows open and at night they are cracked open to allow fresh air. The temperatures can get to high 40s during the night. Personally, I enjoy the cool air entering my home. Wearing warm clothes have been sufficed for me. Because I reduced the wasteful spending on electricity last month my bill dropped by $70! Can’t wait to see what will happen this month.

10.Shop 2-3 hours before you need to be somewhere. The idea is you will not have time to roam around the department stores or mall. You are on the go! Schedule your shopping before you have to be somewhere else. You are on a time schedule and your time cannot be wasted. This will work for grocery shopping, too. You only have enough time to pick up items or merchandise that you need or on your list.

Here’s my rational caveat on using credit cards during the holidays: I think it’s safe for me to say most people don’t like to lose money. When using your credit card to purchase items where you will have to pay more money due to interest is how you will lose more money. Ask yourself if you had cash would you pay for that particular merchandise? You might be surprise to learn that you would want to pay less if you had cash for it. Why? Because, I assume, you would not want to expend all of your cash.

Restrict yourself from devaluing your borrowed dollars. If you must use your credit card, put a post-it on the card with all the debt you owe and monthly payments while you are shopping as a reminder of the continuous debt you will incur if you use your credit card.

At times credit cards have rewards and it can make it easier to keep track of what you spent, however, make sure you pay it off before the end of the monthly cycle. Or, if you must use your credit card to purchase gifts, make sure you are able to pay it off within three months. I would rather know you are enjoying the holiday season instead of worrying about your credit card debt from the holiday season.

Remember, the holidays are truly about the times and memories shared among family and close friends.

Christmas Shopping

With the holiday season around the corner, it makes sense to beat the mall crowds and clearance sale gimmicks of big departmental stores by putting some mother wit to work…read on to find out my 4 tips for buying Christmas Gifts with none of the hassles of festive shopping!!

I love Christmas and everything that builds up to the cozy, warm and snuggle bug feeling of caroling, baking, decorations, writing out Christmas cards and making Christmas shopping lists. But, that’s where all the enthusiasm sort of fizzles out because with the marketing build up around Christmas and the shopping mania it sets off in even regular folks, the local markets seem like they are just a short call away from being tagged a mad house!

So, in order to enjoy my Christmas season more, I worked out a few tricks to finish off with festive shopping earlier in the year instead of leaving it for season sales, festive discounts and trying to sweet talk friends or relatives to accompany me for the fun hobby it should be, but somehow turns into a nightmare for many people. Especially those that dread the mall crowds, mad dash for same items by other equally flustered shoppers and the sore feet!

Yes, you guessed right! I decided to shop smart and do it online!

Tip # 1 – Search for online discount deals and buy your gifts from a web store that lets you save on shipping! I reserved the first half of my Sunday for clicking a shopper’s symphony on my laptop keys, choosing non-China free worldwide shipping items from a reputed site, called Dinodirect.com

On clicking around the site, I found to my delight there were fabulous discount offers – 50% off – and free shipping worldwide! That had me quickly cover small somethings for friends and family I haven’t been able to gift even a Christmas card to in recent years and ensure these would reach in time, be within my budget and range across so many precious and practical things, like decor accents, electronic accessories, iPad covers, stationery, garments and lots more cool Christmas gifts I’d never have thought of as traditional presents!!

Tip # 2 – Buy locally produced products and show your support for local artists while ensuring budget Christmas shopping! You don’t have to spent the entire day hunting for sales and low traffic hours at boutique shops or fancy shopping malls if you decide to shop smart and go local with your Christmas gifts. Check out NGO, charities and folk art centers besides local food craft organizations like women’s help groups or Church fetes for neat home-made Christmas gifts with a personal touch!

Tip # 3 – Choose Christmas gifts handmade with love – hands being those of a professional crafter’s and the love being yours – and shop at Etsy.com You can pick up a lot of cool and quality stuff made by crafty people who showcase their hobby crafting products, like bags, jewelry, book covers, hand made paper products, candles, soaps, woollies, cake mixes, gourmet food and even wood crafts at this hip online site. The new shops and those without a sale yet, in addition to original and funky items listed under the Editor’s pick segment usually offer good deals, so do check these out!

Tip # 4 – Donate your time to a local event, group or charity. This last truly exemplifies the spirit of Christmas giving as quality time is something that our loved ones never get enough of. If you can pay personal visits to friends, family or colleagues living in the same city and make a gift of ‘one hour specials’ for helping them with various chores, like ‘picking up groceries,’ ‘helping clean garage’ or ‘babysitting’ it would be appreciated and be something different from the routine Christmas gifting. Now, if you can go one step further and give some of your time to strangers in an old-people’s home, playschool volunteer activity, youth group or fund raisers, that would really revive the Christmas gifting spirit in a real sense.

Why not try out some of these tips and see a different feeling wrap your Christmas mood this year? I’d love to hear from you which Christmas shopping tip you liked the best!

The Best Online Stores

Tiffany & Co., was established in the year 1837 and it is a great name in the world of diamond and silver jewelry for the past two centuries! The company is famous for its traditional & classic ornaments. They cater to the requirement of women of all ages, nationality, complexion, skin color, and geographic boundaries. The ornaments are finished with great care, perfection and accuracy to maintain high quality to attract global clients.

Tf-mart.com, the genuine Tiffany Jewelery online stores, was established in the year 2005. It is a professional organization handling online sales of Tiffany ornaments such as bracelets, charms, chains, necklaces, pendants, rings, earrings and other accessories. 100% genuine & authentic Tiffany & Co., products, prompt service, lowest price, global presence, easy-to-carryout online transactions and sound customer care are the secrets of success of this organization. Their network of customers is vast and extends to almost all nations around the globe.

The online transaction stores is user friendly with simple operations to view & select the jewelry, make payment, furnish shipping details and monitor deliveries online. Simply register with the online stores and create your account which enables you to move through checkout process faster, store multiple shipping addresses and view & track your orders till you get the package physically delivered at your doorstep. By simply sitting at the cool comforts of your sweet home, you will be able to explore hundreds of Tiffany ornaments sorted on functional categories and classic collections.

Select the option Tiffanys categories – you will be able to view the 15 sets of Tiffany bracelet & necklace sets, 378 types of Tiffany necklaces, 74 types Tiffany rings, 222 varieties of Tiffany earrings, 46 items of Tiffany 1837 classic jewelry and 56 types of accessories like key rings, cuff links, watches etc., now displayed on the web page. These accessories can be utilized by men too!

An exclusive Tiffany Collection option leads you to 29 types of Tiffany Atlas collections, 72 varieties of TF Elsa Peretti ornaments, 15 items of TF Paloma Picasso jewelry, 33 items of Return to Tiffany jewelry, 743 items of other unique jewelry items, 11 types of Tiffany keys and 253 types of Tiffany bracelets presently available online.

Further in the Search option, you can view the entire gamut of silver and diamond ornaments of elegant shapes, innovative designs and attractive artistic work. Earrings with rare patterns like scribble, dove, X-drop, etc., pendants of classic as well as modern designs, rings of all imaginable geometric shapes like square, round, heart, clover, interlaced, etc., necklaces with beautiful silver & diamond pendants of all shapes can be explored.

You can view the ornaments sorted on the basis of name, price range, and best value. Click on the individual ornaments for an enlarged, clear and amazing photographs – you feel that you are physically viewing the product across the shelves of the stores in person! Beside photograph, product description, retail price and the best discounted price are displayed. Live chat option is also available for further clarity round the clock by a click if you so desire! Jewels are packed in white packing case with blue ribbon band, the unique and well known symbol of Tiffany Jewelery worldwide! After choosing the product and quantity, simply add to cart to complete the selection.

For the benefit of international buyers, prices are displayed in two major currencies – USD and GBP. Payment can be made by credit cards through Pay Pal. Generally shipping takes place in 12-48 hours and the package is shipped by Parcel force for safety and effective tracking. You can track your order in website with the help of tracking no. of the parcel. Return and Exchanges are permitted for these online purchases within 30 days of receipt of packages. For returning the package you have to engage Parcel force, UPS, USPS or FedEx which are world renowned, most reliable and easy to track.

tf-mart.com are the trend setters in silver jewelry and offer useful beauty tips related to ornaments under the heading ‘Jewelery News’ in their website. You will get the best advice on the matching garments for a particular jewelry for specific occasions. Popular subjects like love vs jewels, usefulness of jewelry, casual and occasion-specific ornaments, heart-to-heart discussions on matters of jewelry, etc., find place in Jewelery News.

How To Start An Online Store

Do you want to sell products or offer services over the Web and start earning money by using your computer alone? If you do, then read on. I will be giving you tips on how to start an online store that can be the next BIG thing in the online world.

1. Choose the products or services that you would want to buy yourself.

The products or services you offer, should be things that you have personally tried or items that you are very confident about. You should never come up with an online store that would be selling products that you don’t believe in. Remember that not everyone will be impressed by your services at first glance. Thus, you need to know your products inside and out for you to convince people to look at them in your website and eventually buy them from your online store.

2. Know your competitors.

This may sound unethical, but knowing more about your competitors can actually help you have that edge over them. So, don’t hesitate to visit their websites, know the prices of their products and set standards for your own site based on the information that you have gathered.

Make people want your items over theirs by giving discounts or package deals that shoppers won’t be able to resist. Also, make a user friendly website so your clients won’t find it hard to look for the items they want. Look to have features that people won’t be able to find in your competitor’s websites so you can start gaining their trust and loyalty.

3. Sell your products one by one.

Don’t create your online store just yet. I know that you’re very excited to have one but you have to test your items first. You need to make sure that the public will love them and that they will start looking for more of your products.

Now, how can you do that?

You may simply sell them one by one in websites such as Half.com, Craigslist and eBay. From there, you can determine whether your items are truly worth selling or not.

4. Create your website.

Once you’re certain that your products would be able to “shine” in the online market, then it’s time for you to start creating your website. If you’re a programmer, then you can easily build your site using your own codes. If you don’t have the skills in making an efficient online store, then you can either avail of affordable general e-commerce services or hire the services of a professional programmer for you to get the website that you want.

5. Advertise your store.

Talk about it in your social networking accounts. Better yet, create a Facebook, Twitter or Instagram account for your website. Include the basic details about your website in the account. You may even post pictures of your products if you want to. Include the link of your website in all of your posts and ask your friends to share the accounts that you have created as well. Invite other people to visit the social networking accounts of your website and encourage them to interact in your posts. Ask them to leave not only comments but suggestions too.

Aside from using the Internet in promoting your store, you can talk about it personally with your neighbors and colleagues as well. Word of mouth is definitely one of the best ways to spread the awareness about your newly established online store.

6. Take a BIGGER step.

Once you what people are looking for in your online store, it is safe for you to take that bigger step. Get several items from your supplier. However don’t go beyond your budget if you don’t want to go bankrupt. Anyway, just get the number of products that would meet the demand of your clients. If things start to get busy for you, then you can hire other people to manage your online store. This way you would be able to focus on your regular job if you have one.

Buy Jewelry From Online Stores

You might be wondering how it is to buy handmade jewelry from an online store. This is a relatively new option, compared to going around local stores that offer the opportunity of getting a feel of the jewelry. You can also check how well it goes with your personality, as you can really wear it on before buying it. The reasons for encouraging the online shopping of handcrafted jewelry are many. You’ll find the designs to be really unique and prices unbelievably competitive. Here is more information, prompting you to go online to view and purchase your jewelry:

Handmade jewelry as opposed to mass-produced variety

If you have been shopping from local jewelry stores, you might have noticed that most stores have almost similar designs. Ever wondered why? That’s because the jewelry stocked at those stores has been produced at a mass scale. In fact, there are a couple of manufacturers, producing a limited number of designs on mass scale, that are sold through local stores. Some of the smarter sellers may mix and match tiny parts produced by different manufacturers of jewelry to make their so call exclusive designs. On the other hand, designer jewelry available online is most often handmade, giving it a unique touch.

You probably know the benefits and drawbacks of mass-produced items. Manufacturers producing on mass scale are concerned about financial gains only. Consequently, the quality suffers. It’s not only the quality of workmanship but also of the raw materials used for producing that jewelry. You can’t be sure if the item you like has been made from nickel or silver, and how genuine are the pearls it contains. In case of designer jewelry, each piece is designed and made by hand, and the designer has total control over the material used for making it. Just visit one of the online jewelry stores, and you’ll appreciate all the pieces of jewelry hand crafted by the designers.

Buying online costly handcrafted jewelry – Getting discounts?

Yes that’s true, buying jewelry from an online store helps you make considerable savings because prices of such stores are lower that brick and mortar stores. The most important factor is their low overheads. Online stores don’t have to pay massive rentals and utility bills, plus they don’t have huge salary bills for their workers, as they employ just a few helping hands, if at all. All that they need to pay is the cost of the raw materials, a one time expense for designing the website and a nominal regular expense for keeping it running. Majority of online jewelry vendors operate from home, making good use of facilities already available and thus saving expense towards store front and studio. Of course, as the business grows, such vendors need additional space but there is vast difference in the rentals of a store front and a studio space. Rental for a store front can go up to thousands of dollars a month.

Now, consider the expenses of a local jewelry store. The owner needs to pay massive rent for the premises, forming the major chunk of their overhead expenses, pay his staff and bear advertising expense apart from paying for various licenses and utilities etc. Another important factor that contributes to their higher prices is that the goods exchange a lot of hands. The manufacturer sells his goods to the wholesalers, who in turn sell the same stuff to jewelry and other stores before selling it to actual users. It is the customer that bears the expense of all involved in the transfer of goods from the manufacturer to the dealer.

That makes it easy to understand how you save money when you buy handmade jewelry from an online store. You are buying straight from the producer, without have to pay anything to middlemen. That saves you a substantial amount. Moreover, you are buying a quality product as far as material and craftsmanship is concerned. In fact, you’ll be paying only for the cost of raw materials used and the labor involved for making the final product. Nonetheless, the online dealer too is in business and has to have its profit.

It’s important to note here that the object designed and created by the online vendor comes straight to you from its producer. You get better value for your money as you are not to bear the price inflation caused by middlemen involved between the manufacturer and the ultimate buyer.. Apart from the price and quality of the product, you need to appreciate that you are getting an original unique piece that you’ll treasure for long.

Tips for online shopping

Having known that the best place for buying matchless handmade jewelry is an online vendor, as you get a quality product and very competitive prices, giving you value for your money, you’ll appreciate the following tips while ordering your jewelry from an online store:

Find out the vendor’s return policy: You may not be inclined to buy from stores that won’t accept to take their jewelry back. Various return policies have different restrictions. Many would insist the goods to be returned in the original packing with all the original tags in place. You should understand that the vendor has to take care of his interests too. Vendors complain that the buyers return the jewelry after having ordered and used it for some special occasion. Remember, you opted to buy that beautiful unique piece and not borrow it. The dealer is here for business.

Get your parcel insured: Ask the dealer to insure your goods before dispatching it to you. Undoubtedly, it will add to the final cost but it’s worthwhile. You can be sure that your ordered piece arrives safely. When going through the ordering instructions on the website of the vendor, you’ll notice ‘special instructions,’ be sure to check them out. When carefully going through ordering instructions, you can also know the extra charge you are going to bear towards insurance.

Don’t ever disclose you credit card details through email: Make sure to use the online vendor’s checkout process and make sure you use the secure environment in your browser window when checking out. That ensures the transmission of your details over a secured server. You may find that the pad lock appears only on checking out as all pages of the website may not contain it. But that’s okay; it’s essentially needed only when you are transmitting personal details of your credit card.

You should take out a print of the guarantee clause, if it’s included on the website. Guarantees, warranties and return policies are subject to change. When you have them printed as on the date of ordering the dealer is forced to honor those.